Last week someone walked into my flat and stole one of the bikes. It’s a bike which I paid for and had built, but was mostly ridden by my flatmate.
The bike enabled lots of things. I can’t easily ride alone, so supplying a suitable bike for my flatmate to use meant I got to go and ride more often. It also kept him safer than something he could have build himself.
It’s very very hard to buy good bikes right now. So instead we have started a project to build a new bike. It’s cost more than I could really afford, but friends have contributed and we will make it work. The bike we’re building is expensive, but it’s incredibly good value. Coming out much better spec than if we’d found and off the shelf bike to buy of the same type.
Here’s a quick run through of the spec and some of the choices we made.
The bike that was stolen was a 130mm trail bike. It was really good as it was flexible. It could ride a bit of everything and was very safe and forgiving.
It could be a bit overwhelmed at times and it wasn’t great for jumping but it was a good trade off.
The plan is to build another full suspension trail bike eventually. Perhaps with 150mm of travel so it’s just a little more capable at places like bike park wales.
We can’t afford a decent full suspension frame right now and there are not very many good options available anyway.
So the strategy is to build a really good hardtail around a 150/160mm suspension fork, and then transfer the bits to a better frame in the future.
For the bits which wear our (gear, brakes etc) were taking parts off other bikes. For the bits which are going to last for 5-10 years we’re buying the best parts we can afford. They will almost certain be used on multiple bike projects in the future.
For the frame we choose a 2021 Ragley blue pig. It’s painted blue in the medium size.
As a steel frame it’s got a little bit of forgiveness in it compared to a alloy frame. A more compliant and comfortable ride quality at the cost of a little extra weight.
The sizing means it fits my flatmate and friend who sometimes rides with us perfectly. This is important. The bike will mostly be ridden by my flatmate, but it will get borrowed by other people from time to time. It just about fits me if I need to use it for a day when my bike is out of action.
Suspension forks are really really hard to get. We initially ordered a Rockshox 35 Gold fork for it. It’s not a bad fork, it was what we could get and we didn’t want to buy something second hand as it’s always a risk.
A few days after we brought it an almost top spec Rockshox Lyric select RC fork was available. It was 50% more but it’s much much more capable. So we ordered it and we’re returning the other fork in the mean time.
The 35 gold was fine, but it was a big compromise. It was a ‘that will do’ purchase because we needed a fork. The lyric is a much better fit for the bike. It also fits my bike as well as we can easily swap and change parts in the future.
The frame was £600, and the fork was £700. So we’re up too £1300 for the frame and fork. These are the safety critical parts and an investment here makes a big different later!
Wheels was a tricky one. My flatmate hasn’t been riding long and hardtails tend to be hard wearing on rear wheels.
The original plan was for him to use the rear wheel I had. It’s a good wheel but would need a high volume tyre to protect it. However a high volume tyre won’t fit the wheel I have. Doh.
All of my wheels are made by hope. They have interchangeable hub parts which is extremely useful. It means I can easily swap bits around to keep bikes ridable as things wear out or break. Hope are amazing and sell spare parts for things for decades. The wheels are not light but they are very strong.
I’ve been slowly buying the parts to fit a 12 speed drivetrain to my bike. One of the parts I needed was a new freehub (a microspline freehub).
We did the maths and saw an opportunity. Buy buying a new hope rear wheel we could get it with the microspline freehub I need and then swap the freehubs.
This gets the new bike a really strong rear wheel. Plus allows me to put a 12 speed drivetrain on my bike (eventually) which frees up the current 10 speed gearing for the new bike! Win win.
The end result is the new bike is sporting a rather fancy Hope Fortus 30 rear wheels. A really really strong wheel and a great fit with the rest of the bike. The rear wheel was £250.
We where lucky to get it as stock is very hard to find. A few days later a matching front wheel was for sale for £150 so I grabbed that too. Not the smartest financial choice, but probably worthwhile. Absolutely the last money I could afford to spend on the project.
The wheels came to a total £400, but that also free’d up a complete 10 speed drivetrain.
The gears are coming off my bike and the brakes we already had spare. The brakes where a Christmas present for my flatmate, luckily he hadn’t got around to fitting them to the bike yet.
He also has a nice handlebar he’d not got around to fitting so that helps.
We’re taking compatible parts of other bikes and some very lovely folks from bike Twitter have send us parts to help finish the build.
We currently missing a stem, seatpost, saddle, grips, headset and some cranks. We should be able to sort these out eventually.
With the bits all moved around and the parts we have brought we should be able to field a pair of ridable bikes so we can go riding again. All the bits should arrive this week and maybe we can build the bike at the weekend.
The total cost has been £1700 for more of less a rolling chassis. That’s around £400 less than the closest complete bike while having a much better quality wheelset and an equivalent fork. The money has gone into the parts that matter and all the parts can move to a full suspension frame in the future if needed. It’s good value even if it’s not cheap.
It’s sad we’re having to replace the stolen bike and it’s going to take me a few months of being careful to afford it. However the new bike is going to be really special and nice.
More importantly it means we can go and ride. Once we’re out on the trail and having fun all the stress and cost will be forgotten in a moment.