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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    96

    Best way to upgrade ride?

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    Hi,

    I haven't had a chance to introduce myself in the forums yet, but I'm in a bit of a time crunch deciding whether to bid on a frame off eBay, so here goes:

    I bought a Bianchi Castro Valley in 2006 (deal on a 2005 model); the 2005 and 2006 had drop bars and was a 9-speed, 42 front and 12/26 back. This has evolved into the Valle, an 18 speed with straight bars. The 2005 was the last year Bianchi used a 1" headset, which makes it more limited in swapping the headset out.

    After trying lots of bikes it had the best road feel and I think geometry for me, so I am happy with the frame setup itself; I really like steel and like cyclocross bikes for their versatility (light off-road, commuting, light touring, decent road riding setup, good for century+ rides). I wanted a commuter that could also be an all-around bike. Bianchi advertised it as having the "same frame" as a Volpe, so I figured that I could always upgrade it to a triple up in the front, same as a Volpe, *and* I would have the generator hub and fitted fenders. *But* I've now discovered that Bianchi saved a couple cents on the Castro Valley frame by not welding in the cable stop for the front chainring. I would need to spend $300 retail to upgrade to a triple (Tiagra components), and use a clamp on the downtube which seems ugly and not as robust, especially for the light touring / long distance rides.

    Long story short, I was very ill for several years and couldn't do much of anything. I did start into things too hard this past year, and have the setback of rehabbing a really bad tibia stress fracture that happened at the beginning of this year (upper front tibia, which is in tension so it is harder to heal). So I'm completely out of condition, and even though I live in Minnesota, we have huge steep topography drops due to incised streams (I tell people we have inverse topography). I have to drop into the river valley and climb out again every day for commuting; to visit family I have to drop down and climb up again each way. I am very wimpy at the moment, my spinning cadence is good on the flats in the middle of my gear range which doesn't give me very much room to climb the short but steep hills. Getting off and walking isn't the best idea right now, it would put too much stress on my leg. I have a decent salary now, but sunk most of it into a house that went way underwater, that I've had to walk away from... and I know that I'm losing my job at the end of next summer. So I do need to consider economics and not go over 1.5k, and preferably not over 1k, (well really $0 would be great but not practical!). I wanted to do the "save $1 per mile" to upgrade, but I need to do something sooner.

    So options:
    1. I could replace the back with a little bit wider gearing, 11/34 ideally, for $60. And also replace the front ring if that isn't enough - I could also play with crank length since I think I might be happier with a 165 mm crank and the seat farther back. (Did I mention I had orangutan arms?) This will (maybe) solve the immediate problems, but not the issue of long distance or light touring.

    2. I could upgrade to a triple chainring with a clamp cable stop. I don't think I'd be happy with this for the long term, and it's $300. But I could always swap everything to a new frame later, and set up the bike as a ss / fixie if that is still popular or just sell the frame. I do like long solo trips even now, working up past 15 miles to 20, so I do need something reliable.

    3. I could buy a Volpe, swap the tires (I want the generator hub) and put on the fenders. And then sell the Castro Valley as a fixie project, or perhaps set it up that way myself to increase the value, since it is a great frame for that. This would be easiest since I know the fenders and everything else I've put on would be a no-brainer to swap.

    4. Um, I don't like the 2005 and 2006 Volpe colors much, I prefer the Valle gang green (same as my bike) - but it would cost more to buy new and swap the front double for a triple. I could possibly sell the old Castro Valley for more with commuter setup, though.

    5. Try lots of different steel cyclocross bikes, and see if I like one of them better - there is a lot more steel available now. (Though I actually like the lowish bottom bracket in the Volpe, since I'm not actually using it for 'cross competition!). I need to keep the price similar to the Volpe though. The Kona 'cross with the slack seat tube looks like an interesting one - a fit theory I'd like to try is that women should sit back farther, since they have proportionally larger glute muscles to spin. The WSD (well all bikes really) usually keep the front rake / headtube angle similar across the range, and make the top tube shorter for smaller sizes by *increasing* the seat tube angle. I really don't understand why the frame is built around the fork, which is presumably easier to change, but whatever.

    6. Bid on a better quality frame (there is a Bianchi Celeste Green(!) early 2000s SL Cyclocross on eBay now that retailed for $600-$800 at the time - it is a higher quality steel, I think 610 vs. the 520 of the Volpe. But I don't really know the street value, and this one doesn't have a fork... but the same principle holds). This is the time crunch - this one ends in a day, though it doesn't have a fork so it would be harder for me to use. I like the idea going for the highest quality 'cross frame I can find, but I suspect they will be expensive even aftermarket because 'cross and fixies are so popular now. (The description of the frame is horrible, which is why I think it might be a deal, since it is harder to research that farther back with the poor information.) And I know I would spend more money in the end, but at least it would be spread out. I would learn a lot about bike mechanics, but also spend a lot. Munge on parts. Bring to LBS to fix. Wash, rinse, repeat. :P

    7. Haunt eBay and Craigslist for Volpes / steel cyclocross bikes to turn up. Again this is hard because they are in such demand, and a lot have been turned into fixies / single speed... to the point of filing off all the cable stops, my problem now! Even searching on eBay and across Craigslist I haven't seen things turn up in my size yet - 52/53 cm in a Bianchi, 50-53 cm in other manufacturers if I go for similar standover and toptube.

    8. Um, other sources? Advertising on Craigslist and forums for what I want? The LBS I use is race oriented - it has an owner, but runs more like a coop for a local racing team. So I don't know if they would be casting off stuff I could use.

    Sorry for the huge essay! I really am a newbie for actually riding - I still fall over clipped in sometimes, and descending corners scares me to death (getting better, I got up to over 25 mph downhill before feathering last year, but I also use a huge chunk of the road). Plus I was trying to change my setup to make things more comfortable, and then I figure out that cycling is the one thing that I do where you actually *want* to bend your lower back in addition to your hip flexors... I was trying to keep a straight back. Sigh.

    I know there isn't going to be an absolute best answer, but I'm hoping to narrow it down a bit - I really need to invest my money wisely. Again, thank you to everyone who got through this morass!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    905
    Hi Yelsel,
    My first suggestion would be to not waste money modifying your current bike. Ride it for the time being, and save some $$ for a new one. In the meantime, go visit a few bike shops and test-ride a Bianchi Axis or a Cross Concept (instead of the Volpe). If you like one of them (or both) you can hunt on ebay and craigslist for one that's your size. Axis and CrossC are a better build than the Castro Valley and the Volpe. And on those you can change all the components you want.
    If you still prefer either your bike or the Volpe, and if your choice is between modifying your frame with the clamp VS buying the Volpe - then I would suggest buying the Volpe, again because it will be easier to make changes/upgrades on that one.
    On the other hand, if you plan to ride on the road only and you still want a Bianchi, I would suggest that you try both the Eros (steel). The carbon and Ti models would probably be out of budget even used, but the steel one shows up on ebay here and there at pretty decent prices. Bikes lose a lot of value once they are used, so buying on ebay is often a very good deal - as long as you have ridden the bike before and know that it is the right frame and size for you.
    If you are not tied to a particular manufacturer - I'm a long-time Bianchista but there's a lot of other nice bikes out there - I'd say visit bike shops and try several bikes. Test ride around, identify a few models you like, make sure you know which size is right for you on those, and then go hunting on ebay and craigslist until you find your bike at a good price. We all can try to give you the best suggestions - but there is no substitute for test-riding a bicycle yourself.
    Hope this helps!
    E.'s website: www.earchphoto.com

    2005 Bianchi 928C L'Una RC
    2010 BMC SLX01 racemaster
    2008 BMC TT03 Time Machine
    Campy Record and SSM Aspide naked carbon on all bikes

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    905
    Oh, look at the 'for sale' section of the bike forums too - sometimes there's good deals that pop up on there!
    E.'s website: www.earchphoto.com

    2005 Bianchi 928C L'Una RC
    2010 BMC SLX01 racemaster
    2008 BMC TT03 Time Machine
    Campy Record and SSM Aspide naked carbon on all bikes

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    96
    Thanks, this really did help. I now own a 1998 Eros bike - the components weren't quite as good this year (Avanti/Mirage), but I was a sucker for getting the lugged frame in Celeste - this is the last year they were lugged. I still might change the cassette on the Castro Valley, though. (Even better, buy a cheap wheel for the trainer and stick the old cassette on that, so that I don't have to swap tires.)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    2,617
    Not sure if this is what you mean about the cable stops, but many high-end bikes use a clamp-on FD as opposed to a brazed-on.
    For 3 days, I get to part of a thousand other journeys.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    1,321
    I think what she means is that there's nowhere for the FD cable to go along the downtube (holding the cable in place--where your barrel adjuster or DT shifter would be and then again at the BB), because the bike was not designed for a FD.

 

 

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