I was on vacation for the last several days, so I didn’t get a lot of riding in. I did get to spend some time dicking around with bike parts, though.

One of the strange noises coming from the Cross-Check turned out to be a very loose spoke. I tried to true the wheel up, but wasn’t having much luck.


Turns out the rim was shot.


So, I took the wheel off the Karate Monkey and put it on the Cross-Check. This is a no bullshit, 48-spoke, Phil Wood, Zombie Apocalypse wheel. The Cross-Check gets more miles than any of my other bikes, and it deserves to wear the bling.


That took care of the Cross-Check, but now I had a mountain bike with no rear wheel. I could either build my old road hub into a new wheel, or buy a new mountain wheel.

I decided to go with a new wheel, but it felt stupid to not upgrade to disc brakes while doing it, so – discs on the rear end of the Monkey.


In the interests of symmetry, I put discs on the front, too.

In Summary:

  • Cross-Check now has a zombie apocalypse proof wheel.
  • Karate Monkey now has disc brakes.
  • Bike budget is blown for the foreseeable future
  • I have an Ultegra hub in the garage who wants a bike built around it. Having extra bicycle parts lying around your garage is a dangerous business.

Monster Trucks and Monkey Nuts


So, I thought maybe I’d run some nice fat rubber on the Karate Monkey. Monster-Truck tires. Because why not.

When I had the LBS build up the monkey originally, they told me not to go bigger than 2.1″ tires because of the straddle wire on the v-brakes. I’d catch a knob on the straddle wire, go over the bars, get a concussion, sue, etc.


So, I ordered a Maxxis Ardent 29 x 2.4 tire.

I tried to mount it up on the Monkey tonight. I was so excited. It cleared the straddle cable with a little room for mud.


The LBS was full of crap. Everything is gonna be fine!

It also cleared the front derailer clamp, no problem (I’m using Monkey Nuts


So, everything’s groovey, spinning, I’m thinking I’ll order another 2.4″ tire for the front, and then to rip up some muddy trails. Because I’m all bad-ass like that. (not really).

Then, I start fiddling with the gears.

Well, Shit.

When the front derailleur is in the low gear, the cage rubs the knobs on the tire. bad.


So, I thinks to myself, I’ll run TWO sets of money nuts! That’ll fix ‘er!

Nope. Even all the way in the back of the drop outs, it still rubs the front derailleur cage.

So, it looks like I’m out of luck. I guess I’ll move this tire to the front, lick my wounds, and consider my options for the rear.

Trail-a-bike Adventures


I scored a Trail-a-bike for next-to-nothing at a yard sale a few weeks ago. I don’t have any kids, but now I at least have an excuse to have some. In the mean while, I have a niece and a couple of nephews who are the right size to go on bike adventures with this thing.


The trail-a-bike web site says that the kids should be able to ride without training wheels before you let them ride it. Bollocks to that. None of the kids are very good without training wheels, but I have really wide bars on the Karate Monkey, and thus far, I have been able to counter their incessant wobbling without getting thrown into the ditch.

The kids seem to like it. They like to either sing silly songs or tell you crazy stories when you’re out riding around.

Yesterday, while trail-a-biking around the block, my nephew (age 4) told me this:

Nephew: Uncle Adam, I’m not afraid of spiders anymore.
Me: How come?
Nephew: Because Spider-Man got bit by a spider, and he has super powers! (I had just given him a Spider-Man bike helmet)
Me: That’s right!
Nephew: Spider-man is a good guy, right?
Me: Yep.
Nephew: And he fights the bad guys, right?
Me: Yep.
Nephew: I wish Spider-man was real. Then I would never be afraid of anything ever again!

So, yeah. Pretty awesome.

I’m not sure the Karate Monkey is the best bike for this. The chainstays are short, and when a kid goes wobbly, it really makes the bike lurch. The wide handlebars make it pretty easy to yank the bike back upright, though. Maybe once the kids learn better balance, I could tow them with the Cross-Check. Then we can haul serious ass down the bike trail, and get to the Ice Cream store in record time.

The Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus will never catch us!

Indexed Shifting on the Karate Monkey


I was having a little bit of trouble friction shifting the 9 speed cassette on the Monkey, so I ordered some of these new fangled Shimano “SIS” shifters.

Deore XT Shifters

I was afraid they were going to be hard to set up. I’ve never really had much luck with indexing before.

It took a few readings of the instruction sheet before everything made sense, but they actually work extremely well. I took the Monkey out for a ride in the woods and ran up and down the gears a few dozen times. Everything worked like magic.

Monkey in the woods.

I was also worried about not being able to trim the front dérailleur. This didn’t seem to be a problem, though. I’m not really sure how Shimano makes it so you never need to trim, but I don’t remember hearing any rubbing noises; no matter what screwball gear combinations I tried.

Anyhow, I only have 20 miles on this configuration, and I did clean and lube the chain this morning. So, this is probably the best possible scenario to test it under. That said: I like it. I really like it.

I’m going to take the 9 speed barcons I had on this bike and move them to the Trek, so I can index that, too. I’m not going to switch to STI on my touring bike. That would be ridiculous.

Monkey Upgrade


I put some new bling on my Karate Monkey.

36 teeth

It’s a little hard to make it out in the picture, but it says “36t” on the big cog.

That’s the much ballyhooed Shimano SLX HG-61 cassette. With my monkey’s mountain triple (FC-M460) cranks, I have stupendously low gearing (in inches):

106.8 77.7 53.4
91.6 66.6 45.8
80.1 58.3 40.1
71.2 51.8 35.6
61.0 44.4 30.5
53.4 38.8 26.7
45.8 33.3 22.9
40.1 29.1 20.0
35.6 25.9 17.8

The lowest gear is 17.8″ For most people, this is probably insanely low, but I am not like most people.

I am fat, lazy, and slow. And I live in a mountainous area. I suspect that low gear will see lots of use.

Shimano say you need a fancy “Shadow” derailleur to make this cassette work. Shimano are full of it.


This is just a regular Deore derailleur. I screwed the B-tension screw all the way in, and it fits. Just barely.

Shimano also warns you that the 22/36 combination can generate so much torque that you might damage your rear hub. They then suggest that you should buy one of their fancy 29er-specific rear hubs.

I think I have the hub situation well in hand already.


I took it for a test spin around the block today, and everything seems to work. Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to take it out to the woods this week and see if I am able to spin up some hills that I have had to walk up before.

Monkey Love


My Karate Monkey had been hanging on its hook in the garage since last fall some time. I was almost ready to sell it, since it wasn’t getting ridden.

I’ve ridden it a few times in the past 2 weeks just for something different. I had forgotten how much fun it is to take it to the woods and run over rocks and stuff.

I think I’m keeping it.

Karate Monkey in its natural habitat

I took it up to Stony Creek today, and made a foolhardy attempt to climb Stagecoach road (steep!). I abandoned the attempt after about 100 yards, when I thought I was having a stroke.

Here I am all red-faced and sweaty after the attempt.

Me and my Monkey

I’m thinking of getting one of Shimano’s new-fangled CS-HG61 cassettes for it. It’s unlikely that having 2 more teeth on the low gear would make that much of a difference, but it probably wouldn’t hurt, either.

Anyone know if this thing would work with a Phil Hub and a plain-old Deore dérailleur? I have a 34-tooth 30-tooth low gear now, and don’t have any problems with it.

Anyhow, 17 miles for the day, and I like my Monkey again.

Surly Nice Rack on a Karate Monkey Fork


I like to take a lot of stuff with me when I go into the woods. Stuff like my camera, my lunch, maybe a book. You know, stuff.

I’ve not been riding my Karate Monkey very much lately, because it doesn’t have a good way to carry stuff.

So, I decided to get a rack for it.

The chainstays on the Karate Monkey are really short, and I wear size 15 shoes. I worried that with a rear rack, I’d be kicking my panniers with every pedal stroke. So, I opted for a front rack.

The Karate Monkey’s fork is made out of some really big tubing, so the front rack I already had for the Trek was not going to work.

I searched the internets high and low for ideas of what rack to get. I kind of had my mind pretty much made up that I wanted a Surly Nice Rack. Unfortunately, a google images search for “Nice Rack Front Karate Monkey” yielded no pictures. Evidently I am the first person in the history of the world to try this.

Anyhow, I talked to the people at Pedal Pusher. They weren’t sure, but they said they’d check with QBP before they ordered it for me (they didn’t have any in stock).

The result is that henceforth, people searching for pictures of Karate Monkeys with Nice Front Racks will not search in vain.


Surly Nice Rack (Front) on a Karate Monkey

It was a kind of a pain in the butt to get mounted, but it does fit.

In the picture, it looks like the rack isn’t level, but it is level in real life. The wheel was turned a little bit when I took the picture.

This was the first time I’d ever dealt with Pedal Pusher, and now I know why everybody says they are so kick ass. They totally are.

It strikes me as the kind of shop you’d expect to find Yehuda Moon working at. I didn’t see him there. Maybe it was his day off.