All this because of Mrs. Hidalgo (Paris city major) …
With the change in traffic in Paris since the end of Paris Plage, I want to go to work by bike. 12 km through Paris, about 45 minutes. My old urban bike is a french brand Sunn of the first generation, a collector! Heavy, with Schwalbe’s Marathon tires, and a strange driving position: at the base, it is not my size, it must be recognized, and obviously, at the beginning of the MTB, the manufacturers were experimenting a lot… Horizontal tube too long, stem too long, output of seatpost limit, etc. So I wanted to use a real bike, powerful, adapted to my size, the terrain and the urban environment.
Which model to choose – A road bike?
A road bike could do the trick, but I wanted to do a Proof of Concept first. I made the trip several times with my road bike, and I concluded that for me it is not ideal at all:
- Stem and handlebar of road bike, therefore position bent forward. With my backpack, I have a little back pain on arrival. A more uprig
- Road frame, therefore relatively long horizontal tube.
- Road brake, so levers far forward, action slower than flat hanger brakes. Not always the hands ready to brake, except to stay on the breacks permanently.
- Very little space for a mudguard.
- Tire size limited to 25 mm at the front, 28 mm at the rear. In Paris on my way many streets are paved.
- I only use 6 speeds out of the 22 available.Well, OK, not 22 actually because otherwise we cross the chain, but I never go down on the small tray of my chain rings 50 × 42. Mechanics, price, weight for nothing.
So exit the road bike frame.
This PoC also allowed me to determine the developments I need on my journey. And why not use a single chainring like on the bike of my friend JM?
What about a MTB frame?
Like everyone else, I meet a very varied two-wheeled fauna in Paris: Vélib, MTB slick tires or not, Anquetil bike of my grandfather, fixes but of 11 kg nevertheless, rider’s bike with a saddle 30 cm higher than the handlebar, pure road bike, etc. None of this suited me.
I could have assembled a 29-inch mountain bike frame with a rigid fork, but:
- They are suited for mudgards,
- The MTB groups do not offer developments adapted to the road,
- Few tires adapted,
- The whole is « too strong » for the use that I will have, so unnecessarily heavy.
The Grail remained to be found.
My Grail: the cyclocross frame!
A cyclocross frame with a flat hanger solves all my problems:
- Lightweight frame with an efficient but comfortable geometry, choosing the stem and the length of the fork tube.
- Large choice of wheels, as it requires 700 mm road wheels.
- Wide space to mount tires up to 32 mm and to add mudguard
- Eyelets for fastening mudguards.
- Large choice of groups (derailleur, shelf, etc.) on the market, including single chainring groups for cyclocross or road.
- Possibility to put a flat handlebar, v-brake levers .
- Very good braking with choice v-brake, cantilever or disc brakes, always without interfering with the mudguards.
I could have bought a complete cyclocross bike, but most are sold with a road handlebar, which would have forced me to replace a lot of components (handlebar, brake levers, shifter levers, etc.), for an important additional cost.
Having bought my road frame from an OEM manufacturer in China, I am ready to re-enact the adventure. Direction Alibaba.com! The choice is pluric, not easy to find.
Choosing the cyclocross frame, disc brakes or v-brake?
The possibilities are summarized in 2 decisions to be taken:
- Eyelets for mudguards or not,
- Pad or disc brake.
There are mudguards that are fixed without carnations, but I feared that the vibrations on the cobblestones of the great boulevards or the Marais would not hurt them. Therefore mandatory carnations. Too bad, there were balances on the model without carnations!
I have long hesitated on the braking technology: disc brakes or skate, and for skates, v-brake or cantilever. I finally opted for the v-brake. Why not a disc brake?
- The wheels are a little more expensive with equivalent range (about 50 €).
- Brakes are more expensive.
- There is less choice of wheels.
- I want a discreet bike, which does not attract the eye.
Why v-brake rather than cantilever? In browsing on the internet, here are the conclusions I have drawn and which have determined my choice:
- I find the v-brake more aesthetic, the cantilever protrudes on the sides of the bike.
- The braking quality is similar. I don’t need ultra efficient brakes.
- The setting is pretty easy on the v-brake, from what I read.
- There are enough different v-brake models, with different arm lengths, it should be easy to to find one that will leave enough room for a mudguard.
- Wide choice = many entry models. Given the use, I do not need a very powerful model, and I will be able to save money.
The frame that suits me is the generic model AC058, in some suppliers its name is different.
I chose Grand Vision Tech : www.grvstec.com . The price is correct, but I had 2 quality problems on the CX04 (their denomination) that I received. The first problem is the rivets of the brake cable guide: one of the 3 rivets was badly placed, and the head of the rivet is badly damaged.
Second negative point: I have problems with the grommets which are of 2 types on this frame: one conducts the cable with an angle, the other type makes the cable retract perpendicularly to the frame. But why on earth 2 models?
The flat grommets is a design error, it makes no sense at any cable outlet, all grommets should be oblique. For example before the rear derailleur:
The cable is forced outwards and can not fit into the cable guide. In addition, the grommets is slightly too small, and it disengages from the frame under the tension of the cable.
Of course I asked the supplier to send me 2 oblique grommets to replace those that are not suitable, but he asked me $ 20 fee to send me two small pieces of plastic! In addition, the problem comes from the manufacturer, I do not have to incur additional costs to correct it. To finish, the supplier has forgotten to put in replacement in the package, so no, really, it is not up to me to pay to repair these errors!
Hanger, saddle tube, stem
My supplier offers these carbon components at the price of aluminum in mail order. Why deprive myself? I choose a unidirectional carbon finish, to avoid attracting the look and therefore lusts. Matte black, discreet, sober.
Tastes and colors
For the same reason, I do not want a 12K or 4K carbon frame, too flashy. My supplier offered to paint the frame for a reasonable cost, and the Pantone color of my choice! What was done …
Choose Wheels: Campagnolo Khamsin G3 Asymmetric
Pleatre of choice in entry of range, the only criteria are for me:
- sturdiness. In entry level I am not worried.
- Noise of the free wheel, I hate free wheels that click like rattles, I like to ride in silence!
- Ability to mount tires a little wider than those usually seen on a road bike. On this point, the manufacturer’s instructions can be exceeded by a few millimeters.
I would have taken carbon rims like on my road bike, but the braking in rainy weather with these rims is very surprising: it is necessary to « wait » about 1 second that the skate chases the water and dries the rim before Braking will not occur. I discovered this surprising phenomenon for the first time by going down a pass in the Pyrenees. I thought I going to die. The rider must anticipate. It is therefore prohibitive in the city, where the braking must be immediate.
I chose the wheels Campagnolo Khamsin G3 Asymmetric because they fulfill the specifications: nice (to my taste), not too expensive, silent ( yes, the freewheel is the quietest that I have ever heard!) And the rear spokes leaves large spaces, which makes it easier to padlock the wheel with the frame. All good !
Select Group: SRAM Rival 1
I do not need very short developments, and I even know exactly what I need as I made the ride with my road bike. I want to be in a single chainring.
I went on different sites which give the developments according to the number of teeth of the plate and the cassettes, I traced on a spreadsheet (Calc of LibreOffice) the curves of the development, and in studying the group SRAM Rival 1, I chose the plate 50 teeth and the cassette 11-26. With the derailleur with average screed, I can climb to 11-32, so I have the margin if I wish to mouline a little more. I can also change the tray for a 48 or 46 teeth, or even less. Alas it is not sold original with the cranks, only the 50 teeth and the 42 teeth.
There is a shift lever for flat hanger that works with this derailleur, although it is a road derailleur, therefore intended for integrated road brake shifters. This is the SRAM Apex Trigger 11 speed control.
Braking: Avid single-digit
Cheap, effective. Nothing to add !
Anti-theft wheels / seat tube
There are several solutions on the market, I chose the one made in France, not far from Annecy: Vandal . I protect my wheels and saddle against theft. Their solution is discreet, robust, and the key to unscrew the wheels is of course with the padlock keys, always in my pocket!
Tires: performance & comfort
The choice of tires for a Parisian bike is of the oxymoron: comfortable & fast & resistant to punctures!
For comfort, I choose a tire of at least 28 mm of section, which allows to decrease the inflation pressure without crushing, and therefore to increase the comfort on the Parisian pavers.
For the resistance to punctures, I do not want to go as far as the Schwalbe Marathon tires, which are almost unbreakable (these are the tires of the vélib’), but with unacceptable overweight and loss of performance. I hesitated between these 3 models, which are the benchmarks for durable but faster tires, and a site compares:
Continental Grand Prix 4 Season 2015 Vs.
Michelin Pro 4 Endurance v2 2015 Vs.
Schwalbe Durano 2015
I chose the Michelin (french!), And after 2 weeks of going back and forth, I enjoy the ride.
I had to buy some tools for mounting the bike: cable cutter, cassette remover, grease for carbon mounting. Nothing special, I took my time, I have watched videos of 36rayons , and everything went well.
This building required asked patience, it is not like going to a shop and taking out his credit card. On the other hand, it is a real chance to be able to choose each of the components according to its needs, desires and means! I now have a really unique bike, exactly as I wanted, fast, stable, with excellent performance. Too bad the picture is not perfect, due to the two defects of the frame, the rivet and the cable guides.
Side numbers: weight 8.5 kg, price: about 1500 €.