Gone Fishin'


I'm not actively blogging here anymore. But if you got here because you were searching for something about bikes, you might want to check out my latest project, Vermont Goldsprints. In summer of 2014, I bought a used goldsprints racing setup and have made it a mission to get more bikes in more people's faces by putting on fun races in unexpected places. Come join me!


The Bike Project: Completion!

With a couple of sale events at the super-secret online bike parts mass-retailer Nashbar, I have accumulated the final parts I need for my new commuter/back roads/dirt roads/everything I don't want to do on my good road bike that isn't an outright trail bike- bike. Exhale.  Here's a rundown of the whole build, including some comments from the first couple of rides:

Scattante aluminum. Style man would not approve, but he's gone anywayBike Snob runs a Scattante, though so they can't be all bad (his was free!)

Scattante is essentially Performance Cycle's house brand.  I would have preferred a frame from them that had the decals applied over the clearcoat so that I could remove them, but such is life.  I kept an eye on the Performance website, which listed this frame/fork/headest/seatpost collar as a "combo deal," and waited to order until there was a blanket 20% off discount on the site that included frames. It looks like that happens once or twice a year for about a day each time.  It really was a steal.
Scattante XRL Cross fork to match frame.  Carbon.  Cheap Carbon. Very pretty and clean design Cantilever bosses, no disc mounts.  I had to modify the fender mountsignificantly to get it in hiogh enough on this fork.   The fork flutters like crazy under hard braking and is actually pretty scary.  I'm thinking about switching it out at some point, maybe for a beefier carbon fork or maybe for a nice piece of steel.  For now, I'm just careful to watch my hard braking on the front brake.
No-name integrated, sealed bearing. The "crown race" was a pain in the butt to get seated, and the whole thing did not install very tightly, leaving bigger gaps between the fork crown and head tube and head tube and top of the headset than I would have liked. This is more the fault of the machining of the frame than the headset itself.   It wasn't long after I clicked the "submit order" button at Performance that I started to run across various screeds against integrated headsets on the Internet.  The thing has stayed nice and solid so far, though.
 Looking back now, I would like to have used a frame with a traditional pressed-in headset.  Among other things, it would have given me a chance to add a headset press to my tool arsenal.
Bottom Bracket/Crank/Pedals:
Nashbar stuff- all of these bits were originally on my Montgomery-Ward fixie (RIP).  The crank is a 53/39, 170mm.  Pretty heavy.  The pedals are really generic flat pedals.  I'm thinking of going to a set of flat pedals with SPD clips on one side when I get the money for those and a set of shoes.
I learned my lesson about BB installation on this project.  Park Tool says that you should install the BB drive-side first, applying 60lbs of pressure to the end of a six-inch wrench.  You should then install the non-drive side "cup," so that the pressure from tightening it squeezes the drive side threads a bit.   I didn't install the BB in that order or nearly as tightly, and it unscrewed itself about half a turn on one of my first rides to work.  Fearful that I would do further damage, I had to call Kate for a ride home that day. Luckily, I didn't strip the threads and will not need to use the threadless BB I ordered in a fit of "OMG I just wrecked a frame with fewer than 100 miles on it" panic.  I have since installed the conventional BB according to Park's instructions and things seem to be fine so far.
Chain and Cassette:
SRAM 9 speed. I went with a 12-34 cassette, which would be more typical on a mountain bike.  I figured I could use the extra range and low gearing.  So far I have been right about that.  In fact, I'd like to have a couple of even lower gears. I plan to achieve that by eventually buying a set of new rings for up front, probably a 50 and a 34.  I could go for a triple with a granny ring, but for my purposes if I could get a 1:1 easiest gear that would suffice.  It would also eliminate the stupidity of having to have a chain long enough to handle a 53/34 combo but not so long that it goes slack and falls off in the 39/12.  I have tested both of those cross-chain combinations, by the way, and the chain does make it (noisily) without falling off or ripping the derailer out of its mount.
Derailers and Brakes:
Shimano LX mountain bike derailers taken off of my 1998ish Trek 930 (now a single speed).  These have plenty of miles left on them, though I should probably put new pulleys on the rear.  My 9-speed chain has no problem with pulleys designed for a seven-speed chain, though.
Tektro CR 720 wide-profile cyclocross cantilevers.  I like their performance, and more importantly, I think they look cool.     I got all new Jagwire cables for the brakes and shifters.  The casings are Teflon lined, which is nice.
A note on shift cables: I did have to order a tandem cable for the rear derailer and nearly had to for the front. Bar-end shifters on drop bars with the cables completely under the tape eat up a lot of cable length.  Since bar-end shifters are getting less common on drop bars, cable manufacturers may not be including enough cable length to make it to the rear derailer (top tube routing of all cables didn't help this, either). 
EBay drop bars and stem. Nashbar aero brake levers.  Dura Ace 9 speed bar-end shifters, Nashbar cork tape. Nashbar saddle stolen from my fixie and seatpost from my Trek.  Lots of spacers, sourced from all over.    
The bargain-basement and basement parts bin parts are all perfectly functional.  I splurged on the shifters, and I love them.  Regardless of Shimano's dire warnings about group compatibility, they have no problem driving my old LX derailers.  Even the nine-speed indexing on the rear works impeccably.  (Remember folks, a derailer is a "dumb" component and only does what it is told by the shifter. As long as the cable pull ratios line up, it couldn't care less about how many notches the shifter has.)  
I used a whole lot of spacers to get the bars level with the saddle, and left about 40mm extra on the steer tube. Sometime this summer when I'm sure I'm satisfied with the saddle and bar height, I'll cut the fork to length, thus removing the sternum fracture hazard feature from this bike.
I just need to find a seatpost for the Trek now and pick a saddle out of the parts bin to make that bike whole again.
Sora Hubs, 36 Sapim spokes per wheel, laced three-leading-three trailing to Velocity Fusion rims.  Lance keeps the hubs clean. I wrote about these before.  So far, they have held up well- no pinging and popping when I first rode them and no need so far to even touch the truing.  The only thing I notice is that 36 spokes is a whole lot of spokes in a crosswind.   I shod these in fat 35mm tires, which barely fit the Freddy fender Hardcore fenders I installed.
I'm very happy with this bike.  It rides very smoothly, the full-coverage fenders are really convenient, and the shifting is smooth.  I'll probably swap out the fork at some point and go for a 34 ring as my small ring to get some lower gears for big hills.  It's nice to have a light, fast commuter that is at home on dirt roads.   I feel better taking this bike on car trips than my nice roadie, and it's more versatile when I get to where I'm going.  I may grudgingly install a rack at some point (the extra mounting points are there, even with fenders mounted already) to get my messenger bag off of my back.   If anybody is thinking about doing a build like this, my advice would be to watch for sales, take your time with parts selection, and learn to build wheels.   If you are looking for a faster path and have the mechanical knowledge, I'd still suggest a Fantom Cross from BikesDirect, an afternoon with a truing stand, and a tube of Phil Wood green grease.  (More on BikesDirect later, my Brother in Law just got a bike from them and I think I can offer some constructive comments now)