Sunday, February 8, 2015

More wheels built and a look at my 'snatch

I've been working on a couple more wheelsets. One is a set of Shimano M629 hubs with Pacenti DL31 rims and the other is Shimano M675 hubs on WTB Frequency i23 rims. Both use Sapim Race spokes and brass nipples. They were built up with tension being checked and rechecked along the way to get all spokes per side within 5% of each other.

I also sold my Origin 8 frame and replaced it with a Vassago Bandersnatch. I've admired the Vassago bikes for quite some time. They are well built and have a long stable geometry that I enjoy for stability. Built up with the parts off the Origin 8, it loses almost a pound in the frame.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Wheelset #1

OK, so it's been about a year since my last build so I wanted to start with some rims that might have a large margin of error in my build. The SunRingle MTX33 rims are just that, they are super bomber at 760 grams per hoop for the 29er version. Not svelte by any stretch of the imagination. I started with the front, laced them up, and started to tension them. I had one little lacing error that took me about 15 minutes and a bit of swearing to figure out. Once figured out though it turned out to be a simple fix and I continued. Interestingly enough, I made the same mistake on the rear wheel but it only took about 15 seconds to figure out. In the end both came out very good with nice even tension on each side and true withing ~0.5mm.

I priced this build out at Universal Cycles and it came in at $335 plus shipping. I am selling these for $250 shipped so this is a great bargain. The weight is 2780 grams, yea they are some fucking tanks but they'll probably last forever.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Building Wheels as a hobby

I've decided to start building wheels to sell as a small side business. Initially I will be focusing on budget conscientious builds that are durable more than bling.

I got parts for three sets ordered and ready to build. All are using Shimano hubs with the "29er" high torque 32 poe freehub body. All will use Sapim Race spokes and brass nipples.

Set #1
Shimano M529 hubs with Sun Ringle MTX33 29" rims

Set #2
Shimano M675 hubs with WTB Frequency i23 TCS 29" rims

Set #3
Shimano M629 hubs with Pacenti DL31 29" rims

These are ideal for "Clydesdale" riders (the MTX33 wheelset for BIG boys) and seem made for Surly Karate Monkey builds (continuing the strong and durable theme). Prices will be under $300 a set, a bargain for hand built.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


If you still use skewers (vs the more and more common Thru Axle) then a large portion of stiffness can be gained or lost by using the right type.

I've used several different types over the years and have even tested multiple types and brands on the exact same bike to see which are the stiffest (in feel and brake rotor rub). These are for steel rods only, no titanium skewers for me.

Least stiff- Bolt on style skewers, by far. You simply cannot tighten these enough. I got the most brake rotor rub running these by a long shot.
More stiff- External cam models that are the most common aftermarket design. I've used many brands including Salsa, SRAM, Novatec, and Mavic. They all use a nylon bushing that compresses ever so slightly and you really have to make them tight to reduce flex. Getting them undone is a serious PITA when they are that tight! Now I have not tried the Hope ones with a brass bushing instead of nylon. I assume they would work better but that is just a guess.
Most Stiff- Without even comparison, Shimano internal cam skewers are the best made. They aren't fancy and don't come in lots of anodized colors. But they are easy to clamp down tight, don't come loose, are easy to open, and have virtually no rotor rub detected from flex. In my opinion, buying fancy skewers is a complete waste of money.
I use the plain Jane black Deore models. 

Post Edit...I picked up a set of the now discontinued FSA Scatto skewers for $10 shipped. They use a nice internal cam and they look pretty sweet. Based on reviews they should be right up there with the Shimano skewers. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Dutch cycling terms

My mother in law (mijn schoonmoeder) is Dutch and was born in The Netherlands. So my wife is 50% and has sever 1st cousins (once removed) and 2nd cousins that live in The Netherlands. We had the pleasure of visiting many of them in the summer of 2013. We rode bikes in several towns and really enjoyed the cycling culture there. In anticipation of visiting there again in a few years I have been learning the Dutch language, including cycling terms. Here are a few to know from this cycling mad country.
Fiets (Omafiets)
Fiets (Opafiets)

In addition if you are riding a bike, you are Fietsen and you are referred to as a Fietser. If you are all dressed up in Lycra and riding a Wielrenfiets then you are a Wielrenner. Notice the lack of mountain bike terms, we simply there aren't really any mountains in The Netherlands unless you include the Dikes and Sand Dunes. Mountain is Berg but the Dutch simply use the English term of Mountain Bike.

One thing you will notice about bikes in The Netherlands is that they are not into flashy bikes. Simple bikes, the rustier the better, were the ones seen the most. There were also a lot of electric assist bikes as for many this is their primary mode of travel.

Here are the main Dutch brands I saw there

Monday, November 24, 2014

Adding "Suspension" to my bike

OK, not really suspension but rather larger volume tires. I've got a 2.4" big volume Specialized Purgatory Control in back with a few mm's to spare on the chainstays. Up front I've installed a Vee Rubber Trax 3.0" tire. Actual width is closer to 2.8" but it is BIG! The Karate Monkey fork has plenty of clearance for this tire. Both are set up tubeless on Velocity Blunt 35 rims.

I have also replaced the SLX rear derailleur and shifter with a SRAM X7 combo. The SLX rear derailleur actually made contact with my chain on the arm extension that is part of the "shadow" design. It also made removing the rear wheel impossible without removing the chain. The X7 doesn't share this issue so I gave Shimano a valid try (and other than the issues mentioned, liked it) but I am back to SRAM.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A complete domestic bike

I decided I would put together the closest thing to a fully US made bicycle. Price is not a concern, just as close as possible. It is not completely possible but one can get very close, especially with a single speed. 
Single Speed...I'm going to keep this as local as possible
Frame...Cielo Mountain 29 Frame using US made True Temper tubing. $1695
Fork...White Brothers Loop 29 tapered steerer and 15mm axle dropouts. $713
Headset...Chris King Inset 7. Included with frame $0
Wheels...Chris King ISO Singlespeed hubset 28h w/fun bolts rear, 15mm front, Wheelsmith DB14 Spokes, Wheelsmith Alloy Nipples, Enve AM 29 28h rims. $2595
Bargain Wheels...White Industries Eno rear hub, M16 front 15mm hub, Wheelsmith DB14, Wheelsmith Alloy nipples, Velocity Blunt 28 rims, White Industries Eno Freewheel. $652