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Old 10-11-08, 06:41 PM   #1
K6-III
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My modified Downtube Mini

The Downtube Mini is my daily commuter, so I've lavished it a bit.

So, while the Downtube Mini is a good bargain, some of the components it comes with aren't exactly "good".

First thing that had to go were the stock grips and brakes/levers and I absolutely needed some fenders. Jur's elastomer suspension mod came a few days later, which made the bike SO much better.

When I noticed that the stock headset was shot, and not properly put together in the first place, I went all-out. Not only was the headset shot, but the threading on the steerer was poorly done and the bottom bracket was installed way too tightly. My LBS cleaned up the threads on the steerer and pulled the BB out for me and I was free to work.

I swapped the headset, bottom bracket, crankset, chainguard, sprocket, chainring, seatpost, saddle, and pedals. On top of this, I rebuilt the front wheel around a new hub with radial lacing.

Brake Levers: Shimano Deore
Brakes: Shimano Deore
Headset: Toro Odessey Pro
Bottom Bracket: Race Face ISIS 108mm
Crankset: Truvativ Elita 170mm
(chainring-sprocket 44/23)
Pedals: MKS FD-6 folding pedals
Seatpost: FSA FR-270 420mm 27.2 seatpost
Front hub: Ritchey 24h hub with cartridge bearings
Tires: Schwalbe Big Apple
Fenders: Dahon 16" SKS



Now that the bike is done, it has cost me damn near a Brompton or BF Tikit, but neither of those ships with the Sturmey 8. The DT Mini also has no chain tensioner, which is a perk with no dropped chains.

The only thing left to do is figure out how to carry something on it. I'd love to do something similar to the Dahon Curve or the Brompton on the head-tube, but there are no provisions for it on the Mini. If anyone has ideas for how to carry cargo on the front of the Mini, I'm open to suggestions.

BTW, for those wanting a better seatpost for your Mini, only buy the FSA if you have an inseam of 30 and under. A safer option is the Nitto at 460mm, but at $80, you may have second thoughts.
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Old 10-11-08, 07:23 PM   #2
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They are very nice and well chosen mods. Bike looks great and you now have a high-end bike. I find with Downtubes that when you upgrade you create a fine bike out of some of the core components. That was my experience with the FS.
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Old 10-11-08, 09:51 PM   #3
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:drool: I like what you've done - looks great and I'm sure it rides a lot nicer than stock.

Here's my Mini outfitted for commuting. I can't offer any suggestions for loading cargo on the front, but I've found a way to securely carry almost anything I need on the back. Fredly but very practical, I think.



Arclite 16" rack (made for Dahon Curve) on the back, with a Wald 585 Rear Rack Basket permanently attached to that. I'm using the cardboard at the bottom of the basket in place of a rear fender (classy, eh? Works OK for now, but come winter I'm going to want the real thing). I get very occasional heel strikes on the basket, I'm going to move it back 1/2" to solve that problem.

Handlebar bag and bottle holder were scavenged from an old bike. Just added the flashlight holder, flashlight, and rear blinky for nighttime riding.

Question for you: Which of your mods were the most important or delivered the best bang for the buck? I'm thinking of making further upgrades to my bike and would like to prioritize.

Thanks!
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Old 10-11-08, 10:27 PM   #4
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Was the Arclite rack installable as is, or did you have to make any tweaks to it? I'd like to install a rear rack, though I'm thinking of getting a seat post rack--I'm concerned about the heel strike issue.
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Old 10-12-08, 06:00 AM   #5
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Was the Arclite rack installable as is, or did you have to make any tweaks to it? I'd like to install a rear rack, though I'm thinking of getting a seat post rack--I'm concerned about the heel strike issue.
No mods required to the rack, just some p-clips to hold the upper stays. You're right to be concerned about heel strikes, especially if you plan to just strap your stuff to the top of the rack. Anything that spills over the sides of the rack or hangs down is going to be trouble, unless you set it far enough back on the rack (for me, that's about 2" - 3" from the front of the rack). The rack top basket has mostly solved that problem for me.
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Old 10-12-08, 06:17 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by K6-III View Post
Jur's elastomer suspension mod came a few days later, which made the bike SO much better.
One more question - where'd you get the elastomer for the suspension mod? That doesn't look like one of Jur's doorstops. Did you find a source in the USA?
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Old 10-12-08, 06:52 AM   #7
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One more question - where'd you get the elastomer for the suspension mod? That doesn't look like one of Jur's doorstops. Did you find a source in the USA?
What you want is called a "rubber door bumper". Buy 2 of them and stick them end to end. It makes the suspension travel shorter, so you'll need a shorter M10 bolt than the one that comes with the bike. The only bumpers I could find come in white and ivory, so you'll have to live with that.



And yes, the elastomer mod is the best bang for the buck mod you can make. Under $10 with a new bolt and elastomers gives you a vastly better bike.

The next things, in my opinion, are the Big Apple tires, then new brakes, then new pedals, then a new front hub. The rest are luxuries, unless your headset is also shot.
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Old 10-12-08, 11:13 AM   #8
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What you want is called a "rubber door bumper". Buy 2 of them and stick them end to end.
Thanks! You're in Queens, I'm in Manhattan. Where'd you buy your bumpers?
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Old 10-12-08, 11:24 AM   #9
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Yes, I'd love to know the source, as well as more detailed instructions on how you did it.
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Old 10-12-08, 12:06 PM   #10
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Downtube Mini suspension upgrades
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Old 10-12-08, 01:24 PM   #11
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THX for sharing and Well done

For front rack, did you see this here in the forums:
Downtube Mini Questions
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Old 10-12-08, 01:31 PM   #12
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Is it this type? http://www.velo-orange.com/nimfrra.html
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Old 10-12-08, 03:21 PM   #13
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THX for sharing and Well done

For front rack, did you see this here in the forums:
Downtube Mini Questions
I ordered one of those on ebay. We'll see how it works.
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Old 10-12-08, 03:23 PM   #14
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Thanks! You're in Queens, I'm in Manhattan. Where'd you buy your bumpers?
I got my bumpers before moving to NYC at Ace Hardware in Minneapolis. You should be able to get something similar at any hardware store, but you can track down one of the Ace Hardware stores in Manhattan if you still are having no luck.
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Old 10-12-08, 03:46 PM   #15
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When I noticed that the stock headset was shot, and not properly put together in the first place...
Nicely done.

Did your Mini have the "Oversized 1 1/8in headset, for increased durability and performance" [per Downtube website] " or is it an earlier model?

Regards
T
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Old 10-12-08, 06:08 PM   #16
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any1 know what valve does the mini uses? presta or shrader? i forgot which one is better? also when you change tires to like big apples, would the valve also change?
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Old 10-12-08, 07:21 PM   #17
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Nicely done.

Did your Mini have the "Oversized 1 1/8in headset, for increased durability and performance" [per Downtube website] " or is it an earlier model?

Regards
T
The stock headset is 1 1/8 threaded. First thing to do with this bike is to grease the headset. It was not only shot, but completely dry.

The stock valve is Schrader and you have no reason to change it. The stock tubes will also work with Big Apple tires.
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Old 10-12-08, 08:25 PM   #18
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...The stock valve is Schrader and you have no reason to change it. The stock tubes will also work with Big Apple tires.
thx...so i assume the shrader valve is better than a presta valve since the mini use high quality component? y is the shrader valve better than a presta valve? for the shrader valve..how do u pump a tire compare to a presta valve...do u release the air a bit so u can pump the air into the tire?
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Old 10-12-08, 09:56 PM   #19
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Shrader is your regular automobile valve. Plug a pump in and go. The advantage of the presta valve is that it requires a smaller hole to be drilled in the rim, giving additional strength to the rim. On a 16" wheel, this is hardly relevant, as just about anything in that size is likely to be way overbuilt.
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