Thursday 30 August 2007

A Herd of Tin Donkeys: NYCBikes Cross II Blackadder

My Big Black Bike

When I arrived in Washington, DC in September 2002 I was determined to ride the famous C&O Canal towpath. However, I realized after talking with several people that neither my Bianchi road bike or Marinoni touring bike would be ideal and I would need something tougher for the unpaved track.

In late 2003 I began to assemble the parts needed to build an off-road touring bike. Turning to E-Bay, I purchased a brand new NYCBikes Cross frame and then gradually assembled a collection of suitable parts to turn it into my C&O Special. Not knowing much about mountain bike parts, I thought I would go with some of the higher end Shimano pieces and found a clearance sale on Shimano Deore XT parts. From there it was a simple matter to accumulate the remainder and I had a bike shop in DC assemble it for me. Unfortunately, my plan to use drop handlebars and regular shifters would not work out as the cable travel on the Cross would not allow enough tension so I had to go more with a mountain bike straight handlebar setup. It is nice to sit up when going through rough and muddy patches but less so when riding into the wind.

The result is that my $200 frame was embellished with a lot of great-looking new parts and thus was Blackadder, named for the rather rude Rowan Atkinson character in the television series of the same name, born. Unfortunately, the best laid plans...I never got around to riding Blackadder any great distance until this past weekend when we conquered the towpath together. Finally. Otherwise the bicycle has only been used for a few shopping trips and one ride to Alexandria, Virginia. This did not stop the headset from seizing up completely after a single ride in pouring rain last year on Bike to Work Day.

It is surprisingly light and fun to ride. It attracted the interest of a man in Cumberland riding a Specialized city bike. He was about to open a bike store and was impressed to see a NYCBike in town.

Blackadder’s Specifications

NYCBikes 57 cm Cross 2 frame
Shimano Deore XT integrated shifters and brake levers
Shimano XTR front derailleur
Unknown cantilever brakes, squeaky, purchased from NYCBikes
Shimano Deore crankset, 42-32-22
Shimano Deore XT rear derailleur
SRAM 9 speed cassette, 12-34
SRAM chain
FSA headset
Easton EA50 handlebars
Specialized bar ends
Selle Italia Trimatic 3 saddle
Tomac alloy seatpost
Araya TX-350 rims
Ritchey Speedmax Cross tires, 700x35, Schraeder
Ritchey SPD-compatible pedals–yellow!
Cateye Cordless 3 bike computer
Axiom alloy rack
Nashbar MTB panniers
Performance alloy bottle cages

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