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First Bike Build Advice

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First Bike Build Advice

Old 05-20-19, 06:42 PM
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braintree39
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First Bike Build Advice

Not sure if this is the right forum to post this...

I've been commuting to work on an old bike and it's time for an upgrade! I'd like to build up my own bike. I've been leaning towards the Surly Cross-Check frame and could use some advice on components.

My ride is about 5 miles through a small city with traffic, potholes, etc. Mostly flat, but there is one very big hill right at the end... There is also a tiny stretch where there is a trail that is dirt and bypasses a major intersection. I have an old road bike and a cheap hybrid. The old road bike is awesome on nice days. If I could just add fenders and fatter tires to it, I'd just go with that! However, there just isn't enough clearance. The hybrid is breaking down and I'm probably just going to scrap it - but I ride it on rainy days.

So I'm hoping for something that feels like a road bike but can handle a small amount of off-roading. My budget is flexible - I'd rather save for better components, but I also don't want to spend money on components that are way more than I need...

I'm looking at Shimano 105s, Shimano Deore, XT, Tiagra... Etc. Etc. I was also curious about a single speed on the front... For brakes - I don't need disc brakes, I'm ok with anything. Definitely want drop handlebars and I really like the downtube shifters on my road bike, so I'd like to have those!

Anyone in here willing to help me decide on some components?

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Old 05-20-19, 07:41 PM
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Hmmm, where to start?

"So I'm hoping for something that feels like a road bike but can handle a small amount of off-roading." The Cross Check seems like a decent platform for that. Many other bikes would work as well.

Are you really set on doing your own build? The components typically cost more that way. It's fun though.

My commute is just as you describe yours, mostly flat but one very steep hill right at the end. This makes for an unusual gearing need. Most of your ride will fit in a tight range, but you maybe want a gear or two that is off the chart lower than the rest. Since your thinking about 1xN you can solve this with a slight change -- 2xN but only use the small ring for the hill. Depending on your strength and how steep the hill is you can get this effect with something like a 46-34 or 46-30 crankset. I think 44-30 would be better, but it's more expensive to get there. FSA makes a nice 46-30 crankset (Omega). For 46-34 you can take any CX crankset (including the one that comes standard on the Cross Check) and swap out the small ring for a 34T, which can usually be found for under $20. Get a crank like that and then pick a cassette that you'd want for a 1xN build for the flat part of your commute if the single chainring were 46T. We all have different ideas of what flat looks like and how much range we'd want, so I'll leave that unspecified.

If your budget allows, I'd seriously consider hydraulic disc brakes. They're a major luxury item to be sure, but they're so nice. This would mean Straggler rather than Cross Check, or similar substitution. Drop bars on a Cross Check would probably have you looking at cantilever brakes which have a tendency to feel disappointing.

Tiagra is great for commuting. So is Sora. The "more than I need" part of component selection is tough this way because if you're honest with yourself nearly anything will do, but that's probably not what you actually want. I have Campagnolo components on most of my bikes and my commuter has Ultegra, so I might not be the right person to ask. Seriously though, I was using Tiagra on my commuter until I needed Ultegra for the hydraulic brakes. (There was a time when there were no Tiagra-level hydraulic levers and there still aren't any that aren't ugly.)

Save room in your budget for nice tires. No other component will make you as happy as nice tires.
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Old 05-20-19, 07:52 PM
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Thanks Andy. This is a good start.

I'd prefer to build up the bike myself, but I'm not totally dedicated to it. I enjoy this stuff and thought I'd learn a lot...

I was debating just buying the frame and harvesting my old road bike for parts. Slowly upgrading over time.

I also definitely wanted the downtube shifters.

So I figured since I would most likely be making immediate changes, I could build it up myself. Also thinking that I might be able to find used parts.
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Old 05-21-19, 01:16 PM
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The build you are describing is what I thought I wanted four or five years ago. I built up an old Cannondale cyclocross bike with new/newer parts, it cost me about $700 to do so and I've been unable to sell it for $300. I visualized a 1x version but never built it that way, it would have had a 38 or 40 front ring and 9x 11-36 cassette. Since then I've gotten a pretty modern mid-grade hard-tail trail MTB (1x11 with clutch, hydraulic brakes, current geometry) and I'm pleased as punch with it. I'm eager to see what bikes are around in a year or two with Tiagra, 105 or Apex level hydraulic 1x builds.
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Old 05-21-19, 01:55 PM
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I have some of the same kit as my Touring bike on a cross bike frame... triple crank , etc..

You pick ... drop bars top mount 'interrupter' secondary brake levers? so levers under your hands in several places./


Anyone in here willing to help me decide on some components?
directions to the local bike shop ?

there is a glut of options..

why not buy a complete bike and just change things as your preferences develop...


Now I prefer IGH, In town.. Out by the river




with the Goonies ..







....
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Old 05-21-19, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
I have some of the same kit as my Touring bike on a cross bike frame... triple crank , etc..

directions to the local bike shop ?

....
I have three local bike shops near me, and I've talked with all three. One specializes in intense road bikes, one in Mountain Bikes, and one in hybrid style stuff... Then there's a vintage guy/shop. I just haven't had much luck trying things out and trying to talk out components.

I think I'm leaning toward harvesting my old bikes onto a Cross Check frame and then upgrading or playing around with different components from there. I kind of like the gears/shifters/etc. from my old road bike, so I figure I'll just start out with those... Maybe at some point down the road, buy a new and improved group set.

I'm spending some time noting the gears that I like best and I think I'll be able to create a specific bike that is suited to my style pretty easily from the cross check.

I'd love to walk into a shop and just buy a bike, BUT I think I'll learn a lot by doing this, AND I just don't have a lot of options....

If I can build up a complete bike from the two that I have - I will have a new bike that costs $500... That's not bad... (Or is it????)
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Old 05-22-19, 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by braintree39 View Post
The old road bike is awesome on nice days. If I could just add fenders and fatter tires to it, I'd just go with that! However, there just isn't enough clearance. The hybrid is breaking down and I'm probably just going to scrap it - but I ride it on rainy days.

So I'm hoping for something that feels like a road bike but can handle a small amount of off-roading. My budget is flexible - I'd rather save for better components, but I also don't want to spend money on components that are way more than I need...

I'm looking at Shimano 105s, Shimano Deore, XT, Tiagra... Etc. Etc. I was also curious about a single speed on the front... For brakes - I don't need disc brakes, I'm ok with anything. Definitely want drop handlebars and I really like the downtube shifters on my road bike, so I'd like to have those!
I converted an early 90s Bianchi road bike to something like you described. To mount larger tires, I build up a set of 650B wheels which have a bead seat diameter of 584mm instead of 622mm. This allowed me to mount 42 mm tires. I used Shimano 105 components and decided that a single chainring in the front, coupled to an 11 speed cog in the back was perfect. To minimize chaindrop, I opted for a Wolf Tooth Drop-Stop narrow-wide chainring. I used a bar-end shifter because I could not find an indexed 11 speed downtube shifter. I understand that DiaCompe makes a friction lever for DT mounting, though. Fitting fenders for these larger tires is in the plan for the future, but I know that it will be difficult in the front with the Bianchi unicrown fork. Still thinking about my options on this, but am not in a hurry. This bike is not my commuting bike so I avoid riding in bad weather. Here's a picture:

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Old 05-22-19, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Moe Zhoost View Post
I build up a set of 650B wheels which have a bead seat diameter of 584mm instead of 622mm.
Very cool! I'm still pretty new to this and I wasn't sure how that would work out - if you put tires with a smaller diameter on, doesn't it mess up where the brakes interact with the Tire? For some reason, I thought I was stuck with the 700c tires because the braze-ons for the brakes were in a specific spot - am I off base?
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Old 05-22-19, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by braintree39 View Post
Very cool! I'm still pretty new to this and I wasn't sure how that would work out - if you put tires with a smaller diameter on, doesn't it mess up where the brakes interact with the Tire? For some reason, I thought I was stuck with the 700c tires because the braze-ons for the brakes were in a specific spot - am I off base?
Yes, brakes can be an issue with smaller wheels. I was able to mount long reach calipers on the Bianchi frame. My intent was to show you an option for your older road bike, which I assume has caliper brakes. You coule easily take some measurements of your old frame to see if the 650B conversion would work for you. With cantilever or v-brake studs, you are probably stuck with 700c, although there are some options. If you are definitely going with the Cross Check you won't have to worry about tire clearance. I'd almost bought a CrossCheck frame a few years ago, but now I think I would opt for the Straggler instead because of disk brakes.

Good luck - and keep us updated about your project.
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Old 05-22-19, 11:20 AM
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You mentioned a "Hybrid", but didn't mention what.

There are some quality hybrid frames out there.

I have a older Jamis Coda that I picked up a while ago. Added drop bars and replaced most of the components, and it makes a pretty sweet commuter. Double Butted 520 steel. Mine is chromed.

You may also be able to find some good deals on used Novara bikes.

You can buy the right used bike for say $100. Then keep the components you like, and dump the rest.
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Old 05-22-19, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
You mentioned a "Hybrid", but didn't mention what.
I have a Felt Verza City 3. It's fine. I think I'm just looking to do something different. The end result of having the perfect bike is only part of my interest here - I really want to learn more, try out a different bike with a different feel. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of opportunities to try out a wide variety of different bikes - so I'm going to take a shot in the dark and hope that I like it!

I went ahead and ordered the Surly Cross-Check Frame - I read a lot of reviews, blogs, opinions, and talked with some people I've met. Everyone I talked to was pretty enthusiastic about it their bike. I might not be blown away - but I can't imagine I won't be happy with it.
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Old 05-22-19, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by braintree39 View Post
I have a Felt Verza City 3. It's fine. I think I'm just looking to do something different. The end result of having the perfect bike is only part of my interest here - I really want to learn more, try out a different bike with a different feel. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of opportunities to try out a wide variety of different bikes - so I'm going to take a shot in the dark and hope that I like it!

I went ahead and ordered the Surly Cross-Check Frame - I read a lot of reviews, blogs, opinions, and talked with some people I've met. Everyone I talked to was pretty enthusiastic about it their bike. I might not be blown away - but I can't imagine I won't be happy with it.
I think your plan sounds good. Get a new frame and move over the old parts until you have time to upgrade them (one part at a time, if necessary). What are the components you have on your current bike?

The only other thing to take into consideration would be tools, as certain parts require speciality tools that come with their own cost. But riding a bike that you built up is uniquely satisfying.
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Old 05-24-19, 08:04 AM
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My frame is getting delivered today! I'm going to start to build over the weekend. I'm going to take the crankset and derailleurs off of my road bike. I'm wondering if I could put the tires - including cassette from my other bike on. The cassette from the road bike is 7-speed and the cassette from the other bike is 11-speed. I think the tires with the 11-speed are better quality and have the size tire I want. Does anyone see any problem with this? I'm most like going to be using my downtube shifters in friction mode.

Other options - I could exchange cassettes - do you see any problems with that? Differences in spacing, etc.?

I guess I'm wondering if cassettes and cranksets can be mixed and matched. (And if I'm using the wrong words/vernacular, please let me know! )

From what I've read - it seems like the size cassette determines the type of chain I would need...

Your help is appreciated!!! Thanks
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Old 05-24-19, 08:42 AM
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At the very least keep the chain and cassette the same speed, yes. I'd just keep all the same-speed stuff together. There's a lot of times it all works in a gross sense but the little details just aren't good. Like, pretty much any chain and double or triple crankset can go together but the front derailleur will work best shifting the crankset and chain width it was designed for, both in chain width, ring spacing, and tooth jump. An 11 speed rear derailleur doesn't care about chain width but it might run out the available cable pull from a 7 speed friction shifter. Got to think about cage length on the RD too, vs both chain capacity and cog capacity.

Don't forget to check you have enough chain length on your new bike.
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Old 05-24-19, 08:56 AM
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Ok - Is it ok to take the cassette off of one tire and put it on the other? Or just buy a new 7 speed cassette and replace the 11 speed?

Are different hubs compatible with particular speed cassettes?

I'll have to replace the chain so I can make sure to get the appropriate one after I sort this out.
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Old 05-24-19, 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by braintree39 View Post
Ok - Is it ok to take the cassette off of one tire and put it on the other? Or just buy a new 7 speed cassette and replace the 11 speed?
Are different hubs compatible with particular speed cassettes?
I'll have to replace the chain so I can make sure to get the appropriate one after I sort this out.
Errr, don't go too fast, or you might end up buying stuff that you don't need, or that doesn't work.

When you say 'tire,' I'm assuming that you mean wheel. And assuming that your wheels are the same size on both bikes, you can probably move the tires around easily (as long as they fit in the frame).

Cassette compatibility is another story, and as mentioned you generally want to get the right chain for the number of gears you are running. New chains can be pretty cheap, and that will also guarantee that you can set it to the correct length.
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Old 05-24-19, 12:46 PM
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Ah - yes - I meant wheels. Both sets of Wheels are 700c. They have different width rims though which is why I want to swap.

So - I'm looking to take a wheel that has an 11-speed cassette and put a 7-speed cassette on it. Can I do that or do hubs have specific speed cassettes they are compatible with?

I was thinking about just putting the wheel with the 11-speed on, but another poster said I would run into trouble with my rear derailleur...

After all of this - I have to buy a new chain anyway. So I'm looking for advice from all of you so I can get a good set-up, then buy the appropriate chain!
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Old 05-24-19, 01:29 PM
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7-speed cassettes are seldom seen since the 1990's and first you want to check if you actually have a cassette or if it's a freewheel. A freewheel contains the ratchet and threads onto the hub, usually with 13 or 14 teeth in the small cog, while a cassette slides on to a ratchet that's part of the hub and usually has 11 or 12 teeth in the small cog.

Freehubs all use the same spline pattern but they are different overall width. 7 speeds were narrower. 8, 9, 10, and mountain 11 all go on the same width. Road 11 is wider. So to put a 7 speed cassette on a road 11 speed wheel you need some spacers, and you can't put an 11 speed cassette on a 7 speed hub.
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Old 05-24-19, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by braintree39 View Post
...
You may want to consider rustproofing your XC frameset before you build it. There are aerosol products like Boeshield and Weigle Framesaver you just spray in thru whatever hole you can find. These are easy to use, but it's hard to know if you're coating all the inside surfaces because most folks buy only one can, then have to scrimp through the whole job so they don't run out.

I always go the difficult-but-sure-way and use boiled linseed oil (BLO, available in the paint section of your local hardware store), a pistol oiler, tubing and a needle grease fitting and pump an excess into one tube at a time, plug hole, swirl around excessively, then repeat with next tube. The advantage of this method is that BLO is relatively cheap, so you can use an abundance of the material without worrying about wasting it or running out before you finish. Plenty of BLO added to a tube, then swirled around excessively assures complete coating/coverage. Applying liquid to frameset is relatively messy, you should do it outside in a weedy section of the yard, then set frameset aside for about a week for the linseed oil to dry. You can pour it some holes with an extremely small funnel, but a pistol oiler with tubing and needle fitting is much less of a chore/mess. BLO stinks until dry so a garage or shed for drying time is ideal.

BLO has some propensity to spontaneously combust when drying, so don't leave linseed-coated paper lying around afterwards inside your dwelling. I've performed this BLO rustproofing procedure on five steel framesets so far and burnt down only two houses...
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Old 05-24-19, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by braintree39 View Post
So - I'm looking to take a wheel that has an 11-speed cassette and put a 7-speed cassette on it. Can I do that or do hubs have specific speed cassettes they are compatible with?
I was thinking about just putting the wheel with the 11-speed on, but another poster said I would run into trouble with my rear derailleur...
I seriously doubt your 7-speed cassette (if it is one, see above) will fit on a hub currently running 11-speed. Aside from size issues, you also have simple compatibility issues. Even if they are the same brand (likely Shimano), the spline patterns (the ridges along the hub) will be different. I believe Shimano is pretty bad in this respect, whereas Campagnolo uses the same pattern for 9-11speed (don't know about 12), so that gives you more possibilities.

Then, with the derailleur, I don't think what you are currently using on your 7sp would play well with 11, but I don't know exactly what it is. If you do end up switching to 11, move over the derailleur you were using with the 11 originally, and get a new 11sp chain.
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Old 05-24-19, 05:00 PM
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@seeker333 Surly frames are ED coated on the inside, which is much like powder coating except in liquid rather than air
@robertorolfo most Shimano free hubs have compatible splines. Shimano have usually done their best to keep them compatible, only changing anything to allow a new feature like more cogs, shift ramps, or 11 teeth
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Old 05-24-19, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
7-speed cassettes are seldom seen since the 1990's and first you want to check if you actually have a cassette or if it's a freewheel. A freewheel contains the ratchet and threads onto the hub, usually with 13 or 14 teeth in the small cog, while a cassette slides on to a ratchet that's part of the hub and usually has 11 or 12 teeth in the small cog.

Freehubs all use the same spline pattern but they are different overall width. 7 speeds were narrower. 8, 9, 10, and mountain 11 all go on the same width. Road 11 is wider. So to put a 7 speed cassette on a road 11 speed wheel you need some spacers, and you can't put an 11 speed cassette on a 7 speed hub.
Got it! I'll have to figure out what I want to do... I was thinking I was going to buy some new wheels at some point, might just want to go ahead and do that now... I'll think on it.

Any recommendations for a headset? I was looking around and the "Cane Creek 40-Series" seemed good... The FSA Orbit also seemed decent. Also - there are ton of DIY Headset Press videos on youtube. Seems like those would be fine - do I really need to go out and buy a really expensive Headset Press? I'm guessing a hammer isn't a good idea... But, you know, figured I'd ask...
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Old 05-24-19, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
I seriously doubt your 7-speed cassette (if it is one, see above) will fit on a hub currently running 11-speed. Aside from size issues, you also have simple compatibility issues. Even if they are the same brand (likely Shimano), the spline patterns (the ridges along the hub) will be different. I believe Shimano is pretty bad in this respect, whereas Campagnolo uses the same pattern for 9-11speed (don't know about 12), so that gives you more possibilities.

Then, with the derailleur, I don't think what you are currently using on your 7sp would play well with 11, but I don't know exactly what it is. If you do end up switching to 11, move over the derailleur you were using with the 11 originally, and get a new 11sp chain.
Yeah - I have to get in there and start taking these things apart. Isn't as simple as I was thinking. Thanks.
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Old 05-25-19, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
@seeker333 Surly frames are ED coated on the inside, which is much like powder coating except in liquid rather than air...
ED coating does not assure protection against corrosion - it does not produce a complete, uniform coating on 100% of the the tube interior surfaces. Surly started using ED coating for all their framesets several years ago, and yet they still recommend use of an internal corrosion-inhibiting treatment:

"Pugsley frames also come with an internal ED coating. This is a process that coats the frame inside and out with a protective layer to provide a foundation for the finish and give an added level of protection from corrosion on the inside of the frame. We still recommend treating your frame with a protectant such as Framesaver or Boeshield".

https://surlybikes.com/bikes/legacy/pugsley_2016
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