Pumping new life into an old bike

How many coats of stripper does it take to get to the primer on a Tootsie Roll pop?

A bike, first left in storage and then propped in a corner, became a weekend project. The thought was change the look, shed a pound or two, and make it a little more comfortable for its out-of-shape owner. And that’s precisely what happened.

unhappy-mountain-bikeSans parts, Complete Powder Coating and Paint of Denver did a fine job on the preliminary looks. What was once team red paint (and too many decals) became very plain satin black. The folks at Complete were the upfront choice for the job because they were the only ones who asked questions like “does it have a swingarm?” and “have you already removed the bottom bracket and headset cups?” I felt even more comfortable when dropping it off – there were bike frames everywhere. Regardless, they did a great job – the finish is exactly how I wanted it, and the added satin clear coat they put on assures me it’ll be a long time before I see metal via flying rock chip.

new-bike-steeringThere was no way I was going to pay for refinishing and not throw in a few updates. This bike is aluminum, and the tubing is big. Hence, it is very stiff and the hands feel it. So, out went the freshly powder coated aluminum bars (and the forged stem), and on went carbon fiber. I chose a Ritchey Carbon WCS married to a Race Race Next fat bar, and capped it off with Ritchey TruGrips. In addition, no control panel of this magnitude of excellence should be attached to the frame by anything stock, so I replaced the previous headset with a Chris King NoThreadSet [stem and bars were provided by the kind folks at Pedal Pushers, and the headset was had via Performance Bike – both at great deals]. Beyond feeling much lighter and absorbing much of the “hand shock”, it looks pretty cool staring down at all that black weave (and the fork brace is already carbon fiber, so it blends in nicely). The bothersome (to me) shift indicators were removed, and I am looking for some plastic caps to replace the holes presently covered by everyone’s favorite patch all, duct tape.

new-pedalsSecond to last, but certainly not least…the SPD pedals (which I never could get out of easily) were replaced with Crank Brothers Ti Eggbeaters [thanks to Bicycle Source US], and as I am in no rush to repair flats I swapped the otherwise very nice Specialized quick releases with bolt-on Control Tech titanium skewers [from Universal Cycles]. Very last…tubes are gone, and NoTubes rim strips and goop take their place. I’ve also permanently removed the bottle cage and pump – I’m rolling with Camelback and CO2 from here on out.

It looks the part, and while I never bothered weighing components the setup clearly feels like it’s shed a few inches. Now I am going to put a hitch of some sort on this puppy and use it to tow a pontoon boat into the mountains, since recession has hit fly fishing.


UPDATE: A few additional thoughts on Stan’s NoTubes…

First, the pics were taken a few days before I got around to converting the wheels. And boy what a pain they were.

I’d suggest that anyone who undertakes this tubeless conversion have a compressor – trying to get your tires to seal around the rim with a floor pump is a pain in the butt (under some circumstances). I spent many hours sopping the tire beads with suds, and pumping and pumping. It wasn’t until I took a trip up to the local garage (and their industrial powered air) that I finally got the tires to inflate. At first I was using a Specialized Dirt Control Team on the front, and a Dirt Master on the back. The team edition tire sealed nicely, but the rear tire was full of holes and simply spit sealant until it was deflated again. That’s when I switched tires – now both front and back are Conti Speed King Supersonics, 2.1. They are narrower than their spec suggests, and they fit a little tighter around the rim. I went straight to pouring sealant in and mounting the tires, and adding suds around the sides after. They inflated immediately, and held 25 pounds all night. And, after the first mounting, I realized I had the rear tire on backwards – after switching it around and adding more Stan’s solution, I got this one to bite with just the floor pump.

Even though the whole ordeal ended up costing me an extra hundred bucks in tires, I think it was worth it. The different between my existing tubes and rim strips, and the yellow rim tape and Stan’s rim strips (plus two cups of sealant) was roughly 80 grams – no huge deal. But, the new tires really contributed to the weight factor – my front was 460g and my back was 560g (according to the specs) – the new Continentals were only 400g each, so I cut 220g (or roughly half a pound).

Once again, even though I was able to get a Conti mounted with a floor pump my advice to the next guy is…get a compressor!


I put egg beaters on my cross bike (I ride all the logging roads with it) and like ’em a lot better than anything Shimano’s invented.

Good choice.

Michael Gracie says:

Tks. The moment you clip into those strange looking things, you immediately wonder how you ever lived without them (I actually had flashbacks of falling over running through my head the first hour). And man are they nice on the knees.

Josh says:

Was this an expensive remodel? I’m looking to get something powder coated as well in Denver and was curious about the price. I love the look of your bike.

Michael Gracie says:

I guess the expense is relative.

I found the powder coating was darn good value compared to others, but I’d look to the shop directly for a quote since I had bars and ends done too. Pedals were about half-off retail, using eBay, and Pedal Pushers was great dealing with me on the bars and stem. The tubeless system was purchased direct, and Pedal Pushers came through again on the tires. That stuff was very reasonable nonetheless.

I’ve since changed post and seat – Thomson Masterpiece and Selle Italia SLR Ti – paid close to retail for the former, and the latter I got for less than half retail through eBay (last year’s model).

The kicker was…I quickly felt the need for stiffer cranks, and probably went a little overboard by doing 2008 XTRs. Got a price match on them to quell the pain, but still a purchase for those with a strong stomach. But the conclusion – they are unbelievable!

If you are in Denver and doing a “remodel,” I have many of the old (but still fine condition) parts available – they are mostly S-Works Team stuff. Hit my contact form with an email address, and I’ll send you the list.

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