Friday, July 29, 2011

The Art of the !Pro (commoner's) Build

As somebody mentioned before, the devil is in the details. And though I've marveled at the art of the pro build, I've never worked at a bike shop to hone my bike building skills. Come to think of it, I don't believe that I've ever honed anything. Regardless, if MOD is the Michelangelo of Pro bike builds, then I'm that PBS guy with curly hair who water colors a grove of trees next to a lake.

Anyway, whether or not I've honed anything isn't the point. What I'm trying to say is that you can ride a decent looking cyclocross (CX) bike -- and on the cheap -- if you put a little effort into it. Here's how I did it.

A couple years ago, my friend Mike Miles overheard me pining about getting into cyclocross. Now Miles is a purveyor of bicycle goods. He's not quite on the level of your local bike shop, but chances are, he's got what you're looking for.

The CX Frame
Miles produced a Scattante CX frame and fork that was collecting cobwebs in his garage. A Scattante frame wouldn't have been my first choice, but like they say, don't look a gift horse in the mouth. Or in my case, don't look a gift CX frame in the headset, because when I did, I discovered that the integrated headset's bearing was missing. That's bad. But a quick call to Performancebike produced a headset in the mail a few days later, free of charge. I was impressed. That's better service than I would have expected from an online retailer.

Anyway, I decided to customize the frame. Choosing the color was easy for me because I have a fetish for yellow bicycles. I stripped it myself ($8) and then had it powdercoated signal-yellow for $40. I like the powercoat look. Its elegance is its simplicity. And powdercoating is bombproof. There's no need for frame protectors bespoken from branded bar tape provided by sponsors.

The rest of the CX stuff
I asked around some more. With Jim Maaske I bartered a set of well used Rolf wheels, handlebars and avid shorty brakes in exchange for regular barbs towards Shim on this blog. Which reminds me, what four letter word begins with a J and ends in E-R-K? Answer: SHIM. Ka-ching! There's another payment in the books.

From Munson, I acquired a front brake lever, a used nine speed Tiagra brifter, an Ultegra triple chainring with razor sharp teeth and a very worn in set of Vittoria cross tires.

What I contributed: the rear derailleur, pedals and chain, all castaways from Old Yeller.

Now here's the important part. I didn't have the tools or the whereabouts to get all of these parts assembled onto the bike. So what I did was to have the Omaha Trek Store do that for me.

Since I did the project on a small budget, I was able to add a Salsa Ring Dinger bash guard and an N-gear Jump Stop to keep the chain in place on race day. I estimate that I spent $500 on the project, and about a quarter of that was for labor at the shop. And of the amount that I spent on labor, about 15% of that was spent on beer to keep the mechanics happy. That's smart money, right there.

My CX bike may not look like much, but it's been great fun to have. I've raced it, banged out some long winter gravel rides on it, and have used it as a dirty commuter.

There you go, the art of the !Pro (commoner's) build. If I can do this, you can too.

Happy Friday, everyone.


  1. You've gone and kicked off my Friday with a grin. All hail the !Pro. :D

  2. After the Friday lunch ride, I know another indicator of a Pro Build...

  3. What about the saddle, Jerk?

  4. Thanks Sydney. Happy Friday to you too

    @Wes While the !Pro Build chain snapped on today's ride, wouldn't you agree that my save from wiping out was not !Pro?

    @jerk: the saddle you gave me is not on !Pro build. It's on another one of my yellow bikes.