Before we delve into the specs and pics of my (unbranded) Pake C’Mute touring bike, I suppose I should tell the backstory. Many of the parts off of this bike came off of Old Red, my first touring bike. I purchased Old Red (a custom-painted Trek 520) from the service manager at my old place of employment, Gregg’s Cycles. He had built it up as a rain-bike (you probably only know what a rain-bike is if you live in Seattle), but I repurposed it as a touring bike. Being a hair under 5’11″, with the torso of someone taller and the legs of someone shorter than that, bikes have been hard to fit. Although I loved the 520 dearly, the stack height was a bit too low and the reach was a bit too short, so I purchased the Pake for it’s longer effective toptube length and it’s taller headtube. Problem solved (sort of). I swapped the wheels, the drivetrain, the fenders, and the brakes. Added were racks, handlebar, stem, and saddle.
First things first, the bike features a steel frame, composed of 4130 Tange CroMo tubes. While this is rather cheap steel, compared to the likes of Reynolds or Columbus, it gets the job done, is easy on the wallet, and I lovethe color. Especially without the decals. Big props to Pake for making their decals easily removable, more companies need to follow suit.
Although the Pake C’Mute isn’t necessarily a thorough-bred touring bike (Pake bills it as a “do-all” bike), it offers a smooth ride and predictable handling.
I pulled the beautiful Crane bell (made in Osaka, Japan) off of Big Red and was hoping to attach it to the Pake, but the clamp didn’t fit the oversized 31.8 handlebar. Then I realized that I could mount it to the barrel-adjuster on the downtube!
A word about this model of the Crane bell, it is very loud and startles pretty much everyone that I ding it at. A light touch is required to not make enemies with everyone that you pass. . .
Moving to the front of the bike, I run a 44cm Bontrager Race Lite Variable Radius drop bar, with an OS 31.8 clamping area. Some people feel that the “new” OS standard is overkill, but I definitely notice a difference between these and similar 25.4 bars, when it comes to lateral flex. I also think that the oversized tubing looks neato.
While I bought the Pake in order to have a higher headtube, I run a Thomson X2 road stem with considerable drop. I suppose that when it comes down to it, I wanted a taller headtube so that I could run a stem with a “flatter” looking profile, rather than one pointed up at the sky like a big, long . . . crane. Or something. If you look closely, you’ll notice rips on the hood cover of my brake levers. These are leftover scars from a crash or two, and I’m too cheap to replace the hoods. I think it makes the bike look a bit tougher, too. . . Speaking of Thomson, I also run a Thomson seatpost, in the shape of the Masterpiece Layback. The Masterpiece is a whooping 80 grams lighter than the original Thomson seatpost (which is the undisputed gold standard of seatposts. . . much like a Chris King headset is the gold standard for headsets). I went with the layback version because I like a more rearward pedaling position.
Thomson only manufactures two bicycle components: stems and seatposts. Everything else that they do is contract manufacturing for clients such as Ford and Boeing. Needless to say, their bicycle products are veryhigh grade.
Atop the Thomson Masterpiece, you’ll find a well-used Specialized saddle of some sort (I don’t know the model). My friend Lance used to run this saddle on his florescent touring bike, that he eventually donated to Bike Works (thank you, Lance), and I pulled the saddle off before that, because I’ve been a fan of the ergonomics of their saddles, especially for longer rides or on bikes where I have more of my weight on the saddle. On my Felt, I run the Selle San Marco Concor Light, but that is a completely different riding position and I have never felt the need for “ergonomics” when I am that low on the bike in the front end. There just isn’t much weight on my sit bones or “soft tissues”.
Specialized was one of the first companies making saddles to introduce the “cut-out”, or “love” channel, designed to relieve pressure on “soft tissues”. This design works well for many people and has been adopted by many companies who disputed the claims originally (such as every Italian saddle manufacturer). Although people who swear up and down that everyone needs a love channel annoy me, because everyone’s body is different and there is no such thing as “one size fits all”, I can ride on this saddle all day, even without bike shorts or padding and be fine. No numbness. No ED. No complaints. I tried the Brooks B-17 Imperial with a cut-out, but the width of the saddle never worked for me because I tend to ride in a rather “aggressive” position, meaning that my hands are in a lower position and less weight is being supported by my sit bones.
When I worked at Gregg’s, I was fortunate enough to attend a Trek sponsored fit seminar and learned a good deal about anatomy and saddle fit. If you ever have a question about saddles or bike fit, please feel free to hit me up, as I am always more than happy to help another rider get more comfortable on their bike.
I have always believed that it’s the small details that make up a nice bike. Perhaps you noticed that I run my rubber cable doughnuts in a black/clear/black and clear/black/clear pattern. Small things like that matterimmensely to me.
I run the Cane Creek brake hoods, because they are similar to the old, classic Campagnolo shape (not the new “ergonomic” uglies). I also run classic barend shifters. While the look amazing, they also have very few moving parts and as such, less chance of breaking down in the middle of a long bike tour. Or an everyday commute. Have I mentioned that they look great? Also, there is something to be said for the feel of moving a shift lever that is not integrated to the brake lever. It’s like shifting with the stick in a manual-drive car. It just feels good. . . you feel more connected to your machine. It’s a beautiful thing.
Also mounted to the bars is an Ortlieb handlebar bag mount, a Light and Motion Stella rechargeable light, and a basic Cateye computer.
Speaking of Ortlieb, they are the bags that I use for all my gear hauling purposes. They are guaranteed waterproof for 10 years (which is important if you live in Seattle), are well made, and easy to use. All you have to do to remove them is pull up on the handle of the pannier.
To support the front and rear panniers, I run Tubus racks. Tubus may be rather expensive (because it is German and most things that are German-made are expensive, or so I’ve been told), but they hold up well. On Keith’s first day of work at Bike Works, I was riding him in to Columbia City, when I swerved to avoid a pothole and wound up pointed directly at the curb, while traveling in excess of 25 mph. I wound up hitting it parallel, slamming both wheels into the curb and flipping over. The rear rack to the whole impact and still works beautifully. Sure, it shows signs of a major hit in that it tilts to one side and has some serious gauging on one corner, but I used it on every bike tour this summer and commuted with it almost every day and it seems to be fine. Unfortunately, it looks unsightly and I’ll probably wind up replacing it with a new version that is centered and un-scratched. Sometimes you just have to be a bit vain with your bike. . .
Back to the front of the bike, I run an Italian-made headset, of the brand Tiso. I had never heard of this brand before the headset was donated to Bike Works by the now-closed Il Vechio, of Leschi fame. So far, since installation, it has ran smoothly and looks great. The top cap is another victim of the crash that bent the rear rack. . .
Back to the handlebars, I wrapped them in dark-brown marble-esque tape, partly because I love the color brown, but also partly because I can’t afford the dark brown Brooks bartape.
Keith is convinced that I should route my shifter cables under the bartape for a cleaner look, but I really enjoy the elegant sweeps of the cables and the look that it has.
Down to the wheels, Rob laced up Sun Ringle CR-18 polished rims to Shimano XTR hubs, complete with black spokes and red nipples. The wheels have help up fantastically for the 13 months that I have ridden them.
The Pake rolls on Rivendell Jack Brown tires. Billed as 700×33.3333333333333333333333333333333(keep going with the 3′s for eternity), they are supple and roll smooth, not to mention look smashing. They feature a really sexy checkerboard pattern on the tread that I love. . .
The other day I happened to accidentally run over quite a few blackberry branches (okay, maybe I actually ran into a blackberry bush. . .) and pulled out 5 or 6 big thorns, but haven’t suffered a flat from it yet. Definitely my favorite large-volume tire. Also, who doesn’t love the classic tan sidewall look?
Lastly, my drivetrain consists of Shimano 105 components and a Bontrager standard road-triple crankset. It’s durable and it works great.
After running clip-in pedals for years, I recently made the switch to platforms on this bike. I love the fact that I can wear whatever shoes I want (today I wore flip-flops, despite this article, among many) and just hop on and go, or hop off and grab a coffee or beer, without stomping around in stiff-soled bike shoes.
Other small bits include a Lezyne pump, Elite waterbottle cages and Camelbak waterbottles.
That does it for this (Cycle)Bio, hope you enjoyed and check back for more in the future!