Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Journey of the Boardwalk: Part 5 (PZ Racing & Gold Bling)

It has been a while since I last posted! Had been busy with cycling events such as NTU Bike Rally and OCBC Cycle. Suddenly had an inspiration to continue with the story of my Boardwalk, so here I am.

In the previous part of the story, the bike was upgraded from 7 speeds to 8 speeds and then to 9 speeds. The stock Dahon Neos Derailleur was used, even for 9 speeds. It worked decently, although it can be seen that it sometimes struggles a bit when changing gears. But it must be said that most of the time, it works extremely well, with fast precise shifts. A very decent derailleur.

In order to improve the shifting by changing the rear derailleur, an adaptor/gear hanger for the derailleur is needed. The problem with the Dahon Speed/Boardwalk series of bikes is that it does not come with a gear hanger fixed on the frame, neither does it come with a blank on the rear dropouts that can be swapped for a gear hanger, such as those found on aluminium frames such as the Vitesse or Mu series.

I actually came across some online sites from Taiwan and China that sell the special gear hanger for Speed/Boardwalk series bike frames, but it is a problem buying it as they usually deliver only locally and/or accept only local modes of payment.

However, I happened to ask KS from MBS about this, and he said that they have the gear hanger! In fact it was the last one available there, and it took quite a bit of effort and lots of searching before it was found. Really lucky of me to be able to get it.

The rare and elusive gear hanger for Dahon Speed/Boardwalk frames!

Of course, with the gear hanger, the next step would be to find a suitable rear derailleur. Since I already had a 9 speed shifter, the SRAM Attack, I would only need a compatible 9 speed derailleur. Initially wanted to get a black 105 RD, but it was not available. Settled on an Ultegra Short Cage RD instead. A bit of overkill, but I couldn't wait to get a new RD. It was not much more expensive than a 105 RD anyway.

The new Ultegra 10-speed RD looking sweet on the Boardwalk!

With the new cable routing required, a new gear cable and cable housing was also required. Also, the rear quick release only just managed to fit in, due to the additional thickness of the gear hanger.

Another significant upgrade that followed was the changing of the wheelset, again, from Kinetix Comp to PZ Racing. The front hub of the Kinetix Comp is actually very good, with smooth rolling sealed bearings. However the rear hub, which still used loose ball bearings, wasn't very smooth. Better than the stock wheel, of course, but still not as good as a sealed bearing hub. The only ones suitable, and available at MBS were either the PZ Racing wheelset or the Kinetix Pro wheels.

Settled on the PZ Racing wheels as they have more spokes that the Kinetix Pro wheels, which makes me feel safer and less likely to be in trouble due to broken spokes. They may not look as speedy or lightweight, but they roll very well indeed. The PZ Racing wheels also comes with nice carbon-wrapped rims and black bladed spokes. Sealed bearings front and rear makes the hubs roll very smoothly. Not to mention the loud and nice sounding freehub of the PZ Racing rear wheel! Once again, I was lucky as I got the last set of PZ Racing wheels available.

New PZ Racing wheels!

After upgrading practically every part of the bike, there isn't much left for upgrading. Came across this website, torontocycles.com, where they sell anodised aluminium bolts in many colours, some of which are specially made for bicycles. At that point in time, the only bling part which I had were the gold quick release skewers and the gold chainring bolts. Black seems to go well with gold by giving a very unique look. Therefore I decided to deck my bike out in more gold bling, by getting some gold bolts.
They even have the brake lever adjustment bolts in gold!

Some gold bolts here and there for the brake calipers.

Unique gold accented Ultegra RD!

Changed to the gold RD mounting bolt, cable clamp bolt and jockey wheels. In fact I got the whole derailleur kit in gold, but the other bolts such as the cable tension adjustment bolt and the high-low screws did not fit very well so I didn't change those. The RD mounting bolt as seen in the top of the picture was really tough to assemble, as the strong spring made it really difficult to align everything properly after dismantling. It took one hour and many sore fingers before it was assembled. Will not take it apart again!

The Token brand gold jockey wheels are really smooth compared to the default Ultegra jockey wheels. Definitely worth the upgrade and for the bling factor. However, as the jockey wheels are aluminium instead of the default plastic, they will tend to make more noise at certain speeds.

Gold QR and Presta Valve caps.

Gold accented drivetrain!

Very nice shot of the rear wheel and RD, courtesy of Taiwoon!

It has been a fascinating journey so far, with much knowledge gained and lessons learnt along the way. Of course, upgrading never really stops. In the next part of the story, the rear derailleur and shifters are changed yet again! Not without good reason though. Stay tuned!