Blog 02-06-23

Time for an update on my custom build single-speed bicycle project. Painting is all complete, though there’s a few small minor areas I’ll need to repair once the build is finished. Most annoying when a brake lever slides down the handlebars and damages the paint. But easily sorted. Main delay has been getting the wheels built at BG Cycles in Portobello, Edinburgh, partly due to myself being away at a family wedding and also the need to order in spokes for my specific requirements. However, wheels are now complete, collected and ready for use.

Assembly started with the wheels. First a good clean up after the wheel build. It’s never easy keeping things clean when you work with bikes. Next, new self-adhesive rim tape, remembering to cut out holes where the valve stem threads through the rim. Then I discover a school boy error when I try to install the inner tubes, I’ve ordered tubes with overly long valve stems, making it awkward to get the valve stem through the rim hole when the tube is inside the tyre. However, managed to think my way around this and eventually get the tyres installed. I’ve gone for heavy duty touring tyres with a decent tread pattern – I’ll list all the final part specifications later – as I want this bike capable for all terrain use.

Before fitting the wheels to the frame, on with the brake rotors, using new bolts and carefully torquing them to the corrects setting. I’ve used an older set of rotors, carefully sanded down with wet ‘n’ dry and cleaned with isopropyl alcohol. The rear freewheel was also installed. The wheels slipped easily onto the frame and forks and also something of a relief to see that everything fitted okay. Main concern was enough clearance for the tyres. I’ve a few millimetres space but not enough for mudguard, not that I want to fit them anyway. Would spoil the look of the bike. I guess I’ll just have to get wet or muddy!

The bottom bracket was re-used but I’m not all that happy with how freely it’s running. It is almost 10-years old and while not having had much actual use, has languished in the attic for most of that time, being subjected to the extremes of temperature you get up there. I don’t think it really fared well being removed and re-installed either. I think I’m going to splash out and purchase a better quality press-fit bottom bracket from Hope. Most of the other components are fine, headset was re-used, new seat and seat stem, handlebars stem and brake levers. The brakes were an old set I refurbished and they are working perfectly. The crank set is also new, as is the chain.

In fact, everything mostly just about perfect. I say mostly, but there are a few small issues. One is that the handlebars need reduced in width. They just feel a little too wide. The other is the rear single speed freewheel is very clunky when I’m pedalling. I’ve checked the chain line and its bang-on. The freewheel is new but has been sitting in the shed for about 10-years and, I suspect, the oil lubrication has dried out. So, I’ll add some oil first and see if that helps. If not, might need to call into Mutts Cycles for advice. I also think that a better-quality component with the Rolls-Royce of freewheels from White Industries might be on the to-buy list.

After a final check that all bolts were secure, the tyres were pumped up, the wheels would not fall off and the brakes would stop me from crashing, I was off around the block for a tentative first test ride. It was brilliant! The bike is so light and nimble and while you need to pedal that little bit harder on the gradients, it just feels so right, neat and simple. The bike weighs in at 12.2 kg, a bit heavier than the 10 kg I was hoping for. The tyres account for about 1 kg of that additional weigh and could be replaced with lighter ones. But it’s certainly lighter than any of my other bikes and will do just fine for now.

During the build I’ve been thinking of a name for the bike, the original Genesis Day One does not sound all that great. Had originally thought of “The Punisher”, as it will be very hard work climbing hills, for example, in Mayfield and Gorebridge. However, all those brights colours leads me in a different direction. So, meet “Harley Quinn” named after the character in Suicide Squad, aptly played by Margot Robbie. Some frame decals are on order. Currently searching for a suitable head badge. Oh dear, it’s a bit on the bright side, isn’t it?

Build specification:

  • Frame and forks: Genesis Day One, Medium, Reynolds 853
  • Bottom bracket: Hope
  • Wheel rims: DT Swiss R500 db, 32-hole
  • Hubs: Surly Ultra New, 32-hole
  • Tyres: Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tour, 700 x 35
  • Brakes: Avid BB7, 160mm rotors
  • Brake levers: Avid Speed Dial 7
  • Handlebars: Race Face
  • Handlebar stem: Race Face
  • Headset: FSA
  • Cranks: Shimano Deore 32T
  • Pedals: Look City Grip
  • Saddle: WTB Rocket
  • Seat stem: Ritchie Comp
  • Chain: SRAM PC-830
  • Freewheel: White Industries 16T
  • Grips: Ergon GP-1

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