Sunday, August 10, 2008

Goodbye StuM2y, Hello Special Ed

Astute readers of this blog might have noticed that I have a bit of a fondness for bicycles. Long time readers may have also noticed that on any given day "my bike" may be in fact a different bike than the one I owned yesterday. Managing a place like Bike Works certainly provides me with lots of opportunities to experiment. Edison once said "To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk." Bike Works is the ultimate junk pile. My friend Mark Vande Kamp put it a bit differently, "you're like a drug addict whose managing a pharmacy!"

The latest bike out of the lab is what you see here. Special Ed is an old Specialized Stumpjumper but, as I pointed out to my wife, my personal bike fleet still remains at three: I have one road bike, one mountain bike and one folding bike. Special Ed replaces StuM2y, my previous Specialized Stumpjumper.

So why replace one Stumpjumper with another? Aside from the obvious "because I can" answer, Special Ed differs from StuM2y in a couple of ways. StuM2y had a red, aluminum frame with vertical dropouts. Special Ed's black, Cr-Mo frame has semi-horizontal dropouts.

Special Ed comes from that brief period of time when people thought putting a U-brake underneath the chainstays was a good idea. In hindsight it seems obvious that putting a brake in a spot where it can get bashed by rocks and gather up all the crud kicked off of the crank is a bad idea but a lot of crazy things came out of the 80's. At least Special Ed doesn't sport one of those neon purple and green Miami Vice paint-jobs.

Even before he knew I was building it up for myself, my colleague Dan Boxer commented that Special Ed looks "like a Kent Peterson bike."
Black tape over the most garish logos. Custom coroplast fenders stealthed up with black duct tape and set up for massive mud clearance. Armadillo tires. Front and rear racks. And just one gear. 46 by 20 fixed.

Riding fixed means I can gladly toss that U-brake in the parts bin. The deraillers and the extra chainrings and cogs go there too. The rear wheel gets re-spaced, re-dished and the 20-tooth cog got stomped on good and tight. Note that if I was building this bike for anyone else I'd probably either go with a real fixed hub with a lockring or dual brakes but I'm willing to trust my own life to my gear-stomping, lock-tighting and judicious use of my big old Kool-Stopping front brake. If anybody wants to know how to do this kind of conversion, Sheldon has a great page on the subject here.

I donated StuM2y to Bike Works Friday morning and sold it to a commuter about an hour later. I rode Special Ed home Friday night