It rained a lot during the winter months. Alongside the rain, there was much to be done on the house, meaning my usual cycling and running routine became a dim and distant memory. Coupled with this, my BMI increased, considerably. It’s now time to shake off the lethargy of winter, and get spring off to a healthy start – time to return to fitness.
I’ve always been into road cycling, and often toyed with building my own bike. There’s something compelling about hand-picking components and constructing from scratch. Trouble is, I’ve never built a bike, so there’s a lot to learn. A couple of weeks ago I decided to embrace the challenge and learn something new.
Now, I’m very aware of Velominati’s ‘The Rules’, and appreciate that cycling cool’s as much about one’s attire as it is the bike. It’s no good riding the latest carbon steed if your colour co-ordination’s in a caffufle, socks the wrong length and VPL showing through your Rapha shorts. The whole package has to be right. With this critical information in mind, I decided to build something a little different. Too many times I’ve poured over the latest range of bikes from Canyon, only to feel a nagging dissatisfaction at the thought of buying into an increasingly mass-market look.
I quickly became very interested in frames made by Kinesis bikes, with their idiosyncratic looks and sense of fun. I also happened upon the latest range of frames from Genesis bikes, particularly liking the ‘Equilibrium’, with its heat-treated Reynolds 725 steel frame. Great all-season bike, with pretty looks and good reviews. Not the lightest, but that’s OK – well balanced handling’s the main thing for me.
It’s the Genesis I went for, in ‘cherry’.
Now, the challenge of choosing between a Shimano 105 5700 10-speed groupset, or new Ultegra 6800 11-speed. The standard build Equilibrium comes with 105 – it’s cheaper than Ultegra, and known as being a tough all-seasons groupset, great for commuters and casual racers alike. The new Ultegra 6800 (released mid-2013) has received substantial acclaim, and is generally considered to be much better than its 6700 predecessor. Deciding between the two was a challenge, but I eventually figured I didn’t require the added benefits (and cost) of the Ultegra – the Shimano 105 groupset will suit me just fine.
For chainset I plumped for a Hollowtech II 52/34 compact type with 11-28 rear cassette.
Brakes have to be 57mm long drop for the Equilibrium frame, so unfortunately 105 is a non-option here.
For handlebars, stem and seat post I went with Ritchey, who make decent, cost-effective components.
Wheels are Fulcrum Racing 3 (already had these) and tyres Continental Gatorskins. I considered some other tyres e.g. Continental Grand Sport, but puncture resistance is an absolute priority for me.
The bike building bug
Self-building has saved me ~£300 over buying the complete bike, although I’ve also bought some tools and a professional grade work stand. The build itself took best part of a day, which was good use of time as I picked up a lot of new knowledge and techniques along the way.
Time will tell, but I’ve heard it’s easy to get the bike building bug; ‘The Rules’ suggest the number of bikes any serious rider should own are ‘n+1’, where ‘n’ equals the number of bikes you already own. We’ll see what happens!
First ride on the Genesis was had yesterday, with a 50 mile blast around Sussex roads.
On a more general note, I need to keep this journal more up-to-date. To help, I’ll be using it to track and record my return to fitness across the next few months. I’ll set targets and keep note of success, alongside scenery from the journey.