Experimenting with Paracord Top Tube Protection

Recently, I did some modifications to my Surly Steamroller. I put on a bullhorn handlebar from my vintage MTB and added a rear brake. My Steamroller is fixed gear now, and I don't really need the rear brake, but I'm planning to add a freewheel for the winter.

Steamroller doesn't have any cable guides for a rear brake, and I started figuring out the best way to attach the cable to the top tube. I looked at some clamps, zip ties and top tube protectors. Then I decided to use paracord as the top tube protector and to hold the cable in place. Paracord is really durable and I use it all the time when I'm camping and pitch my tarp for the night.

Paracord Top Tube Protector

It's still a bit of a work in progress, but I'm quite pleased with the result. The Internet is full of guides how to make all kinds of things from paracord, and I picked up a simple weave that someone recommended as a wrap for axes, hiking poles and what not. I think it looks pretty nice :) It adds a nice and soft, almost organic feel to the bike.

Surly Steamroller tracklocross mode paracord top tube

I bought a reflective paracord for this purpose. In total there's about 11m of paracord. I could easily cut out a few meters if I need extra cord for pitching my tarp, or if I need to replace luggage straps while I'm touring. It's nice to have some extra paracord for backup and this is a convenient way to always carry it with you.


Wish by The Cure

Wish by The Cure is already 30 years old and there's a new review on Pitchfork.

Wish is one of my favourite Cure albums. A Letter to Elise is definitely in my top 5 all time best Cure songs list, probably even in top 3.

And every time I try to pick it up like falling sand
As fast as I pick it up
It runs away through my clutching hands
But there's nothing else I can really do
There's nothing else I can really do
There's nothing else I can really do at all

  • A Letter to Elise, The Cure

Yeah, I know it might read a bit naive but you can be as naive as you want when you're under 20.


Touring on my Fixed Gear Surly Steamroller

Surly Steamroller fixed gear in light touring mode

A few weeks ago I did my first overnight bike trip for this spring. I did about 200km in two days and stayed the night under a tarp at Liesjärvi National Park.

New Lightweight Setup

This was the first time I was riding with this setup. For a two day trip I didn't need that much stuff with me, and I decided to leave my panniers home. I have a Carradice Nelson Longflap on the back (with Carradice Bagman support) and a regular 35l Ortlieb drybag in the front. The drybag is filled only about one third to make it fit between the drops on my handlebar.

I also added a third bottle holder, which I'm using in the front of the main triangle (the red bottle) under the top tube. That's fuel for my Trangia, and it's strapped to the frame using FixPlus straps. That's a pretty convenient place for the fuel bottle.

The drybag in the front is mostly supported by my handlebars. I have a tiny Dia Compe Ene Front Rack attached to my front brake, and it works great as a lower support for the drybag. The bag is not resting on the rack, the rack is there only for additional support and to keep the bag off from my brake cable. It's a pretty neat solution and it's also super stable thanks to the additional support from the rack.

Last updated June 22, 2022 13:00


Fixed Gear MTB

I've been riding a fixed gear almost exclusively for the past few years. I mostly ride on paved roads or hard packed gravel where even a 35mm Gravel King SK feels mostly overkill.

But I do enjoy riding my single speed vintage MTB on some easy singletrack. A fixed gear MTB is something that I've been thinking about, and I just stumbled on Heroux Cycles.

Heroux Cycles is a Swedish micro-brand specializing in fixed gear and single speed 29er Plus frames and a few more items to build them up nicely.

Heroux Cycles

Fixed gear titanium MTB's from Sweden. Now I've seen it all :) I'm definitely going to keep a close eye on this.


Waiting for the Spring

Spring is late this year. There was so much snow this winter that it is taking time for it all to melt away.

Just a few weeks ago I was riding through a foggy winter landscape. Today it's almost +10C and snow is rapidly melting away. I've already strated to put my Surly Steamroller in summer mode with a few upgraded parts (more on that later).

Summer 2021

While waiting for the summer, I was just browsing through some photos from last summer. Here's one of my favourites:

Vintage MTB Monstercross with Carradice Bags

This my old mountain bike from the early 1990's. I got it when I was 10 or 11 years old. Last summer I repainted the frame and replaced all the parts except the headset.

Here it is in full touring mode. It turned out to be a really capable and super stable all terrain touring bike. I was going to put some bullmoose handlebars on it, but this Nitto randonneur bar works perfectly on it.

It's really comfortable for long days in the saddle. Last summer my longest day was about 145km in about nine hours.

Last updated June 22, 2022 13:05


Foggy Winter Ride

Vintage 26 inch MTB turned Monstercross

Had a nice morning ride a few weeks ago on my early 90's Kuwahara MTB turned into a monstercross. Last summer I repainted the frame (Tange steel) and replaced pretty much all the parts except the headset.

It's a great bike for leisurely gravel rides or long distance touring. It's super comfortable and stable. It's not much of a mountain bike in modern standards, but as a bomb proof touring bike I think it's getting close to a Surly Long Haul Trucker.


Jaakko Naakka

Bikes and photography and general ramblings. In the middle of nowhere in southern Finland. CTO / Head of Development at Intunex, founder of Innota and Wrote.