2 Wheel Fetish
The Budget All-Rounder Project
Overview: The budget all-rounder project is a result of liking drop
bars both on and offroad. Back in the very early 1990s I began running
drop bars on mountain bikes, which I used both off and on road. On all
but the most technical riding I found that I preferred the
positions--hand and body-- and the weight distribution that drops
provide. I did a century on a mountain bike with drops as well as
several multiday multihundred mile tours on mountain bikes with drops
and never felt particularly hampered by the small wheel size.
But there's one issue with drop bars on mountain bike frames: the top
tube is often too long and the seat too high. So when I found a used
Diamond Back Apex frameset from about 1989 or 1990 that measured 58cm c
to top of seatpost clamp, and 58cm c to c on the top tube, I snapped it
up. The tubing seemed decent, and is claimed by a seat tube sticker to
be double butted; the tig welds were a
little toothpasty in spots, but there were lowrider braze ons on the
center of the fork and really, the deal maker for me was that immense
size for a mountain bike. There were also single eyelets on the front
and rear, and double bottle cage bosses.
Since I have been working on
my brazing skills, I decided to add on an extra set of bottle bosses
under the downtube, a pump peg behind the seat tube, and extra eyelets
front and rear. I also added threaded bosses for a portage pad on the
top--seat tube junction, and finally, fabricated a brake stop bridge
for the seatstays to use instead of the aluminum dangling one suspended
from the seatpost clamp bolt.
Below I've recorded parts of the process of adding the pieces. I
including shipping for the braze ons from Nova Cycles (who overcharge
for shipping, IMO, since the braze on small pieces were only about
$11), with some extra items left over for other projects.
I used a mixture of brass brazing rod and silver jewelry brazing rod,
and mostly an oxy acetylene torch setup, though I did some with plain
MAP gas and a plumber's torch.
Below: the home fabricated rear brake cable stop bridge, using a
piece of scrap steel cut with a hacksaw and shaped in a bench vise,
with a sleeve bearing brazed on to take the threaded adjuster in the
center already silver brazed on.
Below: The brake bridge held on to the frame with wire (as a jig
substitute). After this, flux, torch, and silver.
Below: brake cable stop bridge brazed on.
Below: the seat cluster and rear brake cable stop bridge, showing the
pump peg behind the seat tube.
Below: extra fork eyelet, the front one.
Below: the extra eyelet on the rear drive side dropout.
Below: the extra eyelet on the non drive rear dropout. Some rust from
proximity to the Pacific Ocean and winter fog.
Below: the bottomside downtube bottle bosses (for a fuel bottle).
Here are some photos of the powder coated frameset, fresh from
sandblasting and powdercoating.
The frame is about 6lbs 1oz with the powdercoat on it; the fork is
about 2lbs 5ozs, for a
total prebuild weight of 8lbs 6ozs. Not a lightweight frame,
though Diamond Back's seat tube sticker claimed double butted tubing.
The added bits probably added about 2 to 3 ozs of weight.
The color is a John Deere tractor green, as the first image below
shows: an almost perfect match with my vintage model John Deere tractor.
Below: it would be nice if the fork were curved rather than straight.
But the lowrider braze ons in the center partly make up for the
somewhat ugly fork, at least for me.
Below: the somewhat crude tig welds on
the seat clamp area.
Below: the brake bridge shows a bit of melted silver brazing
on the drive side; I should have done a little filing instead of
leaving it as is after the brazing job. I was in too much of a hurry to
get it to the powder coater so I could get it done before Christmas
break ended. Next time, I'll file. I also was not sure this time how
much sandblasting actually removes; now I have a better idea.
Below: the bike built up and almost complete. With 3 bottle cages and
every single threaded boss filled with an M5 stainless steel bolt, and
with bar plugs and bar tape not yet installed, it weighs an even 27lbs
with no racks attached.
I basically moved the parts off of an previous bike, a Bianchi Incline
MTB that was 21.5 inches center to top of the seat tube, changing only
bars, stem, seat, and seatpost, and shifters and brake levers. The
Bianchi frameset is lugged and is slightly lighter; it's also for sale
for the frame, fork, headset, and seatpost. It's made in Japan; if
you're interested, email me at (write intent at g mail dot com); remove
all spaces for the address to work properly.
Shifters, shifting 2 generations of Shimano XT mountain bike
derailleurs. The rear is an old Shimano Deer's Head XT that was so
scarred from a crash that I smoothed the body off completely, removing
the deer's head for a generic rather than a damaged look; the front a
more modern 7 speed era XT, and a XTR first generation M900 crank,
probably my favorite crank ever made at least of Japanese ones.
Suntour Superbe Pro 28h
front hub; Deore XT 8 speed era Parallax rear hub; eyeletted Mavic
rims; DT stainless steel butted spokes; brass nipples. For touring use,
I'll build up a 36 hole wheelset or at least a 36 hole rear wheel.
1990s 600 SLR brake
levers pulling mid 1980s high profile Shimano cantilevers.
Bar, stem and headset:
sealed cartridge bearing headset, a generic silver threadless stem with
rise attached to a threadless stem to 1 inch threaded fork adapter,
clamping older 46cm wide Modolos with minimal ergonomic bends.
Seat and seatpost:
early 1990s Italian made MTB black leather perforated saddle with
rails (one of those wonderful parts that deserved to stay in existence,
and very light and comfortable) attached to an OEM generic silver
Water bottle cages:
3 US made
King Cage bottle cages: 2 Iris
models and a standard under the down tube.
For now, silver MKS
Touring pedals with chromed steel clips and straps.
Bar tape and plugs:
will be silver Fizik brand, which seems more durable than many more of
the soft foam kinds of tape. Black rubber Velox bar plugs.
Some more photos of the complete
The inaugural ride, in New Mexico near Crownpoint, to
the Chaco Canyon outlier site called Kin Ya'a. This ride was a mix of
double track, dirt road, and pavement, with some of the astonishingly
goopy mud that melting snow or rain generates in this part of the
southwest. But the bike feels really good on both dirt and pavement.
Note that the bars have not been taped yet.
Below 2 images:
There are no bikes in the photos, but I
I should include one of the ruin itself. It's full of pottery
fragments, with quite a few animal bones mixed in; I want to imagine
people from 1000 years ago eating small mammals inside the walls. The
third bone from the bottom looks like a hip socket of some sort.
Where I hope to go from here
I hope to build tubular chromoly front and rear racks
specifically for this bicycle. I'd also like to build a custom stem
tailored specifically for this frame, but this comes a distant second
or third. And I'd like to do an on and offroad tour on the bike.
Credits and thanks
Thanks to Kwang Paik for advice with brazing; to Genevieve
Fenster for help in assembling and cleaning up the components; to
Victor for selling me the oxy acetylene torch setup; to Jorge Barreda
for teaching me so much about working on bicycles, and to all the fine
volunteers at Bikerowave for their help and patience.