Tuesday 20 October 2015

Project: Roadrunner, the evolution of a personal bike...

I thought after some months of posting pictures & updates on the social media on this, it was time to collate it all into a blog.

So how did it all start, well having returned to cycling 3yrs before I started this project to help overcome my disability (something I am still doing). One thing I found was each bike I bought I ended up pulling them apart & changing it piece by piece to suit me & my cycling ergonomics. So in 2013 I decided it was time to get a bike built up to suit me from the frame upwards. Now I just needed to work out how to go about this & first thing I did was draw up a concept design to get an idea what I wanted.

Why call it Roadrunner, well the idea was to build a bike to be light as possible (for my budget), built to be comfortable to ride & thus be able to do long distance rides which at the time I was finding almost impossible to do on the heavier bikes I have. So it was a road runner, plus I love the cartoon character of the same name. ;-)

Now I looked around at having the bike built for me & as good as they were, custom built just was not affordable for me & not an option. So next best thing was go with buying a 2nd hand frame & build the bike up from there. And at the time I was volunteering at Re-Cycle, a charity that sends bikes to Africa. They managed to find a frame with forks as well as wheel rims for me at a price I could afford. So I bought them & managed to get it all home by bike to start the project.


Doesn't look much but was a starting point, so next was to get tyres & I decided I wanted hybrid tyres as some of the cycle 'network' was more like dirt tracks. Only ones I found that would fit & made by Schwalbe were the 23x700 Marathons & I was concerned they be too thin a profile for me but there was no room for wider & as I found out from many miles done on them, they were the right choice.


So next was to find parts in boxes around the flat to piece it together until I find the parts needed & replace them. Like the saddle, I tried a few & just couldn't find what I wanted so went with what I had used on previous bike for now. And then changed handlebar to a boomerang (ergonomic) one as it felt right to hold & of course the brakes...

 It was slowly starting to take shape, so next was a rear rack as I always use panniers so went for some low profile Tortec Velocity as they were on offer & felt they looked good on the bike.


Now whilst I was building this bike, I had won tickets for Nightrider London charity ride. So I needed this bike ready ready faster than I could get it, so got Re-Cycle's mechanic to help (for a fee) build the final pieces of the bike. So the chain, sprockets, bottom bracket & gear mechanism was added to complete the bike & this is how it looked on day I collected it & rode it for the first time.

Its starting to look like what I am aiming to build & riding it for the first time was definitely a joy. Far easier & quicker to ride than my other bikes. Tho of course with all prototypes, you find some snags. Main one which worried me was the panniers kept going into the wheels & I needed to change the rack. So I changed it for a slightly pricier Axiom Streamliner Disc Deluxe Rear Rack which resolved the issues as it supported the whole pannier & moved it further back thus giving a bit more room to pedal.

 And of course as an all weather cyclist, I needed mudguards. So I went for SKS Raceblades as they had to fit around the brakes. 

So now it's May 2104, a month before Nightrider London & just done a 50 mile cycle ride for Pedal 4 the J's on lil Trekr & it was a struggle. Roadrunner was almost ready & after a few more tweaks on setting up I had Roadrunner set up as best as I can get her & she looked good!!

So now Roadrunner was ready, her first long ride was Nightrider London as no chance to do any before then. So in a way this was her maiden voyage & a true test on the design. 

So how did it go, 100km overnight around London on a bike I built & was it's maiden voyage? It was Fantastic!!! Bike was a dream to ride, it did better than I did on the ride but we both completed the 100km with no hitch or issues. Not only was the build a success, this bike was so well balanced it saved me from a nasty tumble as I was going downhill fast & hit a pothole. The bike refused to go down so to me, Roadrunner is a keeper!

So now to try finish what I started, it was time to add what I want on this bike & get a paint job sorted. Since June I went & bought another Boomerang handlebar but in black, a Brooks Cambium saddle for starters...

Then after I was happy & ready do get it done, I stripped her down for a paint job & then rebuilt her again with her new looks & oh boy she looks sexy...

So here's the almost complete Roadrunner, why almost? Well there's a few more bits I like to do, gearing mostly as I like to tweak the gear ratios a bit to get more out of pedaling with less effort.

But for now I am enjoying the rides on her, we've already conquered Box Hill, cycled across the Surrey/Hampshire borders, gone from Chelmsford to Colchester & many more rides. And all this whilst my legs arent doing too good too, so Roadrunner as a design concept becoming a reality has really become a success in my books. She hangs on my wall as my pride & joy & hope eventually she manages to help me finally do a 100 mile ride. :)

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