Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"It Rides Like Buttah" - My New Gunnar Sport

I'd been mulling a sport touring type frame for a couple of years and waffled between various good options out there in the bicycling world.  I knew I wanted to be able to fit a slightly fatter tire in the frame but still retain a sense of the sprightliness of a good road bike.  I also was dreaming about creating an ultra-light touring rig for some summer adventures.

On the higher end I had looked at the DeSalvo road/dirt bike that I had lusted over at last year's North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Sacramento.  A beautiful bike to be sure and I liked the utilitarianess of the tig welded frame.  I'd also considered something closer to home in trying to persuade Roland Della Santa to create a sport touring styled bike (something I know he has done for others) but felt like his natural niche is a classic road bike which I already have and love.

I also mulled some less expensive and sturdier options that would have served this purpose well.  Soma and Surly would have been obvious places to look.  I also seriously considered the Black Mountain Cycles road option which I took a good look at when I was in Pt. Reyes this past summer.  Ultimately I was swayed in part by the desire to support a company building bikes in the U.S. and I also have such great experiences with my Gunnar Crosshairs for trail riding that it wasn't long before I found myself looking at the Gunnar Sport geometry charts on their website.

It took me months to pull the trigger but the wait for a beautiful American made steel bike was worth it. I love the versatility inherent in this design because even though I longed for a plush riding road bike built to carry a light load, I know I could pretty easily trade out a few parts and have a fastish road bike.  I intend to use this bike for cruising the neighborhood, commuting to work, credit card touring, and even throwing a 20-25 pound load with a rear rack on the back and heading out for some unsupported ultralight touring in the years ahead.  Judging from my initial short rides it would handle all of this with ease.

I ordered the frame through my local bike shop, College Cyclery, and had a fitting that persuaded me to opt for a custom option so the headtube would be slightly longer to get the bars higher without an excess of spacers.  I also chose the flat fork crown option just because I have a thing for flat fork crowns.

The recent color of the month option of a English Blue Metallic with White Panels was perfect.  It reminds me a bit of those first Rivendell Road Standards and the signature blue they used.  I've never been thrilled with the Gunnar typeface on the downtube but the panel squishes the font and improves the look a lot. Being a dog lover it makes me happy that this "bargain" line from Waterford is named after their labrador.

I had it built up with mostly some odds and ends I had sitting in my basement except for a few special things like the campagnolo 10 speed bar end shifters, the TRP "drillium" brake levers, and the Tektro brakes.  Parts spec:

Record hubs/DT rims
10 speed campy cassette
Chorus rear derailleur med cage/Chorus front der.
SRAM Rival Crank
VO seatpost/stem
Nitto Noodle Bar
MKS pedals/Soma cages/Christophe straps
Brooks Imperial
Jack Brown 33.3 Tires
Stainless Steel chainguard (a sweet little detail to complete the look)
Old School Italian aluminum tool "bag" from Buzz Bomb Bicycles

Ultimately I feel like the Gunnar philosophy hits that sweet spot between strictly utilitarian and overly boutiquey bikes while still being made in the U.S.   Granted, the build I opted for brings out the boutiqueness but at heart it's a practical machine ready for some hard use.  Here is a gallery of photos.  Ride photos to come I'm sure....

Not quite sure yet what to put in this thing...snacks or bourbon?

Hard to see but the two black spacers mimic the two black stripes bookmarking the panel.
Old Style College Cyclery sticker
A slightly broader range cassette might be in order at some point.
Gunnar says it'll fit 32s but these are 33.3 and still have a good amount of space.

"It rides like buttah"...the first words out of Chad's (bike mechanic extraordinaire) mouth when I went to pick up the bike.



therockmachine said...

Nice! How do you like those levers?

lawschoolissoover said...

Brandy. Definitely brandy.

Chuck Davis said...


When did you move from Maine

Reno Rambler said...

Brandy....? Ah, for the medicinal purposes.

I like the levers a lot. It was the ergo bend that really sold me. I'm still deciding if they work well with the noodle bar though.

DY said...

The shop shot is great.

Riding in Reno said...

Completely awesome ride!! I'm seriously hating you for just how nice it is!

cyclotourist said...

That is just perfect. The color is amazing and the built is just first rate. It would be cool if Gunnar head the extended HT as a regular option rather than custom upgrade.

Garrett said...

Sweet looking new ride.

You mentioned credit card touring...

I live up in Truckee and I've been trying to get my wife to try touring. I'm thinking that credit card touring is the way to go.

Her big issue is that she doesn't want to ride on the road with traffic. Do you know of any tours that might work in our area (Reno/Tahoe)?

I'm hoping to meet the following criteria:
- bike path or wide bike lane, if traffic is light
- not too long
- decent restaurant options along the way
- hotel/B&B to stay the night (doesn't need to be fancy)
- nice scenery would be a bonus

Thanks for your help,


Unknown said...

Really happy to see your post. I have a Gunnar Sport with S and S couplers just waiting to be built up. Love seeing the Jack Brown's ... was considering using them on mine as well. I fly into Reno when visiting California ... would love to share a ride with you.

Reno Rambler said...

Garrett, I can hit 3 or 4 of those criteria out of the 5 pretty easily. The biggest problem on those Sierra/Tahoe roads it likely the narrowness. Even if the traffic is lighter it still may be too much for your wife to feel comfortable with. Otherwise you can't hardly help finding scenic, shorter rides with hotels and restaurants. There is a little series of bike touring books that might be helpful. They are basically divided into northern sierra/southern sierra/wine country bike touring. I don't remember the exact titles and they may be a little dated but I think they are good options to investigate. Route maps, etc. are provided. I'd search books in amazon under, "bicycling the northern sierra." Hope that helps.

"unknown"...drop me a line when you are in town.

Riding in Reno said...

After this addition is necessary. A nice set of velo orange hammered ss fenders. Perfect for filling that extra room around the tires!

Steve said...

If as you observed once, people like to open the seatpost can, you should put a couple of the snake in a can springs in there.

Reno Rambler said...

I did that. Scared a couple of my students with it last week. :)

ebach00 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ebach00 said...

Let me know if you're ever interested in selling this beauty...seriously!