This is one of the most memorable builds we pieced together. It’s a repainted Kaffenback, the do-it-all steed made by the UK brand Planet X. Annie wanted to upgrade from her 2008 Giant Avail. Although she had a friend with an industry discount for Diamondback bicycles, she was shopping around to see what was good. She came to see us. She was ready to drop up to $2000, pretty normal for a modern road bike. We took some notes on what she wanted the bike for: road riding, a big tour coming up, the ability to go faster than her current road bike allowed. She was speaking our language. We love zippy touring bikes. Or maybe versatile race bikes.
Several weeks past and we checked in to see if she had found anything. Apparently she seemed to trust our intuition about the build, and wanted to see what we could come up with. She had a busy schedule and wasn’t exactly in a rush, but would need the bike in a few months. Perfect, I thought.
In that time, we kept busy on Craigslist and came upon a frame in San Bruno. I had some used SRAM Force shifters and cranks that had been sitting on a shelf in the shop, needing new hoods, but otherwise ready to go. We had some carbon DT Swiss carbon rims that I had scored from a factory visit while in Taiwan a few years ago (yes, some Swiss rims are made in Taiwan). The biggest challenge would be the wheels. I thought it would make a really beautiful machine to have carbon wheels on a steel disc road frame. Finding 24-hole disc hubs that wouldn’t brake bank took some time. Ultimately, I found some new Origin 8 hubs with very nice bearings, and steel hub body. I then set aside some time to build them.
After a few months, I finally had time to do the initial assembly, to frame it all up so that Annie could ride it around the block, test the fit, check the handlebar angle, and try out a few fit set ups. She even got the low gearing she wanted to be able to make it up all the hills. We outfitted the bike with a 36-tooth rear gear, a monster of a cog that really makes pedaling easier. With a little time, attention, and hex wrenches she felt it was just what she wanted. Well, almost. The last part was to remove all the brand decals.
Fair enough, we stripped the bike back down to bare an gave it, at her request a matte black, no-nonsense, paint job. A week or so later it was all again rebuilt. Annie chose Cinelli gel cork handlebar tape and was feeling the honey brown Brooks B17 saddle. To give it shoes, we used the 700×25 Continental Gatorskin tires, one of the fastest bullet proof tires ever made.
In the end it was a wonderful collaboration and we couldn’t be happier with the result. By the way, Annie spend just under $1800, well within her budget for the ultimate ride.
Thanks for letting us geek out on your build, Annie!