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Friday, February 19, 2010

The bike I built for Taiwan riding

In 2007 I returned from a trip to the U.S. where I spent some time looking for a bike that would suit the type of riding I do in Taiwan. At the time I was really torn because I really didn't ride with anyone and most of the expats I knew were riding heavy mountain bikes or XC bikes. I really didn't like the idea, but kept the option open. I really liked road bikes, but after a dozen years in Taiwan I understood how the roads could get. I finally narrowed my search down to a Cyclocross bike. Cyclocross purists hate the idea of a CX bike in any condition other than a race, and roadies cry at the sight of drop bars and fat tires. I would be in a position I could deal with... hated by everyone. A CX bike would be perfect for Taiwan's mixed road conditions. I searched high and low in Taiwan and in the land of bikes I could not find a single cyclocross rig. None! I searched on line and could not find a manufacturer that could ship internationally. Things were looking bleak. I finally found a bike I could work with at a fire sale price. I took my frame to Rocky at T-Mosaic in Taichung and waited. In 2007 the world was going through a spike in oil prices and suddenly bikes became a more attractive form of transportation. There was a run on components. It took 6 months to get the components I wanted to build my bike. A painful 6 months.

--My Rig--

Frame: Salsa Las Cruces
The Salsa Las Cruces disc frame and fork was being discontinued and the prices were dropping, so I snapped one up and had it delivered to my friend's house in the USA. He then sent it to me... still $300 below MSRP. The frame is scandium alloyed aluminum and weighs in at 2.5lbs. It came with a matching carbon fork in "dreamsicle orange". I figured the orange would be a safety color on Taiwan's insane roads. A cyclocross frame offers a slightly upright geometry for better visibility and longer chainstays for 38c tire clearance and a smoother ride.

Drivetrain: I opted for the 10spd. Shimano Ultegra 6600
gruppo for the weight and reliability. I chose a typical compact crank 50/34 and a 12-27 cassette. This allows a good balance of speed on the road and steep climbing on Taiwan's hills and mountains without needing a triple.

Brakes: I really wanted the stopping power of disc brakes for riding in mixed conditions. I ended up going with the Shimano Br-505 R mechanical disc brakes. The nicest thing is that my rims look pristine.

Bars/Stem: Deda Elementi Newton Ergo bars.

Post: Selcoff Titanium. A lot of weight can hide unseen in a seat post. The titanium saved a
little weight there. I put a Selle Italia Flight seat on that.

Pedals: Crank Brothers Candy SL. I wanted some light and easy clipless pedals that would engage in muddy conditions.


I wanted light, durable wheels that would be strong enough to hit hidden gaps in the roads and trails. I chose DT Swiss RR 1.1 and 1.2 rims, spokes and brass DT nipples laced to Chris King disc hubs. The Kings are fantastic. Gotta love the "angry bee".

Tires: Ugh! I am always looking for the magic tire. I love my Conti 4000GP 25c road tires. They last forever. For dirty conditions I use Michelin Cyclocross Jets, Michelin Mud2, Ritchey Speedmax Pro tires.

Total Weight: 18.2 lbs. (8255.3 grams). Not bad for a CX bike.

The bike is fast and comfortable. I can sustain speeds at 20-25mph (35 to 40kph). I can spend up to 12 hours in the saddle without much fatigue. I feel agile in busy traffic and stable on 45mph (72kph) descents. It makes for a good all around Taiwan bike. That does not mean I don't have bike lust for other set-ups, but not bad for one do it all bike in Taiwan. If you can only have one bike, then a cyclocross bike fits the bill. I would eventually like to build a pure road bike and then reserve the cyclocross bike for dirtier riding, but just not now.


  1. Nice setup, I'd go for slicks though.

    My setup that I've been riding for the last few years here is a Giant XTC3, upgraded to high rise rigid forks (mimics the height of shocks). It has seen more dirt from trucks than from trails and has got 1.5" slicks on permanently, and a rack at the back.

    But mine weight in at 13kg+ (28lbs or so). Really heavy, but still does the centuries when necessary.

  2. I use slicks most of the time. Conti 4000GP 25c. I do about 80% road 20% dirt. The knobbies are good for betel nut trails and country roads in the spring.

    It sounds like you have a tough beast of a bike. As long as it works. I bet it is great for the long haul. We should ride sometime.