Showing posts with label frame choice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label frame choice. Show all posts

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Trek 520 Build - Part One - A Bike Needs a Frame and Wheels

Since several of my favourite blog people are doing articles in several parts and I am nothing if not a sheep-like follower and imitator, I'm jumping on the bandwagon. There may be months between the parts of this documentation of my Light Loaded Tourer build, since the restrictions of time and money will make it a very slow process. To see all posts relating to this build, use the "Post Series" link near the top of the sidebar on the right.

On previous builds, I have been asked by people, "so how much did it cost to do?" I could ballpark it, but in all honesty I didn't have any good answer. This time, I'm going to keep track of everything in these posts, right down to the bar tape. I've got a bad feeling the total amount will be more than I ever guessed, but I know I do that to myself by needing to upgrade lots of stuff that probably would have been fine. As such, please don't treat these posts as a "how to build a good bike for cheap", but rather as a "how Rantwick builds a bike he'll love". Also please know that this is not a restoration project. Lots of new bits and pieces that have nothing to do with the original 520 will go into it.

Of course the first step in building up a bike from scratch is getting your paws on an appropriate frame. In my case I found a local classified ad for a "90s Trek 520". The back wheel was trashed and the frame would require a complete re-paint to look nice again. When I got the bike home, a little online research at
Vintage Trek revealed that my bike was actually an 1988 or 89. The serial number puts it in 1989, but the 27" wheels make it a 1988! Anyway, here it is, just as I brought it home:

Double-butted made in the USA lugged steel goodness. Long chainstays. Braze-ons and eyelets for racks and fenders, including eyelets midway on the front fork, two water bottle cages and mounts for the downtube shifters (which you can switch between friction and indexed for the rear).

Like I said, the rear wheel was trashed, and the 6 Speed freewheel cogs showed the signs of a long life spent with the same chain, so I couldn't use it either. The front wheel was OK, but the spokes were grungy with oxidation. I needed some decent 27" wheels if I didn't want to replace the perfectly good cantilever brakes or get into moving the braze-ons. Once again, the local online classified gods smiled on my project: I picked up a pair of Mavic G40s (double eyelet, 36 spoke) laced to sealed cartridge Specialized hubs. They even had nice silver skewers without a mark on them.

Brass nipples, DT Swiss stainless spokes, and 6 Speed freewheel (the original was a 6 speed too) in excellent condition. I didn't measure, but the rear spacing of the bike is a perfect match. It's gear range (12-19) is higher than that of a typical touring bike, and I'm debating with myself about how to proceed. I was intending on replacing the Deore/BioPace crankset (which was also really worn) anyway, so I've been playing with gear calculators to see if I can get touring-style gear ratios by choosing the right crankset. I'm thinking the smaller chainrings of a MTB crankset might do the trick. I know some bike people who would gasp in horror at the notion of using MTB components on a road frame, but I'm way more interested in function than convention. That said, I'm a sucker for a nice Ultegra crankset... obviously I'm still percolating on the matter. Maybe a road triple crankset with no rings off ebay? Buying rings one a time can be expensive. Gaah! Ack! I love this, and I hate this!

Sorry you got dragged into my tortured thought process there. So: A frame and wheels that I really like. What an excellent start!

Build $ Tally:

Used Frame + some parts I will re-use: $80.00
Used Wheelset: $100.00

TOTAL to date: $180.00

This was Part One.

Click Here for Part Two: I Strip and Get Blasted

If you were expecting something funny or interesting to normal people, I apologize. Like I said, it will likely be quite a while before I post on this build again, so come back soon for something more entertaining.

Friday, June 19, 2009

All Itch, No Scratch - Bike Building Purgatory

The itch is back. The bike-building itch. It has been four or five months since I finished with the last one. I currently own two bikes I built up myself (excluding the frames and wheels), my winter MTB commuter and my summer fixed gear commuter, which is partially composed of parts from my first (now de-commissioned) experiment in bike building. Having been a mostly urban rider all my life, I am finally hearing the call of the highways and the countryside. While I can go a very long way on my fixed bike, I want to try some distances and hills that would likely kill me on a fixed gear. So it's time to build a geared touring bike. I'm thinking something suitable for reasonably fast light loaded touring would suit me best at this time. Now that I've been bitten by the bike-building bug, I won't even consider just buying a complete bike... Eewww.

I didn't know I had such an expressive visage! No wonder people seem to know what I'm thinking all the time. Darn it! I knew I should have been an actor! Curse you, influencers of my youth, curse you! Ah well, back on topic...

I am not a wealthy person. I can't build or buy the bikes I want at will. I need to save up, obtain bargain parts as they present themselves, and be patient. I wouldn't change that if I could, though. The satisfaction of getting something just right over a long time is what I love about doing it myself. Something I've learned from my previous builds is not to buy ebay or other parts that should or could work... I collected more than I needed, wasting money and time along the way. I will have to overcome laziness and something of a pack-rat mentality and re-sell that stuff some time.

This time around, I will determine precisely what I want and know which parts will be compatible before spending a penny. I find that I am not content to cobble together a decent bike from truly inexpensive bits and pieces. None of my bikes would ever be considered high-end, but the more I do this the pickier I become. My last build, the fixed commuter, was the first that left me truly happy and without a single regret. I wouldn't change a thing on that bike.

The trouble is that while I save money and do my research, I see stuff that would be great, but I can't pull the trigger and start. Instead I view and re-view stuff, starting with frames. Once I have a frame (or old bike to strip down) that meets my requirements, whether found online or around town, everything will be easier. I can't just pick and buy one right now though; and what if the perfect thing is waiting at a yard sale this weekend? How will I feel about a snap purchase then? Of course, much of my component shopping will be driven by frame choice. So, here I am, looking at anything and everything, pondering all kinds of decisions, many of which have ramifications for the others. I'm left in bike building purgatory, obsessing and thinking in circles about how to proceed.

This is how it will be until I feel truly ready to go, and who knows how long that will be? I can now look forward to weeks or even months of indecision and anguish. The single worst symptom of this illness is that I will love every minute of it.

Don't ever build a bike unless you are prepared to build many more.

PS - Click Here to jump forward in time to see the frame I eventually found!