Sunday, November 25, 2018

Fabike C3: Assembly Part 3 - Adding Mudguards and Accessories

In this final part of the Fabike C3 bike build, I put on the finishing touches to make this bike a proper all-weather commuting bike. It already has the weather-proof Alfine 11 Di2 internal hub, Gates belt drive, hydraulic disc brakes, and the final component to make it fully weather-proof is a good set of mudguards.

Prior to installing the SKS Bluemels mudguards, it actually looks just like a normal road bike, as the geometry is similar. As already mentioned in the earlier post, these new version of mudguards have a much friendlier mounting method, as it is easier to adjust.

Fixing the mudguard stays to the front fork mounting point. Added 1 spacer to prevent the plastic portion from touching the carbon fork. A longer bolt (supplied) is needed.

As the tightening nut is on the outside, it is easy to adjust and tighten the nut, before measuring and cutting the metal stays.

The top part of the metal piece was filed away, from round to flat, to allow the front mudguard to be mounted higher for more tire clearance.

Pushed the front mudguard as high as possible, for more tire clearance.

As mentioned, the mudguard was pushed as high as possible within the fork for more tire clearance.

Managed to have sufficient tire clearance all along the front tire. Luckily the mudguard fits!

Same concept for the rear, to push the mudguard as high as possible for maximum tire clearance.

Mounting point for the rear mudguard is hidden under the seatstays.

As for this end of the rear mudguard, there is no mounting point on the frame. I just wedged it between the chain stays, and it seems to stay that way. Maybe I can use some mounting tape to stick it to the seat tube if necessary.

Maximum tire clearance possible on the rear mudguard, as limited by the maximum length of the mudguard stays.

I realised that the rear tire clearance with the chainstay is super small, at less than 1 mm! I did not realise this at first until I installed the mudguards.

Other than installing the mudguards, I also put on most of the accessories that I used on the previous Avanti Inc 3. I always try to have 2 front lights and 2 rear lights for redundancy, as I have had 1 light run out of battery quite a few times, even though I try to keep it charged.

Moon Nebula W Front Light mounted on the front fork, to backup the Fly 12 front light which can sometimes cease to work due to low battery level.

Moon Comet Rear Light and D-Light Rear Light. And they are the same lights which I reviewed 4 to 5 years ago, that is how reliable they are.

Secondary bottle cage allows a portable pump and a tool bottle to be mounted. The size 15 wrench is also inside the bottle! Read on to find out how I fitted one in the small tool bottle...

Full bike with all the accessories mounted! With the mudguards, it looks quite different.

To be honest, this bike looks kind of strange, with mudguards on a road bike. However, this is what an all-weather commuting road bike looks like!

Full bike specifications table shown here, with components carefully chosen for a good balance between price and weight (tilted more in favour of higher cost and lower weight).

As you can see from the table above, this Fabike C3 weighs around 9 kg without pedals or mudguards (or any other accessories). This is the usual way that is used to compare bike weights, as pedal weights can vary a lot. Actual measured weight is 9.1 kg.

For comparison, my Canyon Endurace weighs 7 kg, the Dahon MuEX weighs 8.4kg, all without pedals or other accessories. In this case, the Fabike C3 weighs quite a fair bit more than the road bike, considering that I tried to copy the ride geometry of the Canyon Endurace.

However, a lot of the weight difference comes from the internal hub system, which weighs roughly 1 kg more than an equivalent derailleur system. This Fabike C3 frameset (1778 grams) also weighs about 600 grams more than the Canyon Endurace frameset (1168 grams), even though both are similarly sized carbon frames. That is a big difference (+50%!) which I was not too happy about.

On the bright side, I actually managed to cut a lot of weight on this new Fabike C3, compared to the Avanti Inc 3. The Avanti Inc 3 weighed about 10.9 kg without pedals or accessories. In other words, the Fabike C3 weighs 1.8 kg less than the Avanti Inc 3!

1.8 kg is a huge amount of weight savings, as it is a very large percentage of the total bike weight. Maybe it does not make a big impact on flat road riding, but it will definitely be felt on climbs, and also when you carry the bike up the stairs! I feel that it is worth it, and would have been even more if the Fabike C3 carbon frameset weighed less.

Final Weight of Fabike C3:
Actual measured weight without pedals is 9.1 kg.
Total weight including pedals and mudguards is 10 kg.
Including accessories, total bike weight becomes 11.1 kg.

In case you are wondering how I fitted the size 15 wrench into the small tool bottle, here is how it is done. You need a special size 15 wrench that has a shorter handle!

I got a compact size 15 wrench that is shorter than the usual adjustable type, which itself is already shorter than a fixed size type.

This compact size 15 wrench is only 12 cm long, which fits nicely into the small tool bottle.

Normal adjustable wrench has a total length of 15 cm, which does not fit into the tool bottle.

This compact size 15 wrench is useful as it can be easily stored in small saddle pouches or anywhere on the bike. Although it is shorter, it should still exert enough torque to loosen the axle nuts without too much trouble, as it is still a proper wrench that is just a bit shorter.

If I had come across this compact size 15 wrench earlier, I might not have gotten the Brompton Tool Kit for the Brompton M6R, as this compact wrench can be stored easily in a small pouch.

Anyway, the Fabike C3 project is now complete! Now I have a very capable all-weather commuting road bike, that has the latest components and technology, and is also 1.8 kg lighter than the previous bike. Newer, lighter, faster. Makes my commute more enjoyable, as I can ride a road bike even when it is raining, without needing to do any post-ride bike maintenance!

With this all-weather bike, I can cycle to work even when it is raining!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Fabike C3: Assembly Part 2 - Road Bike Setup

In the previous post, the main components of the Fabike C3, such as the wheelset and the drivetrain were installed. Once that is done, the cockpit area can be set up properly. Let's now take a closer look at the new handlebar setup and also the full bike!

A completely new cockpit setup, with new handlebar, shifters, Di2 display and bar tape.

PRO PLT aluminium handlebar, mounted on the previous Controltech 80mm stem.

With the new Deore XT Di2 display, SC-MT800. Shows the selected gear and also the battery level.

Internal cable routing, for the Di2 wire and also the rear brake hose. The rubber grommet of the rear brake hose does not fit into the hole on the frame when fitted around the brake hose.

Thomson Elite seatpost after cutting to the correct length. Di2 battery is hidden inside this seatpost.

Using the same Dura-Ace 7900 5 arm crankset with the same 46T Gates chainring.

Belt tension adjusted with the eccentric bottom bracket

With Alfine Di2 motor unit mounted

Top view of the rear hub area and the Gates CDX carbon drive belt, with a length of 113T.

Maintenance-free drivetrain setup. With belt drive and internal hub, there is no chain or derailleur which will rust when used in wet weather.

Front hub with 12mm E-thru axle. The silver coloured DT Swiss front hub looks a bit out of place here when located next to all the other black components.

View of the DT Swiss ER 1600 Spline DB 32mm front wheel, with the Dura-Ace RT900 disc rotors.

Rear wheel with the same 160mm Dura-Ace RT900 disc rotors and non-series RS805 brake calipers.

View of the full bike! Looks and rides just like a normal road bike, which makes this an all-weather commuting road bike!

Other than the belt drive, the other components look the same as on normal road bikes. Also note the bent seat tube to allow a short chain stay and yet sufficient rear tire clearance.

Using the Canyon Endurace road bike as a reference, I tried to make the setup exactly the same on the Fabike C3, so that these two bikes will feel the same when I ride them. Previously, the Avanti Inc 3 commuting bike was more upright with a different geometry, which made it ride differently from the Canyon Endurace road bike.

The gearing is as shown below, which is the same as on the Avanti Inc 3. With a gear inch of 24 to 99, it is a good range that is more than enough for city commuting.

Gear ratios and range of the Fabike C3.

Using the bottom bracket as a datum for the whole bike, I adjusted the saddle position and handlebar position on the Fabike C3 to follow the Canyon Endurace. Basically, set the same distance from the bottom bracket to the saddle, and likewise to the handlebar.

However, after I set up the Fabike C3, I found that the saddle height and handlebar height is actually higher than the Canyon Endurace. Why is this so, even though I used the bottom bracket as a datum? Both the bikes have a distance of 64.5cm from bottom bracket center to the top of the saddle.

Putting the new Fabike C3 next to the Canyon Endurace, the saddle height is different by about 1 cm.

The shifter position on the Fabike C3 is also higher than the Canyon Endurace, by about 1 cm.

Upon checking again, I found that the bottom bracket height is different on these two bikes. On the Canyon Endurace, the distance from the center of the bottom bracket to the ground is about 27.5cm, while the distance on the Fabike C3 is slightly further at 28.5cm.

In other words, due to the eccentric bottom bracket adjustment, the Fabike C3 has a bottom bracket height that is 1 cm higher. As I used this point as the datum, both the saddle and handlebar position will be 1 cm higher, as what I have measured.

Therefore, these two bikes have the same riding geometry, just the the Fabike C3 is raised by 1 cm overall. This was my intention all along when I got this new Fabike C3 frame, which is to have a commuting bike that has the same geometry and riding feel as the Canyon Endurace road bike.

This bike is not quite all-weather yet, as the SKS mudguards have not yet been installed. That will be shown in the next post where all the accessories will be installed on this bike.

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!