Tuesday, March 13, 2012


All a good bicycle build needs is Time...

Recently a long-overdue visit from my old mate Glenn was most welcome, as was his delivery of his new Time RXRS ULTeam frame "module" and a large selection of fruity bits and pieces. It's been a while since I blogged a build, and I thought you might enjoy this one of a very fine machine indeed...

The first step on a frameset like this is establishing the seat height, and as cutting an extended seat mast requires extreme and absolute diligence in measuring seat height, doing so without all variables accounted for is out of the question. To eliminate any possibility of dimensional error I decide it behooves me to fit the cranks before doing anything else, so to begin I carefully press in the Campagnolo adaptor cups with my custom-fabricated adaptors that work with my storied VAR headset press.

Campagnolo Super Record. There truly is nothing like it.

A reverse-threaded crank fixing bolt is torqued into the titanium bottom bracket axle. As the frame probably isn't well enough supported by my stand, and/or strong enough for a 100kg behemoth to be be swinging off a long lever as I deliver the high torque required, I whack the pre-tyred and cassetted wheels in to help facilitate the leverage required as I work on the ground.

With the wheels removed once more and no less than six careful measure and remeasure attempts I feel confident to gently secure the frame in my stand and veeeeery carefully begin to cut the seat mast using the Time-supplied cutting guide. Into the hands of Fate!

Not too much removed. After cutting I spend some time carefully sanding the "stump"

It's always a relief when the post-cut double-check shows that my numbers are on the money - millimetre perfect. I love it when a plan comes together, and this one sure did.

Cutting the steerer tube also requires great precision and, with the forks already installed as part of the "Module" it necessitated carefully lying the frame down and having at it. Again, the Time guide came into play.

Stem fitted and the clever "Quickset" headset given a tiny tweak to silky-smooth adjustment.

Out with the lubrification - cheers, Dave!

Time to fit the SR rear derailleur.

Look Keo Carbon Blade pedals installed.

The rear brake caliper goes on next...

...and I do my best to line up the pads to the Zipp 404 Firecrest wheels without yet being at the stage of fitting the cables.

An eponymous bottle cage looks the part.

The latest iteration of the venerated San Marco Regal saddle is as comfortable as the earliest versions dating back around 20 years.

I carefully set up and align the Super Record Ergolevers on the Time carbon handlebars...

...then fit the 'bars into the stem, using carbon paste and careful wielding of my torque wrench.

I whip out my beloved UT-CN300, measure and shorten the chain, then push through and peen the joining link pin. 

I manually set the limit screws to ensure the chain won't go into the spokes or down into the frame, checking first that the hanger is aligned - unusually for a new bike, this one was perfect.

All done except for cables and handlebar tape.

Gear cables cut to length and fitted...

...gears adjusted and working perfectly, with traditional Campag precision.

Getting the cables to cross over just so is one of my OCD fixations - I just can't stand seeing bikes with fucked-up differing length bits of cable hanging out all over the place like the spaghetti dropped on the manager of the Death Ray Chemical Corporation's head. I am cognisant, however, of the fact that this photo doesn't exactly demonstrate my point...

Brake cables fitted. Ah, just so.

Handlebars taped.

Almost finished...

Anti-rattle tape in place - thanks to my man Doon for this tip from back in the day.

Onto the scales is the final step before the test ride. 7.04kg with pedals and bottle cage is pretty damn good for a larger bike like this!

And finis. Glenn's Time RXRS ULTeam built and ready to go. May he enjoy many, many kilometres of fun aboard this stunning machine that was the most fun build job I've had in ages. Cheers, Glenn.

Thanks for reading, Oli

Sunday, March 11, 2012

West Wind Redux

After our initial lurk around the West Wind trails a few weeks back, the lure of trying them in the reverse direction was strong. One Sunday arvo recently The Instigator wrangled me away from home and hearth to have another crack, this time in what we envisaged would be the more fun direction. We were both a bit jaded after a hard weekend, so had opted for the most downhill bang for our buck, with the knowledge and acceptance of pushing our bikes back up the road we had ridden down last time...

We started with a nice amble along the Turbine Short Walk that starts just above the old Receiving Station ruins.

Before long we emerged from the cool little trail through the trees to see the clouds scudding across the sky, and the windmill blades idly turning above everything.

Clouds pregnant with imminent rain clung to the South Island with a looming threat of deluge, as the wind began to slowly swing from north to south...

...the north didn't look much better, but we mountainbikers are not concerned with such sensitive pabulum.

As we suspected, the Opau Loop was much more fun in a downwards stylee. The first bit twisted, looped and dropped again through the trees, doubling back below the Turbine Loop and down.

Back out into the open, with some fast stuff punctuated by hairpins and small drops. Loose and rocky at times, some of the trail is quite narrow too.

Alex stomping hard, as I recover my cool after I was whacked painfully in the face by a cicada as I blasted this fast downhill section...

A sudden pinch climb wasn't exactly what we expected or wanted!

As soon as it had appeared though it was behind us, and once again we were shralving hardcore.

Back into the trees - just where Al is passing I'd just ridden through a cloud of butterflies that must have been clinging to the bank until I disturbed them!

Al negotiates one of the tidy little bridges towards the bottom of the trail...

...then navigates a wee stream crossing after a twisty and tight little semi-vert...

...before hitting the flat terrain of the wetlands at the bottom of the valley.

We then powered along the double-track that leads to the beach.

The Bay was sheltered from any wind, but it was a bit chilly and also we knew it was getting close to gate closing time so we just had a quick look around...

...before turning tail and heading back towards our date with the brutal climb back out.

The once sealed road starts out innocuously enough as a false flat...

...but soon the gradient tips up viciously, hitting (I believe) as much as 23% at times.

It wasn't long before we both started to suffer, but Alex, made of sterner stuff, drew rapidly away as I grovelled badly.

My legs suddenly told me in no uncertain terms they weren't up for any climbing today, or was it my head? I usually don't like to resort to walking, but at this moment it seemed the best idea ever.

Holy Jebus, there is no way the photos do justice to the hellish steepness of this climb.

Eventually even the Grimpeur had to stop for a breather. His tactics were to ride the whole climb, so the stop was really just an extended dab.

In light of Al's efforts, I girded my loins and attempted once more to ride a spell...

...but that only lasted about 20 metres before I tossed it in again. Al was in the middle of another dab as my walking pace began to slowly close on his riding speed on one of the most extreme pitches.

Looking back down from the same point gives you an idea of what we're dealing with...

As soon as Alex set off again the gap opened back out, and he crested this hideous ascent with great style.

Alex circled slowly as I tramped the last few ghastly steps.

We seemed to both be blowing pretty bloody hard when I finally caught up with him, and the tough riding seemed to have taken as hefty a toll on him as the arguably easier walking did on me. Great effort, bro.

He clearly recovered quicker than I though, as he sprinted off like a scalded cat.

Al waited at the gate for me though, and we took one last lingering look at the clouds creeping over the Cook Strait while the sun shone scattered shafts of silver on the sea.

We retraced our tyre tracks through the pleasant pine-forested Turbine Short Walk...

...to arrive once more back at the start.

To sum up, the downhill was fantastic fun and I would heartily recommend it to anyone. However, the climb out is very tough. On balance though, even walking most of it, it would only have taken about twenty minutes, as opposed to the 40 or so minutes of riding it took going back up the trail we had just ridden down, so the shorter suffering was preferable to us both. If you are decently fit I'd imagine your results would vary, but as I'm not particularly I give my perspective from that angle, and the descent is well worth the pain of the ascent anyway...

Thanks to Alex for the instigation, and I hope you enjoyed the read.

Cheers, Oli