It’s my firm belief that disc brakes are in the future of road cycling. Before the naysayers start with the “my rim brakes are powerful enough” comments it’s important to look not only at the power of the brake but also the control it allows. This control is where a disc brake comes into it’s own and can’t be matched – regardless of the weather a disc gives a smoother, more consistent application of power and more feedback about how the tyre is coping with the braking load.
2 years ago I ordered my own Independent Fabrication with road discs. Back then my choices were limited: the range of forks wasn’t very good and neither was the range of brakes. I had to make compromises. Things are different now and the range of available parts is widening on a weekly basis. Paul’s bike is no holes barred with a titanium frame and Enve disc road fork, an electronic DuraAce 11 speed drivetrain handles shifting duties and Shimano’s new CX-75 brakes slow things down. The frame is designed for full-length hydraulic lines which will be the next improvement to road discs.
The Di2 battery is hidden away in the seatpost in a custom made mount. The Di2 junction box required modification because of the bike’s short stem and is moved forward and tucked behind the stem’s bolts. The battleship-grey fork and panels allow the red and white to really pop.
Shimano newest Di2 drivetrain is simply incredible to use. The new shifters are more comfortable and offer a more tactile feel than the first generations ‘cell phone’ buttons. Front shifting is simply amazing: the derailleur doesn’t question your shift it simply places the chain on the big-ring regardless of cadence or pedaling load.
I wrote about the wheels in a separate article. At less than 1400 grams they’ll be responsive and snappy and will highlight the titanium frame’s ride qualities.
The funny thing about a fully custom bike like this one is the pricetag. Yes, it costs a lot of money. But no more money than a blob of generic carbon bike, mass produced in a far-off factory and marketed to the hilt as the sole reason why a professional rider won some bike race. 5 years ago this wasn’t the case – production bikes were cheaper and custom bikes like this IF were considerably more expensive. This really fascinates me and makes me question why you wouldn’t choose to buy something made just for you.
Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox now. Enjoy the photos.
A few years back I purchased a disc brake road frame from Independent Fabrication in the USA. Since then I’ve been ranting and raving to anyone who will listen about how nice both disc brakes and Independent Fabrication – it seems my friend Paul listened. This titanium Crown Jewel Disc arrived for him this morning.
The DuraAce DI2 11 speed electronic groupset is sitting here waiting to go…all we’re waiting on is a pair of Chris King R45 Disc hubs. Come on King – Paul wants to ride it!!
It’s not too often that I get the time to do bike builds but I really enjoy doing them. Andrew sent this S5 frame and a box of Di2 and SRM parts down from Auckland with the instruction to assemble. I’ve built a few pairs of wheels for Andrew so I knew how detail-focused he is.
All the Di2 wires fit inside the frame – no problems here. The wired SRM was a different story. The plugs are too large to fit through the Di2 ports and the SRM guys were not keen on the idea of me de-soldering the sensors. Instead I widened the headset’s split-ring and filed a small notch into the spacer – the SRM wires travel up the frame and exit via the top of the headset straight into the Di2 control box. At the sensor end the wires exit the bottom bracket and are held in place under the battery box by two small aluminium guides. I spent a huge amount of time trying various options and I’m really stoked on how clean the end result is.
The rest of the build was reasonably straight-forward: a Parlee BB-Right bottom bracket, full DuraAce Di2 groupset, and a Ritchey stem and bar.
I don’t do a lot of bike building or bike repairs these days, but I always enjoy it – especially when it’s building up a DI2 Roubaix!
One of the paramount questions with DI2 is where to mount the battery. In this case we choose to mount it under the bottom bracket, off the cable-guide bolt. I wasn’t 100% sure if the frame’s hardpoint was designed for this so I machined a 46mm diameter PTFE plug, and then cut off a small arc – this will support the batteries weight from the inside of the bottom bracket shell. The photos were taken before I trimmed the bole and cleaned-up the part.
I mounted the control box under the stem. I’m not a fan of seeing these zip-tied to the stem so I used foam mounting tape which will stand up well to the vibrations of road riding. The stem is just a loaner to dial in fit.
On this bike the crankset and brakes came from Neil’s old mechanical 7900 groupset, and the new DI2 shifters and derailleur were added.
Stay tuned for a nice pair of Chris King / Enve wheels for this bike.
Martin van Barneveld is currently in Beijing getting ready for the ITU World Triathlon Champs on Sunday . After finishing that event he’s decided to ride across Africa.
This bike was a last minute request in conjunction with his sponsor Specialized. I had 48 hours to order whatever parts were necessary, build the wheels, and assemble the bike ready to go to Beijing with Martin’s dad. Anyone who has built a frame from scratch knows the huge number of small problems which can unexpectedly occur – the front derailleur mount isn’t the same as what’s published, the headset doesn’t include a pre-load bolt, seatpost size is wrong etc – normally these problems are easily solved: You order the frame, measure everything, and order whatever bits are needed, however with such tight timeframes I didn’t have the luxury of being able to do this so I talked with Specialized and made them pull the frame out of the box to answer a long list of compatibility questions.
The next morning I started building the wheels and by the time I’d finished the groupset and brakes had arrived from Shimano. All the parts fit correctly and the build went together without too many hiccups.
I didn’t know what colour the frame was going to be so I was pleasantly surprised when the black – white – silver theme for parts and components I’d chosen matched the white and black TriCross frame. Martin had given me carte-blanche to choose the groupset and parts so I selected a 105 drivetrain, Shimano R550 canti brakes, Velocity A23 rims, and a PLT seatpost, stem and handlebar from PRO. Kenda Smallblock tyres should roll well on gravel roads and have enough grip to deal with whatever comes Martin’s way.
The bike is finished and on it’s way. Enjoy your trip Martin.
Greg is a member of the Wheelworks Racing Team and when his trusty Pinarello developed a crack after one particularly hard Tuesday evening training ride it was time for a new ride.
The new Addict SL uses an Ultegra drivetrain, Rotor 3D cranks and rings, FSA bar, PRO stem, Cannondale seatpost, and 1290 gram carbon wheels.
UCI legal. Just.
Greg dropped off a “Tristan Survival Pack” when he collected the bike. Most food items are accepted currency here at Wheelworks but creamed rice and salt&vinegars are the gold standard.
I love seeing the wheels I build getting put to good use. Daniel sent some photos of his steel Look with a brand-new 7700 DuraAce groupset and the wheels I built for it. What a stunner!
Maz brought his Ulmo into the workshop for me to tidy up the cables and housing.
Before: The plastic Campag downtube cable stops were missing their barrel adjusters and the housing was a poor fit, way too long, and routed outside of the front brake.
At the rear derailleur the endcap from a cheap front brake was used for the shift housings ferrule.
After: I fitted some aluminium Campagnolo downtube cable stops with the correct barrel adjusters in them, shortened the housing, and fitted rubber o-rings to protect the paintwork.
At the rear derailleur I fitted the correct Campagnolo ferrule which has a small shoulder and sits inside the frame’s cablestop.
Frames of this era were never designed with modern indexed shifting in mind and often the cables would be routed over the steel bottom bracket shell….with non-indexed downtube shifters a little extra friction didn’t matter! To ensure great shifting with the reasonably-modern 9 speed drivetrain I fitted small section of teflon tubing. These also have the side benefit of saving the paint. I fitted new DuraAce cables into Maz’s Jagwire outer. The DuraAce cables come at a more expensive price but they’re tightly wound to reduce friction and made from stainless steel so they won’t rust – these are the only cables I use.
The paint on this bike was done by the late (and great) Ross Bee. The threadless fork isn’t the original but it seems to handle well on my short test-ride down to the end of Lyall Bay and back.
Here are some finished photos of James’ Le Roi which I stated assembling last week.
The stated seatpost size for this frame was 31.8mm, a strange measurement as the most common size is 31.6mm. With the seat collar removed it was very clear that a 31.6 post was too small so I looked at various options for a shim or 31.8 post. James found a 31.8 Thomson post at Capital Cycles but it was zero offset which was going to compromise bike-fit and it’s diameter was slightly too large for the frame so it became clear that it wasn’t going to work.
I made a shim from brass stock which fits under the collar and allows a 31.6 post to fit perfectly. The lip on the seat collar was too large which was causing the collar to clamp-down onto the post (not the frame) but a few minutes on the lathe reduced the lip to less than the thickness of the seattube. Without the collar correctly machined a 31.6 post would feel snug because of the friction against the collar but could potentially wreck havoc on the frame. With the shim fitted there is almost no visual indication that it’s there and the performance will be great.
The rest of the build went together quite well and the final result is a very nice looking bike! The heavy Bianchi post will get traded for something a little lighter, and personally I’d love to see that horrible single-bolt Kore stem vanish :-)
7.6kg without pedals and cages (but with a heavy seatpost and stem)
James just purcahsed a Le Roi and has been hanging out for the build to be finished (as you can imagine.) Here are some pictures to keep him going until a 31.8mm post arrives….