Project Inbred - Bike Magic

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Project Inbred

Building bikes up from bits is often a frustrating experience. There’s always some insignificant yet vital part that you’ve forgotten to get, or something doesn’t fit or you just can’t get a bit to work and it’s the middle of the night and you want to go riding tomorrow and the bike shop’s not open until Monday… We’ve all been there. But there’s a very real sense of achievement when it all comes together. And so it was with Bikemagic’s Project Inbred, finally complete…The objective was to build something appropriate for a UK autumn/winter. Simplicity and reliablity are the goals. A secondary goal was making it not too expensive. We seem to have blown that a bit, mind. Some of the kit is tried and tested stuff, but most of it is things with a good reputation that we figured we should try for ourselves.

If you’re thinking UK and simple then an On-One Inbred seems like a good choice to start with. On-One know what mud is and design their frames accordingly – the Inbred has a shedload of mud room round the back end. It’s also steel, which means that lots of people can ooh and aah over the zing or whatever it is in the ride quality and the rest of us can just appreciate the slender lines and the fact that it’s tough as very elderly boots.

Big, burly Bombers

While you can get Inbred frames to take gears, this one’s a singlespeed. Not for any tree-hugging nonsense reasons, but because they’re good fun, there’re fewer whirly bits to get clogged up and, well, this is what On-One sent us. You’ll notice that, unlike most singlespeed frames, this one doesn’t have horizontal slotted dropouts to take up chain tension. Instead the BB is mounted in a Bushnell eccentric bottom bracket assembly – loosen a bolt, rotate the eccentric to move the cranks forward to take up the chain slack, retighten bolt. This means that the back wheel’s always in the same place and allows disc brakes to be used without having to have a fiddly adjustable disc mount.

If we were obsessing about simplicity and low cost, we’d have gone rigid. But rightly or wrongly, we value comfort and control so suspension forks went in the front. We chose 100mm travel Marzocchi Bomber MX Pros. Marzocchi have an excellent reputation for durability, and they seem to have the knack of turning out a good, solid, reasonably priced fork. It’s plugged into an FSA Orbit headset. Cartridge bearings, easy-to-fit split crown race, sorted.

Race Face cranks and bashguard

Obviously you don’t need much in the way of transmission on a singlespeed. A good stout pair of cranks is handy, and Race Face’s Prodigy DH items have been called into play here. Handily, they’re available in a two-chainring-plus-bashguard configuration – just take off the inner ring and you’ve got a tidy singlespeed-friendly setup. The Prodigy cranks also thoughtfully include washers to go under the pedals, reducing the risk of the face of the pedal axle causing cracks to develop in the pedal eye.

The bottom bracket is from Race Face again, an Evolve FR ISIS Drive number. It’ll fit 68 or 73mm shells by putting in (or leaving out) a spacer. Race Face’s pricier BBs have adjustable chainline, but the Evolve is fixed (unless you add more spacers). That’s not a problem on this bike, though, as everything ended up in the right place no problem.

At the back, a single On-One sprocket (18 tooth, we’re wimps) is spaced out to run on a regular 9 speed freehub. The chain is an cheap and cheerful SRAM one. Hubs are Edco Racer Discs laced to Tioga Factory XC rims. Tyres are Specialized’s Roll-X – not winter-specific, but advertised as all-rounders – we’ll see how they do. Inner tubes are the first two that came to hand, plus some patches…

Big rotor Avid cable discs

We had to use discs, really – neither the frame nor fork have V-brake bosses. But even if we didn’t have to, we would have done. At this time of year, V-brake pads last about a day. And there’s not much point having a frame with lots of mud room if you clutter it up with rim brakes. In keeping with the simplicity theme, we went with Avid’s mechanical discs. They’re now available with bigger rotors – the 185s front and rear here are probably overkill, but you can never have too much braking power…

The brakes are driven by Avid’s Full Metal Jacket cable system. Instead of flexible housing, straight runs are dealt with by stainless steel tubing. There’s a length of it running up the back of the fork leg, held in place by a guide at the crown. The kit had enough tubing to use on the way to the back brake too, but since the Inbred has hose guides rather than cable stops we just ran a full length of housing all the way to the back.

Front end features retro grippage

The other end of the cables drop in to Avid Speed Dial Ti levers. They’re mounted to a Race Face Air Alloy XC riser bar held in an RF Deus stem. Grips are some old skool onZa Ules we had lying around and we’ll put some bar plugs in when we get around to rummaging some out.

The finishing touch is the seating, provided here by a WTB saddle attached to an ancient Control Tech post that happened to fit. It wouldn’t be a proper project bike if there weren’t a couple of bits rescued from the shed…

So there it is. It looks pretty damn smart, even if we do say so ourselves. More by accident than design there’s a bit of a black-and-white thing going on here, offset by bits of silver and grey. An initial spin suggests that all is well, and first impressions of the ride are good.

We have to admit that the budget theme got a bit lost on the way – back of an envelope calculations bring the total cost of this one up to about £1,300, but there’re a few obvious places where costs could be cut without overly compromising performance. For now, though, it’s time to get some miles in on the beast and find out how well all this stuff performs. Watch this space…


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