Monthly Archives: March 2016

Updated Whyte Suffolk

I have now completed a set of upgrades to my Whyte Suffolk these were triggered by

  • Wheel problems. The front, quite dramatically, broke a spoke. More recently the rear freehub failed (and was a pig to replace and I never quite got the bearings right again).
  • Brake disappointments. The TRP Hy-Rd have never really lived up to their promises.

However, I decided that I like the frame a lot and so it was worth upgrading the components especially if as I did I made sure they were future proof and so could be moved to a different frame if required. The goal is for this to be a fast bike for club rides, for long day rides and hopefully for some Audax rides.

The key upgrade is the wheels.

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Closer look here

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These are custom built by TheHappyCog to my specification which includes:

  • Carbon rims from Light Bicycle (light, aerodynamic, tubeless compatible, wide rims for larger tyres):
    • Front: 35mm U shape rim
    • Rear: 55mm U shape rim
  • Schmidt SON 28 dynamo front hub. With 15mm axle for future compatibility using a Nukeproof adapter to fit Quick Release fork
  • Hope pro4 rear hub. For maximum reliability and serviceability (plus UK made). This can support QR or 12mm axles by just changing the end caps.

Compared to the standard Whyte wheels I have saved about 0.5kg despite adding a dynamo hub. They should also be stronger, more puncture proof (jury is out on that one at the moment) and a lot more aerodynamic (I decided I didn’t want a deeper, more aerodynamic front rim as I want to be able to use them even when windy).

By buying handmade wheels from a small UK wheel builder I get a much higher build quality. Plus by going for essentially unbranded rims I get the whole package (including dynamo and very high quality rear hub) much cheaper than branded aero wheels.

Also I get wider rims for wider tyres (much more comfortable, probably just as fast and better for puncture resistance) that work with tubeless tyres (which I am convinced are the best for the future). I have gone for the higher speed Schwalbe Pro-One tyres at present which have a great reputation. However, on my first ride I hit a huge pothole (hidden by a puddle) and got a huge puncture that so badly tore the tyre that the sealant failed to work. I might need to switch to Schwalbe G-One as Jane is using if that doesn’t prove to be an isolated instance.

For the front light powered by the dynamo I have installed a B&M Luxos IQ2 which gives

  • a 90 lumens main beam.
  • a handlebar switch for full beam/dipped beam
  • daylight running lights
  • a usb charger

It is quite large but I’m very happy with the way it has fitted using a Supernova adapter bracket I bought from Shand

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To sort the brakes I decided to upgrade nearly the whole drivetrain and have switched to Sram Rival with 11 speed and hydraulic disk brakes. This is the same as Jane’s bike which means we only need one bleed kit and maintenance should be easier due to consistency. It also gives me a slightly wider gear range than I had before. First impressions are that the braking is superb! Plus the brake hoods feel super secure (no fear of your hands slipping off the front) and I like the double tap gear change.

I also took the opportunity to fit a new rack that just looks so much better than the last one that I found in the shed and rattled a lot.

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Finally I felt able to “slam” the stem. Must be the massage and stretching exercises that Jo has been using to rebuild me each time I hurt myself by running. This does highlight the only dislike I have about the setup of the bike which is the way the cables/hoses exit the frame and are so unaerodynamic as they go to the handlebars.

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Anyway on today’s quick test around Syston I immediately set to PR’s on strava segments, so looking good 🙂

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
00:20:04 00:19:45 4.96 15.05 31.09 98.43
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

New wife bike. A Bish Bash Bosh from On One

So the cat is out of the bag. Jane has a new bike. A very discreet Bish Bash Bosh from On One:

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The professional image from their website (of a slightly different spec) is:

So why a new bike? Lots of reasons:

  • Jane picked up a leg injury last summer. There does not seem to have been a single specific cause but, at the very least, her road bike made it worse. In particular a bumpy downhill which required a complete stop at the bottom. Jane has struggled with the brakes on that bike and we have tried various pads to improve them. However, she could never apply them hard enough to be confident stopping. We think that made her very tense and rigid over the bumps and it jarred her leg. It also sapped her confidence.
  • Jane is going on a Women’s Cycle Tour in France in the summer. While I had fitted a rack to her Specialized Dolce Elite Equipped, with 25mm tyres and weak brakes it wasn’t going to be ideal.
  • This year is one of those milestone birthdays that is worth celebrating.

So we looked at lots and lots of bikes. In particular Jane test rode a Specialised bike with hydraulic disk brakes and discovered that she could stop exactly where she wanted with no fuss and without having to strain at the brake levers. For her this was a complete game changer (and sadly we didn’t see any women’s road bikes with disk brakes, even cable operated 18 months ago).

So we looked at lots of bikes, mostly on the internet because finding stock isn’t easy. We did like the Specialized Dolce Comp Evo. Again there are not a lot of women’s road bikes with hydraulic disk brakes, 30mm+ tyres and both mudguard and rack fittings. We noted all the key measurements from Jane’s current bike to see what else might fit. In particular that was the:

  • Stack height: the vertical height between the bottom bracket and the top of the head tube. This tells you how upright you will sit and Jane prefers a fairly upright riding position even on a drop handlebar bike (it can be adjusted by adding some spacers under the handlebar stem but only to a limited extent).
  • Reach: the horizontal distance between the bottom bracket and the top of the head tube. This determines how stretched out you are going to be (two other key factors affecting this are the saddle position [forward/backward on it’s rails] and the length of the handlebar stem.
  • Seat Tube: Distance from the bottom bracket to the top of the seat tube. Determines how low the saddle can be.
  • Step over height: Jane finds bikes with the handlebar and saddle in the same position but a higher cross bar intimidating. So a sloping cross bar giving plenty of clearance when standing over the bike was essential.

There is now quite a lot of choice for men of bikes with hydraulic disk brakes but very little for women. So we looked at buying a frame that we could fit out exactly right. That is when I came across the Bish Bash Bosh from On One. The frame ticked lots of our boxes but at £999 for the frame only was going to be an expensive build. However, when we looked at the build options we realised that the Rival 11 Hydraulic Gravel Adventures model was pretty spot on and a lot cheaper than building up from the frame. So we went up to Sheffield and looked at one before deciding to take the risk of a less well known bike.

This is a very unusual bike in lots of ways beyond the colour scheme (which attracts a lot of attention). It is very rare to find a carbon frame with rack mounts. It has the latest axle standards (bolt thru 15mm front and 12mm rear) but despite the large bulk of the bottom bracket area of the frame it has old standard bottom bracket sizing with external bearings (which I like for their easy servicing and replacement. They are going to be plenty stiff enough for the power Jane can produce).

I then ordered a few upgrades:

The proof of the pudding is in the riding and the proof is really good.

  • Longer rides (much longer than any since the injury)
  • Now ridden all the way up the hill through South Croxton 5 times on the new bike. (only once or twice ever before)
  • Setting personal bests on segments on every ride.
  • Lightest bike she has ever had.
  • The SRAM brakes and gears are excellent (and the levers very easy to adjust for small hands, even spacing the gear levers in from the brake levers is easy). Jane has found adapting to the doubletap gear change very easy too.

And apparently it is the most comfortable bike Jane has ever ridden. It stops better than any other bike she has had . Pus she is already feeling more confident of it’s handling, especially on bumpy roads and poor surfaces than she has on any other bike.

On our ride today I was following Jane who was at times cruising along at about 20mph which is completely new territory.

Finally Jane really likes the colours and cartoon style “Bish Bash Bosh” writing inside the chain stay and front fork. It certainly stands out (Jane wanted me to point out that the same bike is available in boring grey or bright lime green colours)!

We are very pleased with this!

 

Whyte Suffolk upgrades

I’ve had a number of issues with my Whye Suffolk over recent months.

  • The brakes TRP HR/RD (hydraulic disk brakes at the wheel end that are cable operated) have been getting worse again (already had one replaced and other maintenance done). By worse I mean trouble actually stopping downhill, severely restricting my freedom to go fast.
  • The back wheel has been giving me problems. The freewheel seized and then later failed. I have replaced that but the whole thing was a pig to reassemble and leaves me with reliability fears.
  • I’ve already had a spoke fail on the front wheel.

I really like this bike. I find it both comfortable and fast. It is practical enough to be used for long rides where you need to carry some stuff as well as fast enough for club rides. With the mudguards and 28mm tyres it is also suitable all year round. The Shimano 105 gears are a joy to use. So only the brakes and wheels let it down. [Although I do know that a number of people have had these 2013 frames fail where the internal cables exit, I’ve had no problems and I know the design was changed for newer models]

So I have some really exciting wheels being built by Fraser at TheHappyCog.co.uk more on those in about a week when they arrive.

In preparation for that I’ve been fitting in around too much other stuff some “simple”, “cheap” upgrades. In a sense these are a last resort before looking at proper hydraulic brakes.

  • I’ve fitted really high quality brake cables. I suspect part of the problem is the long lengths of cable housing (used to improve weather protection and as part of the internal cable routing). Sourcing them is tricky because you need such long cable housing. In the end I have fitted a full set of cables: “Jagwire Road Pro XI Brake/Gear Kit” which I got from Tredz.
  • I’ve also fitted rather fancy Swissstop Sintered Disc Pads in the hope that they are as good as their rim brake pads (also from Tredz)
  • All that meant fitting new handlebar tape (Cinelli Gel Cork Bar Tape One Size Black from Wiggle)

Looking good 🙂 Ready for a test ride real soon now.

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