Saturday, April 5, 2014

How to Build an Affordable, High Performance, Lightweight Folding Bike: Part 3

Here is the third part of the guide! How to build an Affordable, High Performance and Lightweight folding bike. In the first and second part of this guide, most of the components except the drivetrain components have been shown. This third part of the guide will show the drivetrain components and also the completed bike.

Target is to build a 20 speed bike with a weight of <9.3 kg (without pedals) and total cost of < SGD 2000.

Model: Shimano 105 5700, 10 speed, 53/39T, 170mm, Black.
Estimated Weight: 845 grams
Actual Weight: 775 grams
Source: ChainReactionCycles (CRC)
Price: $160
Alternatives: Shimano Ultegra 6700 ($220, 80 grams less), Tiagra 4600 ($90)

The Shimano 105 crankset is the most value for money crankset you can get. It has many of the top end features such as hollow forged crankarms, effective shifting profiles on the chainring and also good surface finishing. All this at a very affordable price! In this case, the all black colour scheme suits the bike perfectly.

Upgrading to an Ultegra 6700 crankset is actually a good idea if you can afford it. The Ultegra crankset will have Hollowglide chainrings for even better shifting performance, and weighs about 80 grams less. Looks quite good too. However the colour scheme does not fit the black MuEX frame, which is why I decided to go with the black coloured 105 groupset for this bike. This will keep the cost down too.

Shimano 105 5700 53/39T crankset in black

Bottom Bracket (BB)
Model: Shimano 105 5700, 68mm English Thread
Estimated Weight: 90 grams
Actual Weight: 90 grams
Source: ChainReactionCycles (CRC)
Price: $20
Alternatives: Any other Shimano Hollowtech II Road BB, or compatible BB of other brands

Most of the BB of different grades perform quite similarly. Perhaps the higher end ones have better sealing and better surface finishing, but the difference is quite small. The 105 5700 BB is cheap and good, will just use this for now until I find something better.

Shimano 105 5700 road BB

Rear Derailleur (RD)
Model: Shimano 105 5700, 10 speed, Short Cage, Black
Estimated Weight: 230 grams
Actual Weight: 223 grams
Source: ChainReactionCycles (CRC)
Price: $50
Alternatives: Shimano 10 speed road RD, such as Ultegra 6700 ($80, 190 grams), Tiagra 4600
I chose the 105 RD mainly for the black colour. The Ultegra RD will be about 40 grams lighter in weight, but the performance should be quite similar.

Shimano 105 5700 Short Cage RD

Front Derailleur (FD)
Model: Shimano 105 5700, Double, Braze-On, Black
Estimated Weight: 90 grams
Actual Weight: 86 grams
Source: ChainReactionCycles (CRC)
Price: $30
Alternatives: Shimano 10 speed double road FD, such as Ultegra 6700 ($40), Tiagra 4600
Once again, I chose the 105 FD because of the black colour. The higher end Ultegra FD seems to be very similar to the 105 FD, not sure what is the difference.

Shimano 105 5700 double FD

Model: Shimano 105 5700, 10 speed, 11-28T
Estimated Weight: 230 grams
Actual Weight: 251 grams
Source: ChainReactionCycles (CRC)
Price: $40
Alternatives: Shimano 10 speed road cassette, such as Ultegra 6700 ($60, 240 grams), Tiagra 4600
This 105 cassette is a pretty standard 11-28T. For me, this level of cassette is good enough. Upgrading to Ultegra or Dura-Ace would save some grams, but at a higher cost. Shifting performance and durability would be quite similar.

Shimano 105 5700 10 speed cassette, 11-28T

Model: Shimano Dura-Ace 7901, 10 speed
Estimated Weight: 280 grams
Actual Weight: 263 grams (before cutting to length)
Source: ChainReactionCycles (CRC)
Price: $40
Alternatives: Shimano 10 speed road chain, such as Ultegra 6700, 105 5700, Tiagra 4600
This is where I went for the best, choosing the top end Dura-Ace 7901 10 speed road chain. This is probably the only Dura-Ace component that is more affordable (besides the BB). The reason for using the Dura-Ace chain is not because it is more lightweight, but solely because it has a tough plated surface that is highly rust resistant. So far I have not seen any Dura-Ace chains rust yet while under my usage. Other chains that are not so well protected will rust rather easily. Definitely worth the slightly high cost.

Dura-Ace 7901 10 speed chain

Model: Shimano PD-A530 SPD/Platform pedals
Estimated Weight: 380 grams
Actual Weight: 382 grams
Source: ChainReactionCycles (CRC)
Price: $50

Any pedals will do for a folding bike. For the most compact folding size, of course it is best to get folding pedals, such as the high quality MKS FD-6 folding pedals, or removable pedals. I am happy with these SPD/Platform pedals, as they allow both SPD cleated shoes and normal shoes to be used with no problem. Currently I am also using these pedals on my Dahon Boardwalk and Avanti Inc 3.

Note that these pedals are rather heavy, so if you want maximum weight savings then you need to find another pair of lightweight pedals.

Shimano PD-A530 SPD/Platform pedals

Other Components:

Magnetix Clip
Model: Dahon Magnetix Clip
Estimated Weight: 50 grams
Actual Weight: 57 grams
Source: Taobao
Price: $10
You could save some weight by not installing the Magnetix, but I feel that it would be more secure if I can clip the bike frame together when folded. Getting from Taobao is cheap, but you will need special air shipping as it is magnetic.

Dahon Magnetix. Fix the magnet to the rear of the frame, and the metal plate on the front fork.

Inner Cables, Outer Casings, End Caps
Estimated Weight: 200 grams
Price: $40
For shifter inner cables, they come with the SL-R780 shifters. Brake inner cables need to be sourced separately. Shifter outer casings come with the SL-R780 shifters too, but it is only long enough for the FD, not long enough for the RD. Need to get the outer casing for RD and brakes separately. Get stainless steel inner cables as they don't rust and thus can last longer.

The weight of these parts is an estimate as the actual weight can only be found after all these parts are installed and cut to length. This 200 grams estimate is made from previous experience, during the installation of Ultegra Di2 for the Dahon Boardwalk.

Complete Bike

Now for some pictures of the complete bike!

All the components mounted on the bike!

However the bike is not completed yet, it needs some tidying up of the cables and some other small adjustments.

Dahon MuEX logo on the frame

The low profile and easy to operate frame hinge that uses Dahon V-clamp technology

Head tube of the frame with the red Dahon logo and LitePro headset

The Fnhon 31.5cm Dual Bolt handlepost and LitePro Monster handlebar. Very low profile clamp for a clean look.

Shimano SL-R780 10 speed road flat handlebar shifters and Shimano Deore LX 3 finger V brake levers. All in black colour!

Front view of the bike. Note the cable routing I used.

Instead of bunching all 4 of the cables (2 x shifter cables + 2 x brake cables) together like on stock Dahon / Tern bikes, I decided to split up the cables from the left and right side of the handlebar. This allows smoother cable routing, which improves cable efficiency. I had to measure and check the cable lengths to make sure that there is enough slack during folding.

Closeup shot of the shifter and brake lever

The nice aluminium lever of the shifter, and the open clamp design of the brake levers.

Deore XT brake calipers and Panaracer Minits Lite tires

Wheelsport Sunny 406 wheels and front brake calipers. Magnetix clip installed.

No-nonsense Shimano 105 crankset. With 105 FD and PD-A530 SPD/Platform pedals.

I had to use a 1.8mm spacer under the right side BB to push the front chainline out a little, as the chain will rub the FD chainguide when in the largest 4 sprockets at the rear.

FD roller for the FD shifter cable. I had to use a cable tie to fix the rear shifter cable housing to the chainstay, so that it does not touch the FD roller.

Shimano 105 5700 short cage RD

11-28T 105 cassette, with Dura-Ace 7901 chain. Agogo QR skewers.

Final Project Results:
So, did I achieve the target for building an Affordable, High Performance, Lightweight folding bike? I am pleased to say that the target has been achieved!

Target price is < SGD 2000. Final total price of all the bike components is just slightly over $1700 as can be seen from the cost table below. This is quite a fair bit below the target price of $2000. What does this mean?

It means that if I had spent more to get Ultegra level components instead of 105, I would still be below the target of $2000. By my rough calculations, spending about $130 more will get you Ultegra level crankset, BB, cassette, RD and FD. This would reduce the weight by about 130 grams. At cost to weight ratio of about $1/gram, it is entirely up to you and your budget to see if it is worth it.

This would still leave over $100+ in the budget to spend on other components. Changing out the handlebar and seatpost to carbon would use up all of this remaining budget, but with no performance improvements and only slight weight loss. Not worth it in my opinion.

High Performance:
My definition of high performance is to have a good quality drivetrain, high quality shifting components, smooth rolling wheelset and tires, and a good braking system. These have all been achieved with my choice of components.

Obviously all these components are not top level like SRAM Red or Shimano Dura-Ace, but 105 level of components are already of good quality. Wheelsport Sunny wheels are of good quality at a reasonable cost, while other components such as the shifters, brakes and etc. are also of mid to high end level.

Using higher end models will yield slight performance increases and weight loss, but at a significantly higher cost.

Target weight is < 9.3kg without pedals.

The final weight of this bike, as weighed using a luggage weighing scale, is 9.2kg including pedals (the scale only measures up to 1 decimal place). This is remarkably close to the initial estimated weight of 9.21 kg! If measured without the PD-A530 pedals, the bike would weigh around 8.8kg.

Actual Bike Weight without pedals: 8.8kg
Actual Bike Weight including PD-A530 pedals: 9.2kg

This means that the target weight of <9.3kg without pedals has been achieved with a margin of 0.5kg, as the final bike weight without pedals is only 8.8kg.

Weight and Cost Table:
Check out the weight and cost table shown below for the detailed breakdown of the individual component price and weight. Once again, the source stated only refers to the source of the pricing, it does not necessarily reflect the actual place where I bought the components from, as some were bought from other sources, while some were parts bought some time ago. All prices include shipping costs, and are rounded up to the nearest $5. Labour cost of installing all these parts is obviously not included as I installed everything myself.

Weight and Cost table showing the breakdown of the individual components used on this bike project.

The weight of some components differed quite a bit between the estimated value and the actual value, but somehow the overall positive and negative weight differences cancelled each other out equally, giving an actual weight that is practically the same as the initial estimate.

Comparison with other stock Dahon / Tern folding bikes:
The final product of this project is a 20" high performance 20 speed folding bike with good quality components, with a cost of about $1700 and a weight of 8.8kg without pedals. These are very impressive specs as there is no way you can get a stock bike with these specs at such an affordable price.

Consider the newly launched 2014 Tern Verge P20. For a similar price of SGD $1700, you also get a 20 speed folding bike. However, almost all of the components are of lower grade, with the exception of perhaps the frame, handlepost, saddle and tires which I deem to be of equal quality. The bike is also quite a lot heavier at 11 kg, compared to my folding bike which weighs 9.2kg including pedals. That said, the Verge P20 is by itself a nice bike that has pretty decent specifications for its price. One of the best platforms for folding bike upgrading.

How about the Tern Verge X20? It is the top end folding bike in Tern's range of models, and rightly so. Boasting excellent components and parts all round, it deserves its place at the top. Comparing it to my new folding bike, and you would find that the performance is actually quite similar. Both bikes use good quality drivetrain and shifting components, and good brake components. The Verge X20 might have lighter (but less durable) wheels, but race the same rider on both bikes and the end result would be quite similar. As mentioned earlier, high end components will be lighter and better than components a couple of grades down, but the difference is slight. The difference in performance between SRAM Red and 105 is way smaller than the difference between Ultegra and Tiagra.

Note that my new folding bike costs about 2.5 times less than the Verge X20, yet it has probably 90-95% of the quality and yet still weighs 0.5 kg less than the Verge X20 (9.3kg without pedals). Despite using heavier wheels (Wheelsport Sunny vs Kinetix Pro) and heavier drivetrain components (Shimano 105 vs SRAM Red), the final bike weight is still lower than the Verge X20 weight.

Putting it in another way, this new bike is almost as good as the Verge X20, but costs $1700 (vs $4200 of Verge X20) and weighs 0.5 kg less. Much cheaper, more lightweight, and almost as good. A pretty good deal!

Now, this is not the end of this guide! There is still a Part 4, where other small but important issues that I encountered during the installation will be discussed. Also, there are also some other changes that I will be making to this bike, as I am still not 100% satisfied with it. Will be swapping out some components to improve the ride.

To be continued!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

How to Build an Affordable, High Performance, Lightweight Folding Bike: Part 2

Continuing on from the first part of the guide, here is the second part of the guide. To recap, the main objective of this bike project is to build a 20 inch folding bike that is Lightweight, High Performance and Affordable.

Target is to build a 20 speed bike with a weight of <9.3 kg (without pedals) and total cost of < SGD 2000.

More components listed below!

Model: LitePro A61 seatpost, Diameter 33.9mm, Length 600mm, Weight Limit 80 kg
Estimated Weight: 350 grams
Actual Weight: 314 grams
Source: Taobao
Price: 0. Included as a package with the MuEX frame.
Alternatives: Crius Seatpost (416 grams, weight limit 105 kg), LitePro Carbon Seatpost (300 grams), KCNC seatpost, Controltech Carbon seatpost

This is a lightweight seatpost that has a lower weight limit than most other seatposts, at only 80 kg. For a lightweight rider this is fine, but a heavier rider should use a stronger seatpost so as not to exceed the recommended weight limit.

Picture from Taobao

Another picture of the seatpost 

Model: Biologic Impel
Estimated Weight: 230 grams
Actual Weight: 286 grams
Source: MyBikeShop
Price: $20

This is a pretty normal saddle, and it comes stock on many Tern bikes. It is also cheap at only $20, and yet is quite comfortable. The red lines on the saddle also matches the lines on the frame very well. Slightly heavy though. Possible to save quite a bit of weight here if a lightweight (but more expensive) saddle is used.

Biologic Impel saddle. The lines come in other colours such as blue, green, orange, white, etc.

I have tried mounting the saddle on the LitePro seatpost and the clamp seems to be OK. It is not tilted as shown in the picture below.

Poor design or installation, causing tilted clamps on the saddle rails

Model: LitePro Monster
Estimated Weight: 200 grams
Actual Weight: 178 grams
Source: Taobao
Price: $15
Alternatives: LitePro Spirit ($30, 146 grams), LitePro SuperLight Carbon ($80, 99 grams)

Nothing special about this handlebar, it is strong and relatively lightweight, and also cheap. No need to use a fancy carbon handlebar, I can spend the amount saved on other components where it actually improves performance.

LitePro Monster handlebar

At this point, the bike can be said to be one third completed. The basic outline of the bike can be seen, with the handlepost and seatpost fixed up, together with the wheels. However, it is still far from done as there are still many components to be installed. From the pictures below, you can see that the FD roller and the RD hanger are already installed on the frame.

Some pictures of the bike building in progress!

View of the partially built bike

Hardly any components installed yet

Model: Shimano Road Flat Handlebar Shifters SL-R780, 2 x 10 speeds
Estimated Weight: 280 grams
Actual Weight: 274 grams
Source: Bike Discount
Price: $180
Alternatives: Shimano Tiagra SL-4600 flat handlebar shifters ($110)

The reason I chose a road flat handlebar shifter is because I am building a 2x10 speed bike. As explained in another post (Road or MTB Components for Dahon / Tern Folding Bikes?), it is best to use road components for a 2x10 setup.

I don't like to compromise on shifters, which is why I went for the top end flat handlebar shifter, SL-R780. Naturally it shifts very well, with light shifting and nice clicking feeling. It has Instant Release and Multi Release features which originated from the MTB shifters. Another reason why I chose this is because it comes in black colour which matches the colour scheme of the bike nicely.

The Tiagra SL-4600 flat handlebar shifters are very similar to this, except for the colour, and there is no Multi Release feature. Other than that, they are virtually the same. The Tiagra shifters are much cheaper at $110 for a pair, so it is a very good alternative.

2x10 speeds SL-R780 shifters

Glossy black finishing the matches the bike

Nice aluminium lever that gives a very high end feel

Top view of the shifter

Brake Levers
Model: Shimano Deore LX V Brake Levers
Estimated Weight: 200 grams
Actual Weight: 206 grams
Source: Bike Discount
Price: $50
Alternatives: Shimano Deore XT BL-T780, Deore BL-T610/T611, Avid FR-5, Avid Speed Dial 7, KCNC or TRP lightweight brake levers, Extralite brake levers

For brake levers, it is a critical part of the bike. If the brake lever bends or snaps off while riding, it could be disastrous. Some of the lightweight brake levers look pretty flimsy and I am not sure if they will hold up to regular usage. I decided to go for the safe and solid option of Shimano brake levers. If is possible to save 100 grams here from using super lightweight brake levers.

A good and cheap alternative would be the new Deore BL-T610/T611 brake levers, the price should be around $30 for a pair.

Deore LX V brake levers. Comes in full glossy black colour to match the bike.

V Brake Caliper
Model: Shimano Deore XT BR-T780 V brake calipers
Estimated Weight: 330 grams
Actual Weight: 355 grams
Source: ChainReactionCycles (CRC)
Price: $30
Alternatives: Deore LX BR-T670, Deore BR-T610, Avid Single Digit 7, Extralite / KCNC super lightweight brake calipers

For V brake calipers, the performance is quite similar between Deore and Deore XT. The differences are mainly the surface finishing and the material used for the hardware. The Deore XT V brake calipers use stainless steel and aluminium hardware to prevent rust. Possible to save maybe 100+ grams here if super lightweight brake calipers are used.

Deore XT V Brake Calipers

Model: Stock grip from my Polygon Cozmic CX 3.0
Estimated Weight: 120 grams
Actual Weight: 104 grams
Source: Any bike shop
Price: $20-$30

I just used an extra pair of grips that I had lying around, no need to buy a new pair. These lock-on grips are actually quite lightweight. A similar pair of grips can be found at almost every bike shop for $20+. Foam grips would be even lighter though.

Entity branded grips. Lock-on grips and also lightweight, not bad for a stock grip!

This is the end of the second part of the guide! In the third part of the guide, the rest of the components (mainly drivetrain components) will be shown.

Part 2 of the guide is now up! Click here to continue reading.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How to Build an Affordable, High Performance, Lightweight Folding Bike: Part 1

There are many different types of folding bikes available in the market. By different, I am referring to the purpose that the folding bike is designed for. Some are designed to be for leisure riding, some for speed, some for touring, and some that are a mixture of different categories. Depending on the target market, each of these type of folding bike will have different grades of components and parts, and of course a different price range.

As an example, my Dahon Boardwalk is built primarily as a touring and commuting bike. The rear rack allows panniers to be carried for touring or commuting, while the full fenders block most of the splashes from wet roads. A double kickstand is also included for practicality's sake. However, look beneath the surface and a different type of bike can be spotted. Drop bars and slim Kojak tires reveal the speedy desire of the bike, while a quality Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset ensures good power transfer and effortless electronic shifting. Folding size is not ideal due to the size of the drop bar, neither is the weight due to the variety of accessories installed on the bike. The total weight of the rear rack, kickstand and fenders is already 1.4kg.

My Dahon Boardwalk, mainly a touring / commuting bike

Recently, I had the idea to start a new project, to build a new folding bike with different objectives. The three keywords for this new folding bike would be Lightweight, High Performance and Affordable. What do these keywords mean? Here are my definitions:

In order to reduce the weight of a folding bike, lightweight components will need to be used. This means paying more for high end components that weigh less. Any accessories that are not essential to function will not be installed, for example fenders or kickstand. However, one thing that I will not sacrifice is safety. There are some components that are really lightweight, but they may not be safe to use as they are fragile and may break easily. This is especially critical for parts such as the brake levers or handlebar. Examples of lightweight bikes in the Dahon or Tern range would be the the Dahon MuSL (8.7kg without pedals) or Verge X20 (9.3kg without pedals). In my opinion, a folding bike is only considered lightweight if it weighs less than 10kg without any accessories.

High Performance
This means using good quality components that function well, with specifications that are comparable in function with high end bikes. A single speed folding bike would of course weigh the least, but in my opinion, high performance would be defined as a bike that has a reliable 2x10 speed drivetrain, with quality braking components and a smooth rolling wheelset. The components need not be of the top end range (such as Dura-Ace or SRAM Red), but they should have a performance that is at least 80-90% of the top end components. As a reference, I will be using the Verge P20 and Verge X20 (both 20 speeds) for component comparison.

It is quite difficult to define what is affordable, as this is very subjective. What may be affordable to you may be too expensive for me. In this case, I would be using the price range of Tern bikes as a rough guide. Tern folding bike prices range from $500+ to $4000+, so the range is quite big. To me, affordable would mean below the $2000 price point. Although this may seem quite high, this is actually a reasonable price to pay for a lightweight, high performance folding bike.

As you may already know, these 3 keywords tend to contradict each other. For example:
1) A lightweight bike that is high performance will likely not be affordable. An example would be the Dahon MuEX (no longer in production) or Tern Verge X20. These bike models weigh below 9.3kg (without pedals), but cost more than $4000 each.

Tern Verge X20. Lightweight and high performance, but quite expensive too.

2) A lightweight bike that is affordable is quite difficult to find. Other than a single speed bike, practically all affordable bikes weigh quite a bit (>10kg) as they don't use lightweight or high end components.

3) A high performance bike that is affordable is also quite hard to come by. Most high performance components don't come cheap, and even if they do, they are not the lightest around. A good example would be the recently launched Tern Verge P20. By my definition it is a high performance bike (20 speeds with a decent wheelset and drivetrain), and is still affordable at $1700. However, the weight is 11.0kg which is not considered lightweight.

Tern Verge P20. Relatively affordable and high performance, but not in the lightweight category.

To start off the project, I first needed to quantify the targets. Using keywords alone would be difficult as there are no measurable targets or objectives. Thus I decided to put some numbers to support each of the keywords.

Lightweight - Target weight would be that of the Tern Verge X20, at less than or equal to 9.3kg without pedals.
High Performance - 20 speed road drivetrain, using at least a Shimano 105 drivetrain and shifting components, with Deore and above V brake components and a smooth rolling wheelset + tires.
Affordable - To keep the total component price to below $2000. The lower the better.

So far there are no Dahon or Tern folding bikes that I know of that fulfill these criteria (20 speeds, <9.3kg, <SGD $2000).

Other than these targets, another important objective is to achieve a compact folding size. This means a flat handlebar folding bike (which is also more lightweight than a drop bar or bullhorn bar folding bike).

Before actually getting the parts for this bike project, I created a simple Excel spreadsheet that totaled up the weights and prices for each of the components. This allowed me to swap components easily to compare the weight and price differences.

Estimated components to be used and their respective estimtated weights

According to the Excel table, the total weight of the bike will be around 8.8kg without pedals, and 9.2kg including the Shimano PD-A530 SPD Pedals. This is a theoretical value based on estimated weights. The weight of the individual components are estimated based on previous samples or information available online.

In the following sections of this post, I will be listing out in more detail the various components that make up the bike, along with the weight and price of each part. Each of the parts were weighed with a digital weighing scale, and the prices are rounded up to the nearest $5 (including shipping costs). The source of the pricing will also be given (although it may not necessarily be where I got it from).

If necessary, I will also give some justification as to why I chose that component instead of another. As a bonus, I will also offer alternative choices for further cost reduction, weight reduction or better performance.

Model: Dahon MuEX Frame 
Estimated Weight: 2400 grams
Actual Weight: 2340 grams (includes seatpost shim, seatpost clamp, RD hanger and FD roller)
Source: Taobao
Price: $450 (including shipping)

The frame is the most important part of the bike. With a good frame, you can put a wide variety of components on it, and there would not be any major compatibility issues. The top end Dahon MuEX frame is one of the best folding bike frames you can find out there, being lightweight and stiff. Selecting a Dahon frame also ensures that compatible aftermarket parts and accessories can be found easily.

The frame comes with the metal seatpost shim, seatpost clamp, RD hanger and FD roller.

Dahon MuEX frame, a good platform to build on!

Model: Dahon Puro U7 Aluminium Fork for Mu Frame 
Estimated Weight: 440 grams
Actual Weight: 488 grams (including steel compression bolt)
Source: Taobao
Price: 0. Included as a package with the MuEX frame.

The lightweight Dahon Puro U7 aluminium fork is included as a package with the frame, thus there is no need to purchase separately. In fact, the package includes many items, such as the fork, handlepost, seatpost and headset.

Original Dahon aluminium fork for Mu frames

It was during installation that I realised that although the compression bolt for the fork is included, the brass shim is not. Although the bolt can be installed without the brass shim, it is better to include the shim, in order to ensure a more consistent tightening torque.

Brass shim for Dahon compression bolt

Goes onto the base of the handlepost before tightening the compression bolt on top.

Model: Fnhon 31.5cm, dual bolt 
Estimated Weight: 524 grams
Actual Weight: 542 grams
Source: Taobao
Price: 0. Included as a package with the MuEX frame.
Alternatives: Fnhon handleposts of other lengths, or the 4 bolt handlepost

This is a Fnhon 31.5cm, dual bolt handlepost. For more details and pictures please click on this link. Similarly, this component is included as a package with the frame.

For an installation guide on Dahon / Fnhon handlepost, check out this blog post for the details.

Model: LitePro Headset
Estimated Weight: 80 grams
Actual Weight: 72 grams
Source: Taobao
Price: 0. Included as a package with the MuEX frame.

I shall not go into details for the headset, it is a pretty standard LitePro headset. For a LitePro headset installation guide, check out this link.

I had asked for a black coloured headset for the bike, but they sent over a red coloured one instead. In the end it looks pretty good as the red cover matches the red accents on the frame.

 LitePro headset

Model: Wheelsport Sunny 406 wheelset 
Estimated Weight: 1144 grams (same as Wheelsport Smart 1.0)
Actual Weight: Front wheel is 484 grams. rear wheel is 698 grams. This excludes the weight of the Velox cloth rim tape.
Including rim tape, the weight is 495 grams for the front wheel, 709 grams for the rear wheel. In total the wheelset weight (including rim tape) is 1204 grams
Source: MyBikeShop
Price: $350
Alternatives: Wheelsport Smart 1.0 ($480), Kinetix Pro ($600+)

The original price of this Wheelsport wheelset is $380, but you might be able to get a discount if you don't need the bike shop to install the wheelset, change tires or cassette for you.

I chose this Wheelsport Sunny wheelset as it is affordable and with good performance. Previously I was using the Wheelsport Smart 1.0 wheelset and I find it to be very good. Thus I believe that the Wheelsport Sunny wheelset would have a similar performance. The main difference between the Sunny and the Smart 1.0 is that the Smart 1.0 has a higher profile rim. Other than that the hubs and spokes look pretty similar.

Using the lightweight Kinetix Pro rims will save even more weight, perhaps up to 150 grams compared to the Wheelsport Sunny. However it is much more expensive, and I personally don't like wheels with so few spokes.

The Wheelsport Sunny and Smart 1.0 has 20 spokes in front, and 24 spokes on the rear. The Kinetix Pro has 14 spokes in front and 16 spokes on the rear wheel.

Wheelsport Sunny wheels in black colour

Closeup look at the front wheel

Closeup look at the rear wheel

I found that almost all of the spoke holes on the rim has some burrs, which can cut through the inner tube if the rim tape is not properly laid. Since I have removed the original plastic rim tape, I decided to take the effort to deburr the holes with a file. It was quite a lot of work due to the many spoke holes.

Filing the side of the spoke holes to remove burrs. I could not use a deburring tool as there were insufficient space between the rim walls to use the tool effectively.

Good quality Velox cloth rim tape. This is much better than plastic rim tapes at protecting the tube from the sharp edges of the rim spoke holes.

Model: Panaracer Minits Lite, 20x1.25", folding bead 
Estimated Weight: 340 grams/pair
Actual Weight: 342 grams/pair (folding bead)
Source: MyBikeShop
Price: $80/pair
Alternatives: Schwalbe Kojak 20x1.35" folding (460 grams,$120/pair), Schwalbe Durano 20x1.1" (380 grams/pair), Schwalbe Ultremo ZX 20x0.9" (290 grams/pair)
These are really fast rolling tires from Panaracer. They are also lightweight and cheaper, which helps to keep the weight down. My first choice was actually Schwalbe Durano tires, but they were out of stock at MyBikeShop. Always get folding tires as they are lighter and easier to install/remove from the rims.

Panaracer Minits Lite folding bead tires, 20x1.25"

Inner Tubes
Model: Schwalbe SV6A Extra Light Tubes (Presta) 
Estimated Weight: 130 grams/pair
Actual Weight: 132 grams/pair
Source: MyBikeShop
Price: $30/pair
Alternatives: Schwalbe SV6 Tubes (190 grams/pair, Presta)
Using lightweight tubes can save some weight, but the reduced thickness or size might slightly increase the chance of getting a puncture. These are old tubes that were patched, but they are working fine.

Schwalbe SV6A Extra Light Tubes

Claimed weight of 65 grams is accurate!

Quick Release Skewers
Model: Agogo extra light titanium skewers, 74/130mm 
Estimated Weight: 42 grams/pair
Actual Weight: 43 grams/pair
Source: MyBikeShop
Price: $45/pair
Alternatives: Wheelsport original QR skewers, 113 grams/pair

This is a rather optional item, as you can just use the original Wheelsport QR skewers to save money. But I decided to try out this QR skewer as it can save quite a bit of weight. This Agogo skewer construction is actually not too bad as it does not use a rubber washer under the QR lever, which means the clamping force is better. For more details on good vs bad QR skewers please refer to this link.

The only thing to take note is that the titanium center axle tends to stretch a bit, so there is a need to re-tighten the QR lever once in a while.

Very lightweight Agogo titanium QR skewers

This post is getting really long, so I shall continue with the other components for this bike project in the second part of this guide.

The second part of the guide is now up! Click here to continue~