Category Gear
« Fatbike | Main | General »

Saturday, April 30, 2011

9:ZERO:7 is ready!

 

Finally! The building took a lot longer than I planned, for several reasons.

With this bike project I wanted to do a little 'color coding', and the main colors are black and red. This caused a little problem with the brake hoses. The Jagwire HyFlow Quick-Fit is not directly compatible with my old brakes, Hayes HSX-9 (G2). But after some searching I figured out that they could work with an another Quick-Fit fitting kit, for Avid Elixir, as the caliper end seems to be similar to Hayes HFX-9. Thanks for Jan of Pyöristi for fast service, the fitting kit arrived on Friday, just in time for the weekend.

I was a little nervous if my tweaking would really work. The bleeding went suprisingly well, althought not really suprise as I have a very good DIY bleeding kit. And oh yes, they work!

Here is the complete component list:

Frame: 9:ZERO:7 medium size, black
Fork: Salsa Enabler
Rear derailleur: Shimano XT Shadow RD-M772
Front derailleur: Shimano SLX M660 E-type
Shifters: SRAM Plasma 8-speed (*)
Headset: Chris King NoThreadSet
Bottom Bracket: FSA Platinum DH ISIS 100mm
Crankset: FSA Alpha Drive 175mm
Pedals: Shimano PD-M520 (*)
Brakes: Hayes HFX-9 G2 (*)
Cassette: Shimano CS-HG70 8-speed
Chain: Shimano CN-HG91
Stem: FSA XC-170 120mm/6° (*)
Handlebar: BBB SkyBar 60cm (*)
Seatpost: Thomson Elite 30.9mm/41cm
Saddle: Selle Italia Flite (*)
Grips: Ergon R2M Magnesium (*)
Tires: Surly Larry 3.8" 120TPI
Tubes: Bontrager 26X2.8
Cables: Jagwire L3
Brake hoses: Jagwire HyFlow T 5.0
Seat collar: Salsa Liplock
Front wheel: Vicious Cycles Graceful Fat Sheba 80mm, Surly 135mm hub
Rear wheel: Vicious Cycles Graceful Fat Sheba 80mm, Shimano XT hub

(*) = parts from the old bike.

The bike weights in 15.380 kgs / 33.90 lbs.

 

More photos:

 

 

 

I went for a short test ride in the evening and sunset...

 

 

 

 

First impression: mountain biking revolutionsed!! I had big expectations and it seems that they are more than fulfilled. The bike doesn't feel heavy at all. It accelerates much better than I expected. The 100mm wide bottom bracket doesn't feel bad. I'm impressed. The test ride was very short so the full capabilities were not even closely shown. I will do a longer ride on Sunday, and an overnighter probably in the next two weeks time. And of course the next winter will be a real test.

And oh yes, riding this bike causes huge smile on my face! :-)

So why I chose 9:ZERO:7? There are several reasons. Basically the other choices currently are Surly Pugsley, Salsa Mukluk, Fatback and Sandman. All of them are certainly good, but 907 meets my needs best:

- Look!
- Geometry, closer to my old setup.
- Down tube bottle cage mount and Salsa Enabler fork with back-of-fork-leg bottle mounts for best possible bikepacking setup.
- Aluminum frame for lightness.
- Possibility for a 29er setup, versatility for year-round use in bikepacking, commuting, trail riding, even racing.
- Affordable and good availibity from CRC of Alaska/Fatbikes.com.
- Look! :-)

Huge thanks for Chain Reaction Cycles of Alaska for their awesome customer service! I highly recommend them if you are interested in purchasing a fatbike.

By Toni at 9:42 | Permalink |
Category: 9:ZERO:7, Fatbike, Gear

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Finally!

The frame and parts of the new bike project arrived finally today to the Customs of Turku, and I picked them up this afternoon.

 

 

 

 

More photos and writing as build progresses.

By Toni at 19:10 | Permalink |
Category: 9:ZERO:7, Fatbike, Gear

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New camera... and the new bike project!

 

I've been using Olympus µTough-8000 camera for over a year. It's not a bad camera but the image quality is not so good you would expect for a 12MP camera, and it doesn't have manual controls. Last week I saw a commercial in a newspaper. Citymarket happened to have their "Mammoth market" days, and they were selling Canon PowerShot SX130 IS for a real bargain price. It has pretty good reviews on the net, like here and here. So I went and purchased it. The camera's best features are a very good image quality, 12x zoom, HD 720p video and manual controls. Much better night/low light photos should be now possible with a tripod. I've been testing the camera every day and I'm pretty impressed with it. Here are some shots taken during todays commute back home.

 

 

The new bike project: this has been in my mind for a couple of years and it's finally taking place. I revealed in the post Blizzard commute that it will be a fat bike. But what kind of fat bike? At first I was thinking about a poor man's choice: wider 40mm rims with a tyre as wide as possible to fit my current winter bike. But that would be a compromise, actually too much of a compromise. It has been said for countless times that it is not even close to true fat bike. So next choice is of course some of the true fat bikes that are currently available: Surly Pugsley, Fatback, Sandman and 9:ZERO:7. Mine will be one of them, but only the frame. All usable parts from the current winter bike will be transferred to the new frame, plus there will be of course a new wheelset+tires and a couple of new components. Teasing will last for only a couple of weeks, as I received email that my frame and parts will be shipped soon. Meanwhile, my website colors are now updated with the color theme of my new bike, black and red...

By Toni at 20:33 | Permalink |
Category: Gear, Photographing

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Freezing overnighter

The weather has been record cold for this winter in this week, nightly lows has been -25°C to -29°C and daily highs -10 to -15°C. This weekend looked very good for an extreme overnighter with a full moon. I was too tired on Friday evening and didn't have enough time to prepare properly. So I decided to have a go on Saturday night. The destination was the lean-to of Hevonpää in Paimio, a place where I haven't been before, and not too far away.

The goal of this overnighter was to see if I can still be comfortable even with the very cold conditions. Forecasts predicted -28°C for the night. My Marmot Never Summer sleeping bag is rated for -18°C, with the survival rating being at -37°C. Not really enough but I have a very warm wool sweater and old down jacket. Also, I decided to take two pairs of wool socks and two new Vaude pocket warmers. I knew that without them my foot would be too cold and that would make my night pretty miserable.

I left home late, somewhere 11PM, temperature at -24°C. The start was awesome and stunning.

The two batteries of my camera were fully charged, but the first one died after these shots! Not a suprise, as Olympus uTough-8000 has a full metal frame.

I rode very slowly, trying to not to sweat, that was the key for sleeping well in the night. Things went as planned for the first 40 minutes, althought the gears of my bike didn't work properly. My plan was to get to the lean-to in an hour, and I estimated that this way my foot would not get too cold. Wrong. My toes started to hurt slightly after the first 30-40 minutes, but I moved them and the situation was still in my control. The Moose Mitts pogies and Orso two-finger gloves were almost not enough, but they were ok.

I was getting closer to my destination, the only problem now was to find it. I had looked the maps at home and figured that the lean-to should be easy to find, as the instructions says that the route should be marked with yellow strips. I rode two of the small side roads of the 110-road. On the later one, I found a couple of yellow strips but nothing else.

After this photo also my second battery died. Things didn't look too good. My toes were pretty cold. Then I found some ski tracks nearby. I decided to hike and see if they lead to the lean-to. They didn't. I had also early signs of bonking and ate some frozen chocolate raisins. I had also sandwiches but they were, of course, pretty frozen.

The clock was probably close to 2AM in the night. I could have camped to snowdrift, but it didn't feel as a good idea. I decided to abort my trip and head to home. As a plan B I could camp to a place very close to my home where there is some kind of shelter, depending how I feel. But I was running out of time, the night would be too short. And the conditions felt even colder.

I was home at 3.30AM. This was a right decision, look what had happened to the pocket warmers!

Completely frozen. The temperature was -28°C at home! I don't know what kind of liquid it is inside of the warmers, and haven't found the information on the net, but the freezing point is fairly high. In the future I have to keep them in my jersey pockets.

Interesting overnighter! I'm a little disappointed in not finding the lean-to, but I'm not giving up. If the opportunity comes, I will try this again.

Peter managed to do a lot more succesful overnighter on skis on Friday/Saturday night, check out his report, awesome stuff!

By Toni at 13:02 | Permalink |
Category: Adventures, Gear, Photographing

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Chasing sunset

 

Above photo was taken this week on Monday (31st of January 2011). There hasn't been many opportunities this winter to take good sunset photos (or sunrises), but this Monday evening was very good for that. I took a lot of photos, and some of theme are here, take a look. Sunsets and sunrises are probably my favourite theme for landscape photographing. I hope I will catch a lot of more good sunsets this year...

After Monday the scenes has looked pretty much this:

January was warm. Too warm. On the other hand it could have been a lot worse. In 2007 there wasn't snow in January at all, maybe a little in the end of that month, and there were some pretty heave rainfalls.

There has been lately some predictions that the end of this winter will be very cold and could last even to the early April. Interesting to see what will happen.

Slushy conditions have not been really an issue for me, commuting has gone very well. And a very nice thing is how well the Revelate Designs bags work for grocery shopping. And small packets are easily transported with the seatpost rack:

Today's commuting featured both slush and ice:

Today I finally received a cook and cutlery set for my adventure gear, and I will test them soon:

By Toni at 23:29 | Permalink |
Category: Commuting, Gear, Photographing

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Just a small packet...

This small packet arrived today from the UK, a fast delivery, despite all the chaos:

 

Yes, Alpkit Airlok XTra dry bags and Hunka bivvy. And just a little bit of Christmas theme. :-)

By Toni at 23:21 | Permalink |
Category: Gear

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Blizzard commute

Wow! It's almost hard to believe that we have so good start to this winter. The last winter (2009/2010) was absolutely awesome but is it possible that it will be the same also this time, or even better? It looks like it at the moment. After today's stunning blizzard the ten day forecast promises very cold weather as the night temperatures can drop even to -20°C. Early december is forecasted to be a little warmer but still well under freezing point. The start of this winter is much better than last year. All this leads to speculation of a very exciting, maybe-once-in-a-lifetime, adventure. But everything is possible and it's way too soon to be elated...

Today's commuting was again like a tiny adventure. Riding through a blizzard with excellent set of LED lights and other good gear is a fantastic experience! The very familiar milieu suddenly transforms to very exciting place. It's interesting that over the years I'm liking more and more of challenging conditions.

Also a nice suprise today was that my Nokian Hakka 300/WXC 300 tyres weren't so bad in the snow. Yes, they still sucked but not too badly. But I really hope that my forthcoming bike project will happen. In the post Some late fall things I hinted about it. So what could it be...? Fairly easy to guess. I have good hardtail mtb, cyclocross, road (+TT) and singlespeed bikes already, so yes, it will be a fat bike/floatation bike. But actually it will be much more. And more about that later...

By Toni at 20:06 | Permalink |
Category: Commuting, Gear

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Some late fall things

 

I have been doing most of my fall commutes with the commuter mtb/winter adventure bike, like on Mondday, but I decided on Monday night that it's time for the cyclocross bike on Tuesday. Although cyclocross bike with fenders is good choice for bad weather conditions, I have saved it more for summer use. In the morning it was really foggy, but in the afternoon it was kind of 'standard fall grey' and I took a couple of photos.

It's always a little funny feeling to ride with the cyclocross bike after a long break - the bike feels pretty light and fast.

I was already planning to do Wednesday morning commute with the singlespeed and via the trail route, but it seems that it will be slightly rainy so I will do that probably on Thursday. This is kind of 'a special commuting week', almost everyday with a different bike.

Tonight I did a small upgrade for my primary bike. After I started using riser handlebars with the winter commuter and singlespeed, I felt that the flat bar of my primary bike is a little too narrow and lacking comfort. So I found PRO Riser15 low-riser bar from Pyöristi.

Before:

After:

The old flat bar was only 56cm wide, the new low-riser is 60cm wide. Wider bars offers better control on technical trails, but low-riser keeps it also aggressive for marathon and 24-hour racing.

On Friday evening I will be heading out for an overnighter with Yeti and Jan. Destination is new to us, includes a lean-to and is not far away - getting excited!

And speaking of exciting things, I have a new bike project on the horizon! If all stars will be aligned right, this could happen in the spring of next year. But what kind of bike? Let's say that very much adventure, very much fun... stay tuned.

By Toni at 22:20 | Permalink |
Category: Commuting, Gear, General

Friday, August 13, 2010

Summer overnighter at Huso

After postponing this overnighter in the early part of the week due to rainy weather, it was finally time for it on Wednesday evening. And it was beautiful evening. Packing my new frame and gas tank bags were a nice suprise. They don't look that big but there is plenty of room. I managed to pack one thermos bottle, one 1 litre water bottle, arm and knee warmers, a couple of sandwiches, Lumicycle LED4 battery and Olympus uTough 8000 camera. The new air sleeping pad, summer sleeping bag and pillow were nicely fitted to rear rack. Purposefully I didn't take my hydration pack with me.

When the sun set I was ready:

I rode first via my trail-commute-route that I haven't ridden for a long time:

It was dark but riding went really well with the powerful LED lights:

Closer to the hut of Huso:

The hut at night:

Sleeping place. The new pad and bag are great, but it's not so good idea to sleep on the ground of the hut as it came pretty cold in the night.

The hut in the morning:

On my way back to home in the next morning:

Some really nice trails:

 

A really nice adventure after the long break, but I'm already looking for more of these!

By Toni at 0:40 | Permalink |
Category: Adventures, Gear

Friday, August 06, 2010

Some new gear and some little plans

After a very long silence here is finally blog update. This summer was going to be different as I've been working with a huge renovation and construction project at home. But my cycling is not forgotten, as I'm going to ride Merida MTB Finlandia and do some overnight adventures.

In the late April I decided to not do DIY frame bag as I don't have enough time and necessary skills. So I ordered a custom frame bag and a "gas tank" bag from Revelate Designs (formerly known as Epic Designs). They finally arrived today and my instant reaction was that they are absolutely brilliant!

I have also purcased some other new gear from summer sales. A strap of my Nike MTB shoe broke in the early summer so I used my old Shimano shoes for commuting. But they are pretty worn out and the left shoe's base is inclined and causes strange and bad feeling in my foot. So new budget shoes, Shimano SH-M063.

For stictly adventure purposes I found Halti Summerlite sleeping bag, Primus Mimer stove and McKinley Camper 180 Air sleeping pad.

We had a real winter and now we have had a real hot summer. The weekend forecast looks great again, closer +30°C temperature for Sunday, and Saturday/Sunday night +20°C! Seems to me that I will do an overnighter and test the new gear...

By Toni at 23:11 | Permalink |
Category: Gear, General

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring in the air

 

Photo: A landscape view from my home, 17.3.2010 19:26.

The daily commuting is getting a little more challenging as temperatures hovers above and below 0°C. During last week the bike roads were really slushy, like in the photo below:

 

Now if that kind of stuff freezes during the night, you have probably the worst possible conditions in the next morning. For my "disappointment" this road was later cleared, althought maybe it's also better for me that I have fairly easy conditions in the mornings when I'm usually in a hurry.

When the conditions are slushy and wet in the afternoons, and icy in the mornings, it's better to have full fenders, disc brakes and studded tires. I have full fenders on my multi-purpose bike but it has tubeless wheelset/tires, and singlespeed doesn't have full fenders but it has normal rims with studded tires. I could install studded tires with inner tubes by removing tubeless valves but usually the valves are not airtight after removal. They are also pretty expensive so it's better to have a separate disc-brake wheelset for the multi-purpose bike. But then again, even a budget wheelset is too expensive for me at the moment, so what can I do? Fortunately I have old rim brake wheelset originally from Wheeler, and I decided to convert it to disc-brake wheelset with Jan the Pyöristi. The hubs are Shimano SLX and discs centerlock Shimano Deore.

 

 

 

First ride with these on the Monday morning, and conditions will be icy!

On Saturday I found a couple of cheap items for my adventure gear. KingCamp compression pillow (5,95€) and KingCamp fastening belts (4,95€).

 

Only one week of work and then it's the long waited winter holiday of two weeks! I have a lot of household chores to do, but I hope I can do a couple of longer rides and my plan is also to read two books: Alex Hibbert's The Long Haul and Jill Homer's Ghost Trails.

By Toni at 16:00 | Permalink |
Category: Commuting, Gear

Saturday, March 13, 2010

First overnighter

 

Before this winter is over I wanted to do an overnighter to test my gear and myself. Weather forecast looked perfect this weekend, with clear skies and night temperature around -10C. So I headed out late Friday evening.

But this overnighter was going to be more than just a test. I decided to go to Huso in Paimio, as it is fairly close (less than 20 km) from my home and there is a hut which provides some extra shelter. My goal in the future is of course to camp under sky but my sleeping gear is not enough for that yet. Also, I haven't been in that place before so it's should be a nice first time for me. And then, I wanted to take a lot of photos with a possibly beautiful sunrise.

Bike packed and ready to go:

 

The Lumicycle LED4 lights are really good:

In Huso, and next to the hut:

 

Next I was faced with a very hard bike push to the hut. I took this short video to show what was going on. Epic:

 

A night to remember:

 

Finally there! It was fairly easy to navigate to the hut because the trail was marked with ribbons and more importantly REFLECTORS!

 

Inside the hut:

The sun is rising:

 

The hut in the morning:

 

Another photo of my adventure bike:

This is a fantastic place:

 

My visit has been marked:

 

What I wanted to see:

 

The radio mast of Huso:

 

The road to back home:

 

Overall this overnighter was more extreme than I imagined. The bike pushing to the hut was really hard but very fun. The night was cold, about -10C. I didn't sleep too well, the first two hours was reasonable but after that I was feeling a little too cold. My McKinley Yukon sleeping bag is definitely not enough for these kind of conditions (limit comfort +1C). Fortunately I had a fishing overall in my backpack. It would have been slightly better with the extreme sleeping pad but I didn't take it with me as I ran out of storage place in my bike. In the morning I drank morning coffee from Retki thermos and it was still warm, and a couple of sandwiches. There is a lot to improve with my adventure gear, and preparation is always very imporatant, even for this kind of "mini adventure".

As I'm writing this I'm not tired at all! But the tiredness surely comes at some point. But what a night!

By Toni at 10:04 | Permalink |
Category: Adventures, Gear

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thoughts on gear

 

Photo: Testing the seatpost rack on 11.3.2010.

Cycling as a recreation leads quite easily to a situation where you don't own just one bike, you have several of them. In my case, I have six bikes: two hardtail mountain bikes, singlespeed, road bike, road TT bike and cyclocross bike. That should be enough, right? Definitely. But this fantastic winter started me to think about yet another bike project, snowbike/fatbike, like Surly Pugsley or Fatback. My first thought, for low-budget reasons, was to convert my current "multi-purpose" bike to snowbike, with Surly's Pugsley fork and Large Marge rim/Endomorph tire combo, and fit the rear wheel with the biggest tire it could take. But, the front of the bike would be probably too high and it would still be a compromise, compared to a complete snowbike. So, another option would be to purchase Pugsley frame and fork, and transfer all the parts from the current bike. With 29er wheels the bike would be really versatile. It would work as a commuter and an adventure / bikepacking bike throughout the year. But the next problem is budget. Pugsley frame+fork price is reasonable, but I would need two sets of wheels: Large Marge and 29er wheels. LM's with Endomorphs are suprisingly expensive, and fine quality 29er wheels are not cheap either. With Pugsley I would need also 100mm bottom bracket and maybe new crankset, new seatpost and headset. All this would cost well over 1000€ and that's way too much for at least a couple of years.

So instead, I'm thinking of a compromise that will fulfill my needs pretty well. The secondary / multi-purpose bike will be the primary adventure bike and will work as a snowbike with 48mm wide winter rims, to be purchased from Trail's Edge. The old suspension fork will be changed to a rigid fork with a front rack. This way I will save a lot of money and be able to improve bikepacking gear with a stove, winter sleeping bag and so on. BTW, found this blog with a great article of survival gear.

Also, I have plans for a DIY frame bag.

Next weekend I'm going to do my first overnighter and test how my current gear works.

And there is more exciting reading and following for this spring. In addition to Mike Curiak's Alaska adventure, Ben Saunders is trying for North Pole speed record.

By Toni at 18:34 | Permalink |
Category: Gear

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Commuting limits?

 

Photo: Commuting view, the morning of 4.3.2010.

I've been commuting by bike from 2007 almost every day, and I've been thinking if there is any kind of limit that would prevent me from commuting. Winters are usually the hardest if it's very cold (-20C or more). A lot of snow without snow clearers work can be also a factor, or if the roads are extremely icy. This winter there have been a lot of cold weather and also a lot of snow. My conclusion? No limits. My winter riding gear is now better with the bike pogies so I think I can commute even if the temperature drops to -30C, and here in South Finland it is very rare. But I have to admit that daily commuting is possible as the lenght is only 9,5 km and takes about 30 minutes. Maybe 20 km / 1 hour would be manageable but after that the time would be limiting factor. To my old work place it was well over 40 km. Daily that would be simply too much.

Actually the road conditions have been fairly easy this winter, as the temperature stayed below freezing from the end of December to late February, and snow clearers did their job pretty well. A couple of times I have had to ride thru a lot of snow but I like it when it's challenging. March is usually the worst when the roads are icy, and usually the ice is uneven.

 

Photo: Rugged bike road, 3.3.2010.

 

Photo: Beautiful Friday afternoon, 5.3.2010.

Here is a list of my usual winter riding clothes when it's very cold:

Last week I followed the 2010 Iditarod Trail Invitational, and also Mike Curiak is doing his awesome self-supported adventure.

BTW: as the Haloscan commenting system is closing down, I'm trying to convert the old comments to IntenseDebate.

By Toni at 11:42 | Permalink |
Category: Commuting, Gear

Saturday, February 13, 2010

3in1

I have always had hobbies. Music (piano lessons and much more), stamp collecting, photography, computers, besides cycling also a little of other sports. Many of those are still my hobbies but I'm not so active with them because of many other things in my life. But I'm very grateful to my parents and wife that I have had so good opportunities to pursue all these hobbies. And these hobbies tells a lot about me. With hobbies I have been always very ambitious and passionate and I can express myself very well with them.

When I was in school my dream work was to be a journalist. I was a trainee in Turun Sanomat when we had a so called TET (familiarizing with working life). Other things happened in my life and my profession is totally something else. But with this cycling blog I have found a way to actually pursue my dream. This is a lot like journalism.

So, as I like a lot of photographing (landscapes are my favourites), I purchased a new camera:

 

As the title says, my goal is to combine three of my hobbies: cycling, photography and blogging/journalism.

The bike pogies finally arrived yesterday and they seem really great:

 

 

I will be testing them tomorrow as I'm going to do a great winter ride with Yeti.

By Toni at 15:48 | Permalink |
Category: Gear, General

Saturday, January 30, 2010

New look

As you can see, I have updated the look of my blog. The old all-gray background felt really boring and Twitter/Facebook gadgets were messy. As a "new" partner there is also the logo of my favourite local bike shop Pyöristi. There is also a new version (1.5.1) of the blog software that I use, Thingamablog. The banner photo will be changed too, as soon as a new photo will be taken.

Over the past two weeks there has been conflicting local news about the possible iceroads in the archipelago of Turku, as one news said it could be possible. But the latest news in Turun Sanomat says that there won't be any iceroads this winter, as the ice is too thin and there is too much insulating snow above ice. As an alternative I have been planning for a substitute ice adventure from Paimio to Kemiö, but it has snowed even more so that is not so likely either. One option would be to ride the normal Archipelago looproad like in the summer time. Some kind of long winter ride or even small adventure would be very nice as my bike commuting has lately been pretty monotonous.

I have been also waiting for the bike pogies from Trail's Edge Outdoors. I received an email yesterday that they have been finally shipped to me. It takes probably 1-2 weeks. I'm really looking forward for them as my hands were really suffering during commutes last week with -20C temperatures.

Sometimes I'm dreaming about a very long (2-3 weeks) bike adventures, but look at this, really unbeliavable!

By Toni at 22:08 | Permalink |
Category: Adventures, Commuting, Gear, General