Building an XCR CX/Gravel

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DHG01
Posts: 487
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2020 7:14 pm
Location: Madrid

by DHG01

Build completed. Very, very pleased with the work of Pablo from BBloque and the paint job from Dani Rakhor. The quality of weld (with silver) is stunning. Paint job impecable.

I have one scale saying 7.6 and another 7.8kg. I am ok with the weight; I'll shave 100 grams with a different cassette and probably about 300 grams with the 2.2 SES on road version.

Test ride tomorrow.


*****
I am building a new ciclo cross/light gravel bike. To be used on the many unpaved roads and paths near where I live.

I would like it to be light; or lightish, given some of the builds in this forum. I think I am aiming for 8 kg.
I try to choose components carefully; whilst I like them to be good, I am not too picky and try to keep budget under control. I do not have super builds, but I do like having several bikes to choose from.

I like the liveliness and simplicity of rim based bikes; and this one is meant for non rainy days.

My 7.3 kg BMC CX01 works fine; carbon compliance, stiffness and lower weight. Done, great job; now let’s focus on metals.

I was thinking of something nice in Spirit or perhaps titanium.

I then met Pablo from BBloque, and we realized we were both in the mood for XCR.
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DHG01
Posts: 487
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2020 7:14 pm
Location: Madrid

by DHG01

I had actually been thinking of a canti bike for some time. And there is a bit of background to the story.
In summer 2019 I got a great offer from someone I know and trust for a Ritchey SwissCross, so that triggered the build.

Nice looking, simple and very compliant. It had good components and handled well (as you would expect from the gentleman with the mustache.

I found good offers for new Red components (shifters and crank). I like mechanical, so groupset decided.

Braking on the 3T T35 could embarras any of my discs. So that would be the wheelset to use (the Standert got some Schmolkes in exchange).

It was lightish at 8.1 kg.
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Last edited by DHG01 on Sun Oct 11, 2020 9:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

by Weenie


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DHG01
Posts: 487
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2020 7:14 pm
Location: Madrid

by DHG01

On a nice, coolish February morning, I went out to ride like a Jedi on a single track.

A tree moved into my way.

"Damn....that hurt!!!!" said the top tube.
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Last edited by DHG01 on Sun Oct 11, 2020 9:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

DHG01
Posts: 487
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2020 7:14 pm
Location: Madrid

by DHG01

After the corresponding mourning, I called Dani.

Dani Rakhor turned my 17 logo BMC into something a lot more discrete and a lot better looking.

Dani, dude, I crashed. It was new, components are still good; ouch it hurts, etc.

You paint for a lot of the builders....

So I got some advice.
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jbaillie
Posts: 677
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2012 4:17 pm

by jbaillie

TRP CX9's on the Ritchey, no? How'd you like them?
Real pity about the frame, amazing damage to walk away from though. Looking forward to the new project.

DHG01
Posts: 487
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2020 7:14 pm
Location: Madrid

by DHG01

jbaillie wrote:
Sun Oct 11, 2020 6:36 pm
TRP CX9's on the Ritchey, no? How'd you like them?
Real pity about the frame, amazing damage to walk away from though. Looking forward to the new project.
That is right, CX9s they are.
The grip on the 3Ts with their brake pads (I suspect Reynolds) is incredible. However, adjusting the CX9 was not easy. I later learned that Sram pull less cable than Shimano, which did not make things easier.

Having the wheels perfectly true, I could manage to adjust. The pads were very close to the rim and it required quite a bit of lever pull to grab forcefully.

In essence, the CX9s are one of the few things that I will change on this build. I have ordered Paul Components Minimoto for this one.

Having said that, with Shimano they might be fine.

DHG01
Posts: 487
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2020 7:14 pm
Location: Madrid

by DHG01

Geometry wise, I like top tubes at 54/54.5.
Frequently sizes 54 come with 55 ETT. That is the case of the BMC and also the SwissCross. Ritchey continues to offer the canti version, but reduced from six to five the number of sizes available; with bigger jumps between sizes. So some minor adjustments need to be made on those two.

However, starting on a clean slate, I could choose what served me best.

I wanted something with a bit more upright position and minimize slope on the top tube. In terms of the tube sizing, I wasn’t after a muscular frame, but we did size up a bit versus the SwissCross. It should still look reasonably classical.

I visited Pablo at his shop and saw some of the other work he had done.

I particularly liked a frame with flattened top tube that continuously led to the seat stays.

I researched a bit around flattened top tubes to conclude I was making a choice based on looks. So be it.

Down tube will be biaxial; works fine on the Standert (which is plenty stiff).

Another request was to have the seat clamp integrated in the seat tube. I really like the clean looks; I always wonder why it is not done more frequently on steel bikes (and hardly never on titanium).

Given I will not race with this bike, no shifting cables will be routed through the top tube.

We discussed internal/external cable routing. I like the shifting with external routing and rather not unnecessarily drill the frame. Internal routing adds a bit of weight and some cost. Pablo explained that he would weld inside the tubes little aluminium guides to run the cables through. So external it was.

Key angles - 73.5° seat tube is pretty standard. 71.5 ° head tube should make it agile enough for light gravel riding.

The rest is pretty standard; braze on, clearances , bb drop, etc.
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DHG01
Posts: 487
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2020 7:14 pm
Location: Madrid

by DHG01

Early stages of the frame.

We discussed XCR or Reynolds. XCR is seamless; so it has that extra cool factor. I think XCR is also a bit easier to work than Reynolds.

Two interesting anecdotes:
- The thinnest Columbus tube is not XCR, it's actually a Spirit.

- Stainless steel frames have a higher deterioration of tools built into the pricing.
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DHG01
Posts: 487
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2020 7:14 pm
Location: Madrid

by DHG01

And the frame completed ahead of the painting.
I am particularly pleased with how the top tube meets the seat stays.

It will get a very light paint job, which should be wip now.
Dani Rakhor wants to let it dry for 2 weeks; I did not know so much time was necessary.
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DHG01
Posts: 487
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2020 7:14 pm
Location: Madrid

by DHG01

A few more pics.
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DJT21
Posts: 382
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:35 pm

by DJT21

How do you expect the XCR to stand up to stone/rock strikes, given the very thin tube wall thicknesses?

DHG01
Posts: 487
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2020 7:14 pm
Location: Madrid

by DHG01

DJT21 wrote:
Mon Oct 12, 2020 7:18 pm
How do you expect the XCR to stand up to stone/rock strikes, given the very thin tube wall thicknesses?
It shouldn't be any riskier than other thin tubes (853 or Spirit). Perhaps less, as XCR is supposed to be stronger (though dent resistance might be another dimension).

Obviously thicker chromoly tubes would be less likely to dent; it would then be a heavier frame - though I ve read the ride would be similar (but not too sure about that).

Given a steel frame, something I liked about stainless steel was precisely smaller chips wouldn't damage the down tube - which is actually an area where there will be no paint.

I can't be certain, but I dare say if I would have crashed the carbon BMC, instead of the SwissCross, the frame wouldn't have cracked.

Have you had other experiences?

DJT21
Posts: 382
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:35 pm

by DJT21

DHG01 wrote:
Mon Oct 12, 2020 8:05 pm
DJT21 wrote:
Mon Oct 12, 2020 7:18 pm
How do you expect the XCR to stand up to stone/rock strikes, given the very thin tube wall thicknesses?
Have you had other experiences?
I don't really know any different. I've just noticed that not many gravel bikes are built using XCR, and I wondered/presumed it was because of rock strikes and thin wall thicknesses. It seems alot of custom metal gravel bikes tend to be built using titanium, possibly just because that's the metal the in fashion builders (Moots/Firefly/Mosaic etc) build with, or possibly because it copes with rock strikes better due to the thicker walls?

TBH, I generally prefer the ride of steel to titanium, but for gravel bikes I've only ever used carbon fibre, which has never suffered any durability issues.

DHG01
Posts: 487
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2020 7:14 pm
Location: Madrid

by DHG01

In terms of paint job, I was not too convinced on what I wanted. A CX titanium bike I had was pretty discrete; matching titanium seatpost and stem. It looked fine.
The titanium road I have now is similar but with red tape.

I spent some time looking into pictures on the web seeking ideas.
I have a Belcarra saddle with the light brown tone; I thought could look interesting.
I came across a few bikes with brown tape, gumwall tyres. I liked that idea.
I knew I did not want to paint the down tube; fundamentally to avoid the paint being damaged. I also didn't want the "first half" painted (eg like Rittes; though I think they are very good looking). Finally, not too much paint; it is XCR.

With that brief, and handing over the Belcarra saddle, BBloque came back with 5 designs. I think he anticipated I would choose design 3.

It will go with carbon black seat post and black stem.
Tape will be brown, matching the Belcarra saddle.
In term of the tyres, for the time being, they will be full black (Vittoria XN); I think gumwall might be a bit too much here.
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by Weenie


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DHG01
Posts: 487
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2020 7:14 pm
Location: Madrid

by DHG01

As of today, the SwissCross fork had been stripped off the red paint and a base coat ahead of the paint was being applied.

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