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Mystery Marin, the no dollar ultra budget beater bike build!

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Mystery Marin, the no dollar ultra budget beater bike build!

Old 12-28-23, 06:34 PM
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Mystery Marin, the no dollar ultra budget beater bike build!

So I picked this old thing up the other day. It had been leaning against a fence in rural Cache Valley, Utah for who knows how long. It was about an hour drive each way for me, and when I got there I had to question my sanity. How much gas did this cost?


After some cleanup. This hides how truly hideous it was on pickup!

The top tube "Hawk Hill" was covered on both sides by matching "Ascerbis" stickers. After peeling off the one side, I learned its true identity. Not surprisingly, there isn't much buzz on the interwebs about an entry level ($399 MSRP) steel mountain bike, so tracking its identity down came down to date coding the Shimano Altus rear derailleur and a random question over on Retrobike.co.uk that came up in a google search.

OK. So its a 1998 bottom feeding Marin with a basic steel frame. That's been sitting out in the weather for who knows how long. And a stuck seatpost (of course!). But it's my size and its free! I'd be stupid NOT to chase all over the state for this!
Mind you, the Kona P2 fork did not come with this bike. I installed it after finding the Rock Shox Judy 100 Hydracoil fork it came with to be immobile.
Interesting fact: The frame is probably designed around a suspension fork (1998 - duh), so presumably it would have a very steep head angle with a non suspension length fork installed. Measuring the head angle in my garage (which presumably is reasonably level) with the angle measure app on my phone, reveals a 71 degree head angle and 74 degree seat angle. Same as my 1989 Panasonic MC4500 mountain bike. This was measured with the Kona P2 fork from 1992, much earlier than "suspension adjusted geometry" would have been commonplace. In fact, the P2 fork's axle to crown measurement is 395mm, but I would think this frame would need somewhere around 415 - 420 mm A-C fork to maintain geometry. Maybe it is designed to have a 70 degree head and 73 degree seat angle with a proper suspension fork installed?


Triple Butted Tange cromoly frame - not too shabby!


Maniac!


Grungy 7 speed shifters


Judy 100 Hydracoil fork was frozen solid when I picked it up

The Judy was not OEM, rather an RST bottom grade fork was spec'd from the factory. Probably about a 60mm fork is my guess, so my putting a short fork on wouldn't affect the geometry too much. As this is a no dollar budget build, I'll just try to make what it came with work or upgrade/replace as necessary from my healthy parts bin stash.

It did come with some good stuff, and was what attracted me to the ole pile in the first place:


Ritchey compact crank - 22/32/42 alloy rings in decent shape


Ritchey by Sugino - Probably a rebadged Impel 500


Wellgo LU-953 pedals need overhaul and cage reshaping...


And the real attraction for me was the 36 spoked, 8/9/10 speed compatible, 135mm OLD cassette hubs and double wall FEMCO rims:



The hubs are nothing to get too excited about as they are just JoyTech but they are 36 spokes which makes for a pretty strong wheelset. The spokes all should be replaced as the drive side are gouged up from the chain overshifting, and they're rusty as well so....

But the bearing races are in very good condition and after overhauling they spin smooth and true:



More to come!
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Old 12-28-23, 06:55 PM
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I don't know what to tell about this one, but perhaps soak it with some maple syrup.
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Old 12-28-23, 09:12 PM
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Of course I love this. Iím a bottom feeder. This kind of stuff keeps life interesting. Whatís the plan?
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Old 12-29-23, 09:16 AM
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I have an old Marin waitng it's turn so of course I love it! I'm purging a lot of my lower end, "aesthetically challenged" and orphan pieces so if you come up short on something PM me, if I have it I'll gladly donate it and I'll ship it free. Every piece gone is one less temptation to fall back into my old ways LOL.Might take me a few days to find it though, that stuff got lumped all together in large boxes and tubs for sorting at a later date.
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Old 12-29-23, 12:22 PM
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Thanks Murray Missile , appreciate the offer. I may take you up on it in the near future, but for now, I'm going to concentrate on what works, what can be made to work, and what I can scrounge out of my parts pile.

I don't really have a plan; but I have been toying with the idea of a total repaint. Something reminiscent of the mid - late 80's and all the wild paint jobs that were common for the day. I don't love suspension forks, especially old ones, but since this one has thawed out, it is moving fairly smoothly. I'll open it up and see how bad the damage is inside. I think these were coil sprung with an open bath so maybe it's not too bad.

I like the idea of a 26" wheel mountain bike-based touring type bike with lots of water bottles and low rider rack mounts on the front, but I already have one of those in my 1985 Peugeot Canyon Express (no pics because I lost them in a hard drive 'incident").
I like the idea of a mountain bike converted to commuter duty but I have a few of those already also.
I could go for a drop bar conversion but I don't really like drop bars and I don't want to spend a bunch of money on this.

So that kind of limits me on what direction to take this silly project.

I do have a Surly Singulator, a device that allows you to convert your mountain bike into a single speed; I have a couple wheelsets I can throw on that are better than what it came with, and I have a bunch of other random parts I could throw at it like shifters, cantilevers, better derailleurs and so forth.

Maybe I'll single speed it, turn it into some kind of MT-BMX monstrosity.

Today's project will be to open up the forks and see how bad they are....

Stay tuned!

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Old 12-29-23, 03:29 PM
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So the fork overhaul went ok. Not as bad as I thought it would be for sure. I can even get new seals still so there is hope!
There were a long coil spring and a piston/damper assembly in each leg; the left side was a little more complicated than the right.
It was full of water! No wonder I couldn't compress the fork when I picked it up the other day - it was 19 degrees outside and the water had frozen.

Some pics:


Springs and preload adjuster caps in a tub full of water that came out of the fork





So thats about it. Pretty simple fork that was in much better shape than I expected it to be. I still need to replace the seals and a few O-rings for truly worry free repair, and the fork needs to be filled back with oil. Seal replacement will be easy; just remove the bolt at the bottom of each leg, pull the lowers off, and the seals are accessible. The O-rings are on the preload adjuster caps so they're super easy to get at as well. Of course, that will violate my no dollar build ethos but I think it might be justified. They're only about 10 bucks....

I think that if I get all stupid and try a splatter paint job or multi color fade, I'd like to paint the fork to match. So I probably won't order seals until I've really decided what to do with this thing. I was eyeing Tom Allen's expedition bike and kind of thinking I might do something similar to that with this old Marin. That would require a rigid fork (of the correct length - maybe my local collective has something?) but would then violate my no dollar beater bike build. Maybe just rebuild the thing as it came to me into a useable bike....

The beauty of old mountain bikes is their versatility. A suspension fork will limit the ability to add front racks and bags but I've seen it done so it's not impossible....

Next job will be to assess the pedals.

More to come!

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Old 12-30-23, 06:11 AM
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I appreciate the spirit of the build and look foward to the progress. As for paint, I am debating trying https://spraybike.us/ for project for my daughter. I'm thinking a two color fade but she would probably love the splatter paint. I've read some interesting stuff about the paint with the most important suggestion is to cover with a high quality 2K clear when dry.
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Old 12-31-23, 03:44 PM
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So the build up begins:



As it stands today. Doesnít look much different but Iíve added an upgraded bottom bracket (Shimano UN-51) in anticipation of an old Deore DX level crank that has a surprise. No pics just yet but will update when I do.




XT M732 rear derailleur and an 8 speed Deore LX wheelset off an old Trek 6800 my momís neighbor was throwing away are a nice upgrade from the rusty spoked wheels it came with.



Fresh headset and a clean stem with a bit more rise takes care of the steering duties. If you squint you can see the SunTour Ergotec shifters. These are unique in that theyíre like a grip shift mated with a trigger shifter. These were made in the last years of SunTourís American presence.

More to come!
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Old 12-31-23, 04:10 PM
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once it's rolling again, you obviously need to come ride it up hawk hill.
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Old 12-31-23, 04:27 PM
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Interesting frame Triple butted on this frame is Tange specific tubing made for Marin during the 90's, so a high end frame. If you are into neo retro building XT780T and XTR980 provide robust and durable performance
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Old 12-31-23, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by mschwett
once it's rolling again, you obviously need to come ride it up hawk hill.
I've done Hawk Hill by the Golden Gate. Is there a Hawk Hill trail also?
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Old 12-31-23, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by curbtender
I've done Hawk Hill by the Golden Gate. Is there a Hawk Hill trail also?
thereís a trail (coastal trail) which goes up and down to the 2/3 point, roughly, but not from the top. the road down from the top is now one way down and the road to the 2/3 point is one way down with a bike lane, so itís a nice ride the whole way.

the views are all from the road though, the trail is just OK. itís really the descent down the back of the hill to the west that makes it so unique!

more to the original topic, no idea why marin named this particular bicycle ďhawk hillĒ which is really more a roadie thing!
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Old 01-01-24, 08:36 PM
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So I have had this quad chainring adapter for a very long time; I vaguely recall seeing advertisements in mountain bike action magazine in the late 80’s for the “Mountain Tamer Quad” but I’m not sure that’s what this is:

18/24/34/46



It uses a thread on cog from a SunTour freewheel; this particular one is 18 tooth for a super low gear.

There were some other versions; one of them was the Avid MicroDapter which wasn’t a quad but rather an adapter that allowed you to use a freewheel cog as a smaller granny ring. I have one of those as well that I may use in place of this quad adapter; that one is 20 tooth. Another was the White Industries Limbo Spider, another adapter to allow a freewheel cog to be mounted as the third, small chainring.

These were all made obsolete once SunTour released their Micro Drive (1991?) and then Shimano released their version a year later. Up until this point, the smallest ring you could fit on a 74mm BCD was 24 teeth; the Micro Drive allowed a 20 tooth with a 56mm BCD while Shimano employed a 58mm BCD and 22 tooth small ring.

The bike came with a low profile compact (58/96 mm BCD) crank and 22/32/42 tooth rings but I find the older style with the various adapters to be more interesting.

The quad will require a friction front shifter and a longer BB; fortunately I have both in my parts stash. Unfortunately; I don’t have a matching indexed 8 speed shifter for the rear. What I have is an XT M735 front thumbshifter and a SunTour XC Pro 7 speed rear thumbshifter. These are the best candidates to drive this transmission but the mismatch drives me nuts. Plus the SunTour shifter won’t work with an 8 speed cassette. If anyone has an old 7 speed XT thumbshifter they don’t have a match for I could give it a good home😁
Then I could drive that 8 speed rear end using the famous ghost click those old thumbies are known for.

It can be frustrating but I rather enjoy working out the details and finding a solution that is both possible and affordable.

I’ll have to do some pondering, testing, and scrounging around the collective to see what solution I can come up with. It may make sense to just run the Avid MicroDapter and not the quad as that will allow me to use the SunTour Ergotec shifters, which are an interesting bit of kit as well.

Thanks for watching!

Edit to add: The Avid MicroDapter was intended to allow you to use not a freewheel cog but a 20t chainring that were becoming available with the advent of compact cranksets. It was marginally cheaper to get the adapter and a chainring than it would have been to replace the entire crankset.... The one I have and will post pics of later is the White Industries Limbo Spider.

Last edited by Smokinapankake; 01-02-24 at 05:30 AM. Reason: Added info about the White Industries Limbo Spider
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Old 01-01-24, 11:18 PM
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have an Avid MicroDapter on one of my bikes
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Old 01-02-24, 05:33 AM
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Originally Posted by t2p


have an Avid MicroDapter on one of my bikes
Thanks for posting this! It clears up the difference between what I have (A White Industries Limbo Spider that uses a freewheel cog) and the Avid version. The Avid version uses a 58mm BCD compact small ring. I think. It's been too many years since this stuff was readily available and the details get muddied up with time.
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Old 01-04-24, 05:42 PM
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Finally an update for all those who have been on the edge of their seat worrying about the fate of this fool's errand:

I broke the no dollar rule because I needed a left side crankarm. So off to the local collective where I was hoping against hope that they'd have a match to the Shimano MT60 I was planning to use. My but they've increased their prices! Lo and behold the heavens parted and a choir of angels were singing when this surfaced from the bottom of the bin:



Forgive the terrible photo, but what you see is a brand new, never mounted, perfect match to the other side! Maybe now I should change the title to say "low dollar" instead of "no dollar"?

Quick as a flash, I installed that beauty and took a pic:



Looks better with tires, donut?

I changed the handlebar to a Bontrager Crowbar that was all the rage in 1998 or so... Because the straight parts on the "Maniac" bar were too short to accommodate both the Ergotec shifters I was planning to use and my meathook hands at the same time. These are better but they're also a lower rise so I'm kind of bummed about that. Oh well.



And a closeup of the Ergotec shifter:



There's a paddle on the front and the rear of the shifter (you can see the front here) and a ratcheting mechanism inside. Push the paddle one way to shift up, other paddle the other way to shift down. Once it clicks you can release the paddle and it will return to the neutral position. Kind of like a mix between a Rapidfire and a Gripshift. They're kind of rattly and sloppy (like an old Chevy pickup truck) but they work well, are simple but complicated (inside the "power convert pulley" cover is a tiny cable that pulls a pulley that pulls the shifter cable) and generally overall funky. I love them and will never part with them.

Just need to add some brakes, grips, and cable and chain it up and it'll be ready to ride!

I've got more pics of the crank adapter tomfoolery if anyone is interested. I have both a White Industries Limbo Spider and a Mountain Tamer Quad for those really low lows.

Thanks for watching!

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Old 01-19-24, 04:30 PM
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Aaannnnd we now have a rideable bike. Just needs grips to finish it off.



Excuse the poor picture; lots of snow and I'm too lazy to get a better one. Besides, its just a crappy old mountain bike.....

Component list for those who are interested:
Frame: 20": Marin Hawk Hill 1998. Triple butted Tange cromo
Fork: Kona Project Two 1992
Handlebars: Answer Taperlite
Stem: Generic alloy threadless
Headset: Tange something or other
BB: Shimano UN-51, 68 x 118 ish
Crankset: Shimano FC-MT60 with White Industries Limbo spider
Chainrings: 20 x 34 x 44
F/R Derailleurs: Shimano M735
F/R Brakes: Shimano M734 with Origin 8 ProPulsion pads
F/R Hubs: Shimano Deore LX M563 8 speed Parallax type
F/R Rims: Bontrager Maverick, butted stainless spokes brass nipples
F/R Tires: Maxxis generic
Seatpost: Kalloy 27.2
Saddle: Giant take-off from my son's mountain bike
Cassette: SRAM 5.0 8 speed, 11 x 32t
Shifters/brake levers: SunTour Ergotec 8 speed, 1994 -ish
Rear cable housing stop: Surly whatever they call it
Chain: The rusty one that it came with. Seems to work okay but could be longer....

So that's it. I wanted to do this on the cheap using parts from my bin and was mostly successful. I'll have to get some grips, and I did end up buying 1 new shift cable, 1 new brake cable, and a replacement crankarm from the bike collective. Total spent so far is about $20. Not too shabby!

I was afraid that putting the Project Two fork on there with a shorter axle to crown length than a suspension adjusted one would make the handling goofy but preliminary testing shows that not to be the case. It rides around the neighborhood nice and doesn't feel particularly twitchy or over responsive in any way. As stated before, that's probably because it was initially designed around a short travel fork (60mm or less, I bet).

So now what to do with it? I'm thinking in the spring to add bosses for a third bottle on the downtube (because all bikes should have mounts for 3 bottles) and then maybe giving it a paint job. Black is so drab and boring. It's not a model T after all. I'm liking the idea of an orange bike with a cream or ivory panel on the downtube with some forest green separation bands..... What do you guys think of that color?
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Old 01-20-24, 01:04 AM
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Nicely done!

I actually had a very similar experience last year with a Marin of the same vintage. I was at a guy's place who was selling his vast collection of bikes and bike stuff that had accumulated over years of running a shop. There was a black spray painted bike with mid to low end Shimano components on it that I almost overlooked until I recognized the rear dropouts as being distinctly Marin. After some haggling, I think I got it for 80 bucks. Took it home and was able to strip off the crummy black spray paint to reveal a a bright orange/yellow Marin Pine Mountain, one of their higher end offerings as I recall. Given the components didn't match each other or the model, it was pretty apparent that it had been stolen long ago, parted out, built up again with whatever was lying around and painted to hide what it was.

So, I tossed the old components in a spares bin and aimed to rebuild it using only parts I and my brother had laying around. I had recently upgraded a 2001 Klein Adept Comp so that donated a good deal of mid to high end parts - M570, M750, M950 primarily. Wheels are high end too but had them laying around as well. Fork I paid real money for at some point and rebuilt it but then hung it on a wall after the intended project never got off the ground. Steerer is technically a tad too short but it works fine, notice the complete lack of spacers.

I wish I had the before photo as you would not believe it's the same bike. Regardless, here's how it currently sits.
P.S. - I found an early 90's Marin Team Marin frame hanging from the ceiling of the local bike co-op years ago. Built that up, story for another time.

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Old 01-20-24, 06:38 AM
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Sticking with the "on the cheap" vibe, I think a done well repaint is out of scope. What about colored accents - grips/ water bottle cages/pedals would break it up.
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Old 01-20-24, 09:10 PM
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The low buck option was just to see if I could build a nice-ish bike out of what appeared, at first glance, to be a not very nice bike at all using what it came with and what I had on hand in my parts stash.

Now that that has been accomplished the low dollar option no longer applies. Still, though, I donít want to spend a ton of money on this as it will just become (functionally) a duplicate of several bikes I already have (and that are much nicer).

All that being said, a rattle can paint job fits the ethos (and budget) and can be made to come out nice enough. Itís not like this is an heirloom frame weíre dealing with here. Itís just an old mass produced MTB that probably should have been left leaning against the fence I rescued it from.

It is a nice frame though and probably one worth hanging on to if for no other reason than as a loaner to bike-less acquaintances. Part of me wants to see how nice a bike it can be made into, kind of an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan, as it wereÖ

Appreciate the feedback, though.
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Old 01-20-24, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Pantah
Nicely done!

I actually had a very similar experience last year with a Marin of the same vintage. I was at a guy's place who was selling his vast collection of bikes and bike stuff that had accumulated over years of running a shop. There was a black spray painted bike with mid to low end Shimano components on it that I almost overlooked until I recognized the rear dropouts as being distinctly Marin. After some haggling, I think I got it for 80 bucks. Took it home and was able to strip off the crummy black spray paint to reveal a a bright orange/yellow Marin Pine Mountain, one of their higher end offerings as I recall. Given the components didn't match each other or the model, it was pretty apparent that it had been stolen long ago, parted out, built up again with whatever was lying around and painted to hide what it was.

So, I tossed the old components in a spares bin and aimed to rebuild it using only parts I and my brother had laying around. I had recently upgraded a 2001 Klein Adept Comp so that donated a good deal of mid to high end parts - M570, M750, M950 primarily. Wheels are high end too but had them laying around as well. Fork I paid real money for at some point and rebuilt it but then hung it on a wall after the intended project never got off the ground. Steerer is technically a tad too short but it works fine, notice the complete lack of spacers.

I wish I had the before photo as you would not believe it's the same bike. Regardless, here's how it currently sits.
P.S. - I found an early 90's Marin Team Marin frame hanging from the ceiling of the local bike co-op years ago. Built that up, story for another time.

Love it! I really like the non tapered chainstays and those lovely plug in dropouts on the higher end Marins. My buddy has a pristine Team from 1993 that just hangs in his garage. Brushed Tange Prestige steel looks like titanium. Heís got it built with an AMP Research fork that is worth a pretty penny by itself. Wish I could get him to sell it to me butÖ

I was hoping this one was one of the higher end frames with that style dropouts but alas it was not to be.

I had the same experience with a mid 80ís Fisher Montare I picked up for a cool $20 last year:

Before:



After:



Worth every penny!

Last edited by Smokinapankake; 01-20-24 at 09:20 PM.
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Old 01-21-24, 11:39 PM
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Wow, looks great! Great job!
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