Monkey Upgrade

I put some new bling on my Karate Monkey.

36 teeth

It’s a little hard to make it out in the picture, but it says “36t” on the big cog.

That’s the much ballyhooed Shimano SLX HG-61 cassette. With my monkey’s mountain triple (FC-M460) cranks, I have stupendously low gearing (in inches):

106.8 77.7 53.4
91.6 66.6 45.8
80.1 58.3 40.1
71.2 51.8 35.6
61.0 44.4 30.5
53.4 38.8 26.7
45.8 33.3 22.9
40.1 29.1 20.0
35.6 25.9 17.8

The lowest gear is 17.8″ For most people, this is probably insanely low, but I am not like most people.

I am fat, lazy, and slow. And I live in a mountainous area. I suspect that low gear will see lots of use.

Shimano say you need a fancy “Shadow” derailleur to make this cassette work. Shimano are full of it.


This is just a regular Deore derailleur. I screwed the B-tension screw all the way in, and it fits. Just barely.

Shimano also warns you that the 22/36 combination can generate so much torque that you might damage your rear hub. They then suggest that you should buy one of their fancy 29er-specific rear hubs.

I think I have the hub situation well in hand already.


I took it for a test spin around the block today, and everything seems to work. Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to take it out to the woods this week and see if I am able to spin up some hills that I have had to walk up before.

More LVRT Awesomeness

The Lebanon Valley Rail Trail is taking over the world!

Lebanon Valley Rails to Trails has announced plans to extend the Lebanon Valley Rail-Trail along a path that follows the abandoned Lebanon & Tremont rail line and would continue to Lickdale, where it would link to the Swatara Rail-Trail.

The Swatara Rail-Trail also uses the old Lebanon & Tremont roadway and continues for another 10 miles to Pine Grove, most of that length within Swatara State Park.

It’s a scant 3 miles on-road from the Swatara Rail trail to the Stony Creek Trail. When this extension is done, Lebanon is going to be the hub of a nice little trail network – about 60 miles of trails, by my calculations.

You can help make it happen faster by kicking in a few bucks.

Monkey Love

My Karate Monkey had been hanging on its hook in the garage since last fall some time. I was almost ready to sell it, since it wasn’t getting ridden.

I’ve ridden it a few times in the past 2 weeks just for something different. I had forgotten how much fun it is to take it to the woods and run over rocks and stuff.

I think I’m keeping it.

Karate Monkey in its natural habitat

I took it up to Stony Creek today, and made a foolhardy attempt to climb Stagecoach road (steep!). I abandoned the attempt after about 100 yards, when I thought I was having a stroke.

Here I am all red-faced and sweaty after the attempt.

Me and my Monkey

I’m thinking of getting one of Shimano’s new-fangled CS-HG61 cassettes for it. It’s unlikely that having 2 more teeth on the low gear would make that much of a difference, but it probably wouldn’t hurt, either.

Anyone know if this thing would work with a Phil Hub and a plain-old Deore dérailleur? I have a 34-tooth 30-tooth low gear now, and don’t have any problems with it.

Anyhow, 17 miles for the day, and I like my Monkey again.

More Happy LVRT News!

Last night, North Cornwall Township approved a plan to build a trail system that will link the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail to a few neighborhoods, some parks, and a commercial area.

There’s a big PDF map of the proposal.

The map is a little hard to read, but it looks like the some of the trail system will be on-road. There might be more details in the meeting minutes, but they are not yet posted on the township website.

If you look closely at the map near Cornwall Center, it shows a dashed yellow line branching off the LVRT to the southeast and dissapearing off the edge of the map.

Dashed yellow means proposed LVRT extension.

Interesting. I wonder how far it goes?