After 10 years of loyal service my TdF-yellow, custom-built steel Hillbrick has decided it no long wants to carry two-metre-tall, 96-ish kilogram me.

Because of aforementioned dimensions, I expect my next bike will have to be another custom creation, which will hopefully last at least as long.

Among other things, I'm thinking titanium.

If you were in the market for a racing bike that needed to last a while, what would your considerations be?

Disc brakes?

Di2 shifters?

The combined brains trust (or individuals therein) did me a solid some years ago by urging me to get disc brakes for the Surly tourer, which was A Very Wise Decision.

So, any thoughts? 

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baa baa,

I read some really interesting stuff on crank lengths the other day which makes a lot of sense, yet is, as first, completely counter intuitive.

The tallest people sometimes get the best fit for race and often get the best fit for TT and Tri - BY USING SHORTEST POSSIBLE CRANKS!

Reason -

Long cranks mean the seat post needs to go down - and correspondingly the knee at the top of the stroke goes higher, further reducing the hip angle and causing reduced power and abdominal/chest cramping.

By using the shortest cranks the seat goes up and at the top of the stroke the hip angle is opened up because the knee is a lot lower - better geometry for power and easier breathing.


Have you seen these...

But yeah, I get that but for me 180 works as I don’t know how to spin. Years of practice with the parry up Battle Boulevard and battle of Parriwi Road I can get away with a lower seat height by just moving to the very rear end of the saddle, (a flatish one if you can still find em) and crank away. I still like riding single speed and long cranks suits as you are just about in the wrong gear all the time anyway.
The old standard seat post with no setback and cranks to match shanks is pretty old hat now.
I think most peoples can get a pretty good fit with a standard off the rack bike and a cache of various set back seat posts and stem lengths with a few different degrees of rises but foot and cleat possi takes time quite a bit of fiddle. I tend to be a lean towards being slack so avoid new shoes for this reason (I really need to do this with my road bike and spd sl shoes soon than later as the fiddle with allen keys with frosty morning fingers is nil fun)

Mr O`s new bike. Need micro touring bags.Getting there slower to see the scenery.

I'm curious about this too. A 10 yr old steel frame should have plenty of life left in it, surely? Even when ridden by a leviathan?

I too would be interested in an explanation. 'I just want a new bike' would be understood.

Steel, therefore resurrection always certain.

Hydro discs are very nice but you wind up with more complex and expensive controls, at least on a mountain bike they are separate items and can be replaced individually. Di2 - a nice thing but again at a price. Having just replace my 20 year old road bike last month I went looking for mechanical shifting and rim brakes, I spent some years working in a bike shop and was looking for something I would be happy working on. I'm a similar weight to you and happy with Ultegra rim brake stopping power.

Speaking of weight and braking, I went from a CAAD3 with 1" steerer to a Supersix Evo with 1.25 - 1.125 tapered steerer and the corresponding frame dimensions. The difference in handling under heavy braking is huge, so much more confidence inspiring.

As for frame choice, I have a riding buddy who loves his Rivet Ti bikes, might be worth a look as I believe they do custom.

I know 2 owners of fully custom built Chinese titanium frames and they are extremely happy with the results - with turnaround times and pricing that make Baum look quite ridiculous..

AFAIK they can build to your exact frame dimensions and add in any special details you want - e.g. disc mounts, CX type tyre clearance, mill finish, brushed or polished etc.

I can'r remember who they are precisely, but I can get the details.

If the Hillbrick still suits you to a T, use it's dimensions, or get re-measured.

Alternatively, if you don't want the risk of dealing with Chinese mfr direct, there is Rivet Bikes - upmarket Chinese titanium with world wide distribution - Available in Sydney from Velofix in Rozelle - available in standard dimensions or in full custom build.

As for the build - I'm with James again on all of it.

Ultegra or Force 22, rim brakes, cables on everything. Simple, reliable, easy to fix yourself.

Tending to agree.

Disc brakes are nice, especially hydraulic, but are ever so much more complicated than rim brakes. I have had more trouble, which I could not fix myself, with both cable and hydra types, than with any rim brake ever. Even bike shops have taken a long time simply to replace brake shoes because they did not stock the particular pads the particular bike required.

The benefits of discs may be that you are not wearing out rims which are under enough stress already with your "massive" bulk. Though, given you won't be carrying the extra weight you do on your Surly tourer, that may not be a huge issue.

Similarly, high-quality steel vs (who-knows-what quality) ti may not be a big difference. Cetainly steel should be cheaper(...?) and, with a reputable builder, quality and build strength will be ultimate. Steel is easier to repair in the backblocks of anywhere, if you find yourself somewhere, as I have, with a cracked frame. Though, again, you may not be venturing to the backblocks on your roadie, will you? My impression of the ride quality difference between ti and high-quality steel (the classic Reynolds 531) is that you would be hard pressed to notice in a blind test. (Of course, a blind test would almost certainly end in a nasty crash! But you know what I mean. I hope.)

Now, I'll just reiterate my previous question, in case you missed it or thought you would ignore it as usual: What precisely is wrong with the old Hillbrick?

My experience with rim vs disc brakes seems to be a bit different from both John and Neil.

I have Ultegra rim brakes on my carbon toy and 105 brifters with cable Avid BB7 discs on my Sportive. The stopping power of the discs is miles ahead of the rim brakes, without even mentioning wet weather. From my experiences with cable discs on both my tourer and Sportive, I would have discs on all future toy purchases. I don't know about hydraulic, but the simplicity of cable vs hydraulic makes more sense for my riding.

Neil commented about the fiddliness of disc brakes. I guess that might be a problem if you need to see a bike shop for maintenance. However, I do 99% of my own maintenance and I've found that once installed, the brakes have required very little attention. My brakes rarely seem to squeal, and when they do, a couple of really aggressive stops seem to wear a bit of roughness back into the pads. One thing that I've done, which doesn't appear to be usual, is to install "in-line barrel adjusters" near the handlebars. This allows easy adjustment on the go if needed, but rarely gets touched. I've found YouTube offers plenty of "how to" clips on disc adjustment and I've found that following these guides seems to solve any problems that I've encountered.

I've heard the "fixing a broken bike on a tour" argument for steel for years - used it myself, but I've never experienced such a problem nor heard of it. It would be interesting to hear Neil and Noel's experiences if they have encountered it! No. 1 son buggered a fork on one of my MTB's when he hit a wombat hole at speed, but it required a new fork rather than any welding.

I've not done any touring, but my experience with disc brakes mirrors Dabba's. I would never go back to rim brakes on any new bike I purchased. In my experience, they are much, much simpler to set up, require almost zero adjustment (especially hydraulic models) and are ridiculously reliable in any weather.


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