I built a real bike with gears!


I don’t even know if I can remember all the parts that are on it, but at least I talked about a bunch of them in the last post. Further things:

Front derailleur: Shimano Tiagra R440 Double 9-speed braze-on, $31
Rear derailleur: Shimano Sora 3500 9-speed, medium cage (“cage” is the length of it, depends on the cassette), $28
Cassette (all the gears on the rear wheel): Shimano Tiagra HG50 9-speed road, 11-30 teeth. (so the smallest is 11, biggest is 30.) $19

Shifters: Shimano Tiagra R440 9-speed flat bar road shifters - $71. This was funny to me, that the shifters cost more than the derailleurs. I guess that’s how it goes. Anyway, they’re pretty good. They’re trigger shifters, so you click with your thumb or pull the trigger with your finger to make it go up/down. Turns out a shifter for a double cog is just a triple shifter but you don’t use all three speeds. Simple enough. Also, installing and tweaking these wasn’t as much of a bear as I’d thought. Cables and housings were included with the shifters.
Cable stops (for shifter cables, that mount where downtube shifters would be if you’re using those) from Iron City Bikes, $12. Turns out these ideally mount with the barrel under the screw, not above, but that’s mostly a cosmetic difference.

Chain: SRAM PC951 9 speed chain, 114 links, $14. I thought I’d have to add/remove links, but I didn’t; just put it on as is. I guess it’s a 3/32-inch chain, as opposed to 1/8-inch (like my single speed). It’s got a PowerLink connector, which seemed to me actually more difficult than just using a chain tool, but what do I know. I got this chain, the shifters, the cassette, and the derailleurs from chainreactioncycles.com.

Brakes: Shimano… Alivio I think? V brakes, from Kraynick’s, and I think like $15 each. Cables also $5 each, so total $40. Thing I didn’t know: V brakes and road bike brakes aren’t the same. They’re both linear pull (as opposed to cantilever brakes) but V brakes look like this:

and road brakes look like this:

Pedals: cheap black metal platform pedals from Kraynick’s, $15. I’m sold on metal pedals after some cheap plastic ones I had on my single speed actually broke. No clips or toe cages or anything; I find that annoying. (note: “clipless” does not mean “without any clips so you can ride it just like a normal bike pedal”, it actually means “the kind of pedal you clip into”, weirdly enough. if you want “normal” bike pedals that you can ride with your regular shoes, they’re called “platform”.)

Seatpost: Virtue Promax 27.2 integrated clamp seatpost, from Iron City bikes, $20. Not sure what Integrated Clamp means but this looks like all the other seatposts I’m used to.
Saddle: Virtue Rivet saddle, from Iron City bikes, $15 - this thing is pretty hard, I might change it with Brian Eno for a softer ride.

Handlebars: used flat black ones from Kraynick’s, $3. I’m kind of looking for some new ones, as this is the single ugliest part of my bike now. But I do like them to be flat. Replacin' these with this XLC Comp flat bar, 25.4mm clamp diameter, 580mm long, 5 degree bend. I learned that 25.4mm is the old style, most new handlebars are 31.8mm, and that gives a smoother ride too. But this has to match the stem. Welp.
Grips: new ones from Kraynick’s, $5. I did not know that hairspray really helps get them on. (and they’re really hard to get on without hairspray.)

Fenders: like $20 from Kraynick’s. Parts from Kraynick’s, I can’t really tell you much about them, because often I just ask him for X and he rummages behind a counter and finds X.

Front light: CatEye EL 135N, $22
Back light: Blackburn Mars 3.0, $19
Lock: OnGuard Bulldog Mini U-Lock, $37 - these are all pretty self explanatory, but I am springing for some pretty decent stuff because I am tired of my lights not working. I use lights that take AA/AAA batteries too, instead of watch batteries, because I can recharge them. Also, better bike needs a better lock? I don’t know. I do know that a couple of my locks froze last winter and so I had to sort of worriedly breathe hot air and pour hot water on them to unfreeze them before I could unlock and ride them home. Ugh. Maybe this more expensive lock won’t do that.

Total: $1302. Well, at least I got a good quality bike, and I must have saved some money by building it myself… wait. Oh well, at least I didn’t spend way more than the bike costs. (and to be fair, I counted fenders, lights, lock, the whole deal, which I’m sure aren’t included on that one.)

Interesting approx breakdown: frame $500, wheels/tires $250, drive train $125, shifter stuff $125, everything else $250.

But more importantly, hell, I learned a lot. And it was/is fun too! I’m riding it around, and it is nice to have gears. It is nice to ride on a bike that is made of really solid parts. It’s nice to ride on a shiny new bike!

Name: “Stephen Malkmus” just doesn’t fit. This bike is too shiny. Kind of sleek, dark, pricey, still just a little gritty, surly (hah), able to travel but really feels at home around a city… I’m now thinking Thom Yorke. (though willing to hear other recommendations.)

Thanks: to Jerry at Kraynick’s, Ryan at Top Gear, Colin at Iron City, Stacey, and Dad for all in their own way helping make this bike happen!

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