Monday, March 3, 2014

Another new frameset?

I'm getting new bike fatigue.

That is inconvenient because when building my fixie last night -- which I am building because I had a frameset to use -- this happened to my trusty aluminum P2SL frameset:

Got a little aggressive with the headset press on the P2SL.

I've had this bike since 2009.  It replaced a Cervelo Dual that had a cracked weld; the Dual dated to 2007.  Cervelo has a good return policy, but the company no longer makes anything aluminum and there is no way it will replace straight-up a carbon P2 for this old P2SL -- in particular when the damage is so clearly my fault.  And I already have a carbon P2, so even if Cervelo will give a discount, I'm not willing to pay the difference.

I suppose I could simply stop and go without for a while, but recall that I had a beautiful set of wheels built just for the purpose of this fixie.

In sum, I could just cry.  What to do?

Here's one option:  I have exchanged e-mails with a titanium builder I found on Alibaba.  You gotta admit, this would make a pretty sweet build:

Titanium fixed frameset from Alibaba.
The problem, of course, is that Alibaba sellers are looking to establish relationships to supply businesses in the US.  The minimum order is five and to order that few I'd probably have to permit this guy to believe I was planning a bigger purchase.

One thought:  open a titanium fixed gear bike business.  Sam and I both have lamented that we had built entire bikes because we had one spare part lying around.  How about building a new business because I had a set of wheels I needed to use?

Option 2:  A Habanero fixie.  Sam has made Habanero his go-to supplier.

Option 3:  A Richey Breakaway steel fixie.  

Traveling fixie.  Credit:

This runs about the same price as the Habanero titanium.  It's a pretty steel frameset.  It would be easy to store when not in use!  Biggest problem?  I'm actively planning to buy a titanium Breakaway cross bike for travel riding.  By "actively," I mean "like next week, unless I get religion before then."

Option 4:  one of the other steel frame-maker fixed gear builds, like Soma or Gunnar.  Soma is tempting at $350 for the frame, but the 1" head-tube would not fit either of my spare forks.  At $950 for a steel frame with a notoriously delicate paint job, the Gunnar is a tad dear for this purpose.

Soma Rush.

Option 5:  Surly Steamroller.  This frameset does everything right.  Sturdy, inexpensive steel frameset.  Clearance for balloon tires.  Color options include -- I kid you not -- "meth teeth."

Steamroller in "meth teeth."  Credit:

There is also white and black, either of which would be better with the colors in which I had the wheels built.  At $420 for the frameset the Steamroller is a tempting choice.  I'm not at all pleased with the seat-tube only cage bosses, however.  Who carries one bottle -- and on the seat-tube, at that?

More on this never-ending project bike to follow.


Unknown said...

I'd go steel, Habanero or Surly. Or, if you go ti (nothing wrong there), I'd go with a name brand, rather than a Chinese supplier. Titanium is notoriously difficult to work with and weld correctly, and I would be deeply leery of dropping money on a maker without a proven track record.

sam said...

Out of curiosity do you you have a real headset press, or are you using a ghetto bolt/washer setup? If the latter, I'd recommend investing in the real tool.

I guess this becomes a decision point. Do you go with the $$$$ option, or the $ option? The wheels are a sunk cost. Here's my take:

$: Nashbar steel. Perfectly servicable. You can pick one up for $100.

$$: Surly of some sort. I loved my Steamroller, but it really is purpose-built for fixie. No cable routing options. Only one bottle braze-on. That's it. No pump peg. Not ideal for brevets. I like my cross-check fixie quite a bit more. Best option here would be to buy the entire SS CC ($800 maybe?), and replace the wheels with your fancy ones.

$$$: I'd of course go with a Habanero.

$$$$: Moots, obviously.

Agreed with Damon on staying away from sourcing your own Chinese Ti frames. There are a huge number of these on ebay as well, which enables buying one instead of five. But you still have no guarantee of quality.

I'd go with the Nashbar frame if you've got everything else you need, or if you don't then get the Cross-Check built up as a SS. As we've discussed, that's far more economical than building yourself.

Max said...

First, on headset presses: though mine is real, bolt/washer setup is not ghetto. 2x4 and hammer setup is ghetto. But despite using that for years, I've never cracked a head-tube until using the real headset press that I bought a few months ago!

I do have everything else I need. Unfortunate that means I have to buy Nashbar for the first time since, well, high school. One more problem: I had the wheels built for 130mm spacing. I'll need to shrink the spacers by 5 mm on each side. That should be easy, but it is frustrating.

sam said...

The Nashbar road frame is 130mm spacing, so hopefully you're OK there.

Of course I'd advocate putting on a gravity dropper seatpost.

Max said...

Got a link for that? I'm only seeing 120 mm.