Gary the Klein

So I Built a Bicycle…

Last season I spent the year alternating between my Felt B16 tri bike for most of my heavy workouts, and a Kona Jake the Snake cyclocross bike that I thought would be an excellent way to explore some of the gravel and MTB trails in and around Hamilton. While it definitely was awesome for the change of pace, I did not nearly get enough out of my CX’er. All of my training is on a single Powertap wheelset, and it became such a hassle to swap cassettes, tires, and wheels from bike to bike that I just ended up riding my TT bike way more than I wanted to.

Going to a road bike as a second bike just makes sense to me, something built to withstand the long haul and keep me off my TT bike save for the most focused TT workouts. As well, I found an unbelievable deal on a vintage 2003 Klein Q Carbon Team frameset, one of the first bikes with internal cable routing. It’s also always been a goal of mine to build a bike up from scratch, getting to know the inner workings of a race bike in the process. Plenty of Youtube videos and hours reading the Park Tool website got me on my way.

The build went as smooth as I could hope, though I did run into major problems routing the rear brake cable thanks to the internal liner falling out on me, as well as getting enough tension on the front derailleur. In the end though, I was able to get it running well enough. It is nothing fancy, but it is stiff as a board and ready to take a beating as I try to catch my cycling ability up to my run! You can head to Twitter and check out the hashtag #jbsfirstbikebuild to see my progress.

So here it is, my 2003 Klein Q Carbon Team with Shimano 105 5800 11-speed components and 11 speed Williams S30 Powertap alloy clinchers:

2. From Front

The front end was as clean as I could make it for a first attempt. First returns on the new 5800 hood shapes (I’m picky about my hood shapes) are good, and the shifters have a nice, crisp feel to them. A redesigned 5800 front brake takes care of the braking on the front, while a nameless alloy ergo bend bar is where my hands will spend the majority of the time.

3. Front Triangle

Klein frames are known for internal routing before their time and stunning paint jobs. The photo here does not do subtle metallic flecked finish contrasting the matte decals on this garish, flame-inspired frame. Indeed, that is what first caught my eye with this frame, and the finish is what sold me on it being my next bike.

4. Front End

A side view of the front end reveals a carbon fiber fork to help numb the vibrations, as well as providing another look at the internal cable routing. I expect the bars will rotate downward with more road riding in the drops, just to provide me with a deeper hand position for hard efforts. An 80mm FSA OS190 -6 degree stem caps off the look.

5. Front Wheel

My trusty Williams System 30 Powertap wheelset will likely stay on this bike more or less permanently. I have had great success with these Clement Strada LGG 700x25mm tires, also to help numb some of the road vibration, and filled them with some Rubbers Brand inner tubes. I love the idea of including a patch kit with every tube sold.

6. Seat Cluster

My perch is a stock alloy seatpost and a surprisingly comfortable Giant OEM saddle I found in a parts bin for $15 last year. This is also an obstructed look at the rear brake cable routing. It took me a day and a half to route this cable, mostly spent poking a hanger through the channel blindly until it finally found the hole on the other side. Frustrating!

Cranks and FD

Shimano 105 5800 50/34 cranks (170mm) and front derailleur drive the pedals. I love the new 4-arm design of the cranks, which make for a crisp and stiff power transfer. I went with 50/34 rings because I am not yet strong enough to get on top of a 53/39, and the 52/36 configuration is not yet available that I could find. That will likely be the first upgrade (to the 52/36).

The front derailleur cable was my other sticking point, as I spent considerable time re-aligning the FD and pulling on the cable until it finally shifted into the big ring for me. I still haven’t got the front shifting quite right, but it’s getting there. Cheap Shimano R540 pedals are the next contact point for me. I got them free and have since had no reason to upgrade.

8. RD and Cassette

A 5800 medium cage rear derailleur and 11-28 cassette control the shifting. The 5800 group has limited cassette options, I wanted an 11t cog to pair with my 50/34 front gearing, and the 11-32 seems like overkill if you don’t live in the mountains. This will be just fine, though an Ultegra 11-25 cassette may be in my future as I get stronger.

9. Seat Cluster from Rear

The most interesting part of this bike is the seatstay arrangement. It’s beefy, and you can see the joins where the carbon fiber seat stays meet the otherwise aluminum frame. The rear brake mounting bolt was so beefy I had to repurpose the OEM front brake off my B16 into a rear brake here. My B16 got an unexpected rear brake upgrade in the process.

10. Garmin Mount

Of course, my trusty Garmin 910XT mounted on the stem collects all my data for me, and I went with some cheap black Deda Elementi cork bar tape to complete the bike. This bike is likely going to see a lot of miles, and I didn’t want to be swapping out expensive tape every 6 months. Wrapping the bars was my favourite part…it was fun, plus it meant I was done!

I had a ton of fun doing this build. To be honest, I likely didn’t save too much money versus buying a complete bike (maybe $100-200), and the build is not much different than an entry level build you would see in a bike shop (apart from the frame). However, I am immensely proud of myself for sticking it out and not giving up, and I have a ton more knowledge to show for it.

I would recommend it to everyone looking for an offseason project and some new knowledge. Thanks to everyone who listened to my inane questions and gave me advice or parts to use, especially Phil McCatty, for sitting down with me for an evening talking through the whole process and only laughing at me a little bit when I struggled with this, that, or the other.

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