Wednesday, October 21

And I want. And I need. And I lust. Flaanimal.

I think I've had my Rodeo Adventure Labs Flaanimal 5.0 for two and a half weeks.  Mebbe more?  Mebbe less?  

That's just how it is, living life in the time warp worm hole existence that is the now.

I've ridden it more than all my other bikes combined since I brought it home.  That's not completely a fair comparison tho.  Garvel bike miles to single speed mountain bike cycle miles are apples to oranges.  I've used it as my daily driver, commuter, messenger, time killer, errand runner, recovery rider.  I'm doing what I can to get comfortable being a noodle bar bike pilot for the first time since I got rid of the Twin Six Dark Horse...

Eight years ago?  Which existed with belt drive, chain drive, flat bars... and then was sold because that made it just one more flat bar single speed in my house... with rim brakes.   Ewwww.

Of course the Dark Horse was the replacement for my last adventure in geared noodling, the short-lived Kestrel two years previous.
It was such a slippery, ever-steepening slope I was sliding down back then.

I used to be so comfortable on noodle bars, being that I really started out on road bikes.  Even after accepting the warm embrace of woods riding, I still frequented the tarmac quite often in the early 2000s before slowly losing most of my interest in "sharing the road."

The versatility of a garvel bike changed that tho.  Yeth, I'm aware that any bike is a garvel bike if you ride it on garvel.  I did enough Tour de Burg garvel stages in my day to learn that fact... although 23mm tires coming off the back of Reddish Knob is not something I'll ever do willingly again.

I was gonna leave the bike stock, but a few things were apparent right away.

The bike came with 42cm Easton bars and a 90mm drooper.  I think some people don't believe that a 5' 6" man can have legs as long as mine, and the 90mm drooper was at the max extension limit.  The same proportions go for my arms, so I ordered a 110mm PNW Rainier post and a PNW Coast handlebar to make the bike fit my strange body parts.  It should be noted that I swapped the saddle to an Ergon that mighta had a lower stack height, and I didn't say I wanted wider bars because I had no clue what I wanted.

Less reach and drop, more flare and width.  Being that I ride 780mm flat bars on my mountain bike cycles, this wider bar feels way more natural to me. 

I also added Road TOGS to the bars as well.

They make sense to me.  It's not like I'm spending all that much time in the drops in Charlotte, but I can only imagine being fully drooped coming down a Pisgah garvel road wanting as much control of the bike as possible.  The TOGS give my thumb way more purchase, so they're not coming off ever...

And yeth, I plan on keeping the gears too.  The Flaanimal has sliding dropouts for easy single speed conversions, but that negates the entire purpose of this bike in my current life IMHOMO.  I can't ride my single speed mountain bike EVERY DAY for nine days straight without completely blowing myself up, and since COVID is sticking around (GO TEAM USA), this bike will see plenty of time under my butt part.

The only inconvenient part about a fifth bike in my house was where to stick it.  I cut my total bike count down to four when we moved into the small house of our dreams... yeth, I dreamed of cracked bricks, a flooded backyard, erosion issues, acorn attacks, a broken dishwasher, a leaky porch, poorly functioning gutters...

Where was I?

Oh yeah, so our eighteen year old daughter moved out in September, freeing up one tiny bedroom, so...
I ordered a Topeak OneUp to handle the fifth bike.  Why?

As I mentioned back when we moved into the house, I had bikes shoved in every available corner.  Two in the living room, one in the back of the kitchen, and one in our bedroom, all the scenarios requiring a different solution.  The OneUp is stationary and has some storage hooks for my helmet and U-lock, and it's great for getting my tarck bike outta our bedroom (although I'm sure The Pie will miss swinging the bike outta the way every time she wanted to get in the closet).  By using the Swing-Up for my garvel bike, I can easily move it to get at the messenger stuff on the tiny bench.

Back at the bike...

I have to hand it to Rodeo Adventure Labs for handing out such a sweet complete build for the Croatan Buck Fifty raffle.  I woulda been bonered up just to win the frameset, and they coulda spec'ed one of the lower tier builds that they offer.  Instead, it's got full Shimano GRX, a crabon Praxis crank, and their own crabon rims... which means I won't be running out and buy new wheels any time soon.

Even tho I'd consider myself a single speeding luddite (to some degree), my pants got tight when Shimano first dropped the GRX group.  Not so much because of anything regarding gears, but because of this:

I know people had been hacking SRAM levers to activate droopers for awhile, but the fact that Shimano RECOGNIZES that this should totally be an option on a bike that will go down lumpy surfaces at great speeds is all the buenos.  There is no better place to put a drooper activator on a noodle bar bike.  For the same reason that under-the-saddle actuators died, you don't wanna have to take your hand from a very under control spot on the bars to a lesser under control spot if you're in a droopy situation.  I realize that this came at the cost of losing the 2X option (Bar Con, anyone?), which means larger steps between gears to get the same effective range.  I do notice it slightly, but as a guy who's used to being in the wrong gear 90% of the time, I'll get over it.

For the record, while the pace at work is slow, I'll leave the tarck bike at home and ride the Flaanimal.  That said, when things pick up, I don't wanna be banging the frame all up with a U-lock (and whatever I'm locking it to), nor do I wanna leave it out in the rain all day.  I'm really enjoying this sorta new experience, so no, I won't be selling it any time soon.  Yes, there is a bar, saddle, and stem on my work bench without a purpose, but this bike isn't going anywhere... well, I guess I am riding it, which means it's going somewhere...

You know what I mean. 


Eric Wever said...

Quality post.

Gregg said...

Solid work on the Def Leppard inspired title.