Bikes, bikes and more bikes

Jeff Jones bikes

The Jones Steel Diamond in its road and off-road configurations. Photo courtesy Jeff Jones

Lately I’ve been enjoying an interlude between bike reviews, which has been nice, as it gave me a chance to get reacquainted with my own fleet of two-wheelers.

In the past week I’ve ridden my trusty Voodoo Nakisi drop-bar 29er, one of my two venerable Steelman Eurocrosses, and the only truly custom bike in the Mad Dog garage, a nifty Nobilette that’s something of an all-rounder, a cyclo-cross-slash-touring bike that’ll take a rear rack and fenders.

This weekend, all that ends with an invasion from Oregon.

Review bikes are en route from Co-Motion (a Divide Rohloff), Jeff Jones Bicycles (Steel Diamond) and Bike Friday (Silk Road Alfine).

I’ve ridden a Bike Friday before — you can read my review of the New World Tourist Select in the archives at Adventure Cyclist — but the Silk Road Alfine is something of a step up, with Shimano’s Alfine hub, Gates belt drive and Avid BB7 disc brakes. Should be a giggle.

The Co-Motion is likewise a belt-drive bike, but with big wheels and the Rohloff hub, which I’ve ridden before on the Van Nicholas Amazon Rohloff (yes, I reviewed that one too). I’ll get to spend a bit more time with the Co-Motion than I did with the Van Nicholas, and I’m very much looking forward to it, as the Co-Motion seems (on the Innertubes, anyway) more or less ideal for the sort of riding I do around Bibleburg.

The Jeff Jones bike, meanwhile, looks like the sort of machinery we all could use come the Apocalypse. That’s it up there at the top of the post, the red bike next to the otherworldly black beast with the tractor tires. I’ll confess to a mild yearning for a fatbike — as in, if somebody gave me one, I’d ride it — but until some product manager loses his or her mind, the Jones bike looks to be about as close as I’m gonna get to that little fantasy.

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34 Responses to “Bikes, bikes and more bikes”

  1. Khal Spencer Says:

    Have you road tested a Pugsley? I’d be curious as to the comparison to the Jeff Jones.

    I just looked at the MSRP on the Divide Rohloff and just about spit up my breakfast. Wow. I think I spent less than half of that on my 2005 Stumpjumper Expert back in the day and the wife was chasing me around the house swearing and swinging a kukri. Of course, I got the Stumpie right after I bought a Six-Thirteen frameset, so it was probably cumulative. Both those bikes are still providing excellent service.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Not yet, K. I rode a Salsa Mukluk around the parking lot during a visit to Angletech last year, grinding up and over curbs and whatnot, and I’ll confess it seemed like a whole lot of fun.

      The most practical bike in the world? I’m guessing not. But practicality is greatly overrated.

      Incidentally, on the Co-Motion it’s the Rohloff hub that gets you — if memory serves the hub alone is something like a $1,500 item. Yow.

      • Khal Spencer Says:

        How are those Rohloffs holding up? There is something nice about being able to wrench a complete bicycle right in the garage. I worry about making bicycles more like cars or motorcycles that require wrenching that is more intricate than I am willing to provide.

      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        I had a BikeE recumbent with a Schlumpf Mountain Drive. It never gave me any trouble and seemed a really neat way to get rid of the front derailleur. They were also very expensive though; my neighbor bought one for his recumbent trike, and I think he paid around $750. Nice to shift when sitting still.

      • Steve O Says:

        $1700 at $1399-1500 elsewhere. That around 166 six-packs of 5 Barrel!!

  2. Larry T. Says:

    Probably just the old fart in me – but these modern things with seatposts that look more like flag poles just don’t do much for me in the aesthetics department. Spent a couple of days in Belgium during the Ronde weekend riding a current carbon fiber machine provided by the tour organizer – my take on those has not changed either – certainly light (and seemingly lighter every year) but they still beat the crap out of the rider just like the earlier ones did. The marketing mavens keep going on about how this wonder material can be adapted to be ….wait for it…..”laterally stiff but vertically compliant” but none of ’em seem that way unless they resort to rubber bumpers jammed into holes in the frames, hinges in the toptube/seat tube junction, flexy seatposts, etc. to soften up the ride. Think I’ll be sticking to good ol’ steel for another decade at least.

    • Patrick O'Brien Says:

      Me too Larry. Steel for me, on and off the road. I could feel the difference between my Trek Pilot, 520, an C’Dale Road Warrior 2000 all with similar geometry. The aluminum C’Dale was really stiff; you could feel every pebble.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Gents, of the 16 bikes in the Mad Dog garage, only two are of the aluminum and/or carbon persuasion. One, a carbon-alloy combo, is a Jamis Supernova ‘cross bike, a very nice bike for racing ‘cross. The other is Herself’s Cannondale road bike, which she never rides, preferring her Soma Double Cross.

      Two are titanium, ancient DBR Racing machinery. The rest are all steel, wonderful steel — Reynolds 853, Tange Prestige, 4130, and so on and so forth.

      I remember Brent Steelman telling me once that potential customers were astounded at the ride quality of his bikes. Having ridden nothing but aluminum bikes, they thought stiff, harsh and unyielding was simply part and parcel of spending time on two wheels.

      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        We went from 9 bikes to 4 after I retired. Only 1 was not steel, and that was Sandy’s Cannondale mountain bike. All the parts from it, XT and Avid brakes, went on a Salsa Ala Carte fame a few months ago. So,now we are all steel, two 520s, one Niner MCR, and the Salsa. First time Sandy rode the Salsa, she commented on the smoother ride. I know, I need more bikes.

  3. Derek Lenahan Says:

    Khal, I am not sure how to do a complete overhaul on a Rohloff, but I have been selling them for more than fifteen years. The first was to a guy who works for the water company in Leadville CO. He commutes year-round. His first oil change occurred at three years. The only reason I don’t have one is I can’t afford the initial cost but if you look at what replacement costs are for cables, cogsets, derailleurs etc. over the life of a drivetrain and the fact that Dan has only purchased a new chain in the past decade it seems a good investment. (this was on a first generation Pugsley) That being said the Rohloff is obsolete because of gearboxes. Soon someone on this continent is going to start making gearbox bikes. Check with Paragon Machineworks as I think they have an exclusive on the gearbox here stateside but they have been using it in Europe on a few different brands.
    To me the primary advantage over the Rohloff besides an extended gear range is centralizing the weight and reducing unsprung mass.
    Regardless, durability does not seem to be a problem and Shimano is not far behind Rohloff in gearing or durability.
    Derailleurs, even electronic ones are dumb. Why have your drivetrain exposed to the elements?

  4. Khal Spencer Says:

    Agree that an exposed transmission is a bit vulnerable. My impression, based on something I read somewhere, is that the frictional losses of derailleur and chain based drive trains are lower (or at least used to be lower) than for internally geared hubgears. Not sure about a gear box but here they are (if you can read German, the 2nd link looks good).

  5. BruceM Says:

    Belt driven!!! Now that’s attractive here on the left, wet coast where everything rusts … including me.

  6. John Says:

    PO’G, I don’t know how you do it. How do you stay perfectly content with your current stable when you’re constantly being provided with the latest/greatest/newest/ho-humingest/whatever bikes that various makers want and hope you’ll say nice things about? Right now I’m perfectly happy with the fleet I have taking up space in my living room, but I’d be afraid of that creeping discontent I’d get by getting paid to take new toys for a test ride. Oh, sure, I’d mostly likely vastly prefer what I have to 95% of the bikes out that, but it’s that last 5% that could cost me dearly.

    So how do you manage to keep your fleet down to a manageable level, maintain that roof over your head, and a content better half? How do you combat that “new bike lust”?

    • khal spencer Says:

      I don’t know how Patrick does it but I have to both moderate my new bike purchases and also hide the keys to the gun case.

      • John Says:

        Not quite sure what you mean there, Khal. Do you hide the keys to the gun case in order to prevent yourself from robbing the corner Quick-E-Mart for bicycle dollars (bad), or is it to keep you from selling the guns so you can buy more bikes (worse)?

      • khal spencer Says:

        I’ll have to think about that one

      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        Or perhaps Khal hides those keys to live one more day when he shows his better half the next new thing with two wheels.

      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        I have a almost new Godin Exit 22 electric guitar and Fender first year production (USA made) Blues Junior amp, which is brown tweed and like new, sitting in the studio. I hardly ever play it preferring the Ovation acoustic every time. They look like a new bike to me. Anything in the gun cabinet that looks like a new bike to you Khal?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      John, I can’t afford the really expensive stuff, even with an industry discount or bro’ deal (the former being how I got the ti’ bikes, which were insanely expensive for the mid-Nineties, and the latter being how I scored the Steelman Eurocrosses and Nobilette).

      It also helps that I’ve run out of storage space in the garage and that Herself is ruthless as regards discretionary spending in a down economy.

      Something else: The bikes I ride the most cost the least. The Soma Double Cross and the Voodoo Nakisi. The former is a ‘cross-slash-light touring bike, the latter a drop-bar 29er. Both got built up from the parts bike for less than a G apiece. They’re simple, functional and fun to ride.

      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        Isn’t that the truth? I had a really nice Trek Pilot, Mavic wheels and all Ultegra drive train. The first year I rode hell out of it, but after that I was on the 520 more often and the Pilot sat. The 520 fits me like a glove and takes the sharp edges off the bumps. Guy moving to HI, and worried about rust, made me an offer and away the Pilot went.

  7. Steve O Says:

    Re: Jones

    Cool gif showing all the hand positions on the H-bar

  8. Larry T. Says:

    Interesting points all. As the owner of a bike tour company I could easily justify anything I desire bike-wise – carbon, custom, etc. But down here on the coast in Sicily I’m riding a bike out of our rental fleet because I fear the rust on the chrome lugs of my personal Torelli. Our aluminum/carbon rental bikes ride very much like the newest-latest plastic bike I bounced over the Flanders cobbles on last weekend, so I don’t really see much actual improvement (save weight of course, but I carry around enough extra in that department to make caring about a kilo or two on the bike rather silly) to justify changing, even if the bike was FREE. Perhaps it’s the idea that I CAN have anything I want bike-wise that makes me not care?

    • khal spencer Says:

      Hadda laugh on that one, Larry. My friend Gary Barnes, who teaches meteorology at the U of Hawaii, used to joke with me that when we were young and had legs, we could not afford much bike. Now that we are old and have salaries, we can’t afford the time to have much legs even though we can spend more freely. Also concur that to really make a difference on weight, I’d have to work on the beer and wine storage unit that sits on the bike.

      I got into Aluminum bikes in grad school when money was hard to scrape up, so the Cannondale down at the local bike shop (back in 1985, it was that original black boneshaker) was the least expensive performance bike sitting there and if nothing else, it was pretty fast and I didn’t know Jack about bicycles, having only ridden one bottom of the rack Motobecane back and forth to the University. I rode the wheels off of that Cannondale on eastern Long Island and it was a lot cheaper than a shrink and a lot less toxic than other solutions to the really evil karma infesting my skull from a bad divorce.

      Back in those days, C’dale had a trade in policy on framesets, so when they came out with a new frame, I plunked down minimal dead presidents for an upgrade. The new frames were better.

      Concur with others on the wonders of steel. Our Co-Motion tandem is an amazing ride and impressed me so much that I’ll probably eventually abandon all the aluminum stuff in the garage for steel, when I can justify it. The Six-Thirteen is a nice ride when equipped properly but so are the Long Haul Trucker and LaCruz, which cost a fraction of what that plastic stuff sets you back.

      Biggest change this past year was going back to traditional 32 spokes on wider high quality rubber. Chipseal makes all that stiff aero stuff impossible.

  9. khal spencer Says:

    P.S. Hey, Patrick. Try to score a road test on a gearbox bike and report back. It looks and sounds like a great idea–as Derek said, it jut makes intuitive sense to put some protection from the elements around your gear train.

    Has anyone done frictional loss measurements on a gearbox with a light synthetic oil vs. a properly maintained derailleur system?

  10. Steve O Says:

    Nice little race this morning, yeah?

  11. Patrick O'Brien Says:

    That final lap would have been something to witness live.

  12. weaksides (@weaksides) Says:

    And what about Zdenek’s bike handling skills? #luckiestandunluckiestmotherfuckeralive

    • Boz Says:

      That full-across the cow path bunny hop was very impressive. Most would have ended up on the way to hospital with a broken collar bone.

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