My time at Discovery/Big wheel Cycles resulted in a bizarre bike philosophy.
Lets start with the frame.
Gunnar Roadie Custom: OX Platinum OS2 tube set, Henry James stainless dropouts
Steel is Indeed real, but I'm not one of those dudes who would hunt down some "wicked" retro/Italian bike. Modern steel and welding is great stuff, plain and simple. The Surly pacer I rode for a long time was also great frame, and is still on the road.
Nine speed son. It shifters better than ten and the chain is less prone to breakage.
Shimano Dura-Ace are the goods. I'm not a fan of shimano off road (Cross/MTB), but on the road, it is the best in my experience. A lot of the performance I get out of the drive train is due to my downtube shifters. Not a lot of people run these shifters on modern/race builds, but my introduction to them was kind of an accident. On my first road bike, my right shifter failed and the head mechanic at my shop suggested I give a indexed downtube shifter a try.
I was amazed.
Here's the deal. There are much less moving parts and less cable and housing (friction) with a DT setup. This gives you quick, "positive" feeling, and accurate shifting.
Also, it is very nice to be able to go anywhere on the cassette in one movement.
Ok lets see what other goofy stuff we have going on here (above).
Nokon housing. Real geek stuff. Stuff is light, compression-less and great for tight routing.
Cables. PowerCordz... Yea I'm serious. Hey give me a break, when I was in a shop, I had the awesome opportunity to tryout new products and correspond with manufactures.
Are they super-crazy-not-so-smart expensive? Yes, but they are also completely stretch proof, giving you better accuracy/precision in shifting and better modulation in braking.
Cassette: Dura-ace. Best.
Chain: KMC X9 SL. Thing is light, gold, and shifts great.
Ok, up to the cockpit.
Levers: Cane creek. Comfortable grip and a good match for my calipers.
Bar: Deda Newton. The finest aluminum bar on the market. I am against carbon bars. Even many of the cool guys (pros) stay with aluminum.
Stem: Thomson Elite X2. An engineering and fabrication masterpiece. There is much more expensive, but not better.
What do we have here:
Calipers: Cane creek SL. Well forged, stiff arms. Titanium used for hardware and pivots. Light, powerful and affordable.
Somebody get this man a cable end...
Headset: King. Thing is like 5 years old and has been on two bikes...so far. Works like day one.
Fork: Bontrager XXX Lite. Kinda unexpected? I was lucky to run into this guy on a manufacture closeout. Here's my deal. I trust carbon as a material for fork blades, but not in the steerer/upper crown of forks. This guy has a alloy steerer. Another fork I really like is the Alpha Q CS-10, which has a OX platinum steerer.
Crank: Truvativ Rouleur OCT. The best value/performance for me. Has a nice external bearing setup. Arms are hollow aluminum. Well machined rings. If I had to replace it (don't think its made now) I would go for a Sram rival or one of the slightly older (and discounted) Dura-Ace.
Pedals: Expedo R-Force. One of the very few one sided, spd-cleat, road pedals.
Very light (Ti body/hollow spindle) and low stack.
Post: Thomson Elite. An engineering and fabrication masterpiece. There is much more expensive, but not better.
Saddle: Another experiment. Tioga Spider. This thing a super light, but my friends thought it would not be worth it in comfort. It is surprisingly comfortable. The webbed design conforms to you and smooths bumps well. It is not very expensive because it is not carbon fiber. It is a carbon-resin composite of sorts. Basically a plastic material with carbon fiber-like shreds/particles mixed in.
Important, but not really cool to look at, Tires: Kenda Calientes are very light and well made for a great price.
Ok. Last and least, my wheels. Mavic Ksyrium Elite. Yea, they are nice wheels, but not my ideal. I'm a standard rim/spoke/nipple kind of guy. I really liked my American Classic Sprint 350s, maybe Ill try and find another set sometime.
So that's my road vehicle.