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  1. #1
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    Best old frame to build from

    I want to start my NEXT bike build and need help in choosing a USED frame to begin.I want to build a bike for commuting and weekend PAVEMENT only.I was thinking an older road bike updated with flat bars and a front air fork. I am 5'7" so 50cm or less is best - I am not married to anything on this build yet other than hardtail, front suspension and 3 chain rings. I want to use NEW wheels,gears and disc brakes so compatability is important.

  2. #2
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    Go to a bicycle co-op and salvage one of their "best frames" in the mtb section. Craigslist would take an eternity to get the right build frame, unless you're very lucky...

  3. #3
    I don't get out enough polishmadman's Avatar
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    I'm kind of confused. Do you want build an old road frame or mtb frame? With the road frame you won't be able to replace the fork with suspension. The old road bikes used the old 1" quill stems while suspension forks run 1 1/8".
    12 Schwinn Tourist, 90 something Gary Fisher Marlin (Ss conversion), ?? Bike E RX

  4. #4
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I am not married to anything on this build yet other than hardtail, front suspension and 3 chain rings. I want to use NEW wheels,gears and disc brakes so compatability is important.

    Drop the DIY , just Go buy a new bike with the features you want ..

    OEM total on all the components is way cheaper than Retail a piece at a time
    Last edited by fietsbob; 05-08-14 at 11:29 AM.

  5. #5
    aka Tom Reingold noglider's Avatar
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    I hope you're not looking for model recommendations, because whatever you find is likely to be different from anything we mention, and it won't necessarily be worse.
    You don't read my signature anyway, do you?

    Tom Reingold, noglider@pobox.com
    Residences: West Village, New York City and High Falls, NY
    Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

  6. #6
    Must... ride... more... Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    With all due respect, don't be a dope. Drop the idea of a suspension fork right now. And forever. And why would you need disc brakes? Rim brakes are perfectly adequate when the correct pads are used and you set them up correctly. You're adding cost and complexity where it isn't needed. Stop.

    The bike you describe is an early-to-mid 1990s steel mountain bike with a rigid steel fork, and cantilever brakes. Many competing brands, all made in the far east. If you keep it to 3 x 7 speed, you can modernize the shifters on a flat bar.

  7. #7
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    Unless I'm mistaken you can't put disc brakes on on a frame not designed for them. If you really want disc brakes that will limit your options in the used frame market considerably.

    If you're OK with New Old Stock (NOS), I think Nashbar is still selling a disc brake compatible frame for $150 or so. It's a 2011 Mongoose Sabrosa. It wasn't designed with a suspension fork in mind but I believe it has a suspension corrected geometry. They probably have other MTB frame sets for a similar price that would be less trouble finding the correct suspension fork for.
    If you're not riding with a psychedelic gecko on your shirt, you ARE having a substandard experience.

  8. #8
    Senior Member jfowler85's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
    With all due respect, don't be a dope..
    This is obviously a poor piece of advice. Build whatever you want to build. Older cannondales are great if you want something stiff and light, though many times the asking prices for such frames are a bit out of touch with real market prices.

    Also, polishmadman was a little off the mark...you can find 1" suspension forks...

    http://www.amazon.com/Gila-T6-Suspen.../dp/B000FIDKSQ

    ...as above; this necessarily means that you would need to convert to a threadless headset, but that is not a difficult task. You can run front disc, but converting to rear disc very well might not happen without some creative engineering.

    Good luck with your build!
    Last edited by jfowler85; 05-08-14 at 10:39 AM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfowler85 View Post
    This is obviously a poor piece of advice. Build whatever you want to build. Older cannondales are great if you want something stiff and light, though many times the asking prices for such frames are a bit out of touch with real market prices.

    Also, polishmadman was a little off the mark...you can find 1" suspension forks...

    Amazon.com: RST Gila T6 80mm Suspension Fork with 1" threaded steerer 160mm: Sports & Outdoors

    ...as above; this necessarily means that you would need to convert to a threadless headset, but that is not a difficult task. You can run front disc, but converting to rear disc very well might not happen without some creative engineering.

    Good luck with your build!
    The OP was looking for an air fork though.

    I tend to agree that he's going to have to alter his thinking a bit. Even if you could technically fit a suspension fork to an old road bike it's going to throw the geometry off unless the fork has virtually no travel. And since he seemed to stress that this bike would be used for pavement only, he might be better off without the suspension fork anyway.
    If you're not riding with a psychedelic gecko on your shirt, you ARE having a substandard experience.

  10. #10
    Disco Infiltrator Darth Lefty's Avatar
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    Flat bar hybrids with suspension forks are plentiful, so converting something else into one seems like a bridge too far.

  11. #11
    Must... ride... more... Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfowler85 View Post
    This is obviously a poor piece of advice. Build whatever you want to build.
    Obviously meant as a tongue-in-cheek goading to reconsider from a requirements point of view rather than from a point design point of view.

    Here's what the OP wrote, sorted according to requirement versus point design:

    Requirement:
    - start bike build
    - USED frame
    - for commuting and weekend PAVEMENT only
    - [fit for] 5'7"
    - not married to (dont' already own and must use) anything...
    - compatibility [between wheelset, braking, and drivetrain]

    Design preferences:
    - older road bike
    - flat bars
    - front air fork.
    - 50cm or less is best [not true, really]
    - [prefers] hardtail, front suspension and 3 chain rings.
    - [prefers] NEW wheels,gears and disc brakes

    He tells us that it's his next build, so he has some experience. But the question was "what frame"? Well, the frame and fork are integral. Adding a suspension fork to a road frame isn't commonly done. Reasons why? What in the OP's requirements list suggests a suspension (air, no less) fork to you? And the requirement for disc brakes... substantiate that, please?

    I proposed that he think rigid fork steel mtb as his starting point (17" frame, by the way), because it meets the most of his requirements/desires right off the bat. Modern-action thumb shifters can be accomodated readily and affordably in the 7-speed range, integral with levers for V-brake or cantilevers. This is a smart approach, and shouldn't be dismissed.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfowler85 View Post
    This is obviously a poor piece of advice. Build whatever you want to build. Older cannondales are great if you want something stiff and light, though many times the asking prices for such frames are a bit out of touch with real market prices.

    Also, polishmadman was a little off the mark...you can find 1" suspension forks...

    Amazon.com: RST Gila T6 80mm Suspension Fork with 1" threaded steerer 160mm: Sports & Outdoors

    ...as above; this necessarily means that you would need to convert to a threadless headset, but that is not a difficult task. You can run front disc, but converting to rear disc very well might not happen without some creative engineering.

    Good luck with your build!
    With all due respect, the other poster was dead on. You are the one who has posted advice that will be impractical to follow. By your own admission, older Cannondale's are 'overpriced'. To say nothing of the fact that a new buyer has no idea how the aluminum frame has been used (or abused) and whether it is in iminent danger of collapse, or will outlast them and become a treasured family heirloom. The o.p. could use a reality check, and there have been several in some of the more recent posts. Including (especially) the one you are pushing back against. Suspension and disc brakes were developed for mtb applications. For PAVEMENT use only, both are superfluous and possibly detrimental to performance. I'm all for encouragement, but I personally always stop short of enabling foolishness.

    H

  13. #13
    ride for a change modernjess's Avatar
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    I am a big fan of the DIY approach as you can build something unique and perfect for you. I love the process and usually the results. With that said...

    Retro fitting an old road frame with disc brakes, suspension, and the ability to handle a triple front crank is a a huge ask, and I don't see how that would elegantly work from the geometry, clearance, brakes and parts selection standpoint. As others have suggested an old MTB frame or NOS MTB frame is a far more reasonable option.

    Not to rain on your DIY parade but, it seems to me that your goals for this bike look a lot like bikes that are readily available off the shelf in the flat bar road/comfort bike section at your LBS and in a wide range of prices and specs. Maybe I'm wrong, but I seem to see people riding bikes such as this a lot in the commuting world around here.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by modernjess View Post
    I am a big fan of the DIY approach as you can build something unique and perfect for you. I love the process and usually the results. With that said...

    Retro fitting an old road frame with disc brakes, suspension, and the ability to handle a triple front crank is a a huge ask, and I don't see how that would elegantly work from the geometry, clearance, brakes and parts selection standpoint. As others have suggested an old MTB frame or NOS MTB frame is a far more reasonable option.

    Not to rain on your DIY parade but, it seems to me that your goals for this bike look a lot like bikes that are readily available off the shelf in the flat bar road/comfort bike section at your LBS and in a wide range of prices and specs. Maybe I'm wrong, but I seem to see people riding bikes such as this a lot in the commuting world around here.
    As an A+ Certified PC Repair Technician I could easily build myself any kind of computer I want. Back in the day my colleagues and I would do just that. These days there is no way a one off build can touch what Dell or HP can put in your media room. Tiger Direct discounts motherboards and chipsets when you buy 10 or more. Dell buys chipsets by the millions. Yeah, yeah, yeah... its for the experience... ... I'd rather use the damn thing. There is a group of PC enthusiasts called modders that build jaw dropping creations that are not possible to buy for love or money. That is a valid use of creative energy. Bike builders who fabricate choppers or restore vintage machines get my respect. People who cobble together off the shelf parts in non-sanctioned ways, not so much. I don't think its wrong to tell someone they are wasting money, or their time or re-inventing the wheel. If they are. You are absolutely correct in your second paragraph summation. When you go further and consider the assortment of BSO's in department stores, it gets even harder to justify the expenditure of time, money and energy it needs to bring a late 80's early 90's steel mtb frame into the 21st Century.

    H

  15. #15
    I don't get out enough polishmadman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfowler85 View Post
    This is obviously a poor piece of advice. Build whatever you want to build. Older cannondales are great if you want something stiff and light, though many times the asking prices for such frames are a bit out of touch with real market prices.

    Also, polishmadman was a little off the mark...you can find 1" suspension forks...

    http://www.amazon.com/Gila-T6-Suspen.../dp/B000FIDKSQ

    ...as above; this necessarily means that you would need to convert to a threadless headset, but that is not a difficult task. You can run front disc, but converting to rear disc very well might not happen without some creative engineering.

    Good luck with your build!
    I stand corrected. But still sounds difficult to build.
    12 Schwinn Tourist, 90 something Gary Fisher Marlin (Ss conversion), ?? Bike E RX

  16. #16
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jfowler85 View Post
    This is obviously a poor piece of advice. Build whatever you want to build.
    On the surface, building whatever you want to build seems like a good idea, but what the OP wants to build may be self-contradictory.

    The OP wants:

    1. A bike that will be good for "commuting and weekend PAVEMENT only."

    2. A hardtail with front suspension and 3 chain rings and preferably disc brakes.

    These two things don't generally go together. One of the keys to good design is not confusing implementation details with design goals. To really be helpful I think we need to question the details.

    For instance, why does the OP want front suspension? Does he have wrist problems? Is the pavement especially bad in the place he plans to ride? If not, front suspension is probably a bad idea. Even if so, the problem might be better addressed with fat tires.

  17. #17
    Senior Member alan s's Avatar
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    Not clear why everything needs to be new, except for the frame. Why not just pony up the cash for the frame you want? Better yet, buy a complete bike, which will cost less and require no assembly. Surly has some popular offerings in frame only or complete build, and so do many others. If you explain your rationale for doing this, maybe you'll get some more helpful responses. Are you afraid of attracting theives with a new frame? Do you think older frames are better? Is it a matter of cost (if so, why everything else new)?

  18. #18
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    First, let me apologize! I did not want THIS-I just like to tinker with stuff and if the bike I want (or what some of you think I am describing) is readily available OF COURSE I would at least look at them.But the LBS near my home has LOTS of $1200.00 bikes the shop near my work has beach crusiers and moutain bikes -cheap enough but I already have a MTB that I ride. I guess I should've just said SUSPENSION FORK rather than AIR (I have no idea what is inside ROCK SHOX) I only put disc brakes in because I've never tried them and they seem cool.I put in 3 frt chain rings because I'm 51 and 250# SO HILLS NEED TO BE FLATTENED. I asked about road bike frame as again I've never owned one and what I've read says the geometry is different and just maybe it would go FASTER- Which is where this is headed anyway,I want a fast commuter bike that won't kill my wrists if I hit a curb or have to come off a sidewalk at speed. I don't like the super thin wheels but know that to be faster I can't use 26x2.2 knobbies- the reason I wanted to build it myself is Seattle/Tacoma riding season is short (for the SANE anyway) and I was going to build this using high end stuff that I could buy a little at a time and be ready in April 2015 - As Ricky Bobby says "If you say WITH ALL DUE RESPECT ,You can say ANYTHING YOU WANT. It's in the GENEVA CONVENTION-LOOK IT UP!" LOL!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by BADMTS View Post
    First, let me apologize! I did not want THIS-I just like to tinker with stuff and if the bike I want (or what some of you think I am describing) is readily available OF COURSE I would at least look at them.But the LBS near my home has LOTS of $1200.00 bikes the shop near my work has beach crusiers and moutain bikes -cheap enough but I already have a MTB that I ride. I guess I should've just said SUSPENSION FORK rather than AIR (I have no idea what is inside ROCK SHOX) I only put disc brakes in because I've never tried them and they seem cool.I put in 3 frt chain rings because I'm 51 and 250# SO HILLS NEED TO BE FLATTENED. I asked about road bike frame as again I've never owned one and what I've read says the geometry is different and just maybe it would go FASTER- Which is where this is headed anyway,I want a fast commuter bike that won't kill my wrists if I hit a curb or have to come off a sidewalk at speed. I don't like the super thin wheels but know that to be faster I can't use 26x2.2 knobbies- the reason I wanted to build it myself is Seattle/Tacoma riding season is short (for the SANE anyway) and I was going to build this using high end stuff that I could buy a little at a time and be ready in April 2015 - As Ricky Bobby says "If you say WITH ALL DUE RESPECT ,You can say ANYTHING YOU WANT. It's in the GENEVA CONVENTION-LOOK IT UP!" LOL!
    So you're installing a suspended fork on a road bike so that in event that you hit a curb, it will have less impact on your wrists. However, you still want to go fast, but you don't want narrow road bike tires, because you don't like them. You wish that you could use 26x2.2 knobbies, but you can't.

    Of course, you already have a mtb that you ride on a regular basis.

    Is that what you're saying here?
    Last edited by WestPablo; 05-09-14 at 04:04 AM.

  20. #20
    Must... ride... more... Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    There are many, many steel framed rigid fork mtb from the 90s around on craigslist. In my area, there's one for $35 this morning that will give most of what you need. We're trying to tell you to think differently.

    You don't need a suspension fork and you don't need disc brakes.

    V-brakes or cantilevers will be perfectly fine, IF you set them up correctly and use good pads.

    Save money and keep it 7 speed in the rear.

    I could build you this bike for well under $ 3 2 5 , and it would like new, loaded with nice features like ergonomic grips, and be excellent riding. Oh well...
    Last edited by Phil_gretz; 05-09-14 at 07:37 AM.

  21. #21
    Must... ride... more... Phil_gretz's Avatar
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    This one was under $125, but it was a curbside find. New shifters, xtr crank, road tires...built for a big friend ~290 lbs.Attachment 379238

    Room for fenders, too, but he didn't want any.

  22. #22
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BADMTS View Post
    I asked about road bike frame as again I've never owned one and what I've read says the geometry is different and just maybe it would go FASTER
    Road bike geometry is a bit different, but part of the difference is that road bike geometry is designed to be used with drop bars. If you put a flat bar on a road bike, as a general rule, the geometry ends up being completely wrong.

    Road bike geometry is often geared toward more agile cornering, but for commuting that's generally an undesirable trade-off versus stability. The only other thing road bike geometry does to increase speed is it puts the rider into a more tucked position to improve aerodynamics. Using a flat bar works against that, and my experience has been that as my weight moves north of 200 pounds and my age increases beyond 40 I find myself wanting a more and more upright position. The speed you gain isn't nearly worth the trade-off in comfort.

    The biggest thing you can do to gain speed is trade the knobby tires for slicks. Better quality tires add even more speed.

    If you stick to tires that are 700x32 or bigger (26x1.6 if you go for small wheels) and don't ride with your elbows locked, your wrists will be safe from curbs. Knees and elbows are way better shock absorbers than any suspension fork on the market, and cheap suspension forks suck your speed.

    I'd suggest you make a trip to a well-stocked bike shop and test ride something like a Trek FX or Canondale Bad Boy (both of which are more or less what you've described, minus the suspension fork). After that you can decide whether or not this is the type of bike you're looking for. You can probably even ride something similar with a suspension fork for comparison.

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    You win, i quit - i was stupid for joining - you jerks enjoy each other!

  24. #24
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BADMTS View Post
    You win, i quit - i was stupid for joining - you jerks enjoy each other!
    BADMITS: I know how you feel right now. I've been there. And, like me, you're probably still checking back here to see if anybody has reacted to your flabbergasted "I'm taking my ball and going home" remark.

    Don't be discouraged or offended. I've learned to expect some rough responses anytime I post anything here. Many cyclists are socially awkward and have bad communication skills, which is why so many choose to ride to work alone, rather than have to make chit chat on the train. Others are just so passionate about bicycling that they can be offensive in stating their opinions. I don't think anybody here is a bad person.

    Anyway, having just come to this thread now, the one thing I took away from it is that it seems this project is more about the process than the result. You like to tinker and you like to ride something you built with your own two hands. The way Leisesturm describes the satisfaction of building a computer, I, as a former professional drummer, used to love nothing more than building my own drum kits from wooden shells and hand-picked hardware. They didn't look or sound better - and they certainly didn't cost any less - than a commercially available kit, but they were MINE. I feel the same way about the bicycles I build for myself.

    Like some of the others, I might shrug my shoulders and wrinkle my brow when you mention front suspension or disc brakes, but I say, if you have a vision, go with it. Ultimately, you're going to post a photo of it on this forum and all the naysayers are going to comment on what a sweet ride it is.

    My one suggestion: When posting here, try to avoid asking for the "best" anything. There is no "best" anything. "Best" is all in the head of the person reading, and you can be sure there are going to be some readers who are so set in their opinions that they will fight you and insult you to the death to win the argument.
    Papa Tom

    "I just need a rest...and by 'rest' I mean a really long bicycle ride."

  25. #25
    afraid of whales Mr IGH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BADMTS View Post
    You win, i quit - i was stupid for joining - you jerks enjoy each other!
    Sorry to see you go, so many folks here can only see their own viewpoints. I guess I'm a dope too, here's my 1972 frame with modern components. I love making these bikes and they are real conversation starters in crowds such as the Farmer's Market or the local beer garden.

    IGH's, Dyno Hubs, LED lights and old frames

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