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My new-ish titanium Frankenbike

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My new-ish titanium Frankenbike

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Old 03-23-08, 07:48 PM
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My new-ish titanium Frankenbike

OK, inspired by Smokester's new bike (http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=400167), along with the flood of new CF bikes hitting the forum, I thought I would tell the story of the bike I bought last Fall. I've had a few pics up here from rides I've taken, but not really explained the bike. I was a little sheepish about the general Freddishness of this bike, but I guess we all learn from each other's shopping adventures, so here goes.



Like Smokester's Mountain Roadster, I wanted a bike that was comfortable, light, fender-capable, geared for mountain roads, and capable of light, credit card touring. I looked hard at CF bikes like the Specialized Roubaix (which I still admire), but it did not have the bigger tire, fender capability that I wanted. I then decided that since Seattle is home to two highly respected custom bike builders -- Rodriguez, at www.rodcycle.com, and Davidson, at www.davidsonbicycles.com -- it was time to stratch my itch for a custom bike. My personal build is not that unusual, except for my height (I'm just under 6' 3"), but in the past I'd always gotten worn out working with bike shops on swapping out stuff I wanted on an off-the-shelf bike. Plus, I liked owning something from skilled bike builders I could meet and talk to. I practically flipped a coin to choose between the two -- finally chose Davidson because (a) his shop is much more convenient to my home and office and (b) he builds in Titanium.

With what I wanted, I ended up with a bit of a Frankenbike -- part road components, part mountain components, some other stuff. Design considerations:

- Titanium. It rains here. Won't ever rust. Easy to refinish brushed titanium 10 years from now when it's all scratched up (Bill Davidson grabbed an old beat-up frame off the wall and showed me how they can be brought back to life w/a wire brush on a grinder...). The actual tubing is pretty big in some places. Tubing is beefy; not quite as big as an all-out touring rig, but not small.
- Steel fork. A carbon fork wouldn't work given the height of the head tube we ended up with. Also, I wanted clearance for 32c tires + fenders, and I got it.
- Paint...originally I wanted bare titanium. But once we figured out we needed a steel fork, that needed to be painted...so I sketched out the half-and-half design you see here (the back half is brushed titanium, not painted).
- Dura Ace triple crankset, DA brifters, DA brakes. This is a Fredish extravagance that's a little embarrassing. Cheaper components would be just as good, but it was my birthday on the day I ordered all this. Let's move on...
- XTR rear derailleur, handles the wide range cassette in back.
- Shiftmate...a little device mounted on the derailleur that helps the DA stuff talk to the XTR stuff.
- Handbuilt wheels with 36 spokes. I don't ever want a spoke to break, and I'm not a tiny guy (185 pounds), so these are rugged wheels. Velocity Aero rims, XTR hubs, DT spokes.
- XTR SPD pedals

Total actual weight, with pedals and seat: 22 pounds. Given the size of the frame, the triple, the steel fork, and the fact that the seat post and steerer hadn't been cut when it was weighed...not bad given the rugged wheels, etc.

Currently this bike is naked (no fenders) and runs on 25c tires. I swore it would not get wet its first winter but w/in the first two weeks (I got it in December) it had been in rain, snow and sleet. I am going to put permanent fenders on before next winter and move to 28c tires.

Since the photo has been taken, I've switched to a Selle An-Atomica saddle and mounted a Carradice seat bag with a bagman rack.

Do overs? I'll like a bike with S&S couplers for traveling. I was seriously over budget already, though...

I forgot to add: I love this bike. It rides great. It climbs like a cat. The experience of working with a custom bike shop was great, and the cost of the frame was actually less than some of the big Ti brands (Serrotta, Moots, Litespeed, etc...). I want another!






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Old 03-23-08, 08:03 PM
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Sweet!
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Old 03-23-08, 08:06 PM
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Wow! I want to hear and see more, more, more! The first two photo links appear broken...

Noob question: what are S&S couplers?
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Old 03-23-08, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by TruF View Post
Wow! I want to hear and see more, more, more! The first two photo links appear broken...

Noob question: what are S&S couplers?
Are the links working now? Seem to be OK for me, but I can redo.

S&S couplers are little joints that go into the frame in a couple of places and they allow you to take the bike apart for travel. They are generally about a $600 to $700 upgrade on a bike. In addition to the couplers, they build the bike with "cable splitters" so it's easy to take your cables apart. You end up with a bike that weighs about 12 to 16 ozs more than a bike without couplers; rides exactly the same; but can travel with everything stuffed into a single, large suitcase. It's not as fast to take one down as it is to take apart a folding bike, but much easier than traveling with a normal bike.

In case the link is broke, there is a great bike blog called "Bike Hugger" from Seattle that writes a lot about Bill Davidson. Here is their flikr photo site of Davidson bikes.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/huggeri...icycles/page2/

Here's another pic of mine if the links above are broken.


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Old 03-23-08, 09:36 PM
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Links work fine now. Great looking bike! I really like how you handled the paint. And thanks for letting me know about S&S couplers. My husband is starting to think about a touring bike, so these threads are very interesting to me. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 03-23-08, 10:05 PM
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WOW!! That's a real beauty! I love the colors.
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Old 03-23-08, 10:51 PM
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Originally Posted by TruF View Post
And thanks for letting me know about S&S couplers. My husband is starting to think about a touring bike, so these threads are very interesting to me. Thanks for sharing!
Here's the website for Sands Machine, the makers of S&S couplers, that explains how packing works:

http://www.sandsmachine.com/p_i_seq.htm

Rodriguez, at www.rodcycle.com, has some good info. on how to pack an S&S bike. Their hard-core touring bike comes with 26-inch wheels, partly to make it easier to pick (26 inch wheels are slightly smaller than 700c tires).

One of the masters of S&S coupler bikes is Co-Motion, at www.co-motion.com. Their "American" model is more of an all-out touring bike; the NorWester is sort of a "sport touring" bike. Smokester mentioned in his post he was looking at the NorWester.

This year Surly is also coming out w/a version of the Long Haul Trucker with couplers; I think they call it the Traveler.

Some people would retro-fit a frame with couplers; I know that on the Co-Motion website they argue against it. They claim that the tubing should be spec'd out with couplers in mind when you build the bike.
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Old 03-23-08, 10:53 PM
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A perfect dream bike. A question. I am curious about what cassette you are using. I may switch from the 9spd dt shifters to 10spd if and when the new "hidden cable" Shimano brifters come out. So what cassette are you using? Is it ramped? Does it shift perfectly?

Also, probably you can get the S&S couplers retrofit...Davidson is on the list of dealers. I think that Ti couplers are 50% more than stainless steel...Mine cost $750 installed on the tubing before it was welded. I'm sure BB knows this...Just for the record. Marinoni would not provide this which was the reason I didn't go with them.
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Old 03-23-08, 11:03 PM
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I don't think my eyes come up as high as that handlebar. If I sat on teh seat I might be able to kick the water bottle. I could ride my bike under it, like a clown show! Is that a 18" or 20" headtube?
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Old 03-23-08, 11:14 PM
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Originally Posted by The Smokester View Post
I am curious about what cassette you are using. I may switch from the 9spd dt shifters to 10spd if and when the new "hidden cable" Shimano brifters come out. So what cassette are you using? Is it ramped? Does it shift perfectly?
It's a 9-speed Shimano cassette.

It shifts perfectly now. After the first 200 miles or so, I had trouble keeping the rear derailleur "in tune;" it would slip gears a bit every 30 miles or so and I'd have to play w/the barrel adjusters. I dropped it by the shop, they tweaked it a bit...finally I put it on the stand, loosened all the cables, tweaked everything again, and now it seems just fine.

Sorry, I don't know what ramped is (?).
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Old 03-23-08, 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by cccorlew View Post
I don't think my eyes come up as high as that handlebar. If I sat on teh seat I might be able to kick the water bottle. I could ride my bike under it, like a clown show! Is that a 18" or 20" headtube?
Yeah, that's a freakishly big head tube. I never felt so tall until this bike popped out; am I really that tall? When I have it around other bikes it sticks out like a giraffe. But it felt great once I got on it. I have zero flexibility...never did, even as a kid, and I've always had neck/shoulder problems on longer rides. The layout of this bike seems to fit like a glove.
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Old 03-23-08, 11:24 PM
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Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
It's a 9-speed Shimano cassette.

It shifts perfectly now. After the first 200 miles or so, I had trouble keeping the rear derailleur "in tune;" it would slip gears a bit every 30 miles or so and I'd have to play w/the barrel adjusters. I dropped it by the shop, they tweaked it a bit...finally I put it on the stand, loosened all the cables, tweaked everything again, and now it seems just fine.

Sorry, I don't know what ramped is (?).
Oh, okay. I was thinking you were running 10 spd. I guess you are using the Shiftmate to convert a 10 spd brifter to work with the 9 spd cassette. Is that right? Also, what size is the cassette?
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Old 03-23-08, 11:30 PM
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Originally Posted by The Smokester View Post
Oh, okay. I was thinking you were running 10 spd. I guess you are using the Shiftmate to convert a 10 spd brifter to work with the 9 spd cassette. Is that right? Also, what size is the cassette?
Cassette is 12-34. I may have overdone it on the low end, but -- I never wanted to say "no" to a group ride because of gearing. I'm really not a weak climber (in fact, I seem to do OK vs. other riders who are faster than me on the flats), but I've always liked the security of low gears. And I do use the lowest gear from time to time (and I live at the foot of a steep hill that is the only way out of my neighborhood...).

Yes, I think that's why they used the shiftmate. It's a pretty slick deal; they make them for lots of different issues and the wrench says they never cause problems.
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Old 03-23-08, 11:30 PM
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BengeBoy, how do you like your Selle An-Atomica these days? I've been thinking of one, but read The Smokester experienced some discomfort recently that may be related to his SA-A.

Thanks!
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Old 03-23-08, 11:40 PM
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Originally Posted by TruF View Post
BengeBoy, how do you like your Selle An-Atomica these days? I've been thinking of one, but read The Smokester experienced some discomfort recently that may be related to his SA-A.

Thanks!
So far, so good! I did a very hilly metric century the day I put it on. I did 47 hilly miles last Sunday. I did 49 easy miles yesterday. The seat was terrific on each of these long rides.

Speaking as a long-time Brooks owner, the Selle An-Atomica feels like "cheating;" it's so comfortable right out of the box you wonder if something is wrong.

Like all new saddles, it benefits from experimentation on fit...tiny changes in positioning, seat angle, etc. make a difference in how it feels. It also needs to be tightened up after the first ride to keep it from sagging.
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Old 03-23-08, 11:41 PM
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Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
Cassette is 12-34. I may have overdone it on the low end, but -- I never wanted to say "no" to a group ride because of gearing. I'm really not a weak climber (in fact, I seem to do OK vs. other riders who are faster than me on the flats), but I've always liked the security of low gears. And I do use the lowest gear from time to time (and I live at the foot of a steep hill that is the only way out of my neighborhood...).

Yes, I think that's why they used the shiftmate. It's a pretty slick deal; they make them for lots of different issues and the wrench says they never cause problems.
Yes. Same here with the gear ratio.

Are you using long reach brakes?

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Old 03-23-08, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by TruF View Post
Links work fine now. Great looking bike! I really like how you handled the paint. And thanks for letting me know about S&S couplers. My husband is starting to think about a touring bike, so these threads are very interesting to me. Thanks for sharing!
TruF,
My Gunnar is not a full touring bike. It's maximum load with a rear rack is 20 lb which would not be enough for fully loaded touring. A purpose-built, full up touring bike would probably have most of the following: a heavier load capacity, more mountings for racks front and rear, more clearance for heavier wheels and tires, provision for cantilever (or equivalent mount) brakes, an even more relaxed riding position and be a little longer.

Spec wise, the Gunnar frame geometry almost literally splits the difference between a Roubaix/Ruby (long distance road) and a Surly LHT (touring).
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Old 03-24-08, 01:22 AM
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Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
Cassette is 12-34. I may have overdone it on the low end, but -- I never wanted to say "no" to a group ride because of gearing. I'm really not a weak climber (in fact, I seem to do OK vs. other riders who are faster than me on the flats), but I've always liked the security of low gears. And I do use the lowest gear from time to time (and I live at the foot of a steep hill that is the only way out of my neighborhood...).

Yes, I think that's why they used the shiftmate. It's a pretty slick deal; they make them for lots of different issues and the wrench says they never cause problems.
One of the advantages of staying 9 speed is the MTB cassette of 11/32 or 12/34 that is available. Only way you will have overdone the low gearing is if you use it up every hill. But then you may be needing it by that stage.

With the crankset being a triple with a 30t granny- I doubt as to whether it would be used that often- But I know that on 10 speed- I will be looking for something just a tad bigger than the 27t I currently have.

Tell us more about this "Shiftmate" 10 speed shifters to be able to use a 9Spd cassette sounds great.


Great bike built for a purpose and custom built for a big lad. And the spec build up- sounds great.
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Old 03-24-08, 01:27 AM
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Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
Tell us more about this "Shiftmate" 10 speed shifters to be able to use a 9Spd cassette sounds great.
To be honest, I didn't know what a Shiftmate was until they said, "you need a Shiftmate," when I started spec'ing the kind of low end I wanted w/brifters and the road crankset.

Here's the details:

http://jtekengineering.com/shiftmate.htm

Here's a UK dealer:
http://www.thetandemshop.com/
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Old 03-24-08, 02:33 AM
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Thanks for the link and sounds as though it will be a money saving way of getting a lower gear on 10 speed- Put in in my To keep on my Favourites for when I want to use it.
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Old 03-24-08, 03:49 AM
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Beautiful bike. Beautiful specs.

A Ti frame is indeed my dream. And your specs and mine would differ little (if I could afford the DA groupset! )

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Old 03-24-08, 04:43 AM
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Its good to hear from the fourm members that are building new bikes as well as those who are buying new bikes. The mix and match possibilities are endless.
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Old 03-24-08, 08:23 AM
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Even a bike bought new is not really yours until you change something on it to make it fit you and your preferences.

OP, nice one!
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Old 03-24-08, 10:32 AM
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Very nice. What is a Franken bike. My definition would be one with mismatched components. Maybe something with different model Look pedals on each side.
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Old 03-24-08, 10:37 AM
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Beautiful bike....and nicely set up!
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