Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Wheels For The Gran Tourer

I've been decommissioning my 1985 Trek 620, cannibalizing parts from it. The wheelset was a rather unlikely combination of 36 hole Sun CR-18 rims, straight 14 gauge spokes, and Campagnolo Croce d'Aune hubs. There is a third wheel to match with a Schmidt Dynohub.

The theory behind these wheels was something bombproof and good looking. They have been bombproof - in eight years of hard use, they have never broken a spoke or even needed to be trued. These days, Croce d'Aune, the poor man's C-Record, may seem an overly refined component for commuting type wheels, but ten years ago this stuff was available for pennies essentially.

The looks speak for themself - I'm running similarly bombproof Specialized Armadillos:

The CR-18 rims, at 22mm, are narrower than the 25mm stock Arayas. The CR-18s also have a higher profile and are shinier. This gives the bike a bit more of a modern, flashier look than the more conservative, retro stock rims. Both looks work for me.

The Croce hubs are fabulous. Despite their years of use, they are still smooth as butter and cosmetically perfect. The axle housing has a graceful sculpted profile:

The chromed grease port cover clip is more subtle than the black ones on earlier Records.

The Croce quick release levers solved a minor nit. The Sunshine levers, like many QR levers, had a cap nut securing the lever. On the front wheel, this cap nut interfered with the rack/fender mount. Hence, the quick release lever had to face forward or down. This sort of thing is actually a big deal to obsessive people and had somewhat diminished the joy of the new front rack.

The Croce levers do not have this cap nut - the lever is secured internally. So, all is well in the QR lever positioning department:

This bike is approaching a state where it is ready for full, unlimited duty. The last major feature is getting a drive train that I can comfortably pull a trailer loaded down with 45 lbs of child and supplies for 50-70 mile day trips. Astute readers may notice that I've provisionally swapped the stock 42 tooth inner chainring for a 39 that was lying about.

But a triple is really needed - I'm hoping against all hope for a Sugino Mighty Tour. This loses the Fuji engraving on the crank arms, but is a high quality, non-swaged crankset. If I just can't bear to lose even one "Fuji" from a bike that positively bristles with the brand, I'll put on Fuji branded Super Maxy. While swaged, they are pretty high quality and are very often set up as triples.

That is not to take anything away from the stock crank, which is pretty attractive. If I didn't have to pull a trailer around, I'd probably go out and buy a 34 or 36 ring, leave it a double, and call it a day.

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