Posted by: Bill | October 28, 2009

The No-Name Chinese Carbon Fiber Winter Build-up Blog Part 3

Part 3

By William Clarke

The build commences!

Drivetrain

Drivetrain

 

Many parts arrived last week from China, the UK and USA and if you jump back to Part 1, you’ll notice I plainly stated my goals with this project. I have no interest in owning another super racing bike when my requirements are for adequate performance as a sports cyclist – and most racing cyclists at the non-national level don’t need a lot of the components they want. It’s the levels above that where equipment really does begin to matter.
Keeping that in mind, what started this whole carbon thing for me was getting those ZIPP 440 wheels (They were sooo light!!) and finding 88bikefun on Ebay as a source for a carbon frame within my budget. As I said in Part 1, there are many different material combinations and quality levels for carbon fiber frames. This is not one of the “better” frames, but at roughly 10 percent of the price, you have lots of justification to load up on higher-priced components!! In my case (with about $20,000 in photo gear and five bikes this year) I opted for the relatively inexpensive path of used and salvaged parts for the initial build. Oh! Local mechanic Doug Brown dropped by to take a look and concluded the frame follows the Specialized frame design.
Bars and Stem

Bars and Stem

I have posted many more photos at http://mason5.pinkbike.com/album/The-no-name-carbon-build-up/ and have to say the most expensive purchases were the Brand X carbon-wrapped bars ($37 new) and Campagnolo Xenon brifters. I purchased both from Chain Reaction Cycles in the UK and must confess I was heartily dismayed upon opening the package. Although the 10 spd brifters were a mere CDN$67, nowhere did CRC state cables were not included – a translation from a French review indicated the package included cables – nevertheless, I noticed the same brifter is still posted on their site at twice the price – and I’d like to think that new price includes the Campy cables!

No problems installing the brifters. All I needed to do was tighten the band and peel up the hoods to route cables (which at this point I don’t yet have.). Yes, Xenon is the low-end Campy group to compete with Shimano on entry-level bikes. The levers and body are some type of composite and even without the cables you’re not going to find new brifters anywhere at the price I paid!
Rear hanger

Rear Hanger

The Shimano 105 rear derailleur ($30 used) threaded cleanly into the alloy hanger, and it was at that point I discovered the frame did not have a chain hanger. For those who don’t know, a chain hanger is a small post (normally brazed) on the right seat stay so your chain doesn’t slap when you remove the wheel. I’ve always found them nice to have!
I then installed the 175mm FSA Gossamer 53/39 crankset ($50 NEW) with the Mega-Exo bottom bracket (included).
Gossamer

Gossamer

The BB cups threaded like butter; smooth and without any hitches. I must say I was surprised not to find a solid axle! The hollow axle is integrated with the crank spider body. Once the right cup was installed, I pushed the axle through, placed the sleeve, then installed the left cup. The left crank arm dropped onto the splines and was locked in place with two, recessed, 5mm bolts and a threaded cap.

Next up was the scariest part – clamping on the Ultegra front derailleur ($37 used). Nobody wants to hear their carbon crunch and I would have been much, much happier if the frame had come with a mount. Although a torque wrench is the smart way to go, I opted for secure versus so-tight-you-can’t-turn-the-wrench. Basically, I positioned the fd knowing the carbon would “grab” quickly. I then tightened the bolt so it was snug and pushed the chain guide with one finger to be certain cable load won’t cause it to move.
Having said all of that about the drivetrain – you might have caught the whole “Shimpagnolo” thing. Yes, all of my wheels are Shimano and the only non-Shimano part of the drivetrain are the Campagnolo brifters – which might normally open up a minor can of worms. In this case, my research indicates Campy 10 spd brifters will work with Shimano 8 spd drivetrains with a minor jig cabling the rear derailleur. And if it doesn’t work, I’ll just get an SRAM rd.
Headset

Headset

The Chinese OEM carbon headset ($20 new) will have to wait until I decide which fork will be exclusive to this bike. I had decided to use my Kinesis carbon forks and swap as needed, but I may go ahead and order the companion forks from the same seller.
Over the next few days I’ll cable it up and with that fork swap, I’ll be able to test ride it by the weekend.
So excluding wheels and seatpost clamp, the entire carbon bike will have cost around $750 – and would have been a lot less had I just swapped over all of my GT parts. This way I’ll still have a winter / training / back up bike and with the build now projected to be completed before the first snowflake falls, my winter project will be finished just in time for me to put the carbon on a trainer for those stupid cold blustery winter days – and start thinking about converting to SRAM!!
Note; All photos are by me. If you need to use them, let me know.
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Responses

  1. Hello from Australia. I’m wondering how you have found the frame so far? I’m currently waiting for my frame to arrive via EMS. I’d really appreciate your opinion. Cheers. Scott.

    • Hi Scott! See you found the final report, but my opinion is it’s a wonderful bargain with nice geometry for a road bike. Depending on your height/frame size, it will impact how stiff/comfortable you find its ride. Also, I ride with a longer stem (100mm) so I can stretch out on the hoods.
      Future? Well, seen a lot of super high modulus 1K weaves on busted carbon, BUT I’d like to have that option from 88bikefun. maybe a 3K top weave? Hmmmmmm….

      • Going to give the bike build a try have the frame fork and seat tube and components, might add a little paint to spice it up, and decals, your write up gave some helpfull tips thanks. Busted carbon had a picture of this frame broken but it also was used to go down a mountain in Brazil All the pictures I saw of broken carbon looked like extreme use.

      • Yeah, just snapped off my left shift lever on Xenon brifters. Looking forward to a replacement’s arrival – but one second it was there and the next it was gone, leaving a big hole in my index finger! Oh well, it’s only a little blood ;-)

  2. I’m looking at building a carbon bike for my daughter. She’s a serious runner and wants to get into cycling as well (especially if it’s a dad-funded project). The 88bikefun frame is probably less than I would have spent for a locally sourced aluminum frame with carbon forks/chainstays. Good project? Bad idea?

    • She’s lucky to have you to enable the interest!
      It’s an excellent way to enter the world of carbon fiber and is a pretty simple build. I really like the geometry even though I chose a fork with a longer rake. Just be certain to order parts that will fit properly (31.6mm seat post and 34.9mm front derailleur clamp and seat tube binder). You will need a longer seat post, due to to the top tube slope, to allow for proper leg extension. Seriously, I’ll edit this reply later with a link to a site where you can properly size your daughter to order the proper frame size – smaller is better because the frame will be lighter and stiffer. Having said all of that, be careful about buying “the best” for components and stick with brands where you can find local support/replacements. Spend that money on wheels – that’s where you notice the performance benefits of lighter weights.
      Here’s the link; The Canyon Perfect Position System takes height(cm), inseam length(cm), torso length(cm), arm length(cm) and weight(kg) to provide a decent approximation of frame size. Don’t forget stem length – longer seems to be nicer for climbing.

  3. Hi Clinton. Excellent work!
    Just a small thing, but it was a mechanic who said it was a Specialized. I had no idea, finding some similarities to Pinarello early on – but you have nailed it bang on! Thank you so much for this – and for sharing.


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