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Winter Update

November 24th, 2012 [print] No comments

Man, I can’t believe it’s been 5 months since I’ve updated this thing.

So far, 2012 has been my highest mileage year yet, with over 6,600mi ridden so far, and a goal of 7,000mi by the end of the year.  That will totally depend on how dry it stays outside, but so far it’s looking like it might happen.

I currently have almost 8,500 miles on my cheap FM015-ISP Chinese carbon frameset, and it’s still just as much fun to ride as the day I got it.  If you’ve ever thought about buying one of these Chinese direct frames, do some research on RoadBikeReview.com and don’t hesitate buying one, even if it’s just for an off-season training bike.  Personally, if I could do it all over again, I’d go with the FM039, but only because it’s a little more aero than what I ride.

Back in August, I swapped some parts on my Scrambler and temporarily turned it into a track bike again, so I could go do some laps at Penrose Velodrome in St. Louis.  I can honestly say it’s the bumpiest paved surface I’ve ever ridden, and it’ll scare the hell out of you if you’re going over 25mph on the back corner.  But even so, I had a blast doing it, and plan on going back once the weather gets nice again.

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For now, I’ve set the bike back up as a singlespeed, running some 30c CX tires.  I had a lot of fun running it as a 2×10 with derailers, but since I didn’t spend as much time on it as I’d planned, I’ve decided to re-purpose some of the parts for another odd project…

That’s right, I’ve put drop bars on my 26" hardtail:

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I just started swapping parts last night, and it’s nowhere near done, so just accept this as a teaser pic; I’ll post more photos once it’s finished.

Ever since the Cedar Cross race last May, I’ve been wanting to set it up like this.  To be more specific, ever since around the 85mi mark of the race, I’ve been wishing I had drop bars on it.  After becoming so used to riding in drops all the time on my road bike, using a flat bar with bar ends just wasn’t the same, no matter how low I tried to get the bar.  All I could think about for those last 30 miles was how much I’d rather be in the drops, so it’s about time to just make the switch.  I think it’ll take me some time to become accustomed to drops on an MTB, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be as fast on singletrack with this set-up, but overall, it should be more fun to ride than it has been in the past.

 

EighthInch Scrambler Update pt2

November 13th, 2011 [print] No comments

In my previous post, I stripped the paint off my frame, sprayed on some primer, and was beginning to sand it.  Well, I eventually got around to painting it, but I wasn’t happy.  Even a perfect spray paint job still looks like spray paint, so I took it to a professional and had it powder coated 80-90 Jet black.  One upside to powder coating is, the powder melts very nicely into the welds.  This frame always had crappy looking welds, so now they’re a little easier to look at, although I doubt Gary Klein has anything to be jealous of.

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The sad part is, I spent more time fucking around trying to paint it on my own, than I did driving back and forth to the powder coater in a city about 40 minutes away.  The guy who did the work was Jeff at Xtreme Body & Paint in Jefferson City.  He was really easy to work with, and does awesome work.  Turn around time was a mere 2 days.

Once I got the frame back, I had to visit my local bike shop to get the BB threads chased, and the head tube re-faced, but that’s to be expected after any paint job.

Since I’m running a front derailer now (and because I don’t want to run full-length cable housing) I decided to install an STI cable stop on the downtube, and an under-BB cable guide.  I got both parts at Nova Cycles for just a few bucks.  For the STI stop, I used a 1/8" drill bit and some 3mm x 3mm aluminum pop rivets.  The cable guide needed to be screwed on, so I drilled with a 5/32" bit, and used a Park TAP-8 5mm x .8 tap.  Installing the guide was as easy as it gets, but the STI stop took some work.  I’ll mention how I got that on in another post.

You’ll notice I also have rear brake cable guides, so I never have to zip-tie full housing to the top tube ever again.  I installed those prior to painting, and once the powder coat melted all around them, they look like part of the frame.  I intentionally left the STI stop off until after the paint job, because I didn’t want paint–or powder–to get inside the threads.

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Unfortunately, along with some pretty easy mods, I’ve also had some very annoying issues.  Because I’m turning a track bike into a 2-speed cyclocross bike, I’m having clearance issues, most specifically with the tires.  I verified long ago that some 32c Kenda Kwicker tires fit the frame and fork, but what I wasn’t expecting was for them not to clear the Cane Creek SCR-3L brakes I just bought.  Due to the design of the calipers, the mounting bolt is higher on the body than it was on my Alhonga brakes, meaning the brakes hung too low below the fork crown and rear brake arch.  Because of this, 32c tires rubbed big time, so I had to order some 30c Kenda Kwick tires instead.  BUT, I wanted 32c, dammit, and I wasn’t about to give up.  Currently, I’m waiting on a set of Tektro R538 brakes, which should give me the clearance of the Alhongas, with the reach of the Cane Creeks.  Once I get that worked out, I’ll be able to use either tire, depending on where I’m riding.

As for other clearance concerns, they all seem to be working themselves out quite nicely.  My biggest concern with running a non-track crankset with dual chainrings is, the inner ring may come in contact with the frame.  As it turns out, I have about 4mm clearance between the chainstay and a 39T ring on my SRAM Force cranks.  It’s tight, but that’s more than enough room to get by.

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My other issue was whether a water bottle bolt would get in the way of the front derailer clamp, but I have just enough room to make it work.  I can’t use that bottle mount anymore, but I don’t think I ever have before anyway.

I did luck out with my rear tensioner set-up, so I’m happy about that.  I’m using a Paul Comp. Melvin tensioner, with a DMR chain tug, which includes a rear derailer hanger.  The Melvin has 3 spacers to help align the pulleys, and once I was finished configuring them, alignment was perfect.

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This is basically where I sit for the time being.  I’m waiting on an STI barrel adjuster and the Tektro brakes.  Once those pieces arrive, I should finally be able to go for a ride.

EighthInch Scrambler Updates

September 17th, 2011 [print] No comments

I love my Scrambler V2, but as I’ve said in the past, the OEM paint job was pretty bad.  Even if it didn’t flake off in small pieces, the matte black still isn’t very attractive.  So, I’ve begun the process of re-painting it.

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Since I no longer have the use of a media blaster, I went the chemical route and used paint stripper.  It’s incredibly nasty stuff, and burns like hell if you get it on you (trust me), but it does the job incredibly fast.  Tip:  forgo the "environmentally safe" crap, which states that it may take up to 24 hours to work (and then never actually does), and get the hardcore stuff, instead.  Literally as I was painting this stuff on, I could already hear the paint bubbling up.  Scraping it off was then effortless.

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Beautiful, raw steel…

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Of course, stripping paint is the easy part; the hard part is re-painting.  At this point, I have it primered, and have spent quite a few hours wet sanding (and then re-priming spots I messed up, and sanding them again).

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I started out with 400-grit to take the roughness off the surface of the primer, then finished up with 800-grit, to get it as smooth as possible.  I’m going with a high-gloss finish, and don’t want any rough spots under the paint.

Speaking of paint, it took a long time to settle on colors, since I like so many different things.  In the end, though, I decided to somewhat mimic the well-known Ritte paint scheme, for a couple of reasons:  I like it; and it matches the Scrambler V3 sticker pack that EighthInch sent me.

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I was able to use FixieStudio and Photoshop to mock up something pretty similar to the finished product, to get an idea of how I wanted to do the colors.  It’s not perfect, but it’s close enough to give you an idea of what I’m shooting for.

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Because I already have black carbon fiber cranks, stem and fork (more on the fork in a minute), I wanted them to blend into the rest of the paint job.  That meant I couldn’t go with some other colors that I like even more, because they’d look better with polished components.  My seatpost is also carbon, but it’s going to be painted to match the blue on the frame.  The same goes for the seatpost clamp.

However, I’m not done desecrating the brand name of the bike just yet.  The name EighthInch is based on the classic chain size, which is still used on most fixed gear and singlespeed bikes.  About a year ago, I did the unthinkable and put a 3/32" chain on the bike, forever destroying its good name.  But it’ll soon get much worse… not only will it not be an 1/8", it won’t even be a singlespeed.

Back in 2008, a member of MTBR.com posted about a bike he’d just built around a Paul Components Melvin chain tensioner.  Basically, he wanted the simplicity of a singlespeed mountain bike, but with the option of an extra climbing gear.  With a 1-speed drivetrain, you have to find a balance between a gear that doesn’t result in you having to coast all over the place, but which will allow you to climb hills with some bit of ease.  On a road bike, it’s difficult enough, but due to off-road terrain being so completely random, it’s even harder to figure out a good ratio.  By using the Melvin in place of a typical chain tensioner, he’s able to have dual chainrings, while running only one cog.  That means you can go with whatever chainring feels best for the flats and downhills, but still have an awesome climbing gear when you need it.  The bike remains lighter and simpler than one with full gearing, without losing most of the simplicity of a singlespeed.

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I’ve always thought it was an awesome idea, but my frame posed a problem:  there’s no place to hang a rear derailer or tensioner.  That is, until I discovered these DMR chain tugs with a derailer hanger built in:

DMR chain tugs w/ derailer hanger

I already wanted a set of chain tugs to being with, and now I’ll have the ability to add a Melvin (or derailer) to my frame without having to find somebody to weld a hanger on.  This opened up the possibility to adding a second chainring, but I still had an issue with clearance for a small ring on a frame that’s designed for only one.  Since I’ve already been using a double crankset with the small ring removed, I simply bolted the 39T back on and did a test fit.  There’s not a huge amount of clearance, but there’s certainly enough that it will work.  In the process, I also made sure my 3/32" freewheel works with a 10sp chain, so I don’t run into any issues there.

Other upgrades include a front derailer, obviously, as well as a set of drop bars and brake levers (the left lever will also be a shifter for the front derailer).  I also bought a new fork with clearance for 32c tires–which also fit the frame; I checked–and some medium-reach brakes to clear the larger tires.  Once I’m finished, the bike will primarily be a rail-trail bike, but the smaller chainring will assure I can take it for some light singletrack riding should the opportunity present itself.  It’s also a 30-minute swap of parts to get the bike set up back how it used to be: a SS roadie on skinny tires, or even a fixed-gear track bike.

But that’s not all...  White Industries makes a dual-cog freewheel, called the DOS ENO, with 16 & 18 tooth cogs on it.  I’m playing with the idea of adding a shirt cage derailer and Shimano downtube friction shifter, which could give the bike 4 speeds.  I don’t know how well that’d work, nor do I know if I want to go through the extra hassle, but it’s certainly a possibility.  It’d also give the bike an extremely unique drivetrain.

More photos later as the project rolls on…

Edit:

I was looking around today, and found this other bike that’s set up how I plan to do mine.  The owner is lucky to have a derailer hanger on his frame to make things easier, but otherwise this gives a really good idea of how mine should end up if I just go 2×1.

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EighthInch Butcher Frame

August 16th, 2010 [print] 1 comment

Awhile back, EighthInch mentioned they were working on a cyclocross frame for this year.  Well, today they’ve released a sneak preview of their new Butcher freestyle frame, but is this the cyclocross frame they had talked about before?

Sidenote:  "sneak peak" apparently means releasing specs and nearly a dozen HQ photos of the frame.  They seem to have a lot to learn from the auto industry.

Anywho, here’s some info on the frame:

– Sizing: 50, 53, 56, 59cm
– Double Butted 4130 Chromo
– 45/45 Integrated Headset
– Mid Bottom Bracket
– Removable 990 Brake Mounts
– Removable Cable Mounts
– 700×45 Tire Clearance (maybe more)
– Bar Spin Clearance In All Sizes
– Includes Mid-BB and Integrated Headeset
– ESTIMATED STREET PRICE – FRAME ONLY: $300 FRAME+FORK $350

Oh, and here’s a profile photo:

EighthInch Butcher - Click for larger image

Now, tell me that doesn’t look like a singlespeed cyclocross frame to you.  If that’s the case, it looks like an excellent frame, although I’m not sure I’m too happy about the mid bottom bracket (it uses press-fit bearings instead of a standard threaded bottom bracket).  The integrated headset is a nice touch, though, as are the butted tubes and extra gussets aft of the head tube.

If this isn’t the CC frame, then it’s at least a great platform for it.  I wouldn’t mind seeing disc brake braze-ons and a normal BB shell on that bike should it still be in the development phase, though.

For more info and pics, check out their blog:  Butcher Sneak Peak

EighthInch Scrambler V3

July 26th, 2010 [print] No comments

I’m really happy with my EighthInch Scrambler V2 road frame–great compliancy, stiff bottom bracket, strong, but on the heavy side–but now its replacement is coming (not for me; I plan to build my own frame eventually).  Today, EighthInch opened up pre-order sales for the new, improved Scrambler V3 frameset for $170.

EighthInch Scrambler V3 - Click for larger image

The new frame has laser-cut drop-outs, as opposed to the stamped ones on the V2.  It also comes with rear brake cable mounts, which the V2 lacks completely.  Instead of using typical braze-ons, though, they’re using the type you normally find on mountain bikes for attaching hydraulic brake lines (like this), that require full brake housings and a zip-tie.  Either system works fine, but I prefer the typical type of braze-on, where you don’t have to run full housings, and save a few grams of weight.  The upside to using full housings, though, is that your cables stay cleaner if you ride in wet conditions.

The V2 came in satin black or glossy white, but the V3 adds Raw to the color mix.  If you don’t drool at the sight of a raw steel frame (w/ clearcoat), then I pretty much don’t want to be your friend.  The downside is, clearcoat doesn’t stick to steel as well as primer and paint do, so you’ll have to keep an eye on it or risk eventual rust.

Check out the EighthInch blog for more info or to get a pre-order in:  http://eighthinch.wordpress.com/

Categories: News Tags: , , ,

EighthInch Cyclocross

June 20th, 2010 [print] No comments

I meant to post this weeks ago…

EighthInch posted a hint on Twitter that they have a cyclocross frame in the works.  I haven’t heard any more about it since their April posting, so hopefully it’ll be out before too much longer.  I’ll keep you updated when I hear more.

http://twitter.com/EighthInch/status/12487541781

Via Twitter

Update:  Looks like prototypes are on the way:  http://twitter.com/EighthInch/status/16695745782

3/32″ EighthInch

June 18th, 2010 [print] 1 comment

I’m not sure if this is technically legal, and it’s certainly not moral, but I kind of don’t give a crap:  I just replaced my 48T 1/8" chainring with a 50T 3/32", and slapped a 3/32" chain on it, too.  Yeah, I know, it’s called an EighthInch Scrambler for a reason (the old-school 1/8" chain, if you’re not paying attention), but you sometimes have to do what’s necessary.

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Categories: Cycling, Photos Tags: , , ,

EighthInch Scrambler V2 Review (preview)

October 6th, 2009 [print] 2 comments

I’ve spent the last 11 years riding a hardtail and/or rigid mountain bike on singletrack, rail-trails, roads, you name it.  It’s pretty much suited me fine, but the constant tire swap has always been annoying.  It seems no matter where I want to ride on any given day, I always have the wrong tires on my bike, so I have to spend 10-20 minutes swapping them and then re-calibrating my cyclo-computer before I can go ride.  Nowadays, I replace my large chainring with a BBG bashguard for trail riding, but put it back on for the road.  Along with it, I have to re-mount my front shifter and derailer.  Typically, spring and fall mean road or semi-slick tires, two chainrings and a front derailer, while the summer is spent on the trails running a 1×9 gear set-up.  As I said, this has been fine for quite a while, but I finally decided to try something new.

After putting way too much thought into the matter, I decided on a singlespeed road bike to get me through the colder months.  For one thing, having only one gear means I don’t have to screw around with shifters and derailers when they decide to act up.  It also means I’m forced to use muscle when I ride, as opposed to selecting a gear that’s easy to spin up a hill while I stay planted on my seat.  I have plenty of endurance, so I’ve chosen to focus on building muscle.

EighthInch

While browsing around eBay for parts (I planned to just piece a bike together with whatever worked) I stumbled across a posting by Cycling Closeouts, suppliers of the EighthInch Scrambler.  After a Google search, I discovered it’s actually a house brand of Wheel & Sprocket, a bike shop in Wisconsin.  Most of the parts are re-branded (or non-branded) OEM parts, but the frames are made specifically for them by an unknown (to me) Taiwanese frame supplier.  I spent about a week reading reviews online and scouring bike forums to see what other owners had to say about them, and the impression I got was mostly positive.  In fact, just about the only negative comments I found were from people who had never owned or ridden one.  That, plus the relatively low $600 starting point helped me make my decision…  well, at least my decision about which bike to buy; picking out colors and options turned out to be much more difficult.

So, let’s get this straight:  Wheel & Sprocket is the bike shop, Cycling Closeouts (.com) is the website, they go by Wheelandsprocket on eBay as a secondary way of selling online, and EighthInch is their brand name for their bike parts.  They also have a blog on WordPress, a Facebook fan page, a YouTube channel, and post regularly on Twitter.  It’s almost as though they want people to be able to find them anywhere.  I can’t find them on MySpace, though, which, in my opinion, is a good sign.

Okay, now on to the bike…

Unlike a lot of companies that let you choose a red bike with black stripes, or a black one with silver stripes, and nothing else, EighthInch gives buyers a huge say in what their bike looks like.  Most parts are anodized (or painted) aluminum, so letting you pick a gold stem, blue rims and a polished crankset doesn’t cost them any more than if you picked other colors.  The upside to this is, you get to order the bike with any color combo you can dream up; the downside is, you eventually have to make up your mind.  You can also select between three different types of handlebars–track, bullhorn or riser–crank arm length, freewheel and fixed cog sizes, and whether or not you want brakes (a no-cost option).  I think one way they keep prices so low is by not paying marketers to research what options buyers may want, and letting us pick them out for ourselves.  Novel concept.

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As you can see, I’m not very creative.  I went with all black, with white rims and tires, after seeing a Specialized Langster L.A.  I also ordered black cranks, but they called to inform me they were out of stock; I selected polished silver instead, and they look so good, I’m glad I didn’t get black afterall.  I also picked a white chain, knowing I would swap it with a black one (they don’t offer black for some reason), and bullhorn handlebars, because they give me similar hand positions to a flat MTB bar with bar-ends, like I’m used to.  Oh, and I picked a carbon fiber fork in place of the normal steel one (more on that later).

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