Norway tour: choosing the bike: Grasshopper or Quest?

Preparing for my 16-day tour in Norway.  The choice of bike is down to two: a standard HP Velotechnik Grasshopper fx with typical touring options or a customized Cruzbike Quest 26.  My trip is self-supported, fully loaded.

The Grasshopper has the advantage of being fast-folding and expedition-ready, unparalleled quality, and full suspension; basically, ready for the job, no questions asked.  I plan to take some buses and trains in order to reach all the areas I plan to scout, so the fast fold is important.  The Grasshopper goes in a suitcase, no problem.

However, with 16 days of riding, as per plans, the advantage of the faster bike — the Quest — could be huge if I can whip it into shape.  I’m calculating that the speed advantage may let me cover an extra 200 miles.  Also, given the hilly and mountainous terrain, I like the idea of having a bike that climbs fast.

The problem is that I need to do a fair amount of customization and tweaking to turn the Quest into what I consider an expedition-quality bike.  There are a few sizing issues.  (I need to cut down the riser because now it blocks my view too much.  I also want to experiment with seat placement.)  The gearing is questionable, but that’s my doing — this Quest 26 already has a custom front drive wheel, bottom bracket, cranks and chain ring; I want a slightly smaller chainring than the 48T I’ve been using.  I still use the original SRAM Dual Drive, which I love.  Peter White built me a really nice 20″ wheel with SON dynamo hub that I’ve installed at the rear for electricity.  I’ll use a B&M light system — it’s the same as HP Velotechnik’s standard touring lights — and I plan to add Sine Wave’s USB power outlet.  I’m replacing a handgrip or two.  Tires are Schwalbe Marathon Racers but I may switch to a 2″ Marathon Mondial on the front.  I don’t want the weight but I may want the extra traction and durability.  I don’t have a satisfactory solution for a front fender.  I’ll probably leave that off.

I’m using the rack Cruzbike made for their QX100s.  I’ll use Radical Design panniers.  I have the 55 liter (quart) size mediums; that’s plenty big.  I replaced the front disk brakes, cables and housing with HP Velotechnik’s standard Avid BB7s, snake seal, levers and Jagwire cables and housing.  I left the rear brake as is — Avid BB5.

I tested the first alteration this eve: the 20″ rear wheel.  I love the way the Quest handles as a result!  And, by dropping the rear, I’ve changed the rake and weight distribution.  It should also make the Quest more aero.  Based on the success of this test, I’m going to do the rest of the work involved with bringing it up to snuff.

The Quest 26 fits in a suitcase fine.  I plan to take a tube of locktite with me because the Q26 has a lot of bolts in vital locations.  I may replace some of the aluminum bolts with steel bolts in key locations.

All in all, this seems very promising.  It’s basically turning out to be a Cruzbike customized with HP Velotechnik parts, accessories and options.

I’m excited about turning this fairly basic commuter into a tourer that can handle the rougher sort of trips that I like to do.

Bike on,

Robert