When not gently spinning my way round the North Devon lanes I've been busy piecing together my old Bianchi ML3 with a mix of old and new components. Whilst my Surly Cross Check is a hugely versatile and comfortable machine I want to have a lighter more responsive bike for those days when I feel the need for a bit more speed. A lighter bike will also be an advantage on some of the longer climbs I'll be tackling later in the year. The Bianchi should also be easier to fit in the car which is actually quite an important consideration when thinking about travelling long distances with a bike and additional luggage.
Anyway, the bike is still a work in progress but is very nearly there so I thought I'd report on progress. My approach to the build was if I already had something in the garage that would do the job it would be used. This is after all a bike that is going to be slung in the back of the car a great deal over the next twelve months and there is no point getting precious about how it looks. Sticking top end bling components on a scuffed old frame also seems a bit pointless. Besides I like the shabby thrown together in a shed look. It sadly matches how I look generally...
Very much a work in progress but about 90% complete.
The eagle eyed among you will notice that I've committed cycling heresy and combined road and MTB components in an attempt to get the wide range of gears I want for the steep stuff. I was intrigued by the SRAM WiFLi wide ratio road gears that are now available and thought I would bodge together a cheaper version of my own. Even more blasphemous is the use of a Campagnolo front mech with a predominantly Shimano set up. My reasoning behind this choice is that the Campag mech was in the garage and fits the frame and as I'll be using down tube shifters I should be able to get around any compatibility problems (I hope). It should be OK with the Shimano Sora compact chainset. I say should as I forgot to buy a chain before starting the build. Doh!
I've gone for down tube shifters for a few reasons. Firstly I know from experience that they can handle a mix of road and MTB derailleurs. They are also light and cheap and leave me with the scope to fiddle around with different handle bar set ups if I decide to change things around at some point. The one problem I found with fitting the down tube shifters is that they don't fit flush against the Bianchi's oversized aluminium down tube. A quick bodge with some rubber washers seems to have helped them fit more securely.
The wheels were lying around in the garage not doing much and apart from a bearing service being needed for the front wheel seem to be up to the job. The saddle and seat post are the Bianchi originals. The SRAM Rival brakes (I already have Shimano and Campag on there so I may as well complete the holy trinity of group set manufacturers) I'm particularly pleased with as I got them half price. I've got some old levers somewhere in the back of the garage that will be going on as soon as I can find them.
Off road drops on an Italian road bike? Thats just how I roll. They are comfy, honest
The handle bar set up is one that will probably have cycling purists crying out 'my eyes, my eyes' but in my defence it is still a work in progress. I have left the steerer tube long until I fine tune the riding position. I suspect that the bars will long term remain fairly high. A low front end when climbing up hill seems counter productive and wide and high bars allow you to open your chest up a bit more and breath more easily. Lets face it, the heavy breathing on my videos shows I need all the help I can get. The mix of different headset spacers (I was amazed at how many I had knocking about in various tool boxes) does look scruffy but will have to do for now. The handle bar is an On One Midge bar. It is a drop bar designed for off road use but having used one on the Cross Check for a couple of years I've come to love it. It is a nice wide bar with plenty of space for your hands on the tops. The wide flare to the drops also allows you to have a nice secure handhold when descending on rough roads. It feels right and so its staying.