Saturday, 25 April 2015

Santa Cruz Carbon Highball build

 So I have just finished building a new bike. I have been riding an '13 Santa Cruz Highball aluminium for the last couple of years. I had always been interested in a carbon version of this frame, but the price was steep! A casual browse on eBay one weekend was my undoing - a new '14 frame being sold cheep as the new version of the frame was coming out within weeks. I decided to spring for it.

I already had carbon wheels I had built up for the aluminium bike, and a spare fork I had bought as a backup. So over a couple of months, I collected the rest of the parts (after spending too much time over analyzing what to get, as per usual!)

I still have some tweaks to do. The seatpost is from the aluminium bike, I have got a Crank Brothers carbon post that is not playing with the S-Works seat, so I may push the boat out and get a POP post. I am running an XT cassette at the moment, as I know I wear them out fairly fast, especially running the 28 tooth chainring, where I am in the highest gears a lot when not truly 'in the hills'. A SRAM XX XG1099 is tempting, I'd drop a bunch of weight, but I don't think I can bring myself to use a cassette like that for daily riding... maybe for bigger events! The 10 speed XT cassette is so cheep now, and the individual high gears can be changed,

I am also thinking of colour coordinating things. Red would be the easy choice, as all the DT Swiss parts carry that colour, but I may possibly go with orange and make life difficult for myself!

I'm quite happy, the bike has come in at just under 9 kilos (19.8 pounds) in it's present build. The intention is for it to be a lightweight trail / long distance touring / racing bike, so 12+ hour days as well as everyday XC and trail centre fun.

The bike rides great. It is hard to put my finger on what the difference is with my aluminium version. This one feels tighter, and a bit more direct, but some of that is because it is new components, and the aluminium bike is no slouch. Obviously when I pick the bike up, it feels a lot lighter (the alu version is about 10.5 to 11 Kg depending on tyres etc), and I'll be interested in how that translates during longer days.

ComponentPart nameWeight
FrameSanta Cruz Highball Carbon Large1130
ForksDT Swiss XMM 120 Carbon Tapered, 15mm1610
ForkSteerer PlugDT Swiss Carbon Steerer Plug47.7
Fork Rem L/out LeaverDT Swiss lockout12.1
Fork Rem L/out Cable (uncut)Lockout cable34.2
Fork Rem L/out AdjusterLockout adjuster3.7
WheelsLight Bicycle Hookless Rim/DT Swiss Straight 240 hubs1562
Front Skewer / axleDT Swiss 15mm axle71.9
Rear Skewer / axleDT Swiss RWS 12mm thru axle63
Tyres2 x Continental XKing RaceSport 29x2.4609.8
Tyre 22 x Continental XKing RaceSport 29x2.4613.3
Tubeless kit / Tubesstrip, valves, minimal sealant160
Headset BottomCane Creek 110.EC49/40.Bottom Assembly70.3
Headset TopCane Creek 110.ZS44.Short.Top Assembly44.5
StemRichey WRS C260 80mm98
HandlebarsMt Zoom Ultralight Flat Bar126.5
GripsLizardSkins DSP grips22
Bar PlugsSpecialized Alu Bar Plugs23.7
BarendsXon Bar Ends 53.4
SeatpostThomson Masterpiece 30.9mm 350mm black192
Seatpost ClampSanta Cruz clamp20.8
SeatS-Works Phenom Carbon150.3
Bottom BracketBOR External BB3091.4
Cranks + chainringRaceface Next SL424
PedalsCrankbrothers Eggbeater ti183
Rear mechShimano XTR M986 Shadow+ 10 Speed Rear Mech214
Shifter + InnerShimano XTR M980 (119.4 - 18.6 orig clamp) inc inner100.8
OuterOuter (uncut)58.8
CassetteXT 10 speed 11-36330
ChainKMC X10-SL240
Brake mount adapter front

Brake mount adapter rearShimano Rear IS 160mm to 160 post15.3
Brake mount adapter bolts rearShimano steel bolts x 29.1
Front Brake inc Leavers + CalliperHope Stealth Race Evo X2200.5
Matchmaker Shifter MountMatchmaker Shifter Mount dif (11.9 total)5.5
Rear Brake inc Leaver + CalliperHope Stealth Race Evo X2 rear212.8
Rear DiscHope Floating Race Rotor 160mm81.5
Front DiscHope Floating Race Rotor 160mm81.3
Front Disc BoltsHope Titanium Bolts7.3
Front Caliper Bolts + WashersHope Titanium Bolts8.1
Total Weight Kg
Total Weight Lbs

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Highland Fail 440 / 550

Ullapool campsite washhouse
midnight, day 4, 2014
Being a two time non-finisher of the Highland Trail Race, I thought I'd put down some of my impressions. These are mainly for 'enthusiast' riders rather than the experienced long-distance racers, who will likely scoff at my noob perspective.

* Prepare to walk. A lot. No matter how awesome a cyclist you are, there are sections you need to walk. They make up about 5% of the course, but will take up around 25% of your time. Are you ready to push your bike for 4 hours straight, up steep rocky paths, then down again? Are you ready to do that after 4 days in the saddle, doing 16 hour days, tired, and with time pressure? With blisters, maybe a pulled muscle?

* Heed what Alan Goldsmith says. If he says "it's a bit of a push", be ready to spend an afternoon heaving your bike over boulders.

* Beware the Devils Staircase. It got me both times, 1st time an awkward fumble and almost-off set me up for knee muscle injury that put me out the race. Second time, I got blisters walking up it that combined with achilles problems to see me throwing the race 4 days later. It is a steep walk up, and going down is steep, rocky, and busy. Out of all the parts on the 1st day, it is the one that presents the most danger of injury or mechanical.

* Prepare for at least 100 mile days, especially at the beginning. The outward leg has a reasonable amount of straightforward cycling, get miles in the bag for the days you are tired and pushing a lot.

* Faster racers have an advantage. They are out for less nights, so the accumulated sleep deprivation is less, and they get to potential food stops quicker.

* Take less. I always end up carrying food I don't eat. The refueling stops are quite far apart, but you are unlikely to go a day where you can't restock at some point.

* No stove. The last thing I want to do after cycling all day is try to boil water in the rain late at night when I am tired dirty and hungry... so take...

* Sandwiches. They are easy to eat, tasty, don't need heated, quick, easy to find.

* Sports drink in bladder. Tastes nice, keeps you hydrated, gives you carbs. Easy to find en route.

* Keep moving. Keep breaks short.

* Get to race weight for the race. Skinny people go faster.

* Avoid bothys. Noisy, smoky, distracting, busy. Especially early on in the race.

* Train for walking in your cycling gear. Do long hard walks, in your cycling shoes, over rocky terrain.

* Train for sleeping out. Get used to your sleep system so you can maximize your rest time. and minimize the time it takes setting it up and taking it down.

* Train with a heart rate monitor. Know what BPM you can do all day. If you need to, wear it during the race as well. Avoid any big efforts, pace, pace, pace.

* Germoline for crotch / arse. Keeps things clean and lubed down there.

* Put extra stans in your tyres. The extra weight is worth not having to fuss with punctures / air loss.

* eTrek is amazing. 3 1/2 days from one set of lithium batteries.

* Prepare to fail. It is a hard race. just getting to the start line in a ready state is a load of work. You are likely to have taken time off work. You probably traveled
a long way to get to the start. What will you will do if you have to pull out? Have a backup plan to make the most of your time, prepare for physical and mental recovery.
* Take spare cleats. Mine were badly worn after 4 days, from new.

With this years start only a few weeks away, best of luck to everyone taking part!