Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Papa's new pride and joy

"It was the best of times,"

"...it was the worst of times."

(Click on images for larger sized versions)

Let this be a lesson to all my DIY-bike-building-I-got-the-frame-from-some-guy-in-the-"Free Stuff"-section-of-Craig's-List readers out there. Probably a good idea to clean the frame and give it a *thorough* going over before you put your heart into building your new friend up into fixed-gear glory. Cuz that ain't no crack in the paint. It's a crack in the lug that joins the top tube to the head tube, just below the top headset race.

So what's a guy to do? I'm hoping somebody with a brazing torch and a modicum of talent can simply repair the injury for a modest fee. Until I get around to getting that done, I'll probably just ride it and hope for the best (some might call this "living 'DT Style'"). Maybe I'll throw a zip tie and a couple o' wraps of duct tape on there, you know...just to be safe. I guess worst-case scenario, I've still got the jumbo aluminum Cannondale frame from the same Craig's List post.

My adventure started a few weeks back when I saw a Craig's List post advertising a free jumbo-sized bike. I picked it up with the idea in mind that I wanted to try building (or un-building, as it were) a fixed-gear bike. I stripped off about 4.25 pounds of stuff, bought a pair of IRO flip-flop hubs, a mass of DT Swiss spokes, a couple o' 700c WTB rims, (in addition to a Surly 15t cog and lock-ring, and a new chain). A few years back I'd bought a wheel truing stand and wheel dishing tool, so I guess I've been aiming for this process for a while now. How hard can building your own wheels be, anyway??

Actually, with knowledgeable friends like Spearman who are willing to spend a good deal of time and explain the subtle nuances of wheel building, and Sheldon Brown's (RIP) website which spells out quite clearly how to go about the process, it's actually not too hard. It requires patients, beer, and an almost zen-like sense of peace and concentration and beer. But once you have those, it's pretty straight forward. So far.

I got the wheels laced without much fuss. Getting them true was a bit more challenging, but listening to Spearman's advice ("Take your time and make lots of little adjustments") they eventually came together quite nicely. I'm still awaiting the delivery of my new Park Tools Spoke Tension Meter*. Once that arrives, I may find that what I thought were fairly well-built wheels actually need semi-professional help. We'll see.

There are still a couple of things to do to finish up the project: I need to buy new (or Dremel existing), shorter chain-ring bolts, so I can run just the 42t ring, instead of both the 42t and 52t as it is now. I also need to wrap the handlebars, and perhaps install a different brake lever. And I need to install new brake pads, hopefully on adjustable posts, as the current brake arms don't reach far enough down to center the pads on the rim. After that, it's just a matter of hoping it doesn't disintegrate under me on a hairy downhill or anything. Wish me luck.

*Allow me to digress just a moment and bitch about how annoying Performance Bike is for damn near anything. First they don't stock anything the least bit technical in their stores (nor do any local bike shops, for that matter). When you order online, they slug you with a $10 premium for shipping (in addition to the 5% state sales tax). Of course, if you pick the "Shipping free when sent to your local store" option, you can save the $10 and pick up your item in, oh, say...about 23 f*cking days. Kinda forces your hand to pay the shipping (or plan out your bike needs a month in advance). We now return you to your happy go lucky bike post.

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