Thursday, May 14, 2020

Minor updates to P's Ritchey

In something of a dirt road/trail craze and I decided P's Ritchey needed some refreshing for us to ride together.
Simba is inspecting the build.

Three things to change:
  • Move to single ring.
  • Replace the brakes.
  • Add "cross levers."

Single Ring

I have gone to single rings on nearly everything new and everything rebuilt for a while now, after first going 1x on the commuting rig in Indy.  In three cases I hacked it - I:
  • pulled the front derailler and clipped (literally or figurately) the cable from the left lever, 
  • replaced the crankset or chainring, and 
  • ran the 1x10 (Neuvation) or 1x11 (Salsa, Litespeed) with little fanfare.
And, it works well.

In one other case I bought a 1x bicycle, the new 3T gravel bike at 1x12.

For the 75% use, 1x is clearly superior.  For half of that 75% a hacked 1x10 or x11 is perfectly fine.  I love that with the tall teeth on a single chainring the dropped chain on a stoplight sprint is a thing of the past.  I have rarely found a need for taller gearing than mid-40s front and 11 back (unlike Sam, I spin at closer to 90 for long rides and 100 for races - when I used to race).

So I thought it might work for P.  It does save weight, saves the hassle of a front shift, reduces wear on the chain.  This is a 40-tooth Wolf Tooth ring on an old SRAM Rival crank.
Wolf Tooth does a good job matching the design of a number of cranks.
This permitted me to pull the FD and cabling.  Double bonus - on a break-apart bike, which P's Ritchey Cross is, that is one less cable that needs splitting and that much less chainring to fit into the case.

Avid V-Brakes

Back in 2014, P and I had our Ritcheys built with cantilever brakes - though it turned out the pull on the Shimano levers did not match the pull on the cantilever brakes.  They worked, but braking wasn't sharp.  I replaced mine with V brakes when I rebuilt the Ritchey prior to ultimately selling it.

I liked the cantilever brakes and wanted to keep them for P, so I found this offering from Avid that was supposedly optimized for Shimano shifters.  Suffice to say I could not figure out the mounting process - I think because the Ritchey frameset did not match well to the design of the brakes.  Though it could be because I am a terrible mechanic.

Shorty Ultimate, photo from
My loss.  This is a sharp-looking design.  Anybody in the market for an unused - and nearly unmarred - set of Shorty Ultimate brakes?

Instead I went with V brakes for P.  These are also from Avid.  After fiddling with them on my Ritchey for a while before the sale, I feel pretty good about my ability to mount and tune them.  And, in fact, this went well.

Pretty much a plug-and-play install job.

"Cross Levers"

Somebody started calling these middle-mount levers "cross levers", although I've never actually met a real cross cyclist who has them installed.  P likes them because they make the semi-upright sit easier to accomplish.  We had them on her old Trek 800, long since gathering dust in the basement.  Now they are here.

* * *
So, here is the bike as refreshed:
38mm Panaracer Gravelking SK tires go well with steel tubing!

That's a 12-27 cassette.  Probably need to take that to 34 teeth with this 40-tooth ring.


sam said...

That's an excellent refresh.

The single chainring is interesting. I think it has a use both for enthusiast riders, who want to ride hard and muscle up hills sans granny, but is perhaps even more valid for recreational cyclists whose speed while pedaling might vary from 5mph to 16mph. With the appropriate chainring, as I think you found, that should be much nicer. Going to update her Neuvation next? She really likes that bike!

When we were kids the "cross levers" were called "suicide levers", and were really just flimsy pieces of metal that pushed the brake lever from the top. Which is to say they didn't work well at all. Today's version that actually intercepts the cable makes so much more sense and is a really nice feature to have.

I've had similar issues to yours trying to get V-Brakes to work well. People love them but darn if I could get them installed correctly. I think I was trying with the same Avid Shorty's you are using. It seems like such a simple system, but I could not get it to work. Likewise cantilevers. I'm constantly having to fiddle with the springs on either side to get them to center over the wheel. And disk brakes always rub ever so slightly, not enough to slow you down but just enough to think they might slow you down. I always loved with caliper brakes that if they got off center you could just crank them with your hand to turn them on the pivot bolt. But of course then you have the caliper brake tire size limitation.

Which makes me think we should probably go back to coaster brakes like on those old Mag Scramblers.

Max said...

You are right about cross levers. I find them an amusing hack. You install by clipping the housing and simply running the cable unimpeded through a hole in the unit. While ordinary brakes work by grasping the cable end and pulling the cable to clamp on the wheel or rotor, the cross lever works by pushing the housing. That has the effect, of course, of shortening the cable relative to the housing. It does create an odd circumstance of brake housing moving around in front of the bars during braking, though I have not seen that create a problem.