A couple of years ago I had a pretty serious accident that trashed my bike. Insurance covered the acquisition of a new bike but I’d kept all the useful parts off the old bike and just needed a new frame and set of handlebars to get it back on the road again.
I was recently put on to a website advertising moderately cheap Chinese carbon frames and thought, about time to try something. www.velobuild.com was the site I was put onto and the favored steed was the R-002.
I made a simple mistake during the order process. As you can see on the left, you can select a handlebar size and a stem size, but these mean nothing unless you also select their matching item with the price lower down the form – not good form design!
The carton arrived to my billing address instead of the chosen shipping address. This caused a bit of fun as it’s a bit hard to make it down to the local post office near my house during business hours. I left work early and sprinted homewards on my bike and made it to the post office just before they closed. The post mistress looked at me strangely when she realised which parcel I was here for…the large one with a bike frame in it…and I’m on a bike! Fortunately the box is light and I cut a hand hold into the side of the carton and ride home with it under my arm.
Opening the carton and unwrapping the contents I notice that the handlebars I thought I ordered (as per above) are definitely not in the box…nor is the head stem…the wrapping is pretty comprehensive though and the carton arrived in good condition. The tracking from the original EMS was a bit different to Australia Post. They send you to a Chinese site which fortunately has an English version that requires the tracking number and then a verification thing which is not quite obvious until you put your cursor into the verification box which then reveals a Captcha-like set of digits to enter to prove you’re a human – though once the package arrives in Australia (or as they put it, the COMMENWEALTH (sic) OF AUSTRALIA) you can simply put the tracking number they send you into the AusPost tracking system.
The frame looks nice and the 3k weave with matt finish was chosen for its understated appearance and also that a paint job can hide a myriad of sins. Looking over the frame shows very few flaws. The internal cable routing looks good and there appears (by feel) that they’ve tubed these up to assist with cable threading (I’ll let you know once I run these if it helped or not).
Nothing is labelled. If you’ve never worked on a bike, stripped one down and rebuilt it, done major maintenance – this is probably not for you. If you don’t know how a headset goes together, you get a bag of parts and need to be able to figure out which piece goes where and with what. There are no instructions. If you do get stuck – I can recommend viewing Youtube to patch up your knowledge gaps.
I weighed all the components independently. 58cm frame = 1130g. Forks=410g, seat post 220g, spacers and headset 120g. These numbers seem to be a little more than quoted on the website from memory but until I do some stress testing, I’m happy for the extra plastic.
Looking down the head tube I noticed a difference between the crisp clean finish of the Scott CR1 Pro head tube which is an intact cylinder with top tube and down tubes whereas the Zhongwei R-002 frame is a complex weave of carbon intersects around the head tube – it will be interesting to see how it feels, seems rigid enough now. Someone mentioned their surprise looking at my destroyed Scott at how clean the carbon joins were on the inside – maybe they expected it to look like the Zhongwei.
I read a review about this frame mentioning something about the cable routing. The cable entry/exit points look clean. I’m a little concerned about the routing of the plastic cable guide on the underside of the frame, it doesn’t look like the cable will clear the frame and will create some scuffing on the frame. The screw holding the guide on also looks pretty much an afterthought, would prefer an allen bolt.
The upper headset bearing recess seemed a little mal-formed. The gentle coaxing that worked on the lower bearing didn’t bear results, neither did getting a little more forceful and a bit of sandpapering. So I thought it best to use leverage and lots of it, I assembled the rest of the parts, spacers, head stem and inserted the top cap and started ratcheting everything down. Slowly but surely it all compressed down into where it needed to be.
Rear Derailleur Hangar
They provided me with a spare…the one on the frame is painted black..they’ve painted the screws over too…it looks like the hangar should be replaceable…but I can’t figure out how it would swap out without making a mess.
Thanks to Susan for the extra Token BB. I thought I might as well see if this fit early on. The quality control around this area wasn’t top notch and I wasn’t getting the confidence inspired engagement of threads I normally get with other bikes and this was a brand new BB. Mess this up by cross threading and you might as well throw the frame away, you can probably salvage it somehow but I didn’t want to think about how to go about that so I was using a light touch and trying various techniques to feel the BB engaging in a positive manner. At least it is in now, if I have to take it out the thread should be well defined now.
I’ve thrown a couple of custom built alloy wheels in just so it’s rolling. The wheels were quite difficult to slot into the frame. Looking closely at the dropouts there seems to be some sort of bumps to provide some sort of assertive engagement of the wheels…I just found it hard to get the wheels in and will look at grinding these out. The front fork I’ll have to work out as this was excessively difficult to get the wheel into and putting full pressure downwards on the frame sees the wheel pushing over to nearly touch the right side of the fork so this deserves some closer attention to see what the fault is here.