After Laura got Beaker, I had toyed with buying a lovely lugged frame for myself, but that totally won't work. There are a number of reasons for this, but the one that is most pressing for me is that if I build a bike that's too beautiful, I'll be afraid to use it. I know this because I sometimes need to use a cane to support myself; I have a small collection of canes, including one that's attractive and just the right height, that I didn't use for years for fear of wrecking it or wearing it out. I need utile more than beautiful.
I first cast an eye on the Soma San Marcos. Lugged and handsome, it was designed by Grant Petersen at Rivendell Bikes. Larger versions have a double top tube for added rigidity, and it's got long chainstays so I'll be able to keep the front wheel down on 25% grades... but it's too pretty to be a bike for use, and too quotidian to be a bike for eye candy.
Soma's got a number of other frames (I looked at the Wolverine and Double Cross), but then I remembered the fork on the Yellow Maserati. When I was building the Yellow Maserati, the carbon fiber fork on my first bike had developed a worrisome scratch, and I kept reading stuff about carbon fiber failures that had me uneasy (Alberto Contador's experience last summer has not improved my confidence). I had built the Yellow Maserati with a Surly fork. What does Surly have?
Well, lots, it turns out. I want room for wide tires, and not really a tourer like the Long Haul Trucker... but there's that cyclo-cross frame, the Cross Check, that has a lot of what I'm looking for:
- Lots of sizes;
- Chainstays longer than those on the Yellow Maserati;
- Braze-ons for fenders and racks;
- Price includes the fork;
- External cable routing, and setups for downtube shifters (or not);
- Room for wide tires...
- ...and you can get a black one. (I'm color-challenged.)
I may have a project.