Sometimes there are no easy answers. Here’s one of them. So far, RCUK’s “ultimate” winter hack comprises a frame, fork and wheels with a bar/stem combo straight out of the parts bin. That’s the first leg of the journey to hackdom completed: fit a part or parts that somehow spoils the appeal of the machine and renders it suited to being hacked about on.
Stage two requires a delicate balancing act, for it means deciding between nine and 10-speed transmissions. On one level, the decision is easy; go for nine and wear out old, obsolete components that will otherwise hang around my spares bin, getting in the way and reminding me that they need using, preferrably in place of nice, new 10-speed parts.
On the other hand, those nine-speed Shimano Ultegra (it will have to be Shimano if I go for nine) STI levers are remarkably unattractive. They may as well stay in the bin for all I care, while I fit nine-speed bar-end shift levers in accordance with my current “retro-tech is appealing” perspective.
Or, do I opt for a nice pair of used but decent 6600 Ultegra 10-speed levers and embrace the performance benefits provided by that extra sprocket; benefits that will not only back up the “ultimate” claim but which may well be useful later in the winter when training starts to get meaty?