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bobknh

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Posts: 522
Reply with quote  #1 
44 Bikes- owned and operated by custom frame builder Kris Henry- is 5 miles from my home in rural southern NH. I've known Kris for several years, and have been admiring the many examples of his work, that I've seen tooling around the roads, and trails of our area. I'm now in my 2nd full season of gravel riding. Last week I put a deposit down on a Huntsman http://www.44bikes.com/road/ . In NH, I ride about 100- 120 miles a week, split 50/50 between maintained dirt roads and pavement. In the winter months, I ride a bit more on high speed group rides in SC. Last year, I discovered to my delight, that I could handle both types of riding on my eTap equipped Ritchey Swiss Cross Canti, with Compass 35mm Bon Jon tires. No need to even switch wheels or tires. Nor, do I really need another bike in my already over stuffed garage (something that happens when you are 74 years old and have been riding and racing for nearly 60 of those years). But who ever needs a good excuse to buy a new bike? Last week I visited Kris's shop; discussed my needs in a new bike, and had some measurements taken off my Swiss Cross and my body. Kris likes to measure your in-seem with shoes on - to simulate your actual distance to the pedals. My in-seam was 35" -- and my height has shrunk over the years from 5' 11" to just over 5' 9". Long legs and short torso have always made it difficult for me to fit standard bike frame geometries. For this reason, a custom steel frame is an ideal choice for me. Up until now, I've been resisting hydraulic disc brakes, through axles, and other technologies that have been filtering down from mountain bikes. I believed that for the type of riding I do, good rim brakes work well enough, and save a lot of weight and complexity. Kris was perfectly happy to build me a canti. style road bike similar to my Swiss Cross. He argued however, that for a lot of the more challenging dirt and gravel roads we both ride in our area, I'd be much happier with hydraulic disks and through axles. Besides, that seems to be the industry direction. To avoid obsolescence, I've decided to swallow the "Koolaid" and go with the hydraulic discs. Kris also works with Southern Wheel Works. I'll likely have Southern Wheel works build me a custom wheel set to go with my custom frame. Currently Kris has 8 builds in his build backlog in front of mine. That means that he wont get to my bike until late summer or early Fall. I'll continue to post updates as things develop. I would also welcome any suggestions and comments from anyone interested. 
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owly

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Reply with quote  #2 
Nice looking model.

You'd fit fine on my 52 Curve Grovel v2. 
I'm the same height/shoe inseam.

Took me ages to source a suitable geo production frame.
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bobknh

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Reply with quote  #3 
Quote:
Originally Posted by owly
Nice looking model.

You'd fit fine on my 52 Curve Grovel v2. 
I'm the same height/shoe inseam.

Took me ages to source a suitable geo production frame.

I checked out the curve website. If I recall, JOM of Gravel Cyclist wrote several articles on Curve and Jesse Carlsson's Ti All- Terrain Adventure bike http://www.gravelcyclist.com/bicycle-tech/featured-bike-jesse-carlssons-curve-gmx-titanium-all-terrain-adventure-bike/ . Don't know too much about importing bike frames for Australia- but they look like terrific bikes. I checked their website for more details. Apparently they are having difficulties with their supply chain for steel tubing right now. You can expect some delays if you want one of their steel frames. I also looked at the frame geometries. If you have a 35" in-seam, how do you fit their 52 CM frame? How long is your seat post? Can you post a picture? BTW, even though I've shrunk to 5' 9" from 5' 11" - most of that is due to compression of my spine. My arms and legs are still the same length. In my racing days, I rode Trek 58 CM Trek OCLV frames with effective top tubes of 57 CM, with 100 or 110 mm stems. Can't imagine how I would fit on a 52 CM bike.
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owly

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Reply with quote  #4 
That's 35" with shoes. My arm length is a bit on the short side also, so the 52's reach of 363 is good for me.

I ride with a bit over 75cm, bb to saddle top.

Yeah, with your arm length I suppose their 52 would be too short for you.

I do like the curved seat stays on the Huntsman.


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pauley

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Reply with quote  #5 
Hey Bob,
A couple months ago I was having the exact questions you mention regarding hydraulic discs. I was in the market for a steel gravel bike and of course very few come with canti's. I even considered going custom partially to be able to stay with canti's. I pulled the trigger on a Jamis Renegade Elite and am a very happy camper- and rider. The disc brakes have worked great and I don't have to fuss with them like I did with canti brakes. Just make sure to get a couple of those handy plastic thingies to stick between the calipers when you remove the wheels.
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bobknh

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Posts: 522
Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pauley
Hey Bob,
A couple months ago I was having the exact questions you mention regarding hydraulic discs. I was in the market for a steel gravel bike and of course very few come with canti's. I even considered going custom partially to be able to stay with canti's. I pulled the trigger on a Jamis Renegade Elite and am a very happy camper- and rider. The disc brakes have worked great and I don't have to fuss with them like I did with canti brakes. Just make sure to get a couple of those handy plastic thingies to stick between the calipers when you remove the wheels.

Pualey - Thanks for the advice and encouragement. I wasn't really using canti's - but linear pull brakes - Paul's Minimoto's designed for short pull road brake levers. Setting them up was pretty easy. Also the Koolstop Salmon pads work well - even in wet conditions. Once I learned the trick of using a piece of folded cardboard to adjust the toe in (suggested to me by another forum poster here), I fixed any brake squeal issues that I was having. I believe that the absolute stopping power is actually better with these rim brakes due to the greater swept area when compared to discs less than 160mm. The arguments that swayed my decision though, were predictable modulation of hydraulic discs, improved frame rigidity with through axles, greater tire width choice, and finally, obsolescence insurance. I'm sure that once I get the hydraulic disks, I'll be delighted with them. In truth, hydraulic disks have been around for quite awhile, and proven themselves very effective.
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JoeFriday

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Reply with quote  #7 
Congrats on the Huntsman! I came VERY close to ordering one last year. Just couldn't get over the total cost (about $5k complete bike to my specs). Kris makes an amazing bike, and luckily he is local for you, which will be a big advantage. The one criticism I've heard of Kris is that his follow-up service after the bike is delivered is very limited. Once he gets a bike done he moves on, so most people are on their own. Being local, you can just stop by with any issues.

That being said, I doubt you'd have much of a problem with a 44Bike, so I wouldn't be considered with it.
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bobknh

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Posts: 522
Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeFriday
Congrats on the Huntsman! I came VERY close to ordering one last year. Just couldn't get over the total cost (about $5k complete bike to my specs). Kris makes an amazing bike, and luckily he is local for you, which will be a big advantage. The one criticism I've heard of Kris is that his follow-up service after the bike is delivered is very limited. Once he gets a bike done he moves on, so most people are on their own. Being local, you can just stop by with any issues.

That being said, I doubt you'd have much of a problem with a 44Bike, so I wouldn't be considered with it.

Thanks for comments. You are correct - small independent frame builders can't afford to offer full service and support. Not an issue for me though. Living in Greenfield NH - pop. 1700- my nearest full service LBS is about an hour away. I do most of my own wrenching. Fortunately, James M. at EMS in Peterborough is an excellent bike mechanic, and is happy to help me out, at a reasonable fee, should I need help with anything.
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