SF Cyclotouring

Ride reports and other ramblings from a San Francisco cyclist.


Crossbike Build and Wheel Thoughts...

A while ago I posted about a Fuji Cross frame that I'd picked up. I recently began building it up, with some successes and some setbacks. Originally I was going to strip all the parts from my Vent Noir to build up this frame, but several friends convinced me that was a bad idea since that bike is currently my main ride and I've got it dialed in quite well.

I did some thinking and realized that with some scrounging, I probably had nearly all the parts needed to build up the Fuji. Not that I need another bike (up to seven now, maybe eight), but I've definitely always wanted a robust 700C bike to put fat cyclocross tires on and ride everywhere. I've got a spare 7spd freewheel and wheelset in the basement; I can borrow the cranks from an unridden MTB commuter; I've got some 9spd barcons I can at least use in friction-mode; BB, saddle, and chain from my parts bin; borrowed handlebars and brakelevers from my housemate's parts box; and the frame came with a stem and headset. I picked up a cheap used seatpost from Trips for Kids, and bought some brake + der cables and bar-tape from a local bikeshop. A fellow iBOBer kindly sent me some Avid Shorty cantis to try out on this bike -- I've got to remember to send him some $$$!

That rear wheel had been re-dished for singlespeed use, so I had to spend some time to re-space and re-dish it for the 7spd freewheel. That was fun -- either the wheel was built using some sort of spoke prep/threadlocker, or the spokes had just corroded, but nearly half of the nipples wouldn't turn. I popped one spoke as a result, and ended up giving in and unscrewing all the nipples then reinstalling with some Phil's Tenacious Oil so I could tighten things up properly. That took a whole evening, working late into the night. I got the wheel spaced and dished pretty well, it's about 1mm off to one side but good enough for now. I also repacked the hub bearings, the old-style first-gen 105 hubs have these nice plastic pop-off dustcaps making that job easy. The front wheel's spokes are just as stuck but it's mostly true and the tension isn't horribly uneven so I'm going to leave it alone for now.
Oh, for the record, the rims on these wheels are some old, grey-anodized Wolbers. Seem like OK rims, with double eyelets, and about as wide as Open Pros...they're pretty shallow, though: the sidewall braking surface is 2/3, maybe even 1/2, as tall as an Open Pro. I'll have to be pretty careful when I set up the canti brakes.

After working on the wheels I framesaver'd the frame, leaving the first application to dry overnight and then spraying a second coat (did that last night). While the second coat was drying I mounted the 700x38 WTB All-Terrainosaurus tires (I picked those up cheap at the last SF Veloswap) onto the rims, and then stuck the wheels in the frame to see if those tires would fit. Happy to report that they do, although the rear clearance is a bit tight. I DO still have extra room for fenders if I decide to use them, which is great.

Unfortunately, I discovered that the front wheel is slightly off-center in the fork. It's not a huge deal, I could probably ride the bike as is and never feel it, but it's one of those things that will bug me. It's definitely NOT the dish of the wheel, I flipped it around and even tried a couple of other wheels. I just dug through the bikelist.org archives and found several posts about checking fork alignment (including one using some string and a pencil), so I'll try that out tonight and see what I can learn. Hopefully I can make some tweaks and correct this problem myself.

Tonight (or whenever I next have the time) I'll clean/degrease the frame (Framesaver leakage is pretty nasty stuff), finish touching up some nicks in the paint, spray wax the frame, and then I'm ready to assemble! My goal is to ride this thing to work on Friday; barring that, I definitely want to ride it on Saturday.

Oh, nearly forgot about the wheel thoughts I alluded to in this entry's title... I was originally not too excited about the "reintroduction" of the 650b wheel size. I think it's an excellent idea as a retrofit for a bike you already have that might not have the tire clearance you want, but I'm not sure about purpose-built bikes in that size. I briefly thought about retrofitting the Vent Noir with 650b wheels, but didn't want to bother with centerpull brakes (I'd need brakes with about 71mm of reach, I think). However, Tektro just introduced the R566 model: a new, super-long-reach dual-pivot sidepull brake specifically designed with a quick-release mechansim which opens wider than normal to clear fat tires. Rivendell is going to be selling a version these brakes under their "Silver" brand with a non-recessed/nutted version available -- just what I'd need for the Vent Noir! While it wouldn't be cheap -- the total conversion would probably cost ~$500 for wheels, brakes, and tires -- this might be the ideal setup to morph the Vent Noir into the bike I really want right now: a mixed-terrain-capable, all-rounder, all-day century cyclotouring bike. If the Fuji Cross bike doesn't work out for some reason (e.g., if I don't like the ride) I might explore this option.


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