Category Archives: equipment

Packing List – Italy 2012

This is the [very long] packing list of all the items that we are going to be bringing with us to Italy for our trip (other than our two bicycles, of course). All the items on the list are the totals for both of us combined, unless otherwise noted as per person (p.p.). Extra heavy or bulky equipment like the chain to lock up our bikes, will be bought in Italy once we arrive.
  • Clothing (p.p.)
    • 1 pair light cotton trousers
    • 1 pair cotton shorts
    • 2 pairs cycling shorts
    • 3 pairs underwear
    • 2 cycling jerseys
    • 2 T-shirts
    • 3 pairs socks
    • 1 botton-up/nice long sleeved shirt
    • 1 waterproof riding jacket
    • 1 cycling cap
    • 1 helmet
    • 1 pair cycling gloves – only for Dad
    • 1 pair light pajamas
    • 1 pair running shoes
    • 1 pair walking shoes – Dad buying his overseas
  • Personals/Toiletries
    • Toothbrushes
    • 1 tube toothpaste
    • Contact lenses
    • Lens cases and solution
    • 2 pairs sunglasses – and regular glasses
    • 1 bottle sunscreen
    • 1 small bottle shampoo
    • Razors and shaving cream
    • 1 Comb
    • Deodorant
    • Facecloth and towel – will be bought overseas
  • Electronics
    • 1 unlocked Galaxy Nexus smartphone
    • 1 rooted Nook tablet
    • 1 power adaptor & plug divider
    • 1 compact Canon camera
  • Miscellaneous Goodies
    • 1 small first aid kit
    • Keys on keychains
    • 1 Snow Peak butane stove
    • 1 butane refill adaptor
    • 2 Guyot squishy cup/bowl sets
    • 2 GSI utensil sets
    • 1 small Sigg Inoxal cookset – w/ two pot lids as plates
    • 1 salt + pepper shaker
    • 1 small cooking knife
    • 5 650mL Filzer Stainless water bottles
    • 2 1L Filzer Stainless water bottles
    • 1 swiss army knife
    • 1 camera monopod
  • Tools & Bike Parts
    • 2 cable bike locks – will be buying lock-up chain in Italy
    • 2 pad locks
    • 2 bicycle multi-tools
    • 2 sets flat repair kit
    • 2 sets tire levers
    • 1 spare chain
    • 2 spare inner tubes + 1 extra to cover lock-up chain
    • 2 bicycle-mounted pumps
    • 1 small adjustable spanner
    • 1 set pliers
    • 1 small bottle oil/lube – will be bought overseas
    • Zip ties – to repair anything
    • Duct tape – also for repairs
  • Packing and Bags
    • 2 large MEC duffel bags
    • 2 sets 56L MEC “World Tour” panniers
    • 1 set 20L MEC panniers
    • 1 set 40L MEC “World Tour” panniers
    • 2 MEC Bull Deluxe handlebar bags
    • 2 Micro Wedgie seat bags
    • 1 Eddie Bauer sling bay (daypack/carry on)
    • 1 Hip pouch (camera/phone/wallet daypack)

All-Rounder: 9-Month/1000km Follow-Up

UPDATED 07/03/12: Now with pictures!

I’ve had the O8 CX700 for nearly 9 months now, and so have put it through its paces by now. That’s about 1000kms of mixed onroad/offorad/singletrack with tweaking, tuning, and general fettling in appropriate proportions.

The Good:

1. Big Wonkin’ Tires. There are quite a few things this bike has going for it, not least of which includes the capacity for large tires. I’ve concluded that you can shoehorn a 29×2.3 with fenders in there if you wanted.

The 51mm (2.1in nominal) wide CST Critters have been a good fit so far.
There is room for maybe 2.3in tires w/fenders, or 2.4 without.  

2. A Nice Fork Design. I have had a good experience with the straight bladed fork that came standard with the frame. I know many people dislike them, because of the ‘harsher ride’ they supposedly give, or for their non-traditional look. Well, I can say that the ride certainly didn’t feel “harsh” when riding road with 23mm tires @ 110psi. It was easier on my wrists than other bikes I have used, absorbing the cracks and bumps in the road surface very easily, albeit with a little additional road noise feel than my other bikes. For offroad use, the fork is superb, with enough spring to make the bike forgiving on rougher terrain, without compromising the strength that has given me confidence to shoot some trails faster than might advisable. Oh, and did I mention the fork has double eyelets standard?

All the mounts you need: the double-eyelets here
are supporting both highrider and lowrider racks,
as well as fenders!

3. Great Frame Geometry, due to the cyclo-cross heritage of the frame, makes the CX700 especially versatile. It bridges the area between mountain bikes and road bicycles, which makes this a veritable monstercrosser. Therefore, the geometry of the frame makes it a perfect trail runner for anything from light gravel to muddy dirt single track, and even manages to cope with the occasional root or rock. I’ve had no end of pleasure to riding around the many winding forest trails near my home. It’s head tube angle makes it easy to direct on trails, but also seems to naturally follow the flow of the trail. More than this,  it works well on the road. It has lively-enough handling and corners well onroad – better than most mountain bikes.  The BB drop is well-calibrated, so that standover is easily achievable with hybrid and road tires, but that it is also still comfortable enough to dismount/mount with the wider-diameter 29″ rubber. The slight slant of the TT improves groin clearance and standover height, but be forewarned; wiping out in technical terrain still won’t be pretty (get a true MTB for this!).

I think the paint job and decals are top-rate as well.
Lay of black primer, then powder-coated, then clear-coat.
Nice. 

4. The Cockpit of the bike has been custom-tailored to be the near-epitome of cycling comfort and performance for my needs and tastes. A 40cm Nitto B-115, which I had thought would be too narrow, is comfortably spaced in the drops, with a very nice Maes bend. Many day-long ride on road have convinced me of this bar’s comfort.

Cross levers and 8-speed ‘Brifters on a Nitto 115 bar.’ 

Coupled with an Avenir-branded alloy adjustable stem, I have the ability to raise the bars far above the seat for cruising the trails or lazily pedaling around town, or drop them below for a little better speed performance. If you have a threadless fork, I cannot recommend strongly enough that you buy your own adjustable stem – the ability to tune it to fit your mood, or your exact riding style, allows superior comfort. I also have only good things to say about Tektro’s cross levers, and Shimano’s STI road levers, which have made it easy to brake no matter the hand position, and caused shifting to be precise and easily achieved every time.

Adjustable stem allows a lot of fine-tuning for one,
or multiple, riding styles. 

5. Gearing. This is important on any bike, but I have been fiddling with the setup for a while, and am pretty happy with it. The old alivio 22-32-42 crankset with a 12-32t SRAM casette, although only 7 speeds, has offered a reliable and generally trouble-free setup. With a low gear of 18in, and a top of 94in, I am able to power through mud and fly down roadways.

The drivetrain

6. New Fenders! Enough is enough – a set of 29er Cascadia Fenders from Planet Bike (the full wheel-covering design) have finally been added. The cheapest full 29er funders I’ve seen, and lets hope, most effective I will own. Even though a recent addition, I can easily say they will be staying. They have cut down on the mud splatter and prevented the ‘skunk stripe’ many MTBers are familiar with. The design is great:

They come with REALLY nice/useful rubber mudflaps.
Derailleur clearance is a *bit* tight,
to make room for the large tires.
A small gap had to be cut into the front fender to fit in
the relatively-tight front fork.

The Bad:

A few things have made this otherwise near-perfect bike frame less than spectacular.

1. Rear-triangle Alignment. First of all, this is the issue which I thought I had resolved, but has actually been continuing. With vengeance. It appeared as though the spacing was off, which was tilting the rear wheel to one brake stud. Not so – measuring shows that one chain stay was incorrectly welded slightly off, and that  the right rear canti stud (viewed from back) was welded too far up (!). Not unusably so – but just noticeably. The only way I was able to fix the brake issue was to reduce wheel/tire clearance, and move the rear hub farther forward in the dropout, to gain rim space. To correct for the crooked wheel, I had to re-align the rear of the bike, along with the dropouts. The frame was usable before, it just sucks that Quality Control from Origin 8 did not catch this.

As the red lines show, because of the frame being off-kilter,
so are the angles of the brakes at rest. Performance isn’t harmed,
though a bit of brake clearance is lost. 

2. Track-Ends do not a great friend make. They are easy to set up on single-speed bikes, and I recognize that this frame was designed to allow derailluer, fixed or SS set ups, but track ends make removing/re-installing the wheel messier. I don’t want to have to pick up the chain to wrap around the cogs with my bare hands. This wheel-changing inconvenience can be avoided if a front-facing dropout were used.

I added a second adjustment screw to the rear dropouts.
Now the wheel stays straight all the time.

3. Rear rack and fender mounts aren’t in the best place with this frame. Putting them up so high on the chainstay certainly removes any possible interference with disk brakes, but makes the centre of gravity quite high. And it also means that there is less room on top to pile on gear before it hits your saddle. Traditional-style fenders also don’t bolt on there (don’t even try) – you MUST mount them using washers and bolts onto the holes in the dropout.

The fender is mounted with rubber grommets
sandwiched between washers high in the dropout.

4. Saddle Position for my Brooks hasn’t been ideal. There really isn’t anything wrong with the B17 saddle that I own ( its downright comfortable, in fact)- it is simply that the old design used for the metal rails doesn’t allow much forward/aft adjustment. Right now, with my 20mm setback seat-post, it always seems as if I am too close to the handlebars. This is especially annoying on long road rides.

5. Derailleurs. —-> FIXED (see below)! As always, finicky at the best of times. The front derailleur, because it is a mountain style mated to road-style levers, doesn’t move 100% of the proper length needed for shifting. Downshifting to the granny is mainly the problem. The rear, OTOH, has generally been worry-free.

6. Brakes are a must have for any bike, but the power of this bike’s Tektro CR720 cantis has been less than inspiring. Partly resolved due to repairing frame alignment, the rear brakes continue to be particularly weak. They only grab in dry weather, and locking a wheel in the wet required me to whale on the brake levers. The front brakes stop effectively enough, but lack the ‘ooph’ to lock up the wheel in anything but loose gravel. Needless to say, stopping from the brake hoods requires a lot of force to do. See the picture in #1 for the minor brake crookedness. 


The Future! – What’s in Store:

1. Derailleur Tweaking. Not really an upgrade, but maybe some derailleur mods are in order? The front derailleur will most likely be bent to better facilitate shifting, and the rear one may eventually be replace by a shiny new Deore unit    —–> DONE! I swapped on a new Alivio RD-M430 9-speed unit to replace its ageing 7-speed counterpart. Shimano has really upped the quality for Alivio, since adding a few extra lower tiers. I’d say that today’s Alivio components are equivalent in quality to Deore of 5 years ago (and, of course, now Deore has moved up accordingly). I’m really happy with it – smoooth shifts, and quickly too, with much better chainwrap capacity (it has a longer arm).

New Alivio RD-M430 R. Derailleur

2. New Seatpost to solve the setback issue of the saddle. The VO Grand Cru or Nitto with similarly large setback are likely to replace the MEC/Kalloy affair currently affixed to the bike.

Holy Setback, Batman: VO’s Grand Cru Seatpost

3. New Rims – mine are getting old. They haven’t failed me yet, but the scratches in the concave rim are warning me that retirement is in short order. A new set of 700c Sun CR-18s will replace my aging Araya PX-35s, and because they have similar rim dimensions (equivalent E.R.D., for those who must know), they can be swapped onto the same hub and spokes in short order.

4. New Tires, because who doesn’t love riding around on Fat Franks? These tires are made specifically for those who want the plush, cushy ride of wide tires, but with the rolling resistance of street tires. Despite this, the tread pattern is apparently well-suited to light MTB trails. Me Gusta.

Final Verdict – Yay or Nay?:


It’s kinda hard to to make this kind of decision, especially considering my bias. However, even taking this into account I will still say….

yay!
I recommend this bike frame because of its excellent overall value, weight and versatility (and I love the paint job too). Not many frames out that with that kinda bang-for-your buck, and especially in one that is so all-rounded. Despite me receiving a defective model, I cannot let this be my sole judging point – after all, I’m certain only a small minority are improperly made. If you do buy this frame, as with any other, check it for defects with a plumb line before assembling it, so that you don’t get stuck in a point like I was where I couldn’t return it. This bike *is* the one I am bringing to Italy for a two week cycle tour, so I do trust that it is well-enough assembled by me and those at the O8 factory to carry 220-230lbs of weight all told, and love the overall build quality; the one-off imperfect rear alignment is the only major sticking point.