Double Ride Day

After taking the Roadeo out in the morning yesterday, I headed out in the afternoon on the Trek to get some groceries.  I opted that way as I knew that the load was going to be a bit bulky, diapers.  By the time all stops were made I had about 40 lbs of juice, milk, food and god knows what loaded on the front.  Even with a bit of sloppiness in the panniers the handling was fine.  Actually better than fine with stop and go traffic, slogging up hills into a 15 mp headwind and bombing down the other side.

Most bikes I have owned would handle like crap with that much up front, or anywhere for that matter.  My xtracycle setup does ok with loads like that, but just ok, and is a bit more like a clunky old station wagon.  The Trek with the 650b conversion is cushy, but sporty.  The handling is a bit light with nothing at all up front, but a 5lb u-lock in a bag fixes that.  With loads weighing in between the lock and, well yesterday’s 40 lbs, the handling is still smooth through fast turns, holds a line grinding up hills and no wobble or drift at slow speeds.

For those not familiar with the geometric trail of the front end, the subject can be daunting.  For those interested in the physics of the whole thing, Wikipedia has a decent article. The subject has spurred religion/politic like arguments on the web forum over the recent years.  I remained fairly neutral until this.  Previously I had only ridden the low trail bikes I had built up for my wife, both handled great with a basket, but were way too small for me.  This project bike has really opened up my eyes.  I still love my Roadeo, just differently, and keep the load in the back.  I prefer having the stuff up front, as long as the bike is designed to handle the load, it makes it much easier to keep an eye on the load.


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6 Responses to Double Ride Day

  1. cyclerslife says:

    Looks like fun! What’s your front rack setup?

    • Rob says:

      Tons of fun, wish I could get more in the pictures. The front rack on the Trek is a Bruce Gordon high rider MTB rack. I am convinced it is the unsung hero of front rack design. I can load up the bags and then bungie net stuff down to the top. I am thinking about low riders and a basket, will probably try it, but keep coming back to this front rack. I envision a high/low rack morphing this with something like a Nitto or Surly, still working that one out.

  2. Errin says:

    That whole trail thing makes my head explode. The only thing I understand is that when it works, it’s awesome. My Kogswell is built for a front load and it’s great. I love carrying the gear up there and it’s handy to get to. My LHT however was all over the place with weight in the front. The review in BQ convinced me to move the weight to the rear and it made a huge improvement. It was still never as good as a the front loader geo.

    I was test riding the A. Homer Hilsen at Rivendell last year (which I really liked) and asked if they offered a front loading fork. They told me that Grant will never make a bike that is that specific and brushed it off. I wasn’t interested in an expensive LHT. I’m a believer in the front loader though. 650b front loaders with fenders are just my cup of tea.

    • Rob says:

      It really is a shame Grant is so inflexible on the trail thing, he even sort of proved it was OK to himself in an old reader article, yet refuses to budge. I believe it stems from design philosiphy at waterford, they are really smart guys there, but I think they too have missed the boat on this. I was kind of suprised when they started making Boulder Bikes. I had talked with Richard Schwin a bit on the issue and he was reluctant to take on another OEM customer at the time and low trail was just frosting on the cake. It has been a year and I have had little luck finding a US OEM supplier. Rawland is gobbling up a bit of market share, but I still think there is a bigger void left witht he departure of Kogswell.

      I on the other hand am completely sold, it just works. Second to that women like there stuff in the front, i.e. basket, and hate the way crappy bikes with 74deg seat tubes and 70mm trail ride. Even worse when they want a brooks saddle. I contiue to chip away at this, but feel strongly that these designs can reinvogorate transportational cycling. Tomorrow I have an interesting meeting with some potential, fingers crossed and confident

      • Errin says:

        Apart from a totally custom bike matching my Kogswell geo, but addressing the details I don’t like, I think the Boulder, and possibly the rSogn are the best options out there right now. There are a couple things that I really don’t care for on the Kogswell, and if there was a 650b frame that had the same geo I’d trade them out right away. I think the Boulder is the best option out there right now.

        • Rob says:

          Send me the spec on your Kog, I had a very good conversation with a US OEM producer today, and Ocean Air Cycles has a better view of the road ahead. I the next week or two I will heve an even better Idea, by learning from Kogswell and the like I have a pretty good set of designs completed and need to flesh them out a bit. It is my goal to bring the traditional sport tour bike witk low trail back to the US with US manufacture and US steel.

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