Resolution: No More Endos

7 January 2010

Normally I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, but I’ll make an exception. Since I demonstrated how to not “do it” at the Sierra Point Super Prestige race (it was for the kids), I have been trying to find time to true the front wheel I mangled in the process. Yesterday I finally made my way over to the Bike Kitchen and rediscovered one inalienable truth: a bent rim is not meant to be straight. After more than an hour of pings, creaks, and other unspeakable noises at the truing stand, eventually one of the nipples got stripped due to insane spoke tension. Read the rest of this entry »

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Parts, parts, parts…

13 September 2009

As things start coming together, it’s about time for a components run-down for the cyclocross bike. A bunch of this came from a discount hook-up, which mean I bought several of the parts before there was a frame in sight. So, here’s what I have so far:

Frame/Fork: Gary Fisher Presidio/Bontrager Sattelite Carbon

This is the 2009 frame and fork from a Gary Fisher Presidio. It has definitely seen a few miles based on the wear on the paint, but the frame looks good (it’s steel, so why worry?) and the fork doesn’t have any obvious points of concern.

Stem: Bontranger

This came along with the frame. Not sure if I’ll keep it based on the reach and how things feel. It’ll be easier to tell once all the components are on the bike.

Headset: Aheadset

Another component that came along with the frame. Don’t see any reason to switch this out. I will replace the bearings before I reseat everything though.

Brake/shifter: Shimano Ultegra

This is acually the first component I got for this bike. Knowing that STI shifters can be pretty spendy, especially if you want ultegra or dura-ace quality stuff, I had my eye out on ebay early for these. They’re slightly beat up, but the shifting feels good so these should do the job.

Brakes: Crane Creek Canti’s

Nothing to fancy, but they’ll do the trick. It’s cross, so it’s got to be cantilevers. Mud, here I come.

Rear Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra

I already had the ultegra shifters, so I figured my best bet for compatibility would be an ultegra rear derailleur. Here it is.

A few components have been placed on order, but are not quite in my possession yet. They are:

Front Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra

This is a component that I really needed a frame to decide on. I figured it’d be Ultegra, but whether it was braze-on or clamp-on and all those sorts of details kept me from deciding on this until just recently.

Front/Rear Hub: Shimano Ultegra

I waffled back and forth on what to do here. I considered Phil Wood for a front hub, but defnitely can’t afford it for the rear: I may not have a mortgage, car payments or any kids (that I know of), I’m still a relatively poor postdoc. I should find cheaper hobbies. I considered using a Surly front hub I had, but I’d prefer quick-release hubs. So this combo seemed like the best option.

Rims: Mavic Open Pros

Didn’t put a ton of thought into this one. I’ve had one on the rear wheel of my single speed commuter and it has taken a beating without any problems. These are the rims on the G-star. Solid rims, well made, easy choice.

There are a few things that I’m assuming I’ll have, but still need to actually get them in my possession.

Spokes: Double Butted 14g/15g

These should be some combination of Wheelsmith, DT Swiss and Phil Wood double-butted spokes, depending on what I manage to grab locally.

Crankset: White Industries 175 mm

A friend has a slightly older 175 White Industries crank off an Hunter cross bike that is simply too long for him. It should make sense for me, so I think we’re making a deal on this, it simply has yet to happen (if I weren’t sick this weekend, it would’ve happened today probably). Not sure what bottom bracket is going to make sense with this.

Still need to figure out what gearing makes the most sense for me on a cross bike. So cassette is yet to be determined.


Lacing Wheels, part II

6 September 2009

So it’s time to build up a bike, which means it’s time for some wheel design. For the rear, strength is still top priority, but I’ve heard some good things about a 3-cross drive side, 2-cross on the opposite. Supposedly it might minimize the tension difference between the two sides of the wheel. May as well give it a try…

Rear Wheel:

For the front wheel, I’m not as concerned with strength, so a 32 spoke wheel is in order. Unfortunately the symmetry options aren’t quite as nice (no 3 fold symmetries and so on), but if I’m going to build it, it better be something unique. So I did a variation of the front wheel from the Gstar. Giddy up.

Front Wheel:

Still haven’t quite figured out the rim-hub combinations yet, but I’m thinking the front hub might be a 32h Surly that I bought with the intention of build it up for another bike (more on my other bikes to follow soon).


Oh my God, we’re all going to die

29 August 2009

This morning’s ride was a bit interesting. It all starts with the fact I left the bar at last call yesterday and woke up with around 7 because I left the shades drawn. Sleep deprived and dehydrated always a good start to the day.

Originally I had planned doing paradise loop, but I did not realize my own strength and snapped the cable to the front derailleur when it wasn’t shifting and I tried to “help” it along. So I decide to divert to headlands. Everything is fine, i get to the top of the climb no issues… It’s beautiful (also crap phone camera):

I start down the descent and get outside my comfort zone very quickly. Basically I’m not a fast descender anyway and the majesty of whether the delta brakes will fully function is still in the back of my mind. So I turn back and notice that the front brake is rubbing against the tire. Apparently in the 20 seconds down the steep way the brake had shifted its way down (something I had noticed during last ride and adjusted for before this one). I guess the shear of braking just pulls on it enough to get it to shift down. So I’ve got a cable to replace and an urgent need to make that front delta brake stay put.

Then the last bit of fun is my attempt to go through Lands End past the Legion of Honor to the cliff house, but the small road shown on google maps is part a road and part a gravel/dirt path. Road bikes (and me riding one) aren’t too fond of such things. I ended up cutting up on a path that led to the VA hospital and just giving up and heading home. Still managed 20-ish miles. Alright.


The Maiden Voyage

23 August 2009

As per the standard, the blog is prepetually behind. The G-star has been complete and ridable since mid-July. And what a beauty:

A close up of the chromed out drive train.

The first outing was to the July 19th Sunday streets in the mission, which was basically a cluster of people and riding a bike was almost impossible (although the caravan of Xtracycles transporting the portable dance party was pretty phenomenal). The second outing was a short loop around town to work, to show off the bike, and across the bridge.

The first proper ride was yesterday. I had originally planned to do a ride of the headlands loop and paradise loop, but when I ran into Danno and all the Mission Cycling folks waiting to depart at the bridge, and I was convinced to do their ride: SF to the Cheese Factory. About 80 miles all told.

I definitely wasn’t the fastest rider, but there weren’t too many climbs where I was the last to make it to the top. With that, a picture courtesy of Danno at the Cheese Factory:

Some nice vintage steel — an Eddie Merckx, a Colnago, and a Guerciotti. Steel is real. Beautiful.

Also, spandex:

Here’s the line of mission cyclers on our way back. I’m the jerk in the back without the cycling jersey and the backpack full of random tools in case something on the G-star decides to explode.


Enter Phil Wood

15 July 2009
Installing a bottom bracket is an interesting process of trial and error. It all comes down to aligning the chainline. The basic idea being you want to center the freewheel in the back with the crank in the front. It’s easy to measure the alignment of the freewheel in the back, so it’s just a matter of getting the crank to line up.
The Procedure:
  1. Screw on the bottom bracket cups and roughly center the bottom bracket
  2. Put the crank on
  3. Measure the chainline, if it’s all lined up, go to step 7
  4. If it’s not where it’s supposed to be, take the crank off
  5. Adjust the bottom bracket cups to improve the alignment
  6. Go back to step 2 and repeat
  7. Things are properly aligned, so measure how far the threads are exposed on each side
  8. Take it all apart
  9. Generously apply Loctite to threads of the BB cups.
  10. Thread it back in using the measurement from step 7 to get the alignment right.
  11. Pray to God that the Phil Wood logo lines up in the star cut out of the frame because that would look awesome
  12. Jump up and down in victory
  13. Attach the cranks
Rejoice:
Didn’t get a good picture until a bit later and a few more components were installed. Oops.
The italian frame adds an extra kink – both sides of the bottom bracket are threaded right-handed. As a result, the left side has a tendency to unscrew itself. Less than ideal if you find yourself on a long ride. Best you can do is crank it down during the install and put Loctite on the threads.

Making it yours…

13 July 2009

Why build bicycle wheels… Mostly pride, some necessity, but really mostly pride. When it comes down to it, why pay a professional to do it properly when you could screw it up yourself? Basically the motto of my life.

With lots of experience fixing a pair of finicky wheels on a bike kitchen salvaged bike (The Green Monster), eventually I decided it was time to just start from scratch. Which resulted in the first pair of wheels I (re)built. The result wasn’t great, but here’s my analogy: if even the greatest carpenter (Jesus) builds a house out of balsa wood, it’s probably still going to be pretty flimsy.

Learning to build wheels is pretty fun, if not challenging and infuriating at times. Sheldon Brown describes it all, although I’ve recently gotten my hands on Jobst Brandt’s “The Bicycle Wheel”, which is also a great reference. Between the two, lacing and building a “3-cross” wheel is a piece of cake. By piece of cake, I mean you will probably insert and remove the first and/or second rounds of spokes about 5 times until you actually do it the way it’s properly described.

Rear Wheel
Since the rear wheel will take the brunt of my brunt-filled bike riding, 3-cross makes the most sense, so I won’t go into details, other than to say – pretty:

Front Wheel
And with that, onto the fun, where all the real action is – up front. Here’s what we want the final product to look like:

Standard protocol is to start with trailing spokes on the right side of the bike. The only thing you really care about at this point is getting the oil port on the hub (opposite the logo) on the side opposite the valve hole. From what I understand, traditionally this is for pro cyclists that lube their hubs with a lighter oil when they have an important race or are trying to set best times. This alignment helps keep oil from dripping all over the valve hole.

That means you want to align the first round of spokes like so:

Where the two dots correspond to the valve stem and oil port. Or in real life

Now onto the trailing spokes on the opposite side

It took a few attempts to figure out the which spokes should be crossed, but with moments later

And the finished front wheel

(apologies for the contrast difference, but the flash really brings out the lacing pattern)

Tensioning and Truing
One of the many following aspects I didn’t do a particularly good job documenting… mostly because nothing too interesting happens. I can only stress, nothing will teach you how to true wheels better than having a useless pair that continuously needs truing. Beyond the advice in Sheldon’s article, I can’t say I have too many secrets on this. Possibly more on this if the wheels are really good or bad at staying in true.