Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Wheelsport Fantasy Mini Velo: Full Dura-Ace 9000 Groupset

After the Merida Scultura 5000 road bike has been fitted with a full Ultegra 6870 Di2 groupset, it is this bike's turn to get a full groupset too. The Wheelsport Fantasy mini velo currently has a 1x11 speed setup with a mix of Ultegra 6800 and Dura-Ace 9000 parts. 

Before: Mix of mechanical Dura-Ace and Ultegra components

The right shifter, rear derailleur, cassette and brake calipers are Dura-Ace 9000, while the left shifter and crankset are Ultegra. To make a full Dura-Ace groupset, the crankset, brake calipers and left shifter will be changed to Dura-Ace.

Before swapping the components, I wondered how the crankset would look if the Ultegra crank arm is changed to the Dura-Ace crankset.

Before: Ultegra crankarm with Wolf Tooth chain ring and gold chain ring bolts. Looks very good!

Trying to visualize the Dura-Ace crankarm on the Wolf Tooth chain ring...

It actually looks pretty good! The silver on the crankarm actually matches with the silver on the rims and rear derailleur.

Instead of gold coloured chain ring bolts, I will use black chain ring bolts to let the Dura-Ace groupset stand out.

Length of 8.5mm for the chain ring bolts is just right, as the Wolf Tooth chain ring is thicker than normal flat chain rings.

Ta-da! Dura-Ace 9000 crank arm with Wolf Tooth chain ring and black chain ring bolts. Looks good too!

Close up view of the interface between the crank arm and the chain ring

Weighs exactly 400 grams. 25 grams lighter than the Ultegra equivalent.

While reinstalling the chain onto the drivetrain after replacing the crankset, I found that the original 11 speed chain had a few rusty links and did not move smoothly. Therefore, I had to replace the chain too.

Dura-Ace grade 11 speed chain for maximum rust resistance. Also common use with 11 speed XTR.

Dura-Ace 9000 crank arm with Wolf Tooth chain ring installed

Left side Dura-Ace 9000 crank arm

Using the KMC 11 speed MissingLink

Full Dura-Ace 9000 drivetrain! Silver and black goes well together.

With the drivetrain settled, the next component to change would be the left side shifter. The left side shifter was a modified Ultegra 6800 left side shifter, with the internal shifting mechanism removed to save weight. As this is a 1x11 speed setup, the left side shifter only acts as a brake lever, no shifting function is required.

Nevertheless, to complete the full Dura-Ace 9000 groupset look, I decided to put on the Dura-Ace left side shifter too, even though the shifting function will not be used.

Dura-Ace 9000 left side shifter, 184 grams.

Modified Ultegra 6800 left side shifter, with internal shifting mechanism removed.

Shiny Dura-Ace 9000 left side shifter installed. The superior grade of gloss finishing is obvious when compared to Ultegra.

Matching pair of Dura-Ace road shifters. I took the chance to replace the Lizard Skins bar tape which were starting to peel off after a few years of use.

The final component to change to Dura-Ace would be the brake calipers. By swapping the brake calipers with the ones on the Merida road bike, both bikes will have a complete groupset.

Dura-Ace 9000 brake calipers

Lightweight and powerful brake calipers

Full mechanical Dura-Ace 9000 groupset on the Wheelsport Fantasy mini velo!

Black and silver surface treatment on all the Dura-Ace components match nicely with the black and silver colours of the wheelset, and the black and white design of the other components.

This mini velo is still a lightweight mini velo, since it has all the lightweight Dura-Ace components. The final weight of the Dura-Ace mini velo is just under 7.3kg (excluding pedals).

Final specifications of the Wheelsport Fantasy 1x11 speed mini velo with full Dura-Ace groupset

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Merida Scultura 5000: Full Ultegra Di2 6870 Groupset

On two of my bikes, the Wheelsport Fantasy mini velo and the Merida Scultura 5000 road bike, there is a mix of Ultegra and Dura-Ace components. This is mainly due to me getting these parts at different times, and trying out different setups, which is why there is no complete groupset on these bikes.

I decided to switch the components on these bikes, so that I can get a full groupset on each of these bikes. The function would be similar, but the appearance would be more consistent and coherent.

Starting with the Merida Scultura 5000 road bike, the current setup is mainly Ultegra 6870 Di2, with Dura-Ace brake calipers and Dura-Ace crankset. Since the Ultegra Di2 system will remain on this bike, I would bring over the Ultegra crankset and brake calipers which are currently on the Wheelsport mini velo, so that this Merida road bike has a full Ultegra groupset.

Before switching the components: All Ultegra except for crankset and brake calipers, which are Dura-Ace.

The Ultegra 6800 crankset, where only the crankarms are used on the 1x11 speed Wheelsport mini velo

52/36T Ultegra crankset installed on the Merida road bike. I would have preferred the 50/34T crankset, but I had already sold that crankset.

Full Ultegra 6800/6870 drivetrain! Looks better with components from the same series.

Dura-Ace brake calipers are also changed to Ultegra. Quite a straightforward swap.

The brake pads had to be adjusted, but otherwise the swap is easy. Performance is almost equivalent to Dura-Ace.

Full Ultegra groupset on the Merida Scultura 5000! 

Full specifications of Merida Scultura 5000 with full Ultegra 6800 groupset

I think that I have finally settled on a good setup for the Merida road bike, with a full Ultegra 6870 Di2 groupset. Having experimented with a mechanical Dura-Ace 9000 groupset on this bike, I still prefer to have the Ultegra Di2 groupset.

This also means that all the Dura-Ace 9000 components will be going onto the Wheelsport Fantasy mini velo, but that is a story for another day.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Fly6 (2nd Gen) vs Fly6[v]

On a recent ride, I found that my Cyclic Fly6 was not working any more. It has been more than 2 years since it got the Fly 6 rear light + rear camera. During these 2 years, it worked well and reliably. However, it suddenly stopped working midway through a ride, and I only realised it after I finished the ride.

After doing my own troubleshooting, such as resetting it and updating firmware, it still did not work. I could not even turn on the light at all. Finally, I contacted Cyclic for assistance, and they helped by giving me detailed instructions on how to troubleshoot. However, despite our best efforts, we tried everything and the light still did not work. The Cyclic Fly 6 unit that I had was officially dead.

As the unit was no longer covered under warranty, I could not get a replacement unit. However, Cyclic was kind enough to offer me a discount of SGD 50 if I bought a new Fly 6. As I was already planning to buy another Fly 6, this offer made it even easier for me to commit.

There is actually a new version of Fly 6 available, which is called the Fly 6[v]. This is based on the 2nd Gen Fly 6, but with some differences. Let's take a look and compare them!

2nd Gen Fly 6, comes in a large box with sponge cutouts and many adaptors.

The newest Fly 6 [v], with revised packaging that shows the actual unit through a transparent plastic cover.

2nd Gen on the left, vs Fly 6 [v] on the right

Accessories that come with the new Fly 6 [v]. Note the velcro strap, which is the new mounting method.

Comparing the units, which are virtually identical

2nd Fly 6 on left, new Fly 6 [v] on right. Larger bump at the back.

Note the slot on the new Fly 6 [v] on the right, which is for the velcro strap

Weight of new Fly 6 [v] is 132 grams including the velcro strap

Previous 2nd Gen Fly 6 is slightly heavier at 141 grams including the rubber straps.

 Fly 6 [v] mounted on the seatpost

The new Fly 6 [v] works the same, except for the new mounting method. Previously the 2nd Gen Fly 6 uses a pair of rubber straps to mount the light to the seat post. This worked well for me, as I did not have any problem with installing and removing the light easily.

For the new mounting method, the Fly 6 [v] uses a velcro strap instead. This makes it even easier to install or remove the light from the seat post. Although the new Fly 6 [v] is advertised to fit better to aero seat posts, it actually has the same v-shaped rubber shim as the 2nd Gen version, so it should be the same.

In any case, the main difference for me is only the mounting method, where the velcro strap is used instead of rubber straps. Otherwise, it is just as good as the 2nd Gen version.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Avanti Inc 3: Alfine 11 Di2 Drop Bar Conversion Part 3

Finally, Part 3 of this project to upgrade the Avanti Inc 3 to Alfine 11 Di2 and road hydraulic disc brakes. In Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog post, all the new components were shown and prepared for installation. Now, all the components can be installed onto the bike.

Let's take a look at the new drivetrain first. New Alfine 11 Di2 hub with motor unit, with new rear 28T Gates sprocket and new 115T Gates CenterTrack belt.

Before: 113T red colour belt, with Chain Guard on the mechanical Alfine 11 hub

After: New Alfine 11 Di2 hub, with Chain Guard removed. The belt and Motor Unit are able to fit within the limited space with the use of the special 28T sprocket.

MU-S705 Motor Unit installed to activate the electronic shifting. Di2 wire connects to the port at the bottom.

Di2 wire runs discreetly behind the right side chain stay to Junction B

Using the Di2 wire tape to position the wire neatly

Using long chain ring bolts and spacers to adjust the position of the front chain ring, in order to get a straight chain line.

A straight chain line is necessary to prevent noise and premature wear of the belt

Drivetrain installed! Front 42T and rear 28T.

New gear ratios of this Alfine 11 setup. Due to the larger 28T sprocket (previously 24T), the whole gear range has been lowered.

With the drivetrain installed, the focus now moves to the braking system. Compared to the braking system, the drivetrain set up is easy. The reason is that the brake system needs to be assembled from scratch, as the brake caliper and brake levers are not pre-assembled and pre-bled at the factory like most flat handlebar hydraulic brakes.

Bleeding the hydraulic disc brakes is new to me as I have not worked on hydraulic brakes before. However, with the help of the ST-R785 Dealer's Manual and some help from friends, I managed to bleed the brakes properly. Prior to this bike, I also practised bleeding the hydraulic brakes on another bike. A good hydraulic disc brake bleeding kit is also necessary. The process is rather tedious the first time round, but once you get the hang of it, it gets easier.

Dealer's Manual for ST-R785

Left side of ST-R785. Only used as a brake lever with no shifting function on this bike.

Right side of ST-R785. The two shifting switches are used to shift up and down the 11 gears.

Mounted on the compact road drop bar. The hood is taller than normal road shifters, but not an issue.

80mm stem mounted

Alfine digital display SC-S705 mounted as neatly as possible.

Accessories mounted on the handlebar. Limited space due to the narrower drop bar compared to a normal flat handlebar.

New bar tape! Trying out this silicone bar tape for the first time. No adhesive means it can be reused many times, while it is also water resistant and non-slip for wet weather usage.

Nice grippy, rubbery texture, quite comfortable too.


New handlebar setup, with road hydraulic shifters.

Di2 wire between the digital display (Junction A) and Junction B is routed neatly along the rear brake hose. Shown behind is the DIY steering stabilizer.

Battery mounted on the downtube, below the bottle cage. Junction B is fixed behind the seat tube with strong mounting tape + cable tie. Tried and tested on the Dahon MuEX and Wheelsport mini velo.

Front hydraulic disc brake caliper, comes with Ice-Tech brake pads.

Not as sleek looking as the new Flat Mount standard, but works just as well.

Rear hydraulic disc brake caliper

Picture showing the new drivetrain. Clean appearance and maintenance free.

Full view of the bike. Converted from flat handlebar to drop bar setup.

An all-weather drop bar commuting bike, which is coincidentally also a great touring bike.

This project has finally been completed, and it was not an easy project. Although I had experience with setting up the Di2 system and the Gates belt drive system, installing the hydraulic disc brakes were new to me. There were no major issues or difficulties with this modification, just that it is tedious due to the many components that were changed.

At this point, the speedometer reads 2700 km, which is the distance traveled on the previous mechanical Alfine 11 hub. In about 1000km, it will be time to service the new Alfine 11 Di2 hub by changing out the oil inside the hub.