Shop Life in Bicycle Land: A Random Ramble

There are days that you get to ride fancy dream bikes.  There are days that you get to ride budget bikes.  There are lots of days you don't get to ride at all. 

It's funny, because with all of the bikes I have tried and owned, one of my favorites is still my Surly 1X1.  It's been modified with an angle grinder, touched up with spray paint, and cobbled together with a parts mix spanning 1996 to present.  It was set up as a mountain bike originally, and now serves a more utilitarian role.  But it's comfy, capable, and pretty much bombproof.

I think we often get too caught up on WHAT we ride, and don't focus enough on the fact THAT we ride.  Cycling is a lifestyle we all share in a lot of ways, and no matter what sort of bike (or what wheel size...) you choose, we're all in the same boat together..... Sentanced to life behind bars.

Making a MONSTER: Part 3

Well, lots of other fun shop projects......and the realization that I have to do some real work every day..... has slowed the Ice Cream MONSTER Truck project a bit over the past few weeks.  But, a renewed interest in making the most monstrous monster ever had the ICT back on the stands this week, and there is much to report.

Namely....... IT LIVES!!!

But, I'm getting ahead of myself from a blog perspective.

The key to making this whole thing functional and ride-able came in the form of a new WolfTooth Drop-Stop chainring.  While most companies seem to ignore Surly's wacky (yet functionally awesome) "OD" crankset, WolfTooth decided to bust out some sweeeeeeet new 1x rings to fit the off kilter 94bcd 5-bolt set-up.  We brought in a bunch of the 28t and 30t options, but decided to use the 28t in this case, because of the SnowShoe 2XL's crazy huge outside diameter.

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The real thing that makes these rings worth every cent in this application is the fact that they are machined with a small "shelf" on the crank side which effectively places the center line of the chainring right smack dab in the middle of where the inner and outer chainrings would normally reside.

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And what does that mean in practice?  Two things mainly:

1. In a "standard" 1x set-up, these rings will give you a chain line that effectively "splits the difference" of the standard 2x chainring positions.  In layman terms.....it works really well.

2. In a "not standard" 1x set-up.......and by that I mean, "If you choose to run SnowShoe 2XL tires..... on 100mm rims no less.....the chain still clears the tire with 3-4mm of clearance in the largest rear cog (which in our case is a giant 42 tooth compliments of a great SunRace MS3 11-42t cassette).

Sure it doesn't seem like much clearance in a picture, but it works just fine (and honestly is about as much clearance as you get with some stock set-ups anyway).

And there you have it....... Wheel Life Cyclery has made a Ice Cream MONSTER Truck!  Once the trial and error part was out of the way, it's actually a pretty simple conversion, and nothing that's too hard on the pocket book either.

The bike is in the shop (and technically available...) if anyone wants to come witness this beast in person.  Pictures REALLY do not do justice to how big these tires really are!

Making a MONSTER: Part 2

No photos this week sadly, but some updates on the Ice Cream MONSTER Truck (ICMT?) none the less.

With our attention turned to the drive line, it quickly seemed like the extra tire width was possibly going to contribute to interference with the chain.  Luckily, we had multiple plans in mind to try to counter this:

Plan 1:  Cross our fingers that everything would miraculously work with no real changes.  While we were very hopeful here.....we were also realistic enough to not stop out planning hat this point.  Sure enough, in the front small chainring and the granny gear out back, the chain was within a millimeter of hitting the tire.  Clearly not acceptable, since these tires will certainly require some easy gearing.

Plan 2: Swap out the 2x drivetrain to a 1x set-up.  Out went the 11-36t cassette, and on went a sweeeeeeet 11-42t stack.  Out front we stuck with the Surly OD cranks, and opted for their 28t narrow-wide ring and matching bashguard.  Unfortunately here, the 28t ring resides in the same spot as the stock 22t granny.  It's an ideal location with "normal" 4.8" tires, but here it doesn't cut the mustard and creates the same rubbing.

Plan 3: New crankset.  The interweb speaks of some Race Face cranks that fit the ICT, and with the new cinch mount aboard, the possibility of finding a gear that would give clearance seemed likely.  But new cranks ain't cheap, we didn't have any in the shop that fit the bill, and quite frankly it seemed like a bit of a waste to toss out a perfectly good set of OD's.

Plan 4: Try more chainrings.  With a bit of searching thru catalogs from our various distributors, a possibly easy solution presented itself.  A quick "Add to Cart" was busted out moments before the boss man checked out the order, and now some fancy new rings are soon to be en route.

More updates soon!

Making a MONSTER: Part 1

Every once and a while a bike is released upon the masses that just changes everything.  I feel that at the forefront of this statement, clearly must stand Surly.  On the oversized tire front, their Pugsley can be credited for making fatbikes what they are today, the Moonlander introduced us to how fat FAT could be, and the Krampus showed us that Plus could be a plus.  And then there was the Ice Cream Truck.....

The ICT showed us that you could take the fattest of the fat wheels and tires, combine them with the fattest of the fat industry spacing standards, and toss in some long and low geometry to make a quick handling monster truck of a bicycle.  The Ice Cream Truck is a true Go Anywhere bike that will suit you well in all 4 seasons, no matter what stands in your path.

But what if that's just not good enough?

There are certain types of people out there that always have to push the boundaries.  Spicy just isn't spicy enough.  Fast just isn't fast enough.  Big just isn't big enough.  Fat just isn't FAT enough.  Enter Vee Racing and the SnowShoe 2XL Tire.

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This beastly beast of a tire was released upon the industry in 2016 without a single bike available to swallow up it's 5.05" width.  While a "mere" quarter of an inch wider than a 4.8" tire doesn't seem like much, it has to be witnessed in person to truly understand it's actual physical size ramifications.  The extra width also causes the outside diameter to balloon up to an astounding 30.5" (as measured mounted to 100mm Clown Shoe rims).  That's right, it's a full 1.5" taller than a Schwalbe Jumbo Jim 4.0 mounted on 80mm rims.  It's a brute among brutes.

Naturally the Surly Ice Cream Truck seemed like the logical bike to swallow this up.  Many folks tried, and the huge O.D was what thwarted them.  But clearly this couldn't be the end? 

With a bit of quiet time at the shop, the WLC crew was on it.  After much persistence (and maybe some harassment), we finally managed to get our hands on a few sets of Surly's latest MSD drop out chips.......

These little babies have a few sweet tricks up their sleeves.  To be precise....by "a few" I mean 4 that I have found so far:

1. Allows you to utilize a standard (non-direct mount) rear derailleur.

2. Allows you to lengthen OR shorten the rear chainstay length over the stock location.

3. Allows you to mount more......er.......stuff to your bike with the addition of another set of eyelets.

4. Allows you to squeeze in Vee Racing SnowShoe 2XL 5.05" tires!!!!!

As teased on Surly's own social media accounts many moons ago, the 2XL fits with no issues in the overly spacious front fork.  With a workable amount of space in the back, the project is moving ahead. 

Next up......getting the driveline to work.

A Return to the Ride..... Muskrat Loop Mutterings

Early on Monday afternoon I found myself with a rare break in my eternal "To Do" list, and a sideways glance at my weather station was rewarded with the knowledge that the great outdoors was sitting at a seemingly balmy -10 degrees Celsius.

I thought about my Surly Pugsley, and how it was filthy and in desperate need of a tune up.  I thought about how long it's been since I've actually gone for a ride in the "cold", and how I wasn't even 100% on what to wear (my knowledge of winter layering seems to have been replaced with the ability to estimate how many diapers and bottles of milk I need to pack for an afternoon out).  Then I thought about how it seemed like I was stalling and making mental excuses.......

Okay, here we go.  Current ghetto socks?  Ya, they're likely fine.  Old cycling liners, insulated tights (complete with holes), and an old pair of hiking pants?  Ya, that should work.  Top layer........Hmmmm..........old merino wool long sleeve shirt (again, c/w holes), thin zip-up synthetic mid-layer designed for hiking, and a fleece hoodie.  Seems legit.  Feet get a pair of Gen1 45NRTH Wolvhammers, face gets a 45NRTH Lung Cookie, and hands slip into 45NRTH Sturmfist 5's.  Looks like I'm ready.

Toss a leg over the trusty Pug, turn Eastward, and start pedaling.  The cold is pretty biting on my lungs, so I pull up the face-guard over my nose.  Much better.  5 minutes of snowy gravel later, and I'm starting to warm up nicely.  The sun is out, and the wind isn't too bad, so the kilometers start to roll by.  The gravel soon turns to untracked snow and I soon realize I've worn too many layers.  I pause briefly to unzip the air vents on my hoodie and pants, and have a quick drink of water.  Oh right..... the nozzle on the bottle is frozen solid.

Back on the bike.....the resistance of smooth soft powder and prairie wind blown snow drifts reminds my legs with warming pain that it's been a while since I've been in the saddle.  It's funny how life can keep you off the bike sometimes.....hours turn to days......days turn to weeks, and suddenly it's almost an embarrassing long amount of time since your last ride.  It just happens.  It doesn't seem like a big deal.  And maybe it really isn't.  But then you ride again.....you get back on......and thru all the cold and the pain and the suffering, you find yourself grinning like an idiot, and unable to justify why you've been gone so long.  And so I apologize for my negligence to my trusty fatty, as we continue to grind along in silence next to 10km+ of fresh coyote tracks.

Eventually my bike would lead me back home.  Back to warmth.  Back to family.  Back to reality.  And back to frosty congratulatory beverages and hot food.  And with sore legs and residual smiles, I would sit back and spend the rest of my day starting the daydream-esque countdown to my next ride.  Perhaps it will be tomorrow, perhaps it will be next week, perhaps it will be next month.  And honestly, it doesn't matter.....as long as there is a next ride.

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Ya Gotta Start Somewhere

It was -24.9 degrees Celsius when I woke up this morning.

Upon seeing this on my thermometer, I'll be honest.....the first series of words that sprung to my mind wasn't, "Hey, I should start a shop blog".  But in all likelihood, the cold will be here for a while (because Canada), and since I can't ride my FATbike and be in the shop at the same time (because trying to be an adult), I figure I may as well find some other outlet for my love of cycling. 

And so begins the WLC Blog........

Now what, you might ask, are we planing on using this blog for?  I mean, we already have an Instagram account for photos, a Facebook page for facebooking, AND a website....... and well, to be really honest, I'm not quite sure what this blog will be about.  Most likely it will be about bikes, cycling, and how it all fits into (or controls?) our lives.  Maybe it will be random tales from the shop.  Perhaps epic stories from the trail.  Maybe a fun way to document some of the cool custom builds we do for our customers.  Maybe we can do a guest blog segment.  Maybe we'll just make it up as we go.  Regardless, it will very likely contain rambling rambles, grammatical errors, and on some level, as least a hopeful shred of information and/or entertainment for anyone who wants to read it.

Welcome to our words.....