I thought it was time for an up-date on my bike build project, which is slowly making progress. Just to recap, my project bike is based on the frame and carbon fork of a Genesis Croix de Fer (2009), which I have been given for free. Since my last blog post on this subject, I have been gathering advice and making a wish list of parts.

First up there were a few decisions to be made, such as: do I use straight bars or drops, and do I reinstate the disc brakes or do I try change to cantilever brakes? As well as this, I had to think about which chainset I would like, do I go for double or triple chain rings?

The choice of bars was easy, as I had been given a pair of Shimano STI 105 dual-control levers in a box of bits that had come with the frame. I had also been given drop bars and a stem, but these were not the ideal size for me, so I decided to replace them with some that fitted me, and by getting another pair of drops I wouldn’t need to get new levers. This did mean that I was tied in to using Shimano, but I don’t have the budget to stretch to Campagnolo anyway, nice though that would be.

Next up, reinstate the disc brakes or change to cantilever brakes? The frame and fork both have mounting points for disc brakes, but the forks don’t have mounting points for cantilever brakes, and come to think of it nor does the frame. So that is easy then, disc brakes it is! As I am going to be using drop bars and STI levers, this means that I have to use mechanical disc brakes, and I have been advised that Avid BB7 are the best, so that is sorted, too.

That leaves the chainset and the decision on double or triple chain rings. Having read around a wee bit, I found that the left STI shifter fitted to the Croix de Fer is a triple, even though in its original spec it had a double chainset. So I have the option of using a triple chainset should I wish to do so – which I do, as I am planning to be able to use the bike for touring. The next thing to decide is the range of components to buy. For the 2009 model, Genesis had fitted Shimano 105 components (for the 2010 model this was downgraded to Shimano Tiagra). But the question for me was, if I buy carefully, can I upgrade to Shimano Ultegra? Cue a web search for prices. After some hunting around for the lowest prices I discovered that I could get all the Ultegra bits I wanted for just £20 more that the 105 equivalents. Great, Ultegra it is, then.

I have been lucky with finding discontinued lines for things such as the handlebars, seat post and saddle. I had budgeted for a mid range pair of alloy handlebars, but then I came across a pair of 3TTT Carbon bars at 72% off and in the size I wanted. Together with an alloy stem they came in at £5 under budget! Looking for a saddle, I had the Selle Italia SLR on the possible list, just the standard model with titanium rails, but was delighted when a Selle Italia SLR Carbon Time Ulteam Flow version turned up at about the same price. Isn’t the internet wonderful!

One lesson I learned the hard way when bargain hunting, be quick, I saw an Ultegra Chainset Triple FC-6603 at a very good price, but wasn’t sure is it was a better buy than the FC-6604 (I still haven’t quite worked out what the difference is). So I asked advice (by e-mail) and went away for the weekend, thinking I would buy it on Monday. Sunday evening, having got home, I checked to see if it was still there, only to find that it had sold out and was discontinued, no longer available to purchase. Damn.

Looking back over the above, I realise there is something missing, the wheels. Having asked around a bit, it is generally considered the best way to get a pair of wheels is not to buy factory made ones, but to choose the components and have them hand built. Besides, finding ready made 700c disc wheels is not straightforward. I did try asking Hugh at the Tri Centre (he does a wee bit of cyclo-cross riding, so should know), but then I lost the bit of paper with his suggestion on it, when I went back and asked again, he had forgotten what he had suggested. I did consider trying to build the wheels myself, but I am on enough of a learning curve with this project as it is.

To spec up the wheel set, I decided to start with the hubs and work my way out. Probable the best disc hubs in my price range are Shimano XT Disc Hubs (six bolt), yep, back to the Japanese fishing reel maker again. OK, so Hope hubs are better, but the ones the guys in the bike shop recommended (Hope Disc Pro II) wouldn’t have left much in the pot for rims, let alone spokes and labour. Next up, spokes, well a spoke is a spoke, isn’t it? I thought I would just leave that to the wheel builder to decide. Rims, after much searching for information, I came to the conclusion that the Alex TD17 (Disc) is possibly the best rim for my purpose. It is light (for a disc rim) at only 505g, with a 17mm internal width, which allows for 25mm to 37mm tyres. But there is one small problem, I can’t find anywhere that sells just the rims. The next best disc rim option is the Mavic A317, which is heavier at 538g and, according to Mavic, take tyres between 28mm – 47mm (but I don’t think that can be right a 47mm tyre is very wide for a 17mm rim). The other option is to use Mavic Open Pro rims, technically this is wrong as theoretically disc brakes put greater torque on the rims. However, Open Pros has a reputation for being bomb proof and are widely used with disc brakes on the road. They also have the advantage of being lighter at 435g, but they are narrow at 15mm, which only allows for 23mm to 35mm tyres.

While there are still other details to sort out and I have still got a lot of stuff to buy, I feel that I am making progress…

Next: Bike build project (part 3): A new set of wheels.

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