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bike tech: 'cross bike buildup & recycled bearings

Posted Mar 05 2009 5:32am
Last weekend I finally had some time to begin working on the bike that will be my 'cross bike next season. I overhauled and trued the front wheel and then overhauled the headset at home. Yesterday I took the rear wheel to work and at the end of my shift I overhauled and trued that. (I needed a chain whip with more leverage to remove the cassette cogs, and I don't have one at home.)

The bike, a Kona ATB, came to me with a layer of brown filth all over it, and reddish-brown rust all over the chain and cranks. But the bones are good, and I decided it would make an affordable singlespeed 'cross bike (in the US and Canada, you can race 'cross on either a road-style 'cross bike OR a mountain bike, and I've seen people race on both. 'Cross bikes predominate of course, but they're rather expensive and since I'm running singlespeed I figure I'd save money by going ATB.)

For the last few weeks I've been laying in the parts I'll need to make the conversion.
Even though I know they'll end up filthy and muddy, I want parts that are good and solid, and they just happen to be very pretty -- in an industrial sort of way -- when new.

Surly chainring, stainless steel:

(Gorgeous, huh? Stainless steel is SO sexy)

Surly singlespeed cassette cog, also made of beautiful, durable steel:

An admission here: When I'm at the shop working on a customer's bike, I use new bearings when overhauling bearing surfaces (headset, bottom brackets, etc.). At home, however, it's another story.

Over the years I've found probably hundreds of thousands of loose ball bearings floating around the shop. I've collected enough over the years to fill several jars, cleaned and sorted by size (mostly 1/4" and 3/16", the two most commonly used sizes on a bike). Most shops charge between 15 and 20 cents each for new bearings. The old bearings are often good enough to be used again, at least on utilitarian bikes where "performance" doesn't matter as much as simply getting the bike rolling again. So on my own bikes -- the two that still use loose ball bearings -- I use "recycled" bearings to save money and keep stuff out of the landfill. That's what I did on the Kona over the weekend.

I also discovered that beneath the filth and grime I had acquired a decent set of rims:

For now I'm using a fairly cheap set of tires (Club Roost "Cross Max") to train on.
I'll put nicer tires on a week or two before the racing begins.

Nicest of all: Sweetie says that if it's not pouring down rain she'll come watch me race at least once. Even with the crowds. (She hates crowds.) I was SO happy to hear that.
Now I HAVE to take it seriously, because someone I love is coming to watch. Any of you ever feel that way about your cycling? When someone you care about comes to watch you do it does it make you feel more, well, um, heroic? (It does for me.)

Next up, this weekend: the bottom bracket and cranks.
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