Friday, September 19, 2008

The junker re-born...

Here we have one of the "junk bikes". A 1989 Specialized Rockhopper Comp. Back in 1989, the only difference between a Rockhopper Comp and the Stumpjumper was a paintjob, stickers and Deore XT components.

The original bike shipped with Shimano's Deore group. At the time, Deore was only one step down from the top of the line XT stuff. In 2008 Deore is what? Bottom of the barrel just about? Now, the only components of the original bike are the frame, cranks and seatpost.

Let me give you a quick tour of the Rockhopper Comp in it's reinbikenated state:

First it's sporting a Bonty CX drop bar. A midge is definitely in this bike's future. See the stem? Short and high-rise. That's the way to set up a drop bar for off-road use. Right now it's a bit low, but riding in the hoods is pretty comfy. You'll note that the hoods put my hands in about the same spot they would be if the bike had a conventional flat bar. A Midge will put everything within easy reach, but for the time being I rather like the John Tomac 1990 Worlds' drop-bar look. I never could figure why he'd run a handlebar like that when Jacquie Phelan had shown everybody the proper sort of drop bar for off-road use. Well, Johnny was wearing a skinsuit too, so...

Anyway. Tange Switchblade fork. Remember those? A little "me too" action from Tange imitating Bontrager's fork. Bonty still produces the Switchblade. Don't know what Tange is up to these days. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone tried pushing on the handlebars to compress the "suspension fork". This was about the time that the very first Rockshox became available.

"Is that one of them shock absorber forks?" They'd ask me.
"Nope. Just a rigid fork with replaceable legs."
Then they'd step over and grab the handlebar and give a good downward shove.
"It's not a suspension fork," I'd remind them.
"Hm." Would be the response as they walked off.

I remember being a little concerned that some folks might think me a cheap-ass poseur wanting to fool people into thinking that I had a real suspension fork.

I replaced the old, pitted Deore hubs with some used Deore XT hubs. The old freehub was making ominous clunking noises, too. So yay! Finally got me some Deore XT on the Rockhopper! (A nice score at the Community Cycling Center)

The bike originally shipped with Deore cantilevers. I replaced them with the very nice looking Dia-Compe 986's. Then... in order to secure passage to Moab one spring break I offered to trade with my roomie for his "shitty" Suntour XC SE brake set. He was stoked to get some "awesome" 986 cantis and I was stoked to finally get some of the Suntour brakes using the Scott-Pederson SE brake design. Suntour wimped out big-time and only produced rear self-energizing cantilevers. Conventional (and still nice) cantis on the front. That seemed to squander the SE's tremendous braking power by putting them on the rear only. Perhaps the lawyers were worried about over-the bar lawsuits? Anyway-- the Scott-Pederson SE brakes were legendary at the time for locking up like a pitbull. I recall that many folks (shop mechanics included) would actually de-tune the brakes to reduce their braking power. This was accomplished by toeing the brake shoes out at the front or radically toeing them in so there was no chance of the full braking surface coming into contact with the rim.

Well the rear Suntour SE brake was really worn-- the tiny ball bearings had pitted and worn their helical channels within the brake arm. I scored a set of Suntour XC cantilevers on Ebay and now the bike has XCs on the front and rear. The XCs were different from the XC pros in that they were painted black instead of nicely polished. With some brand new Kool-Stop Eagle IIs in there, they work just fine. Linear pull brakes? Eat your heart out.

Remember when Avid was a purveyor of fine machined alloy bits that were colorfully anodized? Well, I always fussed over my straddle cables and set them up using a measuring caliper. So the Avid Tri-Dangle was the apple of my eye. I could measure everything out, turn the set-screws down, and forget it. Plus it was red-- my favorite color. (Unfortunately the front Tri-Dangle is black.)

I've got a couple of narrow-ish 1.75" Maxxis OEM tires. They work pretty well for getting around town and hitting the little dirt trails here and there.

I've still got the old Sachs-Sedis chain. That thing must be... about 16-18 years old? It's not even worn that much according to my Park Tool chain checker.

The Performance Bike single-speed conversion kit saved me from attempting to replace a worn out Deore DX rear-derailleur and trying to find a 7-speed cassette. The SS conversion kit was an excellent -- and inexpensive! -- way to ignore the past and sidestep the future.

It's been about 10 years since I've used regular pedals and toe-clips. It's kind of nice! I just wear whatever kind of shoe I happen to have on and go riding! Again with the Performance Bike brand here. Pssst... they're made by Wellgo and are pretty decent with sealed construction and two cartridge bearings inside. I had a set of "Joe's Clips" that used two toe-straps per pedal. Unfortunately I could only find one of them. I'm sure that now that I've paid for new clips they'll turn up the very next time I root around in my parts box.

I love this thing. It's not a junk bike by any means. I intend to get it powdercoated next year-- maybe spring or summer? I just can't decide what color. Maybe red? Or basic bad black?

1 comment:

William said...

gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous

btw, what's that doodle hanging on the seatpost?