When I met my wife she did not own a bike, a situation that was soon rectified when I convinced her to buy a new Trek mountain bike. Despite a disastrous first outing when, learning to use her new clipless pedals she experienced her typical right-of-passage tip over in the middle of a large puddle/small pond, she has grown to enjoy the sport, often choosing to ride a bike over her once favored in-line skates.
Through the years I have built her several bicycles, but it’s her current ride that, last summer, inspired her to start riding to work a couple days a week. Her previous road bike was a 2002 Cannondale Road Warrior, which for that particular year and model was basically a CAAD4 road frame with more upright geometry updated with Shimano 9-speed Tiagra components matched with a triple crank, stock cro-moly steel fork, and stock 32-spoke basic wheels with Michelin Dynamic tires. The Cannondale fit her very well, functioned well, and road “fine” but never inspired many miles.
So, I sold off the Cannondale and started from scratch, choosing to build up a bike and address all the issues where I saw improvements could be made.
To start, I chose a 2005, 53 cm, Lemond Chambery frame I purchased on Ebay in pristine condition. The frame is aluminum with carbon fiber seat and chain stays, plus a carbon fork. In comparison to the Cannondale this bike has significantly better vibration absorption.
Next up were the components. I was using Campagnolo on my bike, and I chose the same for hers. Campagnolo offered shifters with their ergolevers for smaller hands, and had a great mid-cage derailleur and13-29 cassette. I ended up with a mix of Centaur shifters and derailleurs with Veloce brakes and compact 50-34 crankset. This arrangement provided the same gear range as her old triple setup in a much lighter, much easier to use, and smoother shifting package. For the high range, a 50×13 is more than enough for many people because they are usually coasting before spinning out this gear. I often suggest to keep the same component brand within a family, but there are times such as gear availability or sizing when it makes sense to switch it up.
For the wheels I had a set of budget Xero XR-1 wheels that were too flexy for my weight, but would be perfect for hers. At 1496 grams without their original decals they are quite lightweight in comparison to almost any aluminum clincher at any price. Matched with these are set of 23mm Michelin Pro Race2 with Michelin Air Comp 70 grams tubes.
We selected a Jett Women’s Saddle from Specialized for comfort, and a Delta Cycle Rear Rack Quick Trunk Bag for transporting a change of clothing and other essentials. And, the woman who got stuck in her pedals, now is very comfortable in Sidi Zephyr Carbon Shoes with Look Keo Road Bike Pedals. I also usually suggest that couples use the same pedals for that the other person can jump on the bike for riding diagnostics of any issues and for keeping spare cleats.
The end result was a bike that was more comfortable, shifted cleaner, and had better acceleration. Weighing 18.5 lbs fully-built minus the rack, the bike is lightweight, making pulling it up hills, and the three-flights of stairs to her office, easier.
Now that the sun is shining, my wife is getting itchy to get back on the bike – so it was time for me to get her ride ready!