06 March 2015

Surly Troll with Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14 and Schmidt Dynamo

We built this eye-catching purple Surly Troll for a local customer who wanted a bike for daily commuting and long-distance touring. He asked us to build it up with versatility and ergonomics being the primary concern. With Surly's nearly indestructible steel frame, a worry-free Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14Schmidt dynamo front hubdynamo-powered head light with USB charger, and a pair of steel Tubus racks, this bike is ready to serve as a reliable transporter for many years.

The Surly Troll frames are a trusted choice proven on many different kinds of terrain. From commuting to mountain biking to mixed terrain touring – the Troll is an easy choice for versatile builds based around 26 inch wheels. Like all of Surly’s frames, it features sturdy 4130 chromoly steel tubing to ensure longevity even under the harshest of conditions. It includes gussets on the key tube junctions where frames tend to fail - where the seat tube meets the top tube and where the top and down tubes meet the headtube. Troll frames also offers a full array of threaded mounts for racks, water bottle cages, fenders, and Surly's trailer, making them adaptable to satisfy any rider's needs, no matter how they intend to use it.

28 February 2015

Budnitz No.3 Titanium City Bike with Rohloff SPEEDHUB and Belt Drive

We built this Budnitz NO. 3 titanium bike for a customer in Southern California who was looking for the perfect all-purpose bike to get around town and to potentially do some long distance rides. He wanted a bike for exploring his neighborhood, riding nearby trails and bike paths, taking out on fitness rides, and eventually working his way up to a self supported transcontinental tour. Most of all, he wanted a bike that would be comfortable, lightweight, and stylish - an all-arounder that would last him a lifetime and rarely need service. His goal was to simply take off on a ride whenever he felt like it, so the build focuses around the Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14 internal gear hub and Gates Carbon Drive belt system.

With the request for a bike that was stylish, lightweight, and could handle a variety of riding, our first thought was Budnitz Bicycles. Budnitz is a Vermont-based company started by designer Paul Budnitz, who is probably best known as the creator of Kid Robot vinyl toys. When starting his bike company, he pledged to stay true to the ideals of simplicity, minimalism, and functionality in the products he produces and strives to create elegant bikes without superfluous ornamentation. This minimal sensibility is evident across Budnitz’s belt drive bike line, which includes city bikes, cruisers, mountain bikes, and fatbikes that have won numerous awards and accolades from the bike media and riders alike. Since the company started in 2010, they have always offered a Rohloff SPEEDHUB option due to the hub’s compatibility with the Gates belt system and unsurpassed durability.

Based on what this customer wanted to do with his new bike, the No. 3 model seemed like the best fit. It is billed as a city bike but has plenty of features that make it versatile for many kinds of riding. Like all of Budnitz's models, the No. 3 frame is offered in titanium and steel versions, with the titanium version weighing in at only 3.6 pounds. With it's distinct curved-tube design, it offers a stylish urban aesthetic that doubles as a suspension system to smooth out bumps on gravel roads.

The No.3 frame geometry is neutral and balanced, making for a bike that can be ridden fast yet upright enough to stay comfortable on all day rides. Internal cable routing through the downtube hides the cables and keeps them out of the way. The frame is also belt drive compatible thanks to a joint built into the drive side dropout to install the belt and an eccentric bottom bracket to provide tension. Rack and fender mounts cover daily commuting or touring needs, and clearance is provided for tires up to 2" wide.

For the wheels, we started with Stan’s NoTubes Flow EX rims. The Flow EX is Stan's flagship mountain bike offering for trail oriented wheels: wide for traction, with a strong profile and effortless tubeless compatibility. We laced these rims to a Hope Pro II EVO hub in front and a Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14 in the rear. Both wheels were built up with Sapim Race spokes and brass nipples. After we trued and tensioned the wheels, we mounted Schwalbe Big Apple tires - an excellent, smooth-rolling, street-oriented tire with an anti-puncture liner embedded in the casing.

The Rohloff SPEEDHUB is renowned as a hard wearing, practically maintenance-free shifting option. No other drivetrain solution is as resilient and long lasting. While most other options require frequent tuning and replacement parts, the only maintenance a SPEEDHUB needs is an annual change of the oil bath that lubricates the shifting components and hubshell bearings. Conventional drivetrains have many moving parts exposed to the elements, which require frequent cleaning and adjusting. The SPEEDHUB, however, has few external shifting components that are exposed.

The Gates Carbon Drive belt extends the service life of the drivetrain even further. The Gates belt is a continuous loop and contains no moving links. Many of our customers have reported their belt drive systems lasting two to five times longer than a traditional chain with no cleaning or other maintenance needed along the way.

For the remaining components, we opted for long-lasting, top-of-the-line parts that would match the quality and aesthetics of the titanium frame. At the cockpit, we used Budnitz’ titanium riser bars, which feature a comfortable amount of rise and backsweep. We equipped the bars with Ergon’s ergonomic GP1 grips. Silver Thomson stem and seatpost pair well with the raw titanium frame. Selle Anatomica's Titanico X saddle feels broken in right out of the box, thanks to its multiple laminated layers of leather, and it's “hammock” shaped design. Finally, we installed Magura’s MT2 hydraulic disc brakes and Shimano’s SPD Trekking pedals.

When our customer got his new bike, he said it turned out just the way he'd imagined it in his head and was excited to make this bike a part of his daily rides for years to come. If you’re considering a similar bike of your own, contact us to start discussing a build kit for your personal riding style.

Build Details:

• Frame: Budnitz No. 3 Titanium
• Fork: Budnitz No. 3 Titanium
• Headset: Hope Threadless
• Stem: Thomson Elite X4
• Handlebar: Budnitz Riser Titanium
• Shifter: Rohloff
• Grips: Ergon GP1
• Seat post: Thomson
• Saddle: Selle Anatomica Titanico X
• Seat Clamp: Salsa Liplock
• Front Hub: Hope Pro II EVO
• Rear hub: Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14
• Spokes: Sapim Race
• Nipples: Sapim Brass
• Rims: Stan’s NoTubes ZTR Flow EX
• Tires: Schwalbe Big Apple 29x2.15”
• Cranks: Shimano Deore XT
• Pedals: Shimano XT SPD Trekking
• Bottom Bracket: Hope
• Chain ring: Gates Carbon Drive
• Rear Sprocket: Gates Carbon Drive
• Chain/Belt: Gates Carbon Drive
• Brakes & Levers: Magura MT2

21 November 2014

Co-Motion Americano Touring Bike with Rohloff SPEEDHUB and belt drive

This Co-Motion Americano was displayed in our booth at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) last March in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is equipped with a Rohloff SPEEDHUB 500/14 and Gates belt drive, as well as a full compliment of racks and panniers for loaded touring. Co-Motion Cycles – a company who specializes in building bikes for touring, commuting, tandems, and other unique bikes at their factory in Eugene, Oregon – lent us this bike to showcase an example of a fully loaded touring bike equipped with a SPEEDHUB. It attracted plenty of attention among show attendees; a crowd made up of handmade bike aficionados, many of whom travel from all over the world for a chance to see these bikes in person.

13 November 2014

Soma Rush Fixed Gear With Belt Drive

When a local customer contacted us about building a belt drive-equipped fixed gear for him, we were excited to execute his vision. He wanted a bike that would be simple, lightweight, and durable for commuting around town quickly. He gave us a few general guidelines for the build but asked us to make our own recommendations for parts that would fulfill his requirements. His primary requests were that the frame be chrome colored and that he could use a belt drive system. He planned to use the bike to zip around Oakland and commute across town to work - primarily short, fast rides without much climbing.

03 November 2014

Black Sheep High Light Titanium Belt Drive Single Speed with FaithTruss Fork

Black Sheep looking south from Albany Hill Park

This beautiful titanium bike from Black Sheep Bikes in Ft. Collins, CO came into the Monkey Lab for a Gates Carbon Drive belt conversion. While we are known best for our Rohloff Internal Gear Hub builds, we're big proponents of the Gates belt drive system, which is a fantastic option for single speed bikes as well as internal gear hub bikes. With Black Sheep's signature curved tubes, this bike is an exquisite example of the kind of creative fabrications that can be achieved by small custom frame builders. The whole bike weighs in at only 21 pounds but feels even lighter due to it's super light EDGE (now ENVE) carbon rims.

Gates Belt Drive with XTR cranks and Chris King single speed hub