By William Clarke
The build commences!
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
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!
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).
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.
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.