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Buck-a-mile report. Gunnar Street Dog.(14 posts)

Buck-a-mile report. Gunnar Street Dog.MB1
Apr 30, 2002 12:33 PM
I usually figure you don't really know a bike until you get a bunch of miles on it. So by the time the cost is down below a buck-a-mile you have a good idea of what the bike is like.

Last August I got a Gunnar Street Dog from Licktons Cyclery built up to my spec. really with a single speed parts are no big deal. I got good stuff but so what parts don't really affect the ride much. I have a Brooks Swift saddle, 170 cranks, nice wheels, SPD pedals and Paul brakes. This report is about the ride, not the stuff.

The Gunnar Street Dog is a Reynolds 853 Cyclocross frame with track dropouts and spacing. Tig welded by Waterford as a value frame. Lots of clearance for big tires and fenders.

The quality of the frame and paint is pretty good. The decals suck. I know about this stuff, I worked in GT's factory for years and know what a good weld is and know what bad decals are. Funny thing is, good decals don't have to cost more than bad ones. These Gunnar decals chip and water gets underneath them. Doesn't hurt the ride though.

Ah the ride..I think I'll put up with the decals for the ride. It's set up with a flop hub, fixed 16T and SS 17T with a 42T chain ring. DC is a mix of flat and hills with no mountains nearby. The gearing works for me anywhere I can ride from home. I commute on it, use it for my main rain bike and go off road. The long wheel base and high bottom bracket do a pretty good job smoothing out the ride on DC roads and let me ride off road without worrying about hitting a pedal.

It's fun-big fun. I run fixed and free about 50/50 both are great. I'm comfortable anywhere between 10-20 mph above or below that starts to work me pretty bad. Anything over 25mph I'm coasting for a while. I've noticed that on it I climb hills much faster than on my geared bikes. After all, what choice do you have? Nothing worse than getting stuck behind a bunch of geared bikes on a climb, they slow you down and break your legs. You can pretty much keep up on the downhills SS by tucking in and once in a while spinning like a madman.

You are not going to keep up on the down hills fixed-no way. 32 mph is the fastest I have been able to go fixed-it took forever to recover from.

It is nice not to shift. It is nice not to think about shifting. Riding seems really pure without a derailleur. It is fun to slip and slide in the dirt fixed too once you get over the idea that you are doing something really, really stupid that is. And the looks you get off road riding by people walking their full suspension rigs.

Bottom line-I'm hooked and so is Miss M.

The picture is just after a 60 mile rain ride. Fixed is great in the rain, fenders are a big bonus.
I'm closing in on 50 cents a miles...Alex-in-Evanston
Apr 30, 2002 12:52 PM
Our impressions are so similar that I won't re-hash what you've already said.

Two things I want to note:

1) I've had this bike off road quite a bit and I've tacoed my rear wheel twice. I wonder if this would have happened on a 135mm wheel. The website says they chose track spacing because of the availability of SS specific hubs. SS specific mountain hubs are now widely available. As a cross bike, it would be better served to widen the rear spacing.

2) IndyFab uses raised stainless steel contact on the rear dropouts for their ss bikes. That would really work wonders on this bike. The paint on my dropouts is very gnarled by the axle, and the flakes are peeling up towards the seat stay. I don't worry too much about rust on a .6mm thick plate of steel, but I'd hate to see it on the stays.

That being said - this my favorite bike. I can't think of anything it can't do. I'd love to strip it down and race it at the track just to complete its resume.


I'm not sure 135mm dropout spacing would help you.MB1
Apr 30, 2002 3:27 PM
It is the dish and flange width that matters. I took a look and it didn't seem like 135mm SS hubs have wider flanges than my track hubs, just more space between the dropouts and the flanges. So the wheels built with 135mm spaced hubs wouldn't actually be any stronger.

OTOH I've been wrong before.
A higher flange (like on a track hub) will help too...Gregory Taylor
May 1, 2002 7:21 AM
You could run a comparison of hub widths using Damon Rinard's Spoke Calc program. The full program has a database with hub dimensions that could be useful in your quest.
great reviewgtx
Apr 30, 2002 1:12 PM
I was seriously considering getting one of those for my winter bike last year. I think they made some changes this year--slightly steeper geometry and set it up to work with those cool Shimano long reach dual pivots.
You are right, they have changed it.MB1
Apr 30, 2002 3:32 PM
I would not have bought what they are selling now, I specifically wanted the canti brakes and cyclocross geometry. Funny how things work out....
Nice ride. Very pretty.Ahimsa
Apr 30, 2002 3:37 PM
"This report is about the ride not the stuff."

Eh? What the...? Tell me about the stuff, man. I want to hear about the stuff. Jeez.

A. (Loves stuff)
What I mostly fool with is tires.MB1
Apr 30, 2002 5:39 PM
It is amazing how much you really feel the differences between tires on a SS/Fixte.

On the Mavic Open Pro rims I have run Avocet Cross 700X38 tires with wire beads mostly in the dirt, Continental Top Touring 2000 700X25 with wire beads and Performance Forte Kevlar 700X26 folding tires for general riding and Michelin 700X23 folding for good pavement.

With only one speed you really notice the performance differences between tires. Tires that work in the dirt are slugs on pavement and good street tires suck off road. The all round tires are ok mostly everywhere but not the best anywhere. People that do tire reviews ought to test them on SS's.

I plan to ride the length of the C&O Canal this summer with the Avocets and 42X16 SS gearing. I've done paved centuries on the 3 other tires, no question lighter and skinner tires make a huge performance difference. The skinny Michelins are easily worth 15 minutes on a century.
Tires for a Quangle Wangle.Ahimsa
Apr 30, 2002 5:59 PM
Have you perchance ridden any of Grant's Roly Poly tires?

I sometimes visit the Rivendell site and come close to ordering them, only to bail out at the last minute and just get the pine tar soap (good stuff BTW).


A. (Also purchased and enjoyed the "Book of Nonsense" they sell there. Grant and I share similar taste in many things. I don't know whether that should worry me or not. ( ; )
Rolly Polyswonderdog
May 1, 2002 6:03 AM
I have the Rolly Polys on my Surly XCheck SS commuter bike. They are wonderful tires. Big enough (700x25) to be a comfy ride and also durable. No nicks or cuts after months of riding. I highly recommend them.

On another note in line with this thread, I have Phil Wood Kiss off SS Flip Flop hubs laced to Mavic MA-3's. These hubs have 135mm spacing for my cycloX frame and have proved strong and reliable thus far (no taco'd wheels).
What I mostly fool with is tires.rwbadley
Apr 30, 2002 8:15 PM
I agree, I notice tire changes on the fixie much more so than on the geared bikes.
Some tires feel like slugs, even at high pressures.
My favorites were some cheap Specialized that Nashbar blew out a couple years ago for cheap.
Sure do like the looks of your Gunnar.
I ride one of the Waterford Paramounts, fine ride, they really have their specs in place.
Let's see, $90 new and about 25,000 miles ...Humma Hah
May 1, 2002 3:04 PM
... that's down to something like 0.36 cents a mile. Now, if I allow for the cost of repainting, upgrades, lighting, fancy computer, maybe I could make an argument that I've got something approaching $1000 in it, making it about 4 cents a mile.

Mark, that's the problem with a garage full of bikes, getting your money's worth. You're taking the only reasonable stategy by riding 13,000+ miles a year.

The real tragedy is the $2000 bike hanging on the wall that gets 50 miles it its lifetime ...
Nice review! But tell me:Leisure
May 2, 2002 1:00 AM
How much of your feel for the frame was formed initially versus after all those miles? How much does it change? I usually get a feel pretty quickly, but riding over time helps me articulate better, if that makes any sense. But I can't lay claim to the sorts of miles you log ;-), so...
Time allowed me to ride it in a lot of places and conditions.MB1
May 2, 2002 2:44 AM
Sure I liked it at first but it takes me many rides and some fooling around to dial in my riding position on a new frame.

Then you ride in the dirt and on those nasty DC streets. You ride tired, you ride in the rain, you ride at night, do a century ride or six. Ride fixed and free. Change tires, do some climbing.

Crash, have a gravity assisted dismount, a Burbank get-off, soil inspection, biff, mud depth test. All those bike things.

The initial pleasure of riding a new bike has changed to appreciation and knowledge of how the bike rides. The thing I really noticed over time is that I can do a lot more and ride in a lot more places with this bike than I ever thought possible before I got it.

Maybe Humma ain't such a nutcase afterall....(Sorry Tom, I couldn't resist).