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!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Fabike C3: DT Swiss ER 1600 Spline DB 32mm Front Wheel

As I am transferring some of the components from the Avanti Inc 3 over to this new Fabike C3 frameset, some of the components will be reused. Examples would be the Alfine 11 Di2 rear wheel, the Dura-Ace 7900 crankset, etc.

For the front wheel, I had the choice of front fork. I could choose the Fabike C2 fork which uses a normal quick release axle, or the new Fabike C3 fork which uses the 12mm E-thru axle. If I chose the QR axle fork, I can reuse the DT Swiss R 24 Spline Disc Front Wheel which I got some time back.

However, I decided to use the latest standard, which is the 12mm E-thru axle. This means that I will need to get a new front wheel that uses a 12mm E-thru hub. At the same time, this would also make the front wheel compatible with the Canyon Endurace road bike, which also uses 12mm E-thru axle, with 700x28C tires. If there is ever a need, I can swap the front wheels between these two bikes.

Therefore, I needed to get a new front wheel, and my objective is to make it look similar to the rear wheel, which has a DT Swiss rim. In this case, it helps to narrow down my choices, as I will choose a DT Swiss front wheel to match the rear wheel.

Requirements: 700C size, 12mm E-thru axle hub, Centerlock disc brake mounting, black rims and spokes.

I had a choice of different rim widths, such as the narrower Performance Road (PR1600) version, or the slightly wider Endurance Road (ER1600). Not really much of a difference, so either one is fine. As for the rim height, I could choose between the 24mm profile which is more lightweight, or the 32mm rim profile which looks more aero but it slightly heavier.

In the end I decided on the 32mm rim profile, which looks nicer and looks more like the rear wheel. Let's take a closer look at this front wheel!

DT Swiss ER1600 Spline DB 32mm front wheel (What a long model name!)

It comes with a whole lot of accessories and adapters. You can change the end caps to 9mm QR axle, or 15mm E-thru. The tubeless valve is included, as well as a rotor adapter (for mounting 6 bolt rotor to this Centerlock hub).

Closer look at the logo and model name

Internal rim width is 20mm, which is considered quite wide.

Tubeless ready with the factory installed rim tape!

Hub with straight pull spokes. Wonder how they make the gloss black surface on the matte white hub.

32mm profile front wheel is 825 grams, which weighs about the same as the previous 24mm front wheel.

Rim height comparison. New 32mm on the left, previous 24mm on the right. Dahon MuEX in the background.

This Fabike C3 frameset does not include the front 12mm E-thru axle on the front fork, which means that I need to get my own. I don't mind that, but I will need to know the specifications of the thread that is used. Although it says 12mm E-thru, there are different thread pitch in use! The Shimano standard is 12x1.5mm, while there are also 12x1.0mm, 12x1.75mm, etc. For non-standard thread pitch, usually the E-thru axle will be included with the frame.

In this case, I checked with Fabike, and they are using the standard 12x1.5mm thread pitch. In other words, I can get a normal Shimano or DT Swiss 12mm E-thru axle for the fork. I like the E-thru axle with a removable lever from DT Swiss, which I have on the Canyon Endurace, so I decided to get the same one for this Fabike C3.

12mm E-thru axle for the front wheel, weighs 57 grams including the lever.

Made by DT Swiss, and has a removable lever if you want to save some weight or make your bike a bit more aerodynamic.

It threads in nicely to the Fabike C3 front fork! Tested with the DT Swiss front wheel as well, no problem.

On this new frame, it uses Flat Mount brake calipers. As for the disc brake rotors, it will still be 160mm diameter rotors, with Centerlock mounting on the front and rear hubs. Although I can reuse the previous 160mm brake rotors, I decided to get a new set of Dura-Ace RT900 brake rotors, which look really nice with the black coating in the centre. Once again, this is the same rotor used on the Canyon Endurace, more details over at the link.

Dura-Ace RT900 Ice-Tech disc brake rotors!

I had also considered getting new tires, but the Continental Grand Prix 4 Season tires from the Avanti Inc 3 are still in great condition, and I can't actually think of anything better for all weather commuting. Therefore, I decided to keep these tires and transfer them over to the new wheel.

Continental Grand Prix 4 Season tires. Similar to the GP4000, but with a tougher layer for more puncture protection.

With the tires and disc brake rotor installed on the new front wheel! Looks like a carbon front wheel, but at a fraction of the cost.

The new front wheel is now ready to be used! It looks good and matches the rear wheel nicely. With the Continental Grand Prix 4 Season tires mounted on these rims, the 28C tire becomes 32mm wide!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Fabike C3: Eccentric BB, Headset, Rear Dropout

After studying the Fabike C3 frame and fork in the earlier post, let's take a more detailed look at the unique features of this frame. Being a belt drive compatible carbon frame bike already makes it unique, but that is not all. There are other interesting features of the frame that are rarely found on other bikes, or even exclusive to Fabike only.

For a belt drive or single speed bike, it is necessary to tension the belt or chain without a rear derailleur. The usual methods are to use a horizontal dropout, a sliding rear dropout, an eccentric bottom bracket, or an external chain tensioner. Regardless of the method, the fundamental idea is to allow adjustment of the chainstay length, or more precisely, the distance between the centre of the front chainring and the centre of the rear sprocket. Each method has its pros and cons, let's take a look.

Horizontal Dropout:
- Nutted axles are usually recommended, as quick release axles are sometimes not tight enough to prevent rear hub movement during strong pedaling.
- Realignment of the rear wheel is needed whenever the rear hub is removed from the dropout.
- Probably the most lightweight method as there is no additional part required, unlike other methods.
- Not suitable for disc brake bikes as the rear brake caliper (which has a fixed position on the frame) cannot always be aligned properly with the disc rotor.
Horizontal dropout allows the whole hub to slide forward/backward for chain tensioning.

Sliding Rear Dropout:
- Suitable for disc brakes as the disc brake mount slides together with the dropout, ensuring proper alignment between brake caliper and rotor.
- Relatively heavy and looks bulky.
- Need to align the left and right side dropouts properly, to prevent the rear wheel from slanting to one side.
- Wheel removal or installation is easy as it is just a horizontal dropout.
- No problem with using quick release axles or thru-axles.
Sliding rear dropout, where the brake caliper moves along with the rear hub.

Eccentric Bottom Bracket:
- Suitable for any types of brakes as the rear dropout is just a standard vertical dropout.
- Clean appearance as the large eccentric bottom bracket is not so obvious compared to other tensioning methods.
- Relatively heavy as the additional eccentric bottom bracket needs to be quite solid.
- Consistent belt/chain tension, as the tension is not affected when the rear wheel is removed or installed.
- Easy to make fine adjustments, just by rotating the eccentric bottom bracket.
- Bottom bracket height will vary, depending on how it is adjusted.
- Can cause creaking if not greased or installed properly.
Off-centre hole is where a standard bottom bracket is installed. This was from the Avanti Inc 3.

Chain Tensioner:
- Not so neat appearance, as it looks very much like a conventional rear derailleur.
- Can also be made by converting an old rear derailleur.
- DATT dropout mounting point needed, and this is most commonly used when converting a normal bike with derailleur to single speed/internal hub.
- Adds some weight as compared to horizontal dropout.
- Chain length is not really important as the chain tensioner will just take up the slack.
- Wheel removal is easy as it works on a standard vertical dropout.
Chain tensioner will be used, when all other methods are not available.

For me, my preference is to use an eccentric bottom bracket, as it looks the neatest, and is the easiest to use. Once it is set properly, there is no need to adjust it anymore. Wheel removal or installation is also easy as the rear dropout is just a normal vertical dropout.

I first came across an eccentric bottom bracket on the Avanti Inc 3, and I want to have the same design on this new Fabike C3 frame. The previous C2 frame was using a sliding rear dropout, but this new C3 version is now using an eccentric bottom bracket.

Looking inside the bottom bracket shell. Can see the rear brake hose which is routed internally, which was already installed when the frame was delivered.

This eccentric bottom bracket shell design is actually quite clever. Instead of using a non-standard, large 55mm diameter hole like on the Avanti Inc 3, this Fabike C3 frame uses a more standard size. The hole on this Fabike C3 frame has a diameter of 46mm, which is actually the same size as that used for a Press Fit 30 bottom bracket! In other words, if you don't need an eccentric bottom bracket, the same frame can accept a Press Fit 30 bottom bracket. Clever way to make sure that the frame design is not limited to using a less common eccentric bottom bracket!

Of course this requires an eccentric bottom bracket that has an outer diameter of 46mm to fit this frame. It is quite easily found, and is similar in design to the 55mm diameter eccentric bottom bracket.

Fabio from Fabike was kind enough to include this eccentric bottom bracket at no extra charge, and it seems to be an OEM version as there is no brand logo on it. Wheels Manufacturing also has it available if you need one aftermarket. The version that I have converts a Press Fit 30 bottom bracket shell to an eccentric type with 24mm Shimano crank spindle size.

Press Fit 30 to 24mm, eccentric bottom bracket. One good thing is that this weight of 168 grams already includes the sealed bearings for the bottom bracket.

Clamping area should be at the bottom as advised by the eccentric bottom bracket maker. Notches at the side allow adjustment by rotation.

I am pleased with this bottom bracket design, as it allows the usage of an eccentric bottom bracket, and is also quite lightweight as the bottom bracket bearings are already included. The only tricky part is aligning the left and right side, when rotating the eccentric bottom bracket. Moving on, let's take a look at the headset.

The headset design is quite standard, which is no problem at all. It is of an integrated headset cup design, which means that the cups for the bearings are already molded/machined into the frame. There is no need to press in any headset cups which means lower weight and also less work for me. This design is the same as that used on the Canyon Endurace.

Integrated headset cups for the sealed bearings. Just place the bearings into the cups and it is done!

Headset parts, also included with the frame. The blue part is the top headset cover, which comes in a few different colours for you to choose. The two sealed bearings are of different size, with the larger one at the bottom for more rigidity.

Weight of headset is 70 grams which is quite standard. Not possible to save weight here when the headset cups have already been integrated into the frame.

Weight of top cap and spacers. Just an rough estimate, as the exact spacer height has not been measured or determined yet.

Finally, the most unique part of this frame is the rear dropout design. This is an exclusive design which was created by Fabike, and I have never seen this design before. Fundamentally it is a vertical dropout, but it is different as the non-turn washers for the internal hub is integrated into the dropout design.

Normally, the non-turn washers for the internal hub are fitted outside of the dropout. This means that the coloured non-turn washers will be visible from the sides of the bike.

Blue non-turn washer visible at the rear dropout area, in between the dropout and the axle nut.

Usual installation steps for non-turn washers:
Install hub into dropout > Slide non-turn washers onto hub axle > Rotate hub axle + washers until washers can slide sideways into dropout > Tighten axle nuts

For this unique Fabike design, I think there are two main purposes for designing a new non-turn washer. First, it is to hide the non-turn washers on the inside of the rear dropout, for a cleaner appearance from the outside. The other reason is to make the dropout design interchangeable, so that the same frame can also accept normal rear hubs with quick release axles or thru-axles.

My initial thought was that this non-turn washer slides upwards into the corresponding slot on the frame rear dropout. This steel non-turn washer can be flipped if the angle of the flat needs to be reversed.

One problem with this design is that the installation method is quite unusual. The slot on the dropout (on the carbon frame) is only wide enough for the flat portion of the hub axle to slide through. This angle is different from the angle of the steel non-turn washer. In other words, it is not possible to slide the hub axle and the non-turn washer vertically into the frame at the same time.

The official method from Fabike is to first widen the dropout temporarily by manually widening the frame slightly, then adjust the hub axle angle to slot through the frame. The non-turn washers should already be on the hub axle. After that, rotate the hub axle, to align the non-turn washers with the shape on the frame. Once aligned, the non-turn washers can be slid sideways into the slots on the frame. It is quite difficult to visualize here, will try to elaborate more in a later post.

While testing this method using another hub, I found a problem with this non-turn washer design. For internal hubs, the flat area on the hub axle does not extend all the way to the lock nut! In this case, the special non-turn washers cannot be slid all the way in to touch the lock nut, there will be a gap remaining.

Flat area on the hub axle does not extend all the way to the locknut, which prevents the non-turn washer from touching the locknut.

This is a big problem, as the non-turn washer needs to rest flat against the lock nut of the hub. There cannot be a gap, or the clamping force from the axle nuts will deform the threads on the hub axle. The only way to solve this is to file the hub axle, so that the flat area extends all the way to the lock nut.

Filing the flat areas of the hub axle is quite straightforward, as long as you don't damage any other parts of the hub. The only point to take note is to avoid filing away too much of the lock nut. This needs to be done 4 times, twice on each side.

After filing the hub axle, the flat area has been extended to reach the lock nut.

The non-turn washer should be able to rest flat on the lock nut of the hub axle, once done correctly.

As described earlier, the non-turn washers need to slide into the frame sideways, instead of vertically upwards from the bottom opening. The fitting between the non-turn washers and the shape on the frame is quite tight, so it is difficult to align it properly for installation. In order to make this a bit easier, I decided to file a small chamfer on the outside edges of the non-turn washers, to make it easier to slide the washers sideways into the frame.

Manually filing the chamfers onto the edges of the non-turn washers.

Weight of the axle nuts is 34 grams.

By now, it should be obvious that this Fabike C3 has a special dropout design, which take quite a bit of effort to modify, adjust and improve. I would have much preferred it to use just a conventional vertical dropout design with standard non-turn washers. That would make the installation so much easier and hassle free. The only downside are the visible non-turn washers from the outside, but that does not bother me at all.