Franklin, part 1

So I got an email from Will saying that He and Chris had realized that Mika’s bike was too small for Chris and that there was a coupled frame for sale on the Seattle Craigslist.  I looked at the listing and it seemed legit – I agreed that I’d build it out in time for our trip.  Will hesitated but then bought it and the guy delivered to our house.  He was a decent guy who was cleaning out his basement.  He knew the guys at R&E and we talked about some his project bikes.

The frame was interesting.  It was made by Franklin – a custom frame builder in southeast Ohio whose website doesn’t have an address (but the on-line forums put him in Newark, OH.)  It had S&S couplers, nice welds, a nice paint job and an eccentric bottom bracket shell.  It had a derailleur hanger and lots of clearance for wide tires – but no holes for caliper brakes.  There were no stops for shifter cables, instead there was a cable guide running down the right side of the downtube and out the right chain stay.

I spent some time inventorying my parts bin, realizing that I could come up with old shifters and derailleurs and handlebars and brakes and I did have the wheel set off the litespeed with the ultegera hubs – meaning that for the cost of some clamp-on cable stops and bar tape I could have a rideable bike.  The more I thought about that, though, the less happy I was with it.  I emailed Will asking what the goal was – least cost or high-end riding experience.  He got back to me saying that he thought he’d keep the bike after the trip as his commuter in the Bay Area so he wanted something that was solid and, where possible, which looked good.

That pretty much settled it for me and I started researching Rholoff hubs, assuming that the lack of cable stops meant an internally geared set-up.  (I quickly figured out that the  Rholoff requires two control cables so the single-cable guide on the Franklin was a clue that it wasn’t designed for that brand.)    I got off into the weeds about gear range and sprocket sizes and shifter options.  I took my Rodriguez in for servicing at R&E and asked about lead time on the Rholoff conversion – they said it would take a couple weeks and that mid-August was pretty doable.

I emailed Will saying that I really felt that to do it right we ought to go with the Rholoff, even though it would cost a thousand dollars more than setting up a conventionally geared bike with new components (and a couple thousand more than setting it up from my parts bin.)  He said to go for it.

I strapped the frame to my back this afternoon and rode my Litespeed over to R&E.  They pointed out that the cable guide was on the wrong side for an internally geared hub and they couldn’t explain why it was configured the way it was.  I went ahead and ordered a wheel built on a Rholoff hub and a front wheel built on a SON28 generator hub.  I told them that I’d supply the crankset and bottom bracket when I picked up the bike they were servicing.  My plan is to use the Campagnolo Record BB and cranks I took off of the Tuscany – meaning I’ll have to have R&E use a 17T sprocket on the hub and source a 40T chainring with a 135 BCD (they exist but it’s not as easy as ordering from QBP.)   I told them that since I was going to have to have an external mech box anyway I wanted to go with the Rhobox and brifters.  Unless there is some issue I’ll use the Tiagra brifters I took off of my Fuji.  I’ve got a seat post that fits, and a decent saddle.  I’ve got a stem and spacers.  I’ll need handlebars (thinking carbon, either FSA or Easton) and brakes (planning to go with Rodriguez cantilevers.)

When I got home I kicked myself for not taking some more photos and for not getting a copy the Craigslist posting.   I’m excited about this project, it’s going to result in a super touring bike.  The crucial decision was the one to go with Rholoff, but there will be implementation details that will take some thought and I’m still puzzling about headlights and racks.  Good times!

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