His and Hers
Two bikes, “his and hers” so to speak, are underway at True Cyclery, and the anticipation is building as parts begin to arrive. I’m looking forward to building them up in time for the holidays, but much of the fun of this project was the brainstorming prior to the build. Unlike our usual road or gravel bikes, these bikes are best described as the ultimate family bikes. Ben’s bike was confirmed first and will be finished soon, so I’ll write about it now, and Jackie’s when it arrives in a week or two.
Years ago, Ben was a dedicated mountain biker, tackling Connecticut’s trails every week. He never raced, but logged many hours on the bike and even took a few mountain bike specific vacations. He was good, and enjoyed the sport immensely. His peak lasted about three years. After taking a new job, moving, picking up golf, settling down and having a family, cycling fell off the back so he sold his bike. Riding was no longer an option.
The times, as they say, are a changing. This coming spring his son will likely break free of his training wheels. His younger daughter is a little daredevil and seems poised to be at home on a bike seat or a chariot, and a tag-a-long soon thereafter. Cycling is knocking on the door, and the entire family is chomping at the bit.
Ben wants a bike that will provide exceptionally fun family rides. For the next few years the average ride will be in the form of short jaunts to parks, playscapes, bike paths, local ice cream shoppes, cafes, and diners. In order for that to happen, it has to be capable of carrying a kid or pulling a trailer without feeling wobbly. It should be as easy as hopping on, or throwing the bike on a car rack so he can focus on making sure the kids have what they need. Durability is also key, as is requiring minimal maintenance. He also wants the bike to grow with the family, in that it won’t always be a short distance hauler, it will eventually be a bike for exploration, beach cruising, trails, general exercise, keeping up with the kids, and whatever else he finds an interest in using it for.
We discussed a variety of bikes, and decided on the Seven Cycles Cafe Racer S. The Cafe Racer is a lot of bike, no doubt about that, but it has been designed specifically for Ben and the manner in which he’ll use it. The tube set, Seven’s Integrity straight gauge titanium, is burly but comfortable. The frame will be bare titanium, so there is no paint to chip, no rust to prevent, and no worry of being tipped over accidentally. The geometry is such that the ride will be fun, but not so nimble that a fifty pound kid will cause him to be wary. It will fit better than any bike he has ever had. Due to his mountain biking background, we opted for a familiar flat bar. Eyelets will abound, ready for fenders, racks, and whatever else needs to be bolted on. A low mount disc will allow maximum clearance for accessories, and enough power to stop even the heaviest of loads. I am certain this bike will ignite the cyclist within him, and drive him to ride more than he ever imagined.
Seven finished the frame last Friday, and the parts are coming in daily. The parts pick was a blast to select. We chose a few parts to splurge on, a few that are good enough, and the rest for their proven dependability and value. This is what it looks like:
Fork (Splurge): The Seven Max 45. We could have used a steel fork for this application, but felt the weight savings, and the ride quality of a carbon fork was preferable. Finding a carbon fork that can handle disc brakes, wide tires, and fenders isn’t as easy as it sounds. Seven’s Max 45 offers of these requirements in a light weight package.
Headset (Splurge): I bought my first Chris King headset in 1995 and learned what it meant to “set it and forget it.” We felt the same was important here, and went with the Chris King IS7. He will never need to think about the headset again.
Brakes (Splurge): We could have gotten away with a less expensive STX, or Deore brake set, but Ben was adamant that he wanted brakes of the highest quality. He also recognized the XT name from his mountain biking days of yesteryear. He wanted to splurge to ensure the brakes were strong, reliable, and could be counted on to stop him and his kids, Shimano’s XT 8000 hydraulics, center lock, fit the bill.
Tires (Splurge): Most of his rides will take place on roads, though he’ll occasionally find himself on wooden boardwalks, and packed trails. He wanted a fast, but plush feel to the ride, so his bike will be outfitted with the Compass Stampede Pass in a 32mm. I love these tires, and am confident they’ll yield a most satisfying ride feel. I think tires have a noticeable effect on a bike’s ride feel, so I prefer to splurge here more than say on a seat post. The Stampedes feel plush, but oh so speedy.
Drivetrain (Value): Shimano 105, 5800. We wanted dependability and value. We considered splurging on Ultegra, but ultimately felt we could save some money without missing much performance. He won’t be logging thousands of miles, at least not for a while and while Ultegra works a little better, is a little lighter, and is a little more rust resistant (in my experience) 5800 is more than enough for this application, and costs a few hundred dollars less. We opted for a mid compact crank and an 11-32 cassette, good for uphills and downs, loaded or not. Due to the flat bar, we are using Shimano’s RS-700 eleven speed shifters which might be considered a splurge but I have used these before and appreciate their matter of fact shifting feedback.
Wheels (Value): We considered a ton of prebuilt wheels, but decided on a set of hand built wheels with H Plus Son Archetype rims, DT butted spokes, and Shimano’s CX75 hubs. I felt these would provide years of use with minimal maintenance. Plus they are easy to repair should they get beaten up or out of true.
Fenders (Value): PDW Full Metal. For a dependable, quiet riding, metal fender PDW makes a great, no frills product.
Bar, Stem, Post (Good Enough): Shimano’s PRO Koryak line of components will match nicely but aren’t the lightest, nicest, coolest, fanciest, or all that lust worthy in the grand scheme of things. They are good enough, and not so heavy to be of concern. Fancier parts right save some weight, or look cooler, or add a touch of compliance here or there, but no matter how much weight you save, the fit can’t be dialed any further, and that’s what is most important on this bike.
Pretty soon the final shipment of parts will arrive, and I’ll post pictures of the build as it happens. I’ll also do a write up of Jackie’s bike which should be coming down the pipeline shortly!