Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fork it

Change of plan, I had thought that getting a fork for the bike that was as good as or better than the Suntours lent to me by Uncle Riotous would be impossible for under £30. So imagine my surprise when I managed to bag a pair of Marzocchi MZ Comps for £21 on eBay. Now from what I understand about them they will not take any great hammering, but they are supposed to have 100mm of travel. They will do either as replacements for the Suntours on the P3 or on the Salcano. The process of fitting will be the same, and obviously I will need to fit the crown-race to either fork. Since I planned to add a very cheap pair of forks to the Salcano I think I should return the Suntours to Uncle Riotous who had planned on fitting them to his son's rigid frame, before he loaned them to me as an emergency replacement.

I think experience has shown that the Salcano is not capable of taking much more than the occasional drop and so over expensive forks are just a waste of money. I really don't want to spend a lot on getting a bike which will be used for family cross country rides up and running. Perhaps the best option is to now save like mad and get some bigger forks for the P3 and then transfer back.

Now though, I have the bike building bug. I am already planning on the next rebuild. Should Santa be kind and allow me to buy a good touring bike to replace my hybrid city bike, I may change it to a fixed wheel, now that would be an adventure into the unknown. My first bike was my grandad's bike which was a fixed wheel with a Sturmley archer hub. I resprayed it and cleaned up the gears, but I can remember nothing more of restoring the bike. It was great fun, it survived a side on impact by an inattentive driver, as did I. Then some git stole it! I ask you it wasn't as if it was expensive even in the 1980s. Then of course there is getting a full-suspension MTB and then there will need to be a full racer and then...........

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Crowning glory

At last a chance to work on fitting the headset to the bike frame - an FS Pig DH Pro I picked up on sale. A simple task of making sure that the frame is clean round the area for fitting and aligning the parts that fit to the bike frame as close to true as you can manage. Then thread the headsetpress tool through, and tighten until it all stops. Job done.

Next, remove fork from old bike and strip off the rather nice Avid 7 brake levers I had fitted previously to the Salcano. I also robbed off the headset spacers as I know I will probably need them. The poor old bike now rather resembles the state the P3 has been in since the Summer.

I change the brakes on the front fork, fitting the new Deore XT ones in place of the cheap no name ones already fitted. Then back into the cold to add the fork....

This is when I encounter the unexpected problem and discover a useful bit of information. Not all crown races are the same. Whilst the forks have a crown race fitted, the part that allows the fork to swivel on the frame mount of the headset, it will not seat comfortably. This is entirely probably because the crown race is from a standard threadless headset, and the Pig is a cupless headet. Not a disaster to replace as the fitting tool for a new one is essentially a pipe, and the removal tool is effectively a hammer and blunt screwdriver. There are tools designed to make this easier, but they are essentially the same thing.

Now I am faced with a partially fitted fork, which will fall off at a moment's notice. To make myself feel better I assemble all the final parts with a light fix onto the bike. At least I can now see how the bike will look when finished and I can swap the bikes over for storage spaces.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

An early Christmas present

My early Christmas present arrived today. Well I had to buy it and give it to myself, but there was no alternative. Uncle Riotous had forgotten to make enquires about a headset press among his contacts, and then after a prompt still came up blank. It looked like it was going to be brute force (wood and mallet) or creating a DIY lashup. Now I have nothing against making do when you have to, but it seems to me that when you have a tool that is reasonably priced and can do the job to a higher a degree of precision you should use it. So saving some spare pennies over this month I took the plunge and bought a Cyclus headset press from Wiggle. I did find it on sale at Webbline and seriously there are some decent tools that cost a lot less than those on sale at the big web boys like Wiggle and Chainreaction, but the postage cost swung me back to the former.

First impressions suggest that the headset press is well made, it is certainly weighty enough. There are no faring marks or imperfections on the mouldings or any of the metal parts. This is a pretty good indication of a degree of care in the production, something you would expect from a German company. I can't wait to give it a go, and as I have two headsets that need fitting, one now and one later, I will have almost covered the workshop costs in the first year.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Making the most of time

Project management is all about getting  a task accomplished within the confines of limits such as time and cost. The trouble with personal projects, such as project bike builds, is that they always cost more and take more time. The former is a result of finding that parts that were thought to be sound are not and need replacing or the need for extra tools. The latter, is the result of the work being performed in your "spare" time. If like me you are a family man with an interest in many things in life "spare" time is a precious commodity. So far this week, I have helped out at mini-rugby, watched a match, taught my 4 year old daughter to ride her bike, said goodbye to the wife, polished all the shoes and boots in the house, cleaned the house, clothed, ferried and fed the kids, knocked down a wall and cleared the rubble. Finally, come Friday, I have an hour to work on the bike. Only, I can't really do what I want to do, which is to assemble the fork to the frame.

You see this is time for another cost over-run. What I hadn't seen coming was the need for a specialist tool for seating the headset cups (Storm in an H-cup). So although, I have set Uncle Riotous to seeing if any of his contacts have one in their tool locker, I am at an impasse. I have managed to source a tool at a sensible price (£30 vs £60), but I am unwilling to spend money if I can borrow the tool. Having said that, at £30 you are only looking at three workshop visits and it is paid for, so there is a potential to earn beer money here.  There is also the ability to make you own, using various bits of DIY ironmongery. However, the precision can suffer, and I would rather not leave the alignment to chance.

So I am waiting, and I have free time, so I do what any good project manager would do and try to find something that can be done while waiting for the next logical step in a project to be completed. Thankfully, the rear derailleur fitting does does not need the forks, but it does need careful storage. A bent rear mech will be no good later on, and a waste of a straight out of the box bit of kit. So I will have to add the rear wheel to keep the rear mech off the ground. With the rear brake bosses also fitted to the bike I can at least fit these, if not wire them up. If I have time I think, I could also add the chain, although this would be easier on a workstand, when adjustments can be made.

First up then, fit the rear wheel. Seated in the dropouts, I am slightly worried. The tyres are rubbing against the frame work, even when seating position is adjusted. I hope this is just due to the tyre being deflated, or else my tyre choice is just plain wrong. In comparison, bolting the rear mech to the hanger is a doddle. I am impressed with how it sits there like some big black spider above the silver web of the chainset. Then comes adding  the rear brakes to the bike, also, I had forgotten, in black. These are returns, and there are signs on the bolts that they have been used. Coupled with some paint and rust, it actually takes longer to fit all the parts and it is time to do the school run again. The chain can wait, but already I can see the overall effect of the bike; black, red and silver.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Storm in a H cup

Certainly they had a go at wrenching it off
Finally, a few moments to work on the bike today. Boy does it take a long time to complete the work when you only go at each stage bit by bit. The frame came with a set of FSA cups still fitted, but they looked pretty beat up. I guess the previous owner had tried to remove them, but without the correct tool. Cups are an integral part of the headset of the bike, this is for want of a better description the linkage between the bike and the forks that hold the wheels and the steering bars. Without them, you are going to have a pole that rattles around inside a tube. It is quite a clever bit of engineering linkage, and overtime has evolved different methods of holding the fork steerer to, eventually, the handlebars. The setup we are going to use is a threadless headset, I am not going into the details, of stuff you can look it up on Wikepedia and several other websites if you are interested, but the whole process is, in theory, quite simple.

not a wing pylon, but a cup remover inserted into the steerer column
First you need the correct tool, the cups are simply slotted in the frame, so you could rip them out with a strong arm and a pair of pliers, something I think the previous owner had tried. As alternative, you could tap them out using a hammer and and an old screwdriver. It would be a slow job as you would need to go round moving each side evenly to prevent the whole thing getting wedged. Otherwise buy and cup removal tool, or borrow one. The cost a tenner, which isn't so bad. It's about the same amount you would pay the workshop to do the job for you. The tool is simply a split tube that fits in the steerer column, but the split will flange out to rest on the internal face of the cup to allow you to tap it out with a hammer. How simple is that? Feed in, tap and off it comes, the repeat for the otherside.

Two removed H cups
Now the problem comes in not planning for fitting the otherones on to the frame. Simple investigation of the the cup and the frame reveals, that these are going to have to be set level and true. That means, you guessed it, another specialist tool. Simple enough to build, as it is only two flat plates on a screw column with some method of pressing both cups onto the frame e.g. a wingnut. The parts though probably cost as much as a secondhand precision engineered one. So I will need to look into that for the future, and see if I can borrow what is needed to get off the ground sooner. In fact, borrowing appears to be the order of the day as, I am unsure of the quality of other parts of the headset assembly attached to the existing fork. My first idea was to replace the fork with a better one, sooner than later, but pennies predict that this will not be happening any time soon. So I will try and not change, star nuts and crown races, but you never know. See what happens when I have a go.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fitness to survive

I went out on my old hand me down "Tesco Special" yesterday and found that I was doing a lot more on it that I have been, despite not being able to ride out much this month. My hill climbing was a whole lot better and my approach on trails was a lot faster (due to improved fitness and some reflection time on technique). I even managed to practice clearing some kickers to help with clearing drop offs without stopping.

I was feeling pretty pleased all round having completed two circuits in the time that it normally takes to do one. So riding home across the park all full of the joys of autumn I had a major crash. There is a nice "gentle" slope with a "small hop" into a wide open park space. It is normally a matter of pushing the bike out and then down to the ground and away you go. Not this time as a combination of factors brought about my downfall. They do say "Pride before the fall", and I was probably a little over-relaxed by the familiarity. This allied to the extra speed I carried down the hill, because I could see the crosspath had no dog walkers and also I was in a good mood, resulted in my downfall.

The bike literally flew off the lip, normally about a body length around 2m (5-6ft) before being planted and pedaling off at high speed,but this time the bike shot twice that distance and still landed sweetly. Then I found myself planting my head and face into the soft green grass with the bike following for several revolutions. I stopped rolling aware that my helmet and elbow pads had just saved me from a crushed skull and broken elbows, and wishing that I had worn knee pads that day. Nothing broken, but a lovely sheen of blood from the top of my thigh, a slight flesh wound, I was fine.

I took a look at the bike. The handlebars had wrapped round through 360, the front wheel did not line up with the handlebars pointed, the seatpost had moved, chain obviously off the cogs, and more tellingly the front brake set were locked below the wheel rim. Not that the back looked to have fared much better. I went back to check on the landing area, and there were two nice neat tyre marks for the landing point. Followed it has to be said by the scrapes of various body and bike parts coming into violent contact with the ground.

Now you may be asking what this has to do with evolution and bike building. Well the first lesson is that at a certain point the design really can't take the beating the environment dishes out. I'm fitter and stronger than when I started riding it. Initially, I thought I would just be joining a few moderate cross country rides, which this is fine for. In stark contrast my friends felt that belting down single track and throwing bikes off steep slopes and over jumps would be more fun. I improved to meet the challenge, the bike couldn't. My fitness to survive is assured as long as I jettison my symbiote and find something more resilient. That would be the P3 then.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why is evolution so quick? Did it cheat?

As I mentioned in my last post, I needed a quick release skewer for the rear wheel on the P3 project. Now clearly I could buy every length and type of rear skewer and experiment - evolutionary style. But quite frankly I don't have the resources or the time. So I went to God - well the nearest thing in bike mechanics and looked up the manufacturer's specifications for the LX freehub. Cheating I know but how else am I going to accelerate and evolve?

Looking at the specifications I began to realise that this was not a "normal" skewer. Not readily available off the shelf, and so quite tough to find. The original component replacement is pricey - Madison's have a one for £17 which is close to the most you can pay, and more than half the cost of the frame alone. So I pop down to my local bike store Bike+ here in Croydon. The thing about bike stores is that the good ones will give you advice and suggestions. So discussing the skewer problem, we develop the idea that 168 probably has a lot of spare capacity for even chunkier frames. With the P3 the frame doesn't have dropouts which are that wide, so a 152mm the longest available will probably work. I take away a pair (front and rear) for a tenner with the knowledge that I can return them if it doesn't work.

Home again and after a quick clean of the rims and hubs, which are still shedding some grey dust, time to test the theory. Fantastic, plenty of spare thread to fit to the skewer, so no danger of it coming off during a ride. Time to put the tyres on and then on to the forks.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Sorry, I always think of kebabs when I think about skewers. It is a perennial habit, that come summer and the BBQ season then most of our food will be cooked outdoors on a skewer. Late night drinkies, usually, result in a trip for a Shishkebab and chilli sauces. All of which is a diversion from the main topic of the post of fixing your wheels to your bike.

As I have mentioned previously, the wheels I picked up on ebay are missing a few bits. Mostly something to fit the wheel to the frame. Now I have a couple of quick release skewers knocking around in the shed from cheap wheels that have bent or broken rims. However, these are all front wheels. So thinking that a skewer, is a skewer is a skewer, I attempted to use one on the rear wheel which is missing any visible means of fixing. The skewer came up short. To check I took the one off the "new" front wheel and the same problem. The skewer does not go all the way through the axle. Reasoning this  through I worked out that it can't be a bolt on axle because that would be solid. So logic suggests that there must be such a thing as a rear axle QR skewer. A quick check and yes there is, but a huge array of different sizes. Time to do some research, I'm not rich so I can't afford to go buying different sizes and then selecting the one that fits.

Well this has lead me to think about Dollo's Law of Irreversibility - evolution tends to run in one direction. Having a bike hub with a quick release skewer means that it can never be held by a nut and of course vice versa. The designs are mutually exclusive. It is possible to "revert" to the more traditional nut based axle but in doing so I would need to make several changes to the hub that are not required for the axle but are for the process of conversion and allowing the wheel to work correctly. These changes are not impossible to complete, in this case bearings would need repacking, but things may never work as efficiently as they should.

Philosophically speaking then, why does evolution run like this. With bicycles as with much of engineering and design technology, it is about proprietory design, changes in materials, and cost effectiveness. I guess the surprising thing is that a similar set of imperitives exist in the evolutionary system. That is to say having something none of the others have, using a new resource and the energy cost required to effect the change. Does this mean that we can say both processes are effectively shaped by an underlying design principle?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lost your widget?

The failure to get the crank arms off the bottom bracket, despite having two crank extraction tools has been preying on my mind. I couldn't work out why neither of them worked. So okay, the older coterless crank extractor that I have had since the year dot probably wouldn't work. But the newer one from a tool set? I couldn't quite believe it. Even looking on the internet didn't reveal any difference in the tools.

So out came the tool box and out came the bike frame again. Another try, and another failure. Then, as I returned the tool to the box, what do I spy? A widget, a magnetic widget none the less. A dim little memory of the end of the new crank extractor being tipped with this stirs in the back of my mind. Fitting the sliver of silver to the end widens the base of the crank extractor. This in turn means that the pin no longer slips through into the hollow bottom bracket, (not normal for taper and square bottom brackets). Bingo - all that was missing then was the widget! Better not lose it in the tool box again, or worse out of the box!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bottoms revisited

Knock at the door today and a delivery man with two new tyres and an ISIS bottom bracket tool. So time to fit the bottom bracket to the bike. Sun is shining and all the chores are finished so I feel I can spend a little time working on something else.

Out on the patio with all the components laid out, I feel as if I can see how it fits together. What I can't see is where this bottom bracket tool comes in. There are no splines on a spindle this size for it to fit into. In fact it is rather too large for the job. Decide to check out the instruction manual it seems that my initial impression of not requiring a tool are correct. In fact it proves a doddle to fit with only a brief check of the Blackspire website to check on the orientation of the chainguard. But I may need a crank extractor sooner than I think. On placing the left crank arm to the bottom bracket the whole thing becomes stiff and unresponsive. Then the lockring begins to rotate. I remove the crank pin and try to take the crank off the bottom bracket, but no go, and you guessed none of my crank extraction tools will shift it. I actually manage to tighten the lockring up round the crank so it all looks neat and tidy. So I think a trip to the shops for the correct tool is required, but it will do for now. I'm also going to have to sort the bolting of the rear to the frame so I will clearly be making one trip to a cycle shop soon.

Next will be hanging the rear derailleur and fitting the chain, but I think this is a job to complete at uncle riotous's garage where there is a workstand. Not only will it make it easier to complete the alignment, but it will save a bad back when we have finished. We will also fit the front forks from the old bike, so by the end we should be on the road.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Not so worn anymore

Yipee - I have ordered some new tyres for the bike (Panaracer FR), you will remember that I said that the ones that came on the wheels were pretty worn. Well the more I looked at the them, the more I felt that the only place they would grip was if I was running at a forty five degree angle. So in the interests of being able to ride the bike straight out of the traps I decided to bite the bullet.

Of course the useful thing about this was that I was able to order an ISIS splined bottom bracket tool for £6 with free P&P. Just need to get my lockring wrench back from uncle Riotous and that little job can be completed as well. See already I am forced down an evolutionary path by the simple design choices that are available. It gives the manufacturers a niche in which to operate for a minimum cost, and now keeps me locked into an evolutionary pathway that will probably see me riding a sportive or triathalon bike in my old age.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cassettes and remasters

It has been a while since I have had a chance to do any work on the project bike and I have begun to get itchy to get on with it. Sadly, my youngest is now at school full time and the list of jobs that need doing round the house have got measurably longer. I often joke to the wife that since we have reversed roles it is her who is supposed to approach the DIY etc, but sadly she insists on baking cakes so what can a man do? It is true that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.  This then is the reason that I am back on the bikes.

So today have completed my allotted set of chores and kept house, I find I have half an hour spare. Time in which to change the cassette on the rear wheel. This consists of unlocking a nut on the rear wheel and swapping over all the parts without dropping any of them. The theory is that providing the cassette (that's the selection of gears at the back of the bike) and the freewheel (which connects them to the rear hub) are compatible it is a simple replacement job.

I start first with the removing the tyre on the wheel, not because it is necessary, but because I wish to check how true or straight the wheel runs on the axle. The wheels have been sold as no visible wobble, but it is probably best to check now and tweak the wheel into shape rather than find out when it is on the bike. While I am doing this I read the wheel size on the tyre 26x2.4 hmmm that could be problematic finding replacements. Note to self when buying secondhand rims check the tyre dimensions.  It also starts to try and rain, I pray it will hold off long enough for me to finish the job outside.

The lockring on the original 8 cogs is a little stiff but the with a little shimmy it opens easily enough and allows me to slide the original cassette of the freewheel. I put this in a bag for later. Maybe I can use them or sell them, either way they will need a clean. Which is what I set about doing to the freewheel. It is not particularly dirty, unlike the rime which is shedding black stuff all over me and the light coloured T-shirt I am wearing. However, I think that if I am building from the ground up it is best if the whole thing is as clean and dirt free as possible. Some degreaser and a good scrub and all is clean. Now to add the new cassette.

The cassette is a SRAM PG970 9 speed, and it glows with a satin finish at me from within its packet. A packet that turns out to be all but impenetrable. Not wanting to score the metalwork with a knifeblade I battle the finally wrap until it begins to give up its precious cargo. At last, eyes shining, I remove the cassette unbroken, until near the end I find a wad of plastic bag inserted in the middle. Removing this proves to be the straw that breaks the camel's back and the last two cogs come loose with the lockring. Oh well not a disaster.  I take the bulk of the cassette and start to fit it to the freewheel. It takes a couple of minutes to realise and locate the alignment spline which is smaller than the others. More a process of elimination here as I go round the set trying each one until it slides smoothly in. Now for the last two cogs, and here is where it really gets messy, because now they are separated from the rest, I really don't know which side is wheel side and which isn't. It takes a few moments of staring at how it will work for me to finally put it all together. Lockring on and tightened with the splined tool and the hole process is finished.

So there is another blind myth explored - if you create a sensible design with a finite series of combinations then the pathways are forced to accept one design over another. Oh and it starts raining after I have put the tools away. Time for the school run.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Today I decided that I would tackle the bottom bracket fitting on the bike. Now I have to confess this is not entirely new territory for me as I have removed and replaced one before. Essentially, so long as you are careful and don't lose bits it is a slide out slide in job. However, you do need some specialist tools for the job one of which is a lockring spanner.

Bottom bracket shell, TT Gigapipe and TT chainset with chain retention device
The first job is to clean the gunk and paint from the inside of the bottom bracket shell. This is a simple job of toothbrush, white spirit and a cloth to clean up. I don't need to worry about losing some of the paint at the exit as a) its a cosmetic cover up and b) no one is going to see it behind the lockring tool.

Now the real reason for choosing a spare hour and a half to do this is to check out the fitting of the Gigapipe bottom bracket (BB). This is new to me as all my experience is with old square taper brackets. The first thing I notice is that the usual method of locking into place is probably not going to work here. I think I need another tool for the toolbox. I have a bottom bracket tool, but it doesn't look as if it is designed for this type of BB. Curse the world of non standard international design. Shimano are the market leaders, but they do what they like, at least everyone else tries to work from a standard. Although I suspect they wouldn't if they could get away with it. Anyway, it is a Shimano BB tool not an ISIS one. Plus I discover as I look in the tool box there is no lockring tool either. Now where did I put that? Ah Uncle Riotous has it in his garage!  Looks like this will have to wait until the tools are assembled in the same location.

So lesson, learnt I pack it all away again (Bottoms!). Time to drop a message to uncle about said tools. Not all wasted though as having looked at the set up I can see that it is really much easier than a cup and cone or square taper style BB. As an all in one there are no ball bearings or cartridges to chase around and apart from ensuring it is all greased and done up tight the job itself is as simple as pie.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

One wheel on my wagon

Holiday has put rather a crimp on buying bike parts and so has the monetary realities of being halfway through the month. Luckily it was my birthday so I have some cash with which to indulge this new hobby and buffer me against the latest purchases. I returned to the world of internet (mountainous regions do not have a good record for mobile signals) to find a crankset with bottom bracket and chain box unbid for. Perhaps due to the slightly high starting price, but when you totalled it up there was some wriggle room for a bidding war, you just weren't going to get an absolute bargain. The pics looked good and the bash guard looked pristine so in the last hour a bid was placed and bingo the whole lot for £50 as opposed to about £80 to buy separately.

Then there was the surprise purchase of a pair of wheels for £40 with an 8 speed cassette. OK so it's not my final destination, but the hub will accept a 9 speed cassette, so we are up one there. Plus the hubs are Deore LX which is a big step up and I suspect the rims will be slightly better than the budget ones I currently use.

So aside from a 9 speed cassette to get we are ready to load the bike with parts. In otherwords the fun really begins as I attempt to fit a style of bottom bracket I have never used before, align mech hangers and replace threadless headset forks (also a new horizon). I will be using my trusty Zinn as a guide and relying on Uncle Riotous' practical knowledge to get over edge of this horizon. Hopefully, a day or so of work and we should be out riding the trails.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Specialized P3 2000/2001 specifications

Courtesy of bikepedia here is a list of what was on the frame when it was bought for £1,200 ish pounds

Bicycle TypeMountain bike, front suspension
Sugg Retail$1,399.00
SizesLarge, medium, small

Frame & Fork
Frame ConstructionTIG-welded
Frame Tubing MaterialSpecialized A1 aluminum
Fork Brand & ModelMarzocchi Bomber Z-5, 4.0" travel
Fork MaterialAluminum/magnesium, triple-clamp crown
Rear ShockNot applicable

Component GroupMountain Mix
BrakesetProMax linear-pull brakes, Avid AD3 Levers levers
Shift LeversShimano Deore LX RapidFire SL
Front DerailleurChain retention device
Rear DerailleurShimano Deore XT SGS
CranksetTruVativ Hussefelt, 38 teeth
PedalsSpecialized aluminum platform
Bottom BracketTruVativ BB-01
BB Shell WidthUnspecified
Rear Cogs9-speed, 11 - 32 teeth
ChainShimano, 1/2 x 3/32"
SeatpostSpecialized aluminum, 30.9mm diameter
SaddleSpecialized P.3
HandlebarSpecialized Special Rise
Handlebar ExtensionsNot included
Handlebar StemSpecialized P.3 riser
Headset1 1/8" threadless Tange Seiki

HubsSpecialized STOUT
RimsAlex Supra-E, 36-hole
Tires26 x 2.30" Specialized Roller Comp
Spoke BrandSpecialized stainless steel, 15g straight gauge
Spoke NipplesBrass nipples

Parts buying

Right we are almost upto date - the previous sections cover the last month, and in that time I have not been quiet on the sourcing some second hand or cheap parts. A pair of SRAM X.7 shifters of which I now only need one now from ebay. Along with some sale front and rear mechs SRAM X.7 and sale XT Brake arms from Chainreactioncycles.com. Then there are the front and rear Deore SL mechs I bought off ebay and then decided to divert these to a new project (my hybrid). So far no luck on bidding for new wheel/s for a 9+ speed and I realise that the current hub may take a 9 speed cassette as a result of its relative youth. It was clearly a bike put together with the cheapest parts to retail at the highest sales value before the buyer realised they were ripped off (sorry G but you said it). So I need to get it to Professor Riotous for an assessment as I have never seen a hub that accepts 9 compared with one that accepts 7 speed cassettes. Oh and I have double stocked on cables as well.

Current ebay pursuit is a Truvativ Hussefelt Cranks with Chain Guide, handily in Whyteleaf, various potential front forks (including a Z5) and an XT rear mech. I have as a result of being forced into a single chainset decided to try and return the bike to its original setup as much as possible.

First blind moment

I am faced with seat issues - not my rear but the seatpost itself. I had expected differing size seat posts, but I am left with two paths to functionality. Current seat post and a shim or a new post of 34.9cm. A larger area is better able to dissipate impact so new wins there. Current seat post is a little crappy and for safety I have already stolen the seatpost off my sons Hotrock 20" bike. So with an ex-stock EX seat post for £11 and a quick release seat clamp from Halfords I set about installing the seat post.

OK that was unexpected, despite both being the same size they are not, and we are not talking about layers of paint out of size here. The seat post clamp is clearly smaller than the post. With much effort and prizing the seatpost clamp open, it fits on snugly to the bike frame and the the seatpost itself slides snugly in with a fresh coat of grease.

Abendessen des hundes
My eye runs over the matt black frame and alights on a sudden flaw in my plan. I can see two cable guides on the top tube. One for the rear mech and one for the brake cable. Where can I run the third for the front mech? There is no room in the existing guides, so that will be a non-starter. To the batcave Robin! Several hours of internet research later and I find I have two options. Braze on series of guides - possible as there is a local bike builder round the corner from me (Renowned Chas Roberts)- but pricey as I would need to strip the frame, and respray again. Epoxy glue a guide to the frame - a sore point in forum threads on the subject. Buy a seatpost clamp that adds the guide to the bike (Problems Solvers). I look back for the post where in my early research I had read that a P3 had been converted to a 3x7 gear bike. Yes you can, but quite frankly it looks like a dog's dinner and uses the seatpost clamp. Given that the seller has been using it as a commute bike, I am not entirely sure that it will survive much of the hammering it will get from me. So we are going to have to go for a 1 x ? combination and walk up hill, no actual change there then as my current stamina level is still low.

So for a very simple parts exchange and upgrade model we are now beginning to look towards a total rebuild. The shopping list now requires

Bottom bracket
Single chainset with guide if possible

with the following upgrades
9speed hub
9 speed mech
brake arms
new forks if possible to return the freebies back to the pool.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

first small steps

The frame is far from the mint proclaimed, but then I never expected mint. Who keeps a frame in the garage that long without using it? Expecting to have only minor touch up on the paintwork, I'm a little disappointed to find some relatively large tool marks from where they frame has been stripped. A minor bit of epoxy filler work is all that is required, but the more I look at it the more the frame seems to require than the simple touch up paint routine. My heart sinks - its a respray job. I haven't done one of those since I was given my grandfather's fixie to do up when I was 13. There are several nightmare moments that await a respray - 1. you are only going to chip the paint again. 2. the pro companies use kilns to harden the paint 3. a spray gun is better than any other method. So no kiln and no spray gun and bearing mind issue number one I go for the overcoat method. Here the aim is to prep the surface to hold paint - apply a primer and then several coats of car paint.

Set up with some old dust sheets in the very small shed at the end of the garden I set to work with primer. Wow, I'm not bad at this, the old skills haven't completely gone. Nice even coat with no show through. Damn I've left a sticker on the frame!! Bugger it, I'll leave it as this a cover up not a vanity job.

Matt black goes on well and I have managed to find a sign printer who runs of decals, so I can brand the bike for those who care about such things. It seems that finally I am ready to start the swap from one bike to the next. All I need to do is start sourcing components required to upgrade the bike.

What am I doing???

There are plenty of things I have thrown myself at without realising what it is I am about to do. Facing the mountain never gets less intimidating even with increasing years. So it is again that I set myself against a new challenge. Bike building. Quite why I should be doing this is a lesson in a renewed love of cycling, economics, and the need for some hardware. Now I have to say my natural forte tends to be in the more theoretical aspects of life, but even so I do tend to manage to bodge and muddle through most tasks because I have at least thought the process through. So it is with the logic being:- I have a cheap mountain bike (given to me free), I have been out riding single track a lot, I am now entering the zone where the flexibility in the frame and some of the components are not going to be so tolerant of where I am trying to be on the hillside, (that is to say not down the slope in the trees). I enter the fierce arena that is ebay and come out with a Specialized P3 from around 2000/2001. My plan was to make a straight swap of components from the old bike to the new and then upgrade at leisure. I could never has been so wrong!