I’m afraid this is gonna be another gearhead post. This time planetary gears are involved.
Lands around here are deeply snowed under, have been for weeks. Christmas is over, my birthday is approaching. As a late (or early) present to myself, I got a Surly mountain bike from a shop in Hamburg this last weekend. It’s a black Karate Monkey frame built up with a Shimano Alfine group. 8-speed gear hub, hub generator, hydraulic disc brakes, the works. No suspension, it is less needed with fat 29 inch tires, Schwalbe Racing Ralphs. Standing there in the shop, it looked almost exactly like one of Gary Fisher’s original mountain bikes from 40(?) years ago. Except for the forward bow in the seat tube, we’ll get to that.
Today was my first outing with the new bike. I had to get some papers to the taxman in the next town over and decided to to combine business with pleasure. The farm roads I had designated as the route were good to ride on in parts. When the snowy surface was flat and even, the Karate Monkey floated over the snow as well as it could with me on it. In other parts, tractors had gouged deep ruts in the snow. Time to walk and get the blood flowing in my cold feet again. On inclines, no gymnastics are necessary. The rear wheel is already tucked under your butt by this bow in the seat tube. The bike’s rear is quite short! I had to change my reflexes fast with regards to descents. If you hang out your heini rearwards, your fast sitting on the rear wheel!
The Shimano gear hub didn’t seem to mind the shaking it got in the ruts and switching gears was always uncomplicated. Braking was very well taken care of by the Alfine hydraulic disk brakes. I’m a fan of disk brakes since I had them on my recumbent and was spoilt by their awesome stopping power. They have to be hydraulic, though, whenever I’ve tried cable-actuated ones, they didn’t impress me.
Not all was fine and dandy on that maiden voyage, I had forgotten bring an Allen Key and out in the white waste realized the saddle was too low. So my quads got a workout today, and only them. My bad, not the bike’s fault. That one’s fine, and will tide me over the yet long winter.