The Gift That Kept On Giving

Sometime mid last year I got it into my head that I needed to build a cyclocross bike. We were at a friend’s wedding and got a short tour of the bikes Johnny had built over the years, one of which was a cylcocross bike. I’m not sure what it was about it, but I decided I needed to try my hand at building one.

Now, I’m far too old to take up competitive cyclocross (for those who don’t know, think of it as a cross between road biking and mountain biking), but the idea of bombing along fire roads on what amounts to a hopped road bike appealed to me. Besides, I’ve tinkered with bikes for years but never built one up from scratch.

So when my wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas in 2015 I immediately pointed her to a Nashbar aluminum cyclocross frame. Christmas morning I got up to a giant box with a feather-light frame in it and soon set about figuring out how to put it all together. Fortunately, I had some help in the form of a couple avid cycling friends who pointed me in the right direction and answered some of my incredibly stupid questions (Are 29er wheels the same size as 700c? What’s the difference between a regular crankset and compact crankset? On and on and on).

From January til now, I’ve been finding parts all over the Internet and slowly assembling my first ‘cross bike.

biek frame

02/03/16 Basic frame. Found a set of Ellsworth aluminum forks and an FSA stem on ebay. The seatpost in the pic is from my wife’s bike (turns out she still needed it to, you know, hold the seat on the frame).

bike 2

2/13/16 FSA Headset installed, headset spacers installed, stem temporarily in place. Oval Concepts seatpost and WTB Laser saddle. The saddle is a leftover from WTB’s Test Ride seats. Dirt cheap and about as close to brand new as you can get. The bottom bracket is also in place.


2/20/16 – Drop bars added. This is the first bike I’ve had with drop bars since my old 10 speed in 1985. In an exciting twist of events, this will have double the gears: 2 up front, 10 in the back. By the way, it was 70 in Albuquerque when I took this picture. In February. Strange weather year.

bike wheels

First test mount of the wheels. I didn’t have rim tape or tubes in them yet. 02/25/2016


03/02/2016 – Rim tape and tubes mean real wheels. You can’t really see it from here, but the rear brake is mounted. Finally fully lubed and assembled the bottom bracket and got the cranks put on and tightened down. Tonight was the first night I got to sit on this beast.

I has breaks. 03/25/2016

I has breaks. 03/25/2016. I wound up having to replace the Shimano brakes. They were for a mountain bike and the road levers have a different pull. I could pull the levers all the way to the bar and the brakes still wouldn’t engage. Protip: Road brakes and Mountain brakes don’t work quite the same way.

And most of a drive train.

And most of a drive train. I’ve actually got a chain, but wanted to get the shifters before I put the chain on. 03/25/2016


04/09/2016 – Most everything is done. Still adjusting things and haven’t wrapped the bars.


04/10/2016. Fully assembled. Still need to do a bit of work on the rear derailleur – it won’t let me shift to the highest gear, and the back brake whines a bit. Minor tweaks.

Total costs (minus the frame. It was a gift, but they go for about $150)

  • Stem: FSA OS-140 Carbon. Found on eBay for 15.99
  • Headset: FSA Orbit MX. Found on eBay for 34.99
  • Seatpost: Oval Concepts. Found on eBay for 13.70
  • Headset spacers: 10mm FSA carbon. Found on eBay for 3.24
  • Crankset and Bottom Bracket: FSA Gossamer. Found on eBay for 50.00
  • Bars: FSA Energy Ergo, found on eBay for 19.99
  • Fork: Ellsworth aluminum. Found on eBay for 69.99
  • Bar tape: Deda. Found on eBay for 8.45 shipped
  • Saddle: WTB Laser V, found on PricePoint for 22.98
  • Seatpost Clamp: Azonic. Found on PricePoint for 6.98
  • Tires: Schawlbe CX Comp HS 369. Found on Amazon for 19.98 each.
  • Wheelset: Shimano RM35 Mavic TN317. Found on eBay for 130.96
  • Brake/Shift Levers: SRAM Apex. Found on eBay for 139.00
  • Brake Calipers: Avid BB-5R, found on Amazon for 78.00 for the pair
  • Brake Rotors: Rear, Shimano Deore SM-RT62 (160mm), eBay 12.99. Front, Shimano SM-RT54 (180mm). eBay 16.39
  • Front Derailleur: SRAM X7, eBay 15.00
  • Rear Derailleur: SRAM X7, eBay 35.00
  • Pedals: Shimano (pulled from old bike)
  • Chain: SRAM PC-1031, eBay 17.60
  • Cassette: SRAM PG-1030, eBay 43.94

Miscellaneous costs:

  • Headset installation: 10.00
  • Brake adapters: 9.95 on PricePoint
  • Rim Tape 6.00 on PricePoint
  • Tubes 6.00 PricePoint
  • Extra 20mm M6 bolts 10.00 on eBay
  • Cable kit, bottle, cage, seat pack: 32.00 on PricePoint

Total Cost (minus frame): 829.17

It weighs in at slightly over 25 lbs.