Last year I was pottering about on TradeMe, looking for nothing in particular, when I cam across a Salsa Casseroll frame. It was a 2008 model which, strangely no one else seemed interested in. It came with a Chris King headset and Salsa seatpost & stem. I managed to resist the first time it appeared, but when it was relisted at an even lower price, I caved in and bid. I was the only one who did, and it was all mine for only $280. Soon after, also from TradeMe I bought a set of wheels – Mavic OpenPro rims, Shimano Ultegra hubs, with 72 spokes between them. I hid the wheels & the frame behind the couch for a few weeks while I scoured various exotic corners of the Internet for more parts.
From XXCycle in France, I bought a Stronglight crankset. Why the Stronglight? Three reasons, they’re reasonably cheap, they’re quite good looking (I really don’t like those modern Shimano cranksets that look like a stingray is glued to your bottom bracket) and they come in a good range of sizes. The ‘standard’ 50t road ‘big ring’ is too big for me, and I wanted a low bottom gear for ascending some of the very steep hills you find in a city built on 57 volcanoes. So I chose a 48/34 and put a mountain cassette (11-34) on the back. This has worked out really well – I spend most of my time in the outer ring, and the middle third of the cassette. If necessary I can crawl up steep hill in the 1:1 bottom gear, and I have never spun out in the top gear.
Lying around in the garage, I had a set of Miche dual-pivot brakes. So installed them hooked up to nice Tektro levers. To change gears I bought 9-speed Ultegra bar-ends. Why bar-ends? I like their simplicity and versatility, also if the indexing gets screwed up, you can switch them to friction.
I was very fortunate with the all important contact points – the saddle is an old Brooks I salvaged from a 1970’s Peugeot, and the handlebars are Grand Bois Maes Parallel that I found on sale at Planet-X in the UK. Both of these items are very comfortable. At first I put on Shimano Deore deraileurs, but I have since replaced them with Shimano 105. The tyres are the classic Panaracer Paselsa TGs.
Built up like this, it was my Sunday rider. But I don’t really ride on Sundays, so it wasn’t getting much use. I thought I’d try riding it to work, this required the addition of some accessories – via TradeMe, a Tubus Fly rack, from Rose Bikes in Germany, a B&M Lumotec IQ Fly-T Senso Plus front light, SKS mudguards and dynamo hub front wheel.
So now I ride it all the time – to work, on “training” rides on the way home from work, for longer loops around Auckland and it’s even been on a little tour. I like it a lot – it’s very comfortable and reliable, without being slow or boring. It’s not perfect though – the bottom bracket is low enough that it suffers from a bit of pedal strike, and there is some toe overlap. Maybe one day I’ll buy a nice 650B randonneur to replace it. We’ll see…