Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Elephant National Forest Explorer On The Idaho Hot Springs Loop

I rode my Elephant NFE on the Idaho Hot Springs Loop from July 15-23. It has Gevenalle GX shifters, Avid BB-7 brakes, Thunderburt tires, Sugino crank with 26 and 40 chain rings, and an 11-36 cassette. I mounted a Luxos U headlight on the Haulin' Colin porteur rack. I made the frame bag, gas tank bag, and porteur bags.

First of all, this if not the way to load the NFE and I knew that from the start. When loaded this bike wants a low center of gravity. What I needed was a low front bike rack and panniers instead of the rear rack. But time and budget pressures forced me to go with what I had, which was a set of Arkel Dry-Lite panniers and my sleeping bag and Thermarest sleeping pad bungeed to the rear. The high center of gravity resulted in a lot of speed wobble, mostly when I was on pavement. It was easy enough to counteract but it was also a constant irritant.

The NFE performed great on the ride. Outside of moving most of the rear packing to low front panniers, I would change two things. First, I'd go with a 22 or 24-tooth chain ring. I found myself having to power up the hills in the lowest gear while my son on his mountain bike was spinning. The second change, if possible, would be to add brake interrupter levers. Going downhill for miles on rough, washboarded, and washed out dirt/gravel roads with my hands on the brake hoods got very tiring. The force of hanging on was great enough to allow me to develop callouses at the base of my palms even though I had thick-padded, high quality gloves on. I would like the option to move my hands to a different position. The Thunderburts were awesome. They roll so easy. My son was always complaining at how I could coast so much and for so long while he would have to pedal to keep up. The Luxos U light was good to have although I didn't need it for night riding. It did a good job of keeping my phone charged.

Day one.

Damaged derailleur cage on day one.

Day two.

Day three a little before the derailleur got trashed.

Day four.

Day five.

Day six.


Russ said...

Hank, you got a map of this ride?

Hank Greer said...

I do. Would you like to borrow it?