Stephanie’s Blacked Out 650B Straggler – Morgan Taylor

Stephanie’s Blacked Out 650B Straggler
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

For what is admittedly a bit of a mish-mash build, Stephanie’s Straggler has come together with a lot of character. The parts kit borrows heavily from other bikes, so you may very well recognize some pieces from other builds. It’s the collection of parts, and the stories behind all of them, that makes this bike something special.

The first story worth noting is this bike is not actually Stephanie’s at all – it’s our friend Andy’s. When we were researching steel ‘cross bikes to tour on last year, Andy offered to lend us this one to try out. It had been stolen, didn’t come back very quickly, and he’d since replaced it. Stephanie rode it a bit last spring and then hung it up as we went traveling, moved back to Vancouver, and endured one heck of a winter.

Why Another 650B ‘Cross Bike?

People have asked why Stephanie would need this bike at all when she’s got a 650B Wolverine on Horizons (more on that bike’s metamorphosis soon). The answer is simple: she wanted to join our local road club. Making her Wolverine fit that purpose would have meant swapping the Jones bars and Tubus rack with dynamo – things she really loves about that bike on an everyday basis.

Similar frames, different preparation, different end result. With its lighter build, shorter rear end, and higher bottom bracket, the 650B Straggler is quicker than her commute-focused and tour-ready Wolverine. The Wolverine as it’s set up isn’t exactly fast, and while the Straggler may not look it, it’s been surprising folks at the club ride.

The Build

To revive a bike from a dormant state and prep it often takes some messing around, but this one was pretty sweet already. Its last incarnation under Andy was a single speed ‘cross ripper, so it had a 38T Race Face Narrow Wide ring, 650×41 Knards, Surly hubs to Stan’s rims, SRAM S500 levers, BB7s, and rad gold Jagwire compressionless housing.

I wanted to keep the brakes intact and give Stephanie a wide range of gears, spending as little money as possible making it happen. I had recently bought a XT 11-42 cassette and chain for the 27.5+ wheels on my mountain bike and, having run the Gevenalle GX shifters while touring last year, knew Microshift made Dyna-Sys compatible bar end shifters for both 10 and 11-speed.

Next up was wheels. With mountain bikes moving to wider rims and 148mm rear spacing, there are lots of “obsolete” but excellent and tubeless-ready wheelsets out there. We had a pair of Easton wheels hanging around (only one of which was on at this point while I sourced end caps) and this was just the project for them. I had the shop bring in a SLX M7000 derailleur and the shifters, and the bike was rolling.

Dialing It In

After a couple of shakedown rides, it was clear this bike was a hit. Never thinking she’d ride a bike with a bar end shifter by choice, it was cool to see her become comfortable with it quickly. The next step was fenders, a PNW staple for all-weather comfort and club ride courtesy. These are the Cascadia 26″ ATB fenders, 60mm wide, and they are perfect on the fat 650s. Slammed like they should be.

The Knards aren’t all that quick, and we figured we could stuff some more volume into the frame. Thing is, she was so stoked on the all-blackness that they had to be black. We ordered up some 48mm Switchback Hills from Compass to live that supple life and while they’re tight – maybe too tight for your liking – they’re super quick. And dreamy. We added a black Spurcycle bell and it was good to go.

Proof

To me the proof that Stephanie’s really enjoying this bike is the fact that she chose to take it on the Super Stoke Weekend ride in the San Juans with the Austin crew. We fitted some extra pieces to the bike to turn it into a weekend camper, and a quicker traveling bike was born!

I put the Rawland rando rack on the bike and my Swift Ozette rando bag with the Ortlieb decaleur hack – but the other end of the decaleur wouldn’t fit with Stephanie’s lower bar height. Instead, I clipped the Tubus rack stay into the pannier clips first and used some mega zip ties to cinch the whole system together. It worked out great, and still turned out to be easily removable.

The frame bag is one Stephanie had made by Porcelain Rocket for my mountain bike, but it had been living on her Wolverine until Super Stoke Weekend. It doesn’t fit perfect here but that’s cool. You’ll recognize the seat pack and unabashed dangle from her Wolverine as well.

Into the Liquid Sunset

So while the way it’s set up in this gallery may indicate otherwise, the Straggler came together not to replace the Wolverine in any way – but to be a quicker bike for Wednesday nights, Sunday mornings, and for adventures like the one we were on when I shot this set of photos.

There are still lots of things that could change, and probably will. Lots of things you might be asking “why?” about – why are there p-clips on the fork, why do you slam your fenders like that, why doesn’t Stephanie ride a carbon bike like everyone else at the club ride – and the answers are probably simpler than you think.

Stephanie describes it as her sandbagging machine, quietly impressive, stable yet fun, and just what she needed to put in the time to become comfortable on drop bars. Hundreds of miles later, she’s the driest person at the wettest club rides, and super stoked on her blacked out road bike.

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Follow Morgan and Stephanie on Instagram at Found in the Mountains, and if you find yourself in Vancouver, join them for #CoffeeOutsideYVR every Friday!

  • Sick build, guys! … and what is that thing on her Ozette bag?!

    • It’s our food bag hanging system: two carabiners and ~15 yards of cord. Next up in the review queue…

      • Yes! The fritter. I thought it was a cinnamon bun. hah.

        • So we had to head home a day earlier than the rest of the Super Stoke Weekend crew. At the same time, Kelly was coming over to meet them (and take my place, obviously, since we’re twins), and he’d brought a box of doughnuts. He was coming off the ferry that we were taking back to Anacortes, so we scored a quick hug and a huge fritter!

      • Rider_X

        Ever try tinfoil on the food hanging cord? Keeps rodents from climbing down the lines as they can’t use their claws.

        • Haven’t had rodent problems with the cord, but it sounds like an interesting idea. How much tin foil and is it reusable / does it last very long?

          • Rider_X

            You don’t need much, just enough so you can cover the line for about half a foot. No reason you can’t reuse, even if you tear it. Rats on Van Island are quite industrious.

  • Tim Guarente

    Good stuff! What’s the bar tape?

    • Soma Thick ‘n Zesty in the Striated texture. It’s really good, and easy to work with too. Same stuff as the camo / grass stain I have on my Wolverine.

  • whiteryanc

    Looks great!

    I have a 700c 48cm Straggler frame that they don’t seem to make anymore and want another Straggler for a city/touring bike. What size frame is that?

    Great to see such fatty tires fit in there w/fenders!

    • The smaller 700c Stragglers had mega bad toe overlap. This is a 54cm 650B frame.

      • whiteryanc

        Ya they certainly do. I went with the 700c at the time due to 650b product availability (lack there of), but now that it’s blowing up I’m more keen to check out the 650b. Keep the great bikes/pictures coming!

        • Thanks! Converting 700c frames to 650 works well too, 42s work well if you don’t have a ton of clearance in your frame.

          • Trevor H

            700c Stragglers will clear a Switchback Hill on a WTB I23 rim. Set my lady’s bike up that way a year or so ago to give her a little better toe overlap and standover. Went with the 700c bike because of the color (grabbed a Glitter Dreams Purple one). The frame clears the 48s, just barely. I wanted to get her a true 650b frame, but it wasn’t available at the time I needed it.

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/946a6b838f1df694cdc069ca2defb7b317c89d2a3e76bf8bf7c30c1d1dd31974.jpg

          • It’s interesting to consider what a “true” 650b frame even means these days. Does the 650b Straggler’s 54mm of bb drop make it more true than a more traditional 70mm drop you’d see on a 700c bike, or the 75mm of drop on a custom 650b rando bike? Having less drop means being able to run smaller tires without pedal strike, but then we don’t seem to want to run small tires anyway!

          • Bill Petrie Jr

            So a questions for Trevor & Morgan …
            Morgan & Trevor: What is the internal width on your rims?

            Presently, I am running WTB I23 tubeless with 650b Horizon Plus and have less than a credit card width on either side.
            My bike is a 700c Straggler converted to 650b

          • Bill Petrie Jr
          • Trevor H

            Sorry for the delayed response, been travelling for work. That is similar clearance to what the 48s have on my lady’s bike. I’ll get some pictures tomorrow morning once I get home.

            Her bike has i23 Teams and Compass Switchback Hills. It’s a tight clearance, but she doesn’t do anything overly aggressive..Like I said, pictures tomorrow.

          • Trevor H
          • I can’t comment on the 700c Straggler’s clearance, but Stephanie’s Easton rims are 21mm internal if I recall correctly. She now has KOM i23s with Resolute 42s and tons of space in the 650B frame.

          • Bill Petrie Jr

            I wonder if I should go with the Baby Shoe Pass (42mm) … The 48’s I am pretty sure will not fit … Are the KOM’s 23 or 25 internal width? I appreciate your quick response. Bill

          • KOM i23s are 23mm internal. WTB’s rim widths are easy to identify that way. They make most rims in varying widths.

            Babyshoes will definitely fit, as they fit in my Kona Rove that does not fit Horizons on i23s.

  • Trent

    This build is fantastic!

    What size frame is this? And is it the 700c or 650b specific frame? Thanks!

  • Jonathan McCurdy

    Those tires look amaaazzing. Love the balloon look. ROADFAT.

    • Right?! I think they look especially balloony because they’re black.

      • C.Silver

        how’s the extra light casing holding up? do you have to baby them for dirt or gravel stuff?

        • They’re going good. I put the extra light Babyshoe Pass 42s on my Rove and I ride a lot harder/dumber/shreddier than Stephanie and they’re holding up as well. Only complaint is they don’t seal up completely run tubeless, so sometimes you’ll wake up to a tire with no air in it. Pump it up and ride it, though, and it stays inflated. The Switchbacks have the tubeless bead, the Babyshoes do not. Both tires randomly go flat when sitting.

          • Frank

            Hi Morgan and Stephanie.
            Nice work … it looks practical and purposeful and fun all at the same time.
            However I couldn’t come at tyres that randomly go flat … that’d give me the heebie geebies (my babyshoes are fine … with tubes)
            Best. Frank

          • It’s strictly a tubeless thing. They don’t randomly go flat while riding, they sometimes go flat while sitting in the house overnight. On the Straggler I think it might be the Easton rim’s UST bead not playing nice with the Switchbacks; the non-tubeless bead Babyshoes on the Rove are on the WTB rims we toured on last year with fresh tape, so I can’t really figure that one out.

            Road tubeless is still pretty fickle. I don’t really want to run tubes in super thin tires… they ride smoother without, and they are less susceptible to pinprick flats without tubes. Is it worth it? Only the ride can tell you. I prefer not getting flats while riding to the chance that I have to change a tube on the side of the road.

  • Dan Coppola

    Uh oh- you’d better push that safety pin back into her left crank arm. (photo 15)
    Excellent build. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go find an apple fritter.

    • And while we’re at it, we’ll clean out all that PNW loam stuck in the fender!

      • Chris Valente

        Oh no keep that in there forever and always.

    • Hank

      Not pushing the plastic ‘safety’ clip in on Shimano cranks is the new installing your King headset upside down.

      • To be honest, I’ve never pulled the crank arm off, so it’s been like that since we got the bike!

  • Emory Hancock

    What size frame is that? Was it one of the ones made for 650b?

  • Emory Hancock

    Looks surprisingly similar to my Straggler.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3428974f9a14e44957a0631b37d3c541f30ce38f43fde5f6798f0e2262150147.jpg

    Fitting because y’all’s Wolverines inspired this bike’s build.

  • Smithhammer

    Sweet build. Love my Straggler! Such a versatile, capable bike and a great ride. m/

    http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/800x600q90/924/mHFK48.jpg

  • alex

    Great build! Didn’t want to spend a lot of money building it — buys a boutique $50 bell hahaha love it

    • Once you’ve used a Spurcycle, it’s really hard to go back. Also, they’re $100 here in Canada.

      • I was an early backer of the Kickstarter. I eventually switched to a classic crane bell. The spurcycle just never adequately got people’s attention when I needed it. Even folks with earphones practically jump out of the way at the sound of a Suzu striker.

  • nunya

    you wouldn’t happen to have a picture of the tire clearance in the frame? I think surly says 41 is the largest?

    • Photos of tire clearance don’t usually work all that well. Surly’s 41s are knobby, and they fit with lots of room. These fit with 3-4mm on each side on the Easton Vice XLT rim.

  • Trevor H

    @disqus_g2KMtHTS0V:disqus Did this start life as a 650B model or was it a 700c model converted over?

  • Nate

    Love my Straggler, can totally understand how it’s an adequate roadie as well as adventure machine. I usually tell people it’s the best and worst bike I’ve ever bought, for the same reason, it’s become so hard to justify needing any additional bikes! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2f6b9c81cef575b018971cd3777dff819cca439c1e867b8d4bee83e7ec3448f0.jpg

    • I agree. My straggler has lived so many different lives. When I lived in the city and commuted on it I had fat slicks with full fenders and racks. Now it’s stripped down and wearing bruce gordon rock n roads and primarily my trail/gravel road bike, but at a moments notice could be turned into a tourer. It’s basically legos ; )

  • Sarkis

    The last pic: this is my brain on drugs?

    Another bike with compass tires…they must be good.
    Nice bike..

    • They ride really smooth and fast. It’s so funny being at a road club ride where all the bikes have 28mm tires and smaller and being told your bike looks slow. Actually, it’s just way more comfortable! I run my 42mm Babyshoes at 40 psi tubeless and Stephanie runs the 48mm Switchbacks at 30.

  • Livin’ the supple life.

  • jamesacklin

    How fast are your club rides?

    • There are 5 groups, so riders of all experience and ability are accommodated. 1 is a fast elite ride and 5 is a beginner / intro to group riding pace. I usually lead the 3’s, but sometimes move to the 2’s or the 4’s depend on what group needs help. Stephanie usually rides with the 4’s but helps out with the 5’s when they need more leaders and sometimes rides with the 3’s.

      • jamesacklin

        Got it, thanks! Always interesting to see how others organize their rides.

        • For sure! It’s actually really well organized with two leaders per group and routes sent out in advance of the ride. I volunteer as a floater ride leader so I work with whatever group needs me. That usually means riding with the 3’s because they’re often the biggest group, and the bunch who needs to keep group ride etiquette and technique at front of mind as they get faster. The terrain around here is quite hilly, so we get to do lots of climbing!

  • It’s not a Straggler, it’s a Sleeper!

  • Bryson Castillo

    Sometimes the article is so good, I forget to look at the pictures!

  • RX178

    I love this build so much. Fun for miles!

  • Ultra_Orange

    Should do a write up on my Schwinn Le Tour Luxe.

  • Stephen Proffitt

    Where can you get Gold Compressionless housing??! I thought Jagwire only did that as a sport housing (not compressionless)

    • I dunno, we got it with the bike!

    • Arekey

      I bought it from Wiggle once.

  • tyler

    Hey,
    Just got a question about the microshift. Do they work well with the rear slx? Also 11 speed?
    I thought they where only road compatible

    Cheers!

    • They do indeed make 10-speed and 11-speed Dyna-sys bar ends for Shimano mountain derailleurs. They work great!