Monday, May 02, 2011

Custom Bicycle Build: Mark's Titanium Vaya Sport Tourer


Mark and I have been talking for some time about building him a touring bike.  The primer for this bike was to build a versatile, modern, well manner bicycle.  This bike will be used for gravel road riding, day trip and multi-day touring, and eventually a cross country trip in a few years. The bike needed to be built with robust enough parts to handle a well selected touring load, while not being ponderously heavy when riding unloaded.

Salsa's titanium Vaya was selected for the frame set of this bike.  The ride quality and fatigue life of titanium lends itself perfectly to a long life of cruising all manner of roads.  The geometry of the Vaya is what I would call a near perfect blend of traditional touring bike stability, while keeping the handling lively enough to not put you to sleep when the hammer's down.  The fit and finish of these ti Salsa frames is top notch.  It's makes a hell of start for a beautiful bike.


This bike in 55cm is beautifully proportioned.   The red Chris King color pops off the titanium background.  Traditional touches with the bar end shifters, natural color of the bar wrap, and honey Brooks B-17 Special really go well with the modern parts such as disc brakes and the ten speed Sram drivetrain.  Looks have every bit as much to do with customer satisfaction as performance on a build like this.  This bike looks as good as it will go. The steer tube is left uncut before a final fitting this week.


This bike puts money where it matters most in terms of components.  Starting with with gorgeous ti frame and steel fork this bike is built for the long haul, (pun intended.)  All parts that roll do so on fully rebuild-able Chris King bearings.  The wheels will roll, the cranks will spin, and the headset will turn almost forever. In addition to performing really well, all of these parts are just gorgeous. The wheels and tires those previously discussed here.

Beautiful Ti welds are complimented by the mirror smooth finish on the Chris King bottom bracket.

The drive train parts on this bike are put together with Sram's X9 group.  I really like these parts.  They perform at nearly as high of a level as Sram's more expensive XO and XX lines at a fraction of the cost.  They are durable, shift really well, look good, and are competitive in terms of weight to Shimano XT level parts.  Paired with Sram bar end shifters, this should be a very durable set up.

A semi-traditional bend handle bar from Bontrager is held in place by Salsa's gorgeous Promoto Ti stem. The Red King headset really pops on either end of the taller head tube, and matches Sram's shifter color very well.

I love the lines on this bike.  It just looks right. I like everything about it.  It's a near perfect build for Mark's intended use, and a great example of how we like to build bikes.  This bike has a killer frame and wheels, completed with solid, good looking dependable parts.  I wouldn't change a thing if I built it for myself.  

Happy Monday all.  Have a great week. 


MG said...

Awesome build Ben. Thanks for sharing it.


Wally said...

He capped off a build like that with a Thudbuster?

I totally get every other part and love the spec sheet until you got to the seat post. Sort of like putting a tractor seat in a Porsche. I know you have Eriksen's

I'm really going back and forth on getting rid of the Fargo's Thudbuster and putting a Eriksen sweetpost on it. It rides that good.

At any rate, nice frame, nice parts - mostly. My orange Vaya frame may become a Ti Vaya frame after this season......

Ben said...

Yup, you got it. Thudbuster. I'll give you that they are not the prettiest, but they serve a very real purpose. I have had many long days in the saddle that had me wishing I had my Thudbuster in.

All things considered, it's a practical approach, but an Eriksen would be nicer looking.

Wally said...

I'm not 100% sold on the Thudbuster given its design and motion. I am thinking any perceived benefit is in my head. After using the Eriksen on my Vaya, its tough for me to even consider another post.

But back on this build, okay I grant you practical but the rest of the build reeks of top components not necessarily practical...just a kick ass build using top parts until you get to the seat post. Went from supermodel to a homely gal in a prom dress.

Wally said... seat collar too....

Ben said...

I do agree with you that there are better looking options. We may get to a Ti post at some point.

I've used Ti posts and carbon posts before. They are similar, but do feel different than a thuddie. I can easily see having both, and in due course I will.

I did forget the red collar, it's coming.

James Fisher said...

I thought the red seat collar was on there...ThudBuster or no ThudBuster that is the question.....At a certain point the owner makes choices for personnel reasons that may and may not meet with the rest of our "aesthetic" eye or rear end as this case may be. I know that there are those that cringe evertime they see my handlebar choices and Brooks saddles, so be it. They work for me.
This is one hot TI bike. It not only looks good but should just about last forever with only very basic maintenance.

Guitar Ted said...

Ben, nice looking rig there. Did I miss what the tires are? Contis, but how big? DT Swiss rims?

I guess I like Thuddys. I have two, and really, while you are riding, you can't see it, and they basically become invisible after the initial weirdness wears off. I can see having a titanium post if you are into weight savings.

So, I wouldn't turn down a titanium post, but don't diss a Thuddy till you've used one on a long, rough ride. Your rear end doesn't care what you seat post looks like! Ha!

Ben said...

GT the wheels at Dt TK rims and 42c Continental CX Speed tires. I love the tires, and discussed them a bit below here. You were in the midst of Trans IA when I posted about those. Great, great tires.

Steve Fuller said...

Honestly, I didn't notice the seat post at first. A Thuddy with a Brooks is an interesting combo. Have not seen those two together before.

Anonymous said...

if you were looking for seat options why didnt you go with a rigid seatpost and a sprung brooks? I have a flyer seat with springs that works perfectly

Ben said...

It was really up to the customer here. I've ridden sprung Brooks in the past, and I do really like them. The motion of the sprung saddle as compared to the Thudbuster is completely different. It is just a matter of personal preference, and in this case this was the way to go.