Working at Excel Sports had its advantages. One of them was the great people, and another is exposure to cool stuff. Well, I got pretty into some niche bike elements while working with some of the Japanese companies we dealt with regularly, so when I left Excel and started thinking about commuting to work I started thinking I may need to buy a new frame.
Gates makes bike parts as well. The Gates Carbon Drive is a belt drive system for bicycles and I figured it might be a good idea to get familiar. So I picked up a Soma Wolverine and started to pick up parts for it slowly. This bike kinda needed to be authentic. So, with the goal in mind to build it without any quick release elements (for theft) I started ordering parts. The Tange Prestige frame needed all Japanese parts, so Nitto Bars, stem and seatpost, Sugino crankset… Everything. Well, except for a few. Yes, I had to compromise on the front hub, I just couldn’t find the right bolt on front hub for disc brakes otherwise. The brakes are Avid and the saddle is Brooks. I’ll be honest, the saddle was pretty much a no question saddle. It was on another bike and I just love it… It also matches pretty darn well.
Building this bike posed a few challenges. First, I don’t work in the bike industry anymore and I have grown accustom to having all the parts I need when I discover I need them. This planning ahead thing is really difficult. The other thing that was challenging was learning the quirks of a belt drive system. Choosing the right parts to get the belt aligned properly was a little challenging and I did end up buying two BB’s while trying to sort it all out.
Finally, the bike came together, the belt alignment is still just a little off and I have some ideas to fix it. 1.7mm out of alignment but it seems to be riding well. I finally took the bike for a spin and put 8 miles on it. I learned I need to get a little longer stem and I learned that I have to get used to having so many gears! It rides very smooth and silent, the frame is stiff and fun to ride. I’m looking forward to some commuting here in the near future.