Monday, November 28, 2011

Cross bike update - Wrapping handlebars

Wrapping handlebars is a tough but pointless exercise. It take a little time to get the process down and I often end up re-wrapping each side a few times to get the tape as tight and evenly spaced. I also wrap my handlebars twice because I don't like to wear gloves and it's softer. In my left hand you see the rubber hoods of the shifter/brake lever, which is rolled back. The bar tape goes under the hood, and it will be rolled back into place after the wrapping is finished. This is the first layer:

Grey marble: the Lands' End of bar tape

This tape goes on easy and will serve as a good foundation pad. A few important things:

- pull the tape tight when wrapping the bars
- don't pull too hard or the cork tape will tear
- overlap at least 1/3 of the width of the tape
- start at the bottom and work your way up
- criss cross the tape over the levers to cover the hardware

Halfway done - Finished side

Electrical tape is great for finishing the wrap.

All done!

The top layer is a suede feeling material called microfiber and not as stretchy, but it's still important to get it tight, so I pulled real hard. Roll the shifter hoods back down and it's ready to go!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cross Bike Update - BRAKES!!! (now with more pictures)

These are the brakes I decided to set up the bike with:

Avid Shorty 4

This is from the auction listing. The seller packaged these things so well it was silly.

Well packaged!!!

A small box with a packing peanuts, each brake arm wrapped in thin plastic wrap, and then wrapped in shrink wrap. These were packaged so much better than the seat post, which was in a clear plastic bag with the label stuck on it.
These brakes mount to a set of posts on the fork and seat stays of the bike. Each brake arm has a spring that keeps tension in the cable. On a caliper brake, the spring is shared between the arms, but on a cantilever brake, spring tension is handled by one small coiled spring per arm. The springs have a small knob that sicks into the frame or fork to hold it in place. Typically, there are 3 options for spring location, for varying resistance. It's important to have them in the same hole on both sides.

Brake pad mounting

The three lines on the left indicate the three holes, and the arrow on the right is the knob you stick into one of them. Usually the middle hole is fine. Without cables, they kind of limply hang there, but once cables are attached they'll maintain a good neutral position.
I picked up some cables at performance for about $10 each. You can spend upwards of $100 on a set of cables that are built my NASA and blessed by Jesus, but I went with the budget version:

Brake Brake Derailleur

These are cool because they come with two 'ends'. 'Ends' is the only name I can find for these things, but they are what interfaces with the lever. You can use them with either a MTB style or a road style:

Road end MTB end

I cut off the MTB ones with the tool shown and fed the cable through the shifter/brake like this:

Thread the needle

The cables get fed through this Y shaped guide that evenly pulls on each arm

Cables attached
That's about it, adjust and tighten the cables and it's ready to go (or stop rather).
Cables are part of the 'nickel and dime' parts of a bike that can add up quickly. Some additional parts are brake pads, chainrings and bolts (especially single speed conversion bolts), skewers, bar tape, tubes and tires. Small parts like them are easily purchased at a bike shop, but could also add up to over $100 if you're not careful.
It's fortunate that I have some left over parts that I'm going to try to reuse like handlebars, seat and wheels. Hopefully that will reduce some of the bizarre costs that sneak into a seemingly simple and cheap bike build.

Stay tuned for bar wrapping and the completion of the bars and controls!

Cross bike update - missing something?

Care to guess what is wrong with this picture?

Messy workbench, what secrets do you hold...




What have we here...?

This is the spacer for the bottom bracket, which in my excitement I failed to put in when assembling the crankset. It's important enough to take the time to go back and install, then write about on the internet.

Installed correctly and ready to ride! Moral of the story: drink less when building bikes. Maybe clean up my workbench.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Daily WTF

Frame too small? lower back hurt? Get the Super Stem Extender for your bike today

Order yours here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cross bike update - Mounting BB and Crank

The crankset arrived, and it's high time to mount this thing up! My initial observation of this crank is that it is a little heavy. It looks nice, and was inexpensive, so this is something that was expected. Hence the Cheap / Light / Cool venn:

Since the dawn of time

Overall, this will be a great crankset, meeting the important points as well as being strong. The bottom bracket is the first thing to install in the frame. The bottom bracket consists of two sides and a middle spacer. Each of the bearings is threaded differently, one for left, and one for right. They are labeled as such, as well as a 'DO NOT OPEN' warning, as they are sealed, there's no reason to open them up.

Left bearing Center spacer Right bearing

Make sure you put the plastic center piece between the bearings. When threading them in, it's a good idea to put some grease on the threads. This will ensure they go in smooth, keep moisture out and keep the creaking to a minimum. Just glob a little of this on the threads and carefully tighten them.

Grease it up!

On this image you can see the indication of which side of the bike the bearing goes on, as well as an arrow showing which direction to turn it to tighten it. One side is reverse threads, just like pedals. Also indicated on the bearings is the amount of touque you should use when tightening them. This was 40-50 Nm, which is some measurement of torque. Once the bearings are hand tight, you use a special tool to tighten it.

Bearing tightening tool

This tool fits over the bearing snugly. I have a comically large torque wrench and here it is in action:

Torque wrench

Once the bearings are in tightly, putting the crank in is a fairly simple process. Stick the drive side into through the bottom bracket and attach the non-drive side. The non-drive side has two clamp bolts that will fix it to the spindle. There is a small tightening bolt that will tighten the crankset laterally. Tighten this before you tighten the clamp bolts.

Tightening bolt

This bolt is often made of plastic or composite - this is an indication that you shouldn't tighten it more than necessary. When the crankset is satisfactorily tight, tighten the clamp bolts to lock on the non-drive side.

The clamps!

This should also be done with a torque wrench. This tool is pretty important, especially if you're going to be working with carbon parts (stem, seatpost, bars). The crank is now tight, and ready for a chain and pedals!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Stem and penny trick

When mounting a stem, often it is so snug that it's a hassle to get on and off. Even if you back the clamping bolts out, it can still be so tight you may scrape up your steer tube in the process of mounting it. There's an easy trick to fix this, and all you need is a penny.

The 'Ol Penny Trick

First, take out the clamp bolts. At this point, sticking a screwdriver in the gap and twisting it seems like a good idea. It will probably have the effect of separating the clamp, but will often tear up the soft aluminum. (look at my brake levers for a frustrating example of this...) A safer option for your anodization is to take one of the mounting screws, and thread it into the clamp from the opposite side, and then slide a penny into the clamp gap covering the screw hole. Tighten down the clamp bolt until it makes contact with the penny, and then continue to turn it and it will spread the clamp.

Spread the stem

You can then take the penny out, as after spreading the stem usually fits better. If your stem is carbon, you should use extreme caution with something like this, as you can crack brittle materials by point loading them. Now just put the bolt back in the right way, easily put your steam and put the penny back in your piggy bank.

Cross Bike Update - Headset installation

Installing a headset involves several steps. The first part of a headset to install is the race. The race is an aluminum ring that sits on the top of the fork that the bearing rests on. It is difficult to see in this image, as they're both the same color. The race is a pretty tight fit on the steer tube, and you can see some of the scrape marks from where I had to (gently) tap the race on:

Race installed

Once the race was installed, I could easily measure the steertube for the final length. I accounted for the stem, the guide and several headset spacers.

Cutting the steertube

Once that was cut I filed down the edge so the stem and spacers would fit over nicely. I would normally tap in the star nut with the provided screw, but saw a demo about using a screwdriver for more leverage. I ended up using one like this:

Installing the star nut

Once it was put in the top of the star nut, it was easy to tap into the steer tube. The danger is that the star nut will get in sideways, but with the increased leverage of the longer screwdriver, that was easily avoided:

Installing the star nut pt. 2
The nut goes down into the top of the steer tube about a half inch. The screw is about an inch and a half long, and will reach this easily. I took care to be sure that the star nut was straight so the screw would thread in easily.

The star nut installed
Measuring the steer tube with the top spacer of the headset and the stem on. This indicates how many spacers I'm going to need. It looks like about 3/4" worth. Spacers typically come in 1/4" and 1/8" thick increments so that you can get the top cap of the headset snugly on the stem.

Headset installed!

That's about it - only thing left is the spacers. Once they're on, tightening the hex nut through the top will compress everything and it'll be ready for a ride! (except for wheels, cranks, handlebars, seat... pretty much all the other parts.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cross bike update - Wheels and tires

Wheels are going to be a fun thing to get for this bike. I have a set on my Six that are pretty great, Mavic Aksiums. They are a good training wheel. I picked up a set of Ksyerum's at VeloSwap, and want to put them on the Six, and then the Aksiums on the cross bike. The nice thing about that is that I already own both of them!
On the other hand, I have a couple sets of cross specific wheels from a friend. The drawback: they're tubular. A tubular tire looks like this:

Tubular Tire

The tire and the tube are one part, and are glued to a special rim with a smooth surface. The advantages are that they're a little lighter, they can run either very low or very high tire pressure and they are less likely to get a pinch flat (due to a smoother rim).

Clincher Rim Tubular Rim

Notice the clincher has a deep rim that the tire can secure into, while the tubular has a smooth rim that makes good surface for gluing to. Mounting a tubular tire is a bit of a hassle, the glue is pretty messy and it can be tough to get aligned correctly, but no less frustrating than a tight clincher! Keep an eye out for a post on mounting tubulars!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cross bike update - Headsets Assemble!

The bike fairy came yesterday and gifted me with a seatpost, a stem and a headset! I am happy with the seatpost, it's a 2 bolt micro adjust. The stem is square-ish, and looks like it's going to be real stiff. The headset is also great; it took a little experimenting to figure out what parts went where (it came with no instructions) but it's looking good.

30.2 Seatpost Stem

I'm stoked to have the seat post that is nice looking, light, and wasn't terribly expensive. It may prove harder to be to find the right size seatpost clamp. I'm probably going to end up heading into a bike shop and ask what to do.

What size clamp...?

The headset is a newer kind that employs a sealed bearing system. This takes similar advantage of sealed bearings as an external bottom bracket; lighter, more simple and far more resistant to moisture. Here is the whole headset laid out on the steer tube:

fork crown | race | bearing | bearing | compression washer | top cap | star nut

These are the parts for this headset, and this is what they do:

fork crown - the race is pressed onto this part of the fork
race - the race fits the crown, and is specific to the headset bearings
bottom bearing - most of the weight is carried by this bearing (this is why many newer frames run a 1.5" lower bearing)
upper bearing - less load bearing (ha)
compression washer - this keeps the steer tube tight against the bearing
top cap - this part has a rubber washer to keep moisture out of the headset, and a guide for the brake cable
star nut - part of this goes into the steer tube and locks in place (the part that looks like a star) By tightening the hex bolt through the top cap, you compress the whole headset tightly

The bearings fit into the frame in a very sexfull way -


The top of the head tube is machined to fit the bearing very closely. The bearing is chamfered to match the machining of the inside of the head tube. When installed it looks like this:

bearing installed

It's a satisfying system, and far less opportunity for looseness than a classic headset with cups that are pressed into the head tube. There are a few considerations left with these parts:
- the steer tube of the fork will need a few inches cut off and some spacers to get the stem at the right height.
- the star nut needs to be installed with some care so it's straight and secure
- the race has to be pressed onto the crown
- the aforementioned seat clamp

Cross bike update - Crankset

I have been thinking I'm going to run a single chainring in the front on this bike and have been looking at what kind of crankset to buy. With a crank comes a bottom bracket, which consists of the bearings through which the spindle goes, connecting the crank arms. I really like outboard bearings:
Outboard Bottom Bracket

These bearings are different from a cartridge bottom bracket, which looks like this:
Cartridge Bottom Bracket

Outboard are called such due to the bearings being housed outside the bottom bracket shell. Cartridge bearings typically house 1 set of ball bearings, and 1 set of roller pin bearings, in the close quarters within the BB shell. To get a stiff crankset in such a tight space, it took both sets of bearings to distribute the load. Examples of these are a square taper, ISIS and octalink. With outboard bearings, you can get away with only one sets of bearings, because you spread the load over a larger area than a cartridge BB. A second advantage is that you can run a larger spindle between the crank arms for increased stiffness. They are also a lot lighter and sexier. In the image above, the piece between the bearings is simple a piece of plastic to keep water out of your frame.
The crank that works with an outboard BB is different from the cranks for a cartridge. With cartridge, you run a crank arm on both sides, hence the classic name 3 piece crank. With an outboard BB, you run a 2 piece crank, where the spindle is attached to the drive side crank arm.
This is the crank I ended up going with was from eBay, an alloy FSA.


Free shipping! It's pretty standard, nothing amazingly light, but versatile enough to meet my needs. I also like that it's pretty smooth looking and black, as the rest of my components are black.

Friday, November 11, 2011

funny bike set up...

Chainring bolts can be a pain in the ass - long ones or short ones, losing them, the weird tool to tighten the back... this guy said, "eff it." and went with the classic look:


Cross bike update - Front derailleur considerations...

If I were to run a front derailleur, I would need to figure out the cable routing. Standard cable routing runs the cables under the down tube and then under the bottom bracket. This cable routing works with a front derailleur that gets pulled on from the bottom, hence the name 'bottom pull derailleur'.

Bottom pull derailleur

For a cyclocross bike, the cables sometimes run along the top tube, to keep them clean and out of the mud and gunk.

Two types of cable routing

That's the way this bike is set up. What you run into is the cables coming from the top, and needing a derailleur that is operated by pulling from the top and not the bottom, the aptly named 'top pull derailleur'.

Top pull derailleur

Often if you want to run a derailleur, you end up having the cable come down the seat tube, then around a small pulley, and then back up to the derailleur, converting top pull cable mounting to bottom pull. This is a nice graphic of cable routing in action:

The arrow is showing the cable routing.

I'm thinking I'm going to avoid the whole mess and run a single gear in the front and a casette in the back. This is popular for several reasons:

1. Simplicity: less going on, less to go wrong
2. Cheap: you don't have to get a derailleur, cable ect. You'll probably end up with a shifter in the front, because they often coem as a set, or you'll want them to match, and that can be a large part of the cost, so this is a small offset.
3. Reliability: the pulley is in a place where it'll take a beating from road gunk and the shifting will suffer accordingly.

So, with all that in mind, I think I am indeed going to run a single for now, and if I find myself missing gears, adding a derailleur after the fact is pretty easy. One consideration is a chain guide. The front derailleur acts as a guide for keeping the chain from flopping off. There are several things that can be done, adding a guide to the frame or chainring is the easiest, and I'm thinking something like this:

Some kind of cable guide

Whew, long post!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cross bike update - Brake breakdown

The time has come to talk about brakes. It's an age old argument. Disc brakes are out of the question because I don't have disc compatible wheels, and they're not allowed in UCI races, in the unlikely event I want to suffer through a CX race. (read: not likely at all)
In any case, there are two kinds of brakes that can be mounted on the posts that are on the frame and fork we're working with here. Standard road bikes brakes mount from the center, and they're called caliper brakes. They look like this:

The Schwinn frame has post mounts, which look like this:

These mounts will take either V brakes or cantilever brakes. V brakes are popular among mountain and BMX bikes, and look like this. They have greater stopping power, but require more cable pull than a caliper brake. Canti brakes look like this. The advantage of a V brake or a cantilever brake over a caliper are that you can run larger tires, which is good for commuting, and they clear mud out more easily, Caliper brakes can get real clogged up with road grime and stuff.
So, much like a lady in the throngs of love, the time spent on the decision of brakes is akin to time spent focusing on the intimate needs of a sweet, sweet lover. Moving on, I'm going to be running cantilever brakes partly because they are classically used on a 'cross bike, but also I think they look cool. I don't expect to be doing a ton of panic braking (if I planned it I guess it wouldn't be a panic situation)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cross Bike Update - Headset activate!

So after looking around at the headsets available, it seems like a Cane Creek or and FSA will be perfect. I found this FSA on eBay for $30 and think it'll work great:
it is a pretty simple system; sealed bearings that drop into the frame, some kind of compression spacer, a headset spacer with a cable guide on it, and a top cap. The ever important cable guide that will allow me to run cantilever brakes, which is good because otherwise I'd not be able to stop.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cross bike update - headsets! headsets! headsets!

Now that the frame and fork is all up and purchased, time to start putting parts together. The frame and fork are set up for an integrated headset, which is explained here. I have half an integrated headset from an old Raleigh frame, but it's really just the bearings, none of the spacers or anything, so it's not really any use. This is it:

I can get another one easily here, but I really need special guide for the brakes to work, so instead of a road headset, I need a CX headset like this. This kind of thing is available anywhere, eBay or whatever, but Google shopping is pretty ok for price and semi-instant gratification.
This headset is somewhat new to me, I've never built a bike that has one, but my road and 29er both came with them. The nice thing is that I won't need a head set press to put this together, just drop them in and then use the stem and star nut to compress the whole thing. I stuck the fork through the frame and an old stem on it to see what it'd look like, just for funsies, and this is it:

Gettin' stoked!