Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Custom Bicycle Build: Mark's Pofahl Single Speed Road Bike

We finished up Mark's gorgeous single speed road bike last Saturday.  We fit Mark for the bike here and designed the geometry to suit his needs.  Mike Pofahl followed through with gorgeous construction and appropriate tubing choices.


This bike started with the idea of a classically designed steel single speed road bike.  It would have traditional performance road geometry, clearance for 28c road tires, and it was to be painted school bus yellow to match my 1988 vintage Pofahl drop bar mountain bike. After fitting Mark to his current road bike, we used that as a basis for this built.  All designed and plugged in to Bike CAD, here's what we ended up with.

The bike features a slightly sloping top tube, fairly short chain stays, and a slightly lower bottom bracket to match the larger 28c tires.  All in all it's a pretty standard road bike with a few retro twists.  The frame, fork, and custom stem were all going to be fillet brazed. 

Here's the finished product.  The stem is flipped to the positive on the real bike, but the rest is just as pictured above.  The fit and finish are spot on, as is the original design.  To quote Mark when he came back from a 20 minute test ride, "It's perfect."  Hard to sum it up better than that.

Build Kit

The parts used for this build are a mix of new and used parts.  The foundation of the build lies in the White Industry hubs and freewheel.  Especially on a single speed, these are critical components.  We laced White Eno single speed hubs to Hed Belgium rims with standard butted spokes and brass nipples.  Along with their classic look, these wheels should provide years of untouched good service.

The rear drop outs are from Paul Components.  These feature built in, finger operated chain tensioners.  They are classically designed, and functionally perfect.  I love the length of adjustment these provide as well as the ease of chain tensioning.  They are a perfect choice for this build.

Up front the bike wears a Pofahl stem to match the gorgeous fillet brazed, unicrown fork.  The headset is a subtle Cane Creek 100 in black.  It's one of my favorites, the no logo look matches well with the clean classic build.  Really clean fillets and head tube enforcing lugs round out the front end of the bike. The fork is cut long for fine tuning of fit.  It will be cut a second time once Mark arrives at a happy spot.

On of the key components of this bike is the tire selection.  These are Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tires in 28c.  These are impressive tires to say the least.  They are among the highest performance road tires made, and are really, really light.  Mounted on Hed rims these measure out to be an actual 31mm at 90psi!  It's hard to fully describe how big these are.  I love them.  They are enough to make a guy consider new road bike possibilities for sure.  As light as they are, and as high quality as they are, imagine what these would ride like on a pair of Hed Ardennes or a similar really light set up!

The tires really fill up the fork and brake nicely.  More than a little gunsmithing was required to modify these brakes to clear the tires.  A set of vintage single pivot Campagnolo or Suntour brakes with non aero levers would look superb on this set up while providing perfect clearance for the tires. The adjusting barrel on the brake is tightened all the way up to prevent the bike from rolling for these pictures.

The hourglass seat stays are one of the finer points of Mike's construction of this bike.  They just flow to the drop outs.  Super clean, the thin tubing further accentuates the considerable girth of the big Schwalbes.  

I love the profile of this bike.  It's one of those that definitely just look right.  It is poised and composed as a modern bike, but elegantly constructed with classic looking parts.  I think we really achieved exactly what we set out to with this build.

We wish Mark many happy miles on his new bike.  It was a pleasure to work on this from start to finish.  I couldn't be happier with the result.


Erik said...

First, let me state that that is a beauty of a bike. I'm a fan of fillet brazed frames, and those seat stays are dead sexy.

Two questions: Why the problems with the brake clearance? The R358's should have gobs of clearance for that size tire. Perhaps fork length/bridge placement would change if you were to do it again? Second, why the ENO hub if you have horizontal drops?

Regardless, that's a sweet rig. I'll have to put those big Ultremos on my wish list.

Ben said...

Erik, thanks for the comments.

The brakes were supplied by the customer. The bike was built for short reach brakes around a true 28mm measured tire. These came in so much wider and taller than that they posed a bit of clearance issues.

Common SLR type dual pivot brakes have much less clearance under their mounting bolts due to thicker, (and therefor stiffer,) braking arms. It's this combined with the much bigger than anticipated tires that caused the issue.

After trying several different sets of modern short reach calipers from Shimano, Tektro, and some older ones, I decided the best results would be achieved by modifying the underside of the leverage arm on these brakes. As you can see, these mods are next to impossible to see even looking for them. They in no way impede proper braking or safety, and the bike brakes quite well indeed.

If these tires did indeed measure out to a true 28c, or if any smaller tire at all were to have been used they would clear just fine. Both the frame and fork are within spec for what we had asked for, the tires are just that big.

There are several types of White Industries Eno hub. You are thinking of the Eccentric Eno, whereas this is the standard, non-eccentric Eno hub. Eno hubs in disc and standard brake configurations are available in eccentric and standard axle configurations.

The tires are indeed to die for.

Head Honcho said...

stunningly beautiful! I'm partial to FB bikes as well. And SS's. But you knew that.

Ben said...

What, you like fillet brazed single speeds? ;)

Guitar Ted said...

Outstanding! Mike out does himself with every new bike I see of his. Congratulations to all involved in the project. There is much to be proud of there!

While those tires might be considered "huge" to a roadie, I have a hard time thinking that they are not "skinny". (But that's just me!)

MMcG said...

Gorgeous bike! awesome lines to it!

Anonymous said...

That brake hole is crying to the seatstay bridge:
Why, oh why didn't they place me just a few mms higher? If the tire fits in the fork, should it not fit in the brake?
Cheer up says the seatstay bridge, they had even more latitude with my placement, yet they messed it up just the same..

Ben said...

The photo of the rear is deceiving, as it is not take at an angle at which you can see along the top of the tire where you would accurately be able to judge the placement of the brake bridge. There is actually more clearance under the rear brake and bridge as there is on the front fork.

There is nothing messed up about the placement. Both fork and rear of the frame were built to clear an actual 28mm tire for use with a standard short reach brake. As I describe above an in the post, (which you would have seen if you had read it carefully,) is that these tires actually measure 31mm. That is well over 3mm taller and wider than the bike was built to fit. The fact that they fit safely, and that the brake work perfectly is clearly beyond your observation. If a tire measuring 28mm were put on these same wheels as spec called for, there would be well over 6mm of clearance at the tightest point front and rear. This is almost double of what any road bike from Trek in my shop currently has.

Even if these tires would have ended up not fitting in this bike the fault would have been with Schwalbe, who's labeled tire size is grossly understated compared to what they actually are.

As I've said, the bike was built to fit a 28c tire, and would have fit those without any issues whatsoever. Upon seeing the tires and how much larger than intended they were, our customer decided to go ahead and use them. I had to modify a few customer supplied parts to gain clearance necessary to fit these tires. No modification was required to the frame and fork.

Anonymous said...

all good points Ben. But none of that elbow grease would have been needed if the hole was 2mm higher.
Why paint yourself into a corner?

Ben said...

If the hole was 2mm higher, or if the fork was 2mm higher, there would have been a larger than aesthetically pleasing gap around a 28mm tire. As I said, this bike was designed to used at most a 28mm performance road tire.

There's nothing here that painted anyone into a corner, the brake bridge and fork were actually placed higher than they needed to be, (as you suggested,) for the tire that was supposed to be speced.

Anonymous said...

As the owner of this beautiful bike that Mike created and Ben/Milltown crew helped design and build, I have to say it turned out perfect.

I stated I wanted a performance road bike geometry with a classic neo-retro look and to fit 28c tires with no fenders. That is exactly what they delivered. The Schwalbe 700x28C tires I had ordered for it turned out to be larger than a normal 28 by quite a bit, but are really nice, light tires that ride great, so we decided to try to use them along with my existing brakes.

The fit and look of the tires in the frame/brake bridge looks perfect and there is plenty of clearance which was great as I got to use these seriously cool tires.

I thank Ben/Milltown for Getting it all put together with my mix of old/new parts.

As for the ride, it is perfect. Very performance oriented feel and it goes fast and feels smooth. Everything I asked for when we set out on designing this bike.

The finish quality of the frame/fork/stem is also top notch, it is gorgeous to look at, and the paint is so close to Ben's 20 some year old Pofahl MTB that we almost have to get a photo of both together side by side someday.

I am very pleased with the bike thus far.

James Fisher said...

Absolutely a beautiful bike. Mike P., Ben and the "anonymous" owner put together a gem. When I first saw the Schwalbe's I had to look at the sidewalls, not believing anyone that they were 28's! These tires are huge yet lighter than anything I own. This beauty was the result of a carefully orchestrated collaboration between owner, the frame builder and Milltowns' dedication to ensuring the customer receives a top quality cycle matched to their needs.