Gentle Lover brother and fellow small guy Mandy Bootz is on a brand new Speedvagen as of a couple weeks ago. He, like all of us, found it incredibly difficult to wait patiently while his machine was crafted, so when he heard that the paint was dry and the frame was prepped, he hurriedly snapped it up from the shop and swung over to my house, where we immediately got all ten kinds of na$ty on it with wrenches, beer, grease, beer, cable cutters, and beer. As it was with the two other SVs I’ve put together, the frame prep was impeccable; bottom bracket cups threaded all the way in by hand, all water bottle bosses were perfectly on the center plane of the frame, etc. That is, of course, no small feat at all, but it’s also exactly the quality that I’d expect the shop to turn out, so I won’t spend too much time gushing over it. Instead, I wanted to share my thoughts from setting a bike up with 2013 SRAM Red bits and pieces (10 speed) since I was, up until now, completely lacking any experience with the stuff. As a dyed-in-the-synthetic-athletic-fabric campy man, would I dig it, or would I find myself at the end of the day longing to go back to the land of ergos and ultras?
In short, I loved the SRAM Red build.
I am a dude who is far (far) from sold on the extremely loud graphics all over it, and I still think that, from a design perspective, assigning more than one task per lever (double-tap) is not the most robust approach, but when the whole package came together at the end, I had to admit that it was quite a lovely system.
Much of the build was completely un-noteworthy, which is fantastic. SRAM didn’t have to resort to any strange or outlandish assembly methods to get the job done; from beginning to end, it was pretty obvious what function each screw served. I would say, from the ease of assembly perspective, my favorite parts were that a) if I remember correctly, we didn’t need anything but a few standard metric allen wrenches (no torx, no phillips, no flat head) and b) the hood mounting screws were really easily accessible. I definitely couldn’t say the same for the campy gruppo I recently hung on a bike.
While I didn’t bother reading instructions for most parts, and I used a different method to size the chain than they recommended, when it came to the front derailleur I thought it wise to take SRAM’s direction as gospel, and the results were delightful. I lined up this thing with that thing, made these things parallel, turned screws as I was told, and at the end we had something that both felt pretty common sense to set up and worked like a trick. Indeed, as advertised, all 20 ratios with no chain rub.
The fact that the rest of the build left me with few memories and more time than expected at the end of the day tells me that it was all quite nicely designed. If an assembly process – of anything, bike or otherwise – passes by with no cursing, smashing, or any ill will towards the creators, it’s a fantastic success, and if it manages to be pleasurable or even fun during the process, then that’s icing on the cake, right? My hat is off to you, SRAM, well played.
And with that, rather than go on and on with words, check out these beauties:
PS: Probably really old news, but it’s new to me. Baby Boy Da Prince and his besties are really speaking to my soul on this one. In fact, I myself have considered putting Lamborghini doors on my vehicle, so that when they open up they open UP. Thanks for the heads up, Graham!
PPS: I think we’re all supposed to collectively kind of hate this guy, but I just don’t. I can’t. If I had multiple shots at life, I would devote one to trying to live exactly like him. Especially the part where he was on From G’s to Gents, on MTV.