Van Dessel WTF project bike with 3T Team cockpit and Rivet Saddle review

As good as a frame may be, it’s nothing without a comfortable cockpit from which to pedal. Part one of Project: World’s Funnest Bike showed off the Van Dessel WTF, a steel do-it-all frame that is the platform for this build. Now it’s time to show all the contact points chosen, explain why I chose those parts and, of course, weigh them.

To be completely honest, the 3T handlebar, stem and seatpost were originally planned for an all-Italian steel road bike that’ll be another project later this spring. But when it arrived, the red stripes of their Team level parts matched up so well with other red bits on the bike that the decision to steal them for this build was all too easy. Add in red bar tape and it made for a striking visage…

Van Dessel WTF project bike with 3T Ergonova Team carbon handlebar review

3T Cycling makes a wide range of bar sizes and shapes. I chose the Ergonova because it has a wider, flatter top section with a shallow, ergonomic bend. Combined with Zipp’s thick, grippy and oh-so-comfortable cyclocross bar tape, it creates a very comfortable perch in any hand position.

Van Dessel WTF project bike with 3T Ergonova Team carbon handlebar review

Most of my time is spent on the tops and hoods, and the Ergonova’s shape creates a very flat platform that transitions perfectly into the brake lever’s hoods.

Van Dessel WTF project bike with 3T Ergonova Team carbon handlebar review

Underneath, there’s a wide channel that accommodates both shift and brake cable housing. Yes, I taped it into place better than this before it was all wrapped up. Markings on the backside of the curve make it easy to get the levers matched up and level on each side.

Van Dessel WTF project bike with 3T ARX II Team stem review

The ARx II Team stem is a fairly straightforward alloy stem. It’s made of AL7075 T6 with an alloy faceplate and titanium Torx bolts. It’s available in +/-6º and +/-17º rises, I chose the six. Of course, for a bike like this, you must have a bottle opener somewhere on board, so Ahren’s headset spacer/opener was used. Well worth the extra couple grams.

Van Dessel WTF project bike with 3T Stylus Team carbon seatpost review

The Stylus Team seatpost uses a carbon fiber shaft with alloy head and steel bolts. I had hoped to test the new Ionic comfort posts since this was going on a steel frame, but this is what was sent. It’s a 27.2 post, so that thinner diameter combined with the carbon shaft seem to be taking the hits in stride and providing a comfortable ride.

Van Dessel WTF project bike with 3T Stylus Team carbon seatpost review

The mounting hardware uses two bolts on a rounded base. This isn’t my favorite design for two reasons: First, you have to deal with two bolts to change anything. Contrast that with Moots’ post that uses one bolt to adjust tilt and the other to adjust fore/aft position, which leaves each position alone when adjusting the other. Second, the parts here are a bit fiddly – once loosened, it’s a sure bet the angle will move as you adjust fore/aft, so marking the spot with tape or a small etch would help get the saddle back to the desired angle more easily.

I usually opt for a 0mm offset, but this one’s 25mm offset seems fine on this application (both offsets are available for the Stylus). The minor complaints about setup aside, once tightened down, everything’s held together firmly and without issue so far. There’s no creaking or slipping.

Van Dessel WTF project bike with 3T Team cockpit components review and actual weights

Weights are sizes are:

  • Ergonova Team carbon handlebar (420mm wide/123mm drop/77mm reach) – 211g
  • ARX II Team alloy stem (100mm/6º rise) – 123g
  • Stylus 25 Team carbon seatpost (27.2 / 350mm length) – 225g

Van Dessel WTF project bike with Rivet leather bicycle saddle review

I first spotted Rivet at NAHBS a couple years ago, impressed with the thick leather construction and classic look. They make three different shapes, at 150, 160 and 170 millimeters wide at the rear. All use American-grown leather that’s waterproofed during the vegetable-based tanning process so they don’t need to be treated after purchase.

Van Dessel WTF project bike with Rivet leather bicycle saddle review

The name refers to the construction method, and they say the saddles won’t ever droop, sag or flare.

Van Dessel WTF project bike with Rivet leather bicycle saddle review

Under the nose is an adjustment bolt that allows you to customize the flex of the cover. Just a few turns makes a noticeable difference, which is pretty interesting to play with to find the best compromise between suspension and firmness. At the back are saddlebag loops.

Van Dessel WTF project bike with Rivet leather bicycle saddle review

The 160mm mid-sized model is called the Independence, and that’s what’s being ridden. This particular product wasn’t sought out, but Rivet offered one up and once it arrived, I just knew this was the bike it’d be going on. First impressions are good, though the cutouts do need to soften up for longer riding without a chamois (you know, when just running to the store or goofing off around town). With properly padded Spandex, it’s palatable right outta the box.

Van Dessel WTF project bike with Rivet leather bicycle saddle review and actual weight

Sizing is 270mm long by 160mm wide. It’s offered with both chromoly and titanium rails, and the ti version weighs in here at 391g. Claimed weight is 360g, so it’s a bit on the heavy side, but the steel one is claimed at 485g. Rails offer 80mm of adjustment. This one’s the only model they offer that uses a composite frame rather than metal, so it’s about 60g to 100g lighter than the other two. Retail is $295, available in five colors with the cutout, three without. Available on their website, or through BTI for your local shop to order.

Other bits shown here include the FSA headset, which comes with the frameset, and some clear FSA headset spacers that I had laying around…and they were red, so naturally they found a home on this bike! The computer is the Sigma ROX 10 GPS, which is pretty good overall and will get a separate review.

Stay tuned for Part Three: The Drivetrain & Wheels, coming soon!

15 COMMENTS

  1. “Funnest” is open to interpretation I guess. Mine would be a slack 29″ full suspension with 1×11 and a dropper.

  2. If you can’t open a bottle with a clipless pedal or any other part of your bicycle, you really shouldn’t be drinking….

  3. @Steevo – if your clipless pedal is clean enough to open something you’re about to put your mouth on, you aren’t riding hard enough 🙂

  4. I have to agree with Seraph. A Niner WFO or bike of that kind seems more fun. That just looks like butt hurt and cumbersome retro shit shifting. And having a “NOT MY FAVORITE” seatpost makes it not the funnest bike in the world. Your funnest bike should be one that has all your favorite stuff and is an example of reliability. Your “go-to” bike!!

  5. Alternatively, you could use 10sp Campy Ergo levers with a Shimano MTB derailleur and a 9sp Shimano cassette. Yes, you lose one sprocket (and gain a redundant shift at one end of the range), but it is a much more ergonomic (and elegant) solution.

    I’ve been doing it for several years now and it works just fine.

  6. I like it, I like all of the different bits and pieces that are attached to the frame. Tyler built it the way he wanted it not the way you wanted it. So why don’t some of you folks who do all of the nitpicking put together a bike and let the rest of us review what you have built up. I know most of you would not like any of my bikes as well, but again they are my rides not yours. I always enjoy checking out what others put together to ride those are usually the most interesting bicycles out there. It is all about just having fun…….

  7. I own this exact frame and I built it up completely different. It’s my “fun” go to bike for commuting up to 5,000 miles a year on sandy, muddy paths. It also does double duty when I need to cover some singletrack after work with friends while still getting compliments at the brewery for post apres brews. I really love this bike and set it up differently than the author. That’s one of the best things about the WTF, you can customize how you like it. I have a 2×1 setup with a Paul tensioner. Will probably put a 10 speed cassette on it someday but the simplicity is nice. I have a full suspension, 24 lb hardtail, and a rigid blinglespeed but this bike gets more use than any of them. The steel is not a harsh ride and when rolling double track, it is one of the most comfortable bikes I have ever ridden.

What do you think?

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