Monday, May 13, 2013

Recapping Our Bike Choice for Davis Double Century #30

As readers of this blog may know, I selected my original production Quickbeam to ride my 30th Davis Double Century this past weekend. I've always enjoyed riding the QB, which aside from a very brief period with a Sturmey-Archer 8-speed hub, has always been a fixed gear.

Last photo of the day in Capay
My Quickbeam at about mile 175
For the DC this year, I changed up the QB a bit, spinning a one-speed White Industries freewheel onto the Sturney-Archer S3X three-speed-fixed-gear hub that was already on the bike. To deal with the larger cog size (standard single-speed freewheels don't come smaller than 16T), I also put a 44T chainring on the stock SR crankset.

First thought about this setup: It works great. Shifting was flawless, and the hub is absolutely silent while pedaling. By comparison, the 8-speed hub made clicking noise while pedaling, while coasting … all the time. It was a bit annoying. The S3X also locks up the internals in the top gear (1:1 drive), making it very efficient. I'm hoping that, since there are no pawls inside the hub, it should be even more reliable than a standard 3-speed hub.  (The middle and low gears, by the way, are 75% and 60% of the top gear. On Saturday's ride, the climbing never got steeper than about 10%, and even then just for short pitches. I dropped into the middle gear a few times, but I did more than 90% of the ride in a 44x16 gear.)

Second thought is how nice it was to have 700x28 tires. There are about 4 miles of hard-packed gravel road on the DC route this year, which gave me no trouble at all. I can imagine some of the go-fast guys out there next week for the official ride struggling with 700x20 tires.

I'm planning to change out the crankset to one with a 46T ring this week, which will address a minor issue of being spun out at fast cruising speeds with the 44x16. I'll report back on that.

In the meantime, I'm thoroughly enjoying the QB in its latest incarnation. With fenders, a Schmidt hub, great lighting, and now gears and coasting, this is a great randonneuring machine.

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