Sunday, December 19, 2010

Campagnolo Components Part 2

Of all things I found the Cannondale specs (1987) on the parts I switched out from the Cannondale (SR900) to my Specialized Allez. When I really started to pay attention to the parts, I was under the impression that someone had spec’d the bike as some dream build; turns out it was true, but the someone was Cannondale. Here is what the spec sheet said on the parts I transferred that were the same;

Hubs......................Campagnolo Nuovo Record

Crankset...............Campagnolo Super Record, 42/52
Pedals...................Campagnolo SL, toe clips and straps
Brakes..................Campagnolo Nuovo Record, recessed allen bolt
Headset................Campagnolo Nuovo Record
Front Derailleur..Campagnolo Nuovo Record (Since the Allez did not have a braze-on front
derailleur mount, I replaced it with a Chorus clamp-on).
Parts that were different;

Freewheel............instead of a Suntour New Winner freewheel, there was a Regina Winner.
Handlebar............instead of a TTT Tour de France, there was a Cinelli Giro d’Italia
Stem.....................instead of a TTT, there was Cinelli 1A
Derailleurs...........instead of a rear Campagnolo Nuovo Record, there was an Athena that
replaced with a Chorus.
Shifters................instead of Campagnolo Nuovo Record, there were C-Record Syncro II

The inclusion of the C-Record Syncro II shifters and Syncro compatible Athena rear derailleur has me believe that the Cannondale swapped out the parts from was upgraded to Syncro after it was purchased. The bike and other components are 1987, but the Syncro II did not come out until 1989.

This may not seem interesting to many, but it is way cool to me.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Things That Go Bump and Ouch!

Well here I am, back from the dead. Well not really dead, just flat on my back and breathing slowly. It’s been 5 ½ weeks since the accident and I started riding at week three; all my rides so far have been to Sand Point at Nisene Marks). The first ride was okay going up and torture coming down. The second ride (week 4) was better, the third ride (week 4 ½ ) was way too cold; the temp was near 40 deg with a 15 mpg wind chill coming down. The next ride (5 weeks) was much better (I dressed better and it was a little warmer). Tomorrow will be 5 ½ weeks on Monday, with a planned 6 week ride on Wednesday; yes retirement is rough. But there will some added protection in the future.

This crash was a complete surprise to me. I was riding a trail I know very well and have done 20-30 times. This is however was my second helmet breaking crash in 3 months, which started around the time I switched handlebars, so I know part of the problem is I have not taken into account my new bars that do not have me naturally seated as far back as the old bars, leaving me weighting the front too much. But regardless, I have decided that broken ribs and hospital stays really suck ( even with health insurance is also too expensive), so at the risk of looking like some free rider, I’ve picked up some body armor.

This is the Troy Lee Design bp 5850-HW, protective shirt. As you can see, it has padding in all the right places. It is actually used as base protection as you can see, here . I also have to agree with the tester that “This shirt provides amazing coverage, breathes great, and is so comfortable, you totally forget you are wearing it.” I have also purchased some elbow/forearm protectors (different from those on the testers web site). Rather than padded they are more protective. While you can’t see my forearms in the photos, both have taken the brunt of my last couple of falls.

These are on back order so I'll have to wait until I tackle the Vienna Trail, but as soon as they come in its a must do and a confidence re-builder. I am thinking one of the reasons I was injured so badly was rather than bail early, I stayed on the bike too long. Hopefully with this padding I will not be so reluctant to ditch the bike and hit the dirt.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

For Every Season There is a Time

I crashed my bike. These are the times that are best described as the quick or the dead; or better still the good or the dead. As the trails in and around Santa Cruz get ground down and washed out, what were once vices are now habits, or at least what were once non-threatening have become technical. Do I sound stoned? It must be the Percocet. There are several short, fun technical trails in Santa Cruz that can lead to your demise; the Delaveaga Top of the World Trail; the Vienna Woods Trail at Nisene Marks; and The Enchanted Loop at Wilder to name a few. Ride these trails in the fall at your own risk, as little trail maintenance has been done since the rains ended and you might need a rubber head and a spring like tail.

The fall was spectacular. I was riding down the Vienna Woods Trail, which is your standard Santa Cruz singletrack, transversing the side of gorge with two friends from my church. In one spot there is a tree growing on the cliff side of the trail that has 12" of root across the trail and the back side drops off about 2 feet. As I rode over and down the root, I lost my balance and rode off the trail straight down into gorge. By the time I realized I needed to jump off the bike I had picked up way too much speed, so reached out with my left arm and grabbed a tree. I really don't completely remember what happened next, but I ended up with a circular mark on my chest, which obviously came from the end of my handlebar. I believe what happened was when I let go of my handlebar to grab the tree trunk, my front wheel turned sharply to the left, causing me to catapult over the handlebar, my chest catching the left handlebar end in the process. I flew through the air about 8-10 feet, and landed on the backside of my right shoulder and the right side of my head. The end result was 5 broken ribs and a punctured lung. I later examined my Giro Athlon helmet and found there are at least 4 major cracks; 3 on the right side just above where my ear would be and another in the front just above where my left eye would be. The helmet was 3 months old; damn!

Fortunately I was not riding alone and my geared friends helped me hike out, by pushing my bike; most embarrassing. I managed to drive to the ER, assuring my friends I was fine, thinking all I had was a few broken ribs, but an x-ray showed my right lung was partially collapsed, so they stuck a tube in my chest, which was almost as bad as the ribs. Fortunately it only took about 24 hours and most my lung had re-inflated and they took out the d@mn tube so I could go home. The final part of this indignity is the worse poison oak I have ever had, but this has also introduced me to Zanfel; it's expensive and you have to really rub it in, but the stuff really works at all stages of poison oak even after the blistering stage. Fortunately I also have the most understanding wife in the world who is nursing me back to health and only insists I let the ribs reattach themselves before I start riding again; three weeks.

After two nights in the hospital I am home dealing with pain management, so I am a bit looped. Still I seem to be doing much better at this stage then my last major, rib breaking crash of 2007. This was a road crash that were, as I eluded to earlier, I landed in a similar manner and broke five ribs on my right side; but I digress. I am a very lucky person, something I take advantage of it as much as possible, as it's what god wants us to do.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Whacky Hungarian ebay Descriptions

I recently bought a Campy Chorus derailleur on ebay. Apparently some guy, who refers to himself as norbike2009 has access to a butt load of Campy parts. What sets him apart is he operates out of Budapest. After purchasing the derailleur ebay showed me some of his other parts for sale and opened a treasure trove of English as a second language descriptors . In some cases I have no idea what he is trying to say.

Campagnolo Super Record cranksets (PART!!)


170 STRADA (7)
53 - 42
9/16" x 20

USED (State: was useful strongly, worn, scratched. The left side pedal crank taking the procession of a screw wrong)

Speciality from Campagnolo factory.

In original packaging 30 pieces of component not cultivated yet. (mat)


Campagnolo Titanium Record 8 Speed Rear Derailleur Part!!!!

USED (The ingot cracked, one of the cogwheels it is necessary to exchange a trundle for smaller one because the one with a suitable size is not in him.)

Misc Italian Frames
#1(On the frame on more place paint flaking, mainly on the lower pipe. Injury, dent, correction, I did not find it)

#2( On the frame on more place the paint is crackling.. There are not a correction, a dent, injury on him)

Campagnolo SYNCRO 2 NOS shifters, friction mode

NEW (The cogwheel, and the bowdenek they are missing. The box is visible on the pictures in a state)


Thursday, September 9, 2010

FixGear Silliness

I do miss Bike Snob NYC when he used to cruise FixGear Gallery or Craig’s list and find some of those bikes that don't just rise to the top of the milk. So occasionally I entertain myself by writing one. The bicycle of this post was on FixGear Gallery; Sampson and his unknown brand fixie.

“ unknown road frame: paint stripped, with a touch of surface rust and sealed with a 'look through' paint. other parts found cheap on taobao handlebars: c-unit plus cheap hacksaw Built by Karl Ke (housed by Austin)”

rides like a dream, thanks

It amazing how much nonsensical information can be put into such few words, but first lets look at the bike. It’s tig wielded steel frame that has been almost stripped to bare metal. I say Almost, because for some aesthetic reason, or maybe the lack of a wire brush, the person who stripped the frame decided to leave a good quantity of the old white paint on the fork crown, bottom bracket and fork dropouts. This might not have been a big deal, except the “builder” decided to clear coat the frame, or “look through paint.” I’m not sure if there is a difference between clear coating and “look through paint,” but apparently it has something to do with a “touch of surface rust”. The next thing you notice is the artistic use of contrast by mounting a white painted front wheel, on a frame with "look through paint". Very nice.

Next we have the handlebars described as: "c-unit plus cheap hacksaw." One is left with a conundrum here; was there some aesthetic purpose to using a cheap hacksaw, or his he trying to mitigate a poor hack job, aka flop and chop minus the flop. I mean looking at the handlebars, how much could he have chopped anyway? 2 inches? There is also the issue with the length of the crank arms being used with this build. Traditionally one uses short crank arms to stop one from striking the ground with your pedals, but not this builder. Not only would these cranks necessitate the riding in one direction at a time without ever turning, it also can be used as a kickstand when the need arises. The owner says the bike “rides like a dream”, but he really doesn’t say what kind of dream. I would guess he dreams of walking besides his fixie trying to stop the pedals from putting divots in the asphalt. Finally one has to wonder about all the people involved with this bike. This bike is owned by Sampson, built by Karl Ke and housed by Austin. Wow! It took all these people to make a bike that looks and works like this does. I does make one wonder.

Identifying My Campagnolo Components

As I explained in an earlier post 3Rensho Specialized Allez, about ten years ago I bought an older Cannondale bike on ebay for about $500. The bike was originally a gift for my brother, but the old style Campy components (why the bike got my attention) proved too much for him. The bike hung around in his garage for a number of years, until I came across the beautiful Specialized frame at my LBS. I didn't have any components for the frame, so I traded the Cannondale back for another bike and swapped the parts. The only parts I needed to buy was a front derailleur, seatpost and brake levers. I ride the bike around from time to time, but have never sat back and really identified what parts are on the bike. Vintage Campagnolo is renown for not labeling their components with identifying markings other than "Campagnolo." There is really no way to know what vintage parts you have without doing some detective work. Most of the info I got was from and What I discovered was the Cannondale was obviously someone's project bike and they just draped it with some of the best parts they could find.

The first photo is the Crankset which I have identified as Super Record. There is also an "11" on the crank arm which I have read means it was manufactured in 1985.

Next are the hubs, which are Nuovo Record

The brakes are Nuovo Record

I can't photograph the bottom bracket but I'm fairly sure it looks like this; Nuovo Record

The headset is also Nuovo Record

The shifters are C-Record Syncro II (7 speed)

The original rear derailleur I later identified as Athena. One person who saw the bike said they believed it didn't fit with the rest of the parts; further my mechanic told me the derailleur seemed a little tweaked and might have been in an accident, even though it seemed to shift fine to me (as well as Syncros shift). Based on all this I bought a Chorus of the same vintage to work with the Syncro II shifters. I later discovered the Athena derailleur was indeed the right period derailleur for the shifters.

Here is the upgraded Chorus derailleur

This is the original Athena derailleur

The pedals are Record Supperleggeri; I added the toe clips and straps.

As I mentioned before, I bought three components. The first was a Victory front derailleur, which is probably the lowest part of the Campy food chain on this bike. I upgraded that derailleur to the Chorus you see below.

Here is the original Victory front derailleur

The next was a budget buster but worth it; the seatpost is a NOS Nuovo Super Record

And finally the brake levers, which are famous Super Record made out of drillelium.
So there it is, a fun lesson in Campagnolo components. I may be wrong about a part or two but I doubt it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Rocklobster Custom Single Speed

At some point I came to the conclusion I wanted a custom made bike. Living in Santa Cruz I had several choices and decided on Paul Sadoff and Rocklobster. Paul has been wielding bikes for over 20 years and may have been the first to wield a singlespeed specific frame. The time was early 2002 and Eccentric Bottom Brackets (EBB) were the rave; it’s still probably the most elegant solution to tensioning the chain on a single speed. When Paul asked what I wanted, besides the EBB, I liken to my Bontrager. Interestingly enough when Bontrager closed up shop in Santa Cruz, Paul bought a good deal of Bontrager Cycles True Temper steel tubing and sub-assemblies, and used the tubing to build frames that were referred to as Nontragers. Well, Paul had long ago ran out of the old Bontrager tubing, but still had a quantity of Tange tubes that was certainly equal in quality. I explained to Paul that I had bought a Marzocchi Atom 100 for the bike, so I wanted something like a Bontrager, only a larger sized, designed for the 4 inch fork I bought, a more relaxed head tube, and disc tabs in the event I decided to use disc brakes. Paul also included Bontrager brake bosses, which use a bolt and bushing that screw in from the top all the way into the frame, rather than a standard boss stud and retaining screw. I was also a big fan of straight handlebars and bar ends at the time. For about $50 he also threw in a steel stem. The photo above is a comparison of my Rocklobster bike and a Bontrager Racelight; the seatposts angles and forks seem identical.

There is nothing more ridiculous than having a brand new bike. The paint is perfect, without a scratch, and you for some reason try and keep it that way. Finally you get a couple of scratches and finally being as imperfect as you, it becomes your friend. In my case I dug a pedal into the side of a hill and the crank arm dented the chain stay; damn. I have gone through so many wheelsets I had to look back at old pictures to remember the what came first. From what I can tell, the first wheelset I bought was a Surly/ Mavic; thinking I would never used disc brakes. I then bought a set of Deore hydraulic brakes and a $75 Shimano Deore/ Alex disc wheelset (the photo below is my first ride with the disc brakes) . Thinking I needed to upgrade to a singlespeed wheelset, I disassembled the front Surly and laced the rim to an Real disc hub and tried using a screw on disc adapter on the rear Surly hub. I suspect the adapter did not hold the disc perfectly straight, as it would squeal when it got hot. To solve this problem I disassembled the rear Surly wheel and laced the rim to a Novatec singlespeed hub. This worked very well about a year until the cartridge bearings (4 of them) wore out. I then weighed the Novatec rear wheel and found it was actually heavier than the Deore/Alex rear wheel and also came to the conclusion I would no longer deal with Singlespeed specific rear hubs anymore, unless I came up with a purpose for the Surly hub, which I did when I later built up my Bontrager reconstruction project 1993 Bontrager Single Speed. It just seemed that the singlespeed hubs where more trouble than they are worth and opened up the ability to buy a better wheelset, like I did with my SASS build, SASS Meets 650b . While technically a singlespeed wheel has less dish and is therefore laterally stronger, I don’t see wheels on geared biked failing, so in the real world it’s simply not an issue.

I have never second guessed my choice of the Marzocchi Atom 100 and still consider it to be one of the best riding shocks ever made, The Atom 100 is the last race shock Marzocchi made with dual steel springs; the newer forks have only one steel spring or no steel springs at all. For me there is simply no substitute for steel springs, and while the Atom 100 is certainly heavier than the single steel spring or air spring, it gives a ride that only a steel spring can give. Interestingly enough, much of the valving and R&D of todays forks is to simulate the feel of steel springs.

One thing I have not discussed is my use of suspension seatposts. This started with my privateer, and worked well taking the edge off the hardtails I was riding. The post I used was a USE, which is one of the lighter of the suspension posts. The USE posts use elastomers and a spring and have about 10 mm of suspension. When Bontrager stopped making their classic squared off seat, I switched to older style Selle Italia, which of course they have also stopped making also. Last year however, after using my suspension seatpost for the stoker seat on my tandem, I found a good deal on a Thompson seatpost and found I have not missed the suspension post in the least.

The last issue with my Rocklobster is the handlebar. The bar I originally spec’d on the bike was a Bontrager Racelite 680 straight bar with bar ends. There is still no better setup for climbing. But like everyone who rides long enough, I started experimenting with different bars. Originally I switched to a Misfit Psycles FuBar. The folks at Misfit Psycles read a posting I had on and offered a handlebar if I would use it and write an opinion on it. Misfit Psycles FuBar Well it turned out to be a pretty good bar, but I never did like the sweep of the bar, which necessitated a 150mm stem. The long stem made my hand position fairly comfortable, but it destabilized the front end and climbing was more difficult; still I rode with the bar for about a year. My current bar is the Titec H-Bar, which is a licensed copy of the Jones H-bar. This bar allowed me to return to my 120mm Rocklobster stem and brought my hand position farther forward, making climbing much easier. It’s no Bonty 680, but I like it much more than the FuBar. The next handlebar I may go with is the Groovy Luv Handles. They are similar to the Jones straight tube ti H-bar, but with less sweep. Apparently they only come in steel or ti; the steel bar has been desbribed as punishing and the ti is $250.

This bike has been my go to and comeback to bike for 8 years. It’s comfortable and of course made just for me. At some point after you have been riding you really should get a custom built bike. I highly recommend Paul and Rocklobster; he’s been making frames longer than most and has a reputation for making a very high quality product for very reasonable prices. Yes, he rocks! And so does my bike.

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Road to Singlespeed

My single speed craziness started with a Bontrager Privateer and a Jamis Dakar. I bought the Privateer in 1998 and was satisfied with the Trek version of Keith’s classic bicycle, which I still own today; see the photo on the left. If I had to do it again I would probably would have gone with a larger frame over the medium I bought, as Bontragers run small. Although I bought the “S” Sport level, I upgraded the hubs, shifters and cranks to XT, resulting in a XT gruppo with Avid brakes. The original shock was a Rock Shox T2; an elastomer version of a Judy XC, that is upgradeable with cartridge kit to the equivalent of the Judy. After attempting such an upgrade, I blew out the cartridges at a rate of 1 a month, so I replaced it with a Marzocchi Super Fly. The T2 shock also had a special Bontrager designed crown with steeper geometry. The Marzocchi upgrade stabilized the ride not only because it’s a stronger shock, the more relaxed geometry with a standard crown really calmed down the steering. This was made possible as the 1998 (and 1999) were the only Bontrager frames made with a 1 1/8” head tube. The picture here is the current condition of my Privateer. With the exception of the King headset, shorter stem (As I said before Bontrager’s run small, so with the smaller stem it can be setup closer to a small frame size; I did this for my wife), seatpost, pedals (I still have the originals) and front rim (I taco’ed the original), the bike is the same build I bought in 1998.

Well after happily riding my Privateer for 3 years, I decided to go with a dual suspension bike and bought a 1996 Jamis Dakar frame from (later bought by Performance) and built it up. The pictured bike has the same frame with a slightly different (but surprisingly similar) build; imagine this bike with a red Marzocchi Atom 80 fork. Well this left my Bontrager just hanging in the garage, so I figured I’d check out this single speed thing.

My first foray was to buy a Surly Singleater, TruVativ Stylo single speed crank and a spacer kit. I started with a 32:16 gear ratio with the Singleator in the push down mode. I then bought a Surly SS rear wheel from Sheldon Brown and ran it with a 16T and 18T freewheels. For some reason this caused the chain to skip at the rear (16T) freewheel. The reason is as follows,

The usual suspect of a skipping chain is a spring loaded tensioner. Most spring tensioners work by pushing the chain down and away from the rear cog. This results in very poor chain wrap. When peddling the majority of the torque from the chain is on the front chainring is on the teeth at 12:00 –0300 and on the rear cog it is the teeth from 6:00- 9:00. What this means is the very area of the rear cog where, chain wrap is necessary, a push down spring tensioner pulls the chain off the cog. This transfers the torque to the tensioner pulley wheel, which in turn pulls the tensioner arm upward. The chain then rides up in the cog teeth in the 9:00-12:00 position. Since it takes a great deal of torque to turn the rear wheel and there is practically no chain warp in the area, the tensioner will fail and the chain will jump over the teeth at the 9:00-12:00 position on the cog, causing it to “skip”. The answer is to first make sure your chain is as short as possible (a half link is a good idea but it will create a weaker link). Next use a spring tensioner with a push up mode or even better a tensioner without a spring so the arm can be locked up; this way tensioner cannot be defeated by overcoming the spring tension. A quick fix is to zip-tie the tensioner arm to the chain stay. This will create a tensioner in a push up mode that does not rely on spring tension. This is a photo I set up to show how such a setup would look.

When this first happened I was in the middle of a ride. I switched to the 18T freewheel (with a 32T chainring) which turned out to be the so-called “magic gear”, or a setup where the chain does not need a tensioner with vertical dropouts. I then figured out that with a half link, the same was true with a 16T freewheel. At some point later I sold the Surly wheel and bought a Spot wheelset that I really didn’t like and I ended up selling it, and returning to a spaced rear wheel. I have only one picture (of poor quality) of this Bontrager as a single speed I took on a Soquel Demonstration Forest ride. This is the bike I rode until I has custom bike made for me by Rocklobster in 2002.

Next: The Custom Bike

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Changes to the Burley Tandem

This is a follow-up to my blog on our Burley tandem that my bride and I ride Our Burley Tandem. I have made two changes for the better. First I switched from a Nitto mustache bar to a more conventional drop bar, the Nitto Noodle bar; called the Noodle bar because it has some extra small tweaks and bends to make it more user friendly. The switch went remarkably and has played out as a much more comfortable cockpit than before. This also resulted in an embarrassing but very positive discovery that I have had my Shimano 9 speed bar end shifters setup wrong for years. All this time I figured it was natural for the shifters to index the first 3 gears, then friction the next three and index the final 3. Well it turns out it only does this if you screw up when you install them. You can install the shifter levers in 4 possible configurations, but only one way is the right way. Once I read up on the right way to set them up, I actually had all 9 gears index! You have no idea what a difference this is. I usually have no problem with friction shifters, but trying shift smoothly when your not sure whether the next shift is friction or index is near impossible.

The next change was too replace the triple crankset with a compact double; the reason can be summed up in one word, "chainsuck" (I don't know is that two words?). The original "Cyclone" crankset (not Suntour), was a middle of the line crank, similar to a Shimano Tiagra or Sora, with a Shimano 105 derailleur. The problem seemed to be the middle chain ring. When we would get occasional chainsuck, it would sometimes deform the middle chainring, leading to more chainsuck. I would remove the middle chainring, pound it flat and re-install it; it would work for a while, but eventually chainsuck would rear it's ugly head, which has resulted in us falling over several times and sometimes having to limp through a ride with no workable middle chain ring. My bride made it clear, "This is your thing, I don't care what you have to do; fix it!"

I had two thoughts. The first was a better crankset would fix the problem, but there are limited choices. My thought was if I could find a highly quality square taper crankset, then I wouldn't need it to be tandem specific. My other thought was to go with a compact crank and eliminate chainsuck entirely. FSA is the main player with tandem cranksets with their Gossamer aluminum ($205) and SLK carbon ($305) including FSA exterior bottom brackets. I also had the plan of buying a DuraAce triple and converting a Ultegra arm by heli-coiling reverse pedal threads. The DuraAce crank was an ebay item, that while I paid for it with "Buy-it-now" they were never delivered. I finally spotted this Sugino Alpina2-800D, compact 48/34. It was one of the nicest square taper compact cranks I have seen (second only to Sugino Mighty Tour) and my choice was made. The primary issue with the compact crank was losing the low, 30:30 gear. My solution was upping the cassette to a from a 11-30 to a 11-32, leaving me with a 34:32; almost the same gear ratio. We went for our first ride and it was magic. Before, every time I down shifted the front derailleur from the middle to granny gear, I would wince, hoping it would not chainsuck. Now, no worries! The gearing was spot on and no chance of chainsuck ever. More important, my bride was very happy.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Araya Rims, Gold 16b to RC-540; No More Tubulars!


Well obviously it has been too long since I posted on this blog. I have been doing all my postings on my political blog OSB Politico and just riding. I also see I picked up a couple more followers; welcome and thank you. Anyway it was time to clean up the Soma NJS bike The Soma Bike is Done . My original build used wheels built with Araya Gold Tubular rims; Keirin bikes only use tubular tires. I have never used tubular tires, but they were once very common, so I figured I could embrace the retro side of me, and add one more NJS component. Well it didn’t work out so well. I wasn’t about to spend the $270 @ for Soyo NJS tires (and those are the cheap ones), so I went with $80 Vittoria CX. This is where I went wrong. What I failed to notice was the NJS tires are 1 1/8 wide, that’s over 28.9 mm! Yikes. I bought the Vittoria’s at a standard 21mm and they were a mis-match. I did not really know it at the time so I tried gluing them anyway but the tire would not lie down against the outside edges of the rim surface no matter what I did. After three tries I just hung up the bike and moved on to other projects.

Well the time has come to fix this problem. I could look for some wider, ie Vittoria Pave EVO CG in 27 mm or the Continental Tempo in 1”, both about $100 @. They are pretty much on the opposite side of the spectrum with the Vittoria being a ride it till it wears out and the Conty a quick and sketchy race tire, but good on the track. I decided to do neither and punt.

I sold the rims and tubulars on ebay and bought some really cool Araya RC-540 rims. The RC-540 is considered a clincher version of the Araya Gold. They are really just a very nice race rim similar to the classic Mavic Open Pro. What sets them apart is the top surface of the rim was polished before it was anodized. It’s nowhere near the finish of a the un-anodized Araya Gold, but it is also more durable. They are also impossible to get outside of Japan, so I used an ebay importer and they were delivered straight away.

Here's the rear wheel hanging in the garage. I laced the rims with the longer spokes for practice; just waiting for the shorter spokes. I’ll admit I am not an experienced wheel maker. I’ve made maybe 7-8 wheels but I’m getting faster. I held the slimmest of hopes that the old spokes would work, but my doubts were realized. Since the clinchers rims are about 50% taller at the spoke, this made the spokes too long.

I fumbled around with a spoke calculator and finally came up with 289 for the front and 299 for the back. The fumbling was figuring the ERD, or Effective Rim Diameter. The spoke calculator asks for this measurement, which is the inside rim diameter plus the additional length the spoke would need to thread into an installed nipple. Since the nipple is up, inside the rim cavity, it's not always and easy measurement to take accurately. I finally came close using the rod end of a caliper, adding 3mm x2, or 606 mm (there are also web pages with ERD ratings for most rims, but it is recommended you measure it yourself; the rim database said the Araya RC-540 had an ERD of 606.3mm) . The Suzue hubs have 36 spoke holes, have a 67mm spoke hole diameter (circle) and the flange spacing is 74mm for the front and 67mm for the rear; again the front is 3 cross and the rear 4 cross. I used this simple spoke calculator and came up with 288.8 front and 299.6 rear; try it yourself. This calculator only works with same size flanges and doesn't take into account the dishing of a rear wheel with a freehub for a gear cluster. Spoke Calculators can get very involved such as this one from machinehead but this one from wheelpro will handle most wheel builds.

I had a second hope that the shorter 3 cross spokes might work with the rear 4 cross pattern, but no luck, they were 295mm and as I said I needed 289mm. The spoke size might be a little off, since the old spokes were 295 and 302 respectively; 7mm difference where my spoke calculator showed a 10mm difference. My LBS didn’t have the spokes I needed so I had to order them. I did notice the 302mm rear spokes were a little short (or just barely covered the spoke threads) when I removed the old rim, so if they had been a millimeter or two, it would have been more consistent with the spoke calculator; just to be sure I also ordered some spokes 287 and 298. Like I said, I am not a boy wonder wheel builder, but I figured I can return the spokes I don’t use.


Okay I'm back. Why did I do that? Why did I round 288.8 up and 299.6 down? Well guess what? The 299 spokes were a little short. I don't know if most wheel makers want the spoke threads completely covered with the nipples, but I do. When I built up the rear 4x wheel, there was about .5 mm of threads showing. By simply rounding up I would have spokes the right length (300mm). So I bit the bullet and went out and bought the right length spokes. They say that the money you pay to make up for your mistakes wrenching bikes, is tuition. I am a bit perturbed about the info I found on some of the forums I checked trying to nail down the spoke size. There were several that recommended rounding down, or even going for a millimeter shorter if they don't have the size you need. Most spoke nipples have 3mm lead way once the spoke threads are covered. The only way would want to round smaller is if you don't mind the threads showing, or you are going to use 16mm nipples opposed to the standard 12mm. While I'm not a perfectionist, I do like to think what I do is done the right way. I did return the 287/ 298 spokes I ordered, but I still had to pay for shipping both ways. I also have a nice collection of spokes; 287mm, 295mm, 298mm and 302mm. Hopefully they'll come in handy some day.

And here they are! Suzue Pro Max NJS hubs with Araya RC-40 rims and DT Champion 15g spokes; 3 cross in the front and 4 cross in the back.

I chose the Specialized Pro Roubaix for two reasons, primarily they were the only non-committed road tires I had. So a better question is why I bought the tires to begin with. The reason is these are some of the sweetest tires on the market. The reason why, is the tires are made by Vittoria. The Roubiax-Pro is similar Rubio Pro and the Roubiax S-Works is similar to the Open Corsa Evo, both with a slightly lower thread count. Both designs are referred to as Open Tubular construction, meaning like tubulars they are hand made, have an inner latex tube with an outer casing; they are rated 700x23/25c, meaning the volume of a 25c and the tread of a 23c. I also like these tires because you can get then very cheap because the come stock on Specialized race bikes, and every one wants to switch them out for something else so I got them at half price on the take off table. I have actually not tried the Ruobiax Pro, But I have tried both the Roubiax S-Works and Vottoria Open Corsa Evo. I would not place them on the same level as a tubular, but they are a very comfortable tire. Hopefully the Roubiax will not disappoint.

The final build (so far) :
Frame: Soma Rush (55cm);
Fork: Threaded Tange steel;
Headset: Tange Levin (NJS);
Bottom Bracket: Hatta R9400 (NJS);
Crank: Shimano Dura Ace Track (NJS);
Pedals: MKS (NJS);
Toeclips: MKS aluminum (NJS);
Straps: Toshi (NJS);
Handlebars: Nitto B125 CroMo (NJS);
Stem: Nitto Pearl (NJS);
Rims: Araya RC540; Spokes/Nipples: DT 15g; Hubs: Suzue Pro Max (NJS)
Tires: Specialized Pro Roubiax;
Wheels: 3 cross front/ 4 cross rear;
Cog: 16T Shimano (NJS);
Seat post: Nitto Jaguar SP72 NJS;
Seat: Brooks B-17 Champion Sprinter
Brake caliper: Tektro;
Brake lever: Soma.