Race Around Rwanda The Bike
Through necessity and as a matter of principle, I wanted to keep my whole Rwandan adventure as cheap as possible. This meant building up a bike largely from parts in the bike shed, then scouring ‘fleaBay’ and the sales for bargains where I needed to buy something new.
- 2013 Genesis Fugio. This was an impulse eBay purchase four or five years ago when I was after a steel ‘cross frame. It seemed too nice to build into a race bike that’d likely get messed up so sat somewhat redundantly until being built up into a gravel bike before they were labelled as such for taking on rough stuff bimbles.
- Sram X9 rear/Jtek front Dynohub built onto WTB KOM i23 rims. All sale purchases. I previously had a Shutter Precision dynohub but the bearings packed up on that a few weeks before #RaR01. The Jtek hub was a cheap and cheerful replacement and unlike the SP one has user-serviceable bearings. The rims are light and strong. I’ve used them for ‘everything’ from commuting to ‘cross racing and they’ve remained true. My tyre choice was at the narrowest recommended width for the rims, but they held a nice profile regardless.
- Panaracer Gravel King SK 32mm. Tyre choice was a big question. The description of ‘gravel’ in the race guide could have meant so many things, but these rolled nicely on the road yet offer a little more bite when things got loose or muddy when the slick version may have been left wanting. With my tubeless set-up failing early on it would have been nice to have been running a wider version to offer more pinch protection to inner tubes.
- Gevenalle GX shifters; Praxis works crankset; Shimano SLX rear mech; Sachs front mech. In full frankenbike fashion this was truly mix and match. I’d previously had the bike built up as a 1x10 with a 38 tooth chainring and 11-36 cassette. I knew I needed something lower for loaded climbing and elected to convert to 2x to offer a greater range with the same size cassette, so added 48/32 chainrings. I’m sure I’d have used a lower gear had it been there, but this set up did me just fine and allowed me to spin up everything. I say spin, although there may have been the odd square mashed too …
- TRP Hylex. These are singlespeed-specific hydraulic brakes, converted to geared using Gevenalle components. They’re ace.
- The Deda RHM bars are perhaps a tad wider than I’d have liked. They where chosen when I thought I might fit a handlebar bag/roll between the drops, but 20mm narrower would have been easier on the shoulders. A 0º Thomson X4 stem kept the front end relatively high and meant that the bar extensions were there to offer alternative positions for comfort rather than aero gains. The Deda Elementi Parabolica Due Clip On extensions cost precisely £5.32 on eBay and were a good choice, offering a variety of positions. I used a Profile Designs adapter to mount my GPS out front between the extensions. I went for 3mm thick Fizik Performance Tacky bar tape which is a bit thicker than I normally ride in case poor road surfaces were an issue. In hindsight I don’t actually think this was something to have worried about.
- Selle Italia SLR TM Flow. This was perhaps an error. My saddle of the last few years, a Planet X bargain Selle Esse, collapsed 6 weeks or so before the race, and were no longer available to purchase. I’d previously measured up using Selle Italia’s ID Match system and so bought a saddle that ought to have fitted me. It may do just that with a little tweaking of angles, but it never felt 100% right leading up to the race, and I did end up with a pretty nasty saddlesore after a few days riding. I’m not sure if this was related, but I should have found a saddle (and/or position) that I was more confident in. Perhaps the old and lovingly broken in Brooks B17 I have lying around would have been worth the extra weight!
- I switched out drive chain including jockey wheels, shifter cables, and brake pads 10 days or so before the race so they they’d bed in but still be new. Training through the winter had made a right mess of the existing components.
The only mechanical issues I had during the race, save for the rim tape failing, was the front shifter cable slipping a little.