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A new set of wheels

A new set of wheels

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 by 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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On cycle commuting

On cycle commuting

I have been cycle commuting for 12 years now and as it is coming up to that time of year when people make resolutions to change their lives, I thought this is a good subject for a blog post. I have been cycling for more years than I care to remember, before going to Uni I had never really lived in a town and had only occasional used a bike to get to and from work. The big change for me came when I first when to Edinburgh University in 1994 as a mature student and I sold my car to free up some funds. In the first week I had a meeting with my director of studies, a great character called Charlie Hinks, and I was bemoaning the problem of getting to morning lectures in George Square (I was living in a student flat at KB). Charlie put down his pipe and said “you had better get yourself a bike then”.

This has proved to be very good advice.

So I took my self off Dave’s Bike Shop in Argyle Place (now a coffee shop) and bought a second hand Dawes Shadow. This was a great bike lasted me for years, it was fantastic to discover the freedom of the city, and just how I could get quickly and easily from place to place. It is important with a bike in daily use to keep it well maintained. Not being much of a cycle mechanic, I used to take it back to Dave’s Bike Shop for regular servicing, until I fell out with Dave and went up the road to the then newly opened Bicycle Works, an outfit which over ten years later I can still thoroughly recommend, these guys really know about bikes!

After graduation I still found a bike was a great way to get about town and that employers could be positive about cycle commuters. For instance at FC HQ had a large cycle cage at the back of the building, so there were no worries about cycle security. Also there is a very convenient cycle path passing behind the building, so no need to cycle down Corstorphine Road in the rush hour. When I started working out at the Bush Estate (just to the south of Edinburgh, home to a range of research institutes, high tech companies and formerly Dolly the sheep), the cycling did drop off. This was mainly due to the poor level of cycle provision by Mid Lothian Council (one of the most backward local authorities in Scotland). As soon as you cross the Edinburgh bypass going south, the road design becomes hostile to the cyclist.

Moving to Aberdeen for three years I found the traffic there was also difficult, as there was a serious lack of cycle lanes. By the time I left things were really beginning to improve. One the plus side, the traffic in Aberdeen is mostly gridlocked and cycling past stationary cars is relatively safe. While in Aberdeen, my old Dawes Shadow died (the head tube snapped), but on a lucky trip to Alpine Bikes I picked up a Norco Volante at a very good price. Sadly they no longer stock Norco bikes, as Norco do make some great bikes.

I was still glad to move back to Edinburgh where cycle commuting is great. I now dread the thought of having to get a car if I get a job in a place where I can’t cycle to. Cycle commuting provides a good daily workout, clears the mind and is so much more relaxing that sitting in a traffic jam. Well those are my reasons, to see some other people’s reasons see here [or rather don’t, dead link removed].

So if you are thinking of making a change of life style for the better, try cycling, you won’t regret it.

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