Saturday, February 14, 2009

How Shall I Build Thee? Let Me Count The Parts

As an unabashed bike-parts-minutiae nerd, this is my absolute favorite part of a new bike, and one of many reasons I never buy a new bike box-stock off the floor. I love plotting a build. It's like when I was a kid and I popped the latches on the giant hard-side suitcase that held all my Legos (yes, I know, it's a brand and therefore an adjective not a noun, but I figure I'm among friends.)

The concept for the International build right now is a semi-modern take on the lightweight but versatile British "path racer" -- the closest current-production equivalent would probably be the Pashley Guv'nor. Basically it's a do-it-all singlespeed: puffy tires for all-surface rides, light "day-trip" luggage, simple fixed (or flip-flop) drivetrain, moderate all-day gearing, and a full complement of brakes. If I'm really thinking about doing more distance riding on a fixed gear (whaddya say, Fuller, still in for a fixie century?), my fun-but-a-jackhammer Redline is not going to cut it.

So, here's how I'm piecing it together in my head...

'71 Raleigh International frame/fork (duh) with original (I think -- Steve K?) Campy headset. Don't mess with perfection here.

The 36-spoke flip-flop wheelset from the Redline has proven to be smooth and tough, even through some pretty rugged winter riding. Plus, since it's all silver and easy on the logos, it looks classic enough to grace an older frame. 17t fixed cog (got it), 18t freewheel (need it), and the NOS 700x35 Michelin Hi-Lite Tour folding tires I've been hoarding for just this opportunity will finish off the rolling stock.

Waffling here. I certainly don't want to put the ugly-but-functional black crankset from the Redline on a classic. Maybe it wouldn't look so bad on the Bruce Gordon, which would free up the Gordon's silver Sugino for the Raleigh. Either way, I have a 42t ring that will yield 67" on the fixed side, 63" free. Pedals are a further waffle... I really like my BMX platforms, but they would look just too wrong, and probably get me laughed off the iBOB list. MKS Touring Pedals would look OK, but I don't like their lack of grip. I'm also intrigued by the Velo Orange touring pedal -- it looks like it might split the difference between a BMX pedal's grip and the classic look of the MKS. Or maybe a modern knock-off of Suntour beartraps would hit that balance between new and old. Or maybe I'll dust off the SPDs and revel in the anachronism.

And speaking of anachronism, I think the original non-aero brake levers will have to be relegated to the parts bin of history. My hands have never met a non-aero lever they liked, and -- call me a punk kid -- but big loops of brake cable flopping in the breeze bug me. Cane Creek does a gum hood for their Campy-shaped aero lever, which might provide a nice classic/modern blend. I'll either stick with the original Weinman centerpulls or dump the cable hanger excess and go with extra-long-reach Tektro dual pivots. Regardless of caliper choice, it will be the incomparable Kool Stop salmon pads providing the stopping oomph.

Bars will most likely be some flavor of drops (since I have them), although I'm also intrigued by the "scorcher" look that Todd over at The 6-Miler has created using Wald 8095 bars -- and regular readers already know about my Wald fetish. I still need a silver 27.2mm seatpost -- how is it possible that I don't have the most common seatpost size ever in my ridiculously overgrown parts stash? I feel like I'm stuck in a bike version of the Monty Python "Cheese Shop" sketch: "It's the SINGLE MOST POPULAR SEATPOST SIZE IN THE WORLD!" And finally, on top of that seatpost, I'll need a saddle. Could this be my excuse to experience the joy of a Brooks leather saddle? Devoted users seem to have a relationship with their Brookses that make me want to say, "Dude, do you and your saddle need some time alone?" Who wouldn't want to experience that kind of pleasure from a bike saddle?

The frame has no water bottle brazeons, although I have one bar-mounted cage. Throw a stainless steel bottle in there, and you're talking serious nuovo-retro style points. I'll need some kind of saddlebag (Carradice would be oh-so-nice, but I'll probably just make do with something I have), and (of course), I'll need another set of those fancy Wald fenders to bling it out.

Whew! I'm spent. Whaddya think?


Steve Fuller said...

I'd be in for a fixed century sometime this year. I've got a fairly flat route on gravel if you want something easy, or I can come up with something fairly evil on pavement or gravel as well.

Pete said...

Sounds a lot like my Trek fixie! Other than the fact that you have a cooler frame...

john said...

I do have a Ti Brooks saddle. It is quite nice.

Never been used.