Build, Bodges, Conversions and Crashes

Back in the summer, I went to one of the well known UK outdoor retailers. They had on display Kona DEW. You can clearly see where they cut the price. The tyres, drivetrain, wheels and brakes are the cheapest of the cheapest.

We starred with my son at the bike and we couldn’t figure out who might be the “target group” for bike like that. Commuter? Maybe. Anyway, the bike was ex-display, they knocked off £100 to (almost acceptable) £399, and suddenly I’ve seen this bike with dropped handlebars as 650 gravel bike. So, after selling my old road bike and parts from the Kona, I ended up having frameset (with stem and seatpost), plus £410 for the rest of jewellery to figure out. All ended with a mixture of components: (used) hydraulic Shimano shifters, Deore callipers, GRX rear derallieur, 11-42 SunRace casette, KMC chain and China special crankset (snail) ;-).

I exceeded the £410 slightly shy of £100, which I think is pretty good (some parts I had already: hubs, saddle, handlebar).

In natural environment on nice day…
and on normal day 😉

Some challenges I had with the build below

Crankset. I had a bit of a struggle with that. Tested road crank Shimano 105, with chain line 43.5mm, seemed perfect in terms of chainline, but pedals were hitting chainstays (just shy of 2mm each side). Not good.

Then GRX crank has been purchased. Rather expensive piece of kit (but looking awesome). Unfortunately I realised too late that the chainline is 50mm.

So, I ended up, buying cheap crank of ebay, which is surprisingly good so far and doesn’t look bad IMHO. (we’ll see how the bottom bracket is holding after UK winter)

Wheels. Yeah, the original were awful. So two things came together. I had rear hub already lying around and the front hub became free in the meantime :-]

DT Swiss G540 rims plus spokes have been ordered. All laced and old crap wheels sold covering the cost of spokes ;-). There you go. Tubeless setup WTB horizon on DT Swiss rims. Sweet.

Loose bottle cage mount. Bloody annoying, but discovered at the end of the build, so all sold, stripped = no warranty. Have a look at the video below. Based on that one I made scaled down “tool” which worked as treat.

My version of the tool from the video.

Basically it’s M4 screw with (from left) M5 nut, washer and M4 nut. Plenty of grease everywhere. Screw everything into cage mount, then holding the screw (in my case with hex key), turning M4 screw to pull the barrel of the rivet until all feel stiff.

Frame drilling. Bike down tube is not welded completely to bottom bracket leaving gap for cables (see the photo below). Tube has welded stoppers and inner shifter cables routed inside naked. So, then exposed at the bottom bracket and routed through cable guide. Why to bother hiding cables and then exposing them again in most awkward place, where mud is sprayed from front wheel? I drilled stoppers inside the frame and put whole length of housing to rear mech, and as I haven’t got front dérailleur the same procedure has been applied to the other side and brake hose has been routed inside down tube as well. Voila!

cable stoppers has been drilled to pass through whole cable
Down tube join bottom bracket (cable guide removed)

Tyres. That was a bit weird one. Apparently the original tyres are not tubleless ready… but who cares, right? I put some soapy water around to bead them down on the rims easier first time, and then I spotted this:

The air is leaking through the wall ;-).

Then I spotted this on the other tyre:

The bead is made not on the edge of rubber

After a bit of fight and I beaded that one as well. I put sealant in, TADA! (BTW sealant did the trick sealing inside walls as predicted). I convinced myself all is ok, went for test ride and… surprise surprise, the tyre went bang 5km from home, leaving bushes on the side of the trail in “white x-mas mode”, plus me walking back home. Basically the tyre slipped from the rim, CO2 didn’t help this time and I took Schrader valve innertube having Presta drilled rims. Dick.

Quick email to WTB, explaining what has happened. They informed me that actually these tyres are not tubeless ready, but as this one is defective and visibly jumping up and down on a rim, so they sent me proper foldable 650 horizon as replacement. Amazing. Thanks WTB!

BTW. When I put new one on the air is just leaking like mad through side walls same way. No idea why they’re designed like that. Anyway as always sealant did the trick.

At the moment I’m waiting for a pair of WTB Sendero in same size (riding in Dorset became a bit challenging on slicks), so keep tuned.

Brakes. In case you wondering if Shimano Deore callipers work with Shimano road shifters. Yes, they are work ok, but… there is extremely small gap between disk and pads. I mean really almost no room for rotor play.

There you go, swapped to gravel from road without regrets and braking the bank.

Keep them rolling!

Spoke calculators which I’m usually using: