Sunday, January 24, 2010

Tsunami - Arrival + Build

So... I have a new bike. It's worth three of my other bikes. Actually, it really is because it's replacing three bikes. Right now I have one new bike and three unrideable ones.

Where do I start?

A timeline may help.

Friday: Receive word that the Tsunami frame has shipped out and will arrive... tomorrow?!

Saturday: Check tracking, see that frame did arrive, and that... the place just closed. Rush over there, knock on the window, beg and plead and put "poor ol' me" look on my face and presto, I have a frame box.

Saturday night, into Sunday morning: Build. Think about how stressed I would have been had the frame arrived Monday or Tuesday instead of Saturday.

Sunday afternoon/evening: After recovering from the massive previous night's effort, finish the build.

Of course I let the cats check it out when I get home. I take the frame out...

Frame and Mike. There were two slabs of Styrofoam too.

Since the frame would look like a BMX bike, I had to take this picture (it's supposed to be a frame pad, like a BMX race bike would have).

Tiger, his feelings hurt by the comparison to him and a Creamsicle, attempts to chomp the frame.

Tiger's orange is a bit different from the Tsunami's so he forgave the comparison.

Note the very cool headtube decal on the seat tube - so you know what just blew by you. Or who you're drafting, whatever the case may be.

Skinny tubing compared to the SystemSix.

BB30 bearings. More on these later.

Replaceable dropout; I need to buy some replacements, just in case. Sorry about the tilted picture.

The first thing I did was to weigh the frame. I think the SystemSix hits 1150 grams or so, based on articles I read. With an all aluminum frame of unknown tubing, with a request for "a really stiff frame", I was hoping for something under 1600 grams.

1440 grams, give or take. I'll take it.

I also weighed the Reynolds Ouzo fork.

457 grams sounded really heavy, at least compared to the 275 gram ones in the catalogs, but then I thought about it. It's one pound. And it has a lot of material. I'll chalk it up to peace of mind.

But for next time I'll be thinking about lighter forks.

Speaking of forks... the headset took forever. I walked by the missus for the umpteenth time and all I'd been reporting is "I'm still working on the headset", she made a very astute observation.

"I don't think you're going to finish tonight."

To be fair, I think I was 2 or 3 hours into the build.

Part of the problem - I used a homemade headset press, one gathered together at a hardware store. I got some extra washers just in case, and pressed everything in.

A tip - real headset presses are better, but you can use a fake one. It just takes longer. A lot longer. I had to try a couple times, being careful not to damage the head tube. And later, not to damage the fork. I have no fake headset race tool - I used a plastic mallet, gently, holding the fork in my hand (not bracing it on the ground).

Another tip - pay someone you trust to install these things.


The headset is a gift from the missus as spec'ed out by me. I wanted the shortest stack height, stainless body, and reasonable weight. At 68 grams, 21 mm stack height, and sealed bearings, the Crank Bros Cobalt fit the bill. The missus worried about the color (the top ring is blue) but it's okay - it's the last thing anyone will notice on the bike when I get done with it.

So those of you that see the bike in person, I don't want a lot of "Why is the headset blue?" chatter. Hear? It's cobalt.

A key part to Tsunami (other than their $600 custom aluminum frame base) is their BB30 offering. Part of the key is the fact that it's just $50 more. The other part is that the offer simply exists. Since I bought into a BB30 SRM system I wanted to keep them. The cranks, incidentally, are about 675 grams, making them lighter than most non-power-measuring cranks, and they're also narrow and stiff. Very nice.

Removing the spindle from the Cannondale. Ew.
Note SRM pickup sitting under BB housing.

I started to install the BB30 spindle, first removing them from the Cannondale. They didn't really fit well in the Tsunami's BB30 bearings (made by one of the big parts manufacturers). I tried spinning them - I was appalled at how tight they were. I checked the Cannondale - buttery smooth.

I decided to swap the BB30 bearings.

I had to figure out how to do that.

Step One: Read the instructions.

I actually reviewed the steps before requesting that some bearings be installed (I decided I wanted to skip the bearings thing). I forgot something though - when I spec out headsets or bottom brackets, those parts that lay deep within the bike, I spec out the best stuff I can afford (without getting idiotic). I'll go for seals, higher quality bearings (not ceramic, not yet anyway), and non-rusting metals. So the bearings weren't the best, and I opted to swap them out.

First, remove the bearings from the other frame.

I should point out that I spent about 30 minutes (!) locating a suitable bolt for the SRM-BB-pickup-slash-cable-guide for the Tsunami. It helps to have a bike shop handy. Again, I'd recommend having someone you trust do all this.

If I thought the stupid headset took forever, field-expediting a BB30 bearing swap was even worse. Granted, I had the BB30 tools - the bearing spacer things, for example - because they came with the bike. You really need those solid metal things. But it says to use a headset press, and as I mentioned before, I have a homemade headset press.

I got it at a specific length, really a specific usable length, based on my typical head tube lengths. See, the big bolt I use is threaded for only a bit, so it has a minimum and maximum length.

A bottom bracket shell, at 68 mm wide, is much shorter than even a 95 mm head tube.

I needed spacers, and I needed a lot of them. They had to fit an enormous bolt, they couldn't crush easily, and they had to take up a good 30 mm of space.

This took about 10 minutes of poking around the now-even-more-messy workshop. I considered cutting down a piece of left over steerer tube, but thought splintering carbon fiber would be bad. I looked at various cassette spacers but most of them were plastic or soft aluminum, and they wouldn't stack easily - too much chance of the tower of spacers toppling.

Eventually I found the solution. Mechanics, professionals, and other craftsmen, please don't look at the next picture.

No, this is not the new 11x10s drivetrain shot.

Told you it was homemade.

Yep. I stacked a lot of 7, 8, and 9 speed cassette cogs. They don't crush, they have a huge opening, they stack well, and they're pretty parallel (the flat sides). I put one pair of washers under the bolt head, another pair after the BB30 cup tools (above the cogs), and another pair under the cogs.

I'm glad I got that extra pair of washers.

Of course, when I first tried to put the nut on the bolt, it wouldn't thread. What the... I just used it to install my headset! Why wouldn't it thread?!

Then I realized.

My homemade headset press bolt was also the punch I used to drive out the BB30 bearings. The threads on the end were ruined.

Another 10 minutes with a file (with a handle even - if I have a tool I have it) and the end of the bolt was nice and rounded and had no squashed threads.

About 40 minutes later I had smoother bearings in the Tsunami.

The rest of the build went a bit easier, but it was still time consuming. I'd decided that instead of taking apart the two Giants, I'd just take apart the Cannondale. And as clean as I keep it (ahem), all the parts were mysteriously filthy.

On one of my many trips past the missus I went and got polishing compound from the garage. On another, rubbing alcohol. Another, more rags.

The bar/stem combo lifted over from the Cannondale. So did the nice Record brakes. The carbon Giant gave up its saddle and post, then back to the Cannondale for the rear derailleur, front derail...


The front derailleur had to be a clamp-on, and I just assumed I had all the different diameters of clamp-on front derailleurs.


So I went digging through my front derailleur box. Eventually found a braze-on adapter for the right seat tube diameter. A Shimano piece no less. It even had a Shimano front derailleur on it (I used to use Ultegra front derailleurs) and I actually considered using it for a while. Then I succumbed to the pressure and unbolted a Chorus 10 speed (it says so right on the side) front derailleur from the silver Giant and stuck it in the Ultegra's place.

Then, after some judicious eyeballing, I clamped the assembly onto the frame.

Note: Usually this means that if I ever need to move the front derailleur the paint under it will be ruined. I guess I'm using a 53T for the foreseeable future, and I'll have to save the 55T for another frame.

With cables dangling in place, at some insane hour on Sunday morning, I decided I'd stop for a break (i.e. sleep). But before I left, I had to weigh the bike. It had the same wheels, almost the same components (exceptions include the front derailleur and the saddle; the posts are all Thomsons on my bikes).

I'd already weighed the Cannondale before I started the project.

Cannondale SystemSix with DV46 clinchers.

I hadn't installed the tape, chain, nor bottle cages. I forgot about the bottle cages in my bleary state of mind, but I realized the chain wasn't free.

Weighing a bike that has no chain or bar tape - just put them on somewhere else.

I was thinking it should be close.

0.4 pounds heavier. It's close.

Poor Cannondale frameset.

Sunday, after doing some insulation work, eating a marvelous breakfast (made by the missus), and generally putting around until my brain started working again, I decided to tackle the cables on the Tsunami.

I still had to rig things up - new adjusting barrels on the downtube, lengthen the Nokon housings to make up for the extra 3 cm in the top tube (7 Nokon segments per derailleur - the rear brake cable housing had always been long so I actually removed 3 segments), and install a new rear derailleur cable.

I applied some personal touches ("defaced it"), put it on the trainer, and did a short ride.

Impressions on that next.


Hurls said...

I'm liking the Candy Orange! Now I'm second guessing my choice....

Aki said...

Unless he's started on the paint already you can always change your mind.

But still, I think whatever you get will be great.

Anonymous said...

Congratulation Aki. I can't wait to see pics of the complete bike.