In the end the total cost of this build came to $297CAD (about $210 in US dollars). The fact that I could come in this low for a semi-decent bike came as much of a surprise to me as it was to Sharon (my wife) who wonders exactly when this thing will break, where it will break, and how much skin I will leave on the dirt when it does break.
In summary this was the result of bit of work, a bit of time, a lot of dumpster-diving, a bunch of accumulating spare parts in bins, and inspiration from cheapskates the world over. Spare parts came from local bike shops, Facebook Marketplace, Pinkbike, Craigslist, and Ebay. A special shout out of course to Obsession Bikes of North Vancouver (Matt, Topher, John and Lou), BicycleHub (Dave and Stoyan), MaguraUSA (Jude and Ken), and everyone else who helped me express my need to save money and be cheap!
Here’s a run down of the key Dumpster Bike build parts, along with some notes.
- The heart of the frame was a 2014 Trek Remedy 9.8 frame rescued from the Obsession Bikes dumpster. The main pivot was ovalized. I fixed the pivot by wrapping the pivot in old copper tubing and ramming the pivot back into the frame.
- I rescued a 2017 RockShox Pike non-Boost 27.5, 140mm travel fork with an annoyingly creaky crown-steerer unit (CSU) from the Bicycle Hub dumpster. I bought some green Loctite and fixed it by dripping the Loctite onto the press-fit interface between the CSU and the steerer tube then letting the Loctite sit for a day or so. Green Loctite: $ 18
- Alex Volar non-Boost front wheel. A gift from Mike!
- Dirty Dog fire-breathing dragon 180mm rotor from the bin of junk.
- Magura Storm 180mm rear rotor from the bin of junk.
- Schwalbe Magic Mary 2.35-inch tire from the Bicycle Hub dumpster/
- Maxxis Forekaster 2.25-inch tire from the Bicycle Hub dumpster. The Remedy wheels didn’t hold tubeless at first until I fixed a hole with a tube patch and Gorilla tape.
- Magura MT7 front and rear brake from MaguraUSA. While I’m not sponsored or affiliated with them in any way I’ve been “Magura4life” for over two decades and I’m one of the charter members of the Magura Cult of North America aka MCM.
- RaceFace Turbine bar, cut to 770mm, plus a 50mm stem from the spare parts bin.
- FSA Orbit headset: $ 28
- FSA spacers from the bin of junk.
- Chromag grips were Sharon cast-offs and were found in the bin of junk.
- The bike started with a RockShox Reverb internal 125mm dropper post cobbled together from BC Bike Race cast-offs and by cannibalizing three non-functional Reverbs which were destined for the Obsession Bikes dumpster. This has now has been replaced by a Bontrager internal 150mm seatpost which I bought for $100 after selling the Reverb for $100.
The build, continued.
- RaceFace Turbine cranks with OneUp 32t ring: $50
- Shimano SPD pedals: $15
- Rear Fox shock came with the frame.
- The seatpost collar also came with the frame.
- A Chromag Trailmaster leather saddle with some shoe-gooe’ed cuts was a Sharon cast off and found in the good old bin of junk.
- A generic PF bottom bracket came with the frame
- Obsolete XO1 11-speed shifter: $50
- Obsolete XO1 11-speed rear derailleur: $50
- XT 11-speed, 11-46 cassette from the Obsession dumpster
- DT Swiss M1700 Boost rear wheel with a massively dented rim was a Sharon cast-off and destined for the bin of junk. I repaired the caved in rim sidewall with pliers and sharpied it black so it looks new. Miraculously it still holds air. Although it is a Boost wheel in a non-Boost frame, I managed to wedge the wheel in there. Turns out that 6mm of extra spacing can be persuaded to fit.
- Magura rear brake spacer from the bin of junk. Somehow it spaced the rear brake over enough so that the caliper worked with this non-Boost rear wheel in rear Boost frame gong-show.
- Trek rear QR skewer from the Obsession Bikes dumpster (thanks Matt Smith for that rare find!)
- New derailleur cable: $2.50
- Pieced together an 11 speed chain from 3 years of bits and ends of replacing older chains.
- Re-used cable housing
- One can of flat black spraybomb from Canadian Tire: $20
- Two 50 packs of Timbits for Obsession Bikes: $20
- Two Honeys Donuts for Bicycle Hub: $5.50
- Two flats of good beer (Red Racer) for Obsession Bikes: $38
- Spacers for Turbine crank (from Comor Whistler, thanks Tom Pietrowski!)
This dumpster bike rides fine. I’m 178cm (5-foot,10.5-inches tall) and the frame is a large with a 67.5 deg HTA and 74.5 deg STA. It’s not long, low, or slack like a modern mountain bike, and yet somehow I’m having fun on it.
The most satisfying part of this process has been putting all these potentially dumpstered “things,” (frame, parts, accessories) to good use once again. It’s always struck me as abysmally hypocritical how the mountain-bike industry greenwashes itself as being environmentally conscious, yet through planned obsolescence, a lack of spare parts, and poor design have made it pretty hard to go through an exercise like this. And by “exercise like this,” I mean buying a frame, getting some parts together, and putting together a functional bike.
Not everyone will have the access to the dumpsters that I had or a massive Box O’Junk. But if you have the inclination and the time (I don’t watch much TV, which frees up a lot of it), maybe you can do something about the high cost of bikes.