When I worked at other bike shops (that sell new bikes) I was always lusting after the newest and sexiest bike, the hottest piece of equipment, the shiniest shoes. Now that I work at Bike Works (where we don’t sell new bikes, only donated and refurbished ones) I find myself appreciating bikes that do the job well, that last. Lightweight wheels with as many spokes as I have years have given way to sturdy 32 hole hubs laced to traditional box section rims. Parts no longer match and most of what hangs on the frame was found at Bike Works. And I love it. . . enjoy the pics of my “fast” bike, a Felt F-80 that was purchased from my old roommate.
The Felt used to sit on my wooden, free-standing bike rack, not being ridden too often (Hunter is a busy guy), longing for long, fast rides. I didn’t realize this until I joined a team (Breakaway Racing) with the hopes of doing some road racing this season (which hasn’t happened yet. . . I’m a busy guy) and began to wonder about what sort of bike I would be riding. At the time I only had a steel framed touring/commuting bike, which I was “training” on, but I knew that I wanted something faster. The says goes, “speed is expensive, how fast do you want to spend?”, but I figured that I could put together something respectable without having to let go of my touring bike. After checking out what I could get through the various distributors that Bike Works has accounts with (not much. . .) I started to worry. I knew that I couldn’t afford a superlight plastic race bike (some people call them carbon fibre) and I wasn’t finding any steel framed bikes that would fit me (I have odd proportions). Then, one day, I happened to look up at Hunter’s Felt sitting on the bike rack and thought to myself, “hey. . . maybe that would work!”. To be honest, when I thought that to myself, I wasn’t referring to the fit of the bike or it’s condition, I was referring to the fact that it would be a cheaper alternative to buying a new frame and then hanging parts on it. . . that can get spendy. Also, have you noticed that I like the term “hanging” when I talk about installing components on a bike frame? Dunno why. . .
As I said, I have odd proportions (for my height, my torso is really long, as are my arms), so I knew that I would have to change some things around on the bike to make it fit. But that is probably one of the more exciting things to do when you get a bike: customize it! Off came the 100 mm stem and 42 cm bars, my long arms and wide shoulders call for more room. I had a Bontrager bar that my friend Lance gave me and I found a 3T stem at Bike Work that Keith had generously donated. Perfect! The 56 cm frame was now long enough to accommodate my freakish position. It took me awhile to realize that I was all torso, but once I did, fitting my bikes was made easier. . . basically I get a 56 cm frame (since it is the biggest size that I can straddle with my little legs) and make it as long as possible. Long and low. . . that how I like ‘em. The Bontrager bars offer the width that I need, but after logging some miles on them, I have realized that I need a deeper drop, because I can’t quite get low enough with the “ergonomic” shape of the bars. That can wait till the fall though, summer camp season keeps life too busy and money is going into a DSLR camera at the moment. . .
The bike came with 9 speed Shimano Tiagra shifters mated to a 105 derailleur set. The combination works great and since I am used to bar-end shifters on my touring bike, just having STI shifters is a nice change! That being said, Hunter traded me a 10 speed 105 shifter set for a Fulcrum wheelset and those will be hung on the bars when I get the time.
Recently, someone donated a Dura-Ace wheelset to BW and I was quick to snap it up! If you are cool, you pronounce Dura-Ace as “der-ot-she”, because it sounds Italian and that is funny (because Shimano is a Japanese brand). The hubs are by far the smoothest rolling that I have ever been on. It’s incredible how you notice it right away. . . you wouldn’t think that something such as the bearing in a hub would be that noticeable, but they are. A co-worker also picked up a DA wheelset (we were flush with them for a few days) and commented on how he could tell the difference immediately! Before the DA wheelset, I was on a Fulcrum set, complete with very few spokes and cartridge bearings (as opposed to the ball bearings found in Shimano wheels) and although those were definitely more stiff than my current hoops, they were also a lot stiffer. Lolzor. What that means is that while they were stiff torsionally (side to side, which you can feel when you climb or sprint), they were also much stiffer vertically (making for a harsher ride). Since the bike is aluminum and pretty damn stiff already, making the switch to a smoother wheelset made long rides much more tolerable. So did a few other changes, but more on that later. . .
The wheels are wrapped in ancient Specialized Armadillo tires, complete with a tan sidewall. I love tan sidewalls. . . I think Keith got me started on them, but they just look classic and sexy. On any bike. Trust me. . .
The bike came with a cheap FSA triple crankset, complete with a square taper BB. That had to go. . . so I bought the cheapest standard double that I could find, a Sram one, that uses the “new” external bearing system. This makes for a stiffer setup, which is, again, important when sprinting and climbing. I opted for a standard double because I don’t need a third ring on this type of bike and “compact” doubles make for a silly look (in my opinion). Mated to the crank is a Time RXS pedal system, chosen for the snappy spring tension and memories of my first road bike.
I wound up going for the tried and true Selle San Marco Concor Lite (the same saddle that Lance Armstrong prefers, no less) for it’s classic profile and comfort. I’ve tried plenty of saddles in my days and this one fits me well! White bottle cages bring the colors together, highlighting the white in the logo, as well as the saddle and bartape. You’ve gotta be careful, though, because it’s easy to overdo color.
All in all, it has proven to be a reliable little rocket and I really love it’s traditional profile (especially when compared to newer, more radical tubing shapes and profiles) and the fact that it was so affordable. Thanks Hunter!