Given Wheels to Fly

Phase II of my bike build is now complete, although to be completely honest, taking two wheels out of a box and fitting them was hardly an engineering challenge:

Actually, the hardest part of the exercise was probably choosing the wheels. I wanted something that was as logo-free as possible, strong enough to cope with the rigours of the Fenland cart tracks around here, and relatively light. That’s really quite a challenge, and I always knew it was going to be a bit of a compromise. If I had bottomless pockets, I’d have been knocking on Drew’s door again for a set of his beautiful deep section unidirectional carbon rims. But, sadly, my pockets are not infinitely deep, despite what my children think. Next on the list were a pair of Shimano RS20s. These fitted the bill of being strong, and the right price, but those graphics really belong in a sixth-form art lesson. Next up on the list was a pair of Mavic Aksiums. I like these a lot, and again, they were the right kind of price (if I looked around for a discount, at any rate), the right kind of performance, but again, those graphics… I was starting to think of a pair of Halo AeroRage rims as the best compromise, when I finally saw what I was looking for. Planet-X Model B wheels. Black, light, affordable, and (hopefully) reasonably tough. The biggest problem was actually getting hold of a set, as they seem to sell out as soon as they come into stock. But, I ordered a pair, and yesterday they turned up, and are everything I hoped they’d be. I popped a set of Conti race tyres and tubes on them, and that was that really.

For the photo, I’ve slapped an awful £5 seatpost in there just to get an idea of how it will look. That will be replaced as soon as I know what I’m looking for. I’d like a Ti post, but again, finances will probably dictate a carbon one instead for the first iteration of the bikes development. Same with the q/r skewers. Although this time there’s nothing actually wrong with them (unlike that seatpost, which is completely gopping whichever way you look at it, and I can’t wait to throw it in the bin) I just don’t like the shape of the levers. At some point they’ll be replaced with something lighter and plainer. The bar and stem will probably stay, but be repainted plain black, and I’ll lose the shim stack above the stem.

The next Big Thing to happen will be the groupset. I’m still planning on an Sram Apex but need to think about which cassette and crankset I want. My initial thought was a 50/34 crankset and 11-32 cassette, which will give me a huge range of gear ratios. But, I’m not sure that I actually need a 32 tooth option on the rear, and maybe 12-28 would be better as the gaps between the gears would be smaller. Dunno. Then again, I could just have one of each, as cassettes aren’t too pricey.

But, until that happens, I think the best I can hope for is to take it up to the top of my local hill (the Col du Snailwell. 14,000mm at the summit) and roll down. Best let the snow melt first.