Nov 14, 2011

Fat-Tire Rawland Experiment

Well, the trial separation between the Rawland and I ended late this afternoon.

I put the bike in the basement after some frustrations with it back at the end of June and bombed around on the LHT most of the season. Lately, I've been experiencing some fat-tire lust, though. The quickest, cheapest option was to haul out the Rawland and reconfigure it for fat-tire fun.

There was some pre-conversion screwing around first. I had to swap out the front derailleur for one that wasn't f-cked up (don't ask) and went ahead re-cabled both the front and rear derailleurs (not to self: cable ends are functional as well as cosmetic).

Once the drivetrain and I were back on speaking terms, the rest of the conversion job was easy - pulling the 650b wheels, installing my cassette on the 29er rear wheel, mounting the fat Panaracer tires (45's) and installing the wheels on the bike. I built the 29er wheels last winter (or maybe the winter before - it's all such a blur) and they have seen some miles, but they are still true and round and the bike is disk-specific, so the swap was really very simple.

After the wrenching was completed I rode around Fort Snelling this afternoon, seeking out some sandy trails and such to test the set up. The tires did quite well on the loose surfaces and it was fun to bomb around on the bike like this. I'll spend some more time on it tomorrow (perhaps the Minnesota River Trail) and see how it is for single track.

A couple of observations right off the bat, however...

I still have the original Rando bar installed on the bike. I picked up a Woodchipper and will install that in the near future. The Rando bars, as much as I like them, don't feel right on trails to me. I find I want my arms a little further apart than the hoods of the Rando bars allow. Also, if I get serious about riding this off-road, I think I am going to pop for some slightly smaller chainwheels. I have a compact double on there now. I don't foresee needing a triple, but going down a notch or two on the chainwheels would give me more useful gears and help to push the big squashies down the trail.

That said, the Rawland handled it's short test ride quite well (keep in mind that I am no off-road expert, so a more skilled rider might say it was great). It was encouraging enough that this bike is back in the rotation, and we'll likely be going to Mendota tomorrow.

I'll try to remember my camera so I don't have to re-use old photos for the update...

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