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  1. #1
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    Advice for first rando build

    Hey all,

    I'm an experienced cyclist but am finally getting around to building up a dedicated randonneur-style bike, and would be interested in opinions/thoughts about my options.

    I already have the frame, a new Soma Grand Randonneur. I realize this is not a custom-level frame by any means (I also own a full-custom road bike, so I know the difference), but for now this will serve as a test-bed for equipping rando-style and seeing how I like low-trail geometry without the huge upfront cost. Worst case, I identify weakenesses and use this input to have a nicer frame built. Best case, I really, really like it so just ride on . . .

    Anyhow, first thing I want to to is build the wheelset -- I do them myself, and it gets me motivated to complete the rest of the bike. I'm interested in the Grand Bois 650s available from Compass, and I like and have used the SON 28 generator hub. But am undecided about the rear hub, mainly because I'm undecided about the drive train.

    I like the looks and the ethos of going "retro" -- friction shifting, 9- or 10- speed cluster/hub. If I went that route, I like the looks of the high-flange Grand Bois hub. But I also love the feel and action of the Campy 11, and think the polished Athena group would look fantastic. In that case, I would use a White T11 hub in back, which I have also used before and like. My question, though, is why so many rando bikes seem to eschew 11-speed groups in particular, and integrated shifters in general. Is it a reliabliity issue? Yes, the Chorus-11 group on my Seven does require a little more attention than the downtube 9-speed setup on my Surly LHT, but how much is this really a factor for ultra-long distance riding? Are there other compatabliity issues I haven't thought of (like, running Paul cantilevers, for example?)?

    I appreciate thoughts/ideas/opinions on this -- thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    You seem to be overthinking your drivetrain choice. As long as it works for you, go for it. Any White Industry hub will look beautiful and will perform flawlessly.

    Having said the above, I think some folks who build a retro randonneuse want the aesthetics and simplicity of yesteryear, so they pick friction (or indexed) downtube or bar-end shifters for this purpose. You might hear some randonneurs say that they ultimately appreciate this type of old generation shifters because it forces them not to constantly shift as you tend to do with integrated shifters. They also force you to take your hands off the handlebar more often to shift. This process relieves pressure off your hands and fingers over long distances. Unfortunately, these retro shifters work well up 10 speed (9-speed being optimal), especially on friction mode. The spacing of cogs on the cassette are so close at 11-speed that you'll be most likely skipping gears with a light touch on a friction rear shifter. 11-speed begs for the precise shifting of indexed or, even better, electronic shifters.

  3. #3
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    there are plenty of 11s randonneuring bikes out there. Some people use down tube shifters for reliability and ease of repair, but life is too short for that. I used DT shifters my first year of randonneuring, and I recall not wanting to shift on the 600k because it was too much work to reach down and my fingers hurt.

    My next randonneuring bike is going to use SRAM 10s because you can get lower gears with it.

  4. #4
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    I have bikes with indexed ten speed cassettes and bikes with 6 or 7 speed friction shifting. I use the friction shifters for my more relaxed rides. I prefer the ten speed indexed for the bikes I tend to ride hard, because my knees appreciate the smaller steps between gears. One of the indexed bikes is my 1980 Stevenson bike, which was designed as a light touring bike and is pretty close to a perfect randonneur.

    If you want to use bar-end shifters with a ten speed cassette, you might be able to find a Campagnolo barcon. I found a rear shifter on the Bay and mated it with a nice old Suntour Barcon for my Centurion. Works well and looks vintage.

  5. #5
    Senior Member catgita's Avatar
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    There certainly are plenty of rando bikes with all types of drive trains. I use SRAM red 10sp because that was the vintage I had when I built the bike. One consideration on type of shifter is not having cables running thru the space where the handlebar bag goes. Also, with the influence of Hein, I think a fair number of people are simply willing to experiment away from the status quo. I am very tall, so down tube shifters really suck for me.

  6. #6
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    Thanks all for some great perspective! Interesting mention of the SRAM Red 10-speed. I too have this group, on an older racing bike. At the time, people tried to steer me away from the Red because "it breaks". Well, 25,000 miles of hard riding later, that group is bombproof, yet precise and less finicky than my Chorus 11. Not as smooth feeling as the Campy, and the hoods aren't quite as comfy. Possibly the best functioning but least aesthetic (imho) choice. But still a compelling choice . . . .guess I have some decisions to make!

  7. #7
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    I have two bikes with 46/30 cranks and 11-36 cassettes. One uses a 10 speed Sram SRAM cassette, IRD crank, X-9 RD and a Shimano CR70 FD with SRAM bar ends. The other uses a 11 speed IRD cassette, VO 50.4 crank, Shimano Ultegra 6800GS RD and Shimano CR70 FD and Ultegra Brifters. Both shift great. In both setups I run the shift cables fully under the tape and have no clearance issues with a front bag.

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    guido, what do you think of those two cranks?

  9. #9
    solitary roadie katzenfinch's Avatar
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    My rando has a White Indusries hub, nine-speed cluster, and friction bar-ends. Works great for me.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    guido, what do you think of those two cranks?
    I like them both. The VO has the old TA vibe. It works fine with 11 speed. Mine is the v2 model, I have heard folks complain that there were quality issues with the v1 but the v2 seems fine, finish is nice, doesn't wobble and the extractors work nicely. Rings are pinned. The only concern I had was it wasn't assembled at torque spec, but 2 minutes with the torque wrench solved that and it has been fine. I use it with a VO Grand Cru 113 mm bottom bracket for a nice low Q and a good chainline.

    The IRD is styled more like the old Campy cranks. Fit, finish function is fine. Nicely true. Standard ring bolts. Pinned rings. I have the high end IRD QB 75 BB standard length (could have fiddled to go shorter but time was short when I did that build...).The Boulder Bike guys complain about a stress riser that needs to be ground over but I can't find what they are complaining about... I've never tried it with 11 speed but it should be fine with the narrower chain...

    Let me know if you have other questions...

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    huh, I assume the IRD has the same problem as campagnolo that they are modelled after. You could just file the sharp edge where the spider meets the crank arm if I'm right. I've never had one crack, but plenty of people have. Just from pictures, the IRD looks cheap. Not sure how the VO would look on my bike.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    huh, I assume the IRD has the same problem as campagnolo that they are modelled after. You could just file the sharp edge where the spider meets the crank arm if I'm right. I've never had one crack, but plenty of people have. Just from pictures, the IRD looks cheap. Not sure how the VO would look on my bike.
    ird_crank_defiant_46_30t_700.jpg

    This is the crank. Do you mean on the back side?

    I don't find it cheap looking in hand or on the bike. Less so while climbing a steep pitch...

  13. #13
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    On the classic Campagnolo Record arms, the two spider arms right next to the crank arm form a very sharp corner with the crank arm. There is a sharp ridge that is formed because the main arm spreads fairly far out on the face of the spider, but transitions quicky to a smaller section when it leaves the spider arms. If you use google image search for
    site:bikeforums.net cracks campy crank
    you will see the area

    You are probably right about the looks, I have only seen the stock images
    Randonneuring -- it's touring for people that aren't smart enough to stop for the night.
    It's a wonderful sport when you can make up for a lack of ability with a lack of sleep

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    On the classic Campagnolo Record arms, the two spider arms right next to the crank arm form a very sharp corner with the crank arm. There is a sharp ridge that is formed because the main arm spreads fairly far out on the face of the spider, but transitions quicky to a smaller section when it leaves the spider arms. If you use google image search for you will see the area

    You are probably right about the looks, I have only seen the stock images
    Ah! very helpful. Thanks!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cranxter7 View Post
    guess I have some decisions to make!
    My advice: don't worry about getting everything right with this build. You won't, but even if you do, you'll eventually change your mind or get curious about other frames/parts.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
    RUSA #7498

    Random parts for sale!

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    Yep, thanks -- already decided to go with friction 9-speed, and am gathering parts for the wheel build. Went with Grand Bois rear hub, SON 28 front, and Grand Bois 650b hoops. Just waiting for spokes and nipples to begin building them up!

  17. #17
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    sounds like you've got it all figured out; looking forward to seeing the finished build! i've seen very few GRs/650b bikes built up 'modern' with integrated shifters, but i've got 10s SRAM on my own GR, and have seen pictures of Di2 randonneuring bikes floating out there...

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cranxter7 View Post
    Yep, thanks -- already decided to go with friction 9-speed, and am gathering parts for the wheel build. Went with Grand Bois rear hub, SON 28 front, and Grand Bois 650b hoops. Just waiting for spokes and nipples to begin building them up!
    My wheel build is the same as yours but I used an Ultegra rear hub. The wheels get used on a Soma Grand Randonneur or a Gunnar Sport that has been low-trail-650B-ized.

    I do DT shifting because I like the feel of it and for reliability. On my bike, if I let my arm swing down from the top of the handlebar, then it settles perfectly on the shifter. Very comfortable and natural. As to reliability, in the last five years or so, I've had half a dozen friends with cables eaten by their STI shifter (resulting in MacGyvering/long-stop-at-bike-store or abandoning). I've had to replace a cable once, but that's trivial with DT shifters. Most of my bikes are standardized on 9-speed, so it's easy to swap wheels etc.

    Friction: I grew up with friction shifters so I'm entirely used to them. But friction shifters back in the day were shifting chunky 5-speed or 6-speed chains across a widely-spaced freewheel and there was a lot of tactile feedback and you didn't have to be precise. With today's narrow chains and narrow clusters, friction shifting is much more finicky and there is very little tactile feedback. In the summer, you can hear that you haven't quite got it in gear. In the winter, with ear covers, a helmet-liner hat, and the wind whipping around, it's pretty hard to hear that you aren't in gear, so then when you stand up on a climb ... CLUNK. Even with my early-80's Trek that has a 7-speed freewheel, I finally gave up on friction and bought myself some used indexing 7-speed DT shifters on EBay.

    Crankset: For randonneuring I really like the VO fluted triple:
    Grand Cru 110 Fluted Triple Crankset, 24x34x48t

    I wasn't sure if the middle ring is too small, but it turns out to be perfect. Much of the time I am in the big ring, when the terrain is fairly flattish. If it's more variable then I'll be in the middle ring and use the whole range of rear cassette. And it's nice to have the really small granny.

    For short rides like a 200 or 300, I'd probably be fine with the SRAM wide-range cassette, single-chainring setups. But on day three of a 1200, I know that you just lose the ability to grind it out, and instead what you need is gearing that makes it possible to spin up steep climbs so you can give your knees a break.

    Nick

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    I received a PM asking about the finish of the SON 28 hub, but for some reason the site won't let me respond to a PM unless I have at least 50 forum posts. So I'll describe it here and hope he finds it.

    The SON 28 is done to a highly polished, almost chrome-finish. It looks brilliant with the Grand Bois rim it's laced to. Ironically, the Grand Bois rear hub is has considerably less luster than the rim. Hard to see in the pic. But you can see your reflection fairly clearly in the SON hub, but cloudy in the Grand Bois hub.





    I haven't ridden these wheels yet, but if they ride as nice as they look I'm in business!

    Bruce

  20. #20
    Senior Member clasher's Avatar
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    I was running 9 speed friction shifting last year on my first attempt at a 400K in the middle of the night it became pretty tedious to find the gears in the rain; mind you I was using DT shifters. I upgraded to indexed and I didn't any problems finishing the next 400K I tried. If you haven't bought shifters yet I'd recommend the shimano 9 speed (DT or bar-end), they have a friction mode you can use if you really want to go that route or if a derailleur gets bent. The other thing they allow is a lot of flexibility with gearing; easy enough to run mountain derailleurs and cassettes with 9 speed still and chains are cheaper. I run a triple up front and have more gears than I need.

    Those wheel sure do look sweet, do you have lights picked out yet?

  21. #21
    Senior Member Drew Eckhardt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cranxter7 View Post
    I received a PM asking about the finish of the SON 28 hub, but for some reason the site won't let me respond to a PM unless I have at least 50 forum posts. So I'll describe it here and hope he finds it.
    That was me. I finally discovered that with middle age my patience for riding outlasts daylight and device batteries. That dictates a dynohub.

    Thanks for the pictures.

    The SON 28 is done to a highly polished, almost chrome-finish. It looks brilliant with the Grand Bois rim it's laced to. Ironically, the Grand Bois rear hub is has considerably less luster than the rim. Hard to see in the pic. But you can see your reflection fairly clearly in the SON hub, but cloudy in the Grand Bois hub.
    Your wheel looks beautiful! I've always been partial to how silver rims look, but have been compromising for safety with Velocity's retro-reflective HALO powder coating that's anthracite grey in daylight since a family member got hit by a car.
    Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 02-19-16 at 09:30 PM.

  22. #22
    Randomhead
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cranxter7 View Post
    I received a PM asking about the finish of the SON 28 hub, but for some reason the site won't let me respond to a PM unless I have at least 50 forum posts. So I'll describe it here and hope he finds it.
    the reason is that spammers use PM. And they play the long game, so just waiting for the account to be x years old isn't enough. We almost always catch them before they hit 50 posts. You can reply to a PM using a visitor message on someone's profile.
    Randonneuring -- it's touring for people that aren't smart enough to stop for the night.
    It's a wonderful sport when you can make up for a lack of ability with a lack of sleep

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