Entries tagged with “bike build project”.


Following my wee altercation with a traffic hump, I found myself in need of a new wheel and saw an opportunity. My Norco Volante has disc brake mounts on the frame but came fitted with V-brakes and I have long wanted to change this. As I happened to have a set of MTB Avid BB 7 Mechanical sitting in a cupboard (which I bought by mistake for the Genesis Croix de Fer rebuild project), this seemed the ideal opportunity to use them.

Of course there was the small matter of the front forks which were not disc brake compatible. Cue a rather long search for a 700c fork with mounts for disc brakes. This turned out to be more difficult than I had expected it to be, every time I found a suitable alloy or steel fork, I also found that it had just been discontinued and was no longer available. So I started to look for a carbon fork at a reasonable price and was fortunate to find a Kinesis DC19. So next up were the wheels themselves, I started out by looking around for the best prices on the hubs and rims, with the aim for having them built locally the way I did last time, but then I was pointed towards the Laufrad Konfigurator on Poison Bikes.

This is a great site if you have a little German (or a native speaker to translate to hand). The Laufrad Konfigurator, or Wheel Configurator, gives you a really simple way to choose the component parts for your new wheel(s), they then do the building and send them to you, from order to delivery takes about 10 days. The initial price of the component parts doesn’t look a great deal, but there is no charge for the building. So even after the €10 charge for delivery to the UK, they still work out cheaper than if I were to buy the individual parts at the best prices I can find online and have the wheels built locally. If you are thinking of trying this for yourself, here are a few handy hints:

  • the wee green symbols to the left of the wheels are the types of brakes
  • Step 1: Choose the rim
  • Step 2: Select the hub (choose from a variety of hubs, hub gears and hub dynamos)
  • Step 3: Select the spokes
  • Step 4: Select the type of nipples you want (note aluminium or Prolock nipples will extended delivery time by about 2-3 days)

Also a few quick translations:

  • Cyclocrosser = x-bike
  • Rennräder = road bike
  • Felgenbremsen = rim brakes
  • Diskbremsen = disc brakes
  • Felgen = rim
  • NabeVR = front hub
  • NabeHR = rear hub
  • Speichen = spokes (Silber = silver, Schwarz = Black)
  • Nippel = nipples (Messing = brass)

OK, so now you are already to order. Actually I am a wee bit surprised that no one has thought to offer this service in English.

When it came to configuring the new wheel set, I decided that, instead of getting the new set for the Norco, I would swap the wheels off the CdF onto the Norco, then configure a wheel set with a slightly wider rim for the CdF. The thinking behind this is that as the CdF project is intended as a touring/general bike, having a wider tyre than the current 28c GatorSkins would give greater flexibility. The current Mavic Open Pro rim allows for tire widths between 23mm to 32mm, but I don’t need a tire narrower that 28mmm, so changing to a Mavic A 119, would give a width choice of 28mm to 47mm. Also, with both bikes now using the same braking system, I can swap the wheels between them (although this would mean swapping cassettes at the same time). The final spec of the wheels I had built is here

Rims: Mavic A 119 (black) 536g each (tbc)
Spokes: LRS DT Competition (Black) 192g 32 pcs. (tbc)
Spokes Nippels: LRS DT brass (Black) 32g 32 pcs. (tbc)
Front Hub: Sram X.9 Disc 184g (tbc)
Rear Hub: Sram X.9 Disc 396g (tbc)
Rim tapes: Velox Fond de Jante 16g each (tbc)

The wheels didn’t come with rim tape as I had missed the Zubehör für dieses Produkt (Accessories for this product) button below the main configuration, I hadn’t seen the option to add rim tape (or order tubes, tyres, cassette, etc.), so I just reused the rim tape of the wheel set I was decommissioning. I also recycled the Continental GatorSkin, but as these tyres have seen over 5,000 Km of hard use it is a shame I missed the opportunity of getting new tyres at a competitive price.

Note if you were to order an extras with the wheels there can be mounted for you, but only on request, that is what the “Kassetten oder Bereifung wird auf Wunsch montiert muss aber im Textfeld „Weitere Hinweise für die Bestellannahme“ angeben werden” (Cassette or tyres will be mounted on request, if indicated in the text field “Additional Notes for the Order Entry”) bit at the bottom of the info is about.

All in all, I can recommend buying wheels by using the Poison Bikes Laufrad Konfigurator.

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So measurements have been taken, the wish list drawn up, then the bits bought, the wheels built, and now comes the part we have all been waiting for: putting it all together! Yes, my new mostly new (apart from the frame forks and bottom bracket) bike project has reached the build phase. Now if, like me, you have never actually built a bike from scratch before, there are three ways in which to approach this phase:

a) get a bicycle shop to build it for you. What! I have already spent enough on this bike to buy a new one outright (OK, but not one with these components).

b) watch videos on-line and surf a few cycling forums to get advice on how to do it. Yes, this is a steep learning curve but it should be do-able, although it may take a little longer and you may have to sort through contradictory advice on what to do when things go wrong.

c) marry a spouse who has a relative who is an experienced bike builder, then invite him over on holiday to help you with the build, should someone give you a redundant Genesis Croix de Fer 09 frame-set. This solution either requires extreme forethought and devious planning, or a great deal of luck, the latter in my case.

As I say above, building a bike from scratch involves, if you have never done it before, a steep learning curve. First up, how to fit a headset? There are two techniques for doing this, either use a collection of expensive headset fitting tools or, if you don’t have one to hand, gently tap the headset into the frame with a hammer. Well, we didn’t have a headset press or crown race setting tool, etc., to hand, so we started with the second technique and got the crown race onto the forks. However, the cups were a bit tight and we decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and took it to the bicycle repair man down the road and got him do it.

Another of the early lessons for me was that parts which have been discounted heavily might not have sold well for a reason. For instance, the 3T Bio Morphe Handlebars, could it be these were less than popular because it is an absolute sod to fit Shimano STi’s to them? The band on the STi’s doesn’t allow for a lot of adjustment, and so getting it past the Bio Morph bits is rather difficult. I suspect that 3T, being Italian, would respond to this by suggesting that I should have used Campagnolo, but I don’t know because I haven’t actually asked them.

Next step up the learning curve, do your homework carefully before buying the parts on-line. Knowing that Avid BB 7 are available for road bikes is not enough, as when you do a Google search, you might find yourself on a web page from an internet retailer offering “Avid Ball Bearing 7 Mechanical Disc Brakes” at a very good price, but not saying if they are road or mountain bike (Chain Reaction Cycles expect you to know what you are looking for). Knowing that there is a difference will save you from the embarrassing experience of bolting your shiny new disc brake calliper onto the frame, only to spot that it has “MTB” written on it. It also saves you the frustration of waiting several days for the new parts to arrive, but this does give you time to start writing a blog post.

Even if you don’t have the brakes, there are still other things to get on with, such as fitting the cranks and setting up the gears. I hadn’t bothered to replace the bottom bracket, as the one that was there was suitable for the crank-set I had in mind. However, as the pedals were turned over for the first time, the gentle grinding noise reminded me of the last thing Steven had said to me when he gave me the frame, “… the bottom bracket’s a wee bit worn and probably needs replacing.” Doh, why hadn’t I remembered that before now? Next came the dérailleurs. As I had decided to go for a triple chainset rather than the double which came with it, I had given the old dérailleurs to the Bike Station, without first removing the spacer inside the band on the front dérailleur. Cue a trip to the Bike Station to try and recover it, fortunately they hadn’t yet used the bits I had given them, and we were able to get it back. Phew.

Putting the wheels on prompted a discussion on tyres and tubes. My choice of Continental Ultra Gatorskin 700×28 was considered a reasonable one, but Continental GP 4 Season 700×28 would probably be better, as they would save around 70g per tyre. As for the inner tubes, well the cheapo Airwave ones are, by my own admission, a poor choice. They are really heavy and the one place where saving weight on a bike really makes a difference is the wheels, as the lower rotation mass makes it easier to do things like accelerate and steer. So something like Schwalbe SV20 extra light inner tubes would have been a better choice, as this would save another 100g per wheel. OK, they are intended for 18-25mm tyres, but they can be used with 28mm tyres, you just have to top them up a wee bit more often.

Addendum: after a four day wait, a package from Planet X Bikes (not the cheapest but they had the road disc brakes in stock) finally arrived, but my excitement was short lived when I found they had sent me only one. A quick check of the delivery note showed that I had indeed ordered two, and a phone call confirmed there had been a picking error. So at the time of writing I have yet to finish the build and take the bike out for a test ride.

The bike build project continues

Next: Bike build project (part 6): Finishing off and finally riding the thing!

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I have now reached the point in my bike build project where I have (almost) bought all the new parts I need. When I was first given the frameset of a 2009 Genesis Croix de Fer, there were a few other bits in the box. However, having been measured up (see Part 1), I found that some of these parts weren’t the right size for me, i.e., the stem and handlebars. So I knew I was going to have to buy a lot of things. I didn’t set myself a budget, as I didn’t have a sum of money set aside, I just bought the parts piecemeal when had some money. This is one of the reasons why this project has taken so long. As the actually build part of the project is due to start sometime in next couple of weeks, I thought it was time to have a quick review of the buying of the bits.

I wanted to get all the parts as cheaply as I could, having also decided that I wanted to use the highest spec components I could afford. My first thought was to try and wangle as many bits as I could at trade rates, using some contacts in the bike biz. This didn’t quite work out, although I was made a very generous offer of 20% off all components bought from a major distributor (Madison), thanks John. However, when I started searching around on-line, I found that I could get everything I wanted at more than 20% off the RRP, so I thought I would add a few tips here for others.

First off, Google is your friend, just ignore the ads and the “shopping results” and be prepared to go through several pages of results. You also learn to avoid the price aggregation sites, which are useless for the most part.

Another thing, Shimano parts (and possibly other parts) are often far cheaper on German web sites such as starbike.com and bike-components.de, even though you have to pay VAT at 19%. However, unless you are putting in a large order, the delivery charges of 10-15 € can be very off putting.

Closer to home, these were the web sites that I used the most:

  • Chain Reaction Cycles: often have some of the best prices, but don’t tell you when their stock levels are low. So if there is a good bargain, don’t wait until after the weekend. Delivery is free. You get your own account and can track orders. However, if you accidentally order an item that is out of stock, they don’t tell you when they will deliver. If you need to return an item, they give a refund straight away.
  • Parker International: do have some good prices, but don’t tell you when their stock levels are low. So if there is a good bargain, don’t wait until after the weekend. Delivery is free. You get your own account and can track orders. If you accidentally order an item that is out of stock, they will contact you to let you know and give you the option of cancelling the order. If you need to return an item, they may need prompting to give a refund, but they do so without quibbling.
  • Planet-X Bikes: their general prices are not the lowest, but some of their clearance bargains are spectacular, I have found parts reduced by over 70%. Delivery is free. You get your own account and can track orders. I have not accidentally ordered an item that is out of stock or returned an item to them, so I can’t say what they are like in these situations.
  • Probikekit: they do have some good general prices and some of their clearance bargains are also spectacular, I have found parts reduced by over 80%. Delivery is free. You don’t get your own account and tracking orders can be more problematic. I have not accidentally ordered an item that is out of stock or returned an item to them, so I can’t say what they are like in these situations.

Then there is fleabay ebay, which can be a good source of parts, but it can be hit and miss. You may need to consider buying from overseas sellers, which can make for slow delivery. I bought a Shimano Ultegra crankset from an ebay seller in Austria in July which has yet to arrive, but then he is not charging for delivery and has offered to fit it ,when he arrives next week. ;-)

I do feel a wee bit guilty about not making more use of local bike shops, so far the things I have bought locally are the rims and spokes of the wheels I had built, but then I have just been around three of my local bike shops looking for tyres. Nothing special, just a pair of 28mm Conti Gatorskins, one of the most popular commuting tyres in the UK, but do any of my local shops stock them? No, so it is little wonder I shop on-line. However, shopping locally has started to become something of a sport, I have tried several times to buy a saddle from my nearest bike shop (the Tri Centre), but Hugh is always trying to convince me that I don’t really want to buy one, although his brother Stuart has lent me a couple of test saddles to try out.

Next: Bike build project (part 5): Putting it all together.

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