Just got back from the Iowa Bike Expo (and pal Steve F's excellent bikepacking talk), but since I'm still unpacking my brain and my photos, I'll do an expose on the latest test platform here at The Cycle instead, one that I've been hinting about for a while.
Apparently, I was so excited about this bike that I couldn't hold still for the full-bike shot, hence the blurriness:
I decided to do a new twist on the "bicycle leaning against a garage door" photo here, leaning it against a door IN my garage instead. What you're seeing is a late-90s/early 2000s Litespeed Appalachian touring/cyclocross/whatever bike, 61cm. I'm guessing the Litespeeders got hammered by the enthusiast nerd crowd back in the day because this thing is neither a true touring bike nor a true cyclocross bike... too low and laid back for 'cross racing, and not nearly eyeletted enough (or long-chainstayed enough) for loaded touring. But for my twisted tendencies, it's perfect: Slack seat angle, low bottom bracket, good tire clearance, awesomeness all around.
Here's what it looks like from the driver's seat:
Salsa Bell Lap bars, Tektro brake levers for the budget V-brakes, one bar-end shifter for the 1x8 drivetrain, and a stack o'spacers thanks to a previous owner who didn't chop the steerer. Yay, previous owners who leave steerers alone!
Since a lot of my readers are fat-tire and fender folk, here's a bit of tire clearance porn. Front end:
I'll admit, my Luddite tendencies have me a little wary of that carbon fee-bray fork, but you can't argue with that much air space underneath. I do have a replacement steel fork (thanks to my wonderful in-laws, who bought me just what I asked for even though they probably didn't know what it was) waiting to be installed, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.
And now, for some clearance out back:
This shot reveals one weirdness of the frame: It has dropout eyelets in the back, but no provisions on the bridges (brake or chainstay) for fender attachment, leaving me with the p-clamp bodge you see here and a zip-tie down below. I've long ago given up my snobbery about such things, though.
This drivetrain shot is really just so you can appreciate the clean weld at the cantilever posts. The dropout attachments look blobbier, but it's just a function of how they're attached. The weld itself is freakishly gorgeous.
And finally, a gratuitous headbadge shot. Why don't all bikes have nice headbadges? Is it a weight weenie thing? Stickers are lame by comparison. It's a coat of arms, for Pete's sake!
Most of my bikes get names, but for now, this one is called The Spork, in honor of the only other titanium thing I've purchased in my lifetime (my bionic femur doesn't count, since the insurance company bought that). My thinking is, it's a bike that -- like its utensil namesake -- can do a little bit of everything. Sure, a spoon is better for eating soup, and a fork is better for eating salad, but try eating salad with a spoon or soup with a fork. A spork can do both.
Since I picked up this beauty right at the end of decent riding weather, it hasn't been thoroughly tested, but so far, I'm impressed. Light, lively, just flat-out fun to ride. I knew I had something special when it didn't feel like a complete dog with snow tires -- a little more sluggish, sure, but still a fun ride. Really looking forward to spring, when I plan to put many, many miles on this mule.