Part 19: The Build

April 5, 2007

Building the bike was a much more arduous process than I had envisioned. I’ve never worked with Campagnolo before, so some of the things were a surprise. However, much of this time was also spent reading directions. This parts this expensive, trial and error is not the way to go. I can take apart a Shimano Dura Ace bike and put it back together again in around 2 hours. This entire build took me about 7 hours total – so definitely a lot longer than expected, but as noted, I was being very careful.As usual, click on all pictures for a full size detailed shot.

I suppose I have a rather unorthodoxed repair stand. I’ve been doing this for years and in this case, using the rollers made sense for a variety of reasons. First, I have no seatpost in there which I’ll explain later. I never allow anyone or any shop to clamp the bike. If you put the bike in a repair stand, clamp the seatpost. Second, I have a fork mount on the rollers for those days that I’m lazy and just want to spin. So clamping the bike in there is just fine. Third, this option allows me to have the bike basically in the same position to the ground as if I were riding. Fourth, the drive train is completely workable and I can shift easily because the bars will be held in place, and the rear wheel will spin with the drivetrain. Lastly and most importantly, any time I want, I can get on the bike and take a test ride. I’ve often thought about dumping the rollers and getting a real repair stand, but I really like how this works. On with the build.

First thing to go on were the bottom bracket cups. Campy advises that you put on some purple loctite (weak stuff) and hand tightening the cups. I didn’t like this for a couple reasons. Hand tightening even with loctite just doesn’t seem safe. Second, it’s a titanium frame, so some anti-seize is probably in order. I ended up putting anti-seize on both the cups and bottom bracket threads and locking them into the frame with a fair amount of force. Unfortunately the bottom bracket tool isn’t very compatible with the torque wrench, so I’m not sure if I got enough force on it, but I’m sure I did well enough. Personally I think the bright silver shine of the cups looks fabulous in contrast to the darker metal if the titanium.

Here’s another shot of the bottom bracket cups. I cleaned out the white lithium grease from any part that Campy pre-greased with it. I prefer Phil Wood as I’ve been using that stuff forever. One special thanks for standardization, this may be the one and only part that Campy and Shimano both use the same tool for. The Shimano and Campy BB cup tool is exactly the same (and I already had one from Shimano).

Right crank goes on. Outboard bearing cups make these really easy to install.

I’d have preferred if Campy had made their crankarm splines absolutely foolproof. I actually sat there for a while second-guessing myself as to whether the arms were aligned or not. After a while I realized that if I installed them wrong the arms would not have been at 180 degrees, but off by at least 10 degrees which is visually obvious.

Another couple of shots of the crankarms installed. Luckily I had my extra socket wrench sets laying around. One of these had an extender so I could actually get the 10mm hex key in there.

One of the great disappointments in Campy is definitely their decision to use star or torx keys for the brakes. I’m lucky that I had some driver sets laying around, but these were all power tools. Therefore all I really had were torx bits. I ended up taking the bit and using a crescent wrench to tighten the brakes onto the frame and fork. Very annoying. I did check with Lowes and Home Depot to see if they had a T25 Torx wrench around and neither had a stand-alone one. I might have to bite the bullet and buy a park tool, but we’ll see how long I can wait. Hopefully I’ll find one at Home Depot for $3 before I need it again.

They are pretty once on the bike though.

I decided to use the handlebars and stem from the current bike. Both are FSA carbon fiber (K-Force line) and are admittedly heavy compared to other things you can get on the market – particularly in aluminum. Other people will refute this, but I remember the day that I put these on my last bike and feeling a serious lessening of road vibrations. Since I’ve been using Cinelli cork forever and that was constant, I’m thinking it’s the bars. Any increase in comfort over the course of several hours on the bike is worth a couple ounces to me. So there you go…

Getting the seatpost into the frame was a difficult task. Once again, I’m using an FSA carbon fiber seatpost. My initial thought was that the clear coat on the post was too thick by a few microns, but then I tried getting an aluminum post in with just about as much difficulty. I traded e-mails with Cark Strong about this and he recommended I go to a shop and see if they could take a look at it. I ended up taking to 2WheelerDealer in Brea, CA. First of all, these guys are great. Very knowledgeable, and happy to help, even with stuff that was not bought from them. Second of all, they have all the right tools and don’t mess around with jerry-rigged mechanics. Tim from the shop reamed out an almost imperceptible amount of material from inside the seat tube and the FSA post plugged right in. What’s interesting is that both the seat tube and the post measured 27.2 exactly. The tolerances for these things really must be that close if a couple 1/1000′s of a millimeter can really make a difference.

I had to move the operation into the garage as the rest of this took place on the next day. I actually got the real set of wheels in the morning and you can see those below. Cassette is now in place as well.

Next up were the controls (brifters, shifters, whatever). The diagrams on the Campy instructions left a lot to be desired. The brakes were straightforward enough, and routing was very similar to Shimano so that came easily. The diagram for the shifting cables were less intuitive though, and I kept shoving the cable into the wrong slot for quite some time. In the end, I decided to shove the cable in reverse to see which hole I was supposed to be using and voila!

While I like the clean lines of the Campy controls as there is a lack of cables coming out of the shifters in front of the bike as with Shimano, it does certainly make routing cables alongside the handlebars more challenging. Here, I had to tape the brake cables to the front of the bars. Once taped and out of the way, I could then work on the shifter cables. These got taped to the back of the handlebars. Since I did them separately, I ended up with 2 sets of electrical tape on the bars. Well, at least all this ugliness will be covered up.

I would never have though about the bend in the shifter cables being too much. In fact, the bend in the cables from the shifters to the handlebar is quite extreme. However, the same goes for the bar to the frame. Here’s some advice I got from

I have, in the past, crossed the shift cables, so the right cable is inserted in the left side cable stop in the frame and the left cable goes to the right cable stop, then the cables cross again under the down tube. I did this on several bikes, over several years. With some bikes, the cables will rub or slap against the downtube. It also results in more cable friction, not less. The real advantage to this routing is it totally prevents the shift cables from rubbing on the head tube. I’ve chosen not to use this routing for the last couple of years, since one of my bikes has cable guides to prevent this rub. On my other bike, I use clear vinyl tape to keep the cable housing from rubbing the head tube.

Tuning up the front and rear derailleurs was about the easiest I’ve ever done. But then again, it’s the same as Shimano and so long as you’ve done it once, this will come as a breeze. I also installed the Wipperman Connex chain and I’ll probably never use a chain that does not have a master link again. Goodbye chain tool!!!

Wrapping the handlebar tape gave me some trouble. Because of the design of the Campy shifters, there is a little nub at the bottom of the brake hoods that lock back into the hood body. I could not figure out how to wrap the handlebar tape and still preserve the ability for this nub to lock back in. It’s too late now, but here’s some more advice I got from

The nub at the bottom of the brake hood should be pulled out while you tape the bars. It can be tricky to get the tape wrapped such that the first turn that reaches the bottom of the ergo lever body fits up under the body as far as possible. There should be a small gap under the body for the tape to slide up under. The tape is not supposed to left below the bottom of the ergo body. Sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you have to unwrap a few turns and change the overlap slightly to get the tape higher or lower. Once you’ve got that turn up under the ergo lever body, you don’t need a figure eight, just keep going up over the top and around. This turn does push the limits of the tape to stay tight, with no wrinkles. A piece of bar tape is required to cover the band clamp area and it’s location is fairly critical.

The tape should never prevent the nub on the brake hood from fitting back into the ergo lever body. You may need to use a small screwdriver to coax it back in, but it will go. I’ve done this taping dozens of times and never failed to get the nub properly located.

All in all, I think the thing looks really good. I’m quite please with how this whole thing turned out.

Here is a shot of the color coordination that took so much effort. The paint and highlights almost perfectly match the headset and spoke nipples. It’s good to have everything all together.

One Response to “ Part 19: The Build ”

  1. Custom Carl Strong Bicycle » Blog Archive on November 21, 2007 at 4:42 am

    [...] Thanks for joining me on my diary of deciding on a custom bicycle, going through the custom builder selection process, designing the bike, and finally watching it be created and receiving it. Part 1: Introduction Part 2: About the Rider Part 3: Selecting a Custom Bike Builder Part 4: Ordering the Custom Bike Part 5: Measure Thyself Part 6: Bike Frame Blueprint Part 7: Build – Tube Prep Part 8: Build – Tack and Weld Part 9: Build – Weld Detail Part 10: Build – Align and Finish Part 11: Paint 1 Part 12: Painting Part 13: Delivery Part 14: Delivery 2 Part 15: Components Part 16: Wheels Part 17: Wheel Build Part 18: Weights Part 19: The BuildĀ  [...]

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