January 5, 2021 at 12:42 #577070
This thread will present a minority viewpoint that some may nevertheless find instructive. The first step is to briefly review past activities as motivation for present ones.
My first mtn bike was a 3×8 hardtail purchased from a sporting goods store in 1996 or so. I had a Honda 650 dual sport bike that I rode in the woods, but it was starting to get difficult to pick it up again after low speed crashes. (I was in my early forties.) Back then there weren’t any mtn bike trails where I lived so we just followed deer tracks, old log roads, etc. That first bike (a Nishiki) was just as fun as my Honda in the woods and nowhere near as painful to land under. It lasted about three years until it started wearing out (chain suck, broken spokes, taco’d rims, tire cuts, fork slop, …) and I happened across a 1997 Jamis Dakar Sport on sale. I think I paid $800 for it.
The Dakar’s components weren’t any better than the Nishiki’s, but the frame justified their replacement as required. By 2003 or so it had evolved into a fun reliable 26-1/2 lb full susp XC bike. About that time the sport had grown popular enough that mtn bikers were being restricted to prepared trails. I also moved to a more urbanized setting for work. One day I saw a Giant XtC hardtail with hydraulic disk brakes and bought it on impulse to use for rail-trails and so on. I put semi-slicks on it and a USE suspension seatpost but left it stock otherwise. I noticed I was riding the 3×9 hardtail with disk brakes and semi-slicks as much or more than the older FS Dakar, so I gave the Dakar to a neighbor.
Time passed and technology moved forward. Tubeless tires, 29ers and gravel bikes came on the scene. I turned 65. I began thinking about replacing the 17-YO HT 26er with a bike that reflected my needs and desires, so I donated the Giant. Preliminary research pointed to the following:
- More gravel than downhilling
- Need for varying hand positions on different terrains
- Cargo capacity for Post Office and grocery runs
- Low gearing to climb our mountainside driveway
- High enough gearing for blacktop
- Modest cost to purchase and maintain
I saw several interesting gravel bikes but two things made me hesitate– The relative novelty made it a seller’s market. I wasn’t confident enough to commit to dropped bars and brifters. In terms of XC mtn bikes, past experience led me to seek out component levels that would end up costing in the $1500 — $2500 range for a pre-owned bike, but even then I would have to accept features I didn’t need and do without features I wanted. Having had plenty of experience repairing, designing and fabricating over the years, I was open to purchasing a parts bike and parts and assembling the bike myself.
January 5, 2021 at 19:24 #577122
I mentioned previously that a pre-owned bike set up the way I wanted would cost around $1500 to $2500. Could I put one together out of new/used parts for (significantly) less? I planned to source:
- Frame/wheels/controls/seat post
- Air or carbon fork
- Tubeless tires/setup
- Flat pedals
- Rear rack
- ALT bars
One big variable was that buying pre-owned equipment on eBay has been a mixed blessing because sellers don’t always fully disclose the problems to be found with their items. After watching auctions for several weeks, I decided I could source the parts and bike for <$1200. So I took the plunge.
- Bike: 2016 Norco Charger 9.3 ($400)
- Fork: rockshox reba race dual air ($232)
- Crankset: Deore 2×10 38-24T, 175mm ($70)
- 44T chainring ($25)
- Bars/bar ends/grips/tape: Ritchey Kyote & ESI chunky ($91)
- Pedals: RaceFace Chester ($43)
- Rear Rack: Axiom Journey ($30)
- Tires: Panaracer GK SK+ ($65)
- Saddle: Selle SMP TRK med ($80)
- Shipping: ($150)
So, $1186 and I win right? Not so fast… The bike had been left out in the weather, so I decided to replace the (Shimano) wheel bearings, plus it needed pads, so that was another $25, plus I had to buy some tools that I didn’t have and finally put perhaps 20 hours into wrenching everything together.
So, perhaps the (imaginary) $1500 used hardtail would have been better, but I still would have wanted a rack, different bars, saddle and probably tires, plus whatever maintenance required.
January 5, 2021 at 20:42 #577125
In the end, the bike project was your bike, not someone else’s.
My scamdemic era parts bin build. A scoured the bins at home and at a couple LBS bins. That made this Jeep of a bike a possibility as my business was shuttered by the state commandant. Spending coin was off the back at that point and a shoestring budget was on tap to gitter dun. Total budget was well below the cost of a carbon wheelset and more fun than a bloke oughtta be allowed to have on tires inflated to 8 psi!
January 5, 2021 at 20:51 #577127
Those fat bikes are cool.
January 6, 2021 at 10:01 #577118
Gearing was important. Thinking back, I did around 75% of my trail riding in the middle ring and about 75% of blacktop in the big ring. But that granny gear was important when I thought about epic climbs or negotiating rocky stream crossings. Plus, I’m old now! I thought about a 1x as opposed to 2x crankset but decided to go for 2x for a couple reasons– 2x would be more flexible and slightly lower cost.
Thinking back to my old 3×9 system, the three rings were like 22-32-42 or something. I occasionally ran out of gears on long gentle blacktop descents, but the granny gear was plenty low enough. I decided to try a crazy idea– 22-44 (front) x 11-36 (cassette)…
The 44 tooth chainring was only $25 on eBay, so I wasn’t risking much. According to https://www.bikecalc.com/gear_speed I would have plenty of top end and still be able to climb at a walking pace.
January 7, 2021 at 12:35 #577218
It ended up at 24-44 at purchase. Shifting on work stand, but I need to mount my tubeless tires first.
Soaping the rim was successful. I disassembled my floor pump at the compression fittings and used the hose with my compressor to pop on the beads.
Lots of bubbles!
January 7, 2021 at 12:50 #577220
BTW, I realized this morning that the 2-inch wide Gravel Kings remind me of the tires on Schwinns from the early sixties. 👍
January 7, 2021 at 16:29 #577239
As shown the thing weighs 30.0 lbs.
January 7, 2021 at 16:42 #577246
Controls. Not unhappy so far but need to get fit to see about longer trips.
January 7, 2021 at 18:48 #577249
January 7, 2021 at 19:00 #577250
No the days of mtn bike bushwhacking are long gone.
The subcompact tractor is to maintain our steep driveway.
January 8, 2021 at 08:45 #577264
You got me thinking about how it used to be. Here are surviving photos from the 20th century–
I used to live where lots of snow fell, from Halloween to Mother’s Day.
We did a lot of XC skiing before mtn bikes were a thing. We just went out the driveway, turned left, and…
All that snow covered a lot of understory. What looked like this in the winter:
… looked like this in the summer–
So I cleaned it up *just a bit*.
… and swapped pedals for skis.
January 9, 2021 at 09:01 #577341
Turning to the more recent past, I want to share some thoughts about mounting tires.
I chose GK SK+. which are reputedly difficult. I lubed the bead area with 20:1 dish soap and water. I seated the beads with valve cores removed. Lacking a good method of injecting sealant though the valve stems, I broke the bead on one side. This is sub-optimal, and resulted in loss of sealant while seating the bead a second time. The liberal application of soapy water didn’t appear to hurt the sealant at all. Once the bead seated a second time hardly any sealant weeped out.
January 9, 2021 at 09:07 #577342
Rim tape- I used generic translucent rim tape. I could see lots of voids underneath the applied tape even though I cleaned the rim with alcohol and applied the tape under tension. Past experience led to apply hot air to soften the tape and activate the adhesive. I seated the tape with a gloved finger because the assembly was too hot to touch. No bubbles were observed coming out of any spoke holes or around the valve stems during the initial bead seating or final inflation or tires.
January 9, 2021 at 09:19 #577343
If I was doing it again, I definitely would have taken the extra time to use a small squeeze bottle with a tip (or a small tube) to inject sealant through the valve stem. I think it would have resulted in less loss of sealant and less drama if those beads did not have to be seated twice.
Overall, the process was much less involved than replacing a head gasket or other home shop processes. I would say it is similar in difficulty to gluing up a table top out of separate boards.
January 9, 2021 at 11:23 #577348
Needless to say, the deed is done. Its together and time to ride! Good stuff comes to those that do a bin build.
January 9, 2021 at 11:33 #577349
Sunspot: “Good stuff comes to those that do a bin build.”
Yes, and we ought to encourage them all we can.
37 F and wet here. Pinnacle trails closed. Probably will ride down to the mailbox and back but I don’t suffer cold weather much any more. (You don’t have to shovel sweat, ya know?)
January 10, 2021 at 16:04 #577393
Mark, the bike looks awesome! I think you are going to take in many great adventures with that ride.
My Sergeant pic above is a bin build. That frame/fork is designed around bikepacking and trail riding alike. With scoliosis taking its toll, the 3.8″ tires with 8 psi make a world of difference, post ride. Handling is par with a plus bike. (3.0″ tire) Fuel economy is not as good as your bike will have but damn if some backcountry destinations aren’t easier to navigate to.
Aren’t bikes just plain awesome??
January 10, 2021 at 16:28 #577396
January 18, 2021 at 22:01 #577967
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