Not-a-Horsethief – Birth

We started with this …

Bike in a Box

It’s Friday morning, 11:30am, and I carry the box of parts into the workshop. Like the person who wields the power in front of the white board because he’s the one holding the Chisel-Tip-Patented-3-Chamber-Technology-Endura-Glide(TM)-Dry-Erase marker, Stan owns the special tools which will save me having to make a substantial investment in hardware for only a one-time use. So while I still need to have the use of his Bottom Bracket Facing Set and Bearing Cup Press I’ll let him continue to believe that his presence is necessary to this whole bicycle birthing operation.

Stan, right, and Ifan

Stan, right, and Ifan

I have already installed the tubeless Kenda Navegal tires on Stan’s custom build wheels. Only after I went through the whole process of seating the tire beads on the rims and having to find compressed air to get them to seat and seal and pouring the Stan’s goop into them did I stop to think: which direction should the tread be? And realized that in my excitement about the whole goopiness of the operation that I had forgotten to check for the less than prominent direction arrows on the Navegal tires. And sure enough, I had mounted both in the reverse direction. However, even I had successfully already fixed the saddle to the seat post. That seat post is the first component to be fitted to the seat tube since it will enable the frame to clamped to the bike stand so that we can install the other components.

It turned out that the supposedly simple act of fitting the Forte Pro carbon fiber seat post into the seat tube was on of the trickiest operations that morning; it just did not want to slide down into the tube and we did not want to crack the carbon fiber post. The other operation that turned out to be trickier than expected was pressing the headsets into the frame. But then, headsets are a whole other experience unto themselves. Where did all that variety and complexity come from?

Building the Skeleton

It was fortunate that I had kept Stan happy and feeling useful because when we came to mount the wheels I needed to use his special equipment again. The tire had to be taken off the wheel, reversed carefully so as not to spill the goop sealant, and could we use your compressed air hose to reseat and seal the tires back on the rims, please?.

To add some color to the rather dull (I call it “sophisticated”) grey-green of the frame I was had intended to use gold sheathing for the derailleur cables and red for the hydraulic breaks. As it turned out, the gold sheathing was not long enough for the two runs, so I have black and red cables. I like the look of the red, it matches the X0 logos and wheel nipples, so I am going to replace the black derailleur with matching red sheathing one of these days.

Putting Flesh on the Bones

By now it’s 3:00pm, having taken out a half hour lunch break, and the labor is over. We unscrew the seatpost from the stand and gently lower the brand new baby Not-a-Horsethief 29r. It’s a bike! It really is a real 29r mountain bike.

… and ended with this

perfect baby

Not-A-Horsethief – Conception

Not-A-Horsethief Components

Not-A-Horsethief Components

I wanted to build a mountain bike for trail and cross country riding. I rode on a number of different bikes, both 26 and 29s, to compare the ride and performance. I wasn’t going to race, especially not downhill. I wanted a “comfortable” bike. I wasn’t too sure what I meant by that but I found, for example that hardtails that I had ridden were “twitchy” to me, transmitting every rocky bump. When I rode a 29r I said, “that’s it!”, and I wanted a full suspension 29r.

I am not getting any younger nor any stronger, quite the contrary, so I wanted a light bike, anything but the battle tank weight of the full suspension Raleigh that I had been pounding along the trails for the past several years.

I started with the frame. I wanted the latest technology in 29r frame design, so a 2012 frame, not last year’s model.

I wanted a light frame, but this year’s carbon 29r frames are very, very expensive and I wanted to spend nearer to $1,000 than $2,000 and beyond.

From everything I had read about modern frames, I wanted a relaxed head angle.

Slide show of individual components

When I put all those together, I found a 2012 model, a 6.5lb aluminum frame, with head tube angle of 68.6degrees, at a cost of $1,399. I followed the line across the page and read the name: Salsa Horsethief. It had been a matter of logic and not of color of tube, nor advertising, nor name salivation. I had never heard of the Horsethief.

Frame Technology

So I read up on the salsa Horsethief. It was not even available at the time so I read the reviews of the pre-production rides and the descriptions fitted the conception of the ride I wanted. So Horsethief it was and I ordered the frame.

Geometry & Fit

Geometry & Fit

Then I researched a list of compatible components. They had to be lighter than the stock items in the Salsa build and of a higher quality but always baring in mind my age-limited ability. I had fallen in love with the SRAM components on my Jamis Endura II road bike. Great engineering (Double Tap) and excellent, reliable build quality. this led to SRAM XO drive train set and other SRAM compatible components. I also found a cheaper and lighter front fork, RockShox Revelation RCT3 Dual Position Fork 2012.

The other component that gave me a lot of trouble – other than finding a compatible headset, what a jungle head sets have become! – were the wheels. I wanted t go tubeless. Stan’s, no question. But none of their standard 29r builds had the requisite combination of hubs and axle sizes so I had to order custom built Stan’s wheels. And I am glad that I did. I never thought that I would salivate over a pair of such beautiful bike wheels!

Here is the complete list of components with weights – actual weights since I weighed them myself to an accuracy of 1 gram – and cost.



Finally all the components arrived and I had a bike in a box.

Bike in a Box

Bike in a Box