“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:
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….