A few weeks after receiving my frame back from Dave, and I’ve finally assembled the kit to build it. During the frame building process, all clearances were measured to fit in with 700×25 tyres, mudguards and Shimano Ultegra short reach brake calipers, and it is only now that I get to see if we got these measurements correct. Dave is a wealth of knowledge and nothing is drawn or mapped out on any CAD software; everything is a measurement that Dave just knows will work for the kit I wanted. First thing to do was add some frame protection to the inside of the tubes.
The kit I had selected was Shimano Ultegra 6800 11 speed with a compact chainset and 11-32 cassette, using the GS (Medium cage) rear mech. I shouldn’t have any problems getting up the hills with all those low gears!
Next to do was build the wheels. I’m vey much stuck in the 70s, 80s and 90s and find it very strange that groupsets don’t come with hubs now – you can buy hubs separately, but hubs just don’t come in the set. So 2 x 36 hole Ultegra hubs were ordered. I wanted to build these onto Mavic Open Pro rims. I like these rims, I like the section and width of them. I’ve used them lots in the past and they build into good strong wheels. There are better rims out there for the purpose but these were my choice.
I’ve always used DT Swiss Stainless Steel Double Butted Spokes (2.0/1.8/2.0) so a few quick measurements were taken and entered into spocalc and the spoke lengths were worked out for a 36H hub built 3x (3 cross means that each spoke leaves the hub and crosses 3 other spokes before reaching the rim). 3x is probably the most used spoke pattern.
I’m a bit of a tool geek and like to collect tools as well as bikes. I’ve built lots of wheels, and built them all using the ‘feel’ you get from experience. ‘Feeling’ the correct spoke tension is something that comes from experience, but you can also get spoke tension tools. So I’ve got one and this is the first time I’ve used it. Mavic give lots of useful info on rims including the recommended spoke tension.
So a spoke tension of between 70 & 90 Kg. I’m heavy and on the upper limit for the recommended weight of these rims so I’ll go for close to the 90Kg tension.
I think wheel building is a dying art as lots of companies now supply fully built wheels and that is probably the reason you no longer get hubs in some groupsets. Knowing that you’ve built the wheels is almost as good as knowing that you also built the frame. Some cloth rim tape finishes off the wheels.
I already had a brand new and unused Chris King 2nut headset for a 1″ threaded fork. It fitted perfectly. All I had to do was clean some paint off the head tube and fork crown face. Some grease to protect the metal and the headset was fitted.
Bottom brackets on modern bikes seem so easy to fit; a couple of cups screwed into the frame and that is it! No individual ball bearings, no fingers covered in grease, no selection of different tools, no fine tuning the adjustment… just wind in the cups and it’s done. Fasten everything up to the correct torque and it’s ready. Dave had already faced the shell but I ran a tap through the threads just to make sure they were clear and the cups didn’t snag.
It was getting close to the part of the build where I would start bolting on parts and finding out if I’d built it to the correct sizes and clearances. The wheels I built were already sitting in the frame and forks and sat nicely in the middle of the stays and blades exactly where they should be. Brake Calipers were next. These Shimano calipers are known to be tight with mudguards so I really hoped there wouldn’t be any problems.
Just small things like bolting on the front caliper made me smile because I created the recessed hole for the nut to sit in – the front caliper fitted perfectly and happily it also cleared the lower headset cup too. It looked like there was clearance for guards, not much, but definitely clearance.
With wheels in, BB in and headset in, it didn’t take long to fit everything else. Everything fitted perfectly. I went with some compact handlebars on Dave’s recommendation. When we did the bike fit, I explained I always felt like I was stretching too far to the lever hoods where I like to ride. We built the frame with a 23″ seat tube and 22″ horizontal top tube – any shorter would have brought problems with mudguards and toe overlap. The compact bars and an 8cm stem are perfect and the position is great. The flat top section of the bars is also very comfortable.
Fitting threaded bottle bosses to the brake bridge and fork crown meant that I didn’t need to use the clips that come with mudguards and all the fittings are hidden. There is just enough space to slide in and fasten the guards. I’ve fitted SKS Chromoplastic guards with stainless fittings.
Everything so far was fitting perfectly. The last thing I was worried about was the braze on front mech. I’d read lots and watched lots of videos before attending Dave’s course and most of what I had seen used some very fancy looking jigs to position various frame fittings at the right location. Dave just has measurements in his head; so when it came to positioning the braze on fitting for the front mech, I said what chainset I was using, Dave gave a measurement and we used it. And it has worked perfectly, the mech is bang in the centre of the fitting for the 50T compact chainset with enough adjustment if I ever fit a standard 52T ring.
I could stand and look at this frame for hours. One of the nicest parts in my opinion is the seat lug and seat stay cap area. So much work went into this area of the frame.
So the bike is now complete and stands on 700×25 Gatorskin tyres and I sit very comfortably on a classic Turbo saddle. Some Shimano SPD/Platform pedals and FSA seatpin, bars and stem complete it. I’ve also fitted a computer to tell me how slow I’m going and how slow I’m turning the pedals.
I took my bike on its first trip out today to give it a ‘shake down’ ride. Apart from the expected ‘pinging’ of the freshly built wheels, it was so quiet. Gears and brakes worked perfectly. The position was great; I felt on top of the pedals and rested comfortably on the lever hoods. The bike and frame were responsive, not sluggish at all. It felt lively and rode beautifully.
I just need to build up my fitness as the bike performed way better than me!
To finally complete the bike, I need to have a vinyl decal made to fit to the down tube between the lever bosses and bottle cage with a white back ground to complement the white head tube. Can’t wait to have my own name on my own frame.
I’ve just re-read my 5 posts on each day of Dave’s course and still wonder how on earth I’ve actually built my own bike.