Updates & Follow-Ups

Campagnolo Drivetrain Conversion
The Campagnolo Centaur Ergopower shifters have broken in nicely. Shifting is even smoother, but the reassuring tactile feedback definitely remains. Maintenance has consisted of occasionally lubing the cables and (derailleur) pivots, and rotating in another KMC X10.93 chain to minimize overall drivetrain wear. I did replace the 46t Real outer chainring with a 48t Specialites T.A. Zephyr ‘ring. The latter shifts quicker, and is a better match for the 13-29t Veloce cassette.

Pacenti SL23 Rims
These wheels are still as true as the day I received them. The White Industries T11 hubs haven’t required any adjustment or lubrication, and the freehub has quieted down slightly (but it’s still louder than, say, a Shimano unit). Brake track wear appears minimal despite testing half-a-dozen different brake pad compounds. I’ve read reports that some people have difficulty mounting tires on the SL23 rims, but switching to thinner rim strip (e.g. Stan’s yellow tape) usually eases installation.

Carradice SQR Saddlebags
Since posting my original review, I’ve put another 600 miles on the SQR Slim saddlebag. With its spacious capacity and easy on/off mounting system, it’s become my favorite bag in the Carradice family. Traversing dirt roads and trails on over-inflated 28mm tires hasn’t loosened the mounting hardware, and the waxed cotton fabric has done a great job of fending off late-afternoon thundershowers. I continue to notice the bag brushing the backs of my thighs, but it’s usually restricted to when I remain in the saddle when stopped.

Weekend Project: Drivetrain Conversion

When I built up my Black Mountain Cycles frameset, most of the parts came from my previous bike (Rawland rSogn).  That build worked well enough for me to get a feel for the new rig, but after several hundred miles, I found myself wanting gearing that was a little tighter (both in range and jumps).  And since I was running 10-speed shifters with an otherwise 9-speed drivetrain, it was the perfect opportunity to make the switch to a total 10-speed setup.

GRAVELBIKE.com "Black Mountain Cycles" Campagnolo Centaur Veloce KMC H+Son Schwalbe Vecchio's BikeHubStore.com
The author’s Black Mountain with newly-upgraded drivetrain.

Because I wanted to avoid hybrid- or conversion-cassettes, the upgrade to 10 speeds would require a rear wheel with a Campagnolo-compatible freehub.  I was already working with Brandon at BikeHubStore on a related project, so that problem was easily solved with one of his SL218 hubs.  Peter Chisholm of Boulder’s Vecchio’s Bicicletteria built the hub into a new rear wheel, and I was ready to make the jump from 9 to 10 speeds.

GRAVELBIKE.com "Black Mountain Cycles" Campagnolo Centaur Veloce KMC H+Son Schwalbe Vecchio's BikeHubStore.com
Campagnolo Veloce (med cage) derailleur shifts a KMC chain over a Veloce cassette. Shifters and front derailleur are Campy Centaur.

With the necessary parts in hand, it only took a couple of hours to install and adjust the new components (cassette, rear derailleur, chain).  The process was largely uneventful, but I did run into a couple of gotchas along the way.

  • First, don’t bother with universal-fit derailleur cables if you run Campy shifters.  Cutting off the un-needed end results in a tip that’s prone to snagging–or worse, unraveling–when you thread it through the shifter (and housing).  You could always solder the end of the freshly-cut cable, but since you’ll be trimming it again, just use a single-ended cable to begin with.
  • If you’re even remotely unsure that your chain is the correct length, preserve your sanity and get a couple of Wipperman Connex links.  I was able to open and rejoin the stock KMC Missing Link, but only after searching YouTube for help (and jury-rigging some snap ring pliers).

The new cassette’s range (13,14,15,16,17,19,21,23,26,29) works well for most conditions, but when paired with the 46t big chainring, I find myself spinning out on paved descents.  A 48t or 50t chainring is on my shopping list for when the 46t ‘ring eventually wears out.  Sharp-eyed readers will notice that I’m running a 10-speed chain and front derailleur with 9-speed cranks and an 8-speed large ‘ring.  It shifts better than expected, but there’s a slight lag getting the chain onto the 46t Real Design chainring (but it’s something I can live with at the moment).

Disclosure: BikeHubStore.com and Vecchio’s provided review samples and services for this article, but offered no other form of compensation for this article.