Tuesday, November 12, 2019

New Outside Column, New Radio Show, Jones LWB Rundown...Whew!

As I mentioned yesterday, WBAI is back on the air, and if you want to hear yesterday's show you can do so by clicking this.

By the way, people regularly ask me if the show is available in podcast form.  The answer is "no."  All of that stuff is up to the radio station, and inasmuch as they can barely stay on the air I wouldn't hold out much hope for them to make this into a podcast anytime soon.  However, you can listen live via the website, or else stream it later--or just ignore the show altogether and read my latest Outside column instead:

The "repair" described herein is my attempted installation of the so-called "Hub Doctor" bushing-to-bearing conversion kit for the Mavic Scaryum freehub.  Since penning this column, I managed to undo the damage I did, and then simply installed a brand-new Mavic freehub instead.  And after all that, the wheel still creaks.

Fortunately I've had slightly better luck riding bikes than repairing them, and this past weekend I took my artisanal singlespeed out to the Isle of Long:

I used to ride here pretty regularly when I lived in Brooklyn, but I had not been back since moving to the mainland back in Two Thousand and Twelve, and I'm pleased to report Stillwell remains mostly unchanged and immune to the passage of time, much like Long Island itself.  The trails here are twisty, gently undulating, and distinctly non-technical, which makes them the ideal terrain for an old-fashioned rigid singlespeed bicycle with "narrow" tires.

There is of course a time and a place for ratcheting your way through a tricky section of trail, but Stillwell is not that time or that place--it's all about going as fast as you can without washing out in those sandy turns.  (Not that I can go very vast, but still.)  It's hard to imagine a better bike than the one above for these conditions, and I even encountered its motor vehicle equivalent in the parking lot:

What makes this Maserati the equivalent of my Engin?  Well, they're both black, they're both sleek, and they're both timelessly impractical.

But yes, since moving to the northern precincts my knobby-tired rides consist of less sandy singlespeed scurrying and more rocky multi-geared meandering.  It was Ol' Piney that first increased my range and got me going longer as opposed to doing the old "hit one MTB spot and ride around in circles" thing, but once I fell in with Jones is where it all really came together:

Since being indoctrinated I've transitioned from the SWB to the LWB pictured above.  This is of course the complete out-of-the-box version, which I'm riding with all the stock components (with the exception of the saddle which I swapped for an all-weather Cambium), and as I rode it last Friday I figured I might as well give you a closer look what's on it and and how it's all holding up so far.

The rear derailleur is a SRAM NX Eagle and it moves the chain up and down a 12-speed NX Eagle 11-50 cassette:

I guess the higher-end SRAM groups now use a smaller freehub or driver or whatever you want to call it that allows you to use a cassette with a 10-tooth high gear, giving you more range with your de rigeur/au courant/whatever-other-French-expression-you-want-to-use single-ring drivetrain.  However, I'm in no particular hurry, everything works great, and the gearing range leaves me wanting for nothing on either end.  It's paired with a 30-tooth front chainring, by the way, and the crank is a Truvativ Stylo:

Jones specs short cranks on his bikes--the small comes with 165mm, and the medium and large both come with 170mm.  (Traditionally if you're my size you'd use a 175mm on a mountain bike.)  I'm one of those people who can feel the difference in crank length, and when I first got the SWB (which also comes with 170s in my size) I was worried.  But then I discovered something: just because I can feel the difference, that doesn't mean the difference is bad.  On the contrary, I got used to it quickly and now think absolutely nothing of it.  In fact I had a similar experience with my New-To-Me Titanium Forever Bike, which came with 175s instead of the 172.5s I'd usually use on the road.  In short, it turns out a 5mm difference in crank arm length is pretty much meaningless, go figure.

As for the design of the crank, I am of course an outspoken proponent of the Shimano Hollowtech II system, which when paired with a standard threaded bottom bracket shell is inarguably the greatest interface of all time.  The Jones does use a threaded bottom bracket shell, but the Stylo crank works differently than the Shimano system, and it has this collar-type thing on the non-drive side to set the preload:

I have touched absolutely nothing since taking the bike out of the box, and it all runs smoothly and silently, so I ain't complaining.

The shifter is also SRAM NX Eagle:

I slightly prefer Shimano shifters since the upshift lever works in both directions, but mostly all I think when I ride this is, "Holy crap, this is supposedly 'entry level' stuff and it works perfectly, it's amazing how far mountain bike shifting has come."  (I still love my singlespeed, but the crappy shifting that made singlespeeding a thing clearly doesn't exist anymore.)

As for the brakes, they are Tektro mechanicals:

As a lousy bike mechanic with retrogrouchical tendencies it won't surprise you at all that I'm a fan of mechanical disc brakes.  Yes, hydrolic dick breaks feel better and all that stuff, but the fact is that good mechanical disc brakes also work excellently, and as a bonus they're downright idiot-proof.  The brakes that come on the Jones have both outboard and inboard pad adjustment, the pads seem to last a long time (I never changed the pads on the SWB and they seemed to have plenty of life left when I gave the bike away), and overall they give me no compelling reason to contemplate changing them for anything else:

Finally we come to the tires, which are 29x3.0 Vee T-Fattys:

Though of course you can order the LWB with smooth tires if you're not going to be using it in a mountain bike capacity.

They come with tubes, but converting them to tubeless was completely straightforward, and so far they've been quite durable:

I believe they're even e-bike rated, which could explain the durability, though I also have no idea what exactly what qualifies a tire for e-bike use so I probably shouldn't speculate.

Anyway, all of this is by way of giving you an up-close look at this bike in case you're actually considering buying one, and to assure you it comprises quite a solid package.  (Yes, I've only had this bike since July, but after many happy and trouble-free miles on the SWB I'm pretty confident in Jeff Jones's ability to spec a bicycle.)

Oh, and you'll also be pleased to know my new Pearl Izumi clothes pair well with jorts:

Somebody really ought to market a pair of $500 performance jorts, it seems like a no-brainer.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

What kind of sandwich do you put in the handlebar bag?

You are a true fashionisti with tha fancy gold vest.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 3:12pm,

I had a bag of gluten free cookies in there.

--Tan Tenovo

Billy said...

Speaking of mediocre bicycle mechanics, I replaced the tube in my wife's Electra Amsterdam Royale 8i, and it required no less than four trips for additional tools and a fair amount of cursing. I need to make a checklist of all the tools you need and crap you have to do to get the rear wheel off of a bike with a chaincase, internal gearing, and hub brakes. Once upon a time, I thought we had sufficient kit in the bicycle toolbag itself to do this, but we really don't.

BikeSnobNYC said...


Yeah, removing and replacing the rear wheel on my WorkCycles takes me like two hours. Fortunately it's not something I have to do very often.

--Tan Tenovo

Matt said...

I've had a SRAM Eagle X01 cassette (10-50) /derailleur/shifter on my mt bike since January, and holy crap the shifting is flawless! Even under considerable strain climbing it jumps from the 42 to the 50 like it was electronic...no delay whatsoever. I did find out that SRAM has forced Shimano to up their game and they now have a 12 speed derailleur w/ a 12-51 cassette, and I hear from my LBS mechanic that it shifts even better than the Eagle (which seems impossible but he knows what he's talking about...he had Eagle and now has the Shimano). All I can really say is that it's a wonderful time to be a MTB'er (road too for that matter) as the bikes and components are just so friggin fantastic compared to even 10-15 years ago that it's mind blowing! (and my LBS had a demo day this past Sunday w/ their lineup of Giant and Electra e-bikes...I rode the e-Trance mtb on my local mtb 4 mi loop w/ 600' climbing...and honestly, I can't remember when I had as much fun on a bike! Seriously...I was FLYING up a sandy climb so fast I had to SLOW DOWN to make the turns...coming out of super sandy climbing switchbacks you just keep upright and start to pedal from a near stop and suddenly you rocket out of the turn! And flats and descents? OMG!!! It must be what a Pro feels like...having THAT MUCH POWER available...it was truly unreal! And you still get a workout (if you want one)...dial back the boost and pedal your heart out. One day when I'm older and can't do what I do now, one of these babies will surely be in my garage!

Skidmark said...

I almost bought a pair of orange jorts recently, but the orange had too much red.

Anonymous said...

So a single chainring and a granny the size of a pizza is a thing now? I'll stick with a triple and a 7 speed Megarange freewheel, thankyouverymuch.

Anonymous said...

Once the unavoidable upgraditis finally gets you: I've changed my mechanical dick brakes to TRP Spykes and they're as good as everyone says. It made me happy to get that extra grip on my dicks while keeping the fatbike cold-temperature proof (winters gets cold in Canada). And as a plus, installation was/is super easy indeed.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 5:29pm,

Would certainly never presume to talk you out of something that's working well for you, but yes, single ring and wide range cassettes is indeed a thing and it's fantastic. (Not to mention cheap!)

--Tan Tenovo

HDEB said...

Stillwell holds fond Lung Guyland memories for me but I've not yet been there this century. A 50t cassette is compeling but I think the pinnacle of bicycle gearing for me is a 3 speed Sturmey Archer.

NHcycler said...

When Anonymous 3:12 PM stated that your vest colorway was gold, I had to look again. It looks silver to me, with green sides. Is this one of those photos where some people see colors differently?

Anyway, wouldn't faded denim jorts match just about anything?!

huskerdont said...

My latest mechanical fuckupery was imperfectly bleeding my hydraulic dicks. This morning, at 24 degrees, the rear brake did not work at all. I guess cold makes air bubbles worser?

The mention of Brooklyn reminds me that I may take another foray into said district Saturday. Will be in Jersey City for a band (at White Eagle Hall; nice place; go there) and want to ride over to Rough Trade Records. Their address says Brooklyn, at least, but they appear to be north of Williamsburg, and what do I know not being a local.

Blog Drafter said...

I'm not usually one to criticize other people's setups but, man, that is one ugly bumper on that Maser.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 3:12 PM.... I think what you mean is whatsandwichyourunning?

Some guy from upstate said...

I currently have 4 bikes with SRAM/Truvativ external bearing cranks (various versions of Stylo/GX/whatever, all GXP bottom brackets) one came that way, two built from frames, one upgrade, so obviously I'm fairly satisfied. The bearings tend to have a finite lifespan, I think because the cartridge bearings SRAM uses have pretty small balls (heh, heh), but new GXP bottom brackets are cheap and plentiful and easy to install (compared to rebuilding an old cup-and-cone setup) so I'm happy to just swap them out when the crank starts to get loose. I don't have the little preload adjust collar, the older designs just use some wave washers, so maybe that helps the bearing last longer.

Anonymous said...

@snobby 8:32
No argument that such a setup would be great in the woods. But I'm as apt to ride the MTB into the next town, or beyond, as I am to duck into some random singletrack on 700x28 slicks. In either case a chainring much smaller than 42 tooth could turn an impromptu lark into a deathmarch. But it's all cool. If I've heard my kitteh Mister Grouchypants* say it once, I've heard it elebenty-four times: "If you're on a bike and you're having fun, you're probably doing it right."


*Two pair just in case

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 1:04pm,

Why would it be a death march?


It just looks green to me...

--Tan Tenovo

huskerdont said...

Yeah, according to the current photo, at least on my computer, that's a silver vest. I remember the old post where the vest was green though.

Anonymous said...

Simple answer-That single chainring is what? 32 tooth? Even with an 11 small cog, you couldn't work up much of a hurry, and retrogrouch that I am, mostly I've got 7-speed hubs, with a wide range freewheel. 32:14? Guess it wouldn't kill me, but when I go, I like to GO. And small cogs/chainrings wear faster. Heck, I run 48/22 on my singlespeed Crosscheck, and I've had that shit for years. Bigger rings are more efficient, too.

Not saying I wouldn't have fun on a rig like yours in the woods; in fact it sounds like a blast. just that anything I have with gears needs to pull its weight over a wide range of tasks. Some times that means places to go/things to do/people to see.

Anonymous said...

You forgot the last condition on which you shouldn't work on your bike, which is "after that 3rd beer".

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 3:26pm,

An 11/30 with 29x3.0 tires is a little over 80 inches according to Sheldon Brown's gear calculator. That's more than enough for me for cruising on the flats but clearly you are a much faster rider than I am.

--Tan Tenovo

BikeSnobNYC said...

*Cruising on the flats on fat knobby tires that is.

Serial Retrogrouch said...

...maybe you should get yourself a workbench! You've earned it.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Serial Retrogrouch,

I'd need to move first.

--Tan Tenovo

Anonymous said...

The Boss @4:52
You missed the part where I said I don't like an 11 tooth. Small cog on a Megarange freewheel is 14 in any case.

That's why my next geared build is getting a road triple, 52/42/24. Like I said, I'm a retrogrouch. Got all these 7-speed wheels. They work fine, freewheels/cassettes are still available and I just don't see how big cassettes and skinny chains are going to make my life easier. Besides, like a wise man once said: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Speaking of which, aboot your "Outside" column, eh. Don't beat yourself up. Wiser heads than both of us put together have said:

"Experience is what you earn after you've made enough mistakes."

"How do you expect to learn anything if you don't fuck up once in a while."

"Be proud of your fuckups. At least it proves you've done some work today."

I'm sure there are plenty more in that vein, but you get my drift. Things generally work out, and even when they don't it's not the end of the world. I sure don't mean anyone no harm. I'm just an old man that gets a little weak in the knees at the sight of lugged steel and friction shifters. And now I'm going to take this glass of excellent Kentucky Bourbon over to the big bed. My kitteh Mister Grouchypants should be along directly. He'll purr and I'll snore. Truly, we make beautiful music together.

Be well, my friend.

paulb said...

Do you ever think about dragging a bike out to the East Bay and riding around Mt Diablo State Park for a few days? I don't know how many more of the cool photos that are all over the Riv site I can stand.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 6:08pm,

Indeed--would never tell someone to ditch the stuff they have that's working, but for someone starting completely from scratch the new crop of single-ring 12-speed drivetrains with clutch derailleurs is amazing.

--Tan Tenovo

Some guy from upstate said...

Anon at a bunch of times, your points are valid. You lose gearing range. Little cogs and chainrings wear faster. A giant cassette makes your back end heavy (or costs ridiculous money). All true. The single narrow-wide ring, clutch derailleur setup has one big advantage: The. Chain. Stays. On. Period.

And I just replaced a 7-speed freewheel last week, that gets shifted with a downtube-mounted friction shifter, on the bike I ride the most, so I'm not one of these gotta-have-the-newest-thing people. But sometimes real improvements happen. On a bike that gets ridden hard off-road, a 1x setup is hard to beat.

Billinrockhill said...

Glad to have you back on the airways. Still too many cycling deaths in New York. Your Outside write-up pretty much describes my own experiences with repair efforts. I have finally gotten mature enough to take my problem part(s) to my LBS and ask them to help. They let me watch them work, which may embolden me to try it without assistance next time. BTW, I saw a sign once that said "Labor rates: $25/hr. $45/hr if you watch. $75/hr if you help." They just charge me the regular rates but I tip in beer. Glad you are enjoying the Jones LWB. I have one too and it is a blast. Completely bulletproof, reliable and fun.

Beck the biker said...

I try to rationalize spending excessive amounts of time and descretionary income on bike mechanicking as a hobby akin to model railroading. It's a HOBBY. There's a lot of similarity - tinkering on things with a lot of small parts where the lighting's poor, nothing is exactly alike and compatability is essential, where colorways, team collections, and scenery are very important. There's typically boxes of odd bits and spare parts and things not assembled into a complete (drive)train yet. I'd bet $100 you have a spare Campy derailleur sitting around, not installed, just waiting for the right build on which to hang it. I'll always do my best to avoid combining laundry with wrenching, that's a recipe for more rags and chagrin. I like to quip to the unenlightened "It was a choice between ham radio or bikes, the bikes seemed like more fun. It's a HOBBY."

Sackgesicht said...

Snob, would you be able to keep us in the loop on your highly subjective opinion on how much faster that single ring might be wearing, compared to a double or triple? Just curious, and surely someone like you would notice any meaningful differences.

BikeSnobNYC said...


I don't know, is chainring wear really a major issue for people on any kind of drivetrain? Maybe I don't ride hard enough, or I spread my riding across too many bikes, but it's not something I've ever really worried about.

--Tan Tenovo

huskerdont said...

Only chainrings I've ever had to replace were broken ones, not worn ones.

George Krpan said...

Put the noisy wheel in the truing stand. Twist each spoke nipple back and forth and put a tiny drop of chain lube on the ones that squeak when twisted.

mikeweb said...

I had to replace a 50t chainring on my go-fast road bike a couple months back because of wear. But then again it had almost 11k miles on it, and once I replaced the chain and cassette it insisted on throwing off the new chain. Not a fun thing to happen when pedaling standing up.

Unfortunately it was one of those fancy newer Ultegra ones in the $150-ish range.

Sackgesicht said...


I do notice faster wear on the small and mid rings of my triples and have had to replace those a few times (the big rings not so much). I put this down to the extra torque those little rings have to deal with. Not because I've huge legs (I don't) but because of the increased leverage from the cranks. And this being a bike blog, I though I might ask. Maybe you could just mention it if you notice anything. No need to actively investigate.


JLRB said...

Everything's going to be alright (pat pat)

Some segment of the human population has always been genetically engineered to follow inept leaders off cliffs

Anonymous said...

Looks like you lost some weight when compared to your Eroica photo earlier in the year. The racing must be paying off or is that vest really a corset? I like the NX Eagle 12 speed too.

Uptight Luddite said...

@George Krpan 9:10am, have you ever seen where this was actually the case on a Mavic Ksyrium where the big captured alloy nipples thread directly into the rim? I haven’t.

Chazu said...

A cyclist dropped an iPhone while riding. The phone landed in the drivetrain, became enmeshed in the rear derailleur and chain, and was crushed against the cassette. Here is a photo. (link to a google groups forum for a local bike club)


JLRB said...

ps - Why is the bike mechanic in the Outside Article photo wearing a proctologist glove while working on bikecycles?

DaveD said...

Well, BSnob you could always hang your bicycling cycle from a fucking tree to do your maintenance. I have it on good authority that the esteemed bicycle/YouTube expert Zach Gallardo does just that. Just be sure to check the weather report before commencing a major project. He also tightens crankbolts by hand, with a little 2" long Allen key.

In related bicycling news/observations, there sure are a lot of "Peloton" ads during Gunsmoke and Flintstones reruns...

Anonymous said...

Some background reading on Ksyrium freehubs:

and the maintenance instructions referred to:

Tom Danielson said...

Did somebody say "quite a solid package"??!!! Oh my.