In the Stable, Part 3: Giant OCR C1

My first carbon bike, refurbished and rebuilt by me.

My first carbon bike, refurbished and rebuilt by me.

My newest addition to the ol’ bike collection is this Giant OCR C1. It’s allllll carbon fiber, baby—and my first ever carbon bike. I was in the market for a “legit”, modern, race-ready road bike for a while. I ended up finding this bike—sans wheelset—listed for about $500 on Craigslist by a college student who needed some cash to pay rent. Apparently, someone had stolen the wheels months, possibly even years ago, and the guy had the frame & components lying around since then. It all looked to be in pretty good shape judging by the photos included in the advertisement, and it had some decent components on it.

However, when I actually laid eyes on the bike in-person, something became apparent to me that was conveniently omitted from the Craigslist ad: this thing had been utterly neglected, with severe corrosion on most components and an eighth-inch-thick layer of filth covering everything. It was actually hard to image how the owner could have managed to let it become so destitute-looking; after all, this thing was brand new in 2008. It looked like it had been laying in my Grandma’s root cellar for 30 years.

I said, “WOW, didn’t realize it was so beat up… couldn’t see all this corrosion in the photos… It’s in pretty rough shape. I don’t know...“ And this guy says, “But it was, like, $2000 brand new!” Yeah, great, duly noted.

After a few minutes of examining this mess of a bike before me and some internal deliberation, I decided that a little TLC and elbow grease—also known as WD-40 and steel wool—would go a long way, and that a good deal could still be had. I made an offer of $300 and I went home with a fixer-upper.

Over the course of the next week, I stripped all the parts off the frame and cleaned it up. It wasn’t too bad, with exception of the steerer tube being stubbornly stuck in the headset/head tube, frozen by some strange gunky corrosion that accumulated in the micro-layers between carbon fiber. I got it free eventually by sort-of chiseling away at the carbon stack spacers to loosen them, one by one, followed by the various top headset pieces. Needless to say, the headset needed to be replaced.

Stripped down to the frame, except for the crankset & BB.

Stripped down to the frame, except for the crankset & BB.

Despite the indexing feeling surprisingly crisp, the Ultegra brifters were in terrible shape, nearly garbage. In fact, they were garbage. I replaced them along with the front derailleur, brakes, handlebars, stem, cables, housing, seat post, and saddle.

I managed to clean up the Dura Ace rear der, which was notably less corroded than everything else (the Ultegra parts, go figure), as well as the crankset, chainrings, and seat post clamp. The bottom bracket felt fine, so I didn’t investigate further—it’s like the underside of your car; you know it’s going to be filthy, but as long as it doesn’t affect functionality, it’s better to not even look at it.

I found a nice Specialized Roval wheelset with a 10-speed Dura Ace cassette (that’s titanium, dude!) and new-ish Continental Grand Prix tires on Craigslist for about $250 bucks. They’re very slick-looking wheels with no gaudy graphics, just jet black rims with a slight aero depth. The spokes interface in a fancy way that hides the nipples inside the hub (they spokes are oriented 180 degrees opposite of your conventional setup), further aiding with the low-profile aesthetics.

Spoke nipples are hidden inside the deep rims of the Roval wheelset.

Spoke nipples are hidden inside the deep rims of the Roval wheelset.

I then proceeded to sell all the old rotten parts on Craigslist (did I mention how much I love that shit?) and recouped a bit of cash. Even the garbage STI shifters sold! I met this young guy after dark, without much light, and I said very clearly, “You might want to shine some light on these shifters and take a closer look—they’re pretty beat up.” The kid hands me the cash and barely looks at them: the deal is done and we part ways. Thirty minutes later, he’s texting me saying he wants to “return” the shifters. Sorry bro, this ain’t Walmart!

As of writing this, I’ve put about 1000 miles on the bike and I absolutely love it. It accelerates with noticeably more ease than any bike I’ve owned and it climbs like a champ, due to its lightweight carbon frame and overall stiffness. Having a serious road bike has enabled me to join local weekly group rides that typically have a very fast A-group. So, I’ve been learning about etiquette, tactics, pace lines, drafting, and pulling as part of a group. Pretty fun stuff! There’s nothing quite like the feeling of the precarious combination of risk and efficiency that exists in a high-speed pace line with experienced riders. Although I will admit, when combined with the dual horrors of O’ahu traffic and road infrastructure, it can get a little hairy once in a while.

This bike has acted as something of a stepping-stone in terms of what it means to be a “cyclist”. One small step for Jabez’s bike collection, one Giant leap for Jabez’s cycling. What I mean is, I’ve become enthralled with getting fit, going faster, and racing—none of which I was particularly interested in prior to experiencing the near-flight feeling of a lightweight carbon bike.