My Hunor frame was ready to be built into a racing machine that I hope will stand up to the Silk Road Mountain Race in Kyrgyzstan. It’s comfortable enough for long days in the saddle, durable, and not heavy as a rock (of course, that’s very subjective, what’s heavy for who).
If you haven’t read the previous article on skeleton building, it’s worth going through it first to understand what the main motivation and driving force behind the build was.
Durability and trouble-free operation were the primary criteria in the selection of components. I didn’t want to include components that could put me in a tricky position if there was a problem. There are very few “western” bicycle shops in Kyrgyzstan. In the capital, Bishkek, there are only 1 or 2 mechanics who can handle, say, a disc brake deflation or a telescope service with a steady hand. Intensive use will test any bike sooner or later, so it’s a good idea to keep in mind when building a bike how much potential trouble you can get into with a particular component in the middle of the wilderness or up a three-thousand metre hill.
The vast majority of the parts were sourced from German shops or the second-hand market.
Now you just have to “dress it up”.
I therefore rejected the telescope not only because of its weight, but also because of the possibility of failure. I don’t deny that it was often missing, but at least it would have made some parts of the route more comfortable or enjoyable. The price of the custom steel fork was approaching that of the carbon fork (it was nearly three times the weight), and I had been wanting to try one for a long time anyway, so I started looking. Sourcing carbon forks has not been easy, and not just because of inflated prices. The criteria was that it had to be 110 mm wide and have a 15 mm diameter with luggage rack eyes. The latter parameter has already filtered the “field”, with relatively few models being made for bikepacking. I could have got a second-hand Niner fork at a reasonable price, which would have been suitable in every way, but the only problem was that the neck was cut very short and would have messed up the geometry of the Hunor. After a long search, when it looked like there would be no carbon fork, we finally managed to get an exhibitor’s piece from Germany with a longer neck than the Niner’s, through the German Bombtrack factory, which could have been a success. Fortunately, this was clear from the start of the build, and András tried to keep the header length as short as possible, while still staying within reason.
I thought for a long time about whether I would dare to take on the hydraulic brakes, but in the end I let it go. I know, they are very rarely a problem, but that’s not a guarantee for me. I saved many parts from my retired frame, both because they did their job well and for financial reasons. I knew that when the new 29er bike was ready, I wouldn’t use the 26er very much. I’ll build an SS out of it one day.
I’m very happy with the TRP Spyke brakes, we’re well past the endurance test, they’re proven and I know them. I completely disassembled the calipers, cleaned everything, wiped it down, re-greased the balls and put in the new pads. They got a new set of Jagwire Mountain Pro bowden sets, if you’ve got geese. They both turned out to be fat.
Attention! The little one bites.
For the drivetrain, I stuck with Shimano’s tried and tested Hollowtech II series, shot a Shimano XT from the Austrian second-hand market, used last year’s ZEE plate, which has plenty of miles left, and got a new MT 8000 center bearing. Rohloff can be used with virtually any chain, I prefer ebike chains for the extra durability.
Reserve Filmore tubeless valve. Small pepper, but expensive!
I don’t like to compromise on the wheel, one of the most stressed parts of the bike. I don’t fully trust the factory wheels, but what I did trust, my wallet didn’t want. So the carbon was out, leaving the aluminium, something of quality. I’m not saying that weight doesn’t matter in a long bikepacking race, but for me it’s secondary, or I would say I’m concerned about it and I’m counting, but I’m not going crazy. What I was sure of was that I didn’t want to go below 32 holes. No more, no less. The other requirement was to have an inner rim width of around 30mm. I plan to put wider tyres on it, András designed the frame the same way, I need the wider rim. After a long search and a lot of reading, I chose the DT XM 481 rim. The weight of 525 g is acceptable for such a strong rim, in exchange for 30 mm internal width and welded. The black hole came when I weighed the rims that arrived and both weighed 574g. That’s not exactly the 5% tolerance. I contacted the factory, who did not understand what had happened and suggested I send the rims back to Switzerland. Since I was running out of time, I let it go and got comfortable with the idea of “lead-weight” rims.
The brain dynamo gives itself as a source of illumination, but I gave it up for two reasons. First and foremost, it was going to cost an extra 200E by the time it was lit and the budget couldn’t cope with that. The other is that in the terrain of the Kyrgyz race, you often can’t even use the brain dynos for lighting, let alone charging anything from them. The riders are simply going so slowly that the brain dynamos are useless on several stages. So the front wheel was fitted with a dt 350 hub, the rear with the usual Rohloff 500/14. The only thing I didn’t do was the wheel threading, it’s science, I’m not going to experiment with it now, see if I can do it…
My buddy David, who distributes several big brands in Hungary, also intervened in my case and I got a lot of cycling accessories and parts from them. Knog headlight bracket and spare, as well as rear indicators, SKS products, Continental outer(Race King 2.2 Protection) – inner tyres and milk, and ESI grips were included in the package.
In the end, the Race King remained as a training and spare tyre for the race. The Continental Cross King ‘s exterior was so flawed that they couldn’t even send it out in a month. I would have liked to have at least a 2.3 exterior (to compensate for the lack of a telescope), something that didn’t come close to the Lada Niva’s off-road tyres in rolling resistance and weight. I ended up wearing the Vittoria Mezcal 2.35 for the race.
I can’t think of a better look for a more arid terrain at home (say a Divide). Incredibly fast and durable rubber!
We asked for the Rohloff gearbox in 36 holes to make it as strong as possible for the world tour. No matter what, there was never a problem with them. However, in size 29 the choice of 36 hole rims is very small. So I asked Péter Lenkei, Rohloff’s distributor in Hungary, what could be done. He suggested replacing the brain case with a 32-hole version. Peter said a word or two about my plans at the factory in Germany, who were kind enough to donate all the parts I needed to replace the hub, and sent me a new brake disc, bowden set, oil, sprockets. The replacement wasn’t as complicated as I first thought, Peter peeled my gearbox with sure hands and after a good cleaning, put it together with my new chitti-fitti brain. He was so nice that he even did the wheel spinning. The Rohloffs also sent a set of Sapim Race spokes made especially for the gearbox.
In the top left picture you can see the oil sludge in the disassembled gearbox. This is why the oil needs to be changed after every 5000 km.
I’ve had some practice in building, and the longest time I’ve spent on the frame has been on the matting. The construction itself took just a few hours.
When I say that it was strange to get on the new bike, it doesn’t express how I felt. It was both unusual and incredibly comfortable. I put it as if I had transferred from a small Cesna plane to a Boeing. I was thinking that this bike is a tank, a destroyer, but not sluggish or cumbersome. Only the steering wheel, for example, has suddenly become 10 centimetres wider! The fresh air was just pouring into my lungs!
I had very little experience with 29er bikes, but I knew that something was really different and better here. When I got to the terrain, I felt that it really did roll over the obstacles more easily, as if the unevenness had been smoothed out and I wasn’t bouncing like I had been on the 26 before.
I didn’t get to spend too much time testing the bike, because I found myself thinking that even though I’d just put it together, I could take it apart (a little) and put it in a box. Let’s go Kyrgyzstan!
Head to the 2022 Silk Road Mountain Race!
Ready to go. The mud worm hole is clearly visible in the pictures.
Frame: Hunor Custom Steel 29″
Villa: Bombtrack BPC
Steering bearing: Pro Gravity
Brake: TRP Spyke, mechanical, with semi-metallic pads
Disc: front Shimano XT Ice Tech, rear Rohloff (180-180)
Brake lever: Avid SD 7
Rims: DT Swiss xm 481
Felnisband: bc basic
Visitors: Sapim Race
Valves: Reserve Filmore
First brain: DT 350 centerlock
Rear brain/transmission: Rohloff 500/14
Chain: KMC e1 EPT
Drivetrain: Shimano XT FCM-760
Central bearing: Shimano MT 8000
Pedal: One Up Composite
Government: SQ Lab X30 12 degrees, medium rise
Government horn (I know, I know!): No name
Markolat: ESI Extra Chunky
Saddle tube: Thomson Elite 27,2
Saddle clamp: Woolf Tooth
Nyereg: Brooks B17 Imperial (Honey)
Front lighting: Knog Pwr Modular Trail
Rear indicators: Plug Rear Bike Light and
Blinder Mob V Kid Grid
Keychains: SKS Carbon
The total cost of the bicycle construction: 800.000 HUF (This amount of course does not include the value of the existing used parts and the parts received as subsidies.)
Boros Balázs Squirrel
Text and editing:
Boros Balázs Squirrel