Saturday, March 28, 2015

Building From Scratch

Chase And Face
It isn't every day that you get to build up a bike from the "frame up", but I was given that opportunity at the shop the other day by a local rider. He was keen on doing a gravel/touring/any road bike and since he is also a Minnesota Vikings fan, the obvious choice was Surly's Straggler model. He got the frame, fork, and a box-o-parts and brought the whole shootin' match down to the shop where I began the long process of making it all a bicycle.

Now if you are an older bicycle mechanic like myself, you get all excited when the frame you get to build up is a steel one. Why? Because you get to "chase and face", that's why. It all involves a nearly antiquated tool that is made of machined steel cutting bits and a heavy, steel shaft and handle apparatus. This hand run thread chaser and bottom bracket facing tool was made to clean up the threads in a metal bottom bracket and "face" the outer shell so that both "edges" of the bottom bracket are perfectly flat and perfectly parallel to one another. This makes for a nicer, smoother, aligned bottom bracket. Is it all really necessary? Probably not as much as it used to be when serviceable bottom brackets were still being used, but I'll tell ya what- those cups threaded in so smoothly it was uncanny after the machining operation. So, makes a difference.

After that was accomplished I always move on to what I consider the next essential step in building up a bicycle. That's installing the head set and fork. To my mind, it isn't a bicycle to build until the head set and fork are joined to the rest of the frame.

Chris King, Gevenalle, Old Edge wheels, and Cowbell bars.
The owner chose a gold anodized Chris King headset for this project and so that was carefully pressed in and then it was on to the matching Straggler fork. This is where things can get touchy since you never know how much steer tube is too little. So, after I consulted with the owner, I chose to err to the "too long" side and added three 10mm spacers in addition to the spacers provided by the owner for the build. That should be enough, right? The thing is, Surly Cross Checks and Stragglers have notoriously short head tubes for their size. It's a good thing I added those three spacers!

Well, now I had a bicycle. The rest went pretty well until I ran into a missing couple of bits that were essential to getting this build completed. The old style shifter bosses that Surly uses needed cable stop adjusters. Bah! The owner hadn't thought of those, which is completely understandable. Those little gubbins are easy to forget about until you need them! Fortunately, I am something of a pack rat when it comes to the essential gubbins, and after a half an hour search, I came across a pair of old Profile cable stop adjusters in black ano. Perfect for this build. Now it was on to stringing up cables in some blingy gold Jagwire housings.

Finished build- (Image by Andy)
Fortunately, Jagwire sent its brake housing in one, giant length because I needed a full run housing to the back of the bike. The rest was easy-peasy, and then it came time to mount a Brooks Cambium c-17 saddle on a vintage Dean titanium post, wrap the bars with some synthetic Cinelli tape, and dial in the Gevenalle GX shifters. The chain is a blingy gold KMC ten speed chain and that wraps around a 11-36T cassette and a Shimano 105 triple crankset for a big, wide range of gear ratios.

The owner was pretty stoked when he saw images of the bike on the shop's Facecrack page, and was only a bit ambivalent about the tires, but those may be swapped out soon. Otherwise the build was dubbed a success.

Anyway, building a bike up like this with quality parts is always a fun thing and definitely a good respite from the typical "MalWart" bike tune ups and neglected road bike refreshes that normally populate my work stand.Thanks to Mr. Z for the opportunity and I hope the rig brings you joy for many years to come.

1 comment:

Guitar Ted said...

@MG: I apologize! I accidentally deleted your comment. Dammit! Sorry about that, Brother!

Anyway- yeah, that C-17 is amazing and I only got to sit on it for a minute or two, but it seemed to be a wonderful feeling saddle. I bet it will be perfect on your Puffin!