I finished building up my bike a week ago and after riding it solely, I finally have time to put together a build/ride thread. My initial impressions about the bike - I’m grinning ear to ear, make your own conclusions. So here it is, from soup to nuts.
The Concept -
A little background. I had spare set of Magura Marta SL brakes that was unused from another build because the blue anodizing was all wrong for the rest of the bike. The blue color shown online were royal blue but the set I received were turquoise so into the parts bin they went. Spending that much coin on a brand new brakeset only to have it sit idly in my garage was a shame so I started to think about options to use it for it’s intended purpose. Sell it? Put it on my commuter? what to do?
F’ it, I’ll build another bike to use it. Build a new bike built around a brake set you say? Why the f’ not? Kinda like the following Kohler faucet commercial,
So I thought about what I wanted. Yeah, another bike but what kind? HT or FS 26er? had those. HT or FS 29er? those bases covered too. So what’s left? (lightbulb popping in head) Single speed! But 26er or 29er? How ‘bout the often looked over 650B? Why the hell not? So it was decided. The new bike was going to be a singlespeed bike with 650B wheels.
So I went straight to the innerwebs to do some research. The search parameters: a single speed frame that was compatible with 650B wheels. The latter requirement was primary and led to the former. Having already owned an El Mariachi, my search led me to Salsa. In particular, the Ala Carte. My research had revealed that the frame had clearance for a 650B tire so that was good to go. Salsa’s new Alternator dropout looked like a great design to tension a single speed chain so another box checked. Frame ordered, received and clamped to my workstand in my living room.
Then I thought about the parts I’d slap on it. The frame was green, “Green Machine” as Salsa calls it, with white and black graphics and lettering. I would use those colors on the components to compliment the frame. The fork and wheels were the other main parts to take into consideration. The fork had to be 650B compatible. There were limited choices, a Fox would have worked. Again, since this was an unconventional build (for me at least), I decided to “look outside the box”. White Brothers is a small player in the suspension fork market but their new Loop fork intrigued me when I saw a video posted on YouTube from the 2011 NAHBS,
White Brothers advertise the Loop as 650B compatible, it has a tool-free 15mm thru axle and came in black or white. I thought about black for a second, then said to myself, “boring...”.
White! So the front end would be white. Now let me just say, before this build, I wasn’t to thrilled about white on a mountain bike that would get dirty on the trail. On a road bike I can see, but a mountain bike? Kinda getting outta my aesthetic comfort zone but what the hell, I’m already going singlespeed AND 650B. Continue the theme right? Ordered the fork direct from Mountain Racing Products, the parent company of White brothers with my specs: white, 100mm travel, 1 1/8th steerer tube and it was tax free!
What about the wheels to clamp onto the drop outs? Obviously they’d be 650B but which components? 650B being a wheelsize not universally adopted, there are limited choices in rim and tires. The Velocity Blunts come in white which would continue with the white as the main complimenting color. My only gripe about them is that there are no nipple eyelets. The rim just looks “unfinished” without them. Hoops covered, hubs next. Early on, I had already decided to go Chris King on the headset and bottom bracket so to continue the theme, Chris King hubs in black. Spokes and nipples also in black except for a pair of each on each wheel. See if you can spot them! Since I wanted to “go all in” on the single speed concept, the rear hub is single speed specific so no going back to geared. Front hub is 15mm to match the Loop fork. Since I have no clue how to build a wheel and the fact that finding a pair of 650B rims would be next to impossible here in Deutschland, I decided to let professionals tackle the job. Went back to the innerwebs and ordered the wheelset from prowheelbuilder.com and waited for the box to arrive.
In the meantime, I plotted the rest of the parts to be bolted onto the frame. Since this was a single speed bike, that left just the basics. I really wanted to try out the new Ritchey 10 degree flat bars. They offer up a nice 10 degree bend and without being a riser bar. Being a bit ol skool, I wanted a low, cross-country riding position and the Ritchey bars would provide the that. A white Ritchey stem was chosen to clamp onto the bar. I also wanted to go back to bar ends to help with out-of-the-saddle peddling I expect with riding single speed. Ritchey bar ends in white, of course! To keep the white Ritchey cockpit theme, the seatpost would also match. All bits Ritchey WCS and aluminum. No weight weenie carbon bits here. A Selle Italia SLR saddle was chosen to hold up my bum, also in white. White ODI Oury lock-on grips would provide a place for gloved hands. The drivetrain would consist of a RaceFace Evolve singlespeed cranset, KMC gold (for a bit of bling) chain and a Chris King 18T cog that was ordered with the wheelset. I ordered all the parts online and waited for the boxes to arrive. The wait is like waiting for Santa to arrive with a bag of goodies.