I've decided to post progress of my rebuilding / conversion of a mid 90s Specialized Rockhopper into a functional city bike. This is a work-in-progress, and over the course of the next months (years?) I hope to learn a lot about building bikes. For this reason, I invite any comments or criticisms of an aesthetic, functional or personal nature.
First thing's first - what do I mean "city bike"?
- I want a really comfortable bike that isn't afraid of bad roads
- I want a decently fast bike with gearing similar to a road bike
- I want it to look cool but also undesirable - not a problem since my taste is contrarian by nature
- Some racks would be cool
It seems to me that an old school mountain bike is ideal for this purpose. I live in Austin, and so my first move was to get an old Rockhopper frame from Yellow Bike Project. It has a long, road like geometry which I thought would suit me (top tube is c. 24"). It is not without problems, however:
- No fork! No idea what sort of fork I need!
- Slight rust in BB, dropouts, steerer tube!
My first step was to address the rust. I used naval jelly, toothbrushes and wire brushes to get the rust out of all the threaded areas. This stuff worked great, and I highly recommend it. The bottom bracket is now decently clean, as is the head tube.
Next, I decided to strip the paint. I used aircraft stripper, which didn't work that great. However, in the process of doing this, I noticed that the combination of gray paint, black primer and bare metal looked pretty cool. So - I decided to leave it semi-stripped, wet-sanding the frame with 400-600 grit and some steel wool.
I especially liked the brass-color of the brazed-on bits. Picking up on this, I added some gold leaf chevrons to various parts of the frame.
Note that the reddish-colored metal on the frame is not rust, but rather some copper colored paint I rubbed on the finish in different places.
Since there is now a lot of exposed metal and relatively fragile gold leaf, my next step will be to clear coat the frame quite heavily with Rustoleum "Stops Rust" enamel. I will probably then knock the shine off of it with some steel wool, to maintain a more metallic looking finish.