Saturday, November 10, 2018

Fabike C3: Assembly Part 1 - Component Installation

With all the components gathered, this new Fabike C3 commuting bike is now ready to be assembled! As already shown in the previous posts, there are many new components, such as the front wheel, brakes, handlebar, seat post and etc.

Before installing the components, I want to cut the fork steerer tube to the correct length. This will enable me to fix the handlebar position, which will then allow me to fix the shifter positions. Only when that is done, I can connect the Di2 wires, and also set the correct length for the hydraulic brake hoses.

I wanted this Fabike C3 to have the same geometry as my Canyon Endurace road bike, which is why I measured and used the same setup for the handlebar height, using the bottom bracket as the datum. Once this is done, I can cut the steerer tube to the required length, as it is definitely too long.

Cutting the carbon steerer tube at this blue line. After that, a spacer and top cap will be placed on top of the stem.

With the handlebar position fixed, all the Di2 wires can be connected, and the hydraulic brake hoses can be measured and cut to the required lengths. For this setup, the Junction B will be stored internally, within the down tube.

Wrapping the Junction B in sponge to prevent rattling, before stuffing it inside the down tube. The other bundle is actually the wire from the Di2 battery in the seat tube, which has a Di2 wire that is too long.

After running the Di2 wires internally, I can install the eccentric bottom bracket, followed by the crankset. This Dura-Ace 7900 crankset is the exact same one which I removed from the Avanti Inc 3, and I plugged it straight into this new frame.

However, I noticed that the Gates front chainring was rubbing against the frame, on the right side chainstay! There is insufficient clearance on this frame...

No clearance between the chainring and the frame, on the right side chainstay.

On the previous setup, the chainring was located on the INSIDE of the crankset, in order to match the chain line from the Alfine 11 Di2 internal hub at the rear. However, this is not possible on this frame due to interference.

In this case, I have to place the chainring on the OUTSIDE of the crankset, in order to avoid interference with the chainstay. This causes the chain line to be a little bit offset from the rear sprocket, but hopefully it will be OK.

Switching the chainring placement to the OUTSIDE of the crankset. Looks better in this case.

With the chainring located on the outside, there will be about 2mm of clearance with the chainstay, which is good.

Next, the rear wheel will be installed, and it will involve using the special rear dropout design described earlier.

First, the non turn washers will need to be slotted onto the hub axle. Then, the hub axle needs to be rotated so that the flats on the hub axle matches the opening on the frame.

In this orientation, the non turn washers cannot slot into the dropout. Therefore, the frame needs to be widened by a few millimeters, to allow both the hub axle and the non turn washers to be installed. Check out the pictures below.

Orienting the hub axle to slot it into the frame. Frame needs to be spread open slightly to allow the non turn washers to be slotted in at the same time.

After the hub axle is in place, rotate the hub axle, so that the profile of the non turn washers match the profile on the inside of the frame dropouts. Then, slot the non turn washers into the frame, to close up the frame.

Not sure if you are able to understand or follow the steps, but it is a very troublesome method, as many areas need to be aligned at the same time, for both left and right side of the hub axle. Also, note that I did not install the rear brake caliper yet, as spreading the frame will mean that the brake caliper will move to the side, and possibly bend the brake rotor.

Removing the rear wheel will be similarly tricky, as the non turn washers need to be pushed out from its slot on the frame, followed by rotating the hub axle to come out through the opening in the dropout. If I ever get a rear wheel puncture on this bike, I am not sure if I will bother to fix it at the side of the road, or catch a transport home to fix it later.

Anyway, that is probably the most difficult part of setting up this bike. With that settled, all other issues should not pose a big problem.

New Gates Centertrack 113T belt is needed for this frame, as the chainstay is quite short. I could not reuse the other longer 115T or 118T belts that I already had.

Once the belt is installed, it can be tensioned by rotating the eccentric bottom bracket as shown. One of the rare occasions where this tool is actually used!

Adjustment of this eccentric bottom bracket is not as straightforward as it seems. It is important to make sure that both sides of the eccentric bottom bracket are aligned, to prevent the crankset spindle from being tilted. However, since the adjustment is only done at the left side, it is necessary to make the right side follow the adjustment closely.

This synchronized adjustment is only possible if the 3 bolts on the eccentric bottom bracket are tightened, to minimize the play between the left and right side eccentric bottom bracket. However, if the 3 bolts are too tight, it will be clamped onto the frame and cannot be adjusted. This makes adjustment quite tricky. Once done, the 3 bolts are tightened to clamp both the left and right side to the frame, to fix the position.

As mentioned earlier, the change of front chainring position will cause the chainline to be offset slightly to the side. However, based on my testing, it seems to be OK as the belt is still able to roll on and off the chainring without any problems.

There are some other issues which I noticed during the installation of the components, which I will highlight below. These are not critical issues, but something that can definitely be improved upon by the frame maker.

Slight touching between the Di2 motor unit and the inside of the right side seat stay. Can be solved by changing the angle of the non turn washer, or creating more clearance on the right side seat stay.

Once the hub axle angle is fixed by the non turn washer, the angle of the Di2 wire points downwards by 45 degrees, instead of being horizontal. This is not as neat, and can be solved by changing the angle of the non turn washer.

Rubber grommets at the head tube for Di2 wire and hydraulic brake hose do not fit well. The Di2 wire grommet fits too loosely into the hole on the frame, while the grommet for the brake hose becomes too big, and cannot be fitted into the hole on the frame. Can be solved by sizing the hole and rubber grommet properly.

When the wheels are installed, there is quite a small clearance between the tire and the frame. To be fair, these are 28C tires which come up to 32mm wide on these rims. Hopefully the mudguards will fit in this small gap!

Same for the front, there is small clearance between the tire and the fork. Need to fit the mudguard into the small gap without rubbing the tire.

Mounting point for front mudguard is hidden at the back of the fork, which is neat. Slight peeling off of the paint here, but not a big issue.

More to come in the next post!

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Fabike C3: Thomson Elite Seatpost with Internal Di2 Battery

The Fabike C3 frameset does not come with a seat post, so I will need to get a seat post for this bike. It accepts seat posts with a diameter of 31.6mm, so I can actually reuse the Kore seat post that I was using on the Avanti Inc 3.

However, that Kore seat post was rather heavy at about 300 grams for a 400mm length, so I decided to get a new one for the new bike. Carbon seat posts are lightweight, but also quite expensive. I found that actually Thomson aluminium seat posts are also very lightweight, although they are not that cheap. I decided to get a Thomson seat post to try it out, and see how good the seat post is.
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Very obvious what is inside this cloth bag...

Comes with the manual and also some stickers.

Some detailed instructions and warnings. Apparently seat posts have a useful life of 5 years only...

Angle adjustment is limited to 29 degrees downwards, and 5 degrees upwards.

Diameter 31.6mm, with a length of 367mm.

Internal walls are oval shaped, to preserve material only where it is needed most for stiffness and strength.

Saddle clamp design which is found on many other seat posts such as Litepro seat posts.

Saddle clamps are forged from aluminium, for low weight and high strength. Most other brands use cast aluminium (thicker and heavier) or steel (heavy).

Weighs only 221 grams, for 31.6mm diameter and 367mm length! This is as light as many carbon seat posts of the same specifications.

I was amazed at the low weight of this Thomson seat post, as it is as light as many carbon seat posts, while also being a lot cheaper. Of course, a Thomson seat post still costs more than a standard aluminium seat post, but it is more lightweight. In other words, a Thomson seat post is almost as lightweight as a carbon seat post, but at a price point somewhere in between normal aluminium and carbon seat posts.

For internal Di2 batteries, normally it is fixed inside the seat post, or somewhere on the frame like on the Canyon Endurace. In my case, I have to fix it inside the seat post.

The challenge with putting the battery inside the seat post is to make sure it does not drop out during riding, while making sure that it can be removed if required. With special seat posts from PRO, you can use an E-ring to hold the battery, but for all other seat posts, you have to use a rubber plug to hold the battery.

Rubber plug from Deda, for holding the Di2 internal battery inside the seat post. 

Weighs 20 grams if anyone is interested.

It fits snugly into the end of the seat post, with this part sticking out, so that you can pull it out later.

Weight of Di2 internal battery, at just 52 grams. Slim and long to fit inside the seat post.

The battery goes into the rubber plug, and this whole assembly is then fitted inside the seat post.

However, I found that the battery was slightly loose inside the rubber plug, which is why I wrapped a few layers of black tape around the battery to improve the fitting.

With the battery and rubber plug fitted inside the seat post!

This rubber plug fits the seat post tightly, without being overly tight that I need to use excessive force to push it in. Even swinging the seat post does not cause the battery to fly out, so I think it should be tight enough.

As mentioned earlier, the Fabike C3 frame can only allow a maximum of 120mm of seat post inside the frame. On the other hand, we need to maintain a minimum insertion length of 100mm inside the frame. Therefore, the seat post will need to be cut to the correct length, to meet my height requirements, and at the same time, 100-120mm of insertion length.

After some calculations and trial and error, I finally settled on the ideal seat post length. It will be 250mm in total, with 100-120mm inserted inside the frame. This means cutting the excess length off from this Thomson seat post.

Length that was cut off is about 167mm, which reduces the seat post weight by 44 grams.

The final specifications of this seat post is thus 250mm in length, with a weight of 177 grams. This is very lightweight, which is really nice as it is not even a carbon seat post. In the future, if I ever need to get a new seat post, I will definitely consider a Thomson aluminium seat post as it is lightweight, strong and yet still cheaper than a carbon seat post.

Fizik rubber seat post ring, to be used to close the gap between the seat post and the saddle clamp, to prevent water flowing in.

With all the components settled, it is time to assemble everything onto the Fabike C3 frameset!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Fabike C3: Handlebar Area and Di2 Wiring Layout

For the new Fabike C3, I decided to take the chance to refresh the handlebar area. I could actually just transfer over the whole set of handlebar, stem and Di2 parts from the Avanti Inc 3 over to this new bike, but I decided to make a new setup.

Previously, I was using a 42cm wide FSA drop bar, as I believe that the added width (over the usual 40cm) will improve the handling, especially on wet roads. However, I found that there was no big difference, and I would prefer the setup to be as close as possible to my Canyon Endurace road bike. So, I got a new 40cm wide drop bar for this new Fabike C3.

Instead of the usual FSA aluminium drop bar which is affordable and reliable, I decided to try a PRO aluminium handlebar, which is supposedly more lightweight. I did consider a carbon drop bar, but I could not find any good ones at a good price. If you remember, I had the carbon FSA K-Force compact drop bar, which was really lightweight at only 204 grams! In fact, it only cost me $120 each, and I actually bought two of it as it was such a good deal.

Unfortunately, I did not keep any of it, as one of it was sold away with the Merida Scultura 5000, while the other one was also sold after dismantling the Java Freccia mini velo.

PRO PLT aluminium drop bar, which comes in a compact shape for more comfort when riding in the drops.

Close up look at the handlebar. Sandblasted finish with some glossy areas.

Made of light and strong 2014-T6 aluminium. 40cm wide, with centre clamp diameter of 31.8mm.

What I really, really like about this PRO handlebar compared to the FSA handlebar is that alignment markings are printed at the area where you mount the shifters. This makes it really easy to set up the left and right shifters at exactly the same angle.

As claimed, it is quite lightweight, at 266 grams for this aluminium handlebar. For comparison, a FSA aluminium handlebar weighs around 308 grams, while the carbon FSA handlebar weighs 204 grams.

At the same time, I wanted to upgrade some of the handlebar components. If you recall, the Avanti Inc 3 used the first generation of road hydraulic Di2 shifters, the non series ST-R785. That was a good shifter, but the new generation has Di2 buttons with a better click feeling, like the Dura-Ace ST-R9170 Di2 shifters that I am using on the Canyon Endurace.

Also, the new road hydraulic Di2 shifters are lighter in weight, as the bracket has been changed from aluminium to resin which reduces the weight by a lot. Generally speaking, the new shifters are lighter, look better, with better click feeling. This is a strong reason to change to the new shifters.

Other than the new Di2 shifters, I will also use a new internal Di2 battery, as this Fabike C3 frame can accommodate internal wire routing. In order to charge this internal Di2 battery, I will need a new Junction A with a charging port, such as the new Deore XT Di2 display. In other words, the only parts that remain from the old setup are the Alfine Di2 motor unit, the Junction B and some Di2 wires.


New Di2 wiring layout! Internal Di2 battery will be fitted to the seat post, and charged through the new Junction A. More details below.

New road hydraulic Di2 shifters, ST-R8070! I got the Ultegra version as the Dura-Ace version is just too expensive, at no big advantage other than being a little bit lighter.

Ultegra Di2 shifters for road hydraulic disc brakes. Functions 100% like the Dura-Ace version.

Weighs 365 grams for the pair, which is a bit heavier than the Dura-Ace version that weighs 320 grams for a pair.

When the Ultegra Di2 shifters are this good, it is difficult to justify getting the Dura-Ace version, unless your reason is to have a complete groupset where your other components are Dura-Ace. Last time, only Dura-Ace Di2 shifters had the hidden button on top of the hood, which can be used to control other things such as your Garmin. Now, even Ultegra Di2 has it, which means that it functions 100% like the Dura-Ace version. Same for the Ultegra Di2 with mechanical brake, ST-R8050, used on the Dahon MuSP.

The Di2 display will also be new, as it now has to perform multiple functions. Other than showing the gear position, it also has to act as an entry point for charging the internal Di2 battery. The bonus is having Bluetooth connectivity, so that you can configure the Di2 system using your tablet or smartphone.

Deore XT grade of Di2 Display, the SC-MT800. It is also a Junction A for the Di2 system.

Includes a dummy plug for covering unused Di2 ports, and an extra clamp band for handlebars with 35mm clamp diameter, which is currently only found on some MTB handlebars. The stock clamp band is for 31.8mm diameter handlebars.

Mode button at the bottom, to enter adjustment mode, or to change shift mode (if synchronous shifting is enabled for front double Di2 drivetrains).

3 Di2 ports at the back, for connecting to the left and right shifters, and to Junction B. The charging port can be seen at the side, which is necessary to charge the internal Di2 battery.

This Di2 display weighs 31 grams.

With many new Di2 components, it is important to connect them up and test them out before installing onto the bicycle. In the next post, I will elaborate more on the internal Di2 battery and how it fits into the seat post.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Fabike C3: Brake Calipers and SKS Mudguards

On this new Fabike C3 frameset, the brake caliper mounting is the Flat Mount type, which is neater than the older Post Mount or IS Mount types. I first used this Flat Mount type on the Canyon Endurace, which is well suited for road bikes due to the cleaner appearance.

Instead of getting new brake calipers, I decided to reuse the stock brake calipers that came on the Canyon Endurace. These are the non series Flat Mount brake calipers, the BR-RS805.

Flat Mount front brake calipers are easy to install, as the adapter is the same for both 140mm or 160mm rotors. Also, only one bolt length is needed. More details in this post.

As for rear Flat Mount caliper brakes, the bolt length is important, as it needs to pass through two holes on the frame. The depth of the holes can vary greatly between different frame makers, which is why different length of bolts may be needed for different frames, even though the brake caliper is the same.

The default bolt length that is included with the brake caliper is 38mm, which is designed for frames that have a hole depth of 25mm. On the Canyon Endurace, I think it uses the standard bolt length, so I had no problem using the default bolt that was included with the brake calipers.

However, the Fabike C3 brake mounting is much thinner, at only about 7mm. This is even thinner than the 10mm frame thickness which uses the shortest 23mm bolt. Therefore, I needed to get the shortest bolt and still add spacers.

Thickness of  brake mount for rear Flat Mount brake calipers is only about 7mm.

According to this table, there are recommended bolt lengths for different frame thicknesses. Also, the protrusion should be about 13mm.

The only way to get these kind of small parts easily is online. It comes in a single pack, so I needed to get two of these.

The new 2 x 23mm bolts, for 10mm frame thickness.

As you can see, these are not just normal bolts, or I can just use any other standard bolt. That will work, but standard bolts don't have the cutout at the end of the bolt as shown above. This cutout is for the spring pin to lock to, as a secondary safety catch, in case the bolts loosen from the mount.

These two 23mm bolts are to fix the brake adapter to the frame, while another set of bolts is needed to fix the adapter to the brake caliper. Note that this brake adapter is only required if you are using a 160mm brake rotor on the rear. If you are mounting a smaller 140mm brake rotor on the rear, the bolts above will just thread directly into the rear brake caliper.

Since I am using 160mm rotors on both front and rear, I will need to get an adapter, which is not included with the frame or the brake caliper.

Rear Flat Mount brake adapter for 160mm rotors, with the associated hardware. This adapter will be attached directly to the brake caliper.

Testing the fitting of the bolts, adapter, and brake caliper on the frame. The part of the bolt that sticks out will have a spring clip on it. Also note that I added 2mm of washers on the bolt, as even this short bolt is too long.

Weight of rear brake caliper, including the adapter and the new bolts is 162 grams.

Weight of front brake caliper, with the 140/160mm adapter and the bolts is 156 grams.

In order to get a rough estimate of the bike weight, I decided to measure the weight of the other brake parts, such as the brake hose, the hydraulic fluid, and the small parts such as the connecting bolt, the inserts, the olives.

Weight of other brake components is 120 grams, but final weight after cutting the hose, eliminating the bottle and excess fluid weight, it should be around 100 grams.

This Fabike C3 is meant to be an all-weather commuting bike, which means that full length mudguards are needed for riding in the rain. Instead of reusing the old set of mudguards from the Avanti Inc 3, I decided to get a new set. Besides, the length of the old mudguard stays are probably too short for the new frame since they have already been cut before.

Based on the tire width, there are different mudguard widths to match. The tires are Continental Grand Prix 4 Season tires, which are labeled as 700x28C tires. However, the actual width is about 31-32mm when mounted on the rims, which means that I needed to select the correct mudguard based on the actual tire width.

Based on the table shown below, I will need to get the mudguard that is 45mm wide, to match these tires. More pictures of the new mudguards shown below!

New SKS Bluemels mudguards for the Fabike C3!

Table showing recommended mudguard size for different tire widths.

The mudguards come with a lot of assorted hardware, but I estimate that these are the ones that I will need to use.

Weight of these hardware plus the mudguards is 549 grams. This is before cutting of the metal stays to the actual length.

New mudguards has a different mounting method, which makes it much easier to install and adjust than the previous version. New version on the left.

New version allows the nut to be adjusted from the outside, as compared to the previous design where the nut is inside, and makes it very difficult to adjust.

My worry was that these mudguards, being 45mm wide, may not fit into the Fabike C3 frame. Although the frame and fork is designed for mudguards, I am not sure how much the allowable clearance is. With this new set of mudguards, I can test it out, and hope that it fits!

Mudguards between the rear seat stays. Should be able to fit...

Mudguards between the rear chain stays. As there is no mounting point on the frame at this area, the mudguard will just hang free, wedged between the chain stays.

The only way to see if these mudguards will fit is to try it with the wheels. Hopefully there is sufficient clearance between the frame and the tires to fit these mudguards!