techie

Bike building for dummies #2

“I must have a prodigious amount of mind; it takes me as much as a week, sometimes, to make it up!”

Mark Twain

Having picked up my brand new (to me) bike frame and decided that I was going to build it myself, I thought that I should jump right in.  But where should I start?

Wheels.  Definitely wheels.  Not only because they are one of the only parts of a bike that I can confidently name without resorting to my bike parts diagram, but because they are big and substantial.  And easy.  And wheels are wheels aren’t they?

I had a look online and found these at random because they got good reviews…. So I asked the helpful people at Friston MTB what they thought.  This was the first response I received which was brilliant because it was so detailed, but raised a whole HOST of questions that I didn’t know the answer to:

Confirm the spacing of the rear axle requirements. The wheels above are 142 and won’t fit if the Singular Hummingbird is the same. The front wheel in this set is a boost hub and will only fit into forks that are new and will accommodate such wide spacing.

Do you want a singlespeed specific rear hub i.e. One which will only carry one cog ? These have many advantages and the spacing and dishing is completely different to a 10/11 speed hub.

Do you want a tubeless set up? Most rims will accommodate a tubeless set up – some with rim tape others without ?

How wide a tyre do you want to run ? Although here you will be governed by the rear dropout in the frame. However you may decide to run a 29+?front tyre which would require a wider rim ?

Eeeekkkkkkkk. My answer to all these questions was ‘I don’t know’. Not a clue.  Lots and lots of people went on to recommend Hope Hubs with a reliable rim.  The hub for those of you who don’t know is the bit in the middle of the back wheel that attaches to the frame.  I was beginning to feel ever so slightly overwhelmed.

Everyone likes a 69er, right?

Then, a little bit later in the thread, another key point of info was shared:

Just looking at the Hummingbird specs and the few bits I have found say it’s a 69er, 26″ on the back 29″ front but others may be able to confirm.

WTF?  A 69er?  How did I miss that flipping key piece of information when I was on Fleabay?  What the heck is a 69er and why on earth would you want one?  All I had done before buying the frame was look for a review online.  Singular as a brand seemed to be very beloved by most owners and the one review I found rated the Hummingbird:

http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/category/frames/mountain-bike/product/review-singular-hummingbird-frame-10-37501/

And the instagram from Singular sounded perfect for me:

The Singular Hummingbird is a frameset we have developed for the smaller rider. It can be used either with a 26″ wheel and a suspension fork up front, or a 29″ wheel with the dedicated rigid fork. It also has the versatility of running gears, singlespeed, or an internally geared hub.

Singular Hummingbird. the front wheel doesn’t look THAT much bigger, does it?

The idea apparently is that you get the rolling power of a 29er on the front and the nimbleness (and less weight) of a 26″ wheel on the back.  I was quite scared it was going to be the Frankensteins monster of bikes, but when I found some pics it looked OK though…

Bugger.  I obviously missed the fact that you could have a 29” wheel up front, but the rear would be 26”.  Oops.  What had I done?  Had I bought the proverbial pig in a poke?

General consensus on Friston MTB was that it would still be a fun bike to ride.  Still, my head was ready to explode with possibilities and options for my wee bike, to the point where I was so overwhelmed with options that I may very well have done nought and left my lovely frame hanging on a nail in the garage.  Taking a deep breath,  I made the decision to just build the damn bike with whatever I could find / am given and then worry about upgrading at a later date to carbon rims / tubeless / wings / fission powered bike lights.

 

When a fellow Friston MTB’er said that he had a 26” rear wheel for sale, I decided to embrace my odd little bike frame and just get on with it.


Another meeting in a car park was arranged, this time in a pub car park, thankfully with no dogging references on google maps this time.  The lovely Jim mentioned something about spacers which obviously meant NOTHING to me.  Google helpfully explained that spacers are little round bits which go either side of the hub to make the frame and other assorted bits sit in the right place.  There were two on the wheel already which meant that it fitted perfectly to the frame.

I now had a unicycle!  

Can you spot the deliberate mistake?

I was well chuffed.

 

That is until a week later when I had a couple of fellow CSH’ers round on a Friday evening for a quiet drink.  They both admired my Singular frame, but it was Tim who found the courage to tell me that I had the rear wheel on the wrong way round!

Not a brilliant start.  But a start nonetheless.

Next time: Pedalling english as a foreign language….

 

Bike building for dummies #1

Rule 12:  n+1

‘The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.

While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner.’

I fully blame my competitive streak and Ellie.

‘Try my single speed’, she said.  ‘You’ll love it.  Your gears are slowing you down.  I’m on holiday from Wednesday, why don’t you borrow my bike while I’m away?’

I LOVED it.  I was expecting it to be hard, but actually it was probably really similar to cycling my bike on hills.  It was just like being in a low-ish gear, all the time and  So on ‘2’ on the left hand side (I only have two big rings) and probably 4 out of 10 on the right hand side.

Because it was lighter than my bike, I felt like I was flying up the hills and had got fitter overnight.  Which I obviously hadn’t.  Back in 2015, when I first joined Cycle Seahaven, I couldn’t work my gears at all, just didn’t understand whether I should be changing up or down, pressing the left hand one or the right hand one, so for quite a few of my initial rides I just boshed along, caning it up the hills as fast as I could, getting up out of my seat.  So going back to that frame of mind and attacking hills made sense to me.

The bike was a Niner, rigid (which means no suspension) and made from steel.  I found out afterwards that being made from steel is a good thing for a rigid bike as the steel apparently has a bit of ‘give’, unlike carbon and aluminium which are stiffer.  You learn something every day.   I didn’t really miss the suspension, I mostly do cross country and although it was pretty bumpy going downhill on chalky bumpy paths, in general it was OK.  I’m not really a bomb craters sort of girl so that wasn’t a problem.

I loved it so much I didn’t want to give it back….Which is when Rule 12 came into force.  It was time for n + 1.

Step #1:  Choose a frame

But which bike to go for?  All I knew for sure is that is sounded like steel was a good idea and I liked the big 29er wheels as that is what my existing bike and the borrowed single speed used.

The problem is that there isn’t anywhere where you can go to try out lots of different single speed bikes.  I did try a cycle shop in London after a tipsy lunch, but was extremely disappointed to find out that they only sold road bikes. Which sort of makes sense but I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman: ‘I’ve got money to spend in here’ and no bugger even approached us to see what we were looking for!

So I looked at bikes online until my eyes were bleeding.  So many choices!  I could go for a safe option, a factory built model like the Kona Unit, or perhaps an On-one In-bred 29er.  (I decided against the On-one because I emailed them and they didn’t reply.  Their loss!)

Or maybe I could try to pick up a frame and have someone build it for me?   I thought this sounded like a good idea as then I could have it built how I wanted.  For example, all bikes come with a standard saddle.  Having had blisters on my lady parts at the end of my Tanzanian ride which meant I couldn’t sit down comfortably for a week, I am actually quite particular about my saddle.  (It’s a Selle Italia Gel Flow Diva, BTW, if you’re interested.  It has holes for your lady bits which means it meets Rule #61.   Brilliant!)

Selle Italia Diva Flow. No more blistered lady bits.

It seemed like a bit of a waste to pay for a bike with a saddle and then immediately discard it to be replaced, so I decided to start looking at second hand frames online.  I liked the idea of reusing and recycling and it *should* be cheaper too as a bonus.

I trawled Ebay and pinkbike looking at frames.   I searched for bikes that my fellow MTB’ers own.  The Salsa Mariachi got great reviews and is beloved by its owner, but he’s on the 3rd frame as they have a tendency to break in the same place.  Another Mariachi owner said that his also broke in that same spot, so that ruled it out.

I looked at the Cotic Soul, but 26inch wheels ruled it out.  I had loved the Niner I rode, but they are an American brand and hard to find here.  I considered a Surly Karate Monkey too.  Not just because it wins hands down the bike name of the decade prize, but they seem to be a great ride from the reviews…

It’s fair to say that I was bamboozled by choices.  Something will become something of a theme…

Voyeurism & Dogging

I found I had also become a bike voyeur.  As I cycled alongside my fellow cyclists, I was doing sneaky sideways glances, checking out their single speed stallions from the corner of my eyes. Which is how I came across Singular.  They’re a small British company and have a small range of good quality bikes, and my fellow MTB’er loved his Singular Swift, although he said that there weren’t many of them around.

I headed back home after my Sunday morning ride and checked Ebay.  There was a Singular Hummingbird for sale, steel frame, 29 inch wheels, single speed, fairly local (Dartford) and ending in 6 hours!  It seemed like a sign and would put an end to wasting hours fruitlessly mooning over random bikes online.  I swiftly made an offer – and won!  Yay, decision made!

We arranged to meet in a Tunbridge Wells park the next day for me to collect the frame.  I was slightly concerned that Google maps seemed to indicate that it was ‘Dogging Central’ but on the basis that I had my husband and 4 children with me, I thought it was probably safe enough.

Less than 24 hours after putting in my bid,  I was the proud owner of a Hummingbird Swift Frame in medium for the total sum of £230.

I was chuffed with myself for making a decision.  Discussing it later in the pub amongst ourselves, I was inspired by my girlfriend, who had just got a new bike frame from the Friston MTB group and was really pleased with it.  The guys on the chat group had been super helpful, giving loads of advice.

‘Maybe I could do that’, I thought.  ‘But maybe I could build the bike myself.  I know loads of blokes who will be happy to advise me as to what I need and can probably help me out if I get stuck.  And it would be a BRILLIANT way to find out how bikes work as I literally have no idea.  What could go wrong?’

 

Next Week:  69ers, more car parks, and a brand new language….

 

Quick tip #1

Wrap your mobile phone in cling-film or pop it in sealable plastic bag to keep it dry on longer rides. Smartphones are still usable with both these methods.

Got a tip you want to share? Let us know from our CONTACT page.

Quick tip #2 Quick tip #3

Calendar Options

Did you know…

See more detail

By default our calendar shows just a list of titles, like this –

before clicking

before clicking

But of you click on any title (In this case 19:00 Thursday pub ride – The Hope Inn) then the display will expand to show you a lot more detail, including the starting venue and a description of the ride/event –

after clicking

after clicking

 

Regular updates

Our ride leaders constantly update the calendar, so keep an eye out for the latest rides.

 

Rides and Events

Our online calendar is  two calendars combined:  one for club rides led by one of our ride leaders,  and one for events and non-club rides.
These are displayed separately on Home Page.

[This section is under review]  Offline Access

You can sync both these calendars with your Smartphone or PC so they’re always on-hand, even when internet is not currently available.
Copy and Paste the below links into any calendar product (e.g. Outlook) or (if you are lucky) click the links from your smart device and follow the on-screen prompts.

Rides: https://www.google.com/calendar/ical/sjl54dr7jc0qcnnc45np1ddmd0%40group.calendar.google.com/public/basic.ics

Events: https://www.google.com/calendar/ical/ev765pe58bv34lb40f2to90r2s%40group.calendar.google.com/public/basic.ics