Friday, June 19, 2009

Mountain Bike Dilemma

A couple friends and my wife have mountain bikes, and I've never actually gone mountain biking strangely enough. I don't know if I just lacked interest or what, but I figured I might as well have a mountain bike on hand if I want to try it out.

Problem is, I already sorta have a mountain bike on hand. It's an old funky one, too. The frame is a BMX Products Inc, which if you know your bike history is the company that morphed into Mongoose in the mid 1980s. I've been calling it the "Proto-Rawland," after these guys' bikes. It has these old Dia-Compe cantilever brakes that are really cool looking, a Biplane lugged crown fork, a strange set of bullmoose-style handlebars, and some nice Shimano friction thumb shifters. It;s in pretty nice shape, but unfortunately someone thought it was a good idea to lose all the decals some time ago, so I'm not sure what the model was called.

The real problem is the size. It's about the right size for me as a commuter or road machine, but I worry it's too tall to use as a serious offroad bike. When I straddle it, the top tube is definitely firmly planted in my crotchal area, which could probably be bad news if I lost it. It also lacks a wheelset, has a narrower-than-modern rear offset, and the rear derailer hanger is bent. I'm sure I could get the rear triangle spread and derailer hanger straightened easily enough if I decide to build it up, though.

Today I picked up a Fuji Sunfire mountain bike at the local University surplus. Ostensibly I bought this bike to cannibalize the wheelset for the old proto-Rawland frame, but now I wonder if I should just ditch the old bike and stick with the Fuji. The Fuji is certainly nothing special, just a cheap cro-mo rigid frame with some low-end indexed shimano shifters. Not awful, but not great in any way. Plus, it would fit me as a MTB frame probably should.

I'm torn. On the plus side, the proto-Rawland could do double duty, replacing my Bridgestone XO as a commuter and go offroad as well, and it's a really interesting and unique bike. On the negative, it's not a great offroad size, and it needs a bit more work. On the Fuji plus side, it's ready to go. On the negative, it has lower end components, it's 3 lbs heavier, it's boring, and I'd still want my XO for commuting.

If you haven't figured it out, I've pretty much already decided that the proto-Rawland is what I'll stick with. Just wondering if anyone has any experience with big frames offroad. But try to convince me to change to the Fuji if you can. It would certainly be less of a headache.


Rex said...

avoid boring at all costs.

aduthie said...

Well, personally I'd go with the one that's already running and won't denut the rider in the inevitable slip in the woods. If you just do smooth single-track or field riding, the tall one might be okay, but as soon as there's a couple rocks or tree limbs across the path...

The proto-Rawland could perhaps be fun as a hybrid, if you end up keeping it along with the Fuji. That gigantic frame would help you scare away motorists, pedestrians, small dogs, and other riders.

Mark said...

Protect your crotchal area...go for the Fuji. Nuttin worse than hanging the nads over some metal tubing when you least expect it.

Erich said...

yeah, I'm building up the Fuji today and I'll test it out this weekend. I may yet keep the proto-rawland and build it up into a city/touring frame to replace the XO, but I also have a tall friend who may get better use out of it as it was intended.

J Ake said...

I'd go for the proto-Rawland, but not to ride it off-road, except if by off-road, you mean still on a road, only without pavement. Off-off-road is really requires a small frame with a minimum of 3" of clearance over the bar, not just for 'nad safety, but also because a smaller frame is more maneuverable, which is important when there are trees in front of you.

But really, building one or the other isn't a big deal as they aren't gee-whiz frames. You can always just tear down one and rebuild the other if you change your mind.