Tuesday, May 31, 2016

New Albion Privateer x Champs Elysees Low Trail Fork

I've had a few questions about the bike we featured last week, so here's a few more detailed shots.

The New Albion Privateer is my daily driver. This build is what we in the biz call a "mechanics special". Aka, the bike that I ride every day, but rarely service.

The great thing about having a bike like this is any time I have a new prototype or sample part I just throw it on. That gives me an excellent base line for comparing iterations of products that aren't ready for mass production.

For instance, this bike has seen every version of the Tanaka Decaleur. As a result it's slowly evolved into an almost flawless commuter bike. The tape is Soma Thick & Zesty in Camo Brown. It's a little funky, but it's growing on me.

The Champs Elysees Low Trail forks were designed to fit a variety of frames, but paired with the Privateer's 72mm headtube it yields 45mm of mechanical trail. This works out nicely for larger handlebar bags that tend to hang over the front hub.

The blades on these 65mm offset forks are a bit springier than the 45mm Classic Curves, but that certainly doesn't preclude you from loading it down a bit. I typically use 2 front panniers in addition to my Ostrich bag.

While it adds a bit of extra, weight I love that I can slap on pretty much any rack I happen to get a hold of due to the selection of mounts.

I have this prototype Gamoh Japan mini rack. It's similar to the Nitto M-18 and the Soma Champs Elysees, but it's made from sturdier CrMo tubing. I'm putting it through it's paces, but I doubt there's much that it can't handle, especially mounted directly to the mini rack eyelets.

Looking forward to more new racks from Gamoh this year.

I've been using this Ostrich rando bag for a couple years. I've tested a few other front bags, but this is the only one I bought outright. It's a modest, cotton bag with front closure. It has small rear pockets and a map case on top. This style of bag works great for commuting and photo shoots, because it comes off easily and can be carried with the shoulder strap.

These new Sun XCD crankarms are one of the newer parts I'm trying out. They're similar to the classic Stronglight and TA style cranks, which utilize a direct mount large ring and a 3 bolt inner chainring. We've sold these crank arms for a while now, but the introduction of these new chainrings makes them far more compelling in my opinion. I'm currently using a 44t large ring and a 30t inner ring, but I may swap the inner ring for a lower climbing gear at some point.

I have use a lot of derailleurs over the years, including road and mountain options from Sram and Shimano, but this Sunrace M40 is the cheapest derailleur I've ever used. It retails for about 20 bucks, and is equal parts aluminum and plastic. But you know what? It works great. Seriously. Paired with ENE Ciclo friction shifters it can push a 34t cassette with capacity to spare.

After riding the Cazaderos and then the Gravel Kings for the last few months I decided to try out a set of the super light Soma Supple Vs.

So far I've only had one flat in about 400 miles or so. These tires are noticeably faster than anything else I've ever ridden (340 g in 700x42c), but they're definitely a road oriented tire. Not that you can't use lightweight tires on dirt, but you need to be a little more conservative when you choose your line. I'm going to get my money's worth from these, but I'll probably try some of the upcoming skinwall Gravel King SKs when they show up.

So that's my bike. Not a particularly fancy build, but it's a great ride for the money and the most reliable steed in my stable.

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