Showing posts with label The One True Bike. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The One True Bike. Show all posts

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The One True Bike - Part 5 - Finished!

You know how I was documenting the building of my latest bike in awful mind-numbing detail? Screw that, the bike is done! I mean, who wants to waste their time reading that shit let alone writing it? Even unrepentant cycle freaks really just want to see the bike and the selected gear. So here we go!

As I've written previously, this bike is an attempt to put all the features I've loved on other bikes into my perfect 2 wheeled machine, the One True Bike.

Now that it is finished, I can honestly say I wouldn't change a thing on this bike. I love it. Period. It rides beautifully, in just the way I had hoped. Wait; I would (will) add a Brooks saddle, probably a Cambium. And a front rack. I'm out of cash for now.

I loved the solid feel and big tires of my heavy Cube city bike. This bike weighs in at 13.6 kg (30 lbs) including accessories, where the Cube was 16 kg. This bike feels super solid although its frame and some other bits are lighter, largely thanks to wide, 40-spoke Sun Rhyno Lites with 38c Schwalbe Marathon Plus (puncture resistant) tires. I got the wheels from a place called VeloMine in the US. Good prices on what appear to be pretty good wheels. In my case they had no-name alloy hubs with cartridge bearings. I know many bike freaks out there swear by cup n' cone hubs for serviceability reasons, but I'm not good to my bikes like that and I prefer cartridge bearings. Anyway, these wheels should be great for handling my considerable weight plus the loads I plan to carry for camping and stuff.

My gearing choices were informed by how much I like simplicity and how much I dislike grip shifters. The 8 speed Nexus on my Cube was OK, but I didn't like the mystery of it all... I'm not mechanically inclined enough to delve into the guts of an IGH. My fixed gear was wonderfully simple of course, but gears are sometimes nice, particularly when carrying loads. I ended up going for a simple and solid 1X10 setup using Shimano Zee MTB/DH components. My highest gear is 36X11, which with my wheels and cranks gives me 89.4 gear inches. I won't achieve high speeds on this bike, but that was never the point. My low end is 36X36, 27.3 gear inches, which should get me over most hills, even loaded, in my non-mountainous part of the country. The Zee crankset uses the Shimano Hollowtech II system, which I like better than anything else I've ever tried.

I like racks and fenders. I will probably add a front rack soon. For now though, the Axiom Journey rear rack and SKS Chromoplastics are both items I've been really pleased with in the past.

Last, I have become tired of trying to stand my bike up, particularly with a loaded pannier or panniers, so I got a two-legged kickstand and I really like it. It is rather heavy, but weight was not a big consideration with this bike. Both legs tuck up under the left chainstay, which I thought pretty cool.

The rest of the bits and pieces were chosen based on price, aesthetics and availability, or previous experience (like the best mirror I have found). Now, to pics and specs and costs! Oh Boy!

Now, to the money spent. I've included all the boring bits like cable hangers and such because when you are a guy like me building up from bare frame at home rather than in a shop, they really add up and must be considered as part of total costs. Speaking of total costs, here they are, taxes and shipping included. Prices are in CAD. Most components came from UK online retailers, some came from and the wheels from VeloMine in the USA:

Basic Elements:

Trek 20" FX Alpha Black Aluminum frame (used)         50
Deda Carbon Cross Fork                                           171
Hope Pick N'  Mix headset + star nut and cap             102
Deda Elementi Zero1 Road Stem                                32
Bontrager Big Earl Handlebar (used spare)                    0
Ritchey Logic 2 Bolt Seatpost                                      25
MEC Classic Saddle                                                    22
Shimano M530 SPD Trail Clipless MTB Pedals               38
Ergon GP1 Grips Black, Large, Standard                      38


Sun Rhyno Lite 40 spoke 29er wheelset rim brake       280
Schwalbe Marathon Plus Black, 700c, 38c X2               76
Vee Rubber Road Tube 700c, 38c, Presta X2                7
Velox Rim Tape Cloth White, 19mm X2                        7


SRAM PC1031 10 Speed Chain Silver                          28
Shimano Deore HG50 10 Spd MTB Cassette 11-36t      38
Shimano Zee M640 10 Speed Crankset,36t, 170mm    135
Shimano Zee M640 Shadow+ 10 Speed Derailleur       50
Shimano Zee M640 1x10sp Trigger Shifter                  32
Shimano Road Gear PTFE Cableset High Tech Grey      28


Shimano MTB Brake PTFE Cableset High Tech Grey      28
Tektro CR720 Cyclo Cross Cantis (Front and Rear)       48
Shimano Ultegra R780 Flat Bar Brake Levers               41
Tektro Seat Clamp Cable Hanger                                14
Tektro Cable Hanger - Fork Mount                              12


RockBros Classical Stainless Bell (Black)                     24
SKS 50mm 700c Chromoplastic Fenders                     42
Foldable Double Leg Kickstand                                   27
Axiom Journey Rear Rack                                          56
Mirrycle Mountain Mirror Handlebar Mount                  19


Taxes and Duties charged separately                       150

                                           all-in GRAND TOTAL    1620 CAD
                                                                            1242 USD  

It pains me a little to actually account for every little thing and see how it all adds up. Honesty with oneself is important, though, I think. In addition, I've now got a what I consider a truly kickass bike that suits me in every damn way I can think of. What's that worth?                                               

I know I have mentioned many brand names and retailers in this post. Please know I have received nothing from anyone for writing any of this.

Last but not least, some vanity shots:

Good grief am I loving this thing. I'm so lucky!
Yer Pal,

PS - I started this post saying nobody needs all that tedious detail, and then proceeded to provide tons of it. Hmph. Hopefully you just skipped to the pitchers.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The One True Bike - Part 4 - Headset

As always with one of these installments, I must begin with a warning. The following is overly detailed bike crap of interest only to the mentally disturbed and me, not that those are mutually exclusive. Continue at your own risk.

I have a real thing for super-smooth and some would say over-priced headsets. My fixed gear had a Cane Creek "Solos" headset (how fitting, yes?) that was superb - the bars were almost too floppy, they turned so effortlessly, without a shred of play when doing the front-brake-on test*. Cane Creek doesn't make the Solos any more and appear to have replaced it with their 100 series.

Headset shopping is a terrible opportunity to up-sell yourself. I confess to falling victim to this again this time, but I take some solace in knowing that I didn't succumb to the "Chris King headset bling" effect. As with the Solos, I opted for something that was supposed to be competitive at a lower if still too high price point from Hope, a well respected UK brand. The thing that sealed the deal for me was that the Hope headsets were offered in what they called "Pick n' Mix" formats: You could buy the top and bottom headset parts separately, which allowed me to be confident I was getting the correct bits for fitting my straight 1-1/8" steer tube into the frame's tapered (different diameter top and bottom) head tube. Here's what I bought:

The star nut and top cap pictured were not included with the headset - had to buy it separately. The cost of all pictured was 101.97 CAD all-in, shipping included. Thus far I have eluded paying tax or duty on my purchases from the UK. I get free shipping for orders over $99 CAD, so I've been keeping the orders value as close to that as possible in the hopes that a lower $ value makes them of less interest to customs. In addition, Chain Reaction has a "regular mail" option which is less likely to get automatic attention at the border. These things combined have helped me so far, I think, though shipping is slower and I can't track the package. Anyway, my family members were mortified that these little things cost a hundred bucks. I guess they would have really freaked had I bought a $200 King!

First, I just took my new parts and dry-fit them to the fork and frame to make sure I hadn't messed up. I had not. Yay!!! Next, I decided to try to be more responsible and figure out how to press the cups rather than whack 'em into place with a piece of wood and a hammer like the last time I did this. I used a couple of videos by RJ The Bike Guy to guide me in making and using a headset tool.

Doing the install 

I don't see much use in making videos of myself doing stuff I learned from other videos. Things went about the same as they did for RJ, and now I have a bike frame and fork that are attached to each other!

The stem in the picture is a flashy silver Race Face Deus XC that I bought years ago on Ebay for my fixed gear build. I ended up using the exact same stem, but shorter. At 130mm it may well be too long for this build, but I hope not because love how it looks and I don't see silver ones like this around as much now. We shall see, I suppose. As you can see, the fork is still uncut and will remain so until I can play around with bike fit, figure out how high the seat will be, etc. Only then will I make that fateful cut, insert the necessary spacers and install the star nut and cap.

I know I have mentioned brand names and retailers in this post. Please know I have received nothing from anyone for writing any of this.

That's it for this part, except the cost tally:

Used Frame                                            50.00
Headset cup removal tool                         fear (0.00)
Deda Cross Fork                                      171.00
Hope headset + star nut and cap              102.00
Home-made headset press                         20.00
Stem                                                      spare, so "Free"

TOTAL                                                    343.00

Yer Pal,


* A properly installed/adjusted headset will allow the bars to turn smoothly and easily, and have no "play" when the front brake is applied while attempting to rock the rock the bike forward and backward.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The One True Bike - Part 3 - Fork

WARNING: Unrelenting tedious detail of interest only to mentally unstable bike freaks follows. Read at your own risk of nearly fatal boredom.

Picking and buying a fork for a bicycle  should not be a big deal. Yet, I agonized. I ebayed and online shopped and brick and mortar store shopped and big-used-bike-part-store shopped. I researched, debated and dreamed about forks (honest). That was all before I bought the thing.

Let me back up a bit. I wanted a carbon fork for this bike. That made little sense, because in many respects I wanted this bike to be a very durable. Steel would have been a more rational choice. Thankfully, when building your own bike you can do whatever you want. My fixie had one and godammit I just wanted this new bike to have one too. In the immortal words of Selena Gomez, the heart wants what it wants, y'know***?

That said, there were some pretty great steel offerings; the usual good stuff from Surly (Cross-Check fork) and this lovely chromed thing on ebay (go to ebay and search cross fork):

As you can see, this fork has canti studs and fender eyelets, a requirement for me on this build. The fork pictured above would have been $200 US after delivery, then add taxes and duty. The Surly fork was better, at about $130 US and there are some bike stores that can get me Surly stuff in London now. No matter how I slice it though, the declining value of the Canadian dollar is really hurting me on costs. Canada has almost no good online sources for inexpensive bike parts. The UK has been my best friend for most bike part purchases, and this was no different.

Where was I? Ah yes, steel forks. The steel forks available were elegant and a little retro looking and fully awesome, but somehow I just couldn't see them on this bike. My stolen fixed gear had a similar frame and a carbon cross fork from Nashbar, and I loved that setup:

I was pretty philosophical about the loss of this bike at the time, but honestly, I miss this bike like crazy. I poured myself into that build, obsessing and agonizing over every little thing and loving the result more for it. This build is about making a bike I will love MORE, so I am obligated to torture myself even further. Woohoo!

So, for many mixed up reasons, I ended up getting a fork much like the last one, but with some nice graphics on it!

The frame has a tapered head tube, but I'm making up for the non-tapered metal steer tube on the fork by doing some mix-n-match top and bottom headset stuff. This is mostly because tapered forks were pretty much all full carbon, which was more expensive plus I worry about my caveman wrenching methods combined with a carbon steer tube. I did however, search high and low for a reasonably priced tapered fork with those damn canti studs and fender eyelets for a long damn time before going with what I knew. Did I find any? I can't even remember now. I feel like maybe Whiskey and maybe one other manufacturer made one, but prices were too high for the likes of me. 

This fork is a combo of strong and sexy, kind of like Snow Face. You don't know Snow Face the ass cameo dog? You can meet him a few places on this blog if you search Snow Face, or, for adorable youtube videos, follow this link!

I bought the Deda fork from Ribble cycles in the UK, to my door all-in for $171 CAD. By the way, if you're looking for a carbon cross fork with canti studs, there's this or Nashbar's carbon cross fork for under $200. After that, expect a steep price jump and trouble finding fender eyelets unless you're willing to try some of those straight from China ebay deals. I like to think my search was so exhaustive that I am 100% on this info, but if I'm not, please let me know in the comments and I will edit this and add some links.

I know I have mentioned brand names and retailers in this post. Please know I have received nothing from anyone for writing any of this.

Now, the cost tally:

Used frame                                                50.00
Headset cup removal tool                            fear (0.00)
Deda Cross Fork                                         171.00

Total                                                         221.00

May Your Steer Tube be Ever Uncut,

*** Google analytics has informed me that 97% of my readers are Russian girls and women 15-26 years old using Netscape Navigator browsers, so that's why the pop culture reference. For the rest of you, please replace "Selena Gomez" with Emily Dickinson for an I'm-so-smart reference or for the more mischievous among you, Woody Allen for a kind-of-ewww reference.

PS - That very same fork is now listed at 215 CAD on ribble. I think I used a coupon code at the time, but that price went up for sure. Maybe they were slow to adjust to the sliding Canadian dollar? Damned if I know. Yay me!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The One True Bike - Part 2 - Frame

Of the two or three people who still read this blog, a couple have asked for ALL THE DETAILS on this my latest bike project. Be careful what you wish for, losers, 'cause here they come, in as many tediously long parts as necessary!

On my fixed gear bike build, I bought a brand new frame. Nothing fancy, but I wanted true horizontal dropouts and they were hard to find in a local, used frame. On my light tourer build, a used 1980's lugged steel Trek 520 frame, which was lovely. Mutant Winter featured a tough-as-nails Alu Gary Fischer MTB hardtail/dirtjumper style frame. On this, the "1TB" build, I needed a flexible platform for what I am hoping will be my ultimate all-rounder. Most of the bikes I have owned in the last twenty years have been compact and aluminum.

I like Alu mostly for its corrosion resistance since I often ride in wet and even salty road conditions. I like compact frames with their sloping top tubes because they are easier to step over. My physical prowess and coordination leave a lot to be desired, and are, in general, worsening. You know how people swing a leg over and coast in standing on one pedal? I don't do that and never have. In addition, planned rear rack and panniers make swinging a leg over the back of the bike a problem for me.

I needed something with the clearances for bigger tires and mounting points for racks and fenders, and canti studs, because I love those frog-leg style cantilever brakes. I wanted 135mm rear spacing because I was planning on really strong wheels, which are more typically on 135mm hubs. Basically I needed a cyclocross frame. What I found pretty much was one, except for the "cyclocross" designation, since it came from a "performance hybrid" bike.

Behold: A used 20" 2010 Trek 7.2 FX compact Alu frame! Cost: $50

It had some pieces I didn't want still attached when I picked it up, like the crankset, derailleur and some of the headset. I removed those and put them in my spares collection, probably never to be used again. Never say Never, though y'know? I was glad to see the bottom bracket was still in it when I picked it up, because it was most likely the original bb, which meant nobody had tinkered with it and accidentally cross-threaded or damaged the bb shell. I am only wary of such things because I have done such things myself in the past, so no judgement there. BB removed, the threads were fine.

For getting the headset cups out of the head tube, I got fancy and made myself a removal tool by using an old seatpost, a vice, and a reciprocating saw. It felt dangerous/foolhardy while I was doing it that way, despite wearing safety glasses. Foolhardy, however, is my middle name and it worked out OK. 

Behold: The Home-made Headset Cup Removal Tool of Destiny! Cost: the fear of losing a finger or stabbing my jugular vein with a flying saw blade or something.

No more hammer and screwdriver method for me, no sir. I was afraid of damaging the inner surfaces of the tube, although my guess is that it would have been fine. Note: If I had it to do again I would have used a tube of thinner metal than that seatpost. My finished product wasn't as bendy or springy as I would have liked. Worked well though.

As you may or may not be able to see, the frame had a few scratches and scuffs, but that is fine with me; I simply don't care much about stuff like that. I may touch it up a bit, but probably not.

That's it for this installment of The One True Bike Build... see ya later. Please feel free to ask any nebulous bike freak questions you may have. I owe you that if you have actually read this far.

Yer Pal,

PS - As with my Trek 520 build, I think I'll keep a running tally on costs...

Used frame                                            50.00
Headset cup removal tool                        fear (0.00)

Total                                                     50.00

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The One True Bike - Part 1 - N+none

In the aftermath of my latest stolen bike stuff I decided to build one up from scratch again! Oh sweet agony! I have discovered over the last couple of decades, lots of bikes and 2 builds that I am not an n+1 guy. Does that get me kicked out of the cycling community somehow? I hope not.

Of course this may have something to do with thieves keeping me at approximately 1+1 status all the time, but I don't think so. I've always had a favourite bike that I want to ride 99% of the time. I've ridden/owned winter-specific mutant, fixed gear, classic touring, and urban practical with an IGH along with all the other typical bikes one rides as one grows up. I have loved them all, because bikes are just awesome.

mutant winter (retired / disassembled)

Summer, fixed gear (stolen)

Highway (still good)

CUBE City Touring with Dyno Hub and Nexus 8 IGH (stolen)

One type of bike I have never owned is a full-on racer, carbon or otherwise, and I'm still not particularly interested in that type.

Each kind of bike, of course, has its own set of pros and cons. Rather than seeking to have lots of bikes for specific purposes, however, more and more I have become fixated on finding / building One perfect bike for virtually Every purpose. I don't know if I'll ever really get there, but goddamn it I'm gonna try.

The bike I build this time will have the features of all the bikes I have loved most, combined just so, for me. It will take me a long time to build, because I am gonna try not to compromise on anything, which means more money than I've got to spend in one go. I have no doubt that it won't seem all that unique or special to anyone but me, and that's as it should be, since no two bike freaks are alike; we're like snowflakes, or perhaps just flakes, because as I write this I am getting so excited about this bike (that doesn't exist yet) that I can hardly stand it.

Right now I have a frame (used), a fork (new), and some wheels (new), each of which I think quite perfect. I know I am completely self-involved and this stuff won't be of interest to anyone, really, but that's OK. That's what blogs are all about, right? Wait, that's not fair. Some blogs are about being useful to others. MY blog is mostly about entertaining MYSELF, because I am the only person who matters. ME! ME! ME! Yaaayyy ME! Hey, look what I'm doing! Watch me dive! 

Thank you, online attention sources! Remember, without you there would still be ME! ME! ME! Yaaaaayyy ME!