Pie-in-the-sky: Dream bike components

In the three years since I’ve taken up cycling, I’ve modified my bikes to better fit my demands as a cyclist and bike commuter. While they are great bikes now, there’s always scope for things to get better. Below is my list of dream bike components.

TUBELESS WHEELSET FOR DISC BRAKES + TUBELESS ROAD BIKE TIRES

On paper, Hyro’s stock Giant S-X2 wheelset is tubeless-ready, but in practice it needs tubeless rim tape and valves – not to mention the sealant and the tires themselves. As it’s essentially made for cross-country mountain bikes, it’s also rather heavy, despite having only 28 spokes. Since disc brakes have gotten a larger presence in road and cyclocross bikes, wheelset options have also increased – many of them lighter than the S-X2 yet just as strong.

The Aero Light Disc wheelset by Hunt Bike Wheels of the UK: strong, light, tubeless-ready, and built to accept CenterLock brake rotors.

Schwalbe’s Pro One tubeless slick clincher tire is state-of-the-art as of 2016.

As for road tubeless – I’m all for any tech that improves ride quality. Tubeless tires promise the same performance as clinchers, but at a lower air pressure. Couple that with the puncture protection of the liquid sealant inside the tire, and you have a compelling combination – one that’s worth the replacement of sealant every few months. Even that task has innovations coming its way too.

The only real downside is the availability of tires. Any 700C-sized tubeless rubber available in the Philippines tends to be made for cyclocross, with tread knobs or file tread and at least a 32 mm width. If there were slick or lightly treaded options in similar widths that would be great.

FRONT DYNAMO HUB AND LIGHTING SYSTEM

I’ve waxed poetic about the sheer endurance of my Cat Eye Volt 1200’s battery. However, it’s still running off a battery – it always stands the chance of running out of juice and failing mid-ride. Early on, I had dreams of a bike lighting setup that could be left permanently on. The best way to make that possible is to build a front wheel around a dynamo hub.

A PD-8 dynamo front hub, made by Taiwanese firm Shutter Precision (SP). It accepts six-bolt disc brake rotors. The two plastic pieces on the right sandwich into each other as wire connectors.

Dynamo hubs nowadays are incredibly efficient, generating electricity from the rotational energy of the front wheel that would otherwise be wasted. They are very hard to find locally though, as are lights that are built to run off them. A Taiwanese firm called Shutter Precision makes some of the best dynamo hubs out there, supposedly even better than German stalwards Schmidt and their famous SON (Schmidt Original Nabendynamo) units.

Heck, if you had Shimano’s Di2 electronic shifting, you could recharge its battery off the electricity from your dynamo hub, and never worry about losing the ability to shift gears. That’s exactly what Mark Beaumont did when he rode a Koga Solacio so equipped from Cairo to Cape Town in April 2015.

An Exposure Lights Revo Dynamo. One of the few dynamo-powered front lights advertising its output in lumens – in this case, 800 of them. (Photo credit: jamiecjordan.)

The only real question mark I have is the power output of a dynamo-powered front light. Unlike their battery brethren, dynamo-powered lights tend to have their brightness measured in lux instead of lumens. This makes meaningful comparisons of illumination difficult. Even then, I have yet to see a dynamo front light that pumps out the 1200 lumens my Volt 1200 does.

HYDRAULIC DISC BRAKES

I’m very happy with my TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes. Any upgrade to braking capability is always welcome, however. For all the Spyres’ reliability, simplicity and decelerative ability, they will never offer single-finger braking from the hoods.

Shimano BR-RS505 hydraulic road disc brake caliper and SM-RT99 “Freeza” brake rotor.

Shimano now has hydraulic disc brakes for road bikes, incorporating spiffy technology such as Ice Tech from its mountain bikes. A few things hold me back from upgrading Hyro with them, though.

  • Caliper options for road and cross bike frames with Post Mount hardpoints are artificially limited. Fortunately, it looks like any of Shimano’s mountain bike brake calipers will work – no more mismatch issues between caliper and lever!
  • Shimano’s road hydraulic disc brakes are available in 10-speed (Tiagra) and 11-speed (105, Ultegra, Dura-Ace) flavors. Hyro runs the older 105 5700-series 10-speed groupset. Even then, I would still have to replace my derailleurs with new units, as Shimano’s Tiagra 4700-series 10-speed groupset uses different cable pull for shifting.
  • Finally there’s the price. Despite the tech trickling down to lower tiers, none of these parts is what I’d call cheap. Most expense goes into the STI levers, which are traditionally the priciest items on a groupset, but that cost jumps even more with hydraulic braking.

A CUSTOM TITANIUM FRAME

In terms of geometry, Hyro is spot-on for my physique. However, there’s no denying that he is still an aluminum bike, and deserved or not, the material still has a stigma for a stiff, crashy ride.

What about other materials, then? I have almost zero interest in carbon fiber as a bike frame material; unless it’s for a fork, it just isn’t the right material for the riding I like to do. Chromoly steel is currently the darling of custom frame builders, and is fabled for its legendarily springy, lively ride quality, but its susceptibility to rust puts holes in its reputation for longevity.

A custom titanium cyclocross bike frame from Russian builder Triton Bikes, kitted out with most of the things I’ve already mentioned in this post.

That leaves titanium. With the ride of steel and the corrosion resistance of aluminum, on paper it seems the perfect material to build a bicycle frame out of – one that could outlive you. Combined with a carbon fork, a titanium bike feels like a winner. The main concern is price. Tooling and methods for working titanium are expensive, the cost passing on to the end customer. I’m also not a fan of the bare titanium finish, as it attracts more attention than I would like; unfortunately paint isn’t known to adhere well to titanium tubing.

If there was some way to translate the TCX’s geometry and tire clearances into titanium form, then add all my desired rack and fender hardpoints…that might well be the last bike I buy.

===

What’s your dream bike made out of? Tell me about it in the comments below.

Advertisements

One thought on “Pie-in-the-sky: Dream bike components

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s