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Morning all- In a previous post I talked a bit about experimenting with a mountain bike cassette on my gravel bike. I was playing around with a 42T chainring with a Shimano 11-40 cassette on a Sram Force bike. It worked well enough that I decided to push the envelope a bit further.
For those of you who've been following along on facebook and instagram you may know that I've been hinting about a stock bike I'm bringing to market. Though this blog isn't about that, I can say that the bike I'm speaking of has been my test mule for the gearing set up I'm using! So let's get down to it, shall we?
I've decided to go with a wide range mountain cassette and a 1X front set up. In this case a Sram Apex 1 derailleur, driven by Apex 1 hydro levers, a 40T Wolfstooth chainring and a 10-42 mountain cassette. I went with Apex level components for 2 reasons. #1 I have a tendency to cheap out and #2 I've not used the new stuff so I wanted to see how well it works!
First up, gearing range. As I mentioned, 40T chainring, 10-42 cassette. This yields a huge gearing range. Less than 1:1 on the low end (.95:1 to be exact) and 4:1 on the big end (enough that I can roll my biggest gear at 28 mph on the road). Most of my test riding has been on local mountain bike trails and I can say this gearing is pretty good for it! Our local trails lack any long straights that would tax the high end of the gear range. On the low end, the 40-42 combo is getting me up everything I want (on mountain bike trails while riding a gravel bike...). That said, If I were to set this bike up exclusively for trail riding, I'd certain put a 38 or maybe even a 36 tooth chainring on. That would lower the gear range even more! Now, for the rail to trails and dirt roads that I've hit... Again that 40T with a 10-42 has been perfect! Low enough for long extended climbing and high enough to blast when needed! That said, Joe or Jane racer could install a 42, 44 or if they got the engine even a 46 T chainring for their watt producing pleasure. All positive right??? Sort of! One niggle I do have is the large jumps between gears, that's where a 2X system is going to win. If you come from a road background, I'm pretty sure you're going to notice the large gearing changes each shift. If you come from a mountain background... carry on, this feels exactly like what you are used to!
Ok, as promised a quick blurb about the Sram apex 1. It's pretty darn good!!! Shift accuracy is on par with my Sram Force 1. What I do notice is a difference in feel. The force set up is more refined, smoother. Without breaking out the scale I can't give you numbers but the Force kit is certainly lighter, as is you wallet after you buy it.... For now, I'm going to spend the rest of this season riding gravel and CX on Apex.
I know we all lust after the N+1 being the perfect number of bikes but what if I had a solution to help you control the size of your bike quiver while avoiding the dreaded domestic spat that can arise from a new bike purchase... Yeah, a new set of wheels. So instead of throwing down the AMEX card on a new bike for summer trail riding, instead buy a light and fast set of plus size wheels!
What you're looking it here is a set of carbon rims, laced to fat bike spaced hubs. This will allow you to convert your fatbike to a plus sized bike for the summer. This particular wheel uses Whiskey Parts new 50mm carbon rim. It's tubeless ready and even includes tape and a valve! Hub duty is being fulfilled by a set of Hope Fatsno hubs with a Shimano Driver. Spokes and nipples are Sapim.
Being a custom company, we have the flexibility to build you up almost any hub/rim/spoke combination you can dream of so don't be afraid to ask!
Just a quick behind the scenes view of a few of the steps that go into building a custom wheel. Though I spec'd this rim, I still measure the ERD (effective rim diameter) to verify that the manufacture produced what I spec'd. This is a critical measurement, it is one of the determinants of the eventual spoke length!
The next measurement that I make is the spoke hole offset measurement. Basically, it's the measurement from left spoke hole centerline to the right spoke hole centerline. This measurement only happens on pretty wide rims where the left and right side spokes do not share a common centerline.
That's all for today!
As of late I've been experimenting with mountain bike cassettes for gravel road riding. This set up is a Shimano 11-40 cassette, Sram Force CX1 rear derailleur with a 42t narrow ride chainring up front. I'm enjoying the super low (almost 1:1) low gear. It makes climbing almost (not really when you're a chubby boy like me) easy! The high gear may be a touch low for me, especially with any tail wind or loss of elevation. That's easy to rectify with a bigger chainring or using a xD driver and a cassette with a 10t cog. Racer types may find that they need a 46 or 48 t chainring to make this set up work. For the rest of us mortals, I suspect a chainring in the 38T to 42T will be a great compromise between easy climbing and reasonable flat road speed. What are your thoughts?
The Quiver of One Wheelset: Why we should move toward the boost 148 spacing for gravel.
If you own a late model cx or mountain bike you could have any of the following rear hub standards: 130 x 9 QR, 135 x 9 QR, 135 x 9 TA, 135 x 12 TA, 142 x 12 TA or 148 x 12... Sigh. Front hubs are slightly, very slightly better coming in at 100 x 9 QR, 100 x 12 TA, 100 x 15 TA and 110 x 15 TA. Ok, catch your breath. That's 10 possible sizes between front and rear. My lack of statistics skills and motivation prevent me from calculating all of the possible combinations that could arise from those variations but suffice to say, it's a bunch! You may be saying to yourself “Who cares”. Well, you do... If you're of limited financial resources and want some sweet new wheels, walk out to your bike, see what it has and order them up. Oh, and then walk over to your other bike, notice the dope wheels you just purchased won't fit... You just spent $1500 to upward of $3000 on a set of wheels that you may only be able to use on one bike. Somethings gotta change!
Well, we had a solution for a hot minute... 100 x 15 front TA and 142 x 12 rear TA. This is all fine and good as many CX, Gravel and mountain bikes share that particular set of axle spacing. Then boost, in all it's glory came along. It promised us stiffer rear wheels and extra tire clearance! For the most part, it has succeeded if not surpassed it's goals. The issue is, mountain bikes have pretty much embarrassed boost spacing yet CX and Gravel have not. Well, why haven't they? Some would suggest that the stiffness and clearance offered by boost isn't needed for cx and gravel. I'm here to tell you, if it's not needed today, it will be soon. That's evidenced by the current trend so stuffing the largest tire possible into gravel bikes. As a frame fabricator, I can tell you a point comes when tire and chainring clearance is minimized based on the width of the rear axle... So, boost to the rescue! The 6 to 18mm (depending on your current set up) could add just enough width at the chainstays to stuff a 2” tire in... Though this isn't as much of an issue with cx, wouldn't it be nice to be able to ride a big fat tire on your cx bike for the one or two gravel races you may do? The front end could become a compatibility issue, cx/gravel have stuck with 100mm spacing (but commonly use three different axles, 9mm QR, 12mm TA or 15mm TA). I'm noticing a trend for cx forks to move toward a 100 x 12mm axle, Perhaps we could get in the manufactures head and let them know about the potential need for a gravel/cx fork that accepted a 110 x 15 axle...
Where am I going with all of this? Here's your point to ponder... Would it be nice to have a Gravel/cx bike that used Boost spacing and had big tire clearance? Imagine being able to tell your significant other that the sweet/awesome carbon, bling bling hub wheels you just dropped 3K on will work on three of your bikes! Gravel, cx and mountain!!! How's that for a selling point? Imagine... three bikes, one wheelset... A boy (or girl) can dream!
If you've been following along you may know that I've been pursuing education on that magical composite, carbon fiber. In fact, I just returned from a repair class with a leading carbon expert, more to follow on that... for now, my point is that I've been studying up on carbon!
Today, I just wanted brush on a topic that get's me going... Carbon wheels. If you know me, you know I love them. What's amazing to me is how adverse many are to carbon rims manufactured in the orient. I believe that when manufactured in a ISO manufacturing facility, Asian carbon wheels can rival, and in some aspects exceed the quality of others. To illustrate that, I'll leave you with a quick video from carbon expert Leuscher Teknik showing cut aways from an asian carbon rim and a US manufactured rim.
Not a lot of words here today... Instead I'm going to show you the difference between the stock wheels on a mid-level triathlon bike (approx. $3500) and a hand build set of Ferretti Aero wheels.
Weight Comparison, Front wheel including tire/tube and quick release.
Rear Wheel: Weighed with Sram 11-28 Force cassette, quick release, tire, tube, ect.
Pricing: Tough to determine...
So surfing around the interwebs I was able to find several sets of the Oval Concepts 950F (wheelset pictured), in used condition, for sale averaging $675. Currently, I'm offering the Ferretti Carbon wheel for $899.
Weight Difference: 275 grams (or 0.6 lbs depending on your preference).
Are you ready for a set?
I've been alluding to this for a while now. Wheels... Yes, frame building is continuing. Wheel building is just an additional service I'm adding!
So let's talk aero carbon tubular wheels for a second. This is a set that I spec'd up using 55mm carbon tubular rims and personalized hubs. I'll get the big questions answered straight away... 1498 and 899. Oh, that's grams and dollars if you're wondering.
Rims- as I mentioned these are 55mm deep. They are a nice 25mm wide, accommodating the current crop of wide tubulars. Digging a little deeper, you'll notice that these rims are primarily a 3K weave overwrapped with unidirectional cloth for a nice clean look. There's extra 3k at both the spoke and tire bed to augment strength. The front rim is 20 spokes and the rear is 24. If you're a big, powerful rider I can build these up with more spokes!
Hubs- So I'm showing you black, laser etched with my logo... Don't let that stop you from dreaming though! I can build with silver, red, blue and a few even wilder options! Tech wise, these hubs are light and use standard, easily obtainable cartridge bearings. If you're looking for upgrades, we can even provide you with hybrid ceramic bearings! An additional great feature is the alloy driver body has steel inserts, no more gouged driver bodies from cassettes having loose cogs. If none of this suits your fancy, dream big... I can set you up with almost any commercially available hub.
Spokes and nipples... I'm a Sapim guy. There are some great choices out on the market, I've settled on Sapim because of their strength. This set of wheels was built using Sapim lasers. Super strong yet light weight. As far as nipples, black brass. Yes, I could have dropped some weight using alloy nipples but designed these wheels to be all arounders... Race them, train on them, beat them. Light and strong!
So, dream... dream big... Let me know what you'd like and I can get you a price!!! Oh and if you have any additional questions about these wheels, leave me a comment!
A little sneak peak at a project that I've been working on... That's a 55mm deep, carbon tubular. 25mm wide at the brake track, so wide like you like them!!! More pictures and specs to come!
This weekend marks the end of my cyclocross season. It's been a great one too! Lot's of traveling and competing in big races! Anyway, today as I readied my bike for racing I decided to weigh my new tubeless training wheels vs my slightly overbuilt carbon race wheels. It's beyond the scope of todays prose to delve into the nitty gritty of the weight difference, maybe another day when I'm bored. For now, let's just leave it at the weight difference between the two front wheels being a smashing 36 grams. Talk about diminishing returns... I'll break this all down in another blog when I've got a bit more time.