Singlespeed Cyclocross Build (Part Two)

I ran into some problems with the second half of this build.

Trek Stranglehold Dropout System

Problem 1

TRP brakes.  I’m used to Shimano, where the hose is not attached at the shifter to make for easy installation on an internally routed frame.  I ended up having to cut and bleed both anyway, but it made the routing more complicated than it needed to be, aside from the rear chainstay where Trek has made it as simple as possible where the frame forms a tube for the hose to run through.

Problem 2

I had to warranty my rear brake after installing it and trying to bleed it when we found out the bolt was over tightened, meaning I could not loosen it to bleed the brake.  TRP was very good about it though and promptly shipped a new caliper, and I am able to cannibalize the first one for spare parts.  Then I had to cut the hose again, but it was not as much of a problem this time and the bleed got done.

Problem 3

Not necessarily a real problem, but I hate wrapping bar tape.

Custom Trek Crockett Singlespeed

Overall, this build finished up well, although I do not like bleeding TRP brakes.  The brake levers actually have holes in them, so they look pretty cool in photos, and the bike is fun to ride with perfect gearing.  Learning the dropout system and setting up a singlespeed is a little new to me, but with the help of more experienced mechanics I got it all done.

I Want to Ride my Bike Because

There are so many reasons I want to ride my bike, and sometimes I don’t have the time to actually ride it when I want to. It can be a bad day, a need to train, or just an overwhelming need to go ride a bike. These are a few of my favorites I’ve run into in my life lately.

Trek Domane SL 6

I cried over a sandwich - but to be honest it was a really bad sandwich and not what I ordered. I don’t know why exactly I cried over the sandwich, but I was having a rough morning, and the sandwich topped it off. I got home from work at 8:30 that night and got the trainer set-up and rode my bike, because I really needed to ride my bike.

I haven’t ridden my bike - and I just want to ride bikes all the time. I love my bikes, and I just want to ride them all the time. Unfortunately, school, work, and family can all get in the way of my opportunity to ride my bikes.

I haven’t ridden this exact bike - a personal problem. Not everyone has multiple bikes to choose from like me, but I know one person who has more than me, and he will ride one bike, go home, and then ride another bike, so all of the bikes get ridden. I wish I lived somewhere I could do this easily.

Trek Madone with Bontrager Ion 800 Headlight

It’s 70 degrees out - in December. I remember one Christmas, the weather was so nice, I rode my bike from my parents’ house to my aunt’s house for Christmas dinner. People thought I was a little crazy, but I just thought it was nice to get out in the clear weather.

I built a new bike - yes another one. I love building bikes. It may be a little bit of an obsession I have, because I like having the newest things, but it is also fun for me. I love a project bike.

Buying Your First Bike

I bought my first bike without seeing it.  It was a 2013 Trek Lexa C that was my favorite color, purple, with Claris components.  I knew nothing about bikes, and I was so excited to have a real road bike and not a Walmart bike.  Where I was in my life, this bike was perfect and the most exciting thing in my life.  Now, if you are paying this price, you do want to put some time and effort into thinking about the decision more than I did.

Anatomy of a Bicycle

Step 1

Know the categories of bikes.  There are multiple categories including road, mountain, hybrid.  In road bikes, I also include cyclocross, gravel, triathlon, and touring bikes.  Mountain bikes can further be separated into cross country, enduro, and downhill.  Hybrid bikes can be separated into fitness, comfort, and dual sport.  There are other categories, but these are the most easily defined.

Determine what your goals are to know what category you fall into.  I wanted to do triathlons, and nothing else, but I wasn’t good enough with handling to go with a triathlon bike.  Your goals could be riding mountain bike trails and going out west to ride, which would need a full suspension mountain bike.  You could want a bike to commute to work or the grocery store with a rack and panniers, which could be a road or a hybrid bike.  Once you know wha you want to do, you can narrow down what category you fit in.

Step 2

Know what causes the variation in price of bikes.  When looking at two bikes in the same category the things that set them apart are material, components, and suspension. 

Frames come in a multitude of materials at a multitude of price points.  Majority of bikes sold in bike shops are aluminum or carbon fiber, but you will also find steel and titanium bikes as well.  Typically, carbon fiber is one of your lightest and can be your most expensive bike.  You can still find very lightweight aluminum bikes as well, and they tend to be more budget friendly.  Your frame material may be dictated by your budget.

Drivetrains are one of the most complicated parts of the bike to explain, so I am going to make it as simple as possible.  More rear speeds is smoother shifting on all bikes, while whether you choose to use a front derailleur can be dictated by the type of bike you choose. 

Most categories of road bikes have two front gears and anywhere between 8 and 11 in the rear.  Cyclocross bikes and mountain bikes are where the single front chainring has become popular as we can run larger gear ranges in the back and it saves weight. 

The other major part of drivetrain to consider on a first bike is the brakes.  The most common options are rim brakes and disc brakes.  Mountain, cyclocross, and gravel bikes are almost all coming with disc brakes currently.  Disc brakes don’t wear down rims and they have more braking power than rim brakes.  Road bikes and hybrid bikes still come with both options, so it comes down to if you will find value in the extra stopping power and ability to brake in more conditions.  Disc brakes also come in hydraulic and cable operated models.  The stopping power is the same, but as the pads wear down, the hydraulic brakes will move the pads in so you don’t lose and stopping power.  They may need to be bled in a few years, but they do not require the same cable adjustments of a mechanical (cable) disc brake. 

When combined with frame material, drivetrain will help to narrow down the options.  You may also find a carbon bike with 11 speed components is out of your price range, but an aluminum with it is within your range. 

Step 3

Find your size and test ride.   I highly recommend talking to a professional in a bike shop for size.  I am 5’5” and I ride a 52 cm Trek Domane, where my boss is 5’5 1/2” and rides a 50 cm, so size charts can only help so much.  I also ride a 50 cm in a Trek Madone and a 49 in another brand, so the size on the bike only dictates an estimate.

I also recommend test riding any comparable bike to what you are intending to buy.  A shop may not have the exact model, but they may have the same size in another model or another model with the same components.  This will give you a feel for the position and a feel for the components, although it may not be the exact bike. 

Step 4

Buy a bike and go ride.  I also recommend certain accessories, which will be found in my next post. 

This bike buying process should help you whether you are buying a hybrid to ride with thbike kids or a super aero triathlon bike to race at Kona.