Earlier this year, I had an idea. Well, more of a plan to finally bring a years-old idea to life. It all started with a drivetrain. Specifically, the SRAM Force eTap AXS group. You see, I had been in Girona, Spain for the launch of the group and I came home from that trip feeling fairly fit, and wanted to ride that wave into the coming season. I knew that I potentially had a SRAM Force eTap AXS group on the way, and while at the Sea Otter Classic, things suddenly started coming together.
Normally, I’d say it’s more common to start builds with a frame and fork and go from there, but in this case it was all about the drivetrain. The SRAM eTap AXS groups are fairly unique in that they have no wires or cables for the derailleurs, and it just so happens that the Why PR titanium road bike was built with this exact set up in mind. Initially, I had planned on using a frame from a different company, but when that fell through, Adam Miller said he would be happy to lend a frame to the build. It was while I was standing there talking to the Why Cycles crew that my plan really started to coalesce.
For years I had been thinking about riding the entire Ohio to Erie Trail in a single go – about 326 miles from Lake Erie to the Ohio River. Until this point, lack of time, riding partners, and other excuses had kept me from attempting it. But as I was standing there building the bike in my head, I realized that this would be the perfect opportunity to both check a big ride off my bucket list, and also thoroughly test out the bike and components in the process.
A little about that beautiful frame – the PR is Why Cycle’s ‘Pure Road’ frame, and like their other bikes, it’s made from “grade 9 3/2.5 titanium with 6/4 titanium for the headtube, threaded BB shell, and machined bits.” It’s important to note that this frame is eTap only. OK, you could technically run other drivetrains by routing the cables or wires outside of the frame and zip tying them in place, but the frame only has routing provisions for the brake line – nothing else.
Otherwise, the frame is pretty standard with 12 x 142mm axle spacing, a threaded 68mm BSA bottom bracket shell, IS42/IS52 integrated headset, a 27.2mm seat post, clearance for 32mm tires, and 160mm flat mount disc tabs. There are two water bottle cage mounts in the frame and nothing else – no fender mounts, top tube mounts, etc. This is after all, for Pure Road. For the frame only, the PR is priced at $2,600, or you can purchase it with an ENVE Road Fork for $3,099.
Whisky on the front
After securing the frame from Why Cycles, I set about to collect the remaining parts. Up front, Whisky Parts Co. came through with one of their No. 9 RD 12mm thru axle road forks which seemed like a solid choice. The tire clearance is listed as a bit less than the ENVE fork that Why uses on their complete builds, but the Whisky fork has clearance for a 30mm road tire with 4mm of clearance on all sides. Also, note that the fork uses a 1.25″ tapered steerer tube, so you’ll need a reducer crown race to use with the 1.5″ tapered IS42/IS52 Cane Creek 40-Series headset of the PR. The fork has an MSRP of $520.
To go along with the Force drivetrain, SRAM also sent over a Zipp build kit including a Service Course SL-80 Ergo bar in a 42cm width ($110), a matching Service Course SL stem in 90mm ($112), and a Service Course SL 0 set back carbon seatpost ($160). Note that the decal on the seatpost is extremely fragile – so take care when mounting the bike in a work stand.
Rolling on Fire(crest)
The Zipp train continued with a pair of 303 Firecrest Carbon Clincher Tubeless Disc Brake wheels. Exactly as shown, the wheelset will set you back a hefty $2,500.
Importantly, the 77/177D hubset includes an XDR freehub body which is compatible with the new 12 speed SRAM road cassettes. The tubeless rims feature a 21mm internal width which works great with wider road tires, and the 45mm deep profile provides noticeable aero benefits without being too much to handle on windy days.
Zipp also sent a pair of their Tangente tubeless tires in a 700c x 28mm width. Initially I struggled to get these seated and ended up running the Continental Grand Prix 5000 TLs below, also in a 700c x 28mm size.
These sealed up instantly without any struggle and kept air incredibly well. They also measure a full 30mm wide on the Zipp rims! I’ve since gotten the Zipp tires to seal up after running the wheels with sealant for some time – in fact, now it’s not even a struggle. The tires popped into place with zero effort using the exact same method.
All AXS Pass
Outlined in the actual weights post, I opted for a SRAM Force eTap AXS group with a wide gearing range since I wasn’t sure how heavy the loaded bike would be, and what kind of hills I would encounter. As it turns out, I probably could have gone with larger chainrings than the 46/33t gearing combination, but since I like to spin up hills, I’m still liking the combination with the 10-33t cassette. The crankset also includes an AXS Power Meter. To match the frame, I ran 160mm 6-bolt rotors front and rear.
If you want to use a front derailleur on the Why PR, the 31.8mm clamp adapter does the trick.
I also chose to run a pair of SRAM Blips which are satellite shifter buttons that plug into the main shifter hoods. I’ll talk more about this in another post, but these are one of my favorite features of eTap – once you have them, you’ll use them far more than you would expect.
When it comes to installing the Blips, you have a few choices. You can either stick them to the bar and wrap the tape around them which doesn’t look all that great. You can wrap the tape over them which reduces the tactile feel to the buttons. And you can use a Blip Clamp which is designed to mount them outside of the tape. Or, in my case, you can use an extra wide bar tape like the Zelvin Big40 2.5 tape which if you wrap it carefully, is wide enough that you can cut the perfect hole in the tape to let the button poke through. This is certainly not the easiest thing to do and make it look good, but I love how it turned out. Unfortunately, Zelvin seems to have since gone out of business, but you
may still be able to find some out there can now find it at Red Monkey Sports!
I was a bit late to the party, but this is now one of my favorite bar tapes since it allows you to wrap it thick while still stretching it enough to stay put. Even so, I tend to put a lot of pressure on my palms when riding on the tops of the bar and I don’t ride with gloves, so I put an extra strip underneath to give it even more cushion. This turned out to be the right call after a lot of miles on the bike in a short period of time.
A last minute addition to the build, I decided to try out the Farr Aero Carbon Bolt-On for an added hand position.
There was going to be a lot of relatively straight mileage, and I thought the added 102g might be worth it. The Aero Bolt-On clearly bolts onto a 31.8mm handlebar with two thin clamps and held in place quite well with the specified 2.5-3Nm torque. The Bolt-On has a rounded portion out front to mount your computer or light, but I found that the Wahoo Roam was too big to mount it there, so I mounted the GPS to my stem and put a small light out front.
Finally, the build was capped off with a Specialized Power Pro saddle in 143mm.
It was a bit risky to run since it didn’t show up until a week before the ride, but it turned out to be the right choice. I’ve liked most of the Power Saddles that I’ve ridden and this one was no different.
As shown here, the final build worked out to be 18.69lbs, or 8.48kg which I was fairly happy with. I didn’t set out to make a super light build, and considering the wider tires, deep wheels, and the selected components, I’m happy. If you wanted to make it lighter and you had the money, it would certainly be possible.
That’s it for the build, stay tuned for the full review up next!