Like a lot of us, I’ve had some more time around the house recently to do some wrenching. In my case, neither of the gasoline-powered conveyances need much right now. My mountain bike collection is a different story. Everything from the old to the new could use something, whether it is repair, maintenance, upgrade or just complete overhaul. Once I finally accepted mid-April that this stay-at-home thing wasn’t going to end anytime soon I started ordering parts from all over the web - Jenson USA, Performance Bike, REI, eBay, other Oppos... and the deliveries have started rolling in. I spent a good bit of the weekend in the garage and got quite a bit accomplished. I’m not done yet, because I’m still waiting on several orders, but I felt like writing about where things are and what plans are in the works.
This is my 10-year old daughter’s bike. I bought it used to see if she had any interest at all in mountain biking and she has really taken to it. But she hasn’t been too comfortable on it for more than half an hour or so. This bike is a solid base, but the previous owner kept it stock except for some questionable quick fixes and deferred maintenance was starting to stack up. I made this my priority project. My goal here was to shed a few pounds, upgrade the cockpit, and tighten up the drivetrain without going totally crazy or spending so much I may as well buy her a new bike - so the fork and wheels stay put even though I would love to upgrade them it doesn’t seem worth the cost.
- Stem - flipped up to a positive angle from a drop stem. Instant ergonomic improvement.
- Handlebar - hand-me-down Kalloy bar from my Trek. That stock orange handlebar was unbelievably heavy. This one is nothing special but has pretty much the same geometry and is at least a pound lighter.
- Brake Levers - brand new Avid Speed Dial 7 levers. IMO one of the best mechanical brake levers ever made. Huge upgrade over the junky Tekro levers, one of which was so busted from a fall I had to pry it open with a pipe wrench to extract the cable.
- Shifters - 3x8 Shimano Deore rapid-fire shifters pulled off of the Raleigh. They are about 10 years old but still work well. Huge improvement over the sticky stock Tourney-level grip shifters that were on there.
- Grips - Specialized Enduro grips that I found on sale. Acid green to match her helmet.
- Seat Post - old Trek 6061 alloy post. Nothing fancy but a bit lighter than the stock post.
- Brake Housing and Cables - replaced all the housing/cables with Jagwire Sport and dialed in the brakes. The Tektro V-brakes are decent enough when adjusted well and the previous owner but some decent aftermarket pads on them.
- Pedals - hand-me-down Specialized dirt take-offs from the Stumpjumper. Again nothing special but better than the ones that were on there with bearing that were starting to grind pretty badly.
- Rear derailleur - brand new Shimano Acera to replace the crappy Tourney stock unit. Acera is nothing special but holding it next to the Tourney you can see a huge increase in quality. It is shifting well. Right now I still have the stock 7-speed freewheel on there so there is a phantom shift 7-8 that does nothing until we get a real 8-speed on there.
- Saddle - ordered an SDG Fly Jr kids saddle that should be here sometime this week.
- Freewheel - I ordered an 11-34T 8-speed freewheel from an eBay seller that appears to have been lost in the mail. Or maybe it doesn’t exist and never really shipped who knows. Unfortunately 24" wheels that take cassettes aren’t really an easy thing to buy and 8-speed freewheels are rare so hopefully it shows at some point - the range should be great for the hills here to get her confidence in climbing up.
- Shift cable and housing - ordered a Jagwire kit to throw on there - the stock stuff is on its last legs.
This is my wife’s bike. It is only 5 months old so it didn’t need much. But after watching my wife’s feet slip on a recent ride and seeing REI had these blue Race Face Chester pedals on sale I couldn’t resist ditching the stock pedals (hand-me-down to the Hotrock). I have these pedals on my Camber and love them - smooth bearings, take abuse well - for a “budget” pedal they are really great. I had hoped the blue would match the frame better but oh well. Simple mod that should make riding much nicer.
Happy birthday to me - new handlbar and grips! For my birthday a few weeks ago I bought myself a
Truvativ Sram Descendant carbon bar. Very close geometry to the stock bar that is being donated to the Trek. Amazing how light and stiff this thing is. I also got the ODI/Vans mash-up grips. Yes those are the classic Vans skate shoe sole as bike grips and they work great.
Unfortunately it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for the Camber. On a ride Friday my brakes started not fully returning. It’s a known problem with these Sram levers - the pistons swell with time/heat and start sticking. They were warranty replacing these but I think mine are too old and I don’t want to deal with returning them anyway. I’ve ordered a pair of rebuild kits that should be here this week. Not looking forward to it because brake fluid is nasty but should get me back on the trails while I look for a good sale on XT/XTR’s or Hopes.
Where to start with this one... a bit of background first I guess- I bought this early-90's Trek 8000 frame when it popped up in my size on eBay back in 2006. I believed then that these USA-made, hand-built, bonded-aluminum frames that Trek was doing back then were (and still are) some of the most beautiful and special bike frames ever so I had to have it. Of course I was in grad school and poor then so I built it up as a cheap single speed conversion commuter using a hodge-podge of clearance, house-brand, and used parts. I then kept it in a shed in San Antonio for 10 years and rode it 1-2x per week on nearly flat dirt and gravel track around the property at work. Then I moved to NM two years ago and realized that it wasn’t going to be too useful here without an overhaul.
The biggest problem is a twitchy geometry caused by a 26" front wheel in a 29" fork paired to a narrow handlebar on a steer tube extender. Oh and it only had a front brake which is terrifying here. Also the trails near work now are all real single track so the pavement-biased tires need to go. I don’t want to do a full restoration on it just yet, but need to get it rideable so I can keep at in my office and go ride at lunch when the mood strikes me.
The goal is to turn it into a 69er with a wide riser handlebar which should make it a lot more rideable and do a few other livability upgrades while I’m at it. Not all the parts are here yet, but I did get going this weekend.
- Rear Brake Installed - Added a new Shimano Deore V-brake. I’m about to modify this frame to take a disc. This is about the highest-end V-brake you can get brand new anymore. I thought about the old dual-pivot XT/XTR brakes but wasn’t in an eBay mood for this. Maybe down the road I’ll go to Magura hydraulic rim brakes. This turned out to be a huge pain in the ass because the brake bosses were filled with years of dirt and rust that needed cleaned out since I never capped them off.
- Brake Cables and Housing - Jagwire Sport housing split between the Hotrock and this bike. Had to zip-tie the handlebar in place to size it because the old stem is 25.4 mm and the bar is 31.8 mm.
- Brake Levers - The same new Avid Speed Dial 7 levers that I put on the Hotrock.
- Front Disc Brake - A new Avid BB5 mechanical disc brake to replace a Hayes MX-1 that was always needing adjustment. The Raleigh has a BB5 on it and it had been pretty much trouble-free.
- Tensioner - Trying out a new Shimano Alfine tensioner designed for internally-geared hubs to replace the corroded old generic one I had on there. This didn’t go that well... I managed to cross-thread the derailleur hangar and had to clean it up by chasing it with a fresh bolt from both sides plus lots of oil. When I’m done with the build I’m going to pay our local bike wizard to helicoil it for the long-term.
Parts on-hand that can’t go on yet:
- Front wheel - it’s a basic Sunringle Rhyno Lite + Shimano M525 29" front wheel. These have been like $100 forever and I’ve run them on the Raleigh for years. Lowest price wheel you can get that won’t explode. Not the lightest but they roll well and stay true. No tire/tube so it sits.
- Saddle - WTB Speed that I picked up on closeout. No seatpost - got donated to the Hotrock
- 20T cog to replace the 15T - should make it a little more tolerable in the hills here. In theory this could go on but the rear wheel needs to be replaced.
- Chainstay Tape - OK this can go on but I just didn’t get to it yet.
In the mail:
- Rear wheel 26" - the old one is out of true and the bearing is shot so it just needs to go.
- Seat Post - some Race Face entry-level that was on closeout
- Tires/tubes - some Trek/Bontrager basic 26/29 set... it was surprisingly hard to find a matched set of new tires still offered in both 26" and 29" in the same width.
- Stem for a 31.8 mm bar
This is coming from 3 different sources so hopefully it gets here by this weekend and then one more afternoon of work should have this thing rideable.
This thing is a true mess at the moment. I keep it around because it was my first “real” mountain bike when I bought it new at 16 with money saved up from umpiring Little League games and mowing lawns. Then I took it 182 miles in a week on the C&O canal trail. And it is one of the last handmade in the USA Raleighs. So I can’t get rid of it but it has become a lower priority.
The main thing I have planned for it is to go from 1x8 to 1x9 with a decently wide capacity 11-36T capacity cassette that I have on order. The rear derailleur is an XT 9-speed but I’ve just run it with 8. It just donated its 8-speed shifter to the Hotrock and an old Deore LX 9-speed shifter is in the mail from fellow Oppo Highlander who was giving away parts if we paid shipping. Thanks Highlander! We think the shift pod needs opened up and cleaned/greased but I’m willing to take that on to cure lockdown boredom.
This exists. So low on priority I don’t even have a photo. It needs lots of help. To start, the front wheel is bent like a taco. It is going to get the wheel from the Trek. Also a cantilever brake that Highlander sent. (Thanks again!) I’ll get to it once all the other ones are all rideable and maybe turn it into a neighborhood runabout to follow my son around as he learns to ride his bike. Speaking of which...
The only one not getting any work done on it at the moment. This thing is a piece of crap and weights about the same as my Camber but my 7-year old boy is having a blast riding it up and down our street and I don’t have to care if he just drops it wherever he feels like. Soon enough I’ll pass it on to one of the other kids in the neighborhood and get my boy a 20" bike. Probably as soon as the lockdowns are lifted and we can see how he fits on one at the store.
And if you made it this far I’m assuming you are under a stay at home order too and pretty bored but thanks for sticking with. I’ll be posting again when I get some more parts on.