Upgrading my Bike

I had been riding my current road bike since the summer of 2009. It was put together using parts from my old Cannondale R600 (shifters, wheels, cassette, rear derailleur, saddle, brake calipers, bottom bracket, crankset, chain), parts I bought on eBay (frame, fork, stem, handlebar, seatpost, all made of carbon fibre), and small items I picked up from my local bike shop (headset, seatpost clamp, front derailleur). Since then, I have had to replace a busted right shifter (from a Shimano 105 to Ultegra, so it's an upgrade too, I suppose), and also upgraded the crankset (to a Shimano Ultegra), replaced the handlebar with a better geometry (FSA Omega Compact, but it's not exactly an upgrade though), got a new Shimano wheelset, and had gone through several chains.

At that time when I built this bike, I had no bike-building experience nor the necessary tools, and I had to rely on my friend Duncan for his expertise. Duncan is still the first person I would talk to whenever I try to fix/build a bike these days. My bike (as Duncan called it: “Tim’s Chinese Knockoff Masterpiece”) has served my extremely well, taking me all over Ontario and Quebec on long-distance rides in the last few years, racking up almost 9000km along the way.

But I started thinking: now that I know more about bikes and how to build them etc, I want to build myself another bike from scratch. Here is my wish list, so to speak:

  1. The bike has to be primarily made of carbon fibre. The only exception should be for parts that can't or shouldn't be made of carbon (like the saddle, or the brake calipers), or if the alloy alternative is both cheaper (see #4) and competitive in weight. (see #3)
  2. The bike will be black. That's just my personal preference, but since carbon parts are black already, it may not be a huge problem.
  3. The bike should be kept as light as possible, with a hard cap of no more than 17lb (7.75kg). I want it to be ~15lb, but the reduction in weight is, in my opinion, not worth the money I'll have to sink in.
  4. The bike should be kept relatively inexpensive. I have drafted a budget of $1700 CAD.

To keep the costs down, I have researched parts from company that are slightly well-known. For example, I'm probably going to use microSHIFT shifters and derailleurs instead of Shimano. I have used microSHIFT pats before on my mountain bike, and their road groupset has had a lot of positive review. Their higher-end versions are almost as light as the Shimano Dura-Ace (not quite!) but at 1/3 of the price.

Another thing to consider is the wheels.  I've looked at some carbon wheelsets on eBay.  Most of the less expensive ones ($500 range) are from China, and most use Novatec hubs.  From the reviews online, it looks as though the Novatec is neither that reliable nor that light.  I think I can find better alternatives on eBay if I take some time, but I'll have to ask Duncan's help with building my wheels too.

My current plan is to source the parts in the summer and fall, and then build it up over the Christmas holidays, in time for the start of next spring.  In the meantime, I'll see my current bike too.

In any case, this is a list of all the parts I'll need to build a bike:

  • Carbon fibre frame
  • Carbon fibre Fork
  • Carbon fibre seat post
  • Seat post clamp
  • Saddle
  • Integrated Headset
  • Headset spacers
  • Stem
  • Handlebar
  • Handlebar tape
  • Integrated shifters (i.e. shifter + brake levers)
  • Front and rear brake calipers
  • Front and rear derailleurs
  • Bottom bracket
  • Compact crankset
  • Carbon fiber wheelset
  • Brake pads for carbon wheels
  • Rim tape (x2)
  • Inner tubes (x2)
  • Tires (x2)
  • 10-speed cassette
  • Cables and housing

This is no small task, so it will indeed take awhile...