As of June 2015 I have been working at Townsends Light Blue Cycle Centre in Cambridge. The job has been incredibly enjoyable and educational so far, opening my eyes to many aspects of the cycling industry I would have otherwise been naive to. It has taught me how to maintain, repair and build – skills that will always come in handy for future tours and rides.
Cambridge is renowned for bikes, the presence of them being inescapable. The Townsend family have been catering for Cambridge’s cycling demand since 1895, beginning by producing bikes for the fellows of Cambridge University.
One such bike is the Wolfson. The brand has been rebooted and a number of more modern-style sport bikes have been produced to accompany the beautiful classics such as the Kings, St Johns and the Trinity. Just last week we received a number of build boxes from our warehouse and began assembling them for display in the shop.
This post will give you an insight into how all the individual components combine to create a new era of Light Blue bicycles.
This particular Wolfson is a steel frame racing bike constructed from Reynolds 853 tubing with carbon forks. It is equipped with Halo Evaura wheels, a Shimano 105 groupset and Tektro Quartz dual pivot brakes. The Wolfson is an astonishingly lightweight steel frame bike that makes the perfect steed for sportives. The bike also comes at 2 other specs, one with an Ultegra drivetrain accompanied by Devaura wheels and the second option opting for SRAM Rival.
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As the wheels came ready-laced all that was required was to fit the tyre, tube and cassette. With the Wolfson being a rim-brake bike no disc rotors were in need of fitting. A nice easy start!
I then moved on to installing the bottom bracket. As the Wolfson is a steel frame road-racer this particular model came as a Shimano 105 specification. The bottom bracket fitted is a BB-R60 Hollowtech II Ultegra 6800/105 5800 English thread. The cups screw on by hand befere requiring a specific Hollowtech tool to tighten them to the desired 50 N.m (Newton metres). When the cups and centre-piece are fitted into the bottom bracket shell the chainset can be pushed through and the non-drive-side crank can be fitted and tightened on.
Once the bottom bracket and chainset have been installed I moved on to the front of the bike, pressing the cups into the head tube in order to fit the forks and headset. New to building bikes, I took my time to get this right! Being patient and careful at this stage is vital as making a mistake can damage the frame beyond repair.
The press pushes both cups into the head tube at the same time so it is key to keep an eye on both to make sure that they are not going out of alignment. Even centring logos has to be thought about.
To fit the forks and headset next I had to assemble it as if i were putting it together to measure and cut the steerer tube. This meant fitting the bearings, spacers, and stem. The a-head headset comes with 20mm of spacers, 2 5mm spacers and a single 10mm spacer. To mark the steerer tube I removed a 5mm spacer and marked the steerer tube with a flat-head screwdriver to know where to cut.
Once this is marked correctly (measure twice, cut once) I put them into the vice to be cut. Most of these tools are incredibly specific and make the job so much easier – without them I wouldn’t advise attempting to fit parts such as these.
After cutting the tubing I can move the steerer tube through again to file the rough edges.
When the steerer tube is cut the crown race is slipped down to sit above the forks. (This particular crown did not require hammering as some might) The second job is to the install the star nut inside the steerer tube. This allows the top cap, when fitted, to thread into the star nut – compressing spacers, stem and bearings to move as one.
The tool consists of 2 parts, an outer (black) and an inner (silver). The inner is threaded to the star nut and, when hammered, moves the star nut down to the desired depth. The fit is so snug that when the tool is removed, leaving the star nut wedged inside the tubing, it will not budge.
Once this is unscrewed it leaves the star nut behind, firmly set.
Now that the steerer tube is the correct length and the star nut is fitted the forks can be inserted along with bearings and stem. From here on out the job stays fairly simple, just having to fit the parts supplied. Handlebars can go on, rear mech hanger and the mechs themselves, followed then by the wheels, chain and levers. At this stage everything comes together to resemble a bike for the first time.
From here I put the front wheel in, bolted on the brakes and tightened on the levers. On the down tube there are also two bosses for cable guides. Once all these parts are on I can move onto attaching the front mech and chain. A few adjustments are required to the derailleurs to get them lined up for attaching the chain but as there is not cabling yet in place this is very simple.
This is effectively the bike assembled with all the main components in place, ready to be fine-tuned. I will follow this post up with a second part that follows the cabling, gear and brake adjustments, as well as adding some nice finishing touches that demonstrate the attention to detail that goes into designing a bike such as the Wolfson.