Dirt Trail “Camargue” Bike

September 8, 2013 – Next Winter’s Project Bike

Velo Orange is working on a new bike design that should be a big hit. Their “Camargue” frame is a traditional steel touring frame modified to accept up to 2.3 x 29 inch tires on 700c wheels. It is exactly what I’ve been looking for to pedal the long unpaved rail trails in New Hampshire, Maine, and along the Erie Canal in upstate New York.Carmague Profile shot (1)The pea green paint is pretty bland, and their orange sample is worse. Here’s hoping they get bold with something in an elegant steel blue or deep carmine. The green might not be as insipid if outfitted entirely with black components. I’ll be first in line for a 62cm frame, in any color.

Chris K's CamargueUnlike most newer frames, this one has horizontal rear drop-outs, so it can take an internally geared hub without a tensioner.

Chris Kulczycki, the boss at VO, built his personal bike with an Alfine 8-speed hub. I hope my suggestion led him to try it.

June BugI was planning to sell my Soma June Bug bar, but will keep it now to use on this bike. I also have another Wippermann Connex chain and a new Race Face Evolve crankset on hand. I’ll use the new VO Zeste cantilever brakes that I bought for my Cross-check on this bike.

Surly RackI’ll build new wheels, using VO’s promised wide 700c rims, their front hub, and an Alfine 8-speed rear hub with a Jtec bar end shifter.

My Surly is loaded with VO components, so I guess it would be okay to put a Surly Nice rear rack on this VO frame.

Planet Bike Cascadia 29 fenders will keep the frame from getting blasted with grit. I’ll swap the heavy-duty bottle cages off my Surly.

Since this bike will be used almost exclusively off-pavement, I will gear it lower than my Surly. The Race Face crankset has a 32-tooth chainwheel which, with a 20-tooth cog on the Alfine hub, will provide a gear range of 25 to 75 inches. I rarely use a higher gear even on pavement.

The frames and wheel rims are promised for mid-winter delivery, along with black headsets and other parts, so this looks like next year’s project.

October 7, 2013 – Gathering Parts

This morning I scored a nearly new black Surly Nice rear rack on eBay for about 2/3 of the list price. And last week I found a black Soma seat post. Yesterday I swapped saddles on my Surly, so have a nice 175mm gel saddle for the future Camargue. By the time the frame arrives, I expect to have all the components on hand to build the bike I want.

LD839Jtek bar end shifters are temporarily out of stock everywhere, but Ryan Guthrie of Jtek says he should have more available by the end of this month.

I also picked up guidebooks to the Erie Canal trail and the other upstate New York canal paths. I’m thinking the best way to go, though, will be a van supported tour with other old timers led by Senior Cycling, Inc. (http://www.seniorcycling.com/tours/#176). Much depends on when the new frame is available.

January 10, 2014 – Still Waiting

I’m still waiting for the Jtek shifter, and VO now says the Camargue frames will not be ready until Spring, so I guess this won’t be a winter project after all. If VO’s new rims arrive sooner, I will at least build up wheels. In the meantime, I’ve decided not to do the senior tour of the Erie Canal this year, but will continue riding rail trails closer to home.

March 5, 2014 – Project Cancelled!

This is the year we all recalibrate our lives, and mine is about to see some big changes. One of them is deciding not to build another bike. It looks like I have finally sold my house and will be downsizing to a condo. That means less room for toys and less time this spring for projects. It’s also time to consolidate my many interests.

So this project is off. The Jtek shifter finally arrived; I will keep it for a spare as Ryan is thinking of getting out of the business. The Surly Nice rack, Raceface Evolve crankset, and June Bug bar will soon appear on eBay. Still undecided on the brakes, but inclined to sell the VO units.

Thanks to all who have been following this link. If you want to buy the parts I’ve collected, respond below.

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