Wednesday, March 25, 2015

2006 Carver 96er



This is my happy bike. Riding it reminds me of my childhood days growing up in a village where houses have no fence, everyone knows everyone, kite flying, football games in the evening and the most exciting thing of all, damming the washing point so that we can have our very own swimming pool. It reminds me of how I first started learning how to ride a bike. Grandpa had an old bicycle but as I was not tall enough to reach the seat, I rode it with my right leg straddled through the main triangle, hands on the handlebar and pedaling like mad to keep the bike balanced. Obviously, I fell many, many times but the thrill of moving the bike forward a few feet was the most thrilling experience I ever had.


This bike is a tribute to my childhood, to remind me of the simple things in life where worries are virtually non existent and having fun was the mainstay. The frame is a Carver 96er. Its designed to have a 26" wheel behind and a 29" wheel in front. The logic was quite simple; 26" wheels are easy to move, 29" wheels have better rolling and absorption. Put it together and you have a bike that gives you the best of both worlds.


However, my intent was not to make the bike look old. I wanted it to look like a classic but with modern touches. 


The On One Mary handlebars with its swept back ends are really comfortable because they conform to the natural angle of the wrist and arm. Its also quite wide and coupled with the Truvativ stem provides a nice upright riding position. Comfort is the first priority, not speed. 



A single speed 18T rear sprocket is used instead of the usual multi-speed cassette. The Carver has an eccentric bottom bracket which helps to maintain the necessary tension on the chain without the need for an extra chain tensioner. It is matched to a 39T Alfine crankset. The ratio seems to work very well; there is no real strain climbing a slope and an average speed of about 20 km/h could be maintained quite easily without breaking much sweat. But like I said before, this bike is not about speed. Its about enjoying a comfortable ride.


To maintain the classic feel, I chose a vacuum flask-type water bottle with a side-loading carrier.



Finally, the Rockshox iRide was put to good use. It looks nicely blended with the frame and gives extra comfort on small bumps and road irregularities. It would have been nice if there was a disc brake mounting to make the look more complete but I am not complaining about the V brakes. 



As always, comfort is synonymous with the Ferrari leather seat. It is matched to a seat post with a classic mounting head.


This is the ball burnished version of the Carver frame. I am tempted to use this as a basis for an Alfine drive train.


Some upgrades to the Carver to bring it from good to great. The short Truvativ stem is replaced by a Kore 80mm stem. Flipping it over to the negative side, the handlebar sits slightly lower than before. Not only that, the reach is increased which means the riding position is no longer as upright as before. While the bike was designed more for cruising, a little aerodynamics helps to move the bike forward briskly. The 18T rear sprocket was also replaced by a 16T. The gear ratio is now much nicer for faster rides.


Soft foam grips replace the hard rubber screw-on grips. Gives the bike more character and reinforces the cruiser theme.


The saddle was also replaced with a darker coloured saddle. The colour of the Ferrari saddle was a bit too loud for the bike. With these enhancements, the bike is more or less complete. A Brooks leather saddle would be a nice upgrade but not sure whether its worth all that money.

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