...but since, or perhaps even during, that Epic Undertaking he has been slowly fermenting the yeasty brew of a New Bike - Salsa Dos Niner 29" softtail. One day a couple of weeks ago he kindly brought me up a coffee and a cake, and a massive pile of very cool parts for me to eventually turn into a bicycle.
First, I reamed the seat-tube. Then, I lightly greased and inserted the post, gripping it firmly with a nice blue Salsa seat clamp. The SMP saddle angle was roughly set by eye, although of course it turned out to be bang on once the bike was completed. Up in to the stand!
Most builds I would next fit the forks, but as we were still waiting for the headset to arrive I faced and chased the (near perfect) bottom bracket and installed the Sram XX cranks. Note the squashed looking chainstays, designed to help the Scandium frame flex enough to enable the short stroke Salsa Relish air shock give one inch of travel,
"just enough to take the edge off things when combined with the extra smoothness provided by the 29" wheels."
Time for pause.
On with the pedals, which were a spot prize at a race long before this bike came into being - Crank Brothers Eggbeaters with a coincidental hint of blue.
On with the highly polished and poorly shot Sram XX rear derailleur, a thing of rare beauty unlike my camera.
Front mech next...
That was as much as I could do that day, so I put it aside and did some other stuff until I had the chance to build the wheels. A Project 321 rear hub and Lefty front combo were laced into blue Stan's NoTubes ZTR Flow 29er rims using dependable DT Competition spokes and brass nipples. No chance these guys will fail in the back of beyond!
Still pretty light too.
The cassette is ridiculously light - machined out steel for the first nine cogs, pressed onto an aluminium large (36t) cog that anchors it to the hub.
A pimp Hope rotor went on, obviously after I neglected to take pictures of me effortlessly tubelessing the fine Maxxis Crossmark tyre.
A blue Salsa quick release secured the rear wheel into the frame.
Building the front wheel was easy, but dishing and truing it less so. Of course there are all sorts of clever dedicated tools to make these jobs easier, but owning none and wanting to get the job done necessitated some lateral thinking - the upside-down steerer tube was clamped in my workstand, becoming the centre-ing and vertical hop reference, then a zip-tie placed on the Lefty leg became the truing gauge.
The wheel turned out perfect.
The Lefty wheeltruing stand also made tubelessing the front tyre really easy...
The Relish shock.
NoTubes valves should always be protected from the elements.
Thanks to the fine fellows at KRD the Hope headset arrived, allowing me to drag out my old friend VAR.
Allowing plenty of wiggle room for vertical stem adjustment is mandatory in my book - as I always say, you can cut something down but you can't cut it back up again! We'll trim it later once Bill is fully dialled in. A Thomson stem always looks grouse.
The front wheel goes on.
Then the Easton EC90 carbon 'bars.
The brakes levers are next, with their trick Matchmaker gear lever mounts (later for the levers)...
...then it's time to line up the front caliper...
...and the rear brake. Both brakes were a doddle to set up, as Sram/Avids always are. The rear aluminium cog of the cassette is clearly visible in this shot too.
At some earlier, undocumented stage of the process I'd fitted the chain and the gear levers, and now it was time to cable it up - I went with blue JagWire housing to go with the blue brake hoses we will be retro-fitting at a later date.
After fitting the grips/bar ends and giving the entire bike a quick double check to make sure all was safe and sound, it was time to take it for a quick ride. The Lefty fork is so different to the Fox shocks I'm used to that I found the sensation strangely hard to get to grips with, but the bike felt great otherwise. The rear end seemed to be both isolating and very positive, and with my 100-odd kg flailing around on top of it still very stiff and responsive - the 29er wheels cliché of them just floating over obstacles is a truism, and this was very evident.
Here she is. I think the silver frame is greatly enhanced by the blue trim, and I really love the whole look of this interesting machine.
And a slightly different perspective of this most excellent bicycle...
Cheers to Bill for the fun job, and may his new Dos Niner carry him to much fun and success in the years to come...if the Brevet 2012 is a target the bag from the Scalpel fits perfectly!
Thanks for reading, Oli