Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Crash Course in Building Wheels

Managed to finally get my rims and hubs now. So next week I'll be learning how to build wheels. This I'm assured is relatively simple and how a low probability for me to fuck up.

Watch this space mind. I could probably break anything.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

MI5 without Bodie and Doyle

After much deliberation (and most of this was cost) I've decided the rear hub will be a MI5 by White Industries. It is the most complimentary to the SON hub in terms of looks and has nothing short of messiah-like praise wherever I've looked.

And so it should have.

It's ludicrously expensive.

However, this is a bike for life and for the most part I'd to have parts that I can point at and say I bought that in 2010 whilst pointing at it with a stick in later life.

It leaves the dilemma of which rims to get for them both. They're both 36h and that has cut the amount of rims I can choose from. I'm hoping for either DT Swiss TK's or Mavic Open Pros, but its proving a bit of a ball ache so far.

In other news...

I've already gone against the Avid Shorty's and gone all V Brake. Despite not quite looking the part, I'd quite like to stop.

Will tell you more about the rims when I make a decision.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

On the way

It's been a little while since new parts have been added to the bike. My other stupidly expensive hobby of playing the bass guitar has sapped money out of me. I make this out to be a chore but actually i'm getting brand new guitar which is very exciting (even if it is already a month late, but this isn't the blog in which to whine about this stuff.)

Anyroad, here's some pictures of where I'm at so far. Not much further, but I'm not scrimping on gear so it's a 'build slow, build strong' mentality. Enjoy.

Here's some jolly headset caps for a nice guy called Fast Freddy located here

Nitto Noodles at 48cm. Probably the last pair on the planet :D

VO Saddle with silver springs. Bad luck Brooks. Also, I've experimented with different types of 'silver' on the headset spacers to make it look a little different. So far I'm pleased with the results.

Already seen these, but thought I'd show them again.

Surly Decals. None in the UK so these came all the way from Niagara Falls. Weirdly, no white LHT decals so the Long Haul Trucker decals has been omitted from the build. Not that fussed really.

SON delux 36h hubs. We'll see if this was worth the investment later.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Where have all the posts gone?

Just a quick note to say I've not died and lots has happened to the bike recently. Just not got round to taking any photos as I can't find my camera.

I'm pretty sure its 'somewhere safe' (ie under a bed or somewhere) and will endeavour to make sure I have some stuff to show you soon. I've gotten to the derailleur selection bit and still 'umming and aaahhing' over what to get. My friends say LX but I'm tempted to go XT.

We'll see next time eh?

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Arty Farty Parts

Well, this choice was one of the hardest I've had to make to date.

The saddle.

Nearly 90% of people I've quizzed on saddle choice for a touring bike have pointed toward a Brooks Flyer and have ridden one for 30 times around the world/since the Jurassic period/born with one pre attached to their bums. And there are threads on touring bike sites which seem to endlessly wax lyrical about sofa style comfort on huge distances.

I do have a Brooks saddle already on my Steamroller. A Team Pro which I have to say took a few rides to get my 'nether regions' to return to their normal colour after riding it for a few miles. Now however its one of the few saddles I've ever ridden without the need cycling shorts. Plus, they're British, handcrafted and horrifically stealable in Central London.

So, back to the Brooks Flyer. Nothing but good reviews. Everywhere I looked. Everywhere.

But I had a problem with it. A major problem.

Black rails.

I wanted silver. To go with the silver part for the rest of the bike. So it matched. I'm an Art Director/Designer. I like things to match.

I wrote to Brooks and said they said they don't do the Flyer with silver rails.

I sighed. I hovered over the 'buy' button and then stopped.

Stick to the plan.

Silver is what I wanted. I wanted a retro feel saddle with springs. And the only other company I could find that were able to offer me the good were Velo Orange again with their VO Saddle range.

First impressions from out of the box were it looked cheap, felt plasticky and was very heavy. However, after putting it on the frame I found a bit of love for it. It's bulky sure, but it has a classic feel to it and I'm sure when the ultra tough leather has bedded in a bit it'll look the part. I liked the drawstring idea to stop it flairing over time and it does have the additional 10mm length on the rails for the all important adjustments you don't get on Brooks. Plus and a big plus, you get Silver rails.

Obviously, ride purists would argue against merely accepting parts to make the bike look good opposed to making it ride good. Only time will tell. Chances are I'll ride it until it dies. It hasn't had bad reviews. Just more people ride Brooks.

Besides, decisions like these are the reasons why God invented eBay.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

SON Hubs

2 words.



After much deliberation decided to go all dynamo for the LHT. More to follow on this as I look for a complementary rear hub. From here I'll be looking into the heady world of E-Werk charging to see if this has any advantages in charging whilst moving.

Dynamos aren't all girlie shopping bikes; with a trip round your mates house for Findus Crispy Pancakes with frozen peas. These days the technology is far more reliable and a lot more German. 

As well as the awesome lighting options too. Will tell all when I find other options.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

First Draft

Managed to get the frame home again without scratching up and down the train so it's made it onto the workstand.

Fortunately, its the same colour as the front room so its largely gone unnoticed by the wife and cats. I've quickly thrown everything I've bought on so far. And that is:

VO headset
Avid Shorty 6 Brakes
Sugino XD Crankset
MKS Sylvan pedals (they're lying around, but I have some spare Crank Bros Egg Beaters too)

I think its beginning to look rather swish.

Now, wheels next I reckon.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

The Cost of (not being able to) DIY

Just got back from Evans Cycles so for the first time in a long time I can get a professional bike shop to fit my headset onto the trucker. 

In the past I've made all sorts of bikes up and traditionally there's one or two 'howling' errors to be made. Getting the headset on is one of them. However with a bit of wood, a gentle touch of the hammer (oxymoron alert!) and the comprehensive guide by the bikers guru Bike Magic I've managed in the past to shove on a few headsets without too much drama or swearing. And more importantly, they've worked and run true.

I realised that this cro-magnon approach probably wouldn't be advisable for a brand new bike. Although the tools for the job aren't ludicrously expensive, I'd use them less than say, my Sony Walkman with the Ghostbusters soundtrack stuck in it. Which currently resides in the loft under the sort of dust usually reserved for way-below-par Christopher Lee films and/or drawing crudely drawn penises.

So, fighting every screaming male gene in my body to not buy the tools and do it myself, I decided to let 'real life monopoly board game for bike shops' Evans take a pop at putting it on. I know a few people that work there, so I know its not run by idiots. I do take umbridge however to their Dad's Army opening credit style takeover of local bike shops. Making this the Pret a Manger of bike shops.

I can spit and hit 2 Evans from my office window.

Whilst presumably having a skinny mocha which I picked up from one of the 4 Prets I passed on the way back from the office toilet to my desk.

Anyway, having descended into the gloomy depths of Evans flagstore on Mortimer Street, it took awhile for someone to serve me. No problem, I'm in no hurry.And when I was eventually served a nice man booked the bike the bike in and we chatted away about the build I'm doing and it was all going swimmingly until I asked for a labour quote...

'£37.50' he said.

'You are joking' I replied.

'Erm... no'. He looked around nervously.

'You are joking' I replied.

'All the prices are up there'. And he points toward a blackboard.

 I look up to the blackboard.

'You are joking' I replied.

He looks at me. He isn't joking. 

He means it. 

Shit that's expensive. Could I seriously moonwalk out of the shop now keeping eye contact and watch his face get smaller as I ascend the stairs? Should I laugh heartily, clap my hands 3 times and disappear in a puff of smoke? Only to then reappear to collect my frame/forks and disappear again?


That's expensive.

The actual headset only cost £30. So that's *counts fingers* £67.50 to buy and fit a headset. 

Fucking ludicrous.

After a look that suggested I may make a run for it, he asked if he should continue to book it in. He did explain that even he thought it was a 'tad on the expensive side' but wasn't at liberty to offer 'anymore of an opinion on it' lest he be flayed and hung outside the shop to be pecked to death by crows.

I said yes, figuring that backing out now is too complex and I'd like this done asap. I can collect it after lunch.

After a Pret sandwich.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Mellow Velo

Not much to say about this really. Its a Velo Orange headset from the ever amazing Freshtripe. Purveyors of all things shiny and nice. VO are an American company and seem to do very well on the conversion/touring/vintage market and as soon as I got rid of the XL Fire Eye I knew this would've been the next choice. 

Obviously wanted a Chris King, but never ever had a problem with Headsets both expensive or mid-range, so can't justify the £99 price tag for a name.

Frame now been resprayed. Headset fitting tomorrow. Yay.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Beige Grey? Chrome?

Borrowed from the LFGSS

Here is the colour in RAL
Well, here is the final colour choice after a fair amount of deliberation. And a look at this thread about the RAL colour schemes from the ever awesome LFGSS or London Fixed Gear and Single Speed forum has various powder coat frames and forks at available at Armourtex. I have a half baked idea about chrome plating the forks and maybe I will in the future, but for now I'm sticking with flat colour.

Unless I can find a good chromer I suppose. Hmmmm. And they would do it for a good price? Hmmmm.

Anyway, the idea to move away from blue/black was to make it have a vintage feel and really ping off the brown/honey colours I'll probably end up with from Brooks line (saddle and tape). And even though the bike shown above has a Charge saddle is does enough to sell the colour to me. And it feels old Surly colours like Curry Squit or Beetroot poo. This blue malarky feels a little too sensible for my liking.

Chrome forks? Wonder who sells them as the cheapest I've seen to chrome them has been £120.

And this will definitely mean swapping my headset for a silver one. *sigh* 

More research it seems.


Wednesday, 25 August 2010

It's arrived

Got the frame last Friday which was a tricky gig trying to weave through London's Underground system with a large box. This being hindered of course by my own consumption of beer in celebration of it being a day ending in Y.

Of course, I wasn't alone in my descent into what British people do best, which is trying to erase some deeply embedded guilt by consuming an entire wave of lager. London was awash with others in much the same state. 

However, singletons take note, I was inundated with drunken questions about the box. By none other than the fairer sex. All these years I'd tried a multitude of various 'pulling' techniques with varying success but had I known all I needed to do was attend pubs and clubs carrying a suitably large box*, it would've made life more simple.

I made it home with most of my clothes intact having been ravaged by laydeez on the train almost feverish to find out the contents of my box (the truth would've bored them to tears) to find 2 cats we've just started to foster. Both incredibly cute and handsome. And here is the unfortunately named Monkey taking his place as chief 'guard'.

The bike is cool and I quickly chucked the brakes on it to see if they looked good. First signs are they do.

Onwards I guess now.


* One girl did ask if I had a dead body in there. I blame the The Daily Mail.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

From 58 to a 60cm. Experiment time.

I originally ordered a 58cm frame for my LHT based on my experiences with my Surly Steamroller which I did with intentionally long seatpost and smaller frame so I can whip through traffic with higher control. And shake my fist at drivers easier.

Besides, I always like the look of smaller bikes. Big bikes looks so clumsy (like me).

But after looking at the surly lht google group and various flickr groups it seems as though the fit needs to be more precise. Makes sense I suppose, given that I'll be doing heavier mileage on the LHT and the Steamroller is my City Whip and only does about 20 miles a day. But some of the most fun I can have after a dull day at work.

Anyway, the bike frame has arrived now (a pic will come tonight) and so the parts will be ordered one or 2 parts at a time.

As mentioned before I got a Fire Eye Headset in XL and black (it was cheaper). Still wondering about it. Should I have got silver? Should it have been a Chris King ;)


Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The Only Mistake?

Got my Avid Shorty 4 brakes today. A massive d'oh moment as they're black not silver. Must pay attention more when ordering stuff. Also got a Fire Eye Stem. It's massive.

Now upgraded to Shorty 6's and they arrived in spiffing silver. However, my love for a cantilever bike build my be shortlived as I'm reading a few people having bad experiences with these brakes. 
If they're full of fail, I'll swap to a V Brake and see what happens.

In the meantime, they do look very swish.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Back In Black

Wasn't amazed at the colour choice for the Long Haul Trucker, so I had a quandry. Wait for the 2011 models and hope for a change or take the frame up to armourtex and have it resprayed.

In the past Surly have done some nice colours for the LHT, however the stock colour for 2010 is Blue or Black.

Now, I've never liked black bikes. They're too commuter-ish. And although the blue is nice, my MTB is blue and I fancy a different colour.

Still, I wrote to Surly:

Hey there,

I'm very much into building up a LHT but not too enamoured by the colours, so I thought I'd ask what the 2011 colour scheme might be if there's a colour change.

No worries if not, I'll just get the frame resprayed.

And they replied (probably wondering why I'd spelt colour wrong):

The 2011 LHT will look just like the 2010 – black and blue all over (again).
No color change is in the works. Warm up the powder coater.

Eric Sovern
Surly Bikes

So, seems like I may be off to Armourtex. Now, what colour shall I go for?

Monday, 2 August 2010

I've bought the frame

Finally ordered a 58cm 700c Surly Long Haul Trucker frame and will build it up very slowly (mainly due to space restrictions in a London flat). I shall endeavour to tell a story of all the parts I buy and the trials of putting it all together. All the workings out and maybe co-erced decisions made by anyone following this blog.

I'm being helped along the way by 2 friends who both work in bike shops. One for general advice on putting together a new bike (I've made 2 rat bikes in the past which are both excellent, but I doubt I want to whack in my new headset with a hammer etc :) and another who'll be showing me how to build the wheels.

Once the bike is complete then I can start telling the stories of the actual rides. Which hopefully will include a nice trip to Norway or maybe Northern Spain.

Until then, I hope you can benefit from my journey of putting it all together.