Molly Fin 2 – Frame and Wheels

I think I’ll break the Molly Fin build list into a few separate posts. lest I bore people unto death. Better multiple short, skim-able posts than one ignorable one! So this one will cover the core of the bike: the frame and the wheels.

The manufacturer, Salsa, describes the frame as a mid-tail to distinguish it from real longtails like the Surly Big Dummy or Extracycles. Seems right to me. Eyeballing it, there’s approx 8 extra inches between the bottom bracket and the tube that ties the chainstays together right in front of the rear wheel. Here’s the frame, as delivered – the big gap behind the seat tube is obvious.

The long rear triangle does 2 things – one obvious and one maybe not so much. Clearly it allows for a huge rear rack, suitable for fly rods and smol hunting dogs. More subtly, it changes front/rear weight distribution, balancing the total rider and load weight more evenly between the front and rear wheel. The back wheel always gets more load than the front, but this setup moderates the imbalance.

There was one thing about the frame that I was not wild about: the fork. It was carbon fiber with 150mm through-axle spacing. The front wheel was definitely getting a SON hub dynamo, and the 150mm version is $$$! And, though I’m not quite the crabon-hater Grant Petersen is [inside baseball: big big name in most favored niche loathes carbon fiber], still, the vulnerability of carbon fiber to scoring (a hazard when you’re riding trails) combined with shattering/delaminating as a failure mode gave me serious pause. Turns out that dropping back to 135mm front spacing would save enough money on the hub to cause a Surly Ice Cream Truck fork to net out at approx +$30. Steel and more mount points? Done. That left me with a bit of a dog’s breakfast, paint-wise, but Mike at Maine Bike Works knew a powder-coater. Paint swatches, ahoy! The result:

The wheels were easy but interesting. I went with 27.5 Plus as the target tire – one nice thing about disc brakes is that you are not locked in to one rim diameter – and really liked the look and size of Velocity Dually rims. The hubs were obvious – SON dyno in front and a DT Swiss in back (there were other options but omg the extra $$). And the tire had been in my cross-hairs all along: Schwalbe G-Ones. Good on the road, good on dirt, just plain good.

Big pieces, decided upon and built:

Next: cockpit and controls.

 

Molly Fin (the bike) 1

Before I get too deep in the weeds regarding component choices, a couple words about how the bike I’ll be hobo-ing on came to be…

I’ve been riding a Surly Long Haul Trucker for a bunch of years now and have it pretty much dialed in as a comfortable fast-enough touring/utility bike. It was what I was planning to ride until I did a test load-up this spring. Two big issues emerged. I’m taking a couple fly rods with me and even though they are both 4 piece, the rod tubes are long enough that they’re going to stick out inconveniently somewhere. And Lotte the teckel is coming with me – a crate for her, plus tent etc. on the rear rack is a pretty tall pile. I’d been daydreaming about a Salsa Blackborow ever since I saw this bike


credit link

on The Radavist and in Maine Bike Works’ Instyfeed. After the test load, the daydreaming became scheming – not only would the Blackborow solve the cargo volume issue, it would allow me to ride much more challenging terrain (it was going to be Rte. 1 rather than Baja Divide on the Trucker, for example) and disc brakes would be good for my peace of mind on big descents out west. I pulled the trigger and asked Jason at Maine Bike Works to order a bare frame. Component selection is next post, but let me tell you, it was fun.

Not all my bikes have names, but some do, A name for this one was obvious (to me at least). My motto/mantra/theme for this venture is “M’allé couri dans deser” – Louisiana Creole meaning “I am going into the wilderness”. It’s the phrase that morphed into the opening call and response of Indian Red: “Madi cu defio, en dans dey, end dans day”.

Molly for a first name then. Reinforced much later when my son told me that the most bad ass rider classification in the Dakar rally is the Malle Moto – motorcyclists who ride the event unsupported. Proper. It was apparent early on that the bike was going to get a custom paint job; inspired by Mike ‘Kid’ Riemer’s Ode To Trout build, I decided to use ‘spawning brook trout’ as my color palette. There’s an old married wing wet fly I especially like – the Fontinalis Fin. It’s supposedly inspired by folks using clipped-off brookie pectoral fins to bait their hooks. A lovely fly.

from my copy of Ray Bergman’s Trout

And there you have it – Molly Fin. 

 

Sam Gribley goes for a bike ride

I’ve been dreaming about going nomad for a long time. Events of the past few years, both personal and on the world stage, have convinced me that there’s no time like the present. I’ve considered different ways to go mobile: Airstream, van conversion, motorcycle, but kept coming back to my favorite way to move through the landscape — a touring bike. Bicycling is the cheapest, most flexible and lowest impact of my alternatives, so saddle up! it is. More on the bike itself in the next post; the general plan is to leave New Hampshire in early September with an eye towards arrival in Los Angeles at Xmastime for holidays with family. From there I’d like to ride the Baja Divide route to La Paz, take the ferry to the mainland and ride from there up into Barrancas del Cobre. Eventually I’ll make my way back to the US and then – assuming I still feel the way I do now – it will be decision time. One option is the Great Divide route north and then a jog east to hang with my kids in the northeast; another is to head to Long Beach and hop a container ship bound for the Pearl River delta and ride the silk road (with a detour to Yunnan?). Regardless of where I go or how long I’m on the road, this is an exercise in reclaiming possibility and expanding horizons.

Boojum Tree!

Boojum cactus

The title refers to the narrator/protagonist of My Side of the Mountain – a kid’s book that had a huge role in shaping me.