The LeMond’s first real ride

Today is the day.  I’m meeting a friend, Mike, at this house at 5:30pm for a ride into town, a quick bite for dinner, and back.  From my house to his is 11 miles, and town is another 5 miles from his house.  I decided to take the LeMond.  I received the headset spacers a couple of days ago and those were the last parts I needed.  The LeMond is completely finished.

The ride to Mike’s was great.  The bike is steady hands-off, pedaling or coasting.  No issues that  I could notice.  The Reynolds 853 steel frame is nice, less jarring than the CAAD8 that I usually ride.  Braking action is good, no real difference between this bike and the CAAD8.  Both sets of rims have machined sidewalls. and both brakes are dual-pivot so the differences should be minimal.  Shifting is crisper on the LeMond, probably because I should lube (or replace) the chainstay to rear derailleur housing on the CAAD8.  It’s now got about 2500 miles on the current cables/housings with no adjustments needed in that period of time.

There are some rolling hills on the route, but nothing really noteworthy.  I was really happy with the wheels.  If you’ve not read about them, these are the first set of wheels I built – laced, trued, tensioned.  3-cross on the front wheel, 3-cross NDS / 2-cross DS on the rear wheel.  The wheels are still true!  The sunlight reflecting off the polished silver rims and glinting off the stainless spokes reminds me of an old Huffy 10-speed and bicycle adventures too many years ago to count.

There is a certain amount of pride when you’re riding a bike that you built, and this ride was definitely a special one.  32 miles isn’t a terribly long ride, but it was definitely long enough for problems to surface – and there were none.

I haven’t worked out all of the details of the next project, but look for an 5-speed IGH and drum brakes.  Hint, hint.


The maiden voyage

I picked up some ferrules for the brake housings at Oswego Cyclery on Saturday.  I spent an hour or so in the afternoon and got the housings cut and installed and the cables run.  By the way, the silicone tape that fuses to itself is amazing stuff.  No adhesive to turn gooey in the summer sun, but it holds tightly.  I might have a gooey mess under the Cannondale bar wrap (I used strapping tape), but not on this bike.  This tape is kind of expensive, but it’s worth it.

The brakes are fairly simple to adjust so I got those out of the way first.  While I was adjusting, I made sure the brake pads were properly lined up on the rim and that the pads were toed in like they should be.  Adjusting the derailleurs is a little more involved, but went smoothly (ha) and shifting seems to be working well all around.  I’ll probably recheck everything after a few miles just to be sure that any early cable stretch is adjusted out.

Next is the chain.  I do like Wippermann chains and especially the Connex connector.  Put the chain on the big-big sprockets and figured out how long the chain needed to be.  I pushed out the pin with the chain tool, and the connector went in.  Finally, I installed the pedals, with just a little grease on the threads, and she’s ready for the maiden voyage.

I had measured and set the saddle in the same position as on my Cannondale, and it fits fine.  The stem that’s on the bike now is too short, but that’s OK because I’m replacing it with a polished silver stem anyway.  It is a really nice ride.  Part of what makes this bike special to me is that I built the wheels – my first-ever set of wheels.  One of the brake pads was rubbing against the rear wheel, so I centered the brake caliper and that stopped.  These Campagnolo hubs are really as smooth as butter, just a nice click-click-click as you slowly coast down the road, and the sun glints off each spoke as the front wheel turns.

I put some paint film on both sides of the headtube, and on top of the drive-side chainstay.  I will cut some film for the down tube, and that should take care of scratch protection for a long time.  So, to wrap it up, I need to replace the stem and wrap the handlebars and it’s done.  Maybe some custom spacers on the steerer, just for fun.

Photos to follow.

Moving along now

The LeMond is getting closer to rideability.  I took the bike to Oswego Cyclery to have them check the rear derailleur hanger as it didn’t look straight.  Well, it wasn’t, but it is now.  That tool from Park Tool made quick work of straightening it.  Quick enough in fact, that I’m going to get one.  I’m thinking that with all the rear derailleurs on bikes at my house, sooner or later they will need to be straightened and I’ll be able to handle the job quickly and easily.

Once home, the rear derailleur is mounted pretty quickly and the front derailleur is aligned and spaced just above the 53-tooth chainwheel.  I mounted the Ritchey Classic handlebars in the 110mm stem and sat on the bike to get a rough idea about the stem length.  I’m thinking that 100mm / 10 degree dimensions will be pretty close.  But I haven’t ridden it anywhere, just sat on it in the basement so there’s no real-world riding to confirm or deny the guesstimate – at least not yet.

I ordered some black silicone self-fusing tape for the handlebars – both to hold the cables in place under the wrap and to secure the end of the wrap.  Supposedly this “tape” only adheres to itself and doesn’t have any adhesive to turn into a gummy mess when it’s warm outside.

When I get the tape I can run the shift and brake cables, and then it will be ready enough for a maiden voyage.  Oswego Cyclery offered their adjustable stem so that I can play with angle end length before ordering the “final” stem.  I plan to take them up on that offer.

Unless something comes up that I haven’t thought of, it should be rideable  within the week.

I do have some Mavic GP4 tubular rims on the way; if you remember I wanted to run tubulars on this bike from the beginning.  Well, once these wheels are built I can switch back and forth.

Couldn’t wait, so I didn’t

Well, the wheels are ready to roll. I cleaned the rims, put the rim tape on, and added tubes and tires. Wow, it was difficult to get the last bit of the bead over the rim – I guess that’s one of the downsides of box section rims. Installing the same tires on the Boyd Vitesse V-shaped aero rims was much easier.  But they’re on, and holding air, so I’m calling it good.

I was going to wait for the LeMond build to be finished before riding these wheels for the first time, but I decided to swap them for the Boyd wheels on my Cannondale and see how my work would hold up on the road.  You can guess that they worked just fine, since I’m typing this post sans road rash and contusions.  I didn’t hear any “tink” or “ping” noises (those are technical terms), so it seems I took care of the spoke wind-up OK and the stress-relieving worked.

I do like the glint of the sunlight off nice stainless spokes and the polished silver rims look really good.  I think they will fit perfectly on the LeMond with the polished alloy Campagnolo Daytona group.  With a little spare time, I should be able to have the LeMond build finished in the next week or so.

I’m looking forward to that first ride on the LeMond.

Lace, dish, and true…

Oh, the tension of it all – it makes all the difference. They’re laced, tensioned, trued, and dished. I’m pretty happy with the way they turned out. The front rim was much easier than the rear. The front rim trued up quickly and was radially true from the beginning. The lateral true was fairly easy on this one and the dish was correct and never varied. The Park TM-1 says the front spokes are at 95 kgf average.

The rear wheel took longer – both to lace and to tension, true, and dish. I laced the NDS 3-cross and the DS 2-cross. The Campagnolo hub is slightly larger in diameter on the DS (2mm). I finally figured out how to get the DS laced after lacing the NDS completely (both sets of 8 spokes). The DS elbow-out spokes were simple, the head-out DS spokes were a nuisance but I got them in OK. Truing and tensioning was a little tricky. It seemed like every time I trued the wheel the dish shifted. Then I would correct the dish and the truing went out the window. I only had one spot to fix to get the radial true correct, so that wasn’t too bad. After a couple of iterations, the true was perfect and the dish was perfect too. The DS tension was 138 kgf and the NDS tension was 70 kgf.

I was hoping for less difference between NDS and DS with the larger DS flange diameter and the 3-cross / 2-cross lacing.

Oh, well, I’ll let them sit for a day or two and then stress-relieve them one more time, install the rim tape, tube and tire.

My first set of wheels built from scratch. A ground-breaking (but not pavement-meeting) occasion. One big step closer to finishing the LeMond restoration.

Lace – definitely not Chantilly

I got the remainder of the parts I needed to build the wheels on Friday.  These wheels are going on the LeMond frame, they have Campagnolo hubs (translated from Italian that means “smooth as glass”), H-Son TB-14 rims, and DT Swiss spokes.  Their only downfall is that I’m building the wheels.

It went well.  I checked the spoke lengths and they were spot on.  Got the Zinn book, and laced the front wheel.  It took about a half-hour to lace and then I checked it over carefully.  No lacing errors that I could find, so I tightened the spokes up and checked the dish.  Amazingly, the dish was basically perfect to start with,  so it was up to me to mess it up.

I increased the tension up to “almost where it should be” and checked everything again.  A few spokes were a little looser and a few were tighter, so I evened them out as best I could.  Checked the dish again, still perfect.  Set the tension to the final value and the dish is perfect, and the wheel is radially true.  A few spots where the lateral true needed some help, but not as many as I expected.  I would have no concerns putting rim tape on, a tube and tire, and riding this rim tomorrow.  But I’ll save the maiden voyage  for the LeMond once the build is finished.

On to the rear wheel, this one is a little more complicated.  I chose a 3-cross NDS pattern and a 2-cross DS pattern.  If my research is right, this will help to minimize the NDS/DS tension differences and help the rim to be stronger and to stay true longer.  Lacing the NDS 3-cross was fairly simple, I’d just finished the front wheel with that pattern.  Lacing the DS 2-cross took some thought and trial and error, but I got it.  The rim looks centered, but I haven’t checked the dish yet and the spokes have minimal tension right now.

Maybe after tomorrow’s ride I’ll try and finish it up.

I’m sure that to a lot of people, building wheels is not a big deal.  It is to me, because I’ve not finished a set before (and I guess technically this set isn’t finished yet), and there’s a sense of satisfaction in learning something that you didn’t know how to do, and then using what you learned to make something.

Building stuff is fun.

Lace isn’t always frilly

Sometimes it’s an accomplishment.  Today, I laced my first bicycle wheel.  Well, I actually re-laced a wheel that I took apart last week.  I used the directions in a bicycle maintenance book by Leonard Zinn to lace the 32 spokes in a 3 cross pattern.  It actually only took about a half hour to lace, and then I tightened the spokes in a couple of loops around the wheel.  It’s not trued or tightened enough to ride, and I will take the wheel apart anyway.  This was more of a trial run to see how the lacing process works.

It actually went surprisingly well.  I didn’t have to redo any of the spokes, and I checked them as I inserted them.  I did the lacing in four sets of eight spokes just as the directions said and it all works.

As someone that is trying to become more knowledgeable about building and maintaining bicycles, building wheels is a skill that I’ve wanted to learn for a while now.

I’m going to build the wheels for the LeMond bicycle I’m restoring, and I plan to ride that bicycle in a century later this year.  So, I’d better get it right if I expect to finish without walking.

Wheels and tires and hubs and tubs and tubes…

I had originally planned to run tubulars on the LeMond. I still might, but it has been a major pain to remove the old glue from the tubular rims I purchased. I’ve used a bronze brush in an electric drill and MEK, and those two combined for marginal success. That glue is tough and doesn’t want to give up easily. Perhaps that is exactly the quality that a bicyclist would want when heading downhill at 50+ mph on a bicycle running tubulars – but since that’s not me (not yet, anyway) I’m undecided.

I can lace a set of clincher rims to the Campy hubs and have a significantly simpler set of wheels with very good reliability and without the work and mess of tubular glue. But, I would like to try a good set of tubulars if for no other reason than to say that I’ve tried them.

I’m still deciding, but until I decide I can always swap the Boyd wheelset from the Cannondale onto the LeMond frame.

For the want of a (recessed) nut…

the build is in a holding pattern. The rear brake mounted just fine, but the recessed nut that holds the front brake onto the fork is too long. The nut, not counting the head, is 24mm. I need one that is 12-14mm and if I cut down the one I have I’ll remove most of the threads. Oswego Cyclery might have one that will work, so I’ll stop by and see if they have one that will fit.

But, the front and rear derailleurs are on, the BB and crankset are on (but not torqued), and the fork is installed with the new headset.

Since I’m waiting on the front brake I’m working on the wheels and hubs.

There’s plenty to do, but it might just be ready for a test ride in a week or two.

UPDATE 6/11 – Oswego Cyclery had the recessed nut I needed for the front brake. Back on track now.