Softride Qualifier 650

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  • I found this on Kijiji (Canada's Gumtree) last month for the equivalent of 110 pounds. The seller had it listed as being suitable for a 'small lady or youth' so when he saw my normal male name he warned me that it really is quite small. I went to take a look anyway - how could I turn down an entire weird bike for only $190? - and when I offered to buy it he seemed surprised. He was very friendly and he even gave me $20 off and sanitized all of the parts of the bike he touched. I count this as my best-ever piece of bicycle-related business.

    When I took it home I was pleasantly surprised to find that it has an almost complete 600 Ultegra/6400/Tricolor groupset, with the only missing part being the crankset, which was replaced at some point for a 105 5500 with mismatched chainrings. The paint is excellent and the overall condition of the parts indicates that it has never been crashed, which is nice. The wheels (Open 4 CD on 6400/6402 hubs) are true and in good condition other than some wear on the anodization.


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  • As an aside, I have several other projects going at the moment (two Look AL 264s, one of which is from the classifieds here, and one Look 496 Tri) and maybe this is not the best choice from among them for my first CP thread, but it will certainly move the quickest so this is what I'm going with.

    My initial plan for this was to complete the 6400 groupset, change the contact points with parts from inventory and replace all of the wear components. I found a (rare) 165 mm 6400 crankset without chainrings at a store in the US and was prepared to buy some attractive Blackspire chainrings for it along with a new Shimano 8-speed cassette (Claris/Alivio, which is what they make these days for 8-speed) and a KMC X8 EPT chain. Unfortunately, this plan was foiled when the store in the US emailed me to say that they couldn't find the cranks that I had purchased. This prompted a bit of a rethink which caused me to realize that spending $150 in addition to the cost of cranks on nice-looking but unramped chainrings and a sixth-tier cassette was maybe not the wisest allocation of funds.

    At this time I recalled that the 496 frameset that I purchased also last month had a Dura-Ace 7800 groupset attached to it that I did not want to buy at the time. My plan for that frame is to build it up as an aggressive road bike with drop bars because, despite it having 'Tri' in its name, it essentially has the track bike geometry that I/we favour - 74.5 degree head and seat tube angles, 50 mm bottom bracket drop and 380 mm chainstays. It also was lacking STIs because it was built up, as intended, as a TT bike. I kept it in the back of my mind as an option in the event that I was able to find some reasonably priced shifters, probably 5700 or 6700.

    Fast forward about a week and I was able to do one better when I scored from eBay a pair of ST-7800s for 190 CAD shipped, which I believe counts as a decent deal. Committed now to the 7800 plan, the next morning I managed to secure the rest of the groupset from the guy who sold me the 496.


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  • I also ordered an NOS Kinesis straight-legged carbon fork so I can not use the threadless adapter, as well as a 6400 crankset (in 170) from a user on Pinkbike because why not? The plan for the rest of the build at this point is a Bontrager Aeolus saddle (if I can find one for a decent price) or an SLR Superflow (if I can't), a black stem from my collection of black stems, a Cane Creek 40 to support the threadless fork, 36 cm Zipp Service Course CSL SSRs that I acquired at great expense many years ago, and either Time ATAC XC 6s or MKS Urban Step-In As so that I can occasionally ride it with normal shoes. I also intend to equip fresh cables and keep the funny Profile Airstrykes.

    One thing I'm not sure about yet is tires. As you may imagine, the selection for 650C tires is not very good. There is clearance for 25s (or maybe even narrow 28s) but it is hard to find anything decent wider than 23 mm. So far as I have been able to find, the only real options are Paselas from here or Terry Tellus PTs, both of which are laughably badly priced for wire-beaded tires. Any leads in this regard would be much appreciated.

  • Nice bike. I am doing a Softride build myself too (Power wing 650).

    I tried to keep is period correct, but I think the 7800 groupset wil look nice. Especially since you won't be needing the bulky STI shifters. Not sure if I would switch ou the fork though.

  • Nice Kijiji find. I can only assume you aren't based in Ontario as the Softrides I've seen advertised here have been listed for way more?! I've just been working on a 650c Tri bike too recently. Theres quite a few options for funny 650c wheels around if you're that way inclined. I found some Spinergy RevX wheels as did @SWijland

  • If you are going the 3/4 spoke route, than Spinergy is an easy and possibly also the cheapest pick. Other nice option are HED, Spengle and Nimble.

    Tires are becoming more and more difficult to find for the 650c wheel size though. The only high end option nowadays is the Schwalbe One tire.

  • Thanks! I just had a look at yours and it's wild. Those shifters are incredible.

    That's fair about the fork - the stock one is quite nice, and it balances well visually against the seat beam. I'm not especially keen to go back to quill though. When the threadless fork arrives, I'll test fit it and see how it is. It may be a while though because nothing has been coming quickly.

  • I'm in Alberta. I definitely think I lucked out with this one, although I imagine Softrides are a little hard to price because they're strange and that limits their market. I actually tried to get a friend who was in the market for a bike to buy this but he refused because it's too weird - but it's okay, his loss is my gain.

    These wheels (X-Treme Windcheater tubulars) have been up on my local Kijiji for 17 days and recently dropped in price from $300 to $250. It's tempting because they're cheap, but I would rather something with straight spokes.


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  • And something with clinchers.

  • Yeah I'd second getting clinchers. I found quite a few sets of wheels listed only to find out they were tubs when I investigated further. They weren't worth the hassle in my opinion.

  • These are in Toronto, if you're interested.

  • Thanks for the heads up. They are great but too much for me. My Aquila has been a budget build and just needs more use now than anything else.


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  • Wow, that is a great-looking bike. The green tires work extremely well with the Spinergys, I guess due to the blue/red/orange Rev X logos and overall 90s energy.

  • The shifters arrived today, and they are cosmetically pretty rough, but provided they work well I'm still basically satisfied given the price and scarcity. The hoods will certainly have to go, and I will continue to keep an eye out for silver 5700 levers.


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  • Groupset looked near perfect. Seams like a shame to combine it with these levers? Will you be using a drop bar? Otherwise you could fit aero shifters instead.

  • Yes, the groupset is extremely good - it's just too bad it didn't come with any shifters at all. The cosmetic condition of these STIs is not ideal, but they'll do in the meantime. I'll continue to keep an eye out for something nicer, of course.

  • Ultrasonic cleaning is a miracle.


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  • Nice, does the vibrations do all that without the water acting as an agent (considering that the ziplock is empty aside from shifters)?

  • The bag actually contains a solvent - one part Simple Green HD to three parts water (it's the purple liquid surrounding the shifter). I used water displacement in the sink to force the air out of the bag before sealing.

    Of course, after I did this, I learned that Simple Green makes a product that is designed for this application. Apparently that product presents a reduced risk of pitting aluminium, although I didn't notice any (further) damage to my shifters. I did three cycles of twelve minutes each, six minutes on one side before flipping the bag over and doing the remaining six minutes, changing the solvent between cycles. It's possible that doing more or longer cycles could cause damage to the part.

  • Also, just to be complete in case anybody searches for 'ultrasonic' and finds this thread, after I was satisfied with the level of cleanliness I did three rinses in denatured alcohol. I'm no scientist, but to my understanding, the alcohol is miscible in and evaporates much more readily than water, so when it flows into the crevices of the part, it picks up the trapped water, mixes with it, and then helps it evaporate. High-percentage isopropyl alcohol should also work for this (low-percentage contains more water, and the more water is in the alcohol solution the higher surface tension it will exhibit, which will inhibit its ability to get into all the tiny crevices in your part) but it's a lot more expensive than denatured alcohol.

    For each rinse, I put the shifter in a different bag, added denatured alcohol to cover, and shook it around for a few minutes. I then took the shifter out, tried to fling as much liquid out of it as possible, waited a further few minutes, and then blew it out with compressed air.

    After performing the rinses, I lubricated the innards of the shifter by flooding it with Tri-Flow from an aerosol can, shifting up and down the range, and then shooting more Tri-Flow into it to try to work it in everywhere. I picked Tri-Flow specifically because it's low-viscosity; I want the lube to reach everywhere, and for it to not gum up the mechanism.

    I roughly followed this resource as a guide.

  • Potential change of plans: this came up on Kijiji at a price that was too good for me to ignore. After doing a small amount of hurried research I drove out to a Home Depot parking lot and made the deal. It is a Deore XT Di2 M8050 partial groupset.

    Obviously, there are a few compatibility hurdles that I must figure out, namely Di2 wiring on an old, weird frame, and more seriously, getting the 11-speed cassette onto a hub that was originally designed for 8-speed. To my understanding so far, these are the parameters:

    1. For Shimano, 8-, 9-, and 10-speed all use the same freehub body.
    2. An 11-speed cassette will not fit on a 10-speed hub because it is 1.8 mm too long (36.75 vs 34.95 mm).
    3. An 11-tooth smallest cog only works on a freehub body with slightly shorter splines.

    With these parameters in mind, I believe these are my options:

    1. The easiest would be to leave off the 11-tooth cog and run it as a 10-speed with 11-speed spacing. As far as I can tell, you cannot have the Di2 firmware lock out a cog, so I'd have to set the limit screw to make what would be the smallest cog physically inaccessible and then try to remember to avoid shifting into it.
    2. Enlist a machine shop to modify the freehub body to add an extra 1.8 mm of length at the base and shorten the splines at the top. I do not actually know what the freehub body looks like since I currently only have a Campagnolo lock ring tool, but given that the cassette that is currently on there has 12 teeth on the smallest end, I am assuming it is not presently compatible with an 11-tooth cog.
    3. Enlist a machine shop to modify the freehub body to shorten the splines, and also modify the cassette to take 1.8 mm off of the back. The last three cogs are riveted to a spider that appears to be plastic. This is probably the best option.
    4. My initial thought was actually to model and 3D print a shorter spider out of carbon fibre nylon and then figure out how to attach it to the cogs. The integral role of rivets in the existing construction makes this not a very good option, but it's something to keep in mind.

    I think machining a little bit off the back of the cassette and a little bit off the freehub body is not an entirely unreasonable route, but I would be happy to hear any thoughts. I would like to make this work because it would be sick if it did.

    The rest of the build would obviously need to change to accommodate these mountain bike components, so if I can make this work, this bike is now a hybrid. My plan would be 1x with Omniums from my old track bike attached to a large narrow-wide chainring (I believe this is the only one in 144 BCD out there), risers with the aero bars still attached of course, and some Ciamillo Negative GSLs from my parts bin. I will also need to find some flat bar levers that work with road brakes (suggestions welcome).

    This project just became a lot more ridiculous, but then again Softrides are ridiculous begin with. I'm going into this never having done anything as strange as this before, so if you have any suggestions or if there's anything I've overlooked that will hamper the success of this plan, please let me know.


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  • I tried to fit an 11-speed cassette on several 10-speed bodies and it worked every time. Just make sure you have an older style lock ring that is slightly longer than the 11-speed one.

    In any case, you could always use an 11-speed MTB cassette. Those are already made to go onto a 10-speed body. You could also machine an 11-speed road cassette. A couple of websites also offered machined 11-speed cassettes to go on 10-speed bodies.

  • Many months have passed since my last update.

    I find it hard to build bikes piece by piece over time, so my projects tend to involve a lot of planning before a rapid succession of purchases. Part of the reason for this is that I like to establish a coherent vision for what the bike should become, and another part is that I like to not get destroyed on shipping from Europe so I min-max my carts to the nth degree with the aim of making fewer but larger orders. I map everything out in a spreadsheet so that I can get a clear picture of where the bottlenecks are.

    Some things are only available from one retailer, which makes those decisions easy. One such thing for this build was the tires. I found a listing for 28 mm Paselas with black sidewalls at Starbike, 'ready for sending in two to four business days', and seeing as there was nothing else wider than 23 mm for 650C available anywhere else, I basically immediately purchased three along with a riser bar for my new hybrid plans. Unfortunately the quoted business days were much longer than normal days, because the order didn't arrive for another three and a half months - apparently due to supply issues from Panaracer's end.

    Anyway, I have them mounted now, and as you can see, they're nowhere near 28 mm. A little disappointing, but I'll live - they're black, they're wider than 23 mm, and they're here. It may actually be for the best that they come up narrow because there's not a lot of extra clearance between the chain stays.


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  • 23 or 26 is a big difference no? Do they fit the frame? Clearance on my 650 frames is already tight with modern 23 tires.

  • The clearance at the chain stays with these on is safe but I think any wider might make me a little uncomfortable. A true 28 mm almost certainly would rub, so this is a blessing in disguise in a way. I was half expecting them to come up narrow because when I was searching for information on wider 650C tires, I remember reading on a recumbent forum that the 28 mm Terry Tellus (which is also made by Panaracer) is not actually 28 mm.

    Do you know if the folding Schwalbe One or Vittoria Rubino come out any wider than the listed 23 mm?

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Softride Qualifier 650

Posted by Avatar for Fibreglass @Fibreglass

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