Monday, September 17, 2007

How I role

I’ve written a number of times about the places I’ve traveled with my bike this year. I haven’t written enough about the bike itself. I invested in a Ritchey Break Away cyclocross frameset this summer. The package includes frame, fork, headset, cable splitters, tube covers, and a reinforced soft case. The rest of the parts were up to me to supply.

I wanted the bike to be respectable, compatible with other bikes I already own, and most of all, durable. There seemed to be no reason to build a travel bike that couldn’t withstand the frequent rough handling of the airlines. Since I’m a Campy fan, the group had to be Campy. I am fortunate to have maintained friendships and connections in the cycling industry so the mostly Veloce build kit I used was rather inexpensive. Since I spent 6 years working in the bike industry and currently have a stable full of bikes, I was able to pull the remaining parts from my “leftover” bin.

Here are some of the highlights and the reasons I chose these particular parts.
The Truvativ Compact crankset was one of the parts in my leftover bin. It fit the bill perfectly. It’s already used and scratched up plus the compact gearing allows me to survive even the steepest of hills without the complication of a triple ring (I loath the triple setup and will never use it in case you are wondering). Also the Time mtb style pedals allow me to walk around anywhere I might find myself. If I choose to bring off road tires, I don’t have to think about switching pedals and shoes as well. Plus I found these pedals in a parking lot a few days after a race so they didn’t cost me anything:

The cockpit is fairly simple. I didn’t consider the added benefit of the hidden shift cable routing but it has definitely proven easier than packing the exposed Shitmano handlebar assembly. The bar tape is a synthetic from Fizik that is not as susceptible to ripping as a traditional cork. Since the bars are crammed in close to sharp parts like the chainrings, I didn’t want to deal with the tape getting ripped up too easily. The bar and stem are simple aluminum bits that I had in my leftover parts. No reason for high zoot carbon on a bike that is being shipped around the country on a monthly basis.

In my opinion there is no option on headsets. I always spend the extra dough for the Chris King. They are maintenance free and carry a long warranty. Plus, when the fork is being removed and installed as frequently as it is on this bike, I want a headset with as few parts, all sealed, as possible. Chris King, you are my hero!

I love the Garmin Edge 305 for recording my workouts. Plus it gives a great insight when I’m in a new area. The GPS doesn’t require sensors on the wheels or fork and easily fits in my carry on luggage. Plus the mini-USB re-charging is the same as my work and personal phone so I’m already carrying a charger for it. The cork bar end plugs are just for fun. Unfortunately I just lost one of them this weekend while racing ‘cross on the bike so now I need to drink another bottle of champagne.

The brakes are standard issues Tektro cantilevers. I was initially skeptical of their performance since they cost less than $30 for the pair. I’ve quickly come to appreciate their light action and easy adjustment. Plus they are lighter than the Avid’s and Shitmano’s in addition to being cheaper.

One of the most important and smallest parts on my bike is the Connex chain link. I prefer Campy chains but they unfortunately do not come with a re-usable master link. The Connex is the perfect solution. I actually use them on all of my Campy bikes since they allow for easy, tool free disassembly to pack up the chain or to clean it in degreaser. Some people seem to frown on the Connex link with the Campy chain but I have never seen the link fail. It is a great “unsung hero."

The wheels may vary as ‘cross season picks up. For now I am using a pair of Easton Vista SL’s. They are not the lightest, but they rely on conventional 270mm spokes which are easily replaced in the event of damage. Plus the wheels are not that expensive so I don’t feel bad if they get scraped up in travel (which they have). I also have a pair of Chorus/Open Pro wheels that may travel with me to ‘cross rides since they are already mounted with cross tires.

Overall, my travel bike is not likely to turn many heads or impress the people I meet while traveling but that is ok. There is not an ounce of carbon on the bike (this is intentional) and its weight is probably close to 20 or 22 pounds. But it beats trying to rent a bike when I travel or being stuck in the hotel gym on the crappy recumbent exercise bike.

Look for an upcoming post about the packing process. I already have the pictures. I just need the time to write about it.

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