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Building a “college bike” for my Son

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Building a “college bike” for my Son

Old 03-12-18, 12:40 PM
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Waltsmith
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Building a “college bike” for my Son

Not sure if this is the place to put this, but it seems it’s more about the “mods” then rideing, so I planted it here.

First, my Son has some really nice bikes which he rides a good bit. But at 36 yr old, he has decided to return to college. I have great fear of him riding a $2000 bike to campus, so I decided I would “build” him one.

Orginaly, I was thinking of a used steel bike, like maybe and old 10 speed, and updateing it. Well I can’t belive what people want for these old bikes in my area. I really wasn’t willing to spend $150. What I did find is a number of “Wall Mart” type bikes, super cheap. Of course most are Mountain bikes, which he didn’t want.

So I found a “GMC” road bike. It’s Alum frame and Alum fork, and has indexed shifting. Bike I found was in great shape, doubt it was riddled more then 50 miles. It has a 21 speed mountain bike gear set and side pull brakes, 700c tires. So I pick it up for $50.

The only problem I found with the bike was that the rear derailer had been bent slightly and in the biggest cog, would actuly touch the rear spokes. I bent it back out, and now it shifts to all gears.

On My first test ride, I thought I was going to die! I have never seen a bike with with worse brakes in my life! (Yes I had adjusted the pads and set the didtence to the rim before riding). I also hated the tires, and found the real limitation of the mob cog set. Peddling my heart out, I could get about 18 mph!

First I replaced all the cables and housings. That did help the stopping power, but at least the levers are returning. I found some double pivot brakes on sale a Bike Nashbar for $17 and change. A few days later, they arrived and I installed them. Only issue was that the have a flush mount nut. I found a number drill that was the right size and drilled the back side out, the breaks fit great! A little note, the bike came with QR wheels, but the orginal brakes did not have a QR!. The Bike Nashbar brakes do have a QR and even have a adjustment screw to center the brakes to the Wheel

Next test ride. The brakes are now wonderfull! Problem I had was that we had a lot of snow melt on the roads so the pavement was cold and wet ( but no ice). Almost killed my self! OK, so I’m one of those people that actually uses their front brake. With these POS tires, the tires break loose so easy, and so suddenly that I almost crashed.

The order from Bike Nashbar camewith a sale flyer. They had some Hutchinson Equinox 2 folding tires for $7.99. I ordered 3 (extra to keep folded up on the bike with the extra tube and CO2 inflater.). These were the easiest to mount tires I have ever seen. I didn’t even use tire irons, just my thumbs! Pumped them up to 110 psi and out for another test. Same cold wet roads, only with the new tires and brakes I could stop just fine. After a couple miles around the neighborhood, I got brave and took a little 8.5 mile loop I ride down to the bridge, then along the river walk. One think for sure this thing climbs like a mountain goat! Of course you can go anywhere on flat pavement.

I was pricing wheel sets ( so I could get a cassette and then an 11-34 gear set) but I was not liking putting another $200 into the bike. Then I ran across an 11-34 FREEWHEEL! So as I sit here, I’m waiting for them to deliver my 11-34 freewheel and the special instillation tool. ( the “special” tool is less then a Park freewheel tool so what the heck!). I bought the freewheel from Amazon because it’s a “prime” item so I have a 30 return window. (I checked with my LBS and the best they could do on a freewheel was 13-34)

Next will be seeing if I can remember how to wrap the bars and true the wheels. Haven’t done either of those things for about 40 years.

As of right how, this is a good shifting, good rolling, and great stopping drop bar bike. Of course it weights almost twice as much has his “good” bike, but we have less invested then what one of his wheels would cost.

I’ll update this when I have tried the new wide ratio freewheel.

Craig
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Old 03-12-18, 01:37 PM
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I'd have never invested so much money/time/effort/emotion in any bike for the stated purpose. Cables, OK. Pads before calipers. Wheels?!? Get a grip.

Besides, a 36 year-old should probably make those decisions himself.

How far down this rabbit hole will you go? Maybe you should decide before you take the next step.

Never mind.
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Old 03-12-18, 01:40 PM
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I think you will find that the special freewheel tool is for removal only, not installation. You only need to put a freewheel on hand-tight, pedaling will tighten it up, so well that removal is often difficult.
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Old 03-12-18, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by AnkleWork View Post
I'd have never invested so much money/time/effort/emotion in any bike for the stated purpose. Cables, OK. Pads before calipers. Wheels?!? Get a grip.

Besides, a 36 year-old should probably make those decisions himself.

How far down this rabbit hole will you go? Maybe you should decide before you take the next step.

Never mind.
Don't hold back, tell us how you really feel.

Let's face it, some folks just need more help than others. Let's not waste time demeaning those who want to help.

To the OP: I'd stop spending $s on that bike...it sounds like it's already good to go.

Good luck!
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Old 03-12-18, 02:07 PM
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Campus is a central place for bike theft ' shopping'... best : low value bike with high value locks, to keep it there to ride home assuming they live off campus..
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Old 03-12-18, 02:08 PM
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You're in luck. A whole thread about modding Denali bikes popped up a few days ago.

Made some upgrades to my GMC Denali road bike. What do you think?

Of course, you could always repaint it with "CANNONDALE" written on the side... although I suppose for theft prevention, leave the GMC.
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Old 03-12-18, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by LKA View Post
Don't hold back, tell us how you really feel.

Let's face it, some folks just need more help than others. Let's not waste time demeaning those who want to help.

To the OP: I'd stop spending $s on that bike...it sounds like it's already good to go.

Good luck!
Agreed. Good luck to your son!







(And you already know this, but you are a great dad.)
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Old 03-12-18, 02:46 PM
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First, most of this project was for the fun of it. I’m odd, I love working with bikes and frankly this is about the cheapest project I have done in recent memory.

The end result is this will give him a good reason to leave the Cannondale home when he goes to school, and I had fun doing it.
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Old 03-12-18, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Of course, you could always repaint it with "CANNONDALE" written on the side... although I suppose for theft prevention, leave the GMC.
Or add "Huffy" decals to further reduce curb appeal.
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Old 03-12-18, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Or add "Huffy" decals to further reduce curb appeal.
Isn't that some exotic 70's bike?

One never knows what the kids these days will recognize from the past.
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Old 03-12-18, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Waltsmith View Post

As of right how, this is a good shifting, good rolling, and great stopping drop bar bike.

Craig
This post was very enjoyable. I took a different tack; my son's first year in college included a WalMart throw away MTB bike. Then I got him a $150 Schwinn Tandem that he used to ferry the girls around campus - chick magnet. In his last years he got inside locking privileges in his department, and so he got a FC Roubaix. My daughter was adamant about her Miyata 710, got the wheels stolen twice, but she was a terror spinning around campus all 4 years, including the winters.

Fun projects. These decisions are never entirely logical.
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Old 03-12-18, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by AnkleWork View Post
I'd have never invested so much money/time/effort/emotion in any bike for the stated purpose. Cables, OK. Pads before calipers. Wheels?!? Get a grip.

Besides, a 36 year-old should probably make those decisions himself.

How far down this rabbit hole will you go? Maybe you should decide before you take the next step.

Never mind.
Really? He's at $100 total, that's pretty good if it fits and is functional.

Maybe the OP should have bought the son a set of $40 bolt cutters and $5 spray paint?



I spent $180 total including purchase of my steel beater.

I'd agree that the OP should call it good for upgrades, instead focusing on making sure hubs/headset/bottom bracket are properly greased and adjusted.
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Old 03-12-18, 07:39 PM
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Sounds as if the OP had so much fun with this project that he might want to keep the bike for himself! maybe his son won’t like it ......
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Old 03-12-18, 07:50 PM
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Great story! Thank you for sharing!
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Old 03-12-18, 10:06 PM
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My advice is to shut off the money spigot right now. It's a good enough college bike, at least until you find out what the theft situation is like at the school that he's attending.
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Old 03-12-18, 11:24 PM
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It sounds to me like you've hit the right notes on modding that bike. I wonder if someone's already changed the freewheel though, since last I knew they came with a 48 big ring and 13-26 cassette which should be plenty of gear to get to the low 20's. Not so easy with those tires though.

I'm not sure that the rear DR has the wrap capacity for 11-34. Maybe, worth a try anyway. I'd advise getting a bottom bracket tool also since it's going to need to be greased periodically (I wound up replacing it with a UN55 eventually).

I don't see anything wrong with anything you've done to it. I swapped out the rear wheel with one with a freehub, considerably lighter, and no regrets on that either. That and the bottom bracket are reasonable replacements IMO, if it gets a lot of miles on it.
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Old 03-12-18, 11:39 PM
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As for the brakes - changing pads for a good quality ones (as well as setting the brakes up properly - aligning the pads, good cable and housing routing etc...) can make a big change.

As for truing the wheels, it's easy. This is my explanation, synced to Tarzan English (loads of other good videos on YT, especially in English):
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Old 03-13-18, 03:20 AM
  #18  
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I bought my son a bike for college when he started his course - a Y-frame mountain bike, second hand from eBay at the grand sum of £20.
New brake pads and cables fitted, left the tyres that came with it.

Why spend so little? He was 16 at the time, and unlike the OP's son hadn't grown up enough to learn the lesson about looking after a bike. Now that he's working part-time and having to pay for parts I'm hoping that the lesson will sink in.

Two years on though the bike he's got has proven amazingly resilient. Apart from a series of replacement tyres and brake pads, and several hub bearing rebuilds it's kept on going.

He does pretty much all his own repairs - I show him how to do something the first time, then help him with the next time it needs doing, and if it needs doing again he's on his own.
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Old 03-13-18, 08:40 AM
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I volunteer at a bike co-op near the ASU campus, and I'd reiterate the need to spend the next bundle of money on very good locks for frame and wheels and a way to carry them. It's amazing what gets stolen.
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Old 03-13-18, 11:43 AM
  #20  
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OK, an update. I tried the wheels (and they came out well). I installed the 11-34 freewheel. Works fine on both the smallest and largest cog. Getting the shifting 100% was a bit of a job, but as it has twist grip shifters, I think my problem was more with the shifters then the tune. At any rate, it will hit every gear and I don’t have any unwanted noise now, just took a lot longer to get there then with my other bikes.

Cold and wet last night, so I just gave it 20 min on the roller. This morning I bundled up (33*f) and took a ride around the neighborhood. No problems so I ate, filled a water bottle, and went for a ride on my loop (8.7 miles). Adverage speed 18.2’, highest speed 21.6. That is about what I do on my hybird (Cannondale Quick 4) and about 1mph lower then I do on my road bike. I’m happy with that. The bike feels very much like I remember my long ago Cannondale road bike with the 3.0 frame. Maybe a little shorter top tube (or just a lot more gut).

So...
bike (used) $50
Cables & housings. $20
Brakes. $34 (including new pads and shipping)
Tires and tubes. $20
Spare tire (folding). $8
11 - 34 freewheel. $31
Bar tape $7
My time. Priceless

I did add a kickstand and a u lock, but I already had those. Same for the tool kit, extra tube, and CO2 inflater.

So I figure I spent about $150. That’s about what 40 year old 10 speeds in unrestored condition sell for on Craig’s list in my area.

My thinking on the brakes. While the bike has QR wheels, the OEM brakes did not. The OEM brakes were cheap sidepulls and were terrible. After I replaced the cables, the brakes were still bad. I figured good pads would cost me at least $10 to $15. The whole double pivot brakes with pads were on sale for $17.50 plus shipping. Seemed like a no brainer. To me. Double pivot brakes are always going to give more stopping power, I was gaining a QR, and the new brakes had a centering screw to fine tune their alignment.

New freewheel. The orginal freewheel had a smalles cog of 14. I felt I was spinning way too high even intop gear. I realize for you guys that can spin over 100 all day, that’s in the 20s mph, but for me it’s a whole lot less. My Son is used to riding a carbon road bike with 105 stuff. I just know he will not be happy with 42 x 14!

I’m about done. Have to wrap the bars, and talk with him Re getting rid of the QRs. I’m thinking getting rid of the seat QR is a good idea, but maybe just carrying a second chain lock would be better the getting rid of wheel QRs

Why is it the only thing I keep putting off on this project is doing the handle bar tape...

End weight 31 lbs 12 oz
Chain rings 24. 34. 42
7 speed free wheel 11- 34

Last edited by Waltsmith; 03-13-18 at 11:51 AM.
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Old 03-13-18, 11:54 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by Waltsmith View Post
OK, an update. I tried the wheels (and they came out well). I installed the 11-34 freewheel. Works fine on both the smallest and largest cog. Getting the shifting 100% was a bit of a job, but as it has twist grip shifters, I think my problem was more with the shifters then the tune. At any rate, it will hit every gear and I don’t have any unwanted noise now, just took a lot longer to get there then with my other bikes.

Cold and wet last night, so I just gave it 20 min on the roller. This morning I bundled up (33*f) and took a ride around the neighborhood. No problems so I ate, filled a water bottle, and went for a ride on my loop (8.7 miles). Adverage speed 18.2’, highest speed 21.6. That is about what I do on my hybird (Cannondale Quick 4) and about 1mph lower then I do on my road bike. I’m happy with that. The bike feels very much like I remember my long ago Cannondale road bike with the 3.0 frame. Maybe a little shorter top tube (or just a lot more gut).

So...
bike (used) $50
Cables & housings. $20
Brakes. $34 (including new pads and shipping)
Tires and tubes. $20
Spare tire (folding). $8
11 - 34 freewheel. $31
Bar tape $7
My time. Priceless

I did add a kickstand and a u lock, but I already had those. Same for the tool kit, extra tube, and CO2 inflater.

So I figure I spent about $150. That’s about what 40 year old 10 speeds in unrestored condition sell for on Craig’s list in my area.

My thinking on the brakes. While the bike has QR wheels, the OEM brakes did not. The OEM brakes were cheap sidepulls and were terrible. After I replaced the cables, the brakes were still bad. I figured good pads would cost me at least $10 to $15. The whole double pivot brakes with pads were on sale for $17.50 plus shipping. Seemed like a no brainer. To me. Double pivot brakes are always going to give more stopping power, I was gaining a QR, and the new brakes had a centering screw to fine tune their alignment.

New freewheel. The orginal freewheel had a smalles cog of 14. I felt I was spinning way too high even intop gear. I realize for you guys that can spin over 100 all day, that’s in the 20s mph, but for me it’s a whole lot less. My Son is used to riding a carbon road bike with 105 stuff. I just know he will not be happy with 42 x 14!

I’m about done. Have to wrap the bars, and talk with him Re getting rid of the QRs. I’m thinking getting rid of the seat QR is a good idea, but maybe just carrying a second chain lock would be better the getting rid of wheel QRs

Why is it the only thing I keep putting off on this project is doing the handle bar tape...

End weight 31 lbs 12 oz
Chain rings 24. 34. 42
7 speed free wheel 11- 34
Arithmetic is hard, and so is being honest with ourselves.

So that's $170 plus procurement costs versus $179 new.
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Old 03-13-18, 11:54 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Waltsmith View Post

Why is it the only thing I keep putting off on this project is doing the handle bar tape...
Want a cheap idea for bar tape? Use an old (but clean) tube. You can either cut it for single thickness or leave it doubled. If you leave it doubled, it will create well defined ridges where it is effectively 4 layers thick and will be really grippy. I did this on a vintage bike and topped it with cloth tape and shellac but that part is optional.
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Old 03-13-18, 12:06 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Honusms View Post
Sounds as if the OP had so much fun with this project that he might want to keep the bike for himself! maybe his son won’t like it ......
Actually I just put a comfort bike on the stand for me. On the list... new wheel bearings, true wheels, B.B. bearings, replace spring loaded seat post with a solid one, brake pads, most likely cables, needs chain anyway, so new chain, convert to 9 speed (currently 8 speed) with wide ratio 9 speed cassette, deore long cage derailer, deore 9 speed shifter.

Then there’s my ‘Dale sitting there with a sad face saying “ Daddy, do something to me...”
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Old 03-13-18, 12:10 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by AnkleWork View Post
Arithmetic is hard, and so is being honest with ourselves.

So that's $170 plus procurement costs versus $179 new.
But “New” would still have most of the problems i fixed! Other then the cables, I would still want to do the rest.
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Old 03-13-18, 12:17 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Waltsmith View Post
But “New” would still have most of the problems i fixed! Other then the cables, I would still want to do the rest.
Yes, it's a great bike now.
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