My first commuter build- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    My first commuter build

    This may not be the right place to post this but I'm probably picking up a Surly Steamroller frame set tomorrow. It's a 62 cm 2008 and it will be my first ever bike build and I have a few questions.

    The frame and bike are usually set up as a fixie but I'm not comfortable riding the streets without being able to coast or with no brake. I'll just be riding it around my college town to and from school and probably to run errands and what not. Singlespeed is what I want but I have no experience setting one up or anything.

    I want to run a front disc brake so I'll need a different fork of course. My basic question is what components do you guys recommend for this build? All I'd be getting tomorrow are the frame, headset, forks, and maybe a seat post.

    What wheel sets do you guys like? BB's? Hubs? Freewheels? Tires? Handlebars and stems? I want a Brooks seat but I'm not sure it's in my price range right away...

    I'm fairly tall at 6' 4'' so this frame should fit me okay right?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by timk125 View Post
    This may not be the right place to post this but I'm probably picking up a Surly Steamroller frame set tomorrow. It's a 62 cm 2008 and it will be my first ever bike build and I have a few questions.

    The frame and bike are usually set up as a fixie but I'm not comfortable riding the streets without being able to coast or with no brake. I'll just be riding it around my college town to and from school and probably to run errands and what not. Singlespeed is what I want but I have no experience setting one up or anything.

    I want to run a front disc brake so I'll need a different fork of course. My basic question is what components do you guys recommend for this build? All I'd be getting tomorrow are the frame, headset, forks, and maybe a seat post.

    What wheel sets do you guys like? BB's? Hubs? Freewheels? Tires? Handlebars and stems? I want a Brooks seat but I'm not sure it's in my price range right away...

    I'm fairly tall at 6' 4'' so this frame should fit me okay right?
    with that bike, I wouldn't worry about running a single disc up front. I think I'd rather have a pair of brakes rather than just the front. I assume this bike can take road calipers as-is on both the frame and fork, right? I'd go that route rather than only one disc, requiring a new fork.

    as for wheels, get what works for you. I had to get a set built for my commuter, but only because there really weren't any pre-built options for what I wanted. for a commuter, I'd definitely consider as many reflective surfaces as possible. Velocity has a nice reflective rim finish you can get on a number of different rims. I got the Dyads, which are heavy for a strictly road build. Can't really go wrong with a decent set of Shimano hubs. I got the M629's for my build. going to convert them to thru bolts eventually. easy peasy for shimano hubs. not so much for some other brands. for my situation, a regular shimano freehub works well. I use a surly hub conversion kit to set the chainline where I want it. and, with the rear-facing track ends, I can buy a generic derailleur hanger and run my bike as a 1x9 if I want later.

    Brooks are nice, but don't fit everyone. I bought a used one on ebay for about $60 and it works great. search around, you might find one for a price you're comfortable with.

    so many options for tires, can't really make much of a recommendation aside from saying I'd rather go wider for a commuter for a little more comfort.

    handlebars and stem are a fit issue and boil down to personal preference. get what you like. you have a lot of options these days, since alt bars are popular. I went with mustache bars for mine, and I like them. I did the trial and error thing with stems until I found the right fit.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    with that bike, I wouldn't worry about running a single disc up front. I think I'd rather have a pair of brakes rather than just the front. I assume this bike can take road calipers as-is on both the frame and fork, right? I'd go that route rather than only one disc, requiring a new fork.
    I`ve never ridden fixed and my SS days ended with the three speed I got for my 8th birthday, so I can`t claim to be any expert in that, but Nate makes a lot of sense here. If one side pull isn`t enough brake for you, why not just use two side pulls rather than buying a new fork?

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    The frame doesn't have mounts for a rear brake. It'd have to be fabricated. So I think I'd save myself a lot of trouble in just getting a fork with tabs for a disk brake and a hub I can mount a rotor on.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by timk125 View Post
    The frame doesn't have mounts for a rear brake. It'd have to be fabricated. So I think I'd save myself a lot of trouble in just getting a fork with tabs for a disk brake and a hub I can mount a rotor on.
    Looks like it does to me, unless they`ve changed the design without updating the pics on their website.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails My first commuter build-fm3142-02.jpg  


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    Ah. Good find sir. Pardon my ignorance this is my first road endeavor and I can't seem to translate my MTB knowledge over. :/

    What do you guys think of Phil's bottom brackets? Are they pretty compatible with different cranksets?

    I'm obviously not trying to break the bank but I would like quality parts seeing as this is an investment I want to last, and be a reliable means of transportation.

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    Check out the steamroller thread in the surly forum for ideas.
    http://forums.mtbr.com/surly/surly-steamroller-779347.html'

    Then compare your thoughts with what comes stock on the bike nowadays
    Steamroller | Bikes | Surly Bikes

    Then cry a little because its more expensive to build a bike than to just buy it as a complete. . .
    jk . . . kinda

    I would go for complete wheels instead of building them unless you have done it before.
    Don't go for crazy light anything, instead focus on durability.
    I would go for bolt on instead of quick release (for security's sake)
    Realize that without the help of a shop, your going to play a guessing game with different sized parts such as stem length.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rusheleven View Post
    Check out the steamroller thread in the surly forum for ideas.
    http://forums.mtbr.com/surly/surly-steamroller-779347.html'

    Then compare your thoughts with what comes stock on the bike nowadays
    Steamroller | Bikes | Surly Bikes

    Then cry a little because its more expensive to build a bike than to just buy it as a complete. . .
    jk . . . kinda

    I would go for complete wheels instead of building them unless you have done it before.
    Don't go for crazy light anything, instead focus on durability.
    I would go for bolt on instead of quick release (for security's sake)
    Realize that without the help of a shop, your going to play a guessing game with different sized parts such as stem length.
    Thanks for the help I totally forgot there were brand specific forums!

    My dad has laced wheels before but it's probably easier to get the whole set.

    Thanks for all the responses guys!

  9. #9
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    Shimano's basic cartridge bottom bracket is actually really nice. If you don't want to spend money on Phil, you're not short-changing yourself.

    If you ride in crappy weather, a front disc is nice. Using the BB7 road disc will let you use a disc up front and a caliper in the rear, operated by the same levers. I notice that my BB7s have a much lighter lever feel than my calipers, although I have SRAM shifters on the bike with BB7s and Shimanos on the one with calipers. So it could be that, and not the brake itself. Anyway, Salsa and Kona both make some reasonably priced road disc forks. I'm a little nervous about cheap carbon fiber parts, so while I think there's a cheap carbon road disc fork out there, I don't know if I'd use it...

    The crank is a little tricky - I'm a Shimano fanboy, but you'd have to step all the way up to Dura-Ace to get a singlespeed crank out of the box. If you can get a Tiagra or better set of crank arms on EBay, though, that'd be nice. Just put only one chain ring on it. Get the appropriate bottom bracket, or get a complete crankset and ditch the ring you don't need. Then it comes with a BB, so it may end up being cheaper. There are also some Truvativ singlespeed cranks out there. Fanboy that I am, if I'm not getting a Shimano external bearing, I'd rather have a traditional three-piece crank. Read the reviews on everyone else's systems.

    Tektro caliper brakes work great. Get a set of Kool Stop cartridge shoes at the same time if you like, or wait to wear out the stock brake pads. I don't trust their mechanical discs as much, and I don't know if they have one for road levers anyway.

    Cane Creek and Tektro road brake levers work great. I can't remember which I had; supposedly the Cane Creek are just Tektro with a higher price tag and little lizards on the brake hoods.

    I'm a big fan of the FSA compact bend handlebar. But, this is almost as personal as saddles. Another starting point would be to get a takeoff for not too much money at your LBS, and see what you don't like about it. Just get the stem with the right clamp size. Start with 110mm if you're not sure what you need. New bike takeoffs and used stems are great for this too - silly to spend $65 finding out if something is the correct size for you.

    My commuter bike still has the stock Bontrager saddle. These things are easy to find for very cheap, people often swap them out right away. I like my commuters to have a slightly softer saddle than my "real" road bikes - I feel the seams in my pants and underwear less, and I don't care to dress up as Lance Armstrong to ride 2 miles to school.

    The dropouts are spaced 120mm. So an actual singlespeed wheelset will be easiest to use. Without parts in hand, I'd probably order this.
    Road - Fixed/Single Spd Track - Mavic CXP33 - Formula Fixed/FW Custom - Bicycle Wheel Warehouse

    Or the CXP22 version if I didn't want to spend as much. CXP33s should be a little more durable. Definitely get the sealed bearing hubs. Formula's execution of a loose ball sucks.

    I haven't bought a freewheel for a bike in a long time, so I'm not sure what the current bang-for-the-buck attitude is. White Industries is the premium one, but you need to experiment some to find your ratio, so I'd be disinclined to do that.

    I like low gear ratios on singlespeeds. I was pretty happy with 52/20 on the last one I commuted on. 48/18 is my favorite on my track bike; it's almost exactly the same. Not sure what that is in gear inches, I'm not that cool.

    In the cities I've lived in, commute bikes tend to get hammered on. Colleges often have theft problems. Keep that in mind when you're choosing between "workable" and "premium" for components.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Thanks for the thorough answer. I love the wheel sets but I don't see any hubs that have a front disc option. :/

    I'll look into the recommendations for the cranks and handlebar. That's the part I'm having the most trouble with.

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    I got my crankset on ebay. It was Shimano's un-named model (I forget the number). Forged crank arms, not hollow, but it uses the external BB standard, which I'm a HUGE fan of. They're 10spd triple, but I'm just using a SS ring in the middle position. Using a freehub with spacers allows me to get the chainline just where I need it. I just made sure I got a cog that has a wide base so it doesn't mar up the splines on the freehub. I am a big fan of Shimano's external BB cranksets. I have three of them right now, been running an XT since shortly after they were released in 05.

    Being able to easily put a cassette and gears on it is a nice option. If I ever opt to do a long tour on the bike, I'd probably want to do that.

    I have the Tektro long pull road levers and BB7 mtn calipers on my commuter. The Tektro levers are nice. I wanted disc brakes on mine for foul weather/winter performance and so I chose a frame/fork combo that permitted that option from the beginning. Not a lot of road forks out there that will take disc brakes. An increasing number of CX forks will, but a lot of them still come with canti studs. I have the On-One Pompetamine fork, which is disc-only. Not only that, but it requires centerlock hubs/rotors. Clearance is super tight and you'd never fit a 6bolt on there. FYI, if you end up going the front disc route, still (I'd still recommend a rear caliper, also).

    I agree with going durable for a commuter. I beat on mine pretty good. I drop curbs, ride trails, and just go where I want. Bigger tires and stronger wheels are great for that. It's not as quick from a stop as some of the featherweight fixie bikes out there, but it's surprisingly lightweight for being fitted with full fenders, lights, and a rear rack.

    I blew my budget on mine, though. I went upwards of $1500, I'm sure. A big part of that was the wheelset because I needed something so specific that needed to be custom built. I only saved a little bit by having QBP build it instead of my LBS. The little stuff got me, though. Even though I bargain hunted for a lot of small parts like chainrings and cogs and seatpost and stuff, they still added up. Because of that, my commuter is not a "lock it up and forget it" sort of bike, and I wouldn't treat a Surly like that, either. If I lock it up outside the store, I'm super careful about how and where, and I take it into my office at work.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by timk125 View Post
    Thanks for the thorough answer. I love the wheel sets but I don't see any hubs that have a front disc option. :/

    I'll look into the recommendations for the cranks and handlebar. That's the part I'm having the most trouble with.
    Oops, forgot that when I linked to the wheels.

    It's a lot harder to get a good deal on a mismatched set. The problem is that you often get a better deal on a set of wheels than on a single wheel. But, having a disc front hub and flip/flop rear hub is a pretty unusual setup.

    Built wheels are usually still a better deal than loose parts. So I'd look for a 700C disc front wheel and a singlespeed rear wheel with a brake track separately. Or I might phone BWW and see if I could get them to cut me a break on a package, but I think they're a volume business, so I don't know how optimistic I'd be.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Oops, forgot that when I linked to the wheels.

    It's a lot harder to get a good deal on a mismatched set. The problem is that you often get a better deal on a set of wheels than on a single wheel. But, having a disc front hub and flip/flop rear hub is a pretty unusual setup.

    Built wheels are usually still a better deal than loose parts. So I'd look for a 700C disc front wheel and a singlespeed rear wheel with a brake track separately. Or I might phone BWW and see if I could get them to cut me a break on a package, but I think they're a volume business, so I don't know how optimistic I'd be.
    I figured it'd be tough to find. I like the wheels and the price is a lot lower than most. I may pick them up and maybe do a front disc upgrade later down the line. It may be more trouble than it's worth...

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    Since you already have the fork in hand (or will tomorrow,) I don't think you stand to save much money trying to do the bike disc this week vs. Building it with rim brakes and installing a disc brake in a few years.

    I find rim brakes to be very functional for most road riding. It's really only in wet weather that I think I get a performance advantage from discs. Depending on how you end up using this bike, I can easily imagine you being content with rim brakes for your entire ownership of it.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    I don't plan on doing anything crazy with it. I would maybe take it on some basic single track.

    I just love the disc's on my mtb so much and I know campus gets busy and the streets around town get a little hectic. I just would feel more comfortable with a brake so I figured why not get a solid system. Plus I just think it looks cool, but that's just me.

    I picked up the frame today and I'm going to get it powder coated. Do I need to do anything to prep the frame? Also, when you said shimano basic cartridge did you mean something like the Shimano Deore XT Bb-70b XT M770/Slx M660 Hollowtech II Bottom Bracket?

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    No, I meant something like the UN-26 or UN-54. The crankset you're talking about uses a totally different standard.

    A purpose-built singlespeed road or track crank will be a little easier to set up around.

    Have you ridden with rim brakes? Correctly set up, they have a ton of stopping power...
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Ahhhh okay. I'll look for those then.

    I haven't ridden rim brakes in a long time, and I guess they weren't set up correctly because they were awful. Especially when they were wet.

  18. #18
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    Rim brakes always suck when wet. Go for the disk!

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    Frame back from paint finally. Have wheels and stem and bars on the way.

    photo | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    I can't get it to work so I'll just post the link.

  20. #20
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    I was going to insret it here for you, but I can`t do it either. Anyway, it looks pretty sweet- don`t forget more pics when you get it assembled!

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    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    I was going to insret it here for you, but I can`t do it either. Anyway, it looks pretty sweet- don`t forget more pics when you get it assembled!
    Appreciate the effort sir.

    I'll be sure to. I wish parts could teleport. But don't we all?

  22. #22
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    Rim brakes, if properly set up, can work very well. But they'll squeal like crazy in the rain. I've never owned a bike w/ discs but they say they're a big improvement over rim brakes when it's wet. Are you thinking hydraulic or cable actuated?

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    Quote Originally Posted by wxflyer View Post
    Rim brakes, if properly set up, can work very well. But they'll squeal like crazy in the rain. I've never owned a bike w/ discs but they say they're a big improvement over rim brakes when it's wet. Are you thinking hydraulic or cable actuated?
    If I were to get them they'd just be cable.

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    I'd get cable as well for simplicity sake. Any others agree/disagree?

  25. #25
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    For me, getting hydraulics working on a drop bar bike would be too expensive and too much of a pain in the ass for now. Options for levers and adapters are out there, but it's relatively slim pickings.

    For flat bar, it'd just be a budget decision. Do hydraulics fit in what I want to spend on the bike?
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    I was going to insret it here for you, but I can`t do it either. Anyway, it looks pretty sweet- don`t forget more pics when you get it assembled!
    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7440858896/" title="photo by juniorgolfer523, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8146/7440858896_da430b5af4.jpg" width="500" height="375" alt="photo"></a>

    like this? I like the orange.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    For me, getting hydraulics working on a drop bar bike would be too expensive and too much of a pain in the ass for now. Options for levers and adapters are out there, but it's relatively slim pickings.

    For flat bar, it'd just be a budget decision. Do hydraulics fit in what I want to spend on the bike?
    ah, I can't wait for a reasonably priced set of road bar hydraulic levers. my commuter frame has fairly tight clearance for the BB7 calipers and switching to smaller hydro calipers would simplify things a good bit. I had to dremel the rear BB7 caliper to get it to fit just right.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7440858896/" title="photo by juniorgolfer523, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8146/7440858896_da430b5af4.jpg" width="500" height="375" alt="photo"></a>

    like this? I like the orange.
    Ah sweet! Thank you sir.

    You can't tell in the picture but it's matte orange, and the fork is a matte gunmetal.

    Any suggestion for tires and tire widths from you guys. I'm totally new to the road tire thing.

  29. #29
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    Tires - 23mm is a racing tire, 28mm is a nice, cushy tire for riding on crappy streets, 25mm is a good compromise. If you carry a lot of weight or will occasionally go off-road, figure out the biggest tire that will fit and do that. Some frames have problems with 28 too, but most will clear 25.

    I use Continentals on my fast bike. That bike gets Grand Prix 4000S tires. The GatorSkin is another popular choice, with more flat protection and (I think) available in some wider sizes. Should be cheaper too.

    Others will have some different recommendations. It's all about what you're looking for from this bike.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Tires - 23mm is a racing tire, 28mm is a nice, cushy tire for riding on crappy streets, 25mm is a good compromise. If you carry a lot of weight or will occasionally go off-road, figure out the biggest tire that will fit and do that. Some frames have problems with 28 too, but most will clear 25.

    I use Continentals on my fast bike. That bike gets Grand Prix 4000S tires. The GatorSkin is another popular choice, with more flat protection and (I think) available in some wider sizes. Should be cheaper too.

    Others will have some different recommendations. It's all about what you're looking for from this bike.
    Just what I needed to know. I think 32mm will fit on this frame, but I don't want to go that wide. I definitely don't need a racing tire so 25 sounds like a good start.

  31. #31
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    I beat on my commuter. I wheelie drop it whenever I can, hit the trails when they're tacky enough to handle skinny tires, and even roll a few staircases.

    I use 32mm tires most of the time but also use 38mm tires on occasion when I remove the fenders.

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    More pictures.

    I've slowly been getting my parts in. I have everything but tires, a seat post clamp, brakes, and drivetrain.

    Here's some updated pictures.

    photo 1 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    photo 2 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    photo 3 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

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    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7600455912/" title="IMG_4080 by juniorgolfer523, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8023/7600455912_a35ecb2d3d.jpg" width="500" height="375" alt="IMG_4080"></a>

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7600454764/" title="IMG_4084 by juniorgolfer523, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8009/7600454764_9138434d2f.jpg" width="500" height="375" alt="IMG_4084"></a>

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/7600454122/" title="IMG_4089 by juniorgolfer523, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8027/7600454122_6ca71013be.jpg" width="500" height="500" alt="IMG_4089"></a>

    She's just about done. Just waiting on a new seat post clamp because I ordered the wrong size.

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