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Old 03-14-12, 02:52 PM   #351
Nitram612
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LOL spotted one in the wild.
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Old 03-14-12, 07:52 PM   #352
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The Denali isn't a bad bike at all. If everyone did what you are doing, they could have themselves a pretty nice entry level road bike for more less than half the cost of a regular entry level road bike. If I am ever strapped for cash and I need a new road bike, I'll buy the Denali. I'd switch to lever shifters, a used deore+ groupset, gatorskin tires, and a lighter aluminum seatpost. I owned a stock Denali and it rode just fine, but it felt pretty heavy for a road bike. The only thing I didn't like was the low quality group set and grip shifters.
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Old 03-18-12, 04:36 PM   #353
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I spot them sometimes myself...but WTF is going on with those handlebars?

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The Denali isn't a bad bike at all. If everyone did what you are doing, they could have themselves a pretty nice entry level road bike for more less than half the cost of a regular entry level road bike. If I am ever strapped for cash and I need a new road bike, I'll buy the Denali. I'd switch to lever shifters, a used deore+ groupset, gatorskin tires, and a lighter aluminum seatpost. I owned a stock Denali and it rode just fine, but it felt pretty heavy for a road bike. The only thing I didn't like was the low quality group set and grip shifters.
Thanks! Honestly, for the grief it gets, it's really not a bad bike at all. The stronger I get, the more it keeps proving that.

Yesterday I went on a 30 mile ride as part of a city wide sponsored event. That was the longest ride they offered, so some of the fastest riders of the city were there, I think about 30 total doing the 30 mile ride, there was also a 20 mile, 8 mile, and a 3 for beginners. I ended up hanging with the fastest group of the ride the entire time, finishing 5th in a breakaway pack of 5 (including me) riders at the end. Of course, they all had much nicer bikes, including Treks, a Cannondale, and an older aluminum Raleigh. We rode non-stop and while I don't know the average speed of the ride, it was definitely at a good pace. I remember ending up in top gear very frequently and staying there to cruise at speeds of up to 27 mph on the flats. More going downhill and 16-18 mph going uphill, so I guess that would put the average speed for the ride somewhere in the low 20s. I forgot to reset my avg speed on the computer.

Not trying to boast, but I am pretty proud of that considering I've only been riding for less than a year and it is, after all, a Denali.

I won't lie though, I was doing okay until the last couple of miles when the pack I finished with decided to sprint, and it almost killed me to keep up. Everyone was telling me that I was a strong rider for keeping up on platforms and that I needed to go clipless. For this bike, I agree. I'll have to put it on my wish list. I don't think they knew it was a Wal-Mart bike, albeit a fairly heavily modified one.

I'm not meaning to boast, but I am pretty proud of it. Not only for how I've been able to make this often overlooked bike work for me but for my own gains in the past year. When I started last year, I was riding 4.5 miles on my own early in the morning and it exhausted me.

Here's a picture of my bike I found from the event:



I had almost no problems during the ride.

I say almost, my bike has been developing a creak at the stem area that worsened during the ride. I forgot to regrease the stem bolt, expander, and steerer during my teardown this winter. Today I went back and greased it, and all is well. No more creaks.

Really, aside from the Sora FD I bought breaking, I haven't had any problems in recent memory with the Denali aside from creaks. One was the aftermarket rear wheel which needed to be retentioned, another was the seatpost that needed to be tightened, and the stem which just needed grease. It was getting pretty creaky but now is new bike silent again.

I am at 1403 miles now. With warm weather returning and the time change past, I will be piling on the miles on this bike again. My guess is about 110 miles per week spread between four days, some with up to 50 miles if I do the Saturday extended rides. I really need clipless pedals...

EDIT: After completing this post, I found some Diadora cycling shoes for $30. Did some research, seems like a good price, so I ordered them. Now I just need to find some SPD pedals, already found a few for under $20.

EDIT 2: More searching found my pedals. Wellgo WPD-823. They do okay for offroad, but apparently work very well on-road. Got them for $15, so for $45 shipped I've got myself into some clipless pedals and shoes. Hope I don't fall over too much.
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Old 03-18-12, 07:36 PM   #354
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EDIT: After completing this post, I found some Diadora cycling shoes for $30. Did some research, seems like a good price, so I ordered them. Now I just need to find some SPD pedals, already found a few for under $20.

EDIT 2: More searching found my pedals. Wellgo WPD-823. They do okay for offroad, but apparently work very well on-road. Got them for $15, so for $45 shipped I've got myself into some clipless pedals and shoes. Hope I don't fall over too much.
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Good luck. If you just go slow somewhere close to home and practice clipping in and unclipping a lot (with the spring set at the lowest tension), you'll be fine. Will think about it for a while, but soon it'll be second nature.
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Old 03-18-12, 07:41 PM   #355
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For that amount of money it will be worth trying clipless. If you decide you don't like it you can get most of your money back.
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Old 03-18-12, 09:07 PM   #356
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I spot them sometimes myself...but WTF is going on with those handlebars?
Bum bars! A quick and dirty way for homeless people to make stolen drop bar road bikes more comfortable to ride. Also the the stem and handlebars could easily be pulled through the U lock.
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Old 03-18-12, 09:26 PM   #357
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LOL spotted one in the wild.
Thats a nice big Super Le Tour back there.
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Old 03-24-12, 11:37 PM   #358
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Well guys, everything's here!



I've only been able to take it for a few short testing rides around the block...I really want to take it out for a real ride but time hasn't been on my side.

I've already had my fall though...LOL. Wasn't even outside or on a ride.

I brought the bike back in after riding to make some adjustments. I was sitting on the bike clipped in, holding onto a chair for support, trying to figure out seat height. Started falling away from the chair and BAM...fell right into the coffee table. Someone should have been filming that...

I found that I used to ride with the pedal more under the arch of my foot rather than closer to the ball like these clipless pedals do. It may be because that was the only way I could get good retention, I don't know. This dramatically changed my riding position and I found that I had to move my seat height up...A LOT. On the order of several inches! Thus, my indoor adjustment and fall...

Anyway, even on my short rides I can already tell a difference. Really, the whole experience is different than the strength I developed using platforms. Likely, not only due to the inherent benefits of clipless but because of the difference it made to my riding position through seat adjustments and foot alignment. The handlebars are now much lower in relation to the seat than they were before. Everything feels good there, so I'll leave it alone...but I'm definitely in a more aero position and thus works things differently.

I can't describe it, but I definitely feel more efficient...this may be due in part both to the pedals and shoes and the new position...I feel myself applying power all the way through the stroke and thus I'm able to maintain faster speeds more easily it seems. Don't really feel a difference in accelerating from a stop, in fact I may have been slightly faster with platforms. But cruising and higher speed acceleration feel significantly improved. Feels like I'm flying and barely trying, although I'd almost gotten to that feeling with platforms too. Could be due to adjustments or the pedals/shoes, or both.

Oddly enough, my shifting has gotten smoother. I know the changes couldn't have made an actual physical change there, but my theory is that when I'm riding I'm focusing less (not at all now) on foot position and retention and able to keep better in tune with the sounds coming from the rear derailleur, making better adjustments with the friction shifters as I go along.

Overall, feeling connected to the bike is nice. I felt more as though I were a driver of the bike and less like I was the physical labor behind it...as I didn't get tired at all even though I was pushing along pretty fast. Definitely felt fast and capable of traversing long distances with minimal effort...I hope that proves to be true. I plan on piling the miles on my Denali this year.

Overall pretty positive changes and impressions so far. Hope to fit in a nice ride in at some point tomorrow. If not, I'll get one in on Monday...

Forgot to mention, I think I may have mentioned somewhere in the previous pages that the Denali with 23C tires was a bit of a rough ride. I was running the tires at the max rated pressure of 125 psi. I decided to lower it to a somewhat more normal pressure for 23C tires of 105-110 psi. The result is that the ride is MUCH smoother, and no flats so far. Still not quite as smooth as the Sovereign, but it's not bad at all. 1425 miles on the Denali now. I really hope to be putting on 100+ miles per week this spring/summer...
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Old 03-25-12, 09:00 AM   #359
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Boro, changing the platforms off the Denali for clipless is almost iconoclastic. Carbon crank arms and you may be finished with the drive train.

Just kidding, I'm really cheering you on. It might sound crazy but it seems like there's just something about that frameset that makes it fast.
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Old 03-25-12, 04:14 PM   #360
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Haha, thanks man! This bike is getting more and more sacrilegious by the day. And I agree, the way the frame is set up is very aggressive feeling...makes it very easy to put good power down.

Just got back from my test run with the new SPD pedals and shoes. Nothing major, just a 16 mile ride or so.

My findings were mixed, probably because more adjustments were needed. I had to raise the seat again (I swear I've had to raise the thing at least three inches, and it wasn't low before at all!).

I again felt more efficient...until I got further into the ride, then something seemed to go wrong. I was maintaining good speeds for longer than usual (I think) up until then but I started getting tired...really tired...and slowed down a fair amount. The positioning of my feet on the pedals just felt completely wrong, it felt like I wasn't getting good power down at all. Completely out of breath, worn out, everything. Not a good sign! I remembered how I used to ride with the arches of my feet over the pedals, so I moved the cleats all the way back on the shoes. Problem solved...I was getting good power down again, and not getting tired as quickly. Searching the internet later, I found others who have done the same thing so I guess I'm not completely weird in my pedal style.

Other than that, I definitely noticed how the clipless pedals transformed my power from a brief spurt to more of a complete cycle. This was especially beneficial on hills. Before I got tired on the original cleat position and after I fixed them, I was getting up hills much faster than usual. I was also able to maintain a higher cadence without sending my feet and self flying all over the place.

So, by the end of the ride, I feel like it was a worthwhile upgrade. I'm sure I still have some more adjusting to do and muscles to strengthen, I just hope I can still keep up with our local fast group this week. I plan on starting off running and riding with them for 40-50 miles this coming Saturday, as well as the usual Wednesday night rides that last for 20-30 miles or so. It's the Saturday ride I'm more concerned about.

Good stuff! Not sure what's next for the Denali.
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Old 03-26-12, 02:45 AM   #361
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Every time I read your posts, I miss my denali more and more. Yeah, it had issues, and yeah, it was a cheap wal-mart bike, but I enjoyed it. Have you thought about painting it?
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Old 03-26-12, 12:41 PM   #362
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Haha, thanks man!

To be honest, I don't really miss the Denali much in it's stock form, replacing the lesser components goes a long way towards making it a different bike. Though I would still say a stock Denali with better shifters isn't half bad for getting on a decent bike on the cheap. Your 7.2FX is a much nicer bike than any stock Denali. The fun for me is finding the potential this bike has and putting parts on it to help it get there, especially when I manage to score things like Dura-Ace, Campy, and SPD equipment on the cheap.

I mean, I'm down to only the original frame, front wheel, seat/seat tube, fork, headset, stem, handlebars and brake levers now, lol! Wouldn't mind replacing the stem, handlebars, and fork to shed a little bit of weight. Could be up to three pounds of excess there.

As for painting, not for the Denali as it's paint is in good shape and the paint scheme seems to draw compliments...but I'm definitely thinking of painting the Sovereign!

Overall I'm still glad I bought this bike, I've learned a lot. Maybe I could have found a bike of similar quality for the money I've put in, maybe not, but I've got to say I've had a lot of fun putting new parts on this bike and making it better for me, and plan on continuing to do so for quite a while to come. The fact that it was once a lowly Wal-Mart bike just makes it that much sweeter.

I think I found what might be next for the Denali: Figuring out a way to make the stock Denali wheel a quick release. Local riders have told me it can be done for only a couple of bucks. Would make loading the bike in my car much easier.
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Old 03-26-12, 09:18 PM   #363
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How much money have you sunk into these dept store bikes at this point?
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Old 03-27-12, 11:47 AM   #364
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Less than 500 between both bikes, including the original Denali purchase price and all permanently mounted accessories (meaning, everything except lights). And yes, it has been worth every cent.
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Old 03-27-12, 01:11 PM   #365
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Interestingly enough there is a "deluxe" version of this bike you can get from amazon that does have brifters...
I wonder why they decided to put the twist shifters on the handlebar near the stem and not at the end of the drops (would be more like barcons...) I think that stem shifters would beat out grip shifters...
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Old 03-28-12, 06:51 PM   #366
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I've seen those, I think they're called the Pro or Limited models. Would be interesting to try one. But I definitely agree on the grip shifters...they work and give the bike cheap indexing, but they really do suck too...

Got my ass handed to me tonight on the fast group ride. They sped up, and I wasn't at all used to my new pedal setup. I bonked out somewhere in the last 10 miles and went into limp home mode. The crazy thing is, even after bonking out, I still covered 27.1 total miles in 1:30:45, putting the average speed right at about 18 mph. I really would like to know what we were doing before I bonked, it could have been well into the 20s. I literally sweated off about five pounds tonight.

Feels good now, but man I thought I was gonna die out there, lol. I really need to get some more time on these pedals so I can build strength with them.
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Old 03-29-12, 12:44 PM   #367
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I still covered 27.1 total miles in 1:30:45, putting the average speed right at about 18 mph..
Now there's the type of Denali report I'm used to!
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Old 03-29-12, 02:46 PM   #368
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I credit my local bike group for my speeds, if it weren't for their encouragement and pushing me to the edge of my limits frequently (like last night) I'd still be poking along and probably a fair bit heavier as well...

Not saying I'm going to be winning any races any time soon, but I do plan on doing time trials this year. Last year, our fastest rider averaged 27 mph, then there was a large group averaging around 25. I hope I'll be able to average over 20.

Forgot to mention, I had to re-tension the rear wheel again, it started making intermittent pops last night. Remember this is not the original Denali wheel, but a higher quality one bought at a local bike shop. I have not had to re-tension or otherwise bother with the stock Denali front wheel. That isn't to say that one day I won't upgrade both for some weight savings.
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Old 03-30-12, 09:13 PM   #369
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Seems like I'm all over this thread lately, but the season is really getting started again...

Last night I pushed the Denali over 1500 miles.

But today's update is really more about the Sovereign...

I decided to overhaul the main drive components since I don't think I've done much more than lightly clean and oil them over the winter. The bike has 334 miles on it now.

Got a TON of grease and grime off the derailleurs, chain, cranks, and freewheel.

You may remember me saying earlier that I had problems with the stock freewheel seizing up. A shot of oil into it freed it up enough to ride on without problems, but it's bearings were always noisy.

Today, after cleaning, I found that the bearings were much worse...it sounded as though things were binding and very gritty internally, like it was ripping itself apart. It was extremely noisy, and while I was hoping to ride it tomorrow, there's no way I was going to ride it like this...

Tried more oil, didn't work. Figured I was looking at a replacement but I figured I might as well have a look in there and see what's going on.

Wish I'd done it sooner. Tons of tiny little bearings in the freewheel but it's super easy to clean and repack with fresh grease, like any other serviceable bearing on the bike. Now it glides completely smoothly and silently, so it looks like it'll be good for 25-45 miles tomorrow morning, depending on how I feel.
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Old 03-31-12, 06:36 PM   #370
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Hi Boro,

Glad to see the Denali did not disapoint you. I miss my Denali. Almost bought a new one when I seen the Schinn Empire XL at Wal-Mart. But they where out of Denali's when I went to get one, so I bought the Schwinn. It's a little faster off the line. But the Schwinn does not feel the same as the Denali.
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Old 03-31-12, 10:01 PM   #371
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My favorite thing about these Denali threads:

They all turn into a showcase of how many parts can be replaced with good parts. I just don't understand it. By the time these things are merely months in, owners are bragging about changing the cranks, shifter, rear mech, even hubs and wheels.

And then the owners talk about what a great bike the Denali is.

I can hang any part I want on any piece of poo frame too. And it would have been cheaper and less time consuming to buy a bike with those parts, on a frame that wasn't such a piece of poo. For the love...just shop BD.

I just don't get these. "My bike is so terrific after I've swapped out every moving part on it! You should get one too!"
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Old 04-01-12, 02:46 AM   #372
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Hi Boro,

Glad to see the Denali did not disapoint you. I miss my Denali. Almost bought a new one when I seen the Schinn Empire XL at Wal-Mart. But they where out of Denali's when I went to get one, so I bought the Schwinn. It's a little faster off the line. But the Schwinn does not feel the same as the Denali.
Thanks man, I'm still loving mine. How many miles did you end up putting on the latest Denali?

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My favorite thing about these Denali threads:

They all turn into a showcase of how many parts can be replaced with good parts. I just don't understand it. By the time these things are merely months in, owners are bragging about changing the cranks, shifter, rear mech, even hubs and wheels.

And then the owners talk about what a great bike the Denali is.

I can hang any part I want on any piece of poo frame too. And it would have been cheaper and less time consuming to buy a bike with those parts, on a frame that wasn't such a piece of poo. For the love...just shop BD.

I just don't get these. "My bike is so terrific after I've swapped out every moving part on it! You should get one too!"
You know what my favorite part about them is? My favorite part is when people like you come in, fail to recognize that the owner is not only fully aware of every piece of unsolicited comments you have to offer, but is still perfectly happy with and enjoying the bike anyway, yet said person chooses to waste time and bandwidth knocking the instrument that has changed a person's life and health over the course of a year.

I get a real kick out of it.
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Old 04-01-12, 07:01 AM   #373
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Thanks man, I'm still loving mine. How many miles did you end up putting on the latest Denali?



You know what my favorite part about them is? My favorite part is when people like you come in, fail to recognize that the owner is not only fully aware of every piece of unsolicited comments you have to offer, but is still perfectly happy with and enjoying the bike anyway, yet said person chooses to waste time and bandwidth knocking the instrument that has changed a person's life and health over the course of a year.

I get a real kick out of it.
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+1 Excellent

Life is what you make of it - do not knock what others have done.

BB - I follow your thread because of your great attitude about life and that you are a great writer; keep it up
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Old 04-01-12, 08:29 AM   #374
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boro,

I think it's fantastic that it changed your life.

But this isn't a "cycling changed my life" thread. This is "Another Denali lifetime report thread". Therefore, I address it on its merits.

And the merits are as I stated them. Which is praise for a heavy, crude frame with bizarre and non-standard componentry on which you have replaced everything in a very short span. That, my friend, makes these "lifetime reports" rather bizarre.

You could have had a better bike for cheaper (in the end) by starting with BD or Nashbar. You could have also posted a "cycling changed my life" thread about those. But you know, and I know, that the long term appeal, if you will, of this thread is the Denali train-wreck factor. That's what makes these go so long...not the life-changing, positive impact of cycling.

So don't kid me, or yourself, about the actual content here.
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Old 04-01-12, 08:46 AM   #375
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Location: Alpharetta, GA
Bikes: Nashbar Road
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Banzai you know not what of you speak. Several Denali owners have chimed in here - I am one and I also have a Nashbar aluminum build which I also enjoy.

Briefly:

1) there is nothing wrong with the Denali frame. It is heavier than some other entry-level frames, not all of them.
2) the components are not bizarre and non-standard, except for the unusual grip shifters and handlebars. The handlebars are actually kind if innovative and no drawback.
3) there is no compelling reason to change components. As with any other bike, you upgrade if you feel like spending the money for it.
4) I challenge you to find a better new bike for less, on Bikes Direct or anywhere else. I think you'll come up short.
(don't try to slip it by saying "after you've upgraded all the parts". Review this thread and see how many miles I've put on mine without upgrading and replacing components, and you'll realize that isn't true.)
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