Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bicycle Project

I’m getting older and definitely feeling the effects of age. 10 months ago I posted my love for my On One Inbred single speed. It’s a great bike and we had great times together. We still do when time and weather allow, but it just hurts a little more than I recall.

So the next project was to be a road single speed and I will build one with David Bohm in November (hooray!). But the thought of riding up steepish hills around my area does bring some reflection to the initial enthusiasm. So what to do? Idle thoughts congeal slowly but sometimes a nidus is laid and thoughts accrete.

That nidus for me was a Jubilee rear derailleur from way back in my childhood in the 70s. Truly beautiful in any era and remarkably light at 141g it had dismayingly poor performance even for it’s heyday (which admittedly was already clouded by Campagnolo’s Nuovo Record RD). But time passes and great technology becomes obsolete. However, true beauty is timeless and the Jubilee is now back in focus.

Building a bicycle around a beautiful but flawed derailleur might seem a little crazy but the intent lies in the need for just a few gears to go up them hills. If we are going to compromise then let’s do it in style! Matching the derailleur to a modern, useable set-up required another stepping stone. That came with another icon, the Cook Bros RSR crankset introduced in 1991. Beautifully simple like Alessi kitchenware yet industrial and banal in its role on a bicycle. They too had problems with flex, breakages and warranty issues. But, again, true beauty defies time and age...

Then came the brake calipers and levers and it suffices to say that they combined for both technical & aesthetic reasons. Then, so not too get too boorish, came everything else.

So here it is:

Frame: Planet X Titanium Pro

Forks: Planet X Carbon

Headset: FSA Orbit X

Stem: Thomson Elite X2

Handlebar: Deda Newton

Seatpost: Thomson Elite 10 deg setback (living dangerously with max line)

Saddle: Selle Italia SLR

BB: Token steel spindle

Crank: Cook Bros Racing RSR

Pedals: Shimano XTR

Chainring: Vuelta 44t

Chain: SRAM PC90R Powerlock

Derailleur: Huret Jubilee

Derailleur lever: Mavic Simplex retrofriction

Wheelset: Zipp 202

Cluster: Shimano Ultegra 13-14-15-17-19-21-23

Skewers: Hope steel rod

Brake levers: Marfac

Brake calipers: Zero Gravity Negative Zero

At a build cost of approximately AUD $4,500 for new & used parts it is certainly not a cheap way of producing a bike with only 7 functioning gears. Aesthetically it has an industrial & purposeful look with the mix of old and modern components coming together quite nicely. The frame has a smooth and responsive ride (which should be expected from a Lynskey-produced frame) and is the perfect all-rounder. Very similar to another Brant Richards project - the On One Inbred I posted in January...

Mostly it does what I need from a bike. I can ride for pleasure on a great-handling frame with super-light tubular wheels, with some iconic but outdated componentry (never underestimate the coolness factor - even if I’m the only one appreciating it), and brakes that actually work. And I don’t have to to fuss too much with the maintenance as I do for a classic steel rig. She ain’t a bad looker either...

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