The best bike is the bike that you enjoy riding however as each weekend approached I would look at my Genesis Day One and pray that nobody would invite me on a gravel ride just so that I had an excuse not to ride it. This resulted in a built up resentment of a bike that I had hoped would open me up to a world of dirty drop bar adventures but instead was banished to the back of my bike pile and ignored. I am still to this day unsure what it was that made me hate it. I suspect that it was a combination of a weirdly long feeling fit, the infuriating mechanical disk brakes and the fact it simply felt boring compared to my track bike. It could certainly get rowdy but it never felt like it actually wanted to.
Unfortunately gravel/skinny tyre offroad riding is fairly excellent so my thoughts quickly turned to its replacement and after months of trawling eBay a 56cm Steamroller* appeared, it was tatty but functional. A low bid was placed and I was prepared to commit a little more money than it was worth if needed should there be a last minute bidding war. What I hadn’t anticipated was that a much cleaner and better looking example shortly followed as a buy it now. With some persuasion from others I committed and just bought it. “One in the hand is worth one in the cheap ebay auction bush” I thought to myself. All I had to do was wait for an email informing me that my very conservative bid on the tatty frameset was unsuccessful and wait for my buy it now frameset to arrive.
Instead Ebay starts congratulating me, asking me for money and before I knew it I had two framesets, both the same, sitting in the living room alongside a confused and annoyed girlfriend. “Why do you need two?” “When are you selling one or both?” “Did you not just buy a frame a couple of weeks ago?”** These were mostly met with mumbles and not at all convincing assurances that there was a plan and bikes would be sold. And so the frameset sat for a while ignored while its ugly twin brother got built up and went on dirty adventures.
The double frame fiasco wasn’t the only eBay accident, in the excitement of a new frame I bought a set of H+SON wheels without much thought. When they arrived I quickly realised three issues. They were super narrow thus would never support my chunky offroad rubber dreams, they had no braking surface and lastly they were unbelievably chrome. All these factors would severely reduce my off road radness so the wheels were also tucked away in my growing shame den of bike parts, out of sight so as not to attract any questions of costs and purpose.
Soon funds were recovered, space was made and the dust had settled which meant I now had enough bits that I could finally build up Steamroller number 2. So I present to you my Surly SteamBaller.
I have already made it clear that I am a fan of the Surly Steamroller and no doubt will pay it many more compliments in the future. Ever since my faithful Leader Kagero was forced into retirement I have had a need for a fixie street shredder. For this build I wanted something a bit different from my daily rough and tumble, max sport, all surface smasher. This was to be far more delicate affair.
Surly boast that Fatties Fit Fine however all that clearance is wasted on this build as the shiny wheels hate dirt and the 23’s struggle with small pot holes and light cobbles never mind gravel escapades. Although garish beyond belief, once tyres are fitted the chrome of the rims calms down to a reasonable seven-ish out of ten on the fixie goon scale**. The wheels are shod with a roadie tyre equivalent of a mullet, Continental GP4000 front for superb grip and Ultra Sport 2 rear for max skid to £££ ratio.
From the ashes of my Leader some silver Omniums were transfered over, 170mm cranks make for a comfortable sized circle and pedalling is stiff and direct. Gearing is 48×17, a little higher than my usual utility Steamroller for added tarmac speed also it is what I had attached to the wheel when I built the bike.
A Bike Station miscellaneous 25.4 stem Truvativ Team stem meant that I could use a set of bendy curvy roady bars that I have had lying around. They have been looking for a build ever since a friend generously hand-me-downed them to me and this build is a good excuse to finally run them.
Another unmissable Bike Station purchase of a £3 carbon Easton EA70 post (which doesn’t suit the build at all) holds a possibly bent Charge Knife saddle also taken from my Leader.
The build is finished with Sheldon Brown stickers because he is god.
And the important question, has it filled that bike shaped hole in my soul? Was it worth the wait and girlfriend interrogations? Have I been smashing the streets and slaying allycats? Well to be honest, no. The fact that I have even managed to clock up 211 miles on this is surprising. Its not that I don’t like riding it, its just that I don’t really want to. The problem is I don’t want to get it dirty, I don’t want to ride it on bumpy surfaces**** , I don’t want to scuff the paint with bags and I kinda enjoy the security of being able to easily stop on downhills. Turns out brakes actually aren’t death.
These are frankly all terrible excuses as bikes should not be mollycoddled and instead should be ridden as much as possible. But this is where I have found myself, I have the scruffy version which I ride every day happily ragging around various outdoors places and I have this one which I don’t. It mostly lives in the living room gently leaned against a wall to be occasionally rolled out on dry days. It wont stay nice forever, as with everything it will get scratched and scuffed but I have persuaded myself that I can afford the luxury of having two for the very purpose of having one really clean and scratch free Steamroller. Maybe I am trying to trick myself that it is new bike day every time I ride it.
There is probably a lesson to be learned here. Should I have just sold it straight away, most likely. Was this a fruitless trip down the N+1 rabbit hole, probably. Does that mean I am going to sell it, probably not.
Do I have a problem, don’t we all.
*Really it was what I wanted all along.
**Pompetamine Cross Monster has been on adventures, I will write about this gravel shred sled soon(ish).
****As it is horrifically unforgiving vertically.
MAKE FIXED GEAR GREAT AGAIN