A New Winter Bike

The initial purchase of the Van Nicholas Yukon frame from Fatbirds was the easy bit, the six week delay in obtaining the drop bars, stem, titanium seat post, collar and bar tape direct from the Van Nicholas factory confirmed that the bike build would not be a five minute job.

Knowing about this delay early gave me time to research the rest of the parts and find the keenest prices.

The Yukon frame is classed as touring/audax and I must confess my choice was partly influenced by  its ability to accept full mud guards. The forks are Kinesis DC07 also from Fatbirds who with it supplied and fitted free of charge the FSA Orbit headset bearings to the frame.

The first job was to cut and fit the forks and after a dry assembly of stem and spacers the top of the forks was marked, a roll of tape was positioned two millimetres below this mark as a cutting guide for the hacksaw and after cutting the edges were deburred with a half round file. The next job which was the trickiest bit of the build was to fit the star nut and top cap which had to go in square to the tube, this required a jig made from a wooden dowel fractionally smaller than the internal diameter of the forks and a length of 6mm studding to keep the star nut central.

Once cut assembled and tightened down and with bars in place there seemed to be a small amount of play in the forks and closer inspection showed the lower seal had been fitted upside down so after reassembling correctly I had to remove another 1.5 mm off the length of the forks to allow the top cap to seat properly.

The best and worst thing about the internet is the vast number of returns that are presented for any request for information and it needs a bit of persistence to assimilate the information on offer, this became evident in my search for wheels when a list of six options had me reading reviews and blogs for the best part of a complete day but the end result was a pair of Ultegra 6700 wheels for clinchers or tubeless from Ribble. These have been shod with Michelin Pro 4 Race Course tyres and tubes but these will be changed as winter approaches.

The group set is Shimano Ultegra 6700 10 speed with a 50/34 compact, an 11/28 cassette and   170mm Ultegra Cranks.

Brakes and levers are also Ultegra 6700 and all came as a mix and match set from Ribble.

The other  big gamble with any build is the saddle, what fits one person is hell for another so after sitting on a sheet of baco foil on the stairs to measure my sit bones I decided to “settle” on a Fizik Arione, time will tell if I have made the right decision.

DSC_0024The whole build took about six hours and was considerably easier than I imagined and after a bit of adjustment “Trinny” the titanium bike was ready for her test flight.

The first ride left we with a feeling of pride at how well she handled. After a bit of tweaking with saddle height and adjustment of new cables a set of SKS mudguards were added and “Trinny” is ready for duty.

The reflected cost of the build confirmed the small margins manufacturers must work to as a factory bike was not that much more. The research of components took twice as long as the actual build but the satisfaction of a self built bike was worth the time spent and I look forward to many hours and miles.

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