Thrift store Novara Bonita bike test ride

After a rousing fall storm Saturday night, we got a little break in the weather and I got my thrift store Novara Bonita mountain bike out for a good ride.

My intent is to make this bike into a mini fatbike bikepacking rig– I’m going to call it “BabyFat.” I have a rigid fork on order that should arrive early next week.  As I posted previously, I have alreadt swapped out the stock WTB Weirwolf trail tires for a pair of fat Schwalbe Big Ben 26 x 2.15 universal tread tires and added an Axiom rear rack.

So I got 20 miles in on the Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle, along with some city streets and dodging buses, car traffic and narrow lanes by doing a four block run up the back alleys in the University District.

So far so good! The bike is nimble and the tires roll fast and smooth. With a 55PSI maximum, they took on the asphalt root bumps across the trail without the bone-jarring thump of the 32C tires on my other bike. Expansion cracks and other pavement faults were far less daunting.

I was reinforced in my decision to go with a rigid fork. I don’t like the sudden changes when maneuvering with the suspension fork. The fat tires soak up enough of the bumps and I have zero plans to do anything approaching technical or single track riding: asphalt and graveled rail trails are my cycling world.

In fact, I like the handling and fit of this bike enough to put my Trek PDX on the market. I considered having the Trek wheels rebuilt and going with wider 37-40mm tires, but the frame is just a tad tall and long for me; the shorter reach of the Novara works form my body type.

I am going to leave some extra height on the steering tube of the rigid fork so I can play with the stem height. I have an adjustable Zoom stem on it now and I have good access to used stems, so I can go anywhere I want without spending too much. I ordered more spacers when I ordered the fork. I had to order a disc brake caliper mounting adapter too, as the caliper bolts directly to the bosses on the suspension fork where the rigid fork requires a right angle adapter. Lets hope that I have chosen the right parts. The fork itself is an experiment. When converting from a dynamic fork to rigid, it is necessary to include the height of the fork with the rider’s weight in place. The general technique is to measure the axle to crown height and then subtract 15-20% of the travel of the particular fork. The Manitou Trace 80 axle to crown distance is 470mm by my measurement and the rigid fork is spec’d at 453mm, so I should be close.

While I was out on my ride, I worked in a visit to the Recycled Cycles bike shop on Boat Street (no puns) and picked up a pair of Kona Jackshit platform pedals for $25. I wanted a bigger pedal– quite literally a platform– and I spent an evening on line shopping pedals. There is no end of pedals to choose from and at this point I really didn’t want to spend too much. I did want to get away from the shin bashing alligator-toothed touring/quill pedals I have been using. I’ve drawn blood just walking the bike, let alone riding. The Kona pedals have pins so they won’t be gentle, but they are HUGE and give good support. I put them on tonight and went for a quick spin. I was pleased with the result and I swear they improve my balance and control as well as being able to mash down on the crank.



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