Wednesday, April 02, 2008

It's a Monkey!

Date: April 2
Mileage: 31
April mileage: 31
Temperature: 39

My Karate Monkey is done! Strange how these things come to pass. It wasn't even a month ago that I was happy as could be with my Gary Fisher. How does a person shift from "I need a new bottom bracket," to, "eh, what the heck, I'll just buy a whole brand new bike"? Very quickly, very easily, I'm afraid. Combined with all my winter-riding expenses, my bank account is now hemorrhaging money at an alarming rate. But since when do I care about money? Give me shiny goodness!

A close-up shot of the Reba fork. It has a pop-lock, which I like since I do so much pavement riding just to access trails. And when it's not locked out, it's oh-so-buttery smooth. You can't even tell you're bouncing up and down.

And here's the drivetrain. Nothing to really brag about, but it is notable in that it's brand new. When I built up Pugsley last fall, nearly everything I stuck on it besides the frame came secondhand. With the Monkey, just about everything is factory new. Those platform pedals are a multiple-crash-deformed relic from the Snaux Bike days. The Ergon grips were Sugar's. The seat, seatpost and fenders belong to Geoff. (I still have to acquire my own.) But, beyond that, this is the newest bike I've owned since my touring bike circa 2004.

I guess my chosen build of the Karate Monkey is a little strange. I took a perfectly good, rigid, single-speed-ready steel frame and slapped a bunch of bling on it. I'm not ashamed. People with knees like mine aren't lining up to own single speeds, and I'm not against suspension. I just didn't think I required full suspension anymore. I don't think I'll even miss the bouncy on back.

Geoff was actually the first person to ride the bike. It's fitting, since he was the one who actually completed the build (I know better than to touch most of that stuff unless it's a dire repair emergency. As a mechanic, I'm a bike's worst nightmare.)

I spent a short three hours this morning test-riding my new Monkey. I think most cyclists get a pretty strong sense of their bike's "personality" during the first ride. Despite the big wheels and burly frame, I was sensing a "female" vibe from this bike ... sensitive, but with a high pain threshold. Since Karate Monkey is kind of a mouthful, I think I'll call her "Kim." (I know, I know, but when have I ever been all that creative with bike names?)

Most of our ride today was on wet pavement, but I did try her out in all the terrain available in Juneau in April:

Kim in snow (Like a hot knife in butter.)

Kim on the beach (Like a dull knife in butter.)

Kim in mud. (Ahh, just right.)

I like Kim. I think she and I stand to become good friends. Even now, when I'm with Kim, I can close my eyes and imagine a world where there's no job to keep, no cats to feed, no rent to pay; a world where the trails don't fade out and the road doesn't end; a world where I can lift my head up, and just ride.


  1. Keep imagining :) The "Monkey" sure looks great and I'm it rides even better. You've got me dreaming of a new ride.

  2. Too bad my editing skills aren't better. It's a good thing I don't work for a newspaper.
    I'm sure "The Monkey" rides wonderfully smooth.

    Enjoy It! You deserve it.

  3. Beautiful bike, looks like you're out enjoying it already.

  4. Have fun playing with your monkey.

  5. I read your descriptions and I fall on two different sides. Sometimes I can't imagine riding with you, and sometimes I wish that's all I got to do.

    Thanks for riding and writing.


  6. sweetness! congratulations on the rew ride! big wheels=big smiles! ride on...

  7. Wow, it's like we went out and got new bikes together. I am very jealous that you have all new running gear, and your own mechanic. And a springy shock thing.

    Jill, she looks gorgeous. I am a bit enjoying your three hour test ride. I rode mine around the block.

    Oh -- but tomorrow I am going to take her out for a ride on the train ... to show her off to the boys.

  8. Congratulations. Enjoy your world.

  9. Nice rig! You're making me antsy to get my 29er built! I got the frame & fork, just need to get the rest. I'm actually using my Ultegra shifter/brake levers and road bar from my old road bike. I've ridden by 'cross bike on singletrack a couple times and found I really like the way it handled coming down sweeping singeltrack when I was down in the drops. So if I can get that feeling, but w/ fatty tires, a front shock and disc brakes, all the better! :-)

    I think my Stump Jumper ("Big Blue") suspects something is up though - he keeps giving me the eye everytime I walk by. Oh well, I'll get him out on the trail this wknd to make things right....

  10. Sweet new ride.

    My old '98 GT Zaskar continues to collect dust in the shed. /shrug

  11. Ok, if the name is still up for debate. Try out KarMon (Carmen?) Sticks with the female vibe and with a combined Karate Monkey?

    Just a thought...perhaps a dumb thought...nothing unusual here.


  12. Congratulations on the birth of Kim. She looks just like you! I know she'll take you on many adventures, and I look forward to reading all about them!

  13. Awesome bike Jill!!! You are really going to like that fork too.

  14. "I can close my eyes and imagine a world where there's no job to keep, no cats to feed, no rent to pay; a world where the trails don't fade out and the road doesn't end; a world where I can lift my head up, and just ride."

    Nice rig! But I like your writing even better...


  15. Not much can compare to the feeling of a new bike, the anticipation of the first ride and than finally the RIDE!!
    Brings back the feelings of Christmas as a child.

    Keep her rubber side down and tell her how much you love her, often!


  16. I showed my girlfriend a photo of a new Colnago Ferrari/Campy edition and the first thing out of her mouth was, "You don't need a new bike". Ha! I always need a new bike...

    Maybe a Monkey.

    Nice ride...


  17. Jill, Tell Kim that Swamp Thing says hi. Welcome to the world of 29er.

  18. Julie (my monkey) still entrances me with her solidity and versatility.

    Great time.

  19. I know exactly how you went from needing a bottom bracket to a new bike. I went from trying to buy disc brakes to buying a new 29er with disc brakes. Kind of hard to explain at work, but my real friends understood, and were jealous. Since then, no regrets, just smiles.

  20. Hmm. Maybe I'll go an dig the MTB out and give it a service... when I've finished cutting holes in my car might be best though.

  21. Nice Bike Jill!
    I loved reading your Iditarod, it was amazing! well done you for getting to the end what an achievement!

  22. Hello, That first pic looks like it was taken from Douglas island? I used to live in the big J myself way back. I recently took a trip to Kodiak, to ride my bike of course. Here is a few pics on my Flickr page.

    Great blog, wish I had time to do one as complete as yours.-Tyler

  23. Beautiful bike! I'm going on five wonderful single speed years on my Monkey. When my current frame dies, I'm sure I'll build up another Monkey. Of course, I'm only 135 pounds so the Monkey may never die..... :)


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