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  1. #1
    Zzzzzzzzzzz earleybird's Avatar
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    Bike design help needed

    I may be posting in the wrong forum but I am sure one of those nice mods will shift us if I am.
    My girlfriend needs a bike building for a forthcoming charity team event in June.

    I have built and maintained many bikes over the past 25 years including my g/fs current bike and they have all been road bikes.
    I have zero experience in off roading and the associated gear required. hence the request for advice.

    Before you all suggest going out and buying an MTB I am not convinced this would be a good solution for the event or my girlfriend. Plus I warn you we need to do this on a very tight budget maybe 300.00 tops.

    Kathy is only 5'.3" so the frame will need to be small and the bike light because she is sure to have to run with it and lift it over obstacles
    The event is a 40 mile route around mount snowdon in Wales UK
    followed by a climb to the top of the mountain and back down followed by a canoe distance probably over a mile.

    The cycle route is mainly hilly asphalt with some off road ( probably light gravel and mud tracks)

    I was thinking along the lines of a cyclocross type frame set as a basis for the bike. I could braze on some cantilever brake bosses onto a 531 road frame with good clearance for some suitable tyres. drops with bar end shifters What would you suggest
    I'm ready for something , but I don't know what!!..

  2. #2
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    You are right that a CX style of bike would work well, but at 5'3", your GF needs a small wheeled machine. There is a limit to how small you can make a 700C frame without bodging the geometry.
    26" MTB wheels in a lightweight frame are ideal: check out some of the Thorn bikes at sjscycles.com for inspiration but they start at twice your budget. Lightweight 26" wheelers are niche products, but you may be able to get a used one in the back pages of the CTC magazine or from SJS cycles.

    A mid-range Al-frames MTB with front sus will probably do the job. MTB frames are not so heavy these days.Specialized Hardrock seems to be the base level for serious riding.

  3. #3
    Zzzzzzzzzzz earleybird's Avatar
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    Thank you Michael for your response.
    I was beginning to think I would be doing this without any help
    Glad to hear you think I'm on the right track.
    I thought of the cx frameset because I should be able to build something that a is below 20 Ilbs and b a style of bike she is familiar with (saves the learning curve in a few short months )

    I can probably pick up a suitable 19" cx frameset for under 100.00 s/h or if not a road framset and braze the cantilever brake bosses on ,myself.
    Excellent idea about the 26" wheels I shall have to explore the wheels and tyres options though I suspect that around 32 mm should be enough
    I have most of the components already in my bin.
    will need to source the cl brakes
    Perhaps straight bars and twist grip gears might be a better alternative than drops and Sora 8sp sti? what do you think
    Lastly I shall have to give some careful thought to gear ratios quite a spread is needed for fast road and slow hilly semi rough stuff It will probably have to be double cs though to stay within budget. Have to get my gear chart out and rummage through the sprocket bin
    I'm ready for something , but I don't know what!!..

  4. #4
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    If you are worried about weight,you cetainly don't need front suspension.Why mess with brazing on cantilever bosses on a road frame? Lower end steel MTB frames are real pigs weight wise,but that may be your best option,and it is only a charity event right, so unless there is long term later use invloved,why turn it into a mission to mars project,especially if cost is a consideration?

  5. #5
    NCAA - DUAL CHAMPIONS! a2psyklnut's Avatar
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    Why not just borrow a bike or rent one for the event? Seems like a more economical way to go. Heck visit your LBS and ask them to sponsor her for the event by letting her "Demo" a bike for the race. While in the pits, you could have a "For Sale" sign on the bike, with a lowered price for that bike after the event and the name of the shop where you could buy a similar bike!

    Our shop has done this numerous times. We had a co-worker participate in an adventure race and used a full-suspension bike for training and the event. We now have her bike on sale at a "demo" price, and the bike is still flawless! We'll sell it just above cost, so we won't loose money. The owner will write off the lost revenue, so it's a win-win!

    L8R
    "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "WOW, What a Ride!" - unknown
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  6. #6
    Zzzzzzzzzzz earleybird's Avatar
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    mmmmm sounds like a good idea but my g/f needs the bike almost immediately for an intensive 12 week training program and I think a the bike is likely to get trashed and b local bike shops are unlikely to want to sponsor her a free bike for an event that will be happening in a different country.
    However I will look into this as its a good idea THANKS
    I'm ready for something , but I don't know what!!..

  7. #7
    Zzzzzzzzzzz earleybird's Avatar
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    Originally posted by pokey
    If you are worried about weight,you cetainly don't need front suspension.Why mess with brazing on cantilever bosses on a road frame? Lower end steel MTB frames are real pigs weight wise,but that may be your best option,and it is only a charity event right, so unless there is long term later use invloved,why turn it into a mission to mars project,especially if cost is a consideration?
    We ( 8 team members and support) have naturally already considered hiring, buying new and MTB options and they have been eliminated for all the reasons given

    I never condidered using suspension I don't know where that suggestion came from. I certainly wouldn't recommend a MTB either as a they are too heavy for this event and a slight lady and b it would mean Kathy would have to learn riding it as well as an intensive multi discipline training program. I think She has enough on her plate.

    As for being `only a charity event' check out the course and race details above pokey.its going to cost her 200.00 entrance fee. A minimum 150.00 sponsorship 4 months intensive training and a lot of incidental travel/subsistance expenses traveling 100s of miles to train on mountains in Wales.!

    I have built many bike frames and braze ons are extremly simple once they are correctly alighned 20 minute job tops. The cantilever brakes will be essential to stop from 30+ mph with wet muddy brakes.
    I'm ready for something , but I don't know what!!..

  8. #8
    Bike Happy DanFromDetroit's Avatar
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    Are you going to build her a canoe as well ?

    It seems to me that you intend on going to alot of trouble for one afternoon's worth of cycling for charity.

    If it were my g/f, I would take 1/3 of the budget and buy a disposable MTB from a local big-box store and take the other 2/3 of the budget and donate the money to the charity or spend it on a post-event party.

    Riding with her and snapping a photo, or otherwise documenting her effort would be a nice gift as well.

    Good luck and have fun.

    regards
    Dan

  9. #9
    Zzzzzzzzzzz earleybird's Avatar
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    Originally posted by DanFromDetroit
    Are you going to build her a canoe as well ?

    It seems to me that you intend on going to alot of trouble for one afternoon's worth of cycling for charity.

    If it were my g/f, I would take 1/3 of the budget and buy a disposable MTB from a local big-box store and take the other 2/3 of the budget and donate the money to the charity or spend it on a post-event party.

    Riding with her and snapping a photo, or otherwise documenting her effort would be a nice gift as well.

    Good luck and have fun.

    regards
    Dan
    Its clear that neither you nor pokey have bothered to take the time and trouble to read the brief properly or the following discussion. Leastways you would appear not to have fully understood.
    How many of the novice ladies of this forum do you think could race a heavy MTB up and down 50 miles of mountain roads and rough muddy tracks carrying it over gates and obstacles and up hills.
    Then get off and run up a 3000 foot mountain and back down
    Get on the bike ride to a lake and paddle a 2 canoe raft around a 1.5 mile lake after that all in under 8 hours! and trying all the while to keep up with 3 fit male army team members. Get real

    If you cannot be bothered to respond helpfully please don't bother at all.
    I'm ready for something , but I don't know what!!..

  10. #10
    Bike Happy DanFromDetroit's Avatar
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    Originally posted by earleybird
    The event is a 40 mile route around mount snowdon in Wales UK
    followed by a climb to the top of the mountain and back down followed by a canoe distance probably over a mile.

    The cycle route is mainly hilly asphalt with some off road ( probably light gravel and mud tracks)

    I think I got the description Ok. 50 miles on asphalt and light gravel.

    As far as the hills go, she has 3 months to prepare for that. A course for a charity ride is designed to be both challenging and fun for the average cyclist. The event you describe is not a competetive event. It is not designed to eliminate folks. The average rider should be able to complete the course on an ordinary bicycle.

    You will see folks doing this on ordinary bicycles and having fun.

    If you feel the need to custom build something for her, go ahead, but it probably won't make much of a difference in how she completes the course.

    The only reason I mentioned this at all is that I got the impression from your post that you were turning a fun-ride into a bike building event. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but you can have just as much fun without all of the trouble.

    regards
    Dan
    There is nothing homlier than the face on your last dime.
    --John Wildcat, Greenback Friend

  11. #11
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    I guess I don't get it.Tight budget,big entry fee ,other expenses and building a special bike.Maybe there is a point to it.
    You seem to know enough to cob something workable together.Suitable gearing is probably the biggest issue.The first post did not say anything about her running up the big hill anyway.
    Last edited by pokey; 02-03-03 at 11:34 AM.

  12. #12
    Zzzzzzzzzzz earleybird's Avatar
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    Ok guys I lost it and I apologise for flipping my lid but believe me so many answers are flippant or sarcastic with little thought being put into them that I find it exasperating.
    After all I didn't ask you for your opinions on how to approach the preparation for this event but how to put together a cx
    Yes it is a highly competetive event, its a team elimination race like you see on extreme events on B SkyB. I can assure you this will be very fast and gruelling triathlon especially given the calibre of people doing it.
    http://www.actionforcharity.co.uk/snowdonia220802.htm

    It will take me a couple of days and about 150.00 to design & build Kathy a bike which will be light enough and strong enough to give her a little bit of an edge over the 3 army blokes in her team. That will be my contribution .(The team can only go as fast as the slowest team member as they are signed in at various check points around the course.)

    So its not quite the `lightweight' event you assumed is it !

    I'm ready for something , but I don't know what!!..

  13. #13
    Senior Member RacerX's Avatar
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    Try a compact cx frame like Kona's or Giant. That should do well for the shorter in stature.
    Also, I would go 35c or a fat 30c (like Michelin) for the additional cushioning effect.
    I would not necessarly get a road bike and modify it. Sounds like you are handy so the canti bosses are not a problem for you to weld on but tire clearance and geometry may not suit off roading.

    I personally don't like bar end shifters as knees tend to bang them. It might be an issue for a small frame--you should check on that. I like the regular STI or Ergo. I also like the Kelly Take-offs which use downtube shifters at the brake levers.

    A suspension post might be good if she needs it more comfortable to save some energy for the rest of the event.

    Double wrap the bars for additional comfort.
    good luck!
    Also why apologize? You are totally right.

  14. #14
    Zzzzzzzzzzz earleybird's Avatar
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    Thank you racerx I was beginning to think I was wasting my time. This community used to be so very good, friendly and helpful but 3 months ago it started to attract an element that seemed only interested in arguing and redicule so I went from spending 2 hours a day to zero. This was the first post I have made in 3 months

    I agree about the bar end shiftersI hate them myself as I spend all my time on the hoods

    I take your point about the geometry I don't mind putting in a few days work on this for my other half. After all it gives me some pleasure too
    I'll check out the cycling mags and local papers for compact frames maybe place an add or 2 but time is short.
    Thanks for the suggestion about tyres as I haven't a clue in this area ( 19mm is the widest I use)
    We already have 3 sets of ergo levers so it would make sense to use one of these and she will be used to them too which is a big advantage I'll give her my beloved Sora

    Brilliant idea about db wrapping bars. Didn't think of that! nor did I think of the suspension seat post either it will compliment her gel saddle
    thanks once again for 3 really excellent suggestions
    Nick
    I'm ready for something , but I don't know what!!..

  15. #15
    Senior Member RacerX's Avatar
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    check out chucksbikes.com. They have a Giant cyclocross frame--compact geometry-- for about $300 with carbon fork. Maybe a bit more than you want to spend but it s really cheap for a frameset

    The compact frame should give you enough clearance for a suspension post. I also like ergo levers alot. They are tougher than STI and can take abuse better.

  16. #16
    Zzzzzzzzzzz earleybird's Avatar
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    I just found a frameset that will do and its only 5 miles down the road!
    http://www.sjscycles.com/store/vIndex.htm
    reckon that equates to around 285USD ?
    If not I'll check out the site you mentioned. 300USD sure is cheap for a Giant. I order stuff from the US almost every week so distance is no problem other than shipping costs.
    cheers
    edit
    looks like the link isn't working. The frame is a yellow Tange in Frames stock road frames for 139.00 GBP
    I'm ready for something , but I don't know what!!..

  17. #17
    Zzzzzzzzzzz earleybird's Avatar
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    hows this.
    gosh sorry about the size of the image everyone gulp
    I'm ready for something , but I don't know what!!..

  18. #18
    Zzzzzzzzzzz earleybird's Avatar
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    This tyre size 27mm x 700 is the largest that will fit the frame. Would it be ok for a bit of mud and gravel tracks?
    I'm ready for something , but I don't know what!!..

  19. #19
    Senior Member RacerX's Avatar
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    27 will do but it's pretty skinny. It will be easier to pinch flat so you have to run more air pressure, thus making a harsher ride. Also makes it easier to wash out on gravel. It will be nice and fast on hardpacked dirt or pavement though.
    Also making it difficult is the fact that everyone's measurements are different. Michelin's 30c is about the same as other 35c, for example.

    Ideally, you want something that can clear up to 35c tires. That gives you the flexibility to try different tires for different conditions or riding preferences.

  20. #20
    Zzzzzzzzzzz earleybird's Avatar
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    mmmmm I did wonder about the size but having tried a MTB with fat tyres 35mm once I remember how hard it is to push it along on the road at any speed approaching 20mph and I suspect the route is likely to be 75-80% road
    I'll take a look at the site you mentioned and see if those cx frames have more clearance.
    I'm ready for something , but I don't know what!!..

  21. #21
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    I ride a Kona CX bike with 700x35 tires on it. I can't remember off the top of my head what the tires are, but they are semi-slick, and very nice on-road, and fairly decent off-road. I'm not sure how nasty the off-road portions of this race are going to be, but if it's not any worse than packed dirt / gravel / light mud the semi-slick types are a nice compromise between road speed and off-road stability. I used this bike primarily as a road bike (with some fast packed-dirt trail riding thrown in) for a year, until I got my raleigh.

  22. #22
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    Originally posted by earleybird
    [B
    How many of the novice ladies of this forum do you think could race a heavy MTB up and down 50 miles of mountain roads and rough muddy tracks carrying it over gates and obstacles and up hills.
    Then get off and run up a 3000 foot mountain and back down
    Get on the bike ride to a lake and paddle a 2 canoe raft around a 1.5 mile lake after that all in under 8 hours! and trying all the while to keep up with 3 fit male army team members. Get real

    If you cannot be bothered to respond helpfully please don't bother at all. [/B]
    Now I get it.Maybe the answer is to recruit GI Jane.

  23. #23
    Zzzzzzzzzzz earleybird's Avatar
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    If you cannot be bothered to respond helpfully please don't bother at all

    Originally posted by pokey
    Now I get it.Maybe the answer is to recruit GI Jane.
    nope I still don't think you're getting it at all pokey
    I'm ready for something , but I don't know what!!..

  24. #24
    Zzzzzzzzzzz earleybird's Avatar
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    Originally posted by rhino-x
    I ride a Kona CX bike with 700x35 tires on it. I can't remember off the top of my head what the tires are, but they are semi-slick, and very nice on-road, and fairly decent off-road. I'm not sure how nasty the off-road portions of this race are going to be, but if it's not any worse than packed dirt / gravel / light mud the semi-slick types are a nice compromise between road speed and off-road stability. I used this bike primarily as a road bike (with some fast packed-dirt trail riding thrown in) for a year, until I got my raleigh.
    yes I am clearly going to have to look very carefully at the choice of tyres it could mean the difference between a great ride and a disaster maybe try to find out more about how the terrain is going to be in June. Thanks for your advice rhino-x
    I'm ready for something , but I don't know what!!..

  25. #25
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    I dont think a 5'3" female rider will fit onto a 19" frame. The modern trend for road bikes is to allow more crotch clearance (about 3"), but to maintain the same length. This means that a small rider may be able to clear the top tube like a 1970s racer, but the frame will be way too long.
    Off-road bikes need even more crotch clearance (4-6"), and these bikes should be a little shorter in length, since aerodynamics is not critical.
    A CX style 531 frame built for MTB wheel size would be ideal, but dont discount MTBs if you want a ready built frame. Quality mid-range Al or steel MTBs are not overweight and are easy to pick up used. The wheels can be very strong and light, and narrow CX or touring style tyres (1.5" wide) would be fine. If you dont like the heavy MTB forks, then swap them for a set of springy 531 for much improved performance.

    A triple crank would be the best gearing solution. Short legs deserve short cranks (probably 160 to 165mm). My local bikeshop has a beautiful TA triple chainset in 165 for a mere 30, its is normally 160. If building from scratch, you can use short cranks to advantage to build a bike which is lower and shorter.

    You could probably simplify your shifter problems by sticking with straight bars and bar-ends, or if you need multiple hand positions, butterfly bars. Standard drop bar shifters are not built for small hands.

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