Just before lockdown Mrs RVL and I had our grubby noses against a local mamilemporium admiring a Moots
By no means verbatum, the conversation ran something like:
Mrs RVL: Could you be tempted....?
Moi: I wouldn't buy OTP for custom money.
Mrs RVL: Why don't you go custom, get a bike you really like and stop filling your life with ratty crap?
Moi: I'm not serious, old or confident enough for custom, I wouldn't know what to choose
Mrs RVL: you're a bike-obsessed engineering director in your mid-forties - what exactly are you waiting for...?
As a woman of wisdom and clarity Mrs RVL makes a good point and I mused on it over January....
For most of my life I've been doing 100+ utility miles a week , locking in the street etc so rat bikes meant liberty. Nowadays, my round commute is 30 miles with a secure lock-up.
Through lockdown my commuting milage dropped significantly and I've discovered the joy of early mornings in the Chilterns or Surrey hills...
This has changed what I look for in a bike - when you're grinding up staple lane, a shitty old tarck bike starts to feel more like the shackle than the liberation... as a result, I'm riding on my old race bike a lot more which is rather enjoyable too and got me back into the idea of gears...
Lockdown has also left me craving adventure so whereas a gravel bike might previously have elicited snort of derision, when I look at one now, I'm seeing it in the context of a bivvy night on the downs.....
Lastly, My current job does not include a workshop in which to squirrel/conceal projects so I'm limited to home workshop (space for 5 bikes + 2 for fam). Right now there are 10 full builds (+4 frames) in there so something's got to give...
I'm thinking that I might be able to combine my Winter/Roughstuff/Vintage MTB/Gravel Fixed bikes into one. This will get me down to the magic number 5+2, liberate some workshop space and conquer my fears of custom-build
To give a flavour of the sort of thing I'm thinking about:
Pure play adventure bike for the summer
Then an autumn pit-stop for tyre/chainring swap & mudguard fitting to give a boring winter bike with sensible enough tyres to save me from the twin horrors of A&E or Turbo
Although it'll be steel not titanium and a far less glamorous build than either of those, the photos are just there to show the same frame in both guises and the concept of road friendly geometry with clearance for 42mm tyres.
The reality will be significantly more dull, cheap and tough...
It's all about simplicity, reliability and versatility - steel frame - carbon fork - 1x10 - cable discs - tubeless compatible
In terms of timescales, I'm in no hurry, I've scant time for faffing these days so I'll be moving at glacial pace through design decisions/minutae & component selection/procurement so it'll be a slow mover.
This will also give me time to get a last few rides in on the 4 bikes to be culled as part of this development!
In terms of spec, as a fixed gear & vintage road bike enthusiast I'm concerned about the plethora of standards (wheel axle - BB - brake - chainring - gearing) in this space...
I'll be reliant on the sagely wisdom and bullshit-radars of LFGSS-fam to discern what's useful and necessary within the mists of shite that appear (to the casual onlooker) to be swirling around the gravelbiek world...
What bottle cages will you be using?
Chose one obscure component and build the bike around it.
I’d suggest one orange anodised bolt to begin with.
I'll base the build around a ringle h20
I like where this is going
On a serious note, spec-wise I'm almost starting from scratch.....
Last week I bought forks from @Chak
Quick release and postmount, is this going to be a retro build?
Yep I guess so, closer to an old-school winter bike than instagram 'groadie'
I had my sturdy built around a pair of those forks, love the bike. But...should have built it with thru axle, flat mount tapered forks with a bit more clearance
I have a work around in the pipeline but it’s a regret
That's really useful info thanks
I get that the clearance on this fork is not all that, but what are the benefits of flat mount and thru axle?
Flat mount are the new standard
You can easily find an adapter to put a post/IS mount caliper on a flat mount fork, but not the other way round.
So if you want a modern hydro disc groupset you need a flat mount fork.
Thru axle...no idea though, seems a little excessive for road/gravel but that’s what my replacement forks came with
Cool, thanks that seems to be the way of things.
same story re: tapered steerer
I weigh <70kg and ride slow so there's no way I'll need the boef of a 1.5" steerer tube.
Tapered steerer is essential not for performance but to avoid obsolescence.
re: Hydro disc - I ride single pivot calipers in the mountains so my standards/expectations are very low indeed and cable disc should be fine from a performance perspective.
My only reservation then is with disc-faff.
Are low-maintenance cable discs a thing?
Cable discs are ok, not the best but usually good enough. I have an arthritic thing in my fingers so hydro’s help because I’m not obliged to squeeze the hell out of the brakes if I really need to stop.
Totally agree about tapered fork
Brother do a straight steerer fork for reasonable money
I was just looking at that Sturdy of yours, a really great looking bike, love the colour too
Are you in Bath?
some anecdata for your research
i think with discs you accept some level of faff, be it a tweak or adjusting for rub, or simply resetting the alignment when that fails. i had this with both hydro discs and cable discs, except i felt confident in fixing the cable discs.
most faff came from the rotor/ brake alignment more so than the calliper itself. that said all my discs had quick release, big bike tells me thru axel solves this thinkingface
personally never had any issues that left me anywhere near high and dry, but placebo wise i always thought i there was rubbing and was listening out for the dreaded tshtshtsh after a bit of light gravel. some people get this about v brakes to be fair.
excited to see this build, love a good intersection between "mamil" and "functional"
confident in fixing the cable discs.
confident in fixing the cable discs.
My thoughts exactly.
Through axle - I've just done a 2min research project on this, stiffness in the whole fork-end/ hub axle interface is improved with thru axle cos all the bits have larger diameter.
Apparently the tolerance between the hole in the fork & axle is tighter than you'd get between a QR hub axle and the fork end so there's less play
In practical terms however, I remain a little bit sceptical... It's not that long ago that free-ride bikes were on 9mm QR and they were taking quite a kicking compared to what I've got in mind...
Yeah I’m in Bath
Not sure if Tom is doing steel bikes now..seems to be 3D printed titanium alchemy these days
Cable discs are a waste of time and money. Hydros are less maintenance, although if they do fail it's obviously more of a hassle than changing a cable.
Indeed, it's an interesting approach he's working there... and a pretty hefty price tag on it too.
I lived on and around the london road/walcot street from 1995-2006 so I have happy memories of riding in that area
Looking forward to seeing this one develop...
My take on reliability of disc brakes is anyone coming to disc braked drop bar brakes from mountain bikes is probably used to them and doesn't really think about some of the care needed such as not letting rotors get knocked when the wheel is out, not squeezing hydraulic levers when the wheel is out, making sure the wheel is seated when fitted, correct technique when aligning pads, how to bleed properly.
I would imagine someone coming to drop bar discs from rim braked road bikes would need to travel along that learning curve.
I mostly ride mountain bikes and have been using discs since 2002 so am used to them and dont have any issues. A lot of that is possibly because I am now unconsciously competent using them.
For me their performance far out weighs rim brakes. But I haven't had a rim braked bike for years and the thought of setting one up now would terrify me!
I use both cable (Spyres on 2 bikes) and hydro disc brakes (Hope on 3 bikes) and the hydro perform better but I have this irrational belief the cable brakes are more reliable. Odd really as one bike has 10 year old Hopes which have been faultless.
Is this single sided calipers (bb5/bb7 etc) that bend the rotor by hitting it with one pad?
Or are we including spyres where both pads move....?
On a mountainbike I run hydraulic for maintenance/safety but on a roadbike where the price hike is huge and they'll see significantly less extreme use I'm thinking the compromise might be more justifiable...
Thanks for the input
Can you comment on the level of maintenance on spyres vs. hydraulic?
Don't worry about formatting, just type in the text and we'll take care of making sense of it. We will auto-convert links, and if you put asterisks around words we will make them bold.
For a full reference visit the Markdown syntax.
© LFGSS, powered by microcosm.
Report a problem
London Fixed Gear and Single-Speed is a community of predominantly fixed gear and single-speed cyclists in and around London, UK.
This site is supported almost exclusively by donations. Please consider donating a small amount regularly.