Van Nicholas : Tuareg

650b – 27.5″ 1*11 setup

Updated : Version 2018


Following my last posts concerning the Van Nicholas Tuareg frame build, this is my latest post with all modifications as there have been quite a few

2018 : My retirement year and so I have a little more time on my hands, also I’m going to do the Roc d’Azur again in Fréjus , south of France in October so I need to get some serious training in.

Basically the modifications from my older posts are going to a one * eleven setup, changing my Magura fork to a 2018 RockShox, and also adding a dropper seat post (Ok so I’m a ‘scaredy’ cat when riding down hill)

–For complete build details :

Van NicholasFrame : Van Nicholas Tuareg Ti, weight 1.76 kilos
Fork : Rockshox RL SID 100mm, weight 1, 57 kilos
Wheels : Handbuilt NoTubes Crest, Duke King Kong Hubs, with CxRay sapin spokes & DT prolock hexa nipples, weight 1.38 kilos the pair
Seat post : Dropper ROCKSHOX REVERB Remote Matchmaker left
Brakes : Hope Tech X2, 160cm front, 160cm back with Hope matchmakers. Sadly no more matchmakers from Hope as they don’t make them for the tech X2 and the XTR shifter version 2018
Gears : Cassette XT M800 11 speed. Shimano XTR M9000 Shadow Plus Rear Derailleur and Shimano XTR SL-M9000-I Rapidfire back shifter
Drive train : SRAM XO with a X-Sync Direct Mount 6mm Offset 11V 32 chainring. Chain XTR
Components : Race Face stem and handlebars, Chris King headset, XTR pedals
Tyres : Front : Maxxis Icon (changed from a Hutchison Cobra) . Back : Maxxis Crossmark
Saddle Brooks Ti C3

Total weight with pedals 11.20 kilos

2018 : So have done a couple of hundred kilometres so far on this new setup. Riding 1 * 11 is fun, going kill my legs when I do the Roc, but here where I live its just fine.

RockShow RL SID version 2018

RockShox RL SID version 2018



Van Nicholas Tuareg 650b – 27.5 2018_Follow up

The last two years was mainly an off year for biking, just too many things to do, Trail running mostly, Excuses excuses..

Anyway this year  2018 now that I’m retired I have a little more time on my hands so I have at least for the moment started mountain biking again, not  much road singlespeed biking  as my left ankle is still  fucked up with a long-lasting tendonitis and no gears means I have to work a little too hard, so it’s good excuse to get on a mountain bike using gears

Talking about gears, I’ve decided to go 1*10 like most of my friends, the only problem is that my free wheel can only take a 11 speed Shimano tops, or a 10 speed Sram

To go 11 or 12 speed Sram I need to change the free wheel on my TUNE King Kong hub, and that’s expensive @160€ just for the free wheel

So for the moment I now running a 10 speed

SunRace MX3 10V 11-42 cassette as it was basically the first I found
and up front a SRAM chainring X-Sync Direct Mount 6mm Offset 11V 32



Sram chainring 32


With this set up, I kept my front XTR shifter and back XTR dérailleur (both are 10 speed models) and was ready to rock and roll, or rather ride …..

I’ve now ridden three rides about 110kms with the 1 * 10 setup, you forget quite quickly about the front chainrings or rather ring, and no longer having a left front shifter any more. and the back cassette well that’s nothing new except BIGGER….

The bike weight stays about the same, you lose the big front chainring and shifter but get a heavier bigger cassette, the SunRace weighs in at 387 gms ….

With these mods and a dropper seat that I added a couple of years back, the bike weighs in at just over 11 kilos.


I’m going to re do the Roc d’Azur this year, after taking three years off, running a 1 * 10 setup and being 60 years old, would be a little difficult so I going to change the setup slightly and try a 1*11, as I stated up top, I can fit a 11 speed Shimano on my 10 speed free wheel.

So I’ll try a XT 11 – 46, this giving me one more ring , and jumping from a 42 max to a 46 teeth (450 gms though) and if not enough I’ll just use a 30 chain ring for the Roc rather than the 32.
Shimano XT 11

Of course I need to change the front shifters & back derailleur to a 11v setup but that about all.

This will be done in the upcoming months


So what do I think ?

Riding the 1*10 setup here where I live is Ok, I was worried about not having a 42*9 while on the straights or downhill, but finally the 32*10 is just fine, maybe that’s me getting older, slower and less strong in the legs, but so far so good

I know already I’ll need a 46 rather than a 42 cassette for some hills, and if that’s not enough, well I’ll get off the bike and push it

Of course this also depends on where you live, here its a normal terrain, hills nothing to nasty, go down the south of France for the Roc d’Azur then Ok I know it won’t do, therefore a 50 cassette or a 30 chainring, but that’s not often so I can live without it.

Its fun , the bike looks streamlined and clean



Running a 1 * 10 setup, and pleased with it so far.

Van Nicholas Tuareg 650b – 27.5″

It’s finished – 26/05/2013

Following my last post concerning the Van Nicholas Tuareg frame build, this is just is a quick post with just the finished bike and list of components without going into all the details

For complete build details :

Build finally finished 26/05/2013

Frame : Van Nicholas Tuareg Ti, weight 1.76 kilos

Fork : Magura TS8 R100, weight 1, 57 kilos (update June 2014 : fitted with new stanchions that give  more clearance for the tyres and the new 15mm axle)

Wheels : Handbuilt NoTubes Crest, Duke King Kong Hubs, with CxRay sapin spokes & DT prolock hexa nipples, weight  1.38 kilos the pair

Brakes : Hope Tech X2, 180cm front, 160cm back with Hope matchmakers

Gears : 10 speed, XTR : derailleur and shifters

Drive train : Sram XO 26/39 and Sram cassette XG1099, chain XTR

Components : Race Face seat post, stem and handlebars, Chris King headset, XTR pedals

Tyres : Front : Rocket Ron, Back : Rubena Scylla

Saddle : Italia SLR flow 160 gms

Total  weight with pedals 10,44 kilos

March / April : Have been operated on for a hernia inguinal I’m unable to do any sport for some weeks, so tests and observations to come later and some slight modifs will be made once I can ride again.

First ride : Photo – only 13km just to test if all OK and am not up to a real ride yet. (handlbars, rear dérailleur & saddle changed since)

Update : Have now managed to get a couple of rides on the bike, can I really notice anything different from the 26″ version, I’m not really sure, I feel its faster on the flats, (but then the wheels are so so smooth) I’ve managed to do some technical downs, that I normally do on foot (the bike or in my mind / head ? that is the question)

August 2014 : Have sadly ridden very little this year, as got knocked of my road bike in January, as this took some time to heal, then with the bad weather, and other lousy excuses, biking has sadly taken a back seat, all being well will be riding again in the 2014 edition of the Roc d’Azur, for some serious MTBing


Van Nicholas Tuareg 650b – 27.5″ Ti Frame

Here we are in 2013 and at last I have something to write about

………Psssss if you don’t want to read all my blah blah and just want to see the finished setup, jump to

and if you want the very latest update – 2018

Otherwise please read on and enjoy

Last year my favourite mountain bike of all times a Van Nicholas Tuareg frame broke (, the frame cracked and so I ended my biking year riding only my road bikes, luckily for me it was a shitty end of year weather wise and so didn’t worry me to much, except that I missed doing the Roc d’Azur, France’s (and probably Europe’s) biggest and best mountain bikes race.

As Van Nicholas Ti frames carry a life time guarantee, I got in touch with Van Nicholas to see about getting the frame changed, this was in october 2012. My Tuareg frame was a 26″model and for the coming year 2013 they have gone over to the 27.5″ or if you prefer 650b new style frames, in which I think that they are right in doing so, but this meant that they had no frames left in stock and that I would have to wait untill 2013 to receive a new frame, as the Tuareg was and still is one of the best Hard Tail Ti frames around (especially now that it’s taken the 27.5 direction) I decided to wait for the new frame to arrive (though I didn’t really have a choice), even though this meant losing months of mountain bike riding and incurring new costs for the new components that would have to be bought.

Tuareg frame25 February 2013 : The frame has arrived, like my last one its good, nice welding, this one seems stronger than the older version, the drops at the back are smaller and seems thicker, The triangle behind the seat post has an extra piece welded to the post giving it extra strength, It weighs in at 1.76kilos

Impatient to get my frame and get some MTBing done, I’ve started buying the new equipment before the frame arrived, why ? because my existing components forks, wheels and headset will not fit the 27.5″ as they are for a 26″ frame, also to save some time, as soon as I get the frame I can build it up. This I knew when I accepted the offer for the exchange and am happy with (my wife, less  so) to buy new components.

Having received the frame, here are some technical details that are not shown on the Van Nicholas web site, the 17.5″ version is 1.76 kilos, it has a tapered headset, top 44 mm, bottom 49 mm, the bottom bracket is a press fit 89.5 mm and not 68 mm as shown on their site. The seat post is also a different size than their web site shows, it’s a 30.9 mm and not a 31.6 mm.

Continue reading

Five years on a singlespeed bike

Pompino singlespeed
Semi retired…
err Re-active… 


I’ve ridden this Pompino singlespeed for a little over 18 months now, I ridden over 2200 kilometres on it. Well over half of my rides, are Sundays rides with friends, them on ‘real’ rode bikes with gears, mostly between 60 and 90 kms outings with an occasionally ride of over 90 kms, in fact even managed this summer a 111km outing, my legs were good that day …

Since the month of October I now have a ‘real’ road bike, which can be seen on my post so the long distance rides on the Pompino will be less, this keeping my mates happy, though not sure why as I’ve always managed to keep up with them distance wise, but not speed wise, on the downhills you just can’t go any faster ….. and some hills can be slow going …

The Pomino I’m keeping, it’s the ideal ride to work and back bike, no maintenance, just a quick wipe on the chain sometimes, and nothing else,  it’s not quite as fast as my Cannondale CAAD10 3 but its fun and keeps my legs in better shape.

Update 2016 : sold the Cannondale, now when on the road its always the singlespeed and the Pompino frame has been sold for the  newer version


So I sold the Cannondale, I don’t really need three bikes (as I ride less and less these days, between the seances of Crossfit, the gym and now a personal coach once a week, I just don’t have the time.

I sold the Pompino to re buy it, the latest version V4, always from also I went from a medium frame the large size, a little better suited to my size being 1.77m

I recuperated all the parts from the old frame except I changed the chain and main drive ring, see

The ride is the same as before though a little more stable as it’s bigger, when I’m riding roads the Pompino is still just great, I mostly ride on my own these days as most of my biking friends have moved on, I’m still riding anything from 50k to 100k rides,

Month of june 2016, a 100k ride, with around 1000m dénilvelé


New front ring, 44tooth

Cannondale CAAD10 3, road bike

The dark side of me is becoming darker still

I have been riding mountain biking for over 15 years now.

Two years ago in September 2010 I bought a singlespeed road bike to play with then three months later changed it for a another singlepeed

Since then I have rode over 3950 kilometers on these two singlespeed bikes, (and over 7350km  on my MTBs) but now its time for a change again

This weekend having just sold my Rocky Mountain MTB after four years of loyal service I went out and bought a real road bike, by real I mean with gears.

A brand new Cannondale CAAD10 3, model 2012, Aluminium frame, carbon fork, and with a compact pedalier 50/34 and a cassette 12/25. For the last two years I’ve been used to a pedalier with only 44 teeth and 16 tooth cog at the back.

So this Monday morning as its my rest day from the gym and mountain biking, instead of resting, I jumped on the bike and road to work to try it out .

Its stiff, stiffer than the Pompino, which has a steel frame, the Cannondale is a Alu frame, it flies along the road, far more reactive, it’s just given me the second fasted time ever from home to work, and on my first ride. This is to be expected though as  I have now have gears, so going down hill with the 50/12 is quite a change from the 44/17 (with my legs trying to turn faster than the bike itself) and this second best time without really knowing the bike, or its handling, or even riding to fast. again as I stated its meant to be my weekly rest day from sport.

I have to get used to the changing gears and they are nothing like the XTRs on my mountain bike and so feel quite strange for the moment, tonight should be a little better as of course  I have to ride back home and shall probably do the long way round, adding more kms to my ride and trying to get the feel of the beast.

In October I’m basically going to finish my MTB season, with a week at the Roc d’Azur (Europe’s biggest MTB race) I have two big rides during that week and a couple of days riding in Fréjus just before with friends who are going as well, and then after that things should slow down.

I’m feel that my future rides will be more and more on the Cannondale, especially if autumn and winter is as bad as last year, hence the title dark side of bike riding becoming darker still

I’m still going to keep and use the Pompino singlespeed, its ideal for to and  fro from work, only a round trip of about 38kms, and with the singlespeed there is no maintenance to be done, except for an occasional chain tightening, also singlepeeds are by far the best way of keep your thighs strong as they have to work far more than on a bike with gears.

Update 2016 : SOLD after a couple of years with it I’ve decided to stay with my singlepeed and so sold the Cannondale.

Van Nicholas Titanium Tuareg 26″

UPDATE March 2013 this bike has now been replaced by still a Van Nicholas Tuareg but version 2013 650b


While I was at the Roc d’Azur in October 2010, I looked at a couple of titanium frames with thoughts of upgrading my ‘hardtail’ Lapierre Pro Race : why ?

The Rocky Mountain :  I still really haven’t found any other ‘full susser’ bike that is as good as, or without going overboard with the wallet, so for the moment that will probably stay my full susser for yet another year to come.

The Lapierre I’m more than happy with but as usual I have itchy fingers to build or modify my bikes with the new year coming, and more the Lapierre than the Rocky.

During the Roc I had looked at the Sobre Ti frame, which is a very nice and not to expensive, about 1200€ but its fitted for 120mm forks, and I’m running 100mm and don’t feel the need to run more than 100mm.

I also looked some other frames such as the Skyde, but at around the 1800€ mark, this was just to expensive.

This week while I was looking at the site as I was almost ready to order the Pompino frame that for my new singlespeed when I saw a promo for a Ti frame from the company Van Nicholas, 43% reduction from about 1520 € down to 880€. Frame version 2010, that’s why is was going cheap as the 2011 version is slightly different.

The model Van Nicholas Tuareg Frame was to be good to be true, a full XC frame, almost identical sizing as my Pro Race 300, I checked with friends the name is known in the Ti bike frame building industry, its made in China (as so many framers these days, including recently built Rocky Mountain) which is a shame, but boy what a beauty it is :

Certain parts on the frame is just a work of art … you can see the quality of the welding and metal work in the pictures below

If all goes well everything all except the BB and the Ahead set from the Lapierre will fit, the BB I have a brand new spare XTR lying around, so that’s no problem, the rest should be good, I will just change the stem from a 100mm to a 90mm as the Tuareg is a tiny bit longer. and I need to buy a new Ahead set.

So I’m waiting for the delivery so that I can start working on it, this plus a new singlespeed that I building up, boy am I busy ……

Update : Received the frame today 07/12/2010, boy is it nice, time to get it home and start work on it, stripping the Lapierre and building it up, nearly all XTR pieces. Am going to order the Van Nicholas Ti seat post today, I’ve ordered a Deus 90mm stem rather than the 100mm from the Lapierre, Now need some seriously sexy wheels to go with it rather than the XT’s, am thinking about some American Classics MTB 26, or some ZTR NoTubes Crest rims on Hope pro II hubs, but not sure yet.

I’ve started building up the frame :
so far, BB*, XTR Cranks, XTR front and back Derailleur fitted , Chris King and Hope seat clamp, TI seat stem

*Notice the two 2.5mm spacers on the drive side and one the left side as the frame is 68mm wide

Deus 90mm stem received, Weight 135 grams

Van Nicholas Ti Seat Post , I’ve rarely seen a seat post as sexy as this, Weight 264 gms, diameter 31.6mm. Update : my first rides :  the tube keeps slipping down the frame, (I sent it back and changed it for a Race Face XC carbon SL, the same as on my Rocky)

Wheels : These have arrived, I finally decided on ZTR Crest rims on Hope Pro hubs, need to fit them with Stan’s no tube tape and some tubeless ready tyres, these wheels are very light, the back weighs in at 840 gms and the front at 720  gms, after riding these wheels, one thing I noticed, in undoing the plastic valve cap,  (I wanted to adjust the tyre pressure) the valve core stayed with the cap, instant deflation, so you have to be careful with these valves, when unscrewing the valve cap, I think I’ll not bothering fitting caps.

Fork : A brand new grey Fox 32 RLC Fit 100mm has arrived, the grey version goes just perfectly with the Ti colour.

Tyres_1 : I’ve finally received the Stans No Tubes rim tape so I tried fitting  fitting a Maxis Larsen tubeless (my favourite tire) and a Nobby Nics Tubeless to the above wheels with no success or rather very difficult as they were both a pain in the ass to fit, the Nobby Ni’s even blew of the rim in the middle of the night splattering white latex liquid everywhere.

Tyres_2 : Have received Swalbes tubeless ready tires, these were a different matter to the tubless tyres, both fitted nice and easily, just like a tubeless tyre en a tubeless rim, both ‘popped correctly’ when pumping them up. Nobby Nics, tubeless ready version DD 590 gms, Racing Ralph, Tubeless ready version DD 585 gms Update : better weather now, I changed tyres to a Rocket Ron 2.25 front and an Racing Rralph 2.25 rear, version DD, both Tubeless ready, saved even more weight with the RR front 🙂

Brakes : I’ve bought and fitted Hope Tech X2 brakes, these are rather sexy, machined CNC alu, with braided hoses, instead of plastic ones, 6mm diameter rather than the standard 5mm. this actually created a slight problem, the TI frame has for me one design error, the brakes lugs are not cut, in other words you have to thread the hoses rather than ty-rapping it, (this also means that I had to take the brakes apart to thread the hoses) as the lugs internal diameter is 5mm ish, I was unable to tread the hoses as they are to large, so I got out the Dremel, cut the lugs so that I could open them slightly and thread the hose. Both rotors are the floating Hope Saw rotors.

Now I have braided hoses that are light grey in colour and brakes that look and feel really nice, also unlike the Shimano brakes, I was able to shorten the hoses without having to purge the brakes, nice, very nice indeed.

Shifters : I’ve dropped the Shimano Dual Control and gone back to ‘normal’ shifters as one day I’ll go to a 10 speed set up, and Dual Controls don’t work with 10 speed setups, shame as I’ve used these for a long time, in fact they are still on my Rocky Mountain setup for the moment. I’ve fitted Hope matchmaker brackets to fit the shifters directly on the brakes, making the handlebars less cluttered.

Remark : all the threads on this frame, the BB or for fixing the back derailleur are very clean, the BB I was able the screw both sides fully in by hand. I’ve built a few bikes in my time, these have to be the cleanest threads that I’ve seen yet.

Update : 11 February 2011, did a 40km ride, home to work and back again, the Van Nicholas is the same size as my Lapierre Pro Race 300, and apart from the brakes and the wheels the rest is an all XTR setup, it rode quite differently, it absorbs more vibrations than the Lapierre Alu frame, as it was the first outing on it, I took it slowly, stopping to adjust brakes, saddle hight etc, but it does ride more comfortable, will be able to test it better in the next couple of weeks.

I managed to get two more rides done this weekend. I  have one problem the seat stem keeps slipping down, no matter how I tighten the Hope seat clamp. So I’ve ordered the Van Nicholas Ti seat clamp and just in case I’ve ordered a Race Face carbon seat stem (also lighter than the Ti post), both should arrive soon and one or both of the options should solve this problem. Update : The Ti seat clamp arrived, even with it fitted the seat post still kept slipping when riding, and no much how I tightened it, So I changed it for a Race Face Next carbon SL, the problem went away, the seat post no longer slips down, also as I changed the saddle to a Selle Italia SLR which is lighter than the Flite, the bike now weighs in at 10.45kgs (I’m going to send the seat post back to Van Nicholas, as I believe that it must be slightly undersized)

Apart from that all is fine, its lighter than the Lapierre, it’s fast, and at the same time more ‘supple’, I’m having a little problem adapting to shifters, I’ve been riding Dual Controls to long …

Update : Mi Avril, between the Singlespeed and the Van Nicholas, I have clocked up over 1300 km so far, its going to be a good year.

All off road riding has been done on the this bike (The Rocky is sitting in the garage ..) I’m riding faster and feeling better.

I’ve just order and awaiting some new pedals, The new XTR M980 as the Time pedals are rather used and I’d like to try the new XTR’s to see what they are like. Update : pedals arrived and fitted, nice, the shoes sit better on them and there is less float, I feel the difference in the back leg coming up with the pedal stroke, clipping in is not quite as good, but this should get better as the shoes wear in to the pedals, unclipping is fine, need to adjust it though to make it a little harder, this is easily done with a allen key.

Update 08/08/2011 : I’ve decided to go 2 * 10, the XTR crank set has already arrived 28/40, and the rest has been ordered, if all goes well I can try it next weekend, I’m sure I’m going to have ‘fun….’ on the hills  and that I going to miss my 22 / 32 but hell, why not.

So far so good 🙂


Update : When its finished its never finished, My crank set was becoming worn and was starting to have problems with chain suck, So rather than just changing the crank set or rings I decided to go for a 2 * 10 set up, I bought a XTR 28/40 XTR crankset up, with a XTR front dérailleur, XT back dérailleur and XT Cassette 11/36 (need the big 36 to go with the 28 ring ) and some nice new XTR shifters (note : I had to take of the Hope matchmakers and the won’t fit the 10 speed shifters)

Problem straight away, when fitting the cranks I came up against the famous Q Factor (which I’d never heard of before), the Q Factor means how close the crank set will be to the frame and the cranks were only about 1mm from the back stay, this was not good, as I could see that under pressure the crank could touch the stay and damage it.

I found out that the Q factor for the XTR Trail version had an extra 3 mm on it (69mm against 66mm), the same Q factor as the 9 speed XTR but as I had already bought this one and didn’t want the trail version I decided to do some DIY  on the crank and f**k the guarantee. It seem OK so maybe Shimano could take note and modify their cranks as I’ve seen on the forum, other people coming up with the problem)

So what I did is grind about 2mm from the back of the crank when it was nearest to the back stay, 2 mm less (thickness) and for about 15mm long where the axle of the pedal is screwed in, I’m sure that this will not affect the crank strength as they are so thick anyway, you can see for yourselves with the photos, I know have a clearance that is OK I can even fit a chain stay protector on without it being touched by the crank.

For info I’ve fitted a horrible XT 11/36 cassette, it’s so big (I’ve always used a 11/32, so the 11/36 seems so big … most of my friends run a 11/34 but not me ……) but I will need the 36 as with the 28 front  ring its going to be hard work on the hills, before I was running a 22/32/42 crankset and now  it’s  a 28/40, this means that the 28/36 will give me the equivalent of a 22/28 (before it was 22/32) so I missing a couple of pignons, I just hope that I can hack it, otherwise I’ll be walking more and more on the steep sections. 🙂 gears calc come from

Update September 2012 : In a few weeks time I’m going down south to do the Roc d’Aur, Europe’s biggest MTB meeting, Normally I do with the Rocky Mountain with a 3 * 9 setup, but I’ve just sold this and so I’m going to do it with the Van Nicholas.

My only concern is the 2 * 10 Cranks running a 28/40 setup, here were I live its fine, rarely needing a higher gear, but with the Roc this will not be the case as there are a lot of high and hard climbs to de done.

So I’ve just bought some  Sram 2 * 10 XO 26/39 cranks, with the back 36 cog this should be enough to get me up the most of the climbs, and the nice things about the cranks is  the Q factor, its perfect so no need to grind anything down so that it fits.

It’s finished …  again 10.7 kilos

Update November 2012 : While starting the Roc d’Azur this year October in the south of France, the very first day, a friend with whom I was riding said to me while we were taking a break, hey look your frame looks ‘funny’ around the seat post … so we looked a little closer and saw that the frame was fracturing around and slightly above the seat tube welding.

So back to the car ‘riding standing’ up for most of the ride, to take a real look at the frame … It was almost completely fractured  as you can see in the photos, in fact luckily for me I ride with a 400mm seat post and over 145mm are inside the tubing as it was my seat post that was keeping the frame intact and possibly saving me from a nasty accident.

A week later and back home (I finished the Roc d’Azur with my old Rocky Mountain that I had sold to a friend a couple of weeks ago) I contacted Planet-X, On One bikes who were great, they confirmed that was a problem covered by the guarantee, which was fairly obvious, I think that it’s just due to a default in the Titan, as it’s not even the weld that had fractured, and they sent me a transporter to pick up the frame once I had stripped it completely down, compliments here to On One as I live in France and they paid for the transport, which is normally for me to pay and it was done two days after my phone call and confirmation par mail, fast …..

This was almost three weeks ago, I’m now still awaiting to see what Van Nicholas are going to do, as they can either repair the frame (I doubt and hope that is it not repairable) or change it for a new Tuareg frame, this will show how good the Van Nicholas guarantee is … for the moment I’m a little worried as they don’t seem to be as rapid as On One was when I contacted them …

Update December : Van Nicholas have finally come back to me, they have agreed to change my frame as its covered by the guarantee, The  only ‘hic’ is that the new version is a 650b only, I don’t mind this as I feel that it is the way to go for hard tails, leaving the 29ers for the full sussers, I will of course have to change my wheels, head set as it’s a conical and of course my fork, but that I don’t mind.

This frame should arrive end of January, so lets wait and see, it will give me time to buy the new gear and an excuse to start a new page in this blog of mine.

So for the moment I’m riding around on my Singlespeed or my new Cannondale road bike, when the weather permits.

Singlespeed – Pompino 2011

Its time to build a new bike and replace the Langster singlespeed

I have been enjoying the Langster singlespeed for the last eight months or so, either riding to and fro to work or riding the country lanes around the village where I live.

With many rides and a little over 1386  kms on the Specialized Langster, I like the simplicity of this bike, especially as I’m used to my fully equipped MTBs, this is just the opposite, nothing to do except oil the chain from time to time.

In the winter season I ride a little less than usual, I’ll be 54 at the end of 2011, age make me lazy especially  when its wet, cold, windy etc.  so jumping on a singlespeed is a little easier than riding mountain bikes especially as when I get home a quick wash and the bike’s ready again, with a MTB, I have to wash of the mud including myself,  re grease everything, all that takes a little longer.

I’m now starting to build up my next Singlespeed from scratch, it’s what I’ve done on most of my MTBs so it should be easy, except I’m not used to road components, the makes, the models, I’m used to Shimano XTR, XT for example, and these don’t exist on Singlespeed bikes, rather Sugino and such…

I’ve spent and spending  a lot of time on singlespeed forums, certain are really active, such as getting advice and reading up on what to buy.

Frame & forks :
What I don’t like in the Singlespeed world is the frame looks, the anti sloping, track style is just something that is not me, the straight frame is Ok BUT I want a sloping frame, I’ve been around MTBs to long. I’ve found a frame and fork called Pompino, it’s a little on the heavy side but its cheap and quite sexy, strange thing about it that it takes old school cantilever V style brakes.

Bits & pieces :

Wheels : Mavic Open Pro rims with Goldtec track hubs and ACI Alpina spokes, all black, they were built by a wheel builder guy knows what he’s talking about, and his prices are good.

Ahead set : Chris King, as on all my bikes but overly expensive for the SS, so I bought a Cane Creek, it doesn’t seem to bad.
Handlebars : A Rotundo Pro 3T.
Stem : Race Face Deus : same as on all my frames 100mm long
Seat Post : Race Face Next SL : 300mm long, carbon version, again the same on all my bikes
Saddle  : Selle Italia Flite with Ti rails.Brakes : Avid Shorty 4
Brakes levers : Sram, they work with the brakes work nicely.
BB and Cranks : For the moment I’m running the cranks from the Langster
Freewheel : For the moment, the standard one that was on the Langster
Pedals : Time Atac carbon.

The bike weighs in at 9.70 kilos including pedals


It’s finally finished

Update November 2011 : I’ve now done over 1260 kms in less than 8 months with this bike, the first ride was in March 2011, so far so good, I’ve changed nothing, a couple of long rides of over 90km in one go with it, it’s just fine, its fun what you can do with a singlespeed 🙂

I mostly use it for saturday training runs, when its to muddy to get out the MTB or for getting to  work , which is only a 18km ride in each direction.

Update July 2012 : 2012 has been a shitty year for biking, be it on my Pompino or my MTBs, to much rain, see my page but when I can I get out on the Pompino, this morning had my best ride or rather fasted ride ever, home to work which is only 19km, I did it 40mins (rather than 43/45mins as usual), doing an average speed of 29.1km per hour, never have I ridden so fast, this I think is mostly due to the work outs that’s I’ve been doing 4 times a week at the gym, and last Sundays ride, where I rode 95kms at anaverage speed of 25.8 and with a 858m ascent/descent. For the moment my legs are good ….

Singlespeed – Specialized Langster – SOLD

I’ve gone over to the dark side : I’m on a road ‘Singlespeed bike’

Why the title ? because I’m really a 100% MTB’er,
I’ve been riding mountain bikes for the last 15 years BUT :

I was in London in September 2010, I was surprised by the amount of bikes on the road and especially singlespeed bikes, they were everywhere, so clean, so simplistic.

I have been riding mountain bikes for the last 15 years or so and will hopefully be riding them for more years to come (I’ll be 53 in December 10) also there is no other biking style that will change this.

But those bikes with skinny wheels, no suspension, no gears, no nothing … so different, so “oldy woldy”. Like listening to vinyls when I have the same disc on a CD, (I still buy and listen to LPs even when I’ve got the CD …) also I had read that singlepeed riding is great for strengthening thigh muscles, even more so than MTB riding, so another reason to buy one.

I had seen a Specialized Langster in a CycleSurgery shop in London which I found cheapish, and rather sexy, once back in Paris I found the same bike, so I popped down to the bike shop and bought one, size 54cm white frame, red stickers, the 2011 model. I think I bought the right size, I took the 54 though I was a little unsure between the 54cm or 56cm, only time will tell. (in MTBs I ride 18-inch) I’m 1.78m tall.

I haven’t rode a road bike in over 35 years, and even then it had gears, so I had no idea what I was getting into or what would it would be like.

The Langster is fitted with a 42 tooth front chainring and a 16 tooth back cog. So as soon as I got the bike home, I fitted some Time Atac pedals (MTB version as use them on my MTB bikes) and went out for my first ride.

Oh boy, was it weird, the position on the bike is so different, very small drop racing handlebars (they are like half the width of my carbon handlebars on my bikes) with the brakes on the top and in the middle near the stem, oh how strange it felt, also you feel all the deformations in the road, the bumps, the holes, gravel, I had forgotten what it was like, being used to a front suspension fork, also for the moment I am unable to lift the wheel of the ground to go up a kerb or such, with the position being so different.

I was really worried about not being able to ride up hills with only one gear (though I am fairly fit), but coming out of my village the first small hill no problem, so I went to see friend, 13km away, a couple of hills, though nothing really big and all went well, so 26km later and, feeling quite chuffed I arrived back home, though its going to take time to get used to the brakes, frame and of course 1 gear.

The back wheel actually has two cogs, one on either side (a flip-flop wheel), one free wheel on the chain side when buying the bike and the other side is a fixed wheel, the fixed cog means that the pedals turns all the time and you cannot freewheel, this option I saw many riders using in London with only a front brake and some with no brakes at all, just back pedaling to stop them. This, I’m not ready to try yet, as I’m not that good at biking, or rather not that crazy, so for the moment I’ll stick to the free wheel option.

So first ride,to a friend’s house about 30km, not to bad, and a real change from my MTBing, will add more thoughts when I take out the bike again, it will take some time to get used to the frame, riding position, more so the one fixed gear.

A second ride yesterday to another biking to a friend’s house, out in the country, a 28km return ride, no problems, a couple of small hills, again no problems, about 225m dénivilé up and down in all.

This morning (Friday) a home to work ride, 20km in total each way, one major hill starting from a 90° turn, so no way of getting speed to get up it, so the first 50 meters had to walk up it, but I knew this would be so, as it must be a 20% / 25%  ascent for the first 50 metres, after that the rest was OK . Went home by a slightly longer route, 10km with a friend trying to follow on his MTB, he’s fitter and younger than me, but couldn’t keep up with me, with the 27in skinny wheels, this bikes flies along and then another 10km  on my own.

So 3 days with the bike, 100km so far, quite pleased with it. Now for a break, have a weekend of real biking on my Rocky Mountain to be done 🙂

Am getting used to the small handlebars, changed the saddle from a Brooks copy to a SDG ‘Bel Air RL’ smaller and sexier and just as comfortable. I will have to change the brakes, they are pretty crap and I’m used to real stopping power with my XTR disc brakes on the other bikes, so will change these soon.

This Sunday did a 60km VTT outing at Noisy sur Oise, near my home, about 50km from Paris. Oh boy did it feel weird for the first couple of kms, the handlebars felt SO large, they are only 620mm but in comparison with the Langster that’s huge, everything just felt different, but so good,  I love suspension …. and off-road riding.

Yet another 30km tonight, Monday, 30km in a hour and 6 mins on the country roads around my village. was really good, nice and warm.

Anyway won’t have much time this week as away for the next three weekends , Got the Gamel Trophy and Le Roc d’Azur coming up, two of the best MTB events of the year.

Update : Have ordered some Shimano 105 BR5600 calipers to replace the Tektro ones, will add details when received and put on the bike. Update : brakes arrived and fitted, better than the original ones, but still not what I’d like, need to re adjust them and let the pads bed in.

Got another two rides done this week, to work and back home, 42km each time, last week’s hill that I couldn’t get up, did it this time, though at about 3km an hour …, and then the next time I tried it I actually managed to dislodge the back wheel, luckily I had two 15mm spanners and so re centered the wheel and tightened the nuts more, now I know why there are no quick releases on singlespeed back wheels.

Love the ride, it flies on flat roads, and the same rides are getting quicker each time, as starting to get used to the fell of it, but am still unable or rather not trying to lift the wheels to jump up a kerb or such, need more time with it.

Update : have ordered a Profile Design Airwing Base Bar + Profile Design Quick Stop 2 Brake Levers, want to play with different set-ups, should receive them in a week  or so.

Saturday 24th October : I went for a test ride in the fixed wheel position, Oh boy is this weird, just starting with the pedals always turning puts you off, coming out of my lane onto the road it goes down hill. Scared the shit out me, being fixed to pedals that forces your legs to turn, I jumped on the brakes to slow myself down (my heart at the same time), leveling of gave me some time to ride a little slower and suss out what to do, over 15 years in the saddle with a free wheel then riding a fixedwheel is like walking on the moon, just so weird. So anyway tried slowing the bike down using my legs rather than the brakes, you can’t pedal backwards as many seem to think, you actually ‘fight’ the forward action using your thighs, so so strange. Anyway did a 5km trip … came home with my thighs feeling ready to burst … To be honest this is not for me or at least not yet, I’m to used to be able to stop pedaling or pedaling backwards when resting my legs.

Sunday 25th : Rode a 38km ride around my village, with over 425m dénevilé (positive / negative), managed to ride with some roadies and leave them behind, great ride, the singlespeed is great, hard on the legs but every ride just seems to get better end easier.

For info I have noticed that my average speed on the flat is around the 32km per hour mark, more than that and I’m just spinning to fast, this is an easy speed and not tiring.

Fitted with SDG Bel Air RL Ti saddle, Time Atac Carbon pedals, Shimano 105 BR5600 calipers, all the rest are the original parts.

Have just weighed the Langster it comes in at about 10.4kilos, heavier than I thought.

TIP : I wanted to adjust  the chain tension : I wasn’t sure how to get the chain tension right but found / read a quite clever tip, I rolled up an old towel and placed it between the tire and the back downward stem, turning the wheel gets the towel trapped and pushes the wheel back, worked just fine.

Update : Have just fitted a DMR Chain Tug Chain Tensioner helping to keep the chain tension right and the wheel straight and correctly aligned  in the frame. Update, running the freewheel on the new wheels (see below) couldn’t fit these correctly, so for the moment they are of the bike. will try again when I receive the new freewheel (lost in the post apparently … )

Update : November 2010 : Have finally got around to adding the new handlebars and brakes : Profile design quick stop brake levers and a Profile design Airwing base bar  : Oh so much better, more comfortable for riding with a far better position, the brake levers are better than the original one and so with the Shimano 105 calipers have good braking at last. Also very important I gained about 440 grams in changing the bars as the original ones weigh in at over 660 grams and the new one only 230 grams

Did a nice little ride this morning Sunday 01/10 using the new bars, 44 km with over 550m  dénevilé (positive / negative), was great, even found a Geocache  in the town of Chaumont en Vexin, am now up to 380 km with the Langster, still pleased with it.

Two rides this weekend Saturday 20/11/2010 68 km with over 740m  ‘dénevilé’ (positive / negative), and Sunday 52 km with 671m ‘ dénevilé’ but in the rain, no sun today. 120km in two days not bad, legs are feeling good 🙂

Yesterday’s Sunday ride was in the rain, need to get some new warmer clothes more suited to riding on the road than off-road riding, it gets colder quicker on the road as you’re not sheltered by the forest, but I refuse to dress like a roadie, I’m wearing mountain bike clothes from my Met MTB helmet down to my Sidi Dragon shoes. I love looking not quite right and getting some weird looks sometimes.

27 th-28 th /11/2010 Two more rides this weekend, only 30km Saturday, had two punctures, the second one due to not finding the thorn in the tyre, took time to fix them, I’d forgotten how to use tyre spoons especially on road tyres, I’ve been around tubeless MTB tyres for so long, they rarely puncture and you don’t need tools, had to go and buy some proper tyre spoons as the little plastic ones I had in my Camalbak, broke, I used “Park Tools super patch kit” to repair the punctures, they are just great, years ago when I first tried these, they were crap, now I’ve changed my mind 🙂

Sunday 60km with friends that are both 10 and 15 years younger than me, both are  10 kilos less than me, both on road bikes with gears and minus 4° outside, a good but cold ride. It goes to show that a SS can be ridden over fairly long distances as a road bike, a great and fun alternative.

Updated 28/11/10 details from SportTracks (A program that I use for all my rides)

Vitesse moy.
24,90 km/h
# of rides
-6874 (mètre)

Update : I’ve started buying the parts for a new singlespeed that I’m going to build from scratch. I’m happy with the Langster but I want a different frame and better parts. It won’t make me a better cyclist this I know from experience. but its fun and most gratifying choosing and building up a bike, piece by piece  : the details can be found on  the page “New Singlespeed”

Update December 2010 : Mavic Open Pro rims with Goldtec track hubs and ACI Alpina spokes, all black have been added to the bike, as I’ve put a hold on the new singlespeed while building the new Tuareg MTB. So for the moment I’m fitting these to the Langster, They are far more sexy that the original wheels, having a better braking area, better rims and better hubs, I had them made up choosing the rims, spokes and hubs myself,  also they are far lighter, the front wheel is 979 gms instead of 1049 gms and the back wheel 1002 gms instead of 1183 gms, in other words 251 gms lighter, that’s a lot of weight shaved off ! Have now done two rides, each 50km, the wheels feel more confortable, not really lighter as such, but I feel like I not riding on wooden wheels anymore.

Update : January 16th 2011 : Two weeks into the new year and things are going good, with all the snow and rain that we had, MTBing is sadly still of the menu until the paths gets less muddy, so the Langster has been out most weekends, I’ve done five rides so far the longest being 85km, 323km total so far, that means an average of 64.6km per ride, legs are going to be good this year 🙂

Also I’ve changed the handlebars and brakes again, the profile bars were to long, making me reach to far,  so I cut down the original bars and turned them upside down, as I couldn’t fit the Profile brakes I installed the original Tektro brakes until I can find some better ones.

Since March2011,  I’m now riding the Pompino singlespeed the Langster I’m going to sell, all in all I rode 1386 Kms on this bike and through a period of about six months

Lapierre pro race 300 – SOLD

See my Van Nicholas post as it’s taken the place of my Lapierre : which was a very good bike and served me well, sniff, sniff

This year (2009) the training is going quite well, so I decided to buy a hard tail to play with, hoping that at the same time it would be more fun or rather different than my Rocky while just biking to work, which is half road half of road or small no real need full suspension rides.

So I went out and bought this pro-race-300

I have already changed some of the components, adding a Race Face Deus stem, Race Face Next 630mm XC carbon handlebars, added Time Atac carbon pedals, front tire  and back tyres are now  Hutchinson Pythons as it dry weather here. I have changed the brakes and shifters to Shimano Dual Control XT

First ride this morning, same route as usual to work, wow does this bike fly, 9 mins less than my usual time … need to see if its just me with a new bike or what … the bike seems more “nippier”, the XT 2009 dual controls are really nice, but not as good or as smooth as the XTR version, but are still far better than the standard push pull shifters, also what I notice is that it pulls away quicker than when I’m riding the Rocky, this is a great bike, different from the full sus Rocky, it handles just nice 🙂

I had to change the seat stem as the original one is only 350mm long and kept slipping down the frame even when  bolted tight, went to a 400mm long and the problem went away

Sensations are different than the Rocky Element, when I hit a hole with this one I feel it (hope that my back holds out …), its seems more agile and of course it’s lighter, 11.3 kilos with pedals, size 46cm (18 inches), I am 5.8 metres tall and the size 46 is exactly the same size as my Rocky 18″ the geometry of both bikes is almost exactly the same

I love it, it’s fast and fun, it’s different to the Rocky Mountain, well under half the price, for the big outings I prefer the Rocky because the suspension helps, but sometime I now debate which bike to take out …….. 🙂


Frame : Alloy 7005 SL formed flex design
Forks : Fox 32 FRL 100mm
Front Derailleur : Shimano SLX, Rear : Shimano XT inversé
Bottom Bracket & Chainset : Shimano XT
Headset : Ahead set 1.1 / 8 semi-integrated cartridge
Stem : Race Face Deus 100mm XC, Handlebars : Race Face Next  XC carbon now changed to Race Face low risers carbon
Seatpost : Woodman 400mm long, broken changed to a Raceface Deus XC 400mm
Front & Back Brake + shifters  : Dual control XT
Wheels : Shimano XT Wheelset 2009
Tyres front & back : Hutchinson Python 2.0 Tubeless
Saddle : Italia SLR
Pedals : Time Atac carbon
Weight : 11.3 Kilos,

I’ve not really tried to get it lighter, preferring quality components over weight, but I might see what I can change (again) in the coming months




Fitted with XT wheels and Race Face stem and handle bars,, XT dual control shifter/brakes and XT inversé derailleur

Update July 2009

1000 kms later (2500 kmson both bikes since January 2009)

The Lapierre is good, fast, nippy, handles really well, I do like it, I am quicker on the Rocky in downhill,and on technical uphills, the suspension helps, or is it in my head, this is good bike I thoroughly recommend it


Have just ordered some Maxxis Crossmark 26×2.10 Tubless Crossmark UST for the front and Maxxis Larsen TT 26×2.10 tubeless for the rear, the Larsen I like and have it already on my Rocky and the Crossmark seems rather good so I’ll give it a try and again if I like it will also go on the Rocky, update : I don’t like the Crossmarks, I no longer use them) I addead a Ignitor as the front tyre.

Some don’t like the blue colour as it rather flashy but I do, this weekend a friend tried it out as he was moaning about his Zesty being not really what he needs for where we live, he was so pleased with it that two days later went out and bought one 🙂

Just changed the seat post as the Woodman’s stared to fall apart on me, have added my favourite seat post of all time, a  Raceface Deus XC


Have changed the handlebars to carbon low raiser from Raceface (I like Raceface stuff …) These are nice, slilghtly lower than previous bars, the bike looks a little more “racey” and the position is better, will have to fit them to the Rocky to try them out

Low risers carbon

As it now winter the front tyre is now a Maxxis Ignitor and the back is Maxxis Larsen (winter or summer these  are fine tyres)

The Race 300 has done me all winter; this was a bad winter and so the hard  tail was just perfect, easier to maintain than the Rocky.

Now spring is at last starting to show it’s head (2010) so time for some changes, XTR : dual control brakes, 11-32  cassette and  back dérailleur have been ordered. Front dérailleur will be order in a week or when in stock

Added last night the back brake XTR, cable was to long so cut / bleed / purge but all is well, it is so much better that the XT, far smoother, now just waiting for the front derailler to arrive so that I can change the front brake. Pedalier XTR is now fitted

All done, except the wheels all is a full XTR setup, bike now weighing in at 11 kilos

Latest modif, have just added a Chris King head set, these are the best that money can buy, have had them on all my bikes, they never break or need ajusting and are so nice …. I added the silver coloured version, goes nicely with the blue frame

Not the right colour

Full XTR Setup

Update : Back wheel XT M775 Shimano XT M775 back wheel

The axle of this wheel was getting noisy and I wanted to re grease it, normally with Shimano wheels there is a 17mm nut at each end , you just undo one of these and basically slide the axle out from the other end. With this wheel only one nut can be accessed (#3 on the Shimano PDF)

What you have to do is block the (Left Hand Lock Nut (M14) with a 17mm cone spanner  (see #6 on the PDF, it’s the one nearest next to #11 seal ring) then with a locking pliers or a similar tool un screw the round piece (Cone (M14) w/Dust Cover) do this gently so not to damage the round shiny surface, this rounded piece you can then unscrew completely by hand, be careful there is a thin washer between the two #6 pieces that is not shown on the PDF) then the black nut and you can then slide the axle out from the cassette side, be careful that you do not drop and loose the bearings (#4) that are on the cassette side, 13 in all, let them drop onto a sheet or rag on the floor or table, so that you can clean them and where they were, the bearings on the non cassette side are in a race (#5), these will not drop out. clean everything as best you  can and re grease all.


Update : I have just bought a Van Nicholas Tuareg frame,