Since we added Stelbel frames to our site a few months back we've been working on a staff frame order to document and showcase the process when you order one of these frames.
Step 1. Decide which model to go for.
As we described in a previous post, Stelbel offers what we consider to be a perfect mix of custom geometry combined with a range of specific frame models each with their own ride characteristics and intended use.
My plan for this frame is for it to be a true all-year-round road bike ideally suited to the riding here in Southern Oregon. That means full length fenders for winter road miles, and clearance for a wider, gripper tire in the summer without fenders. Not a gravel bike per-se, more a versatile road machine that can handle the many miles of gravel / fire roads here without compromising on a roadie position. A roadie's gravel bike if you like...
So that means a disc build which narrows down the options to 3; SB/03, Rodano and Antenore. Of the 3 it was a pretty easy decision, I ruled out the SB/03 as it's a little racy, so that left the Rodano & Antenore. Similar in riding style, but what sealed the deal for me is the stainless construction and raw back end on the Antenore Disc.
Step 2. Frame Geometry.
Stelbel can work with a variety of different ways to size up your frame and get the ideal geometry, but normally the best place to start is with a full bike fit (by Retul or similar). I ride a custom steel frame most of the time and had been fitted on this last summer by Bike Effect in Santa Monica so with my position pretty dialed I used this a starting point.
Taking precise measurements from the Palmer frame, these were sent over to Stelbel with some explanatory notes. In particular regarding the seat angle on my Palmer frame which is pretty steep, combined with a 25mm set back post. I left it to Stelbel to figure out what to do with this; either reduce the seat angle and go with a zero set back post, or stick with something similar. Turns out they are used to building frames with steeper seat angles and are not fans of the zero set back post, so they recommended a 25mm set back combined with a 75 degree seat angle.
Chainstay length is TBC, based on whatever they need to accommodate a fender and 28c tire, i'm expecting it to be a little longer than normal which is fine for this type of bike in order to give the fender / tire clearance it needs.
Lastly, I decided to reduce stem length from 130mm to 120mm to provide a bit more stability in handling, with keeping the rider position as close as possible to my current ride.
Within a day or so, Andrea at Stelbel crunched the numbers and sent me back this frame design to check over:
Step 3. Frame Design & Features.
For the last step in the process I had some specific asks for Stelbel to make this a true year round frame rather than a pure road disc frame. I went with the Columbus Futura Gravel fork, which is a little longer axle to crown than what's normally spec'd on this frame. It provides the all important fender mounts and extra clearance to run at least 28c tires with fenders in the winter, then wider gravel tires in the summer without fenders.
I also asked for a pump peg on the inside of the headtube to run a Silca Impero frame pump. Fender mounts will be of the bottle cage bolt variety at the foot of the seat-stay so as to not stand out too much without fenders attached. Having used eTap for the past few years I decided to stick with this groupset option, especially as it builds such a clean frame without cable guides.
Step 4. Final Review.
Once I had checked and double checked Antonio's design it was time to sign-off the design and let Stelbel get to work. Now the really hard tasks start... waiting until the fall for the frame to be finished and deciding on the paint color!
This week's wheel build of the week is another stunning pair of Gold Chris King R45D hubs laced to ENVE Foundation 45 rims.
Made in the same Utah facility as ENVE's top of the line SES rims, these Foundation 45's (and the deeper Foundation 65's) represent one of the best value, USA made rims available sharing much of the same technology as ENVE's more expensive rims.