Thursday, 30 June 2011

The Finished Bike

Lots more pictures here

Tuesday, 28 June 2011


Really busy day today, not helped by having to dash off to Wimbledon for work, followed by a mad dash through a thunderstorm to make a doctor's appointment.

After some wheel building shenanigans the big news was that the
Crosscheck turns out to be set up for V brakes which is fine by me as they are more efficient than calipers. This meant that Nick's suggestion of flat bars now became more of a 'you will have flat bars!'.

Fitting spacers in order to get the Sturmey to fit. Something to do with O.L.D.s.

We're now just awaiting and some Brooks bar grips which will finish the bike off nicely.

The test ride home and back was
great. The Sturmey 3 speed gear ratios are perfect for the hills around Northcote Road. It was a joy to ride and the bike itself
ticks all the boxes. A commuter that'll cope with shopping and trips to the park with the kids.

Whether I'll ever lock it up anywhere is another matter!

More pix very soon.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Headset and Seatpost

This rather gorgeous Miche Supertype skeleton seatpost was suggested by LCW´s Simon England...

...and the Cane Creek headset by Nick Van Vader.
I never realised a headset could be so interesting!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Controversial Saddle Shock!

Obviously I know the new build should have a Brooks saddle, but in the interests of economy I´m tryingto keep an open mind about these things. I just want something comfortable that I can use with or without padded shorts. I read good things about the Charge Stool which is just £21.99. I´ve tried it on my Ribble and it´s dead comfortable. Unfortunately it´s designed for hybrid bikes so I´m getting a lot of stick!

But the Brooks saddles do look lovely. Forget the 500g weight!
And it's Father's Day soon!
[UPDATE: Went halves with Mrs El Presidente on Father´s Day. Result! It'll be the dark brown Professional then.]

Friday, 3 June 2011

Wheel Building for the Surly Custom Build

Big thanks to Simon and Nick for showing me
how to assemble my own wheels. All I did was the
lacing as I (sensibly) wasn´t trusted with the
strengthening bit, as it´s a bit of a dark art.

The hub is the Sturmey
Archer 3 speed, the rims
are Mavic Open Pro.
There are 36 spokes on
each wheel and lacing
them was very satisfying!

One rear wheel, before
thetricky bit, making
it rigid and true.

Thursday, 2 June 2011


It´s been decided that I have too many bikes. Crazy I know. However, I nobly ´agreed´ to sell my Charge Plug and the Trek and see if I could find (or build) a cross between the two of them. Not a simple matter as one has a triple chainset and the other is single geared. I needed a reliable all weather bike I could cycle to work on (with mudguards & rack mounts) that had some sort of hub gearing to cope with the small hills around my home. It would a bonus if it looked ace too.
I spent ages searching, with no luck. The closest I came to what I wanted was the On-One Pompetamine Versa [left] which was fine except it has disc brakes - which I´d been advised against on maintenance grounds.
So it seemed our only option was a custom build, meaning the search was on for a framewith horizontal dropouts (to accommodate the Sturmey Archer), and rack and mudguard mounts. And this proved tricky too.

I looked at the The Cotic Roadrat frame [left] looked great, but unfortunately it was designed for using disc brakes.

The Kinesis Decade Convert2 [left] was perfect - except it would only accept mudguards if using 23mm tyres.

The Van Nicholas Rohloff frame [right] was amazing and ticked all the boxes, but it was nearly £1200, way out of my league.

Then LCW´s mechanic Nick (aka El Hobbito) recommended the Surly Crosscheck. This fitted the bill perfectly, looks great too, and we sourced one from Brixton Cycles.[below].

Doesn´t every gram count?

Isn´t this bike going to weigh a ton?
Well as a versatile steel framed machine it was never going to be mega light, but from some of the posts I´ve read on various blogs you´d think that using a hub gear set up is like towing a bath behind the bike. But, the SRF 3 speed is relatively light at a kilo, but then as you´re not using derailleur gearing you can deduct the weight of those components that won´t now be cluttering up your bike; the front and rear mechs, the extra front chainring, the hub and cassette that would have been used on the rear wheel. And even the extra weight of the longer chain required for derailleurs.
A 10 speed cassette weighs around 250g, rear mech 260g [ left]. The front mech (60g), plus the extra chainring and the rear hub. I can´t imagine that the overall increase caused by ´going Sturmey´ can be much more than 200-300g? But what´s a few grams between friends anyway!

Deda 215 Shallow Bars [left]
We´re going to start with the
brown Charge Spoon Ti saddle
and matching bartape that I
had as spares.

I´m quite tempted bythis
Charge Stool saddle [right].
Or should it be a Brooks?

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

The Allure of Carbon Fibre


Or should I say, the allure of the Cycle2Work scheme?
I´d gone from having a dodgy old mountain bike to having a Trek for shopping/trips to the park with my kids, a single speed for commuting, and the road bike for weekend rides. By now I was reading the cycling mags, in particular the bike reviews, and when the Cycle2Work window opened at ITN I couldn´t reisist to allure of Ribble´s Sportive Bianco which had received a 10/10 review in Cycling Weekly. I changed the spec including the groupset on their online bike builder as I wanted to stick with Campagnolo, and filled in the Cycle Scheme forms and awaited
delivery. I´d decided that the Ribble would be my summer bike and that I´d equip the Acciaio with mudguards and use it as my winter trainer. Bit of a luxury I know, but it saves wear and tear, and I figured both bikes would last longer than either of them would if I thrashed it all year round (ok thrash might be too strong a word for the relatively gentle work out I´d be giving them!)
But by now I´d been to Brighton on the Acciaio (3hrs 54mins, not including cake and coffee in Ditchling, just before the Beacon climb), so I felt like I fully fledged roadie (hah!)

The Ribble arrived and was
assembled by LCW boss Simon England.

A check on the scales revealed a weight of 8.8Kgs, but after swapping the wheels from the Acciaio (Campagnolo Khamsin to Campagnolo Vento Reaction) the weight was reduced to 8.6Kgs - not bad.

TWO bottle cages at 48g each.

[Left] Just about to set off for our maiden voyage. I immediately noticed the smooth ride, the Ribble gliding over cobbles stones with none of the vibration I was used to.

Then Came the Hills


I took the Plug to Richmond Park a couple of times and found I couldn´t get up the hills without gears. You see, this is how the road bike fixation begins! So.....time for a trip to Condor Cycles, just 200 yards from my office. Being a couple of hundred yeards from the office I´d walked past Condor hundreds of times without much more than a glance.

But during 2010 I started to notice how the bikes were somehow other wordly with their carbon fibre and aero wheels, or hinting at an era of classic design and Italian styling.

28th Oct 2010: Eventually after several scouting trips I asked for a test ride on the Acciaio that they had in the sale. It had been on their stand at the Earls Court Bike Show and it was my size. It my first experience of a road bike and flying round the streets near Grays Inn Road was enough to make me part with my cash right away.

Acciaio is Italian for steel. It´s a steel bike. Neat huh?

Campagnolo Veloce groupset, Fizik Arione Kium saddle, Campagnolo Vento Reaction wheels. And nice badge.

9.44 Kgs (Seemed as light as a feather to me at the time)

This was my bike for long rides, but wasn´t a commuting bike. Much to good for that!

The top of Ditchling Beacon. Nice tights.

The Single Speed Commuter

After commuting to work a couple of times on my Trek I realised that one of the reasons every other cyclist was going faster than me wasn´t just fitness, or lack of it, but was in part related to my choice of bike. My daughter´s boyfriend Marcus came round on a Specialized Langster one day and I was amazed at how light it was compared to my hybrid. A quick spin round the block and I was sold on the single speed idea. Ideal for a London commute with no hills to speak of. A few days later I popped in to Evans in Clapham and had a look at their single speed line up. The Charge Plug caught my eye and I had a test ride. Maybe not a nifty as the Langster but not bad. A couple of days later I got talking to cyclist who had sped past me on his Plug and he told me, with a grimace, that the Wiggle had just knocked 40% off the price. I went home and ordered one that night for£299.99

[Above: Charge Plug, with mechanic Nick van Vader´s track bars.]
The cycle to work used to take me 45 mins on the Trek. This soon became 30 mins on the Plug.