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 www.bike24.com.The groupset came from a shop I often use here www.salden.nl 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 www.mantel-bikeparts.nl and the bars,stem, rotors and pedals were from a shop not far from me in Germany www.bike-components.de. 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.