The weekend saw me clocking up some miles on the Troll ahead of flying to Morocco tomorrow.
The bike is in fine fettle. Now sporting some bigger boots in the shape of some increasingly rare folding Schwalbe Marathon Extremes 2.25″, the ride has softened appreciably which will help if we do venture off road. The mudguards have been removed for this trip, primarily to easing packing in my Evoc bike bag. However, in contrast to UK riding, I don’t think this act will have any negative effect on the weather. I expect it to be dry and, at times, pretty durn hot.
Given the lack of activity on these pages, you’d be forgiven for thinking that I’d gone into hibernation. Not true, although the hours I’ve spent nose pressed to computer screen for the day job have monopolised my thoughts (and senses) somewhat. There’s been little room for much else – a hibernation of sorts, then.
I’m not complaining as it’s been rewarding work, but time for activity worthy of addition to the Northern Walker back catalogue has been limited. There are a few things of note, however.
Early thoughts on a Rohloff hub
Every conceivable characteristic of the Rohloff Speedhub has been covered elsewhere in magazines, blogs and forums. I’m not going to add too much to this exhaustive reading list although I’m pleased to report that after about 300 miles on my Surly Troll, the hub is starting to settle down.
As others have reported, there is noise in gears 1-7 and seven is a pepper grinder. Gears 8-14 are silent on the flat, with a little noise under load.
There is a minor sensation of vibration through the cranks under load too, but this getting less pronounced with use it seems.
The hub will not freewheel like a derailleur and probably never will – aggressive seals and internal gubbins are to blame here. I have followed Rohloff’s advice and dropped a little oil behind the rear sprocket has this has helped free things up a little. More miles will help too.
I also concur with other users who have complained about the shift in weight distribution due to the hub and how this can deaden the rear end of the bike. When I first built my Troll I found it surprisingly sprightly despite its heft and much of that character has now gone. This is not a problem, as the bike feels far more stable and more suited to touring, but it’s something to bear in mind of you’re thinking of fitting the hub to a mountain bike or monster crosser.
While the potential negatives are readily apparent from these early rides, so are the positives. I really appreciate the clean drivetrain, the ability to change gear while stationary, the evenly spaced ratios, the overall positive feel of the hub and the lack of fettling.
I also have the confidence that minor niggles with the hub are likely to get better with age.
Saying farewell to the Green Goddess
I put my Thorn Club Tour up for sale a few weeks ago. I had a few enquiries from prospective buyers in the States and Australia would you believe, while others wanted my to break the bike down and sell off the components separately. Another thought it a bit too old school (!)
Eventually I had an email from a rider in the Netherlands who was in the market for a lighter touring rig. We agreed a price and I got to work trying to find a suitable shipping carrier.
This proved to be difficult. I didn’t want to break the bike down too much to prevent squashed dropouts but most couriers’ package restrictions would not accommodate a large bicycle in a box. I asked the ever helpful folk at my LBS Keep Pedalling and they suggested some good courier options, only the price wasn’t right.
Then I came cross Direct Courier Solutions, a broker that has secured favourable rates from mainstream couriers for larger items. A bike to Netherlands would cost £70 (plus £7.50 for optional insurance cover of up to £1000). This was half the price of other quotes I’d received.
Save for a missed collection on my initial booked day, the bike shipped by Fedex in five days. Online tracking was excellent.
I’m pleased to say that the Club reached its new owner in fine condition (although I did spend an age packing it) and he seems very happy with his new ride. The whole process has given me a great deal of satisfaction, topped by the fact that this bike and its new owner will be going on plenty of adventures in the New Year…
Let me eat cake
I’ve had a few chats over the Interweb with the author of the blog Life in the Cycle Lane. We share a similar taste in bikes (not Bromptons!) and bike shops, and had the opportunity to meet a couple of times over the last few weeks.
Tim, the gent in question, is a fine fellow with a far finer beard than mine and, when not in the cycle lane, spends many a weekend selling cake with his other half Karen.
Not only would I commend his blog to those of a pedalling disposition, I’d also recommend The Baking Room, the source of said cake.
I am a fan of the Parkin and the delicious gluten-free marmalade cake, but I really must fess up my addiction to their excellent Guinness-ginger-dark chocolate bites. These flavoursome nuggets are a marriage made in heaven and highly recommended.
Picked up my Surly Troll Mk2 at the weekend and thought I would post some pictures. Components were a little different in the end as I opted for an SP PD8 dynamo hub. However, this 32-hole hub required a new rim too so I ended having a full set of wheels built on Mavic XM 719s.
I like it… I like it a lot. In fact, I like so much that my traditional workhorse-touring bike – a rather classy Thorn Club Tour – hasn’t had a look-in. It sits in the garage, ready for action, yet I keep on reaching for the Troll.
Iceland sits in the North Atlantic between the UK and Greenland. It takes just over two hours to fly to the main international airport at Keflavik, which is approximately 40km away from the capital Reykjavik.
If taking your own bicycle, you must check your airline’s current rules and regs for bike carriage. These can vary between airlines and it’s a good idea to take a print out of the rules to save any additional fuss at the check-in desk.
I flew with Iceland Air from Manchester. My flight cost a shade over £200 and I ended up paying another £100 to cover the cost of bike carriage both ways, all paid at the check-in desk. The airline also requests that you reserve a space for the bike in the baggage hold which I did separately by email. Continue reading →
While searching for a way of (hopefully) safely and conveniently transporting my Surly Troll by plane to Iceland, I encountered a small problem.
My requirements were fairly straightforward, a light box or bag with wheels what would be easy to transport, offer some protection and be easy to store at home.
Purpose made boxes tend to be heavier although, in general, offer the best protection. Bags offer less protection, although can be lighter and have the advantage of being collapsible to ease storage at home and at my destination.
One factor that didn’t initially figure in my thinking was size, though. I naively assumed that boxes and bags would be designed to take large frames… not so.
After much deliberation, scanning forums, and talking to bike shop owners, I settled on the Evoc bike travel bag.
I grumbled about the price, but hope to use this over the next few years for tours and justified the outlay on those terms. I just hope it lasts.
I did check the CTC’s advice on this matter and they suggest wrapping the bike, assembled with bars twisted, in a clear polythene bag. I understand the logic, but don’t feel comfortable with the suggestion!
It would be premature to review the Evoc bag here and I’ll give my initial impressions after my trip. However, I thought folks might like to know that the 22inch Troll frame will fit in the bag, although I did have to rotate the stem.
If you are unfamiliar with the Evoc bag, you need to remove wheels (and remove rotors), pedals, racks (in my case) and handle bars. I also bridged the dropouts and placed additional protection around the chainset and chain along with plenty of pipe lagging. As an additional precaution, I removed the rear mech and cable tied this to the stay
Ahead of my fortnight to Iceland, I’ve been readying the Surly Troll for more regular touring.
This has, largely, involved swapping my basic suspension fork for the steel version that shipped with the frame.
Onto this fork has gone a Tubus Duo rack, which will be easier to transport when the bike is part-dismantled for flying.
Fitting the Duo was fairly straightforward save for ensuring there was enough clearance around the disc brake calliper. The provided spacer and two additional washers achieved this quite nicely, providing enough room to make adjustments to the Avid BB7 calliper if needed.
A fair amount has been written on the Troll’s ability to carry load. Given its do-it-all credentials and MTB-like geometry, much of the weight sits on the back of the bike compared to, say, my Thorn Club.
That said, 25 miles over the hills this morning have erased doubts over the Troll’s load carrying abilities. The frame feels stiff and keeps everything under control.
You’ll note from the pic that the rear panniers are a bit far back but this didn’t cause any of those horrible tail-wagging-dog descents.
With normal touring kit in the panniers, I think it’s going to perform just fine.