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Is this 1000 words?  //   Friday - January 9, 2009

Jim Brown hub

This picture says a lot about me and my bicycle philosophy. It wasn't intended to, I just wanted to snap a picture of the Jim Brown hubs I finally built up. At first glance it might not appear to be a picture that says a lot, but let me dissect it.

First, the star of the photo, is the Surly hub. Solid. Functional. A fair price. I don't mind dropping some cash for expensive parts if they are worth it. Like Keith B. says: "Light, strong, cheap. Pick any two". There are cheaper hubs out there and certainly ones more expensive, but the Surly hub gets the job done, the price isn't bad and I never worry about them failing on me in the middle of no where. Cartridge bearings make maintenance easy. Set up flip-flop style with a bolt on fixed disc cog means I can swing both ways. Options. I like options.

Connected to the hub we've got 14/15 double butted spokes with brass nipples laced 3 cross. DT or Wheelsmith spokes, I don't recall which ones I grabbed for this build and I don't care, both brands have served me well and I use which ever is available. It's a tried and true set up and the only way I roll. It's strong and I see no reason to deviate from building wheels this way given my love for riding rocky terrain and my love for catching air.

Barely noticeable in the photo is the rim, a Sun CR18. Nothing sexy about this thing, it is purely a working man's rim. Triple box construction and can take a beating without being a total porker when it hits the scale. No, it's not a cross country weight weenie rim, but it serves well as an XC rim that will take abuse. And they are cheap. I've ridden more expensive rims that didn't last as long. I've ridden Rhyno Lites that out weigh these by a lot but didn't last any longer. Did I mention they were cheap? All in all an outstanding value.

Next up, White Industries Freewheel. This is where we deviate from the reasonably prices parts and move to the high end, relatively speaking. You can probably buy 4 ACS or Shimano freewheels for the price of the White Industries but you still won't be ahead of the game. It's the only sealed bearing freewheel that I'm aware of. The only one that is rebuildable and the only one that you can buy each and every spare part to replace when it wears out. Lots of engagement points, great seals on the bearings and the cog teeth are long wearing. Seemed like a lot of money the first time I bought one but after years of use I realized it was the only way to go.

Finally, the chain. A KMC Rust Buster 410. Single speed specific, 1/8" size, rust-proof and inexpensive. I've used them for years and they do the job as good or better than anything else I've used.

Now, I'm not saying this is the ideal set up for everyone - or even me - but rather a good set up for the bike they are on and what the intended use is. Given that I spend more time on other bikes these days, keeping the price down on the wheel build was definitely a consideration while making sure they could survive my riding. More than anything I think this offers some insight into the how and why of my bike building philosophy and really, that one picture kind of just got the wheels turning in my own head. Of course, back in August I built up a titanium frame and fork but that's a story for another time. Hopefully I'll get around to dissecting how that relates to my bike building philosophy because it's definitely pretty far out of bounds from my norm.

- riderx

Winter Action!  //   Monday - January 5, 2009

We don't stop riding here in the winter, the conditions just change and you put on a few more layers. If you are looking for some organized action, look no further. On January 31st the SnotCycle, an all conditions take no prisoners cross country race in Leesburg, VA at the same venue and from the same people who bring you the Bakers Dozen. The following day will be the Cross My Heart single speed cyclocross race will be taking place in College Park, MD. Not so local, but sounding like a lot of fun, is Single Speed Arizona taking place on January 24th, click here for info.

And a bit further out, but with registration that just opened, is the 2009 version of the Single Speed World Championship. That's going to be in Durango, CO in case you missed it. Get the official registration info here.


Sometimes you're the hammer, sometimes you're the nail. And other times you are the dumb ass who goes for the photo op only to end up on the ground with your bike flying over your head. That was me on Friday and my ribs still hurt. Oh well, if you don't ever crash you must not be going for it, eh?


Our good friends at Harlot are having a sale. Go stock up!

- riderx


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