Custom-built Surly Pacer


Mar 25, 2011
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Thanks!

With the wheels build, I'm impatient for the clearcoat to dry so I could get on with final sanding and finally putting stuff together. At this point, I have the wheels, the tires, the BB, the crank, and the headset. Still waiting on derailers and shifters, and still have to decide about handlebars, saddle, seat post and brakes. I did, however, score a set of vintage Dia-Compe drilled brake levers with quick releases. They look essentially like the new ones that VO is selling, except they were $15 instead of $75. I think I'd also like to go with center-pull calipers, but I'm not sure about availability of them that fit with a recessed-nut mount.
 
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Mar 25, 2011
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OK, so with the paintwork done (lots of wetsanding, it needed more than I had thought initially), I put the wheels on so it actually started to look like a bike.

You can see that I've put the headbadge on as well. I'm not sure if it is evident here, but I laced the rear wheel 3-cross and the front 2-cross. I used DT Swiss spokes all around. Next, its off to the bike shop to have the headset installed. I could probably do it myself in one form or another, but I kinda want to show off the frame a little...

Going back to the wetsanding, the issue I had is that I could spray a nice medium-wet coat that would smooth out nicely, but the overspray would dust up the far side. If I then went and did the other side, the overspray would settle on the first side. Is there a technique for spraying tubing such that overspray isn't a continued problem? I eventually sanded it smooth, but it took a lot of time, and I'm not sure how much clear coat is left in some areas...
 
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Mar 25, 2011
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My parts from England arrived, following what seemed like a drawn-out wait, but I guess that's to be expected:

The shifters came with cables and housing (the small amount needed to get from the chainstay to the derailer). I bought Jagwire cables for the brakes, and my friend at the LBS was able to find me Dura-Ace grey housings for them, so everything matches. The other picked out and ordered are handlebars. Originally, I was thinking of some sort of vintage-look track bars, with large radius bends and such, but decided they wouldn't be that comfortable or offer enough room for mounting stuff. So, I bought a set of VO Rando bars:

I also went with their sew-on elk hide bar wrap to cover them. Sewing on the wrap is a little more complicated than tape, but I've used it before and it isn't that complicated and it looks great. Once this shows up, things will start moving fast...
 
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Mar 25, 2011
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Well, that's the intent. This is the first time I'll have a road bike that actually fits me well. I want to build it exactly the way I want it to be and I'll have no need to replace it for a long time. Unless someday I want to go faster, I suppose...
 
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Let's just say that the handlebars and bar wrap is here. And the wheels/tires are here, the shifters and derailers and cables are here. The brake levers are here, the seatpost showed up and the crankset is here too. The headset was installed, so the fork is in place. I pirated the saddle from the BonniRocket for now and a buddy of mine loaned me a set of older Dura-Ace brakes that came from a tri-bike he parted out. All I'm missing is a chain and set of pedals. So, here goes...

I hauled the bike stand and some tools up to the living room when I put this together, so I could work on it while watching Elementary. I didn't take pictures little by little, I got a bit wrapped up in installing parts. It actually went pretty quick once I got to this point.

I also have not purchased the stem I'll ultimately use. I stuck that black Ritchey stem on it for now to hold the bars on until I all is together and I can get fitted to it. Once I know what stem length/angle I'll need, I'll buy one that looks appropriate on the bike.

Then after a little more effort, I came to this:

I swiped a set of pedals off of my tandem, though I've ordered a set of sealed bearing touring pedals from VO. I spent probably an hour and a half stitching the bar wrap. It isn't difficult, just time consuming. It was it a little tricky trimming it for the brake levers, but the hoods nicely hide the holes cut in the leather. And, of course, the cables are all run. It actually looks passible as a real bike now. Here it is outside in the sunlight:


Lots of spacers under the stem, but that's temporary until fitting. We're pretty close now!
 
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Thanks guys. So, I took it over to the LBS I normally visit to get a chain. I brought the bike so I could make sure they get the length right. My friend offered to put it on for me while I was there, so why not? While they had it in the back, the mechanic also adjusted cables and derailers and got it all trimmed in. Not that I needed him to, but apparently that made it easier for him to be sure of the chain length. Funny, though, he insisted that my shifters were for an 8-speed rear, whereas I have a 9-speed cassette on it. Funny, since its says "9" right on them (in small print though). It turned out he hadn't given the derailer quite enough travel and fixed it myself before leaving the shop. And we gave a little bit of a hard time about it. :D

Anyway, this is it as it stands, ready to ride, if not quite entirely sorted yet:
 
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Looking good. Can those shifter work in friction mode too?
Yes, indeed. That was one of my criteria for them. The Tiagra 8-speed shifters that I put on my Long Haul Trucker only index, there is no friction mode. I didn't discover that until I had them on. The shifters sold by Velo Orange are friction only, no indexing. They're very nice, I understand, but I wanted indexing with the ability to go to friction if necessary. That's why I wound up buying the Dura-Ace shifters. They were the only thing I found that suited what I wanted. They were more money, but I found a place that had them discounted. And what's money, anyway, when I'm trying to build the perfect bike (for me)? :dontmentionit:
 
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OK, here's the final reveal and all that.

I took the bike to a different LBS for fitting. This shop, where I bought my LHT from, is run by an old guy that's been doing this forever. I trust his opinion when it comes to getting a rider set up properly on a bike. He also particularly liked what I put together, he said it reminded him of how road bikes were when he got started. Anyway, I had it pretty close; he changed the saddle height slightly and the fore/aft position not at all. We did change around the stem length and angle, which I expected, and he pointed out that my toe clips were putting my feet too far forward on the pedal. He had a smaller size toe clip on hand that were reasonably priced ($7 for the set). I expect he's had them since the '70s.

So, all this done and the bike is pretty much dialed in. I put the new toe clips on the new VO pedals, but didn't put them on the bike. Rather, I broke the bike down and packed it into a travel case, which I then shipped off to my sister in San Francisco. Keep in mind, this all happened a few months ago, and I had it done just in time to get out there before I planned to visit. I was in the Bay area in early November for about a week and a half, during which time I rode the Pacer quite a bit. So without further delay, here are pictures of the bike in its final form, out in the sun overlooking the Pacific...







 
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Feb 19, 2011
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Looks great; awesome outcome. I think vo needs to pay you royalties for making their stuff look so good. Almost makes me want to buy another Surly (RIP, my erstwhile LHT) but, these days, I'm content to just run Surly forks on Worksman frames....

.... I think I'd also like to go with center-pull calipers, but I'm not sure about availability of them that fit with a recessed-nut mount...
I know you got the DA calipers on there right now, but I noticed you said they were loaners, so...

First thing you gotta worry about is reach; the Pacer is supposed to work with 47-57mm reach, but most run them fine with 39-49mm reach brakes (most likely, that's the range on your current brakes), with the pads slammed low in the arms. Finding a centerpull caliper with a 47-57mm reach of any vintage will be hard, short of the very pricey Paul Racer Medium. http://www.paulcomp.com/racermedium.html Happily, those are made for recessed mounts, but that'll be $300/set, please. :rockout: If you look hard enough, you might find some vintage Dia-Compes or Weinmanns with the correct dimensions. If so.....

Fitting a vintage, nutted-style brakeset onto a modern recessed frame requires a shortening of the posts and the purchase of the right sleeve nuts to replace the standard nuts. The post is the same size/pitch on all modern and most vintage calipers, so the hardware interchanges...you'll just need to measure twice and cut once to shorten the post--- and, most likely, clean up the threads at the site of the cut. FWIW, I've also used Sheldon's method to run recessed-mount brakesets on nutted-mount frames...much cooler than drilling a frame out, imo.
 
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Thanks. I actually just got the bike back from its exile in California last week and have been riding it all around. I'm actually up to 3.3 Surlys now - aside from the Pacer, I also have a Trucker and a Pug, plus I'm running a 1x1 fork on my old Kona Hahanna (the .3 part).

Regarding brakes, while I did give the Dura Ace calipers back to my friend (who has them on his Trek), I picked up pair of used Ultegra brakes from a buddy at the LBS. Since they're a newer generation than the DA brakes were, they are essentially exactly the same. As far as center pull goes, that's not too much of an issue. Velo Orange still sells the Dia-Comp 610, and they've been updated to allow both recesses and traditional mounting. So then its just a matter of if I want to spend the money. Frankly, the Ultegra brakes don't have the look I wanted, but they work very well. It makes it tough to justify replacing them just for aesthetics.
 
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Yeah, plus you won't have to worry about putting a hanger in your cable stack, which causes judders on some ppl's bikes. I bet those Ultegra calipers work awesome