Sunday, September 28, 2008

Long Term Review: Custom Frame from Carl Strong

I first got my custom frame in February, just before moving to Munich. Since then, it's seen almost daily use, whether on my commute, or on long tours through Germany or France. It's seen a lot of rain, wore through 2 chains, and wore through a tire. It's seen century/day rides, and slow plodding days. It's seen mountain days in the Pyrenees and flat days in the Salzburg Lakes.

The bike's been everything I wanted, and my only regret is not buying it years ago when I started touring the alps. The Tektro caliper brakes work much better than cantilevers ever did, while surviving wet Munich relatively well. (I'm almost through one set of Kool-stop Salmon brake pads)

The bike has a dual-personality. With 25mm tires, it rides as nice as my old Fuji, with a little less immediate responsiveness on out of saddle springs and climbs, but with a little more give here and there (which I didn't believe until I observed the fork flex during braking). With wide tires and a load, it behaves as well or better as the Heron Touring frame back when I was using one, with the supreme advantage that the brakes don't suck.

Things I'll change about the bike in the future: ditch the spoke holders --- they only serve to interfere with the chain. I would also raise the brake bridge a bit (to 54mm) so I don't have to file down long reach caliper brakes to get the pads to square with the rim.

But otherwise, all I can say is that all bikes should have this geometry. I see no reason to change! Thanks, Carl!
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