My Bike Build
If you’re a DIY aficionado, and with a little patience at hand, then building your bike is a rewarding experience.
My itch began when I stumbled upon the ‘Weight Weenies’ forum in September 2017. https://weightweenies.starbike.com/forum/index.php?sid=2ee8b9ecf1f64a5215c7522dba83c9e8
A forum where the discussion is primarily about achieving weight savings on a bike, component comparisons, building your own bike etc. For some reason, I was glued to this forum and read through troves of information, discussion and debates, it was all amusing to me that every single screw was weighed and every single gram was counted! ‘This is nuts’ I thought. Bike builders are sanding their derailleurs to a bare required minimum, stripping off the paint, removing screws that aren’t required etc, just to save a few grams! But a few grams saved on every component adds up pretty quickly from a few grams to hundreds of grams.
Incidentally, an active forum member posted a sale of his ARGON 18 Gallium Pro frame set. He had purchased an XS size frame and it was the wrong size for him, and had difficulty selling it because apparently there are only a few short people who are awesome enough to ride an XS, Ahem!
This was the perfect size for me, and the price was tempting, I hadn’t even thought of putting together a bike until I saw this ad. I researched the seller, he was a well-known forum member and had a reputation for being responsible and trustworthy. This was it for me, As soon as I transferred the amount I started nibbling on my nails and lost half of it until the frame finally showed up at my door, it was nerve-wracking. The packaging comes off, and Lo and behold, the frame was gorgeous, brand new, and in top condition.
Although I had thoroughly read up on the Argon 18 frame set and its design language, when I held the frame for the first time it was like holding a feather, I wasn't sure if a frame was meant to be this light, it didn't feel right, Was I scammed! It was ridiculous!
The frame weighed just 890 grams, 'this HAS to be a lightweight build' I exclaimed, that’s the only way I’m going to do justice to this build.
I researched extensively for a couple of months and drew up a list of what I needed. I procured parts and components from various online stores from all over the world, and whoever were willing to ship these to India. There was a huge risk involved, but I did do the necessary research to see if the sellers were reliable.
My research included drawing up an excel sheet and collating information of all the available drivetrain components and having their weights listed, it was extensive, and exhaustive!
Did you know for example that there are about 20 different types of Bottom Bracket standards alone? Every bike manufacturer wants to impose upon their own standards, claiming more stiffness with their system, and whatnot, unfortunately, there is no ‘one’ single industry standard, and it is frustrating. Because this means mixing and matching parts becomes complex, while ideally it shouldn’t, it’s just a simple machine after all!
Comparison of groupset weight of the best of Shimano & SRAM - (Year 2017)
Comparison of groupsets within the Shimano family - (Year 2017)
Comparison of groupsets within the SRAM family - (Year 2017)
Nevertheless, I soldiered on and trusted my research. I counted every single gram. For example, tyre tubes like the Maxxis Flyweight weigh in at 51 grams, your regular tubes weigh twice as much, when you have two tubes you have already saved over 100 grams!
Of course, there will always be a downside to every upside, that being the tubes are thin, so you’ll have to be extra careful while extracting these tubes from the tyres, if the tyre levers get underneath these while trying to pull them out you might end up pinching them and make a gash. The tubes are so thin that the manufacturer provides special liners with these, which I obviously did not bother with, as I was counting every gram. Luckily for me, I have never had a single puncture in three years.
Everything is Here! and ready to be slapped on
I had to procure special torque wrenches to tighten these components as most of the parts were of carbon. Every component had a torque value which I had to religiously follow as overtightening meant breaking them.
The build was completed in 2 days once I had all the parts, and It came out much better than I had anticipated, all the parts nicely mated and synced.
Nithin Mohan helped me to wrap the bar tapes on the handlebars, and the bike was finally weighed.
The first nervous moment after the build was when I had to test the bike, I swung my leg over the saddle and took a deep breath, this was the moment of truth, my foot pushed down on the pedal and the bike glided, it rode like a cloud, just sailing across effortlessly. After I managed to pick up my jaw and swallow, it struck me that just a few kilograms of weight savings over a traditional bike makes a substantial difference.
I rode to my usual route in the hills of Benjanapadavu, and it climbed and climbed, effortlessly. It was smooth, light, fast, and responsive. A sense of unexplainable joy, and a sense of relief overcame me. I did not push the bike hard at first, as I was keeping an ear out for any unusual creaking. Luckily, the bike held its own, and everything worked flawlessly, I pushed the bike hard after a couple of days and everything has held up nicely ever since.
This is MY bike, I put it together, it’s not store-bought, I have grease on my hands, it’s a sensational feeling!
Final weight of the build
For anyone interested, here's an up-to-date groupset weight chart: