Saturday, 8 February 2014

The Ridley Ignite Build.

Building a bike up is always a nice project, even for me despite putting bikes together all the time. A mountain bike although is not something I’ve had to use my tools on for almost 10 years when I built up an Inexa prototype test bike to race on, which I finished 4th on at the Australian Nationals of that year . I don't think the bike ended up in production. As a race mechanic you can often work with the same component manufacturer for a few seasons with not too many changes. The past 3 years I have being working with Campagnolo, before that it was Shimano with one season working with Sram. For mountain bike components it has been just as long, with our current bikes being 6 years old now. So the idea of working with new components is always exciting.

With purchasing a bike there are a few main factors that decide the purchase, brand, sizing/geometry, components, price and colour if your colour conscious. These apply also to mountain bikes but there are a few more options to think about. The frame size I knew what I needed, the colour was the next most important decision as the bike was for Lindsay, so of course it had to be white. This just left to choose the brand and then wheel size, 26”, 27.5” or 29”. In this case, as the bike was for Lindsay, we decided to stick with the 26” wheel size after she tested a 29er and didn’t like it, even I didn’t fancy the ride of it. A 29er is not a problem for a taller rider, but for someone shorter like Lindsay, then a 29er is more bike than they can sometimes handle, not to mention the general look of the set up can look a little silly with more wheel than frame.

The goal with this purchase was to get a bike around the 9.5kg figure. Lindsay is starting to get into the enduro events, so a lighter bike she can push and manouevre easier would be a worthy upgrade, but she didn't want a dual suspension. The problem with finding a bike sub 10kg is they ususally don't come cheap. So the challenge was to get a 9.5kg bike for around 3000-3500 euro budget. The other problem was finding a 26” high spec bike, something even at Shimano XT or Sram XO level was not easy. As the market has being taken over by 29ers there really isn’t any high end 26” bikes anymore, well not that I found. Most manufactures are now having their high spec bikes as 29ers, or the newer 27.5” as they focus the 26” on the lower scale of their range. This makes the selection a tad more difficult, but there was another option. It leaves you with the option to custom build a bike up, normally this is at a higher cost for any type of bike, but you really get the bike fitted out the way you want it.

All the parts to build a bike.

So after deciding to do a ground up build I looked around on the internet for some frames that could fit within the budget I was working to, and again, this would normally not be possible for a budget of 3500 euro as a decent carbon frame alone can cost around 2500-3000. Browsing a few places and coming up empty handed I decided to check the Ridley Outlet Store website (only available to EU residents) to see what they had in stock.  Luck would have it they had a NOS 2012 model Ignite Team frame which was 26” in the size I needed, and even in pearl white which made Lindsay happy. Although not a super lightweight frame it was still light enough with the 30T HM carbon and I was confident I could achieve the 9.5 target, and for the price 58% off regular retail, it was a good deal. The frame then was sent to a local Ridley dealer and I picked up the frame a few days later. Now that the frame was purchased it was time to move on with the other components.

Finding a quality fork to suit the wheel size and head tube dimensions was the next decision, easy enough as there are plenty on the market. Again I was looking for something lightweight at a reasonable price. After some browsing I opted for a Rock Shox Sid RTC3 Solo Air with 9mm (standard) axle. The options here were also with a 15mm Thru Axle but the 9mm version was a sale model despite being a 2014 fork, I was hoping for a travel of 120mm rather than the 100mm version, but for Lindsay 100mm travel would be enough.

The groupset was also an easy decision. It needed to be something top level to achieve the final bike weight of 9.5kg on the scales. I also thought a triple combo would be better for Lindsay. The Sram XX or XO was more expensive than Shimano’s XTR, so the XTR M980 was the clear choice when at almost half the price of the competitor’s option as well as being available in a triple. The groupset does not come with rotors, so these were purchased separately and I decided to stay with XTR as they also fit the hubs spline system as the 6-bolt pattern is still quite popular. I just went a diameter of 160 front and rear which should be enough brake power for Lindsay.
The XTR looks nice with the polished alloy finish.

Wheels were the next major item in the build. As the fork I selected was a 9mm axle the wheels had to be compatible, as well as the rear axle for the frame. The wheels had to again be on the light side, not something more than 1500g and also within budget, so while a flash carbon set would be nice it was not an option. It took a while for me to decide but it came down to 3 wheelsets, the Mavic Crossmax SLR, the Stans No Tubes ZTR Crest and the Shimano XTR M985. I was close to going for the Mavic’s, the reason being they were the inventor of the UST wheelset. This is where the Stans were edged out despite being a quality wheelset, as they are standard wheels that can be made Tubeless Ready. The wheel choice has to be compatible with tire choice, because you have UST tires and then Tubeless Ready tires. The UST tires have thicker side walls and do not require sealing where as a Tubeless Ready tire needs a sealant so air does not leak out the side walls. In the end I decided on the XTR’s to match the groupset, they were lightweight, UST and an unbeatable price at 399euro (RRP 1150euro). The budget was now looking real doable. I now needed UST tires and I was choosing between Continental Race Kings or Schwalbe Racing Ralphs. I didn’t want something too wide so the Race King in a 2.0 rear and 2.2 front tire was my initial idea, but the 2.0 tire was not available from where I was purchasing them so in the end I went with the Racing Ralph’s in 2.1 from the local shop where I picked up the frame.

So with all the major components selected it just left all the smaller parts to complete the build. During the whole product searching process I kept in mind the 9.5kg target. So a lightweight bar and stem was also needed. Here I almost went for some Ritchey WCS, but then I found the Pro XCR components were lighter for just a few bucks more, and the bar was carbon. Probably the only thing I could not control the weight on was the saddle. Lindsay was happy with the saddle on her old bike, and if you find a good saddle then you should stick with it. So here a comfy BBB BSD-05 was her choice. The other thing Lindsay wanted say over was the hand grips. These had to be comfortable for her, which is important as a poor grip can leave your hands numb and sore. The texture of the grip had to be smooth and I was searching for Oury Lock-Ons in white. I quickly found Oury’s are not so common here in which I just settled with some 4ZA grips that so far seem ok for now. Then it was just a bidon cage in where a BBB model would do the job. I also needed a rear brake adaptor as the frame had standard IS2000 mounting and the M980 calipers were post mount. This adaptor also has to suit rotor size. The last item was to get some lighter pedals so I went with again XTR, not as light as maybe some other options out there but the XTR were a good price and would mean Lindsay could use one pair of shoes for her mountain bike and cross bike.

Most of the items I purchased from stores online, something I don't recommend as you should always try support your local bike shop. But high end stocked shops are not as common here as they would be in a city like Melbourne for example. The frame was direct from Ridley with the local dealer making a small commission. The fork and brake adaptor came from Germany at groupset came from a shop I often use here which is actually a normal shop, but it is a large shop and they buy in massive quantities so prices for groupsets are always good . The wheels were from and the bars,stem, rotors and pedals were from a shop not far from me in Germany Then I went to my local shop Rubino Wielershop for the remaining parts, well he's not really my local shop as I have quite a decent high end shop 50m from door, but the guy at Rubino was really friendly and he was only about a 40min ride by bike in a neighboring village.

With all the items now purchased it was time to assemble the bike. The Bottom Bracket was first prepped and the head tube inspected to insure a smooth fit for the press fit cups. The headset cups then were greased and bearings installed followed by the fork and stem. The stem height was measured (measure twice cut once) then the steerer tube cut. I allowed up to 20mm spacing under the stem with a 10mm on top. This allows plenty of room for set up which I needed because at first it was only a 5mm spacer underneath but is now 15mm. Then in went the bottom bracket, cranks, rear derailleur, front derailleur, handlebar and brake/shifterset. The rear brake line then had to be disconnected  because the frame has internal routing, and then both rear and front lines were carefully shortened without losing too much fluid. Next was to install the shift cables and set the derailleur limit screws. I then focused on the wheels by installing the tires, which went on quite easy. I just had to make a quick trip to the hardware store to get a tire inflator for my compressor to be able to get enough air in the tires at a rapid rate. It took a bit to seat the tires but some soapy water helped, along with a cautious procedure of slowly and carefully pumping the tire to the maximum air pressure while putting force on the tire by pushing away from the rim. Then it was to install the rotors and cassette. With the rear wheel now in the bike I can fit the chain, bolt the pedals and adjust the gearing. The finishing touches were then to fit the saddle, bottle cage and grips. The last thing to do was to cut the integrated seat mast at the required height. All done and the bike was ready to hit the dirt. 

The bike in the build process.
The bars at a light 112g for a 58cm.
The brake and shifter assembly is not as
bulky as it used to be and the I-Spec mount
system is a clean look.
The top cassette cog is almost as big as the
rotor. I noticed on the hub the XTR logo does
not face up towards the valve, minor build
error in my opinion.
Lindsay takes it out for the first ride.
She discovers how a lighter bike climbs so much quicker.
One happy customer. Happy wife happy life.
Weight and cost breakdown of the build.

Ridley Ignite Team frame size S - 1450g                             Frame - 682
Seat Clamp - 121g                                                             Fork   - 458
Rock Shox Sid RTC3 Fork - 1470g                                  Wheelset - 399
XTR rear wheel without QR - 840g                                    Groupset - 899                       
XTR front wheel without QR - 700g                                   Disc Rotors - 78
XTR Quick Releases - 124g                                               Handlebar - 73
Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.1 tires - 650g each                      Stem - 65
XTR 160 Rotors with lock ring - 123g each                        Saddle - 28
XTR 11-36 Casstte with lock ring - 214g                           Grips - 11
XTR Chain - 269g complete                                               Tires - 90
XTR Pedals - 306g                                                             Bidon cage - 14
XTR BSA Bottom Bracket - 88g                                        Brake Adaptor -10
XTR 24/32/42 Crankset - 680g                                          Pedals - 90
XTR Front Derailleur - 147g                                               Headset spacers - 10
XTR Rear Derailleur - 176g                                  
XTR I-Spec shifters with inner wire - 221g                          Total - 2907 euros
XTR Brakeset (lever,hose,calliper) front - 257g
                                                      rear - 273g
XTR shift housing set - 49g
BBB BSD-05 Saddle - 250g
BBB BBC-31 Bidon Cage - 39g
4ZA Hand Grips - 75g
PRO XCR Stem 90mm - 100g
PRO XCR Flat Bar 58cm - 112g
Shimano Disc Brake Adaptor with bolts - 35g
FSA Headset - 106g
Headset Carbon Spacers 20mm - 13g                                Total weight - 9.7kg

So 200g over weight. But there are some areas where weight wasn't taken into account, like the saddle. For another 100 euros could get a much lighter saddle, but Lindsay wasn't prepared to take much risk in comfort there. And in the end, whats the difference between 9.7 and 9.5 kgs when she's used to her 6 year old 15 kg bulldozer.  

Happy cycling

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Cycling Road Rules.

The motorist vs cyclist debate is still a hot topic in Australia and drivers are still using the same old rant, "You don't pay rego". Or they will use the insurance excuse. It is really the only two argument points they have. It is about time they were educated. But below is some rules for cyclists  from Vic Roads, just to remind us all to abide by them to make cycling better for everyone. At the end is a reminder for drivers, not that many non cycling enthusiast would be reading.

Road rulesBike riders are required to obey the same road rules as drivers. However, there are some specific rules that they must also obey. Bike riders can be fined for failing to obey these rules.

Here are some rules and tips for safe cycling:

Signs & signalsRule: A bike rider must obey traffic control signs and signals including red lights, stop and give way signs.

Bicycle helmetsRule: A bike rider and any passenger must wear an Australian Standards approved bicycle helmet securely fitted and fastened to their heads.

VisibilityRule: A bike rider must use a front light, rear light and a red rear reflector when riding at night or in conditions where visibility is poor. The lights must be visible from 200 metres and the reflector visible from 50 metres.
Tip: Make yourself as visible as possible to other road users. Wear bright and light coloured clothing and something reflective or retro-reflective.

Riding two abreastRule: Bike riders must not ride alongside more than one other rider in a single marked lane or on any part of a road that is not a multi-lane road unless the bike rider is overtaking another bike rider.
On multi-lane roads, bike riders cannot (as stated) ride more than two abreast in any single marked lane on that road (unless, as stated, overtaking another bike rider) but may ride more than two abreast across multiple lanes.
If riding in the same marked lane (and regardless of whether the road is a multi-lane road or any other sort of road), bike riders in that marked lane must not ride more than 1.5 metres apart.

Tip: When riding two abreast please consider other road users and, if necessary, change to single file to allow drivers to overtake safely.

Lane markingsRule: A bike rider must use the bicycle lane if there is a bicycle lane on a length of road in the same direction as they are riding (unless there are obstacles in their way, i.e. parked cars, debris etc).

Moving into the path of other road usersRule: A bike rider must not cause a traffic hazard by riding into the path of a driver, rider or pedestrian.
Tip: Before changing lanes, always scan behind you and signal your intentions to other road users.  Make eye contact and use your bell or your voice to warn others.

Left turning vehicleRule: A bike rider must not ride on the left side of a vehicle that is indicating left and turning at an intersection.
Tip: Stay in the traffic lane behind the turning vehicle.

TramsRule: A bike rider must stop before passing the rear of a stopped tram at a tram stop. Once the tram doors are closed and pedestrians have crossed between the tram and kerb, the rider may then proceed to pass the tram.

Bicycle paths & shared pathsRule: A bike rider must give way to pedestrians when using a shared path and slow down when passing pedestrians and other bike riders.
Tip: Use your bell or your voice to warn others as you are passing them.

Riding on footpathsRule: The only bike riders who can ride on a footpath are children under the age of 12, adults accompanying children under 12 years, Australia Post workers, and those with a relevant medical certificate.

Equipment on a bicycleRule: Bicycles must have at least one effective brake and a working bell or similar warning device.

Riding with passengersRule: A bicycle passenger must sit on a proper seat when riding on a bicycle and wear an approved helmet securely fitted and fastened.

Car doors
Rule: Car drivers and passengers must not cause a hazard by opening their car door. They should check for others, including bike riders before opening their car door.
Tip: Bike riders should look out for drivers and passengers getting in and out of parked cars and be aware of the risk of car doors opening.

Earphones and MP3 playersTip: Do not use these devices while riding. You need to be aware of your environment and be able to hear what's around you when riding.

Hook turns Rule: Bike riders can do hook turns at any intersection.
Rule: Cars can only do hook turns at intersections with traffic lights and a hook turn only sign.

FinesThere are a number of fines for bike riders who commit offences on the road, many are the same as for a driver. 
How bike riders should share the road
  • Obey the road rules and stop at all red traffic lights and stop signs. Obey the road rules and stop at all red traffic lights and stop signs.
  • Wear bright coloured clothing, and use lights when cycling at night.
  • Ride predictably and indicate to drivers when you intend to turn or change direction.
  • Bike riders should look out for drivers and passengers getting in and out of parked cars and be aware of the risk of car doors opening.
  • Bike riders are allowed to ride side by side (two abreast) but no more than 1.5 metres apart. If the road is narrow be courteous to other road users and ride single file, to allow vehicles to overtake safely.

How drivers should share the road
  • Be patient and give bike riders a clearance of at least one metre when passing them, more if travelling over 60km/h. If this clearance is not possible do not overtake until it is safe to do so.  After overtaking, make sure you are well clear of the bicycle before moving back.
  • Watch out for bike riders at intersections and roundabouts.
  • Drive slowly and watch out for bike riders in residential streets.
  • Check behind before opening your car door, use your mirrors as well as checking over your shoulder.
  • Do not drive in bicycle lanes.
  • Give way to bike riders in bicycle lanes if you are turning across the lane.
  • Indicate when pulling out, changing lanes or turning, so bike riders know your intentions.

Despite what drivers might think, below is the rule for cyclists undertaking. The rule can be also found under the Australian Road Rules #141. 
But when at lights I don't see it necessary to undertake say 3 cars in order to get to the front, that's just pissing drivers off. It is best and safer for you as a cyclist to just to wait behind.
You may overtake both moving and stationary vehicle on the left except when the vehicle is turning left and giving a left change of direction signal.
Drivers hate that we can skip through the traffic, especially in heavy traffic because we can get further than they can. But if the law states we can undertake then drivers don't have a leg to stand on. All we need is a designated cycle lane to slip through on.

Happy cycling

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Bike Stand Project.

So every winter I find myself a small project or two to do, something to do other than ride the bike and do the housework. Mind you I have 8 bikes in the household that also need maintaining over the winter months. Last year I made a measuring jig for the TT bikes which  of course had to be built to UCI regulations. This year I decided to make two new bike stands, Pro Team style.
For the past 4 years on the team I've used the L shaped style that has a split at the top to sit the hub axle in, like the ones from PRO, which are quite common and useful in the right environment. Most of the time they were normally ok, but when you're at a hotel with a sloping car park or it's a bit windy, they're not so great. I got tired from the number of times the bikes got blown over in the wind while washing the bikes, which often happens with this type of stand as the bikes are so light. Then there was the odd moment when we're at the start of a race for example and we're parked on grass or some sort of an incline, then the stands are useless. I just don't understand why it took me so long to do something about it. So I decided to make a stand that is widely used among many Pro teams, well it's a similar design to what they use as most of them are also hand made by more often than not one of the mechanics, or a guy they know that makes this type of stuff. The only bad thing I see right now is that my team doesn't have a huge bus or camper to carry such a large bike stand, maybe I should still keep the axle mount version for the starts, Mmmm.
Anyway, I had the idea in my head of the basic engineering of a stand and after a few sketches were done this was my prototype. I decided to go with aluminium for it's light weight and the fact that it is easy to work with. Although this design was quite stable and supported the bikes quite well, I was not happy with the look of it, I wanted something cleaner looking. It was just too busy. The angled hooks didn't look that good and the foam stripping on them wasn't sticking. So it was back to the drawing board.

After some more sketches and some tweaking I came up with what I think is a cleaner finished product. The stands are simply made from aluminium 40x20 tubing as the main structure, then there is a list of bolts and other pieces to put it together. As I don't have the gear to weld aluminium, everything is held together by M8 bolts and rivets. To cut the aluminium straight it would be best to use a Vertical Band Saw or a Drop Saw, a Drop Saw I have but I didn't get a blade for it to cut aluminium, so it was a little extra work to make the edges perfect straight. I did however have a bench grinder so that made the file work a little easier.

So the stand above is my 4bike version with dual uprights. The base tube is a 1m length, the feet tubes are 500mm lengths and the upright tubes are 550mm lengths. The uprights had to be no less than 550 in order to get the rear wheel of the bike off the ground to support the bike. The uprights work by an anchor system where in the bottom of each upright tube is a M8x30mm bolt which goes through a threaded 20mm eyelet bolt which hangs down through the main base. When the nut in the main base (which is countersunk inside) is tightened on the eyelet bolt it pulls the upright downwards, anchoring it to the base tube. Simple but sturdy. The end of the upright that sits on the base tube must  also be a clean straight cut, so when anchored to the base tube the uprights sit straight

 The top of the dual uprights I then boxed in using some off cut  40x20 tubing and then some 30x3mm flat aluminium riveted front and back to fix it all together. These hooks I made myself from flat15x2mm aluminium for the upper hooks and 20x2mm flat aluminium for the lower hooks. My first idea was to have them square, bent two times, one at 90 degrees then at 45 degrees. As the upper hooks were not that wide it was important to get the right aluminium, the shiny aluminium broke at 90 degrees, the matt finished aluminium handled the bend but was very fatigued, so I chose to curve the hooks instead. They were first bent about half way, then riveted in place before being positioned to the final look. The ends were rounded off and then wrapped with tape so not to scratch the bikes. Although it is only 2mm thick aluminium the hooks seem very ridged. Ideally I would have preferred the hooks to be vinyl dipped but it was hard to find the right type of hook for what I wanted let alone vinyl dipped. But to go all out I would have vinyl dipped them. All the tube ends were capped off with a plastic plug which I had to source from the UK, it was a task to find a place that sold these individually, most were no less than 500 a pack

The support feet are positioned far on the outside edge of the base tube to give a stable balance. On my prototype I originally had them further in but when the bikes were taken off one end the stand would unbalance and tip up a bit. I also added rubber feet pads for grip. Also all the bolts are capped with a cover to provide protection when the stand is handled.

The dual upright system gives a good distance between the two bikes, of course one bike goes in one direction while the next bike in the opposite direction. With the base being a meter in length there is also good room for the two bikes that face the same direction, even if both had 46cm bars. You can see with the bike on the right if the hook was narrow it would pull the bike inward.

I have countersunk the bolts in the main base tube that hold the uprights and the feet for a clean look and so the feet can be turned in, so the stand can be laid on the floor of the truck or hung on a wall, or like they say on the Tele shopping shows selling all the home gym equipment, "it even folds away flat to be stored under the bed". Something like that.

Here the stand holds easily 4 bikes including two mountain bikes, the two road bikes are around 7kg, Lindsay's mountain bike is 9.5kg and mine is, well over 10 anyway, but the stand holds them sturdy.
And yes, this is a household of Ridley's, great bikes.
Lindsay has her custom painted pearl white Liz road bike and her recently new custom assembled Ignite mountain bike, post on that another day.

So then after this stand was made, I thought, it only holds 4 bikes and usually we are at a race with 6, and we have 10 on the team. Pro teams will normally have 2 or 3 stands that hold 4 bikes. But I decided to make one that holds 6 bikes. I was happy with how the anchor system worked so I used it on the 6bike version also, but with a slight difference.
With the 6bike I chose to use single uprights that are 600mm in length (550 on the 4bike) and with larger M10 bolts rather than M8. I also used longer thread eyelet bolts and positioned these a little higher from the base for extra stiffness. The middle eyelet hook is longer again continuing all the way through the base tube with a plastic knob screwed on for extra support to reduce any sagging in the base tube when a bikes are put on.

On this stand I used a ready made steel hook that I originally had for the prototype stand. As this is the stand the riders will use to hang their bikes a more durable hook was better, as riders are not so careful with equipment sometimes. Still not vinyl dipped but another wrap with electrical tape before they were mounted gave them a softer touch.
The lower hooks are the original shape while the upper ones having being bent out a little to allow room for the seat stay to grab, which essentially stops the bike from falling over. I've seen on some stands the hooks are narrow, which pulls the bike inwards. My aim was to have the bike stand straight. The hooks also have to be the correct distance apart as bikes come in different sizes, too far apart and small bikes won't fit, too less and larger ones won't fit. The bottom hook is mounted at a certain height in order to get the rear wheel off the ground, not sure how it would go with a 29er though, might need a bit more height which can be easily done. I found these hooks worked quite well. The hooks are held in place with 4x12mm rivets.

So here I have all 6 bikes mounted on the stand, 4 of which are over the 8kg mark, and the stand was still quite stable. As you can see the stand also takes a variety of bikes. No more bikes blowing over in the wind now.

Overall I am quite happy with how the stands turned out, easy to make and not that expensive with the tubing being the most expense. Both the 4bike and 6bike stands cost about 75-80 euro and would take about a week to build both if you worked on them all day. There was much drilling and filing to do. I expect the lighter alloy hooks that I made to maybe fail at some point if they get banged around too much, but it is easy to drill out the rivets and replace the hook. Also the tape may come off which is why I would prefer them vinyl dipped, it would be an extra cost but probably worth it. The 4bike version could be made also with single uprights. The single upright seems ridged enough to hold a 7-8kg bike anyway. For extra support I could always rivet on some L-brackets at the base, but we'll see how it goes. It's long season and they will get plenty of use so it's just to see how they hold up.

I have my sketches with all the measurements and materials for anyone interested in having a go at building their own stands.

Happy cycling