Friday, June 26, 2009

Building up a bike for my son

My son is turning 11 this year. Last year we got him a 24" Specialized through craig's list. It was sort of an impulse buy and I sort of wish we hadn't done it. It's beefy and like many kids bikes has too much crap on it that they don't need, such as a heavy ineffective suspension fork and chain guide. The brakes were crap as were the shifters.

We've been him riding on some trails and he was belly aching away. I'm tired, I'm having trouble shiftin, I'm having a hard time braking.... We'd sort of chocked it up to the typical 10 year old I'm really a teen ager.

I took a harder look at the bike and was in a debate regarding redoing all the cable housings and putting some nicer brakes and rear shifter on it. It really was heavy and didn't brake or shift well. Instead of putting any money into it I decided to just go ahead and look at 26" bikes cause he'd be growing into them soon enough. He already likes to ride his mom's bike around

Now the next hurdle was finding an affordable small bike that didn't look like a women's bike. No women's bike names, sky blue, pink or lavendar or flowers. I wanted a frame so that I could use some of my parts bin parts and then ebay the rest. This proved much harder to do than I'd expected.

Ebay was the only real venue. All the small frames were going for more $ than I'd wanted or were full bikes. Some that I'd seen that fit the bill for a short effective top tube included trek, Fuji, a haro, marin, specialized. But once you included shipping the costs were getting a little more than I wanted. Plus I just plain lost a few in the bidding process. Small frames are hard to come by.

But then someone at mtbr turned me on to some frames that performance sells. They picked up the older superslow Access frames and their own house brand. I emailed and got some geometry measurements (shown at the bottom of this.) Decided on the red Access bike. Sort of funky tubing but cool. ETT seemed short and the plan was to put a short 50mm stem on it with the goal of increasing stem size as he grew.

$149+shipping -10% discount coupon. Plus I could send it back no questions if I needed. I was pretty impressed upon opening it. They upgraded their powder coating process and it looked pretty cool. Light too. Note that it comes with a seat binder and crap headset cups (zero stack) I did order a Woodman zero stack just to be safe. A cheaper frame is there perf. brand but I wanted red

I'd had some parts and picked out the rest through some closeouts at Icycles, treefort bikes and ebay.

We gave a box of parts and the frame to him as an early bday present. But he had to help put it together. I must say it was really really fun to do it with him. Real father son time. He did a great job and helped with almost every part. I was a little bit more excited about it than him at times. Explaining each part in detail especially some of my prized parts bin treasures like my Real Designs Square taper Bottom Bracket.

I showed him how to grease parts
2009-Ansels' new bike 002

and press in the headset.
2009-Ansels' new bike 004

Scoured the Internet for some red platform pedals
2009-Ansels' new bike 005

He now knows Race Face and has brand loyalty to them over nike. As I have several other race face products. They had 50mm stem. Its a downhill stem heavy and beefy but cool.
2009-Ansels' new bike 003

We wrapped the chainstay and even put heat shrink tubing on all the cable ends
2009-Ansels' new bike 006

I'm pretty stoked on it. He loves it. 27'lbs with full disc. Heavy parts, front hydraulic disc, rear mech disc. WTB saddle, Sugino impel crank, heavy easton post, bar, nashbar rigid fork. The reach is good, but the big wheels make it a little on the large side. Sort of looks like a 29er. He'll adapt no problem and will grow into it in short order.
2009-Ansels' new bike 007

All in all, I'm really happy as is he.

Here are the measurements from performance on their frames:
small frames geometries
performance frame xsmall:
XS-14 S-16 M-18 L-20 XL-22
Seat Tube (C-T) 355.6 mm 406.4 mm 457.2 mm 508 mm 558.8 mm
Seat Tube (C-C) 275.6 mm 326.4 mm 377.2 mm 428 mm 478.8 mm
Effective Top Tube 533.4 mm 546.1 mm 558.8 mm 571.5 mm 584.2 mm
Actual Top Tube 516.6 mm 523.7 mm 536.7 mm 556.1 mm 577.2 mm
Chainstay 430 mm 430 mm 430 mm 430 mm 430 mm
Head tube 120 mm 120 mm 120 mm 120 mm 130 mm
Bottom Bracket Drop 32 mm 32 mm 32 mm 32 mm 32 mm
Wheel Base 1018.6 mm 1031.3 mm 1044 mm 1056.7 mm 1069.7 mm
Head Angle 71 deg 71 deg 71 deg 71 deg 71 deg
Seat Angle 73 deg 73 deg 73 deg 73 deg 73 deg

Build Requirements
Seatpost diameter 27.2 mm
Headset Threadless, Standard, Pressed-in, 1 1/8" Steerer
Front Derailleur 31.8 mm
Seat Tube Collar 31.8 mm
Bottom Bracket Shell 68 mm

Weight 4.18 lbs
Replaceable Dropout Yes
Rear Rack Eyelets Yes
Rear Rack Braze-ons not included, but there are braze-on

2009 Access XCL Comp Mountain Frame Geometry (item 30-1873)

14.5 16.5 18.5 20.5 22.5
Seat Tube (C-T) 368.3 mm 419 mm 470 mm 520 mm 571.5 mm
Seat Tube (C-C) 298.3 mm 349 mm 400 mm 450 mm 501.5 mm
Effective Top Tube 540 mm 580 mm 605 mm 630 mm 650 mm
Actual Top Tube 524.3 mm 555.7 mm 579 mm 607.2 mm 630 mm
Chainstay 420 mm 420 mm 420 mm 420 mm 420 mm
Head tube 110 mm 110 mm 115 mm 140 mm 155 mm
Bottom Bracket Drop 34 mm 34 mm 34 mm 34 mm 34 mm
Wheel Base 1012.6 mm 1047.3 mm 1072.1 mm 1098 mm 1113.2 mm
Head Angle 70.5 deg 71 deg 71 deg 71 deg 71 deg
Seat Angle 73 deg 73 deg 73 deg 73 deg 72.5 deg

Build Requirements
Seatpost diameter 31.6 mm
Headset Threadless, 1 1/8" steerer, Zero Stack
Front Derailleur 34.9 mm
Seat Tube Collar 34.9 mm
Bottom Bracket Shell 68 mm

Weight 3.9 lbs
Replaceable Dropout Yes
Rear Rack Eyelets Yes
Rear Rack Braze-ons No, and no openings for them

Monday, June 15, 2009

a bear of a maintenance weekend

I have a WTB LaserDisc Lite wheelset. It might not be the most bombproof and it might not have the Chris King Bling but it's the best value in weight weenie hubs around.

From a bombproof perspective I mean having the ability to ride through anything without needing maintenance. It isn't sealed very well from wetness so after a few soggy rides the pawl mechanism gets a little crunchy. Also key is to use very lightweight grease or even thick oil or gear oil in place of they typical Phil on the mechanism, which means that is resists water even less.

Given all the wet weather we've been having it was in need of an overhaul. One thing I love is how easy they are and actually simple to work on. I get into these things so it doesn't try my patience that much to break them down. Some people can't handle the down time of working on stuff when they'd rather be riding.

Another little character flaw with this version of the hub is that the specs call for a little bit of play in the hub when installed on the frame with the quick release tight. This is a little disconcerting as typically you try to adjust hubs so that all play is gone when the wheel is tight. But with this one the manual says just a little bit of play. I heard that the newest version gets rid of this though.

Also nice is that there are replacement freebody kits and cam plates available which I'd actually changed out fairly recently after more than 2 years of beating on it.

Well when I put it together I think I erred on the side of too tight. Maybe wasn't thinking or thought I felt the play. But after some riding it started to feel funny. Difficult to backpedal , some skipping but I was out of town and decided to get one more ride on it, then pop, no more pedaling.

When I finally got into it it was ugly. cam plate was shattered and there is a spring on the under side of the freebody that was broken off in there. It had gouged out the innards as well. Thankfully I had the old freebody that was working ok just had one tooth broken off, and the new cam plate that had come with the replacement. I chiseled off the gouged out metal and put the old body on.

It was having lots of problems catching on the backpedal and it looks like the teeth were pushed out just enough to engage the pawls, so I took a file to it and wore it down enough so that it clears the pawls when backpedaling. It's not great but I think it will work. so back in business.

BUT...when putting the wheel back in I bent the hell out of my hanger. See, with gripshift/sram somewhere I read that it's easier to get the wheel back in if its in the biggest cog in back. Most other shifting systems they say to put it on the small cog in back. It does work better in the big, but not a good idea if the front chainring is also in the big ===crosschaining. Well for whatever reason I'd had it in the big and when tried to put the wheel in the chain was so tight and I was pulling on it so much that I bent my hanger.

I was going to bust out the safety replaceable der hanger but decided to have more fun with one of my favorite tools the park DAG-1

I manhandled it into alignment and shifting is much improved which means that it has probably been tweaked for a little while. I doubt it will stay well adjusted given how much I'd bent it trying to get the wheel in so It might be better to order a new one anyway. Also since IH is out of business and the parent company is under investigation there might not be many more around.

So hopefully I'm back and running. My hardtail is dead in the water with a busted rear wheel and I stole the front disc off it for a buildup for a new kid bike. Which leads me to my latest obsession, possibly trying to convert it to singlespeed.
more on that later. I've been there before and it was fun, but I'm going to do it different this time if I do it.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

aching lower back

Been riding some here and there. It's a little bit of a condundrum. I'm riding very strong at times, but it definitely doesn't last long. Climbing really well, most likely due to long road climbs. It's interesting though how my power riding on the singletrack has weakened. They don't go hand in hand and are different systems.

Power to weight vs pure power.

I'd stopped lifting in April and I could feel my core and upper body collapsing within a few weeks. I started back with some upper body work and stiff legged deadlifts. This put some strain onto my lower back and then went on some serious climbing. Ohh that put a hurting on the lower back.

hopefully in a few weeks my back will be back (pun intended) to a more stabilized state.