My Rides

Thursday, April 14, 2011

S.U.B. (Sport Utility Bike) - Build, Part 1

Finally getting around to building up the bike mentioned last month.  I ended up changing direction on the frame.  After I bought the Dolan frame I came across an aluminum touring frame at Nashbar that sounded more ideal for my utility goals.
  •  It has longer chain stays so your heals don't hit rear pannier bags (which I use when commuting).  
  • There's room for larger tires.
  • This frame also let me use cheaper threadless headset.  The Dolan frame requires a more expensive integrated headset.
  • There are lots of integrated mounts for fenders, racks, water bottles, etc.
  • Since I was ordering new, I had more choices for the size.  The Dolan frame is 63cm on the seat tube - making the stand-over really "tight" - fine for a serious riding bike, but less utilitarian.
  • The above amount to good excuses to make the Dolan frame into a dedicated road/cross/training bike.  
  • It's so cheap!  ($99, free shipping)
I started assembly today by installing the headset and mocking up the frame & fork.  My criteria for choosing a headset were:
  1. Not black (chrome, aluminum, etc.)
  2. Cheap ($21)
I ended up with FSA's "The Pig" from Universal Cycles.

For the fork, I wanted a simple, cheap disc fork with clearance for 29er tires (so I could ride a big front tire for some cushion).  I love my 203mm Avid BB7 mechanical disk brake on my Cannondale, so my plan for this bike to run one of those on the front (no rear brake).

I want this bike to be comfortable.  My Cannondale (with more upright stem installed) puts the handlebars at 28" above the axle with no sag (shock) - this height felt perfect in my 2 hour training rides (where I'd pump the shock up for about 1/2" of sag).  I did my fork shopping with the Dolan frame, which has a huge 9" head-tube, and chose a Dimension fork from Universal cycles that meets my criteria (simple, cheap $65, and short 410mm axle-to-crown).  The smaller Nashbar frame has a much shorter head tube (5.7") so I'll need some headset spacers to reach my "comfort" height.  I feel reaching the needed height with a taller steerer is better than longer fork legs - less twist & flex (I may be wrong).  The pic below shows the front end mocked up with the stem at the top of the steerer, putting the handlebars at just under 28".

I rested the fork on a 2x4 on end, and hammered on the crown race (the lower bearing race which is press-fit onto the fork crown) with a rubber mallet.  The lower cup went in easily - I hammered it in with a short piece of 2x4.  The upper cup was more difficult.  Either the frame or the headset was a little rough on the I.D. or O.D., so I lightly filed each, until installation with my redneck tool went smoothly.

Rounding out build day 1, were another beautiful Brooks B17 (got this one 17% off on Nashbar's St. Patrick's day sale for $75) on a Nashbar seat post (<$21, same sale).  The handle-bars are simple bullhorn bars from Universal Cycles ($23), and the stem is a beautiful polished aluminum piece (26mm clamp, 70mm length, 6 deg. rise) from Velo-Orange (handle-bar and stem criteria were same as headset - not black, and cheap).

Here's the mock-up, so far: