Saturday, July 14, 2012
My lovely wife has written quite eloquently about her past year with her Allant and it occurs to me that I should put fingers to keyboard and do something similar, for a week or so after Christine purchased her Allant, I bought one of my own. While Christine's Allant opened new roads of exploration and utility for her, my own Allant adventures are measured against my life of riding preferences, honed by by many miles logged on a multitude of machines. I know enough to know what I like in a bike, but even so I've been surprised at how much I enjoy my Allant.
The grips and the bars conspire to make this bike comfortable. I'd thought I might long for more hand positions, but even on my longest day ride to date (136 miles round trip to Port Townsend and back), I didn't have any comfort issues.
With a couple of bits of tape to protect the frame and a strap to secure it against bouncing loose, an old Zefal pump fits snug into the frame. I use a Detours Coffee Bag to hold my tools, a spare tube, a little snack and my folding grocery bag.
The stock fenders and rear rack have proven rock solid and useful.
I did find the stock saddle too big and too brown for my taste, so I swapped it out. The more upright position of the Allant made my standard favorite WTB Rocket V saddle not-quite right either but after some experimentation, I've settled on the very inexpensive and surprisingly comfortable Avenir Men's 100 mountain saddle. It looks perfect on the bike and more importantly, it's a good fit for my butt.
The Allant comes stock with inexpensive plastic pedals. The stock pedals are still holding up fine on Christine's Allant, but I had a nice old pair of Shimano mountain pedals in my stash of bike bits, so I swapped the pedals out on my bike.
Another splurge for the bike was the addition of a nice bell. Christine's bike has the same bell, but hers is polished brass.
Christine works at Safeway, so she does the bulk of the grocery shopping, but I get out and about to places like Trader Joes and often pick up a few things.
In a world that likes labels, the Allant gets labeled as an "urban" bike, but Christine and I prefer the more generic term "bike" and use our bikes for basically everything. Yes, for real rugged mountain biking I'll ride my Redline and if I need something that packs small I'll take my Dahon, but pretty much here and there and everywhere, I ride my Allant. It's the bike I ride to Seattle or to Port Townsend or on an all-night Solstice Ride. The best thing about the Allant is that it's the bike I ride with my sweetie. We travel light on our tours and we've gone on many great tours with our Allants.
I've tracked how little we've had to maintain or modify our Allants in the past year and I've found them to be impressively reliable machines. On both bikes we keep an eye on the tire pressure and top off the tires every week or so. I don't want to jinx anything, so I will say nothing else about the tires. We also keep the chains lubed by applying some Chain-L every few months. Really, Chain-L is amazing. Christine's bike often sits out in the rain for hours while she's at work and the Chain-L doesn't wash out. Our 4-ounce bottle of Chain-L is still half full after 10 months!
I've adjusted the cable tension on our brakes and shifters and I have replaced the brake pads on our bikes. The Allant's shifters and deraillers have proven to be very robust and trouble-free. The wheels on our bikes have stayed true. I did need to tighten the bottom bracket on my bike and I replaced a cracked bracket under Christine's front basket, but she carries some heavy loads in that basket and we ride our bikes on some kind of rough trails. I don't think it's unreasonable to see a couple of small problems over the course of a year of adventures and commutes.
My friend Mark made a comment about the Allant soon after I got it. "That bike doesn't seem to slow you down," he noted. Christine puts it another way, "The bike likes to go." Indeed it does. At this rate, our Allants will keep going for a good long time.
And good times on a bike, that's really what it's all about, isn't it?
Keep 'em rolling,
Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA