I was craving a steel ride. The Cannondale CAAD9 has been a great bike but after fifty plus miles I feel a bit buzzy and in the end, becuase of it’s racey creation, it’s not really the best choice for a bumpy race or a century ride. A snappy fast steeel frame would be nice and on a budget all avenues pointed to the Soma Smoothie. A more compact road-relaxed-endurance race geometry. The charts were all looking very favorable. $400 and somme ebaying for parts wold yield a greta long range steel ride that weighed under twenty pounds. Happieness. right?
Then, Craigslist crashed through my living room window in an unusual car. Paketa makes custom geometry frames. Not one is of a standard design. It’s for your body alone and for nobody else. So, how do you sell one on when it won’t likely fit anyone else and is also listed at a 62cm size? I had to know. These frames, new, are over $2,000 if not way more and when sold on they do go realtively cheap but at $180 this guy was asking for? I sent an email.
He sent a better picture and using the water bottle bosses, I could determine a scale to measure by. Things didn’t jive at all. He said it measured a 59cm top tube. I ride that on my CAAD now but on a 62 frame? That’s short. I decided to check it out and began to measure up my bike from the perspective of what actually matters. The head tube in relation to me on the bike and standing by the cranks. From that position, with my legs in line with the bottom bracket sticking in the sides of my legs, I can see a straight shot down at the head tube and it’s exactly in line with my sight line if that makes sense.
I brought with me, a spare wheel with a 23c training tire on it, and a spare fork with another spare wheel and 23c tire on it, plus a piece of half inch styrofoam with a hole in it for a spacer to act like an external headset. Anyway, I made it over to see just how it really positioned itself on a set of wheels.
That eyesight of the head tube, if anything, is just a centimeter closer thant the CAAD’s. I could see right through it. This bike was indeed a ‘compact’ bike. I can only imagine who it was built for. Was this a tall guy with limited flexibility forward? Possibly an upright positioned century ride bike? The tube angles of headtube and seat tube were’t all funny or out of wack so it was the usual fast road bike design. The best part was, I still had plenty of room for standover. I was sold on it. I then looked inside for corrosion because, well, it is made of a Magnesium alloy.
Mg on the periodic table is, in this alloy with aluminum, amazing. Supposedly it gives a ride feel of vibration absorbtion like steel, and performance stiffness like carbon at half the weight of titanium. Compared to the CAAD, this frame actually weighs a third of a pound more, but will ride that century and then out perform the aluminum on all levels of insanity. I will find out. I will build it.
Where did it come from? the seller only wanted the crank arms and some parts. It still had the bottom bracket so that came with it. I asked. Flea market was the answer. I agreed to the price and handed him $180. Then, I asked him what he paid for it. $100. Can you believe it? He didn’t even get all the parts. It was not complete even when he got it. but he made a profit, and I got a fantastic frame. The only reason I can imagine a frame like this winding up in a flea market has to be from an estate sale. The guy dies, the family has no idea just what he really had and just sells ‘a bike’ to the estate company. The buyers sold off the parts and threw the frame in the market. Traditionally, parts are worth more. but in this case, they weren’t aware of what this frame is. Besides, this custom and big, who would really want it?
Me. I’m tall.
So far the plan is a new 105 5800 11-speed group, on top of the Ritchey carbon comp fork I picked up off the Performance bikes clearance table for a super marked down $50. If there’s such a thing as a racing train, there is one a comin.