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….

 

Revised Grading System for All Rides

A group of Ride Leaders has been reviewing the Grading System for Cycle Seahaven rides over the last year and has produced, what they believe to be, a simpler and more easily understood version. The group consisted of Road and Off-road Ride Leaders and the result has been through many re-drafts and consultations before being agreed by your Committee.

It may be viewed here .
It will be published on the CS website shortly and will be in operation for all rides as from January 1st 2017.

Night road cycling, with Aldi, Lezyne and Ituo lights

Since the weekend I have refitted my WIZ20 dual LED, wireless light  on my commuter bike, and this has brought a smile back to my face, this light is good!!!  Since the clock went forward, I have been cycling with an Aldi  240 lumens COB type rechargeable bike light £12.99 and a Lezyne Zecto drive Pro 80l for £38 giving a total of 320 lumens for around £50 in total, I can not make a direct comparison as they are very different and even the price of the two is half the price of the WIZ20, but I think, it worth sharing my findings. The Aldi light is again very good value for money, but this is really a flood light with very little throw, so you end up having good light by your front tyre but not extending forward very much, ok on very well lit roads but not much good if you going at speed on badly lit roads , le Lezyne Zectro drive pro is kind of the opposite with a very fairly narrow beam but reaching a further. Both light are great to be seen but are not much good for you to see the ground and spot pot holes in time to miss them. The Zecto Drive Pro can double up as a rear light so this is quite handy to have a secondary light in case your main front or rear light packs up. The Aldi one in my mind is much better for dog walking or around the house as a torch, very broad beam , ok as a bike marker light or a flashing light. Both are USB rechargable.  Now going to the Ituo WIZ20 1500l for which I did a review for the club last year. Well, as I said, as soon as I turned it on, I had a grin on!   Nice broad light beam reaching far in front of your bike and still putting plenty of light by your front tyre. This kind of reminded me of the type of lighting you get from a car. The beam given by the WIZ20 is nice and safe for you to ride at speed in lit up or dark road, I had to turn it down to its standard low setting  250 lumens which does give you 14h. I have used it off road many time last year and this is also ideal for MTB if you want to go wireless  (this is also the one I usually lend to some of my new riders if they need a light) Like the others, this is wireless and USB rechargeable and its output is programmable. All this of course does come in with a higher price tag, under £100! Price of a Volt 800 or a Lezyne Deca 1500 but once you check the specs and start reading reviews you will see how good the WIZ20 is, specially for a light under £100!
I have not got any interest into this new firm apart from wanting to share what is a very good product with fellow cyclists. Luc. MTB 2B night ride leader

https://www.aldi.co.uk/p/72177/1

https://www.evanscycles.com/lezyne-zecto-drive-pro-light-EV194257

http://singletrackworld.com/reviews/review-ituo-wiz20/

http://forums.mtbr.com/lights-night-riding/user-review-ituo-wiz20-996544.html

http://cycleseahaven.org.uk/ituo-wiz20-1500-lumens-twin-xm-l2-u3-bike-light/

 

 

 

 

RideLine no longer available

Due to supplier changes made to our ride cancellation system we can no longer operate our RideLine telephone service. To check for cancellations you must use the online calendar and look for the words **** CANCELLED **** in the ride description.

This is a bit of a blow to those of us who liked the simplicity of using a phone recording to check for cancellations, but we had no choice. Ride Leaders will always try to give as much warning as possible for cancellations but sometimes unexpected things happen. For those with smartphones you may want to bookmark the calendar page or create a shortcut to in on your screen.

The online calendar can be found at http://cycleseahaven.org.uk/calendar/

 

If you have any concerns or questions then please contact us from our website at http://cycleseahaven.org.uk/contact/

 

Tools and Bike Wash installed at The Big Park

Many thanks to Lewes District Council for installing a bike wash, fix it stand, pump and drinking fountain at Peacehaven’s Big Park (Centenary Park).

With access to National Cycle Route 2, bridleways and a café, this is an excellent venue for cyclists.

 

Tools, pump and drinking fountain

Tools, pump and drinking fountain

 

Bike wash (a hose has since been fitted).

Bike wash (a hose has since been fitted).

 

Cycle Clothing. What to wear

When you’re new to cycling it’s often tricky to work out what to wear. The weather will play a big part in how well you wrap up but a few basic principles will help you stay comfy.

Helmet
Mandatory on club rides.
It’s best to get fitted for a ‘lid’ (helmet) at your local bike shop. The side straps should meet just below your ears and the helmet should stay in place when you tilt your head (chin on chest) even without the chin strap done up. Cycle helmets (crash hats, brain buckets, skid lids) come in different shapes and sizes, so try on a few before you buy. A slight discomfort may not worry you short-term, but on a longer ride it might become really annoying.

Layers
Try to wear thinner layers that are easy to add and remove, rather than one thick garment. You may get hot on a climb but on the flat or downhill you might get cold, so being able to quickly adjust your layers is important for comfort. Be prepared: If you need to add or remove layers then you’ll need a way of carrying unused layers – this could be a rucksack, panniers, or simply tying the arms of the garment around your waist. Be careful of tying clothes around yourself as it’s easier to get them caught in the moving parts of your bike.

Materials
Avoid cotton unless it’s a specific sports weave, as this will soak up sweat and leave you feeling clammy. Instead, opt for polyester or merino wool – both are good at ‘wicking away’ moisture and also at keeping down odours. Sports specific clothing isn’t just a marketing gimmick – the materials are designed to keep you dry and comfortable. Bamboo fibres are becoming more popular, too.

Tops
Long sleeves or short, it’s up to you, but be careful of sunburn as well as the cold. If you’re wearing layers (and you should) then consider something easy to swap – a full-length zip might help, or something less fiddly to remove than a skin-tight layer. A short-sleeved polyester t-shirt or sports top, then a long sleeved one, followed by a jacket will give you plenty of options as a starting point. Adjust this according to the expected weather at the start and end of the ride – thicker materials for the cold and thinner ones for warmer days.

Avoid T-shirts and tops that have a design printed in thick ink, as this will act as a water barrier to keep sweat in. Logos should be ‘sublimated’ into the material or be minimal.

Watch out for high winds. Even on a hot day a strong wind will dramatically cool down a hot and sweaty body, so take a light wind-proof jacket.

Bottoms
Your legs are what will be doing the bulk of the work, and will get hot and sticky quite quickly. Shorts and/or leggings/tights are a good bet.  Again go for sports materials to disperse sweat; that includes underwear – see our article on saddle sores.

Gloves
Thin gloves for summer, thick gloves for winter. Seems simple enough, eh?

Winter gloves: Be careful wearing thick or ill-fitting gloves as these may interfere with braking and/or changing gear.
Summer gloves: Why wear gloves in the summer? Gloves are not only protection from the elements but also if you fall off. Your hands are often what take the brunt of an ‘unintentional dismount’, and a protective layer will help prevent gravel rash. Fingerless gloves are great for warmer weather as they provide protection and comfort, and they interfere less with gear changes and braking.

Cycle specific gloves sometimes come with padding at key pressure points on the palms, making longer rides more comfy.

Shoes
Assuming you are using normal ‘flat’ pedals, and not ones that are clipped to cycle-specific shoes, then start out with trainers.  After the ride make sure your shoes get properly air dried. To help reduce smells insert a few used, dry teabags or sprinkle in bicarbonate of soda. You can even stuff shoes into a plastic bag then put them into the freezer to help kill bacteria and so reduce smells. Wet shoes can be stuffed with newspaper and allowed to dry naturally.

Specific cycling shoes have very stiff soles that don’t flex when you pedal, which helps transfer energy to your back wheel more efficiently. Most have the ability to lock into special pedals using a ‘cleat’ underneath the sole that engages with a special pedal – they take some practice before you can easily remove your foot from the pedal.

Cold or Wet weather
Avoid thick and heavy coats as they are often too warm. Instead, go for more thinner layers. For short trips you might want to take a thin and cheap rain cover, but for longer adventures it’s better to get some good waterproofs. Cycle specific jackets have a longer back that keep you warm while you are in the cycling position.

There are some high-tec materials out there that will keep you dry from the outside while allowing sweat to evaporate from the inside. You certainly get what you pay for, and it’s worth asking other riders what they like to wear.

Waterproof socks are a cheaper alternative to waterproof shoes, but make sure you dry your shoes correctly post-ride. You may also need to a half-size or full size bigger on your shoes, as waterproof socks (especially thermal ones) may be thicker than your normal socks.

 

As you ride more you will learn what sort of clothing suits you. Got any advice you want to share? Please get in touch using our CONTACT page.

In case of an incident

From time to time members have raised the question of how best to deal with an accident in which they or friends or co-riders have been involved.

Cycle Seahaven does not have the expertise or infrastructure to provide legal or procedural advice on such matters. The club is however affiliated to Cycling UK (rebranded from the CTC or Cyclists’ Touring Club). Their website – http://www.cyclinguk.org/ – has a section dedicated to legal and insurance matters under the heading of  Our Services.

British Cycling and other groups, organisations and companies also provide such advice.

Shammy Shorts and Cream

Well, this is all a bit embarrassing – time to talk about ‘barnacle bum’ syndrome.

As riders get more experienced, and find they are spending longer in the saddle, a few problems can occur in the ‘lower regions’. Sores, in the form of spots or even abscesses, can occur around the ‘saddle area’ of your body. This is caused by a combination of friction, sweat and/or grime that builds up during the ride.

To combat saddle sores you should wear freshly laundered cycle specific clothing and change out of your sweaty gear as soon as you can – even if there’s no shower nearby. Keeping cool and dry will certainly help things post-ride.

If you are doing longer rides, or even just riding a lot more frequently, then consider getting cycle shorts with a build-in padded area. This padding used to be made of chamois leather – like the stuff used to clean car windscreens – hence the name shammy (or chammy).  The chammy liner is there to wick away moisture, reduce friction and to provide a bit of padding. Getting the correct fit is important too, otherwise you’ll be missing out on getting the most comfortable ride. You mustn’t wear underwear beneath your padded shorts, either – it’s important that the ‘chamois’ is next to your skin so it works as intended.

Even wearing shammy shorts may not be enough to ensure comfort for longer hours in the saddle, so consider getting some chammy cream. This cream is applied to your skin around the contact points of your saddle, reducing friction and providing an antibacterial barrier. Apply it liberally to your skin, and possibly also the padding: you’ll have to learn by experimenting on yourself. It feels a bit odd when you first start using it, but it can dramatically improve your comfort.

There are lots of shapes and sizes of chamois shorts: bib shorts; ladies specific; built in armour, and creams come with different formulations too – from £20 tubs of cycle specific goo, to nappy cream (Bepanthen), or even a humble tub of vaseline. If you find that you’re getting post-ride problems, or you are simply looking for a lot more comfort, then pop into your local bike shop and get some well-fitting padded cycle shorts and a tub of chamois cream.

Even with chamois shorts and cream, remember to change out of your damp stuff as soon as you can – even if you can’t get to a bath/shower right away.

Happy riding.