12/1/12

December is here: Karate Monkey ready for fall/winter with my 10th Anniversary Build!!!

Do you ever wonder what the ultimate tinkerer's bike is?

Well, for me - it is the Surly Karate Monkey.  You can tinker with it in all sorts of configurations to your heart's content.  Want V-brakes?  Want Cantilever brakes?  Want disc brakes?  Want no brakes?  Want a mix/franken-brake set up?  You can have it all.  Want gears?   Want no gears?  Want a fixie?  Want flat bars?  Want drop bars?  Want riser bars?  Want a Brooks classic saddle and retro look?  Want a more sleek modern mountain bike look?  Want a rigid fork?  Want a suspension fork?  Want skinny tires?  Want fat tires?  Want it to be a 700c bike?  Want it to be a mountain bike?  Want it to be a commuter?  Want it to be a Cyclocross bike?  Want it to be a touring bike?  You can have it all with this Swiss Army knife frame/fork combo.  It's one of the reasons I have not sold it in the nearing 10 years of ownership.  It's my bike to tinker with and experiment with whatever mood I am in and whatever is in my parts bin.

All that being said and well known about the Karate Monkey bike, I decided it was time to tinker.  In fact, it was time for a 10th Anniversary Build of this bike.  Come summer time, it will be 10 years I've owned the Karate Monkey.  Worthy of an anniversary build - don't you think?

In addition, I figured it was time to update the Karate Monkey so I can continue my fall/winter singlespeed riding that I like to do and not have to worry about dirty rim braking surfaces and all the maintenance to keep V-brakes working at their best on the dusty gravel roads, and dusty trails - not to mention the upcoming snow season.

I had a spare set of Avid BB7's sitting on my old Sugar 293 frame in the garage.  I also have a spare disc wheelset sitting around.  It's not SS specific, but with the Gusset conversion kit and the Surly Tugnut - it's not a problem to go SS.  Hence, I decided to make the latest tinkering version a disc brake one (which it has been several times before).

I took the 2003 Karate Monkey with the odd looking 130mm 15 degree rise Thomson stem and super back sweep Salsa bars of last year's iteration....

SnowMonkeySS

To this...

KMDisc

Flipped to the other view...

KM5mmSpacer

I picked up a spare (used of course) Thomson 120mm 0 degree stem to mate with a cheap alloy Origin 8 bar I had sitting in the parts bin.  I love the Origin 8 bar on the Dos Niner, but they don't make the weight weenie version of it anymore.  So the one I bought is the same width and shape (back sweep), however it is not the preferred weight weenie version that they used to make.  This combination of bar and stem feels much better to me and is an immediate improvement over the Salsa 17 degree "odd" back sweep bars and severe rise Thomson Elite stem I had on it.  It looked odd and felt odd, so that has now been taken care of with the parts swap.

I also added a WTB Silverado saddle I picked up on sale.  I am sort of debating on cutting the steerer tube - but I want to retain the option of possibly running with drop bars at some point in the future, so I don't really want to lose the real estate of the tube for that to cut out that possible option.  I do have a spare REBA Race suspension fork in the garage, but that will require either the 5mm crown race base plate from Chris King for clearance on this old KM frame, or tracking down the discontinued Cane Creek S-3 Plus (5mm) headset that has a base plate which is 5mm taller to allow room for a suspension fork with adjustment knobs to fit on the 1st generation of KM frames and not hit the downtube.   So I could install the REBA Race with the new base plate or crown race and trim that steerer tube to my heart's delight for a nice sleek look up front.  We shall see....

But for now - it's rigid and set up nice and comfy.  I took it on the dog walk Thursday night, Friday morning, and Friday night.  In addition, I commuted to and from work on Friday to take advantage of the nice weather and get some grunt hill work done since my commute involves 6 major hills.  I'm geared great for the hills, but a bit to easy to spin out on the flats for commuter pavement riding.

The cockpit set up feels nice.  I just measured things between the Dos Niner, JET 9 and the Karate Monkey.  It turns out with the saddle slammed all the way back on the rails and the 120mm stem, the rear of both saddles is exactly at the distance from the front of the bar on the JET 9 and the Monkey (thanks to the stem being 105mm on the JET and 120mm on the Monkey).  The Dos is another inch, but that's okay. The size XL Karate Monkey frame is the "smallest" size XL I have and is a lot more compact than my Niners and Salsa frames.   It's just shy of an inch shorter than my similar set up on the Dos Niner.  Not sure I want to play the game of buying another stem, but I bet a 130mm Thomson 0 degree would be the ticket.  I also use a layback post on the Dos Niner, but I don't want to pony up the cash for yet another stem and post - so I'll just deal with it.  Or as Surly says - "cope".  The Dos is set up for aggressive XC racing, which I will not be doing on the SS Monkey.

I will say, that carrying my heavy Kensington computer bag (has backpack straps on it) on my bag to and from work was not kind to my neck.  I should investigate other types of bags that might be more back/neck friendly for a 20 minute commute.

Happy 60th Birthday to Chuck Tighe!!!

Chuck

What a goofy picture?

His birthday was actually Thursday, so after work, Tara and I dropped over (planned) with a bottle of bubbly to celebrate.  I dug around on Gayla's Facebook page and found a picture with Chuck making a silly face.  I cropped out his head, and Tara printed out a smaller size and pasted it on a funny birthday card.  It was nice visiting and Chuck looked great!  He has been doing a workout the past couple of months called Insanity.  I haven't seen Chuck look this slim and trim in the 10 years I have known him.  Who says you can't look and feel great at 60!!!

Weekend Plans

Tara and I went out for a date last night.  Dinner and a movie while Zack was at rehearsal and Alexa was in Iowa City to meet her roomate for next year when she enters college.  Tara and I had Mexican food, and then caught the Bond movie - Skyfall.  We got home at midnight which is late for us, but we had fun.

Tonight we are attending a Holiday Party, tomorrow is a bacon ride in the morning at Banner and Madrigal Dinner in the evening.  I will try and squeeze a ride in today if I can avoid all the opening day shotgun deer hunters.  Lake Ahquabi would be perfect for that - or Banner Pits.


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