Friday, 7 October 2011

Cyclocross bike build: Graham Weigh Frame

Last year I tried cyclocross for the first time. I adapted my wife's hybrid for that, but she wants her bike back (iow, I want a real CX bike!) so I decided to build one up for this year. Below, the frame and forks. Graham Weigh 60cm alloy, which seems to be very similar to a Dolan cross frame. Kinesis Crosslight alloy forks. I was a bit worried about harshness of ride, but we'll see.
Below are the headset parts. It'a an Alpina integrated, I realise all the hullaballoo about integrated headsets versus external bearing ones, but as the frame is designed for this kind of headset, I thought I'd give it a go. It assembles, from bottoms up: crown race (silver ring), lower bearing (which drops straight into the bottom housing of the head tube), upper bearing (identical to the lower one and drops into the top head tube bearing housing), red compression ring, silver washer, top cover (black alloy, it has an o-ring inside it, and the black rubber washer/gasket goes under it), cap and star-fangled nut.

Below, a close up of the top bearing housing in the head tube, and the mount for the crown race. It's all incredibly simple and quick to assemble, dead easy I'd say.
Bumble-bee style headset spacer arrangement. Actually, I didn't want to chop the steerer, so decided to leave it full size for now. Hmm, that's a good name for the bike: BUMBLE-BEE, because I'll be bumbling about on it!
A little while later, Bumble-Bee is finished:
The wheels are Shimano 105 hubs on Mavic Bog Standard rims (32h MA3). Below, a cheepo Vitus saddle. That'll do for now, but I WILL experiment later - for the sake of my behind! One day I'll get the hang of those flying remounts... Maxxis Raze 700x35 tyres (wired). Not the best, but hey, neither is the engine!
Rear derailleur is a Sora. It's a really nice changer in my view, works very crisply with the Tiagra shifters.
Rear view of Tektro CR720 cantilever brakes. So much nicer than my old touring bike (which I sold a long time ago). The cable hanger is part of the seat clamp (Alpina). You can see that the cable is not perfectly straight and vertical, so there's room for improvement here.
Front view of Bumble-Bee below, showing the Tiagra shifters mounted on 44cm (c-c) Ritchey Comp bars. I found the shifters surprisingly easy to rig up and cable.
Close up of the front brakes below. Initially, I had the Mother of all Judders. This was easily rectified by a few mins with an allen key and a bit of card, getting the blocks nicely lined up to the rim, and with a slight toe in.
Bottom Bracket is a Shimano UN54 square taper. Cheap, reliable and simple. Front changer Sora triple, working a Stronglight 46-36-26 chainset. Although rated for a bigger road chainwheel, I encountered no problems at all encouraging it to work for the three MTB size rings here. Bottom gear is an amazing 26T front-27T rear! Now that's 26 inches! If I'm gonna have granny gears, then I may as well have ridiculously low ones. Yeah, I'm unlikely to use them in racing, but may do so if I take Bumble-Bee touring later.
Final photo below showing off Bumble-Bee's backside. Is that a sting in her tail?
All in all, I'm very pleased. She handles really well on grass and compared to the old hybrid, I'm loving the riding position, and no qualms at all about the alloy forks - they're great. Having only ever ridden cross with straight handlebars, I was worried about the change to drop bars. Would they give me enough steering control for tight corners? In practice, the 90mm stem and 44cm bars turned out to be absolutely fine. Indeed, I prefer the drop handlebars.