Monday, June 12, 2006

You fix some, you break some


Front and rear brake problems are now solved. The rear brake was solved by the idea of running a full outer housing for the cable. The tube guides didn't do the job unfortunately, but I managed to find some plastic wall plugs that had exactly the right inner diameter to accommodate the cale housing, and exactly the right outer diameter to wedge it into the hydraulic hose guides nice and tight! (pictures to come soon). The front brake was fixed with a lot more fiddling of the positioning of the caliper's mounting position on the forks.


My chain. Oh, and various bits of skin on my leg and foot. After fixing the brakes I took the bike for a gentle Sunday afternoon ride with my girlfriend in Virginia Water. After a few hours riding we were returning home when the chain suddenly snapped on me. It wasn't the 'gold link' - as I first thought - but another non-descript link. To be fair, it may have been one of the links that I fixed no when I shortened the chain. Luckily I have some spares from hen I did this so I'll try to do it a bit better this time!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Cable worries

Just a follow up on the status of my brakes. The front brake is still useless and I'm still thinking of ideas - currently along the lines of spacing out the disc from the hub far enough to mount the caliper on the outside of the fork mount....

On the rear brake issue I've decided to follow some advice from the people down at the MBUK forum and get some new cable housing to run a fully enclosed cable from lever to caliper. Using some Cable Guides I'll hopefully be able to secure it to my frame without tacky looking zip-ties.

Monday, June 05, 2006

I just can't stop

I'm having a few problems installing my new brakes. When I had the old Kona Cinder Cone frame I was limited to Discs on the front, and V's on the back because of mounting constraints. So I opted to get levers that could handle both systems at once - leaving me with mechanical rather than hydraulic discs on the front. I went and got myself some Avid Ball Bearing 7 Mech Discs for the front, and some Avid V-Brakes for the rear. However, I then went and swapped the old Cinder Cone for the Blast frame and was suddenly given the option for discs on the back. Rather than send back the entire Brakeset I opted to just replace the rear V's with Rear Avid BB7's to complete the set with the front.

Now here's my problem(s):

  1. The front brake doesn't seem to sit too well. For some reason the caliper mount versus the disc mount on the hub gives an end result that the disc only just fits between the caliper jaws.... and when I say only just, I mean that I had to work damn hard to stop the rotor from rubbing against the caliper housing itself - let along the brakes. But the worst part of this is that it means that in order to pinch the rotor between the pads, I need to bend the rotor as I apply the brakes so that it can reach the already maximally extended pad the other side. I'm sure this isn't right.
  2. The rear brakes sits perfectly - no problems there whatsoever. The problem with this brake is the cable routing across the frame is designed for hydraulics - so instead of having appropriately located cable stops, I have rather useless oversized cable guides. Some of these are half open, and some are merely just raised seats for the cable to rest on. This is absolutely no good when it comes to cable brakes as when I pull the levers the cables just want to flex all over the place - or anything else that takes up slack and means that no force is applied at the braking end.
  3. What makes the above problem worse is that at the moment, the Transfil Flying Snake Brake Cable Set that I purchased to go with my brakes did not come with enough cable housing to reach the rear brakes. With no cable stops the next best solution is to run a full outer casing from lever to caliper - but after fitting the front cable, I was left with housing that was about 4 inches too short.
That's how my bike currently stands. For the rear I'm left with the option of buying new cable housing (which apparently Transfil don't do separately!) and running the full cable, and then using zip ties or some other tacky device to keep the cable in place along the frame. Alternatively I could buy some clamp-on cable stops, but I'm worried these will look even more out of place, add weight, and also scratch the hell out of the frame.

For the front I have no idea what to do.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Almost there

I've now got myself the following parts (and have installed them):
  • Halo Combat 26" Wheelset
  • Halo Choir Master Lite DH Tyres
  • Halo Quick Release Skewers
  • Halo Inner tubes - DH Extra Safe
So that's pretty much a Halo wheelset! Seriously though - these components are ROCK HARD! Ok, so they're quite heavy but from the reviews I've read they'll take more of a beating than I'll be able to dish out! One reason I went for these was that I used to buckle rear wheels faster than I changed inner tubes or tyres! (this was from back hops on concrete surfaces mainly!)

For the gearset I have completed the SRAM lineup with these derailleurs:
  • X-Gen Front
  • X9 Rear
To complete the drivetrain I've bought and installed:
  • RaceFace Evolve XC Crank with Rings and BB
  • Kona JackShit Primo DH Pedals

This lot has all been installed and looks absolutely amazing. On that note I was going to put up a photo as it all builds up - but I've decided to wait until the end!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A sad day

Well - following yesterday's discovery that the paint job on the Cinder Cone is not very resistant to scratching and chipping, I have done something drastic.

I've bought a new frame.

Its ok though - its a Kona, but not a Cinder Cone. Its a 2005 Kona Blast frame that I managed to get from my local dealer - iBikes in Crowthorne. This is not a standalone frame available from Kona - normally it comes as a prebuilt bike package. I know that the Blast usually sells for a few hundred quid cheaper than the Cinder Cone... but I think that this is mainly due to the specs of the components, not the frame.

I think I was slightly overcharged for the frame though (£150)... its obviously off an old bike as it not sold separately - but it does look unused (mostly). On the up side I did manage to get them to fit a headset (FSA Pig) and the forks for free!

Oh well - so ends the dream of renovating the old Cinder Cone frame! If there is anyone out there who wants it for a project then give me a shout as I'm sure we can come to some sort of arrangementt!

Disaster Strikes!

Bugger. Whilst sitting in the shed my newly painted frame has somehow fallen over... and in the process has scratched and chipped a little. The problem is that it has chipped/flaked off right to the bare metal.

Bugger bugger bugger.

I'm now in somewhat of a quandary - if this has happened so easily then it doesn't fill me with confidence that this paint job will last past the first week of use. In which case I have five options open to me:

  1. Ignore it and hope it doesn't happen again
  2. Try and touch up the paint
  3. Strip the whole thing again and respray it - this time giving better coats
  4. Send it off to the pro's to get it powder coated
  5. Give up and buy a new (Kona!!) frame.

I must say that I'm sorely tempted by the last option... but then I would have given up on the original dream of fixing up the old Cinder Cone. However, I have to take into account that powder coating is likely to cost around £80 - £100 + preparation costs. For £230 I can get myself a brand new 2005 Kona Cowan frame... or I can get a used full suspension Kona frame off of eBay for about the same price....

Anyone got any suggestions?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Saddle Sore

Got myself some more parts. Following on from my SRAM decision I've gone and purchased (again from eBay):
  • SRAM PG980 9 speed cassette
  • SRAM PC991 9 speed chain
When the shifters turned up they didn't have any cable hosing - so I got myself a Transfil Black Snake Gear Cable set.

Anyhow - "Saddle Sore". This is what I expect to be after seeing my saddle turned up - a San Marco SKN Titanium Saddle. I think I may have erred in the purchase of this product. Having arrived, it now looks a bit too much like a road racing saddle... might not be appropriate for MTBing.

I guess I'll find out soon enough!

Friday, May 26, 2006

S is for...?

As I imagine any MTBer does when he/she/it is in the process of giving their bike a makeover, I came across the issue of which shifting brand(s) to go with. The big two being, of course, Shimano and SRAM. All the bikes I've previously ridden have been equipped with Shimano of some form or another so I've decided to give SRAM a try.

The main difference (as far as I can see) between the two is that SRAM have opted for a 1:1 actuation ratio - as opposed to the 2:1 that Shimano use. Of course this means that if I'm going to opt for SRAM then its going to have to be all or nothing. I think its possible for some mix'n'matching with a few of the components - but I figure its best to stay with one brand on this.

So I've read through some literature and reviews on SRAM and they actually seem to be topping the market with their high end stuff - although this heavily depends on who you're talking to! x0 seem to be the top of the range shifters and so I've gone and got myself some x0 Shorty Twist Shifters (2006 model). Again, I got them off eBay at a fairly good price of about £50!

I can almost hear the outcries against Grip Shifters... but I like them and always have - so there. This has now committed me to getting SRAM derailleurs... so I'm off on the hunt for some decent priced parts!

A two pronged approach

Early on in its life, my Cinder Cone was running the awesome Kona Project II rigid forks. So good are these forks that Kona still make them today under high demand! After a few years however I ended up buying a set of RST 381's - admittedly this may have been due to the yellow colour matching the Kona's decals.... I know - that is no reason to choose forks... but hey - I was young!

Anyhow, the RST's have had their day - in fact they were never really very good anyway. They tended to always top out when lifting the front wheel fast. So now I've gone and bought myself some nice spanking new RockShox Revelation 426 Dual Air Forks (picture courtesy of SRAM).

Now I'd done quite a bit of reading up on these forks - and was pleased to see a full review of the lower spec version in the June 2006 edition of Mountain Bike Rider. It got a 9/10 rating and only lost out to the Fox Vanilla R in the group test based on ease of use - i.e. setting it all up before and in between rides. That's no problem for me - I like the fact that this fork has more settings to make your ride just right! What's more is that I got it for a bargain price on - yes you guessed it - eBay! I paid £200 for them when other online stores had them for more like £300 - £400!!

I'll give it a proper review once its been fitted - but at the moment I'm waiting on other parts to turn up - e.g. the headset! Hopefully there won't be too much of a change to the ride geometry with the different fork length... one thing I have noticed now that its arrived is that the tubing looks quite oversized compared to the old-school style on the Cinder Cone frame. I hope it doesn't look too out of place!