Remember me?

Van Nicholas Amazon Rohloff

The Van Nicholas Amazon Rohloff: Titanium everything, a 14-speed Rohloff hub and Gates Carbon Drive.

Me neither. I used to be that shaven-legged, devil-may-care, funny man about town. Now I’m a hairy old fat bastard striving mightily to find a way to make money without working. Imagine my disappointment.

First, the good news: I have actually ridden a bicycle every day this week. The bad news? It wasn’t my bicycle. And I rode it very, very slowly.

But enough about me. The Olympics are coming up this weekend, and word is that Saturday’s road race will be The World Vs. Mark Cavendish. Good luck with United Nations v2.0, guys. It makes my hunt for free money look like a sure thing.

I lost interest in the Games when pros became involved, and I can’t recall an Olympic road race that was half as interesting as an industrial-park crit, so I will be paying attention only when someone is paying me.

Frankly, the only Olympic sports that have ever meant a rat’s ass to me are track and field, swimming and gymnastics. Running and swimming may be the purest forms of sport, and gymnastics … that’s just plain fun to watch.

But right now I’d rather do than watch. See that bike up there? I’m going to go ride it somewhere, then come back and write about it. Beer may be involved. It’s as close to not working for money as I’m ever likely to get.

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21 Responses to “Remember me?”

  1. Larry T. Says:

    Nice gig if you can make it work. Sort of like mine – get folks to pay to ride with you (in Italy) and while I don’t have to write about it (except for some bloggage) I do have to look after ’em now and then, making sure they don’t get lost, get the right food and wine, etc.. As to the Olympic Games – the pro angle makes it more interesting – imagine guys who make millions racing for nothing more than a gold medal – in some ways it’s the essence of SPORT. I’ll be tuning in to watch whatever the NBC folks will show of the bike race, which I suspect won’t be much. And cheering for anybody BUT Cavendish to win!!!

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      As work goes, it beats standing up to your hips in a ditch on the wrong end of an idiot stick, to be sure. But I disagree about “racing for nothing more than a gold medal.” The real gold comes at contract-negotiation time, when you get to wave that rascal at the boss and say, “Anyone else on your crew got one of these? No? Then pay me.”

      I’m with you on Cav’, though. Much respect to him and to Wiggo’ for their performances in Le Tour, but still, damn. Can some other brother win a bike race up in this bitch?

      • Larry T. Says:

        Ya really think Sammy Sanchez got a pile o’ euros after winning the Gold in China? How much more loot did the USA basketball team get after winning? Sometimes it IS about the game rather than the cash. LeTour and Cavendish? Won what, two stages? Tough race that and the Giro when you can’t hold onto the cars over the big climbs, eh?

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Larry, I’m not talking about a bunch of Yankee hoopsters. Basketball? You want to talk about a sport that doesn’t follow its own rules, you don’t have to stray too far from pro b-ball, which is basically jogging, dunking, rinse and repeat.

        But how many wire-service stories have you read about Sammy Sanchez that didn’t remind the readership that he is the reigning “Olympic champion?” If he didn’t get a euro or two out of that I’d be amazed.

      • High Plains Drifters Says:

        Larry: Fast Company or some such biz monthly claimed an Olympic gold is worth several million to NBA’ers, in McD’s and Pop Tart ads, but more importantly, there’s a big pay day when it’s re- negosh time, because that medal supposedly puts more butts in the seats.

  2. grumbly old guy Says:

    “…oook!…” said the librarian

    Want one

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I hear you, Grumbly. It’s a pretty nifty piece of machinery. The best part of my Adventure Cyclist gig — besides the paychecks, that is — is being exposed to stuff that I’d never seek out on my own.

      The guys at Old Town Bike Shop were even more impressed by the Van Nicholas than they were by the Moots, which should tell you something, them being Colorado boys and all.

  3. weaksides (@weaksides) Says:

    Yeah….what grumbly old guy said. I can’t wait to read your review on that belt drive. I’ve become very interested in that tech lately. Will it make one of this year’s issues or will I have to wait until next year?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Weaksides, I believe the review is due to hit the streets around Interbike time.

      I don’t think the Adventure Cyclist guys will give me the heave-ho if I say that the Gates drive is pretty impressive. It’s not as quiet as you might think, and when coupled with a Rohloff hub fixing a rear flat requires a few extra maneuvers.

      But if you’ve ever stared at a greasy chain and wondered to yourself, “Judas Priest, there has to be a better way. …” well, this may be it.

  4. Sachi Wilson Says:

    I’m really interested in what you think of the Rohloff hub, Patrick. My wife and I are thinking of getting one for her travel bike.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Sachi, it’s pretty damned amazing. The hub is about the size of the cooking pot you’d take bicycle camping, and based on the size of the sprockets you choose at crankset and hub you can pick yourself a variety of gearing options.

      The twist shifter resembles a GripShift model, but this one goes to 14, and has two cables leading out of it toward the hub. You can shift under load, while stopped, whenever. And dropping a chain is a thing of the past. No more getting your fingers all greasy and trying to clean up in the roadside grass.

      I’m sure there are downsides, but I haven’t found ’em yet.

  5. Khal Spencer Says:

    14 speeds doesn’t sound serious enough for serious touring unless there are big differences between gear ratios, like back in the old 5×3 half step plus granny daze. Can you race on it?

    A friend of mine had an internal hub gear coupled with a traditional derailleur system. Gave him so many gears he couldn’t keep track of which one he was in.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      K, with 700×35 rubber, 175mm cranks and a 55/22 chainring/cogset combo I get gear inches as follows (low to high): 19.0, 21.5, 24.5, 27.8, 31.5, 35.9, 40.8, 46.3, 52.6, 59.8, 67.9, 77.1, 87.8, 99.6. Not too shabby … though I want all the low end I can find and then some going uphill whilst fetching the Big Irish Ass® along for company.

      • Larry T. Says:

        They say a properly lubed chain is something like 98% efficient. I doubt rubber bands are anywhere near this – do the makers put a number on this? To me the roller chain drive is right up there with the wheel as a great invention..rubber bands are a bit lower on my list.

      • Khal Spencer Says:

        Larry beat me to my next question. I heard that internal hub gears, at least the older ones, are significantly less efficient in transmitting Old Guy Power than a well maintained chain drive. Do you have numbers on the efficiency of the Gates/Rohloff system? Seat of the pants feel for it?

  6. High Plains Drifters Says:

    If you’re watching, you’re not missing much. Denvers channel 9 just showed a picture of lancey- pants when they were talking about young Taylor Phinney.

  7. Derek Says:

    It is hard not to become slightly bitter about the Olympics in this town. The Rohloff is a Gem however. 14% increase in gear ratio per shift. Very close to or better than most 3×9 drivetrains. Have had customers commute on them year-round in Leadville with no service for up to three years. (Change your oil every year Dan, repeat after me) They do require a unique disc brake rotor, and some tabs on your frame sure help in not having to use the adapters that are available to make them work with damn near any frame. (see Surly). Never freezes. Never misses a shift. Requires that twist shifter or some highly suspect aftermarket thingies. Have only one hand? All shifting done mechanically. Service is really a once a year oil change and check the fully enclosed shift housing and shifter for wear and lube. Did I say gem? turn that shifter, like butter, all indexing occurs at the hub. If you think they are expensive think about what you spend on chains, cassettes, derailleurs etc/ year. One oil change per year over decades. Check them out. Sorry to preach.

  8. brokenlinkjournalism Says:

    My mechanic friend has a Rohloff 14er on his Seven Mudhoney. Why? I have no idea but he claimed at the time of purchase (2006/7) that is was for “all-weather commuting.’

    Which is laughable really since his commute is about as far as Patrick’s, and he keeps the fenders and lights on it year-round. He does agree with Derek that maintenance is pretty simple (lube, wipe down once in a decade, repeat) even if there is a noticeable weight penalty on the back end. Still…on the right bike it is a very awesome option.

    I am interested though in hearing about the Gates drive. It looks like a viable choice for a commuter bike where chain maintenance is not a “top priority.” How easy are they to replace? What is the wear like? Yada yada yada??

  9. Derek Says:

    Talked to a guy at Gates this year (This would be the same Gates that makes hoses and belts for the highest levels of motorsports, Could we please learn from industries whose company budgets dwarf our entire industry?) and I have ridden a few different bikes set up for them. The biggest problem seems to be keeping it clean. If you don’t hose it off the belt eats the pulleys. The other problem seems to stem from mechanics damaging them while installing them by bending or twisting them inside out. Their new system has a centering groove in the belt and seems to help with the side rub the belts used apply to the pulleys if they weren’t lined up right. They aren’t hard to line up but it is important.

    • Khal Spencer Says:

      The newer BMW 800 cc motorcycles have belt drive, probably by Gates. So do some Harleys. So do some of the new Co-Motion tandems. None seem beset by problems.

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