Sorry this is late. I've been busy at home (getting hammered and giving gifts) and at work (where I'm screwed, screwed, screwed under a dung-mountain of work) and it's taken a while to improve this post to the point where it is merely reasonably bad.
In Pt. I, I argued that your Rig need not be a fancy schmancy ueber lightweight race bike. Any comfortable, durable frame you don't mind beating up will work just fine. The folks weighing in via email about their Rigs made it clear that there is something like a consensus on this. You're better off with heavy, over-engineered, older, rugged Rig, than with light, narrow focus, new and slightly fragile state-of-the-art race bikes. Greyhounds to go fast in the summer; hairy sled dogs to go fast in the winter.
The same thing is true of components. Reliable and durable takes the cake; subtlety and the last 10% of high performance, is the icing on the cake when you are in a race or showing off at the local coffee shop. It isn't impressive on a Rig you're going to beat the heck out of in bad weather training.
The drivetrain strikes me as the most delicate part of any modern bike, at least operationally speaking. Although you can seriously damage a "fragile" carbon fiber frame by dropping a sharp edged bit of metal on it, or snap it in a race, few people do just that, so it's not a common type of failure. On the other hand, most people experience drivetrain problems of varying magnitude on a regular basis, whether it's shifting problems from stretched or gummed up derailers, more shifting problems from worn cogs or dirty cables, or busting the rear derailer off or simply having the derailers freezing. These are normal drivetrain ailments.
This is a problem if you're doing the typical off-season long distance training rides in adverse weather, on roads that have been salted or gritted. The risk of equipment malfunction is always there when you're doing long rides from home. The likeliehood increases, however, along with the penalties for equipment failure, when you add water, road salt, grit, and severe cold weather into the equation. Bust a chain in 70 degree or even 90 degree weather a couple miles from home, and you're in for a walk, some discomfort, and maybe the Call of Shame. Bust a chain in 20 degree weather, 35 miles up into the hills past Charlottesville, and you could die of exposure. The stakes are higher. Reliability is at a premium when you're doing things in bad weather.
If you're going to train seriously outdoors in winter, the drivetrain on your Rig should be more robust than your regular 10 (or heaven forefend) skinny 11 speed drivetrain.
There's no reason you can't use the latest and greatest gear - it's plenty reliable most of the time. Think though. A 10 or in Campy's case 11 speed chain is going to be thinner and weaker than a 9, 8 or fewer speed chain. It's not a bug it's a feature - that's how you fit so many cogs into the 130mm of space available in the rear of a typical road frame. That skinny chain is lighter than bigger chains, which is nice for racing acceleration and climbing. Unfortunately, it's also more prone to breakage. The twist from crossover is one culprit, sudden shocks from ghost shifting or hard shifts under heavy pressure on hills and in sprints can do it. I am the master of snapped chains; I think I've broken 5 or 6 in the past two years. Skinny chains also seem to just wear out quicker. Along with the chain concerns of a 10 speed, you also have to worry about the derailer or the somewhat delicate integrated shift levers getting gummed up. With complexity, comes a greater range of things to go wrong. You want simple, pal. The simpler the better.
The first step toward simplicity and reliability is a 9 or 8 speed with integrated shifter. The chain is a little wider and heavier, the derailer adjustments don't have to be quite as precise, and the crossover on some models is incrementally less severe. That's a good option. I break 9 speed chains *less often* than I break 10 speed chains.
The next step in the direction of rugged simplicity is friction shifters. Bar end or downtube friction shifters are wonderful things. They aren't perfectly foolproof, and nothing can be made damnfoolproof, but they are pretty close, especially the non-indexed shifter. They have some downsides. They do not shift as fast as STIs unless you are well practiced. The downtube version can be harder to reach if you're doing a standing climb. But they are wicked reliable and much lighter than integrated shifters. Yes, you still have to rely on a goofy rear derailer and a whole bunch of gears, and if that derailer gets some water splashed in it on a really cold day with falling temps, it will still freeze up. But you've eliminated a couple possible failure point and if something does go wrong, they are reliable and easily fixed if something goes wrong.
The next next best option is to rock a singlespeed or fixed gear, or in a perfect world, or at least one where people have access to the Surly line of simple hubs through Quality Bike Products, a bike with a flip-flop hub. The downside to rocking a fixed gear is that it sucks for serious climbing because you're going to be chronically over-geared, until you start going downhill, when the opposite problem arises. It also sucks for serious descending If you're hitting Thurmont, it is going to be one long muscular endurance ride, until it's one long extremely high cadence ride. No offense meant, but unless you are a strong elite level cyclist, if you ride at normal intensity you're going to be so popped after 30 miles that you want to die. The other upside to that is that you can get great training value out of a two hour ride. So it's a tradeoff. The flip-flop hub is a nice option if you're going to be doing serious climbs and going a long way from home. It allows you to flip the wheel around and freewheel down the big hill, after stopping at the top, loosening the rear axle nuts with your trusty Surly Jethro Tule, and flipping the wheel around. Again, there's another other downside. Until you are practiced at it, you'll get a little cold and get dirty fingers when you stop to flip. The concurrent, other other other upside is you can smugly remind yourself that you're following in the cold, shivering, cursing-Henri-Desgrange footsteps of Fausto Coppi, Alfredo Binda, and a thousand other great fixed-gear-riding champions who were dead before you were born. Very hard core, very old school. Very, very reliable.
So those are the drivetrain options. Which one you choose depends entirely on your preferences. For me - based on the drivetrain disasters I've had in races and training the last few years - several busted chains, a busted front and rear derailer, a couple shattered chainrings (not like I'm going to do stomps on these rides, but just worth a mention) - I should be looking for a $75 old 8 or 7 speed with downtube shifters and tuning it up. And doing winter training on the fixie, a comfortable Surly Cross Check rigged with an 8 speed mountain bike chain, looks better and better to me all the time.
I have a fender fetish. I'll admit it. It's not just about having a dry @55 and a dry face though. It's about faithfulness to the style inherent in high functioning gear. While prettyness has a certain style to it, and is more immediately pleasing, an aesthetic based around high performance has an attractiveness of its own. Functional excellence has some appeal out of the box, and it gains a fine patina with age; whereas merely pretty things tend to start fairly spectacularly but dull with time. Objecting to fenders on aesthetic grounds is like ditching your well-stocked small or medium tail bag in favor of a small flat wallet in order to look more like a pro. It is a great idea, until you bust a chain or bend a wheel 40 miles from home, and calling for Bjarne or the neutral wheel van, neither of which appears to save you with your spare bike and wheelset. There you are on the roadside, looking, ahem, cool, as you hike to the nearest Qwick-e-Mart with your oh-so-aesthetic tailbag-free roadbike. As you are walking, if you are introspective at all, you may realize that your slavish devotion to high fashion was actually kind of stupid.
Pros ride without tail bags because neutral support or the team car is only 10 seconds behind them at all times. It's a real Cat 4 type of maneuver to sacrifice the ability to get home under all the circumstances, in order to look good to other Cat 4s. Just because you race Cat 4, doesn't mean you have to act like a Cat 4 in all things.
Fenders are in the same category as tail bags. You know why pros don't rock fenders? Because when you see pros, they are only in races on TV. It's one less thing to break, makes the bike marginally faster, and when they get off the bike there are hot drinks from the team bus, dry clothes, masseuses, doctors, and food waiting for them. Unless you are incredibly lucky, or you have a really gullible significant other who was born with the Soigneur Gene - a variant of the co-dependent/enabler gene - there's no way you're getting this treatment. Moreover, if you like to the very top of this page, you'll see something on Lars Michaelson's Team CSC bike. Why, it's my friend fenders! Yes! A lot of pros actually train with fenders. You know why? Because they aren't stupid. You should consider not being stupid too. There's a lot to be said for not being stupid.
I've tried several kinds of fenders in the last couple years. The best kind are... whatever works best for you under your particular circumstances. As a general principle, the more coverage they have, the happier you will be, and the more coverage and the happier you are, the more likely that the fenders were a bit of a PITA to install and tune in. No surprise there - the better the fenders work, the more effort they were to fit. Note the CSC water bottle mud-flaps on Michaelson's bike above. That is a courteous hack right there friends; he isn't throwing *any* water into Jens Voigt's face, which is both polite and a good survival tactic if you're regularly racing with Jens; a survival trick in the same genre as "don't poke bear with stick" and "Warning, lions: do not put arm in cage." Here's the lowdown on different styles of fenders that I have tried.
The most basic kind of fender is the mountain bike style of clip-on fender. The benefits are really easy installation, very low cost, ruggedness, and basic protection from water and grit. If you picture a wheel as a clock, most of the water sluices off between about 11 O'clock and 1 O'clock, with the real concentration at 11 to 12. Some water and grit is going to splatter your feet, face, and the front part of your drivetrain, and a lot is going to splatter anybody riding on your wheel in the rear. Your rear and chest will stay fairly dry, but you're not going to make any new friends on a group ride. Your mileage may vary, but my thought is these are mainly okay if you're training alone, won't be out too long, or where you are riding off road and the stuff thrown up is heavy (like mud) or flying up at lower speed, and therefore less likely to get big air blast your face.
The next step up in coverage are the clip-on road fenders. These install pretty easily and provide decent coverage, and they are moderately priced. The downsides are that the coverage, while reasonable, is not perfect, and they can be a little tricky to bring into perfect alignment with your wheels. Hearing "rubrubrubrub" halfway through the ride after you hit a little bump is not uncommon with these. It's no big deal, you just slid their rubber band-like mounts around a little bit to adjust them; but it's one more little hassle to cope with. They may also be limited to 700x23 or 700x25 width, so pay careful attention to the specs when you are buying them. They provide good coverage from about 9 to 12 O'clock, so you will get some spray coming up into your face on the front wheel when your speed starts to go up. A pretty good alternative though, if you are using your normal, non-eyeleted road bike for bad weather training.
Bolt-on clip-ons are the next step up. If you are using a cross bike, or an older road bike that has plenty of seat stay and fork clearance, along with holes for center mount brakes, the Planet Bike clip-ons, which aren't actually true clip-ons, are a pretty good option. They are inexpensive and offer good coverage, from about 9 to about 12:30 on the front, but only from 10 to 1 on the rear. They are sturdy and wide, with most models accepting up to 700x45 tires, and holding their position well once installed. The disadvantage is that they are sort of wide and won't fit on bikes with very limited seatstay and fork clearance, and the front fender is also a little bit shorter than it might be, allowing a bit of face spray, while the back is only a bit better than plain old blades, letting your wheelsucking friends enjoy a cool schpritz. These are the ones I rock on my fixed gear and I'm very happy with them - though I may be riveting on a cut up water bottle on both the front and rear to cut down on the last 15% of water spray.
The final option are the full-sized, bolt-on fenders. It helps to have eyelets, but they aren't completely necessary since some clever guy on the internet came up with a simple hack to help you mount full fenders to your non-eyeletted Rig. These are the best option, IMAO, because they mount up solidly, stay in place once properly adjusted, and give great spray protection from about 8 O'Clock to about 1. The downside to these is they can be a little more expensive than the very basic fenders, they are a bit of a PITA to install and get properly adjusted, and you need to have sufficient fork and seatstay clearance to install them. If your bike doesn't take tires a millimeter over 700x23, these probably won't be an option. Once installed, they are very nice, and you will stay surprisingly dry even on fairly rainy days. The degree to which tire spray causes you to be wet and cold is truly surprising, and only really understood once you've ridden with full fenders. I ran the set below on my Giant OCR for two years and really truly enjoyed them - most of all when I popped the wheels off and hose them out, and watch rivulets of mud drip off the fenders, rather than my drivetrain or my kit or face.
So enough about fenders and drivetrains. Like everything else, this is my opinion about what works for me. What works for you? And do we have any really strong anti-fender or pro-11 speed opinions out there?
Pt. I of The Rig, here.