With Cycling Weekly?s local track, Herne Hill, due to open again this summer and a few outings on the cards, I felt it was about time that I got in some road practise on a fixed-wheel bike, both to get used to pedalling constantly and to remind my legs what spinning was all about. A bike like this shouldn?t just be for a few months, I wanted to build something for life and I wanted to build it up from scratch.
The first stop was obviously the frame and there were several options available. I really liked the look of the LeMond Fillmore fixed with its black tubes and off-white bands. Having loved the ride of the LeMond Maillot Jaune I tested last year, I hoped I?d get on with the Fillmore ? but with no mudguard eyes the £900 Fillmore wasn?t really cut out for a British winter.
As my track bike was made by Brian Rourke I thought he?d be able to do a great job on the fixed road bike as well. He still had my details on record, so I didn?t need to make another trip up to his Stoke-on-Trent shop and Brian was happy to make a the necessary alterations, namely a slightly higher bottom bracket, a touch longer head tube, and geometry tweaks for the road. The back end was eased out slightly as well, to ensure I could run a comfy 25mm tyre and the requisite mudguards.
Now that the frame was sorted it was down to the hard bit of specifying the components. Not wanting to take the easy route I didn?t want to let Brian Rourke spec or build the bike, but I knew little about what was required. Forks and cranks were what troubled me the most. I asked Brian to build the Rourkie frame with a one-inch steerer tube ? well, it is a steel frame! There aren?t, however, many one-inch carbon forks with mudguard eyes. Having used both the Alpina and Tifosi forks on a Tifosi winter bike two seasons ago I wanted to try something else. Reynolds makes some lovely forks but doesn?t list a one-inch with ?eyes?, and they would probably have been overkill for a bike which will see more than its fair share of bad weather.
Searching through several of the online shops I found that Ribble listed a suitable fork from ITM in the form of the Millennium ? that was great news as ITM makes some of the best forks and we?ve not tested a set before. Next were the cranks.
Researching the market I was surprised at the limited number of options. Obviously there are the track versions from Dura-Ace, Record and Miche, but we?ve tested all these before and they all perform well at the respective prices. TA also makes a very popular crank in the Alize, although this is strictly a double chainring set-up, the narrow chain line it offers means that it suits the single-ring option very well too. For something a little different, though, FSA had to be the choice for the Rourkie. A meaty piece of engineering, the Vigorelli crank uses an ISIS drive to connect it to the bottom bracket.
When it actually arrived the size of the FSA crank was somewhat of a surprise. Designed for competitive track use the arm itself was a seriously substantial girder-like item. With a one-piece carbon spider the modern industrial look is continued, and while I?m not sure it fits with the overall look of the Rourkie, it?s certainly an awesome piece of engineering.
Consultation with several local aficionados proved that there was no perfect gear, so I took a stab in the dark. With the Vigorelli cranks coming with a 49-tooth ring, and wanting something around 70 inches, I went for an 18 sprocket.
As I wanted to run a front brake rather than the strict courier set up of no brakes ? hey, I don?t trust Croydon drivers enough ? I needed to get a set of track hubs built onto a road rim. I spotted a very tasty set on a show bike that were made by Goldtec. Designed for fixed, they have an Allen key bolt so allow the 15mm spanner to be left at home. The rear axle is slotted and they can take two single rings rather than a fixed and single free as many set-ups dictate. We?ll have a test on them soon.
Elsewhere most of the equipment is fairly regular. With no shifting to be done Shimano?s old-school R600 brake levers can be used. These combined with the deep drop (57mm) front caliper brake to allow the mudguards do the job. And it?s all finished off with Conti 25mm GP3000 tyres and a Specialized Alias saddle.
Brian Rourke 01782 835368, www.brianrourke.co.uk