I finally finished up my Norco single speed Monday night after roughly a month's worth of Monday nights at the Pedals2People garage. I spent most of the evening tooling around the neighborhood in the dark for short test runs after tweaking the brakes. The back rim has a pretty good ding and the front brake wasn't generating enough stopping force so it took me a while to get things dialed in, but by the end of the evening I had both brakes performing satisfactorily. After that John took a picture of the Norco in all its complete glory and then I finished up by installing an old Delta rack. The rack is basically a silver version of the one I have on my Trek and it will make throwing my trusty Detours pannier on at a moments notice a snap.
<img src="http://myskitch.com/axodys/norcocherokee-20071025-065606.jpg" alt="Norco Cherokee" align="middle" height="360" width="480" />
Once I got back home from the garage I set the Norco up with a spare bike computer sensor and mount that I've had lying around since May. That sensor went on the fork pretty easily once I tracked down a couple zip ties, but I have to borrow the wheel magnet from my Trek when I actually want to measure speed and distance since I only have one of those. Looks like CatEye sells the magnets individually so I'll probably order one at some point.
On an interesting note, when I took my Trek downstairs to make room for the Norco out in the garage I really noticed the weight disparity between the two bikes. I'm guessing that the big 2.1" mountain bike tires are the biggest culprit in the difference, but I'd be curious to see how the fork and frames compare between the two as well.
The trial run commute Tuesday morning went pretty well aside from being cold and foggy. Gearing-wise I'm running 38x22 right now on the Norco and that seems to translate to a cruising speed of 20 km/h on level ground without excessive spinning. That gearing should really be about perfect for the ride back up the hill and when there's snow on the ground this winter when I don't want to go any faster than that anyway.
On a downer note the Norco developed a pretty good shimmy in the fork and handlebars once I started braking harder on the downhills. I'm not exactly sure what's causing that shake, but the stem and handlebars aren't loose by any means so it may be a brake rim interface issue. Further testing is going to be in order.
The ride home went well aside from the northbound truck that tried to turn left directly in front of me at the intersection of 2nd and Sherman when the light turned green. The driver even had the audacity to honk at me, although based on his expression as I rode by it was probably more of an instinctual thing and he knew he had screwed up. Just another case of a driver not seeing a biker because he wasn't looking for one.
Once I got to Sherman on the other side of I-90 and began climbing, the 38x22 gearing seemed perfectly suited for climbing the South Hill at a normal speed. Climbing the short steep hill at Upper Terrace Drive wasn't too bad either. I stood and cranked for a bit at the beginning like usual and a couple minutes later I was up to 18th. All told it only took me four or five minutes longer than my best time for that route on my Trek so it's really not that much slower.
I had a really good time building the Norco up at the Pedals 2 People garage the last month or so. I learned a lot during the process and just really enjoy tinkering with bikes in general. It's going to be a lot of fun continuing to hang out with the p2p crew at the garage, while taking apart and building up bikes in the future. It's also cool to know that I finally have a nonprofit cause I can use my Gonzaga paid half day on at some point.
I'm really happy with the way the Norco turned out. It has lots of little flaws that make it perfectly suited for its role. Sure the ding in the back rim and its constant tk... tk... tk... is a little bit annoying, but it works fine and its tolerable. The frame feels heavy when lifting, but is solid and pretty comfortable when riding over the short distances of my commute. The big wheels make for a nice cushy ride and it's fun to not worry about riding over stuff like unpaved shoulders that I don't like subjecting my Trek to. It's a fun beater bike and it gets the job done. Mary was actually pretty impressed when I brought it home, especially when she found out how little it cost and how I'd built it all up myself.
I still need to add some coroplast fenders and lights too (or at least brackets compatible with the ones I already have) since I'm going to be riding home in the dark within a week or two here, but otherwise it's ready to go. I think I'm going to keep riding it as my primary weekday commuter until November unless it rains before then. This bike should really come into its own once we get some snow though. Should be a fun winter.