My Geekhouse Woodville Update: Handsome Mud Butler Fenders and Compass Barlow Pass Tires

Fenders aren’t exactly my favorite bicycle accessory. Granted I live in Texas where it “never rains” or so it didn’t really until this year. We’ve had a very wet spring and summer, resulting in a lot of unexpected rain riding. So much so that I finally broke down and decided to ditch the big, plump tread of my Bruce Gordon Rock n Roads for some fenders and the biggest tire I could find that would fit…


Getting rid of the Rock n Roads took a lot of convincing. After all, my Woodville was designed around them and the riding that I was planning on taking on with it. They’re just so damn smooth and incredibly durable. In fact, I just recently took this exact pair off after over a year of riding. But as previously stated, a wet few months forced me to embrace fenders, so here we are.

To make things simple, here’s a brief overview on both the fenders and the tires…

My Geekhouse Woodville Touring Bike with Fenders

The Handsome Mud Butler fenders come in a 45mm width, but most importantly they come in black. Their hammered finish, cork washers and sleek hardware are very similar to many of the Japanese fender offerings. While I’ll usually err on the side of Japanese-made fenders, the Handsome Mud Butlers fit my Geekhouse Woodville touring bike’s aesthetics better. You know, the blackest ever black.

My Geekhouse Woodville Touring Bike with Fenders

Installation was simple. With an eyelet in the fork steerer (thanks Marty!) and standard fender mounts on the bike, they went on easily. Even after weeks of use, they’re still securely fastened and rattle free. In fact, these are some of the quietest fenders I’ve used to date. No rattles and no need to re-align them. Even after the bike’s fallen over and been locked up to crowded racks.

Now when it rains, I stay dry and when I ride the bike off-road, it cuts down on dust getting into my drivetrain. Still, if I were to ever take this bike into potentially muddy riding conditions, I’d swap them out for 43mm Rock n Roads. I don’t think there’s quite enough clearance for any sort of mud or trail debris.

My Geekhouse Woodville Touring Bike with Fenders

There are quite a few offerings for a gumwall tire on the market. Rivendell makes a few, as does Panaracer and Challenge. Having ridden most of the previously mentioned brands, I was eager to try out the Compass Cycles Barlow Pass 38mm tire. It’s reminiscent of the Gran Bois, but will still fit under a 45mm fender with enough clearance to avoid debris being lodged into the fender and annoying rub. The photos make the clearance appear to be non-existent, but there’s a good amount of room, so don’t worry. ;-)

I have to say, these tires ride like a dream. Pumping the front to around 30-35 and the rear to around 35-40 psi, I’ve found them to be smooth sailing on sealed road and gravel paths. Even in the quick downpours we experience here in Austin, the tire grips the oil-slick roads with ease. Gravel paths. No problem!

Since I don’t keep a computer on my touring bike, I have no idea how long I’ve ridden them for but after a few weeks of constant use, I’m sold on this setup.

My Geekhouse Woodville Touring Bike with Fenders

Everything on this bike has held up beyond my expectations. The White Industries VBC cranks are still going strong, as is the Phil Wood bottom bracket and SRAM drivetrain. I’ve cleaned and serviced the Chris King Classic rear hub a few times, but haven’t had to touch the SON generator hub. Recently, I spliced a Supernova rear light to the Edelux lamp and save for the lack of internal routing, it looks and works great.

After breaking a few of the Velo Orange decaleurs and not finding a system that worked, I ditched the Swift Ozete Bag for a Wald basket and cargo net. The way I look at it, I can fit a lot of crap into a Wald basket, especially when it’s lined with a tarp. If I have items that need to stay dry, I simply put them in a dry bag. Easy in, easy out. Ideally, I’d like to put a bigger basket on the bike and find someone to make a bag that suits my needs, but that’s a whole ‘nother project.

Overall, I’m very impressed with not only the longevity of the components, but the durability and consistent pleasant ride the Woodville has delivered. This bike is a dream. No creaks, no nonsense, just precision riding all around. The guys at Geekhouse really know how to make a looker that takes kindly to bookin’ around town, as well as being loaded down.

Thanks to the more than capable hands at Mellow Johnny’s for the help building it up.

Questions? Comments? Share them below…

100 responses to “My Geekhouse Woodville Update: Handsome Mud Butler Fenders and Compass Barlow Pass Tires”

  1. D.J. Bolles says:

    For a minute I thought you had swapped the bar end shifters for a Genenalles set up… Is that on another bike? As for many, this is one of my favorite bikes. Everything is so dialed. Now I’m just debating on the Brooks Cambium, hmmmm…..

  2. Liam Griffin says:

    I’ve got the Mud Butlers on my commuter and ended up making my own leather mudflap extensions, just to get a bit of extra coverage. Good looking package, made even slightly more classy with a DIY add on.

  3. Benjamin Johnson says:

    Wow. Already have the butlers on my awol, and have been looking at those exact tires for a while. Good to know they’re working out!

  4. Joe Newton says:

    Lookin’ for a Wald basket bag too.

  5. Fredrik says:

    Looks great. Been riding Barlow Pass 38mm (Standard) for a few months now and they’re without a doubt the best rolling tyres (in this width) i’ve tried so far. Zero flats too.

  6. Henry says:

    Under what circumstances did the VO decaleurs break? I’m running one (with an Ozette) on my Cross-Check and do a reasonable amount of off-road riding, and I’d hate to think it isn’t up to the task.

  7. Raoul Morley says:

    I’ve seen so much written about Cambium saddles that I couldn’t believe that they’d be as good as they are, needless to say I’ve just splurged on one and it’s instantly comfortable and just lovely. The Barlow Pass tyres are the swishiest lovely carving fun I’ve ever had on a bike, just pick a road line and ride it in dreamy comfort ;0)

    • Matt O'Donnell says:

      I threw a Cambium on my AWOL and I just love it. I recommend them to everyone now.

      • Keris says:

        I was going to get one, but one of the guys at my LBS said they were a bit stiff if you are <150lbs since they don't wear in.

  8. D0rk says:

    Bummed you had to stop rocking the Swift bag. Were the decaleurs just not handling rougher off-road conditions? Are there any other stable options to run a bag like the Ozete?

    • John Watson says:

      Yeah they’d just snap off at the welds from all the off-road riding. I could go with a berthoud but they don’t work with my stem.

      • Guy Hall says:

        Don’t work, as in don’t look right, or as in don’t fit? I am running a berthoud decaleur / swift ozette on my firefly, the decaleur bolts to the stem with long bolts and spacers, it should fit pretty much any ‘normal’ threadless stem setup. I have had no issues with it and find it very secure. Previous attempts with a Soma tanaka decaleur had also failed at the first root I rode over.

      • Mark Reimer says:

        Any chance you tried greasing the decaleur? I’ve been using a VO decaleur with an Ozette on my Atlantis for the last year and been riding almost exclusively on trails and gravel roads. Lots of potholes, bumps and jumps. I was leery of using the VO unit after so many people had problems. I tried two things – first making sure that the decaleur wasn’t supporting any of the bags weight by mounting it maybe 1/4″ lower than needed, and second was applying a light layer of grease occasionally, so the bag could ‘float’ a bit. Maybe I just got lucky. Anyway, love the bike!

  9. BuffyZA says:

    I (living in South Africa) have only ever seen one Geekhouse and it doesn’t disappoint!! This looks awesome!

  10. h000k says:

    Where did you pick up the black Wald? I’ve never seen the standalone baskets in black.

  11. hans says:

    looks like you need a new Radavist sticker. need me to send you one?

  12. Froste says:

    Such a sweet setup, so dialed. I ride a Traitor Ruben and this bike has definitely been a lot of inspiration for my build. The Barlow Pass are awesome. They are so much fun on road and fire roads around the Bay area.
    Out of curiosity. How does the geometry doffer between this bike and your do it all cross bike. I’m dreaming about my custom do it everything rig and it would probably be similar to my Ruben but a little more steep geo.

    • JB says:

      If I may ask, what rack and bag are you using on this photo? Looks like a very versatile setup!

      • Froste says:

        A specialized globe rack attached with p-clamps with a mission workshop messenger bag strapped down with ROK straps. It is a very well working setup and not to cumbersome when not in use like other larger porteur racks. Holds camping gear and 12 packs too…

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  13. Nick Teague says:

    What handlebars are you running?

  14. Tyler Johnson says:

    bike looks so good dude!

  15. Zac says:

    I’m wearing the Stamped Pass 32’s on my Cinelli Hobo. Lovely tires. Compass does some great stuff. Great looking bike. Now I know where I’ve seen it around town.

    • Ultra_Orange says:

      I’m rocking those as well. I can lean over until I’m scraping pedals in the rain.

      • Zac says:

        What pressure do you ride them at?

        • Ultra_Orange says:

          85psi, I’m a little over 200lbs and if I run them lower its a little too soft. But who knows maybe in the future I’ll give into the squish.

  16. PNT says:

    love the evolution of this bike, hope we will see how it will look like in 2020 also:)

  17. Cannondale says:

    Can someone tell me what front racks he’s using? Loving those triangles

  18. evilgordon says:

    I love this bike John. Anything you do to it makes for interesting reading. Cheers, gordon

  19. Trevor H says:

    I’m guessing that the Supernova taillight doesn’t stay illuminated when you aren’t rolling, as the stand system for that light is based out of their headlight. Peter White is selling a Schmidt tail that has a stand system, but the aesthetic isn’t quite the same. I’ve thought about getting one myself, but other projects have continued to get in the way.. Bike looks good though!

    • John Watson says:

      I have been meaning to switch to the Supernova headlight. Just haven’t yet. I also want to switch the tail light to a smaller gauge wire. Will probably do both at the same time.

      • Frank says:

        Hi John. Do you reckon the Supernova over the Edulux ii? Frank

      • Hubert d'Autremont says:

        I got just the tailight for you if you are interest. Comes in black, custom made housing and lense made in house. Domesticly made circuit board with stand light to work with the schmidt. The Supernova taillight is rad, but the headlight doesn’t compare to the Schmidt IMO. Let me know if you interested in trying one out, I’ll send one over when they are done.

        • John Watson says:

          So into that! Emailing you now…

        • Kevin says:

          Hubert, you sound like you know your lighting. Any way to customize a Schmidt to run off a battery pack (say, Light & Motion) if I don’t have a generator hub? I would very much like such a setup…

          • Hubert d'Autremont says:

            Hi Kevin,
            I can’t imagine it would be two hard to figure out, but I’m not totally sure why you would want to.
            The main question is whether the batter pack is 6V or 12V. The Edelux taillight is 6V and I think some of the Supernovas are 6V as well but not all.
            If you were gonna do it, jut do a supernova taillight because it doesn’t have a capacitor (ie standlight) which you don’t need for a battery pack.
            Other than that just try adding an inline switch somewhere. I’m not super good at electronics but this seems like it would be straightforward enough.

  20. mr. apodaca APODACA says:

    my black leather walnut mud flaps look oh so metal on my black handsome fenders…

  21. boomforeal says:

    Up next: panniers

  22. willzager says:

    I’m picturing that Wald basket being really noisy. Is it not?

  23. Saul says:

    what is this pump ?

  24. Jamie McKeon says:

    what a spot to shoot a bike!

  25. Cyclo McKenzie says:

    In its previous setup, this was one of my fave bikes on your site. Still cool now though.

    Sorry if I’m spelling out what’s to be read in between the lines, but the comments on the longevity of the parts rubbed me a peculiar way: Why shouldn’t those cranks hold up? You’ve been riding this bike for what, 10 months? A year? Next to how many other bikes? Any crankset that would have given you issues at all by now can be simply labelled as crap. But actually, I’ve got an idea about the quality of WI-cranks, as I’ve ridden a couple, so it might actually be worth mentioning that they are still going strong.
    Well, as for the need for servicing a hub “a few times” that comes with a price tag of 399 and is “the ultimate in lightweight, high performance, long lasting”(CK promo)…

    Thanks for the site!

    • John Watson says:

      Ive had this bike for over two years and its the bike I ride the most, without a doubt. I’ve done many, multi-day tours and camping trips on it and I ride it every day, all over town.

      The Chris King marketing you quote is the R45, not the Classic Hub and I service it to ensure hub longevity. It’s like lubing a chain. If you don’t lube it, or you ride cross-chain, you’ll wear through components fast. I like to keep my bikes running smoothly. Especially after the rainy winter / spring / summer we’ve had.

      Some people (on the internet) have complained about the WI VBC cranks “wearing out” or creaking, so I addressed that I’ve had zero issues to quell any commentary that would (maybe inevitably) arise.

      • Cyclo McKenzie says:

        Thanks, after I posted I saw that this beauty first appeared here in June 2013. And thanks for going a bit into detail – I really like the design of WI cranks but have “worn out” three pairs of Enos. The alum’s just too soft imho. Shame. Love the look on the VBCs, hope they will last you a long time.

      • Kilo Compagnie says:

        just curious that u chose Phil over WI bottom bracket.

  26. mrbiggs says:

    I’ve always assumed one needs knobbies for off-road riding. I’ve been looking at the Barlow 38s but didn’t really understand where they’re useful. The thinking being if I want a road tire, I want 25-28. If I want a big off-road tire, it should be a knobby CX thing like my Knards or the Clement USH. The Barlows are okay with the dirt? Especially the wet dirt?

  27. simonnix says:

    Obligatory SON hub/TRP lever/Cambium saddle love comment.

    Also, I wish someone made OBB 2-piece cranks that looked anywhere near as cool as those White Industries do…

  28. Zach says:

    Great bicycle! I’ve been following this one since you got it and will admit it has been a source of inspiration for me and my favorite bike.

  29. Hikyle2 says:

    do you think platforms are the best way to go for a bike like that or do you switch pedals often? I’m starting to get pretty frustrated riding around town with toe clips.

  30. Max Dilthey says:

    Hey, what front rack is that? very nice!

    Eric at Inside Line Equipment makes a sweet waterproof rack bag.


  31. Matthew Vidakovich says:

    is this the same saddle you reviewed back in 2013, or did you end up getting a c15? i’m guessing you’re pretty happy with it or it wouldn’t have made it onto the bike. wondering if you have anything of note to mention long-term wise with it.

    • simonnix says:

      If the C15 is anything like my C17 Carved, I’d strongly recommend using loctite on all of those fake rivets (they’re actually sleeve nuts and torx bolts). They have a habit of coming loose. Otherwise, Cambiums are pretty sweet.

      • John Watson says:

        Mine have never come loose and I’ve been riding a pre-production model for over a year.

        • simonnix says:

          Could be I’m fatter than you, or a sloppier pedaller. Probably both.

          Either way, happened to one of my two Cambiums, happened to my local Brooks dealer and their test C15. It’s a thing that /may/ happen.

  32. swm says:

    How lovely. My Barlow 38s should be arriving tomorrow. Excited to
    mount up for general road and mountain exploration on my all-road build.

    Will be keeping the Clement X’Plors for rough rides, though. Example below’s from a solo trip in Cache Valley Wilderness area, UT.

  33. Bryan says:

    John… this is crucial. Is that a camo painted front pannier?

  34. J. says:

    Hey, what model sram barcons are you using? Still a bit confused as to which would work best with 10sp rear mtb for touring. 500 Aero?

  35. Márton Sógor says:

    This bike loves you.

  36. ZianStudios says:

    great tire choice. I’ve got the 42cm gran bois on my rando and they ride, as you say, like a dream.

  37. Fürst Pückler says:

    Nice ride! Looks even more complete with those fenders. I am just wondering how you use the front basket without a kickstand. Not that i am a fan of those things but i would def. miss it on a bike with a front basket…

  38. Lewy says:

    Great looking bike. I am really liking the colour combo. Thinking one of my bikes needs to be olive drab

  39. Kyle Wood says:

    Hey John,
    What is that camo bar tape? I am in need…

  40. charlesojones says:

    I still love cantis

  41. How did you set up gear routing on a handlebar? Did you drill handlebar or just wrap it under tape? I noticed that you changed this from initial setup.

  42. Rem says:

    Have you tried out putting these fenders over Surly Knard tires? I’m worried about clearance and thought you might have tried pairing the two up.

  43. Mario says:

    Are the fenders easily removed? I’m also averse to fenders, so I would like to take them off when a long sunny spell is predicted!

  44. George says:

    Did you ever get this back, John?