Saturday, August 28, 2010

Damn Cold and Windy!


Wildlife Encounter: Buck just past the Bump - far enough away that I didn't scare him off... too far for a really great photo.

These two guys came around me on the descent just after Chainbuster... then slowed me down the rest of they way in to town.

Seems like construction is done on the Overpass... probably they just want to do some landscaping before Arnold comes to cut the ribbon.

My New Commute Bike

Note:  This bike was stolen from my home in March 2014 - if you see it, please contact me.

Product Review:
Masi Speciale Commuter
(say “spay - chah - lay”, not “spesshy - yaal”… this bike is Italian… sorta)

I finally sold my old Specialized Rockhopper Comp – that thing saw 17 years of hard use from MTB trails, Critical Mass, baby trailer pulling, kiddie tandem add-on pulling, and most recently… foul weather commuting. The frame was still going strong but the shifting and brakes got finicky in the rain.

Plus I always liked commuting on a fixed gear bike but my other ones were free experiments that didn’t fit well.

What I wanted was a bike with room for big tires and fenders, long wheel base for stable handling, sensible brakes front and back, wide roadie handlebars with room for lights, and normal brake levers. I considered a Surly Long Haul Trucker, a Casseroll Single, Kona Paddy Wagon, and a few others but they all had one or two elements that kept them from being exactly what I wanted.

Then I discovered this Masi, and the more I looked the more I liked.

Masi is now owned by Haro which started as a BMX company and they contract their bikes through Asian factories like so many other bike companies do. But in a world of name brand bicycles that have no relationship to their own history… the Masi name is one of the best!

This is the same frame Masi uses for their randonneur bike so it has down tube shifter braze-ons and a derailleur hanger but I won’t be exploiting those features.

$505 complete cost delivered to my door… sweet price point! Most of the others I looked at were $700 +. Ordered on Sunday, arrived on Thursday, rode it to work Friday morning.

Hmm, plain brown box.

Aha; Masi labeled box inside the plain box.

Abbey loves that "new bike smell".

The birth shot.

I ordered this from Sun and Ski Sports in Houston. Apparently they just pass these through – it didn’t look like they had assembled it and then unassembled it for packing… they probably provided the outer box though. Anyway, no damage on delivery.

The seatpost comes with a shim – I guess they did this so they can use the same seatpost for lots of bike models including aluminum, steel, and CFRP. Can’t see it below the collar and it’s not an obvious size reduction anyway… no worries.

Aluminum seatposts in steel bikes should be greased.

Too much is better than not enough.

Too much setback for me… but I’m funny that way.

Assembly required:

· Adjust stem
· Install and adjust handlebars
· Install front wheel
· Air up both tires
· Install front brake
· Attach and adjust cables to both brakes
· Adjust calipers and pads on both brakes
· Install pedals
· Take off stupid noisy wheel reflectors
· Leave front and rear reflectors in bag

Then, I took the rear wheel out, put on my fixed cog and lock ring, and reinstalled it. Had some trouble getting chain tension right until I realized the drop out screw adjusters were all the way in. Both front and rear axles have nice track nuts on them.

Flip flop hub comes with a 16t freewheel gear; I put a 16t fixed cog and lockring from my old Centurion on the other side and will mostly be riding it fixed.

Came with some usable pedals (bottom) but I had these MKS Touring ones that I really like (they fit my caveman-width feet well) so I put them on instead.

Shakedown cruise ready.

The wheels seemed to be pretty well true and tensioned right out of the box, but I heard some popping and pinging so I’ll give them the Jobst treatment after a week or so.

Handlebars are really wide and flat – good for lights and accessories, but it feels kind of funny at first… also not good for sprinting from the drops because you’ll bang your wrists.

Really solid “dead ahead Fred” ride feel.

There’s one point in my commute where I go from the trail, to a sidewalk, to a busy street – this bike handled the curb hop with aplomb. The long wheelbase and 32mm tires really soaked up the bumps and pothole hits too.

I’ve never had a road bike with tires this wide – also, they have a reflective stripe in the sidewall; smart!

When I ordered this bike, I had to choose between a 53cm and a 56 cm. Now normally I ride a 54 or 55 so I had to decide if I wanted a little bit bigger or smaller than a perfect fit. I checked the geometry charts and compared them to my other bikes and decided on the 56cm frame. The standover and top tube lengths are actually a little smaller than my 55cm Eddy Merckx so it should have been perfect for a commute bike. And it really is pretty close but for some reason the reach seems a tad long… might be the seatpost setback. Maybe I’ll get used to it or maybe I’ll swap out the stem or something; not worth changing anything until I have some more riding time on him.

The details are really nice – the fork is flat crown and lugged, and the rest of the tubes are TIG welded. The paint is deep and rich and even, the graphics are old school interesting and the decals are all on straight. Component selection is probably similar to what I would have spec’ed myself if I worked at Masi – the brakes were a little clunky to fine tune but completely acceptable. Not sure about the saddle yet… be nicer with a Rolls but you can’t expect a $100 saddle on a $500 bike; not something I’m in a hurry to replace anyway.

The Final Word:
The Masi Speciale Commuter gets a 9 out of 10 on the Diablo Scott commuter bike rating scale. I’d go higher if it came in a 55cm, a zero setback seatpost, and some jewelry to go over the shifter braze ons.

Got some pretty fenders too that I'll put on when the rain comes again.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

2010 WNR 14

Twelve days post blood donation. I could push a little harder but still went into oxygen debt a little earlier than I should've.

Nice day, almost felt like a real summer.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


7 days post double-red blood donation and I was feeling fine.

Surprisingly cold and windy this morning, I wore an undershirt.

Wildlife Encounter: turkeys on this guy's lawn outside the Park.

JB joined me at the Gate, seemed to be coughing a lot.

On the Bump, I went anaerobic and never really recovered so I guess that was a blood thing... slow recovery, low stamina, quick to go over the aerobic edge.

Found a pair of nice gloves between the Ranches - turned them in to Ranger Carl at the Junction.

Talked to Peter who was coming down from the Summit. He started up at 7 and said there were quite a few other people also on the road at that time. Couldn't talk him in to doing Foxy's with me though.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

2010 WNR 13

Four days post double-red blood donation. This time, my hematocrit dropped from 43.8 to 38.7 so I ended up a couple percent higher than I did last time. I felt pretty good and was hoping there wouldn’t be much noticeable effect.

Parked on Doncaster and happened upon old-regular Dan who used to ride with us before changing jobs and moving around. We started off together since JB was a no show. Dan announced that he needed to set a good time as a standard and that he’d be riding frequently from now on so he needed a yardstick to measure his progress. He got about 20 seconds on me when the Gruppo Taleo rode by and I got in their wake and passed up Dan again. Didn’t last long though because my heart rate shot up pretty quickly after the Dumpster Gate and he came back around.

Got my new chain on over the weekend and was very happy to see that my shifting and adjustment problems were completely gone. Since I had to abandon last Wednesday and didn’t ride on Saturday, this was my first good ride in a week and a half.

So by the time I got past the Bump, the wind was strong and I had pushed into my anaerobic range and wasn’t recovering very much and I decided it was my blood’s fault… hope whoever received my donation appreciates that sacrifice! Very strange to be riding up a not too steep grade at 5mph with a pulse of 170.

Then a couple guys caught me from behind. One guy was obviously stronger and providing some tips to his buddy who was lagging. So the stronger guy started talking to me and I told him my RBC was down because of donating blood and he said he hadn’t eaten or drunk anything at all since 4 o’clock this morning because of Ramadan which just started today. I decided that was a pretty severe handicap but it didn’t slow him down much; he did high intensity intervals and kept circling back to talk to his buddy in the recovery phase. He was probably pretty hungry by sunset.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

2010 WNR 12

Abandonee at Moss Landing.
Ed started up before me so I was looking forward to chasing him down. JB hadn't started yet so it seemed like a good beginning. Talked to a guy named Steven on Doncaster and he was looking for a group but didn't know when they were supposed to be there. I said, "Just go, you'll find somebody to ride with."

So just after the dips, the Gruppo Taleo came by with another half dozen riders including blog reader Ward in a good pack and it wasn't much of a grade yet so I hopped on too. I made a joke about everyone attacking me when I buggered up a shift; I'm not sure anybody heard me. Then just a few minutes later, I really did have some shifting problems and suddenly my chain totally jammed up in the back.

Turned out one of the plates had come loose from the pin. While futzing with it on the side of the road lots of people offered their assistance but I was pretty sure none of them would have been any help. Anyway, I have a mini chain tool on my multi tool thingy and managed to get the link out and the chain reconnected after about 20 minutes. Of course it was not one of the links that's generally removable so it was kind of a crappy connection, and now my chain was covered with ditch dust too, so I gave up and turned around; happy I didn't have to walk back to the truck.

I've got a new chain still in the box that I bought a couple months ago. Been telling myself I need to replace it soon. I'm going to have to start listening to myself. I think I'll stick a master link in my saddle bag too.

And maybe some hand cleaner.