New Build Advice

new year means new bike, and i’ve decided to get a dirt/offroad bike thingy to essentially replace my spec. awol.
frame will be by the same dude who did my road (LINK)
looking for some advice and peoples thoughts on how to build something like this up.

primarily will be used for

  • single track that gets a little technical
  • long gravel rides (think 100km with 2500m of climbing)…maybe even more this year
  • mixed terrain road/gravel/single track stuff
  • also ideally a little overnight/touring riding but i’ll believe that when i do it

so i figure i’ll need some range on the gears, especially with the climbing.

big questions are -
brakes - disc? mech v hyd?
tube less ? (never done it before)
group - like my sram force but willing to try something new/different especially given the varied riding type. have a sora triple on my awol and the range is great for the longer rides but i rarely use more than 4-5 gears.
wheels/hubs? - king to hplus was expensive…wouldn’t mind saving some money on the hubs if possible.

My nfe will eventually be used for similar stuff to your bike.
Here’s what I went for:
11 speed shimano hydro shakes (685 I think)
5800 mechs
Sugino ox901 cranks, 44/30. 11-32 cassette.
Sp centrelock dynamo hub, xt rear hub machined for 11sp (there are 11sp 105 level hubs now too). The 105 level are cheap and should last forever.
Rims i19, but there’s lots of good options around.

This’ll mostly be for commuting and kid hauling with a bit of trail/gravel/adventure, the gearing should have me covered for everything.

Definitely hydro.

These look good, but pricey. Where’d you get them and for how much?

thanks hm!

why definitely hydro?
i have no intention of racing or riding particularly hard, and i kind of like the idea of knowing how to fix a problem if it happens with cable brakes.

i’ve been putting a bit of thought into 11x1; especially since most of the riding will be through the woods than out doing distance. maybe a 34t on the front and 11-32 on the back with SRAM X9 deraileur

I recently set up a Ritchey Swiss Cross and used it for the sort of riding you describe.

Brakes: trp cx 8.4. Mini Vee type brakes, very powerful, no fork judder issues. Def not as good as disc when things get hairy.
Gruppo: 1x10 with a bit of a shimano/ SRAM mix. 105 brifters, SRAM crankset with wolftooth 38 T chainring, Shimano alivio 9sp rear der with SRAM 11-36 cassette. This was a very inexpensive setup compared to buying a full group off the shelf like a SRAM cx 1. I’ve really enjoyed the 1x10 and didn’t think I was missing gears, and I’ve done some pretty hilly rides.
Wheels: using clinchers at the moment, fairly basic 105 to archetypes, does the job. Working on a tubular WS for cx racing. Thinking of going tubeless sometime but to be honest I’m not that fed up with flats yet that I really need to go tubeless.

I find that the frameset is rad as, this thing handles like a MTB. I was riding a cross check before that and it’s like night and day.

Dual action mech disc (or trp hy/rd)would be a good option if budget gets in the way. Future proofs for the day you want full hydro.

Be aware if you do go hydros and something like this happens to your Shimano RS685 ones:

Then you’re up for a new pair of hydro brifters AFAIK, as parts aren’t available. So that’s $470 plus shipping. Not a cheap way to have brakes.

Ftfy, sorry.

I understand the hesitation with hydro, but they work so well and probably won’t break. They’re still a virtue for everyday riding as well as racing.

Going cheap in case something breaks isn’t always justified when it will work so much better for the rest of the time. IMO go for hydros, the feeling is so much better than cable or cable/hydro hybrid systems.

Just don’t let Geoff’s missus drive your car and you should be sweet.

Cable works fine, but hydro is just so much nicer.
It’s the same with any components really. There’s always something a bit lighter/stronger/smoother/suppler/shinier. It’s just personal preference.

It’s not a case of going cheap, this will cost some money and I will spend the money I need to.

For me I have never tried hyrdos so I’m not sure whether they’re worth it. Same for tubeless.
It’s hard to figure out what the difference those things would make.
I’m going to try borrow someone’s bike for a ride that has those things to see whether I will or not. Not the be all and end all of the build.

Seb thanks for the build details, haven’t considered mixing and matching yet. Good to hear feedback on 1x10 setups. In talking to a couple of folks here that (or 1x11) will likely be the way I’ll go.

So much this.

I pretty much made my mind up last year I was never going to buy another bike that didn’t have hydro disc brakes. So no more trolling vintage steel frames on eBay for me.

For me, there’s two big advantages to hydro. I can bomb down a gravel road, fully loaded with camping gear + me (90kg) and come to a stop with one finger on each lever. Because they’ve got a softer pull, on long bumpy descents I also don’t get hand cramps/pain from squeezing the levers.

Big bonus of tubeless is no pinch flats, which you’ll definitely encounter on singletrack and rocky/corrugated gravel roads.

I’m just building up a mtb after deciding my CX isn’t going to cut it any more.

If you’re going to do trails, then defo hydro, you’ll need the extra power and ease of modulation.
I had the same, probably standard concerns initially, but they’re not that complicated and in the unlikely event that one fails, you’ll still have another. All parts can fail but don’t build a bike on these concerns.

Stans Notubes are pretty popular. It’s a mod kit for clincher tyres to make them tubeless and tough as hell. They’re about $100 for a kit however.

The trend seems to be towards 1 x 11, and SRAM GX is an epic set up. Pricey though and with slightly limited gearing, you’ll need to be a bit fit.

Good times ahead.

From Alex’s cycle in Japan. Not cheap, but they were part of a 40th bday present. $400 or something stupid…

I’d pretty much decided on hydro: talking to Blakey about his experience convinced me 100%.

Oh, and I’ll be going tubeless as soon as I wear out the hetres I got for cheap. I have tubeless on my roadie and it’s fantastic: ride is good and fast, haven’t had a puncture (touch wood).

Also, I can’t see the point of 1x for anything that’ll see proper gradients. To get a decent range you end up with massive gaps. Good for CX or short course MTB, but can’t see the point for real-world stuff.

That’s what I saw. Hmmm… not cheap at all.
I’m considering gearing down for Tour Aotearoa. Might just go a single 30t front instead of 34/50.

Why not just gear for the lowest ratio you’ll need, then spin for the 2-3% of time you spend on long descents? It’s not like on the road where you might regularly exceed 50km/h safely.
On long gravel descents or when fully loaded I don’t really want to go too fast because of safety, so I just coast.