Only took 3 months, but the bike is finally on the road - and I couldn't be happier. First impressions:
* Feels FAR more responsive compared to my old aluminum frame/carbon fork Trek 1200. At first the steering felt very twitchy but I quickly got used to it. Probably a result of fresh headset bearings and lower wheel weight, so less gyroscopic effect. The head tube angle is the same, and I swapped the same stem from my old bike. Accelerates and brakes quicker, rolls quicker, climbs faster, changes direction more easily. Nice.
* Less road noise and vibration. Didn't think there would be that much difference, but there is. It's gotta be the frame, because I'm using the same width tires at the same pressure as my old bike. The new Dura Ace 7850 SL wheels might be helping, but they're still alloy, so not that different than my old R500s.
* SRAM Force 10 speed is really crisp and accurate, although I haven't got the front derailleur dialed in yet. Taking some time to get used to the compact crank and the double-click to upshift. Compared to my old 9 speed triple, there's a massive difference between the chain rings and less difference between the gears on the back. Having to do a lot more front shifting. The Jagwire Pro cable kit was really nice to install and I expect it will work well for a long time. I'd never done a full cable install before.
* Brake levers and calipers feel good, grippy but good modulation. Using some new Shimano 105 pads with them. Haven't done any massive downhills yet to really give it a stress test. A little squeaky, but they probably just need to bed in.
* Enjoying the compact 3T Ergosum bars, I had semi-compact bars before. I can spend even more time in the drops and actually spend extended time in the hooks now. More aero, more faster. Figured I'd get the alloy Ergosums to try out before sniffing around for Team or LTD bars. Routed both the brake and shifter cable together around the front, and it makes a very comfortable grip for climbing on the tops. Used Bontrager gel cork bar tape that I've used on my other bikes, very comfy.
* Ritchey WCS Carbon Link post and Streem saddle combo working well, after I torqued the saddle bolts to the indicated 15 Nm (pretty damn tight). Was having problems with the seat slipping/tilting forward over big bumps, but the torque wrench and some grip paste has fixed that. Could save some grams by cutting the seat post, it's ridiculously long for my frame with it's classic horizontal top tube. But I can't bring myself to hacksaw such a nice post. The saddle looks a little delicate on this big, round tubed frame - might look around for something that looks a bit more substantial to balance out the looks. Nit picking.
Final weight with everything but the bottles, pump & Garmin: around 7.62 kg (16.8 lbs)
(This cheapo luggage scale I'm using to weigh the bike gives erratic results)
Could certainly get it under 6.8 kg with a SRAM Red upgrade, carbon bars and stem, full carbon fork, and lighter wheels but I was trying to stay within a budget. I'll keep my eye out for deals, but let's face reality, I weight 78 kg right now so what's a few hundred grams.
Still a few things to do, such as trimming the cables, cutting the steering tube, and I want to try a 10mm shorter stem just to compare, the stack/reach geometry on this frame is a bit different and I'm getting tight shoulders after a couple hours. A bike is never really done is it?
In total I probably spent around 20 hours working on the frame, and another 15 shopping for parts and building it up. Haven't added up the cost yet but I can if there's interest. Would I do it again? Probably not, although I learned so much that doing it again would definitely be easier and faster. On the other hand, I have a bike that I feel connected to because I've worked on every millimeter of the thing, and I chose every part on the bike. Every time I look at it I want to go for a long, hard ride - so I count the project as a success.