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Frankenbike du jour

Old 08-29-11, 08:38 AM
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Chris_in_Miami
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Frankenbike du jour

A few weeks ago I picked up a 1986 Schwinn High Sierra frame & fork as a replacement for a too-large MTB that I was using as a commuter/utility bike. I chose this frame for the slack geometry, long chainstays, and full complement of brazeons - the cheapskate's LHT!

While waiting on another set of randonneur bars and a front brake, I built it up as an MTB with parts from the bin and a set of comedy balloon tires. I'm still wrestling with the U-brake - it howls like nothing I've ever used, but it does stop well. Toe-in changes seem to have no effect, I'm going to try a different set of pads instead of the translucent gummy BMX units that came with the caliper.

I really like the geometry of this frame, it's as stable as the old cruiser I used to deliver newspapers ages ago, but a bit faster. I'm also surprised at how well these tires handled on a few trails; they don't have much tread, but they held on very well through corners with leaves and loose sand, and the cushion is fantastic at 35psi.

The stem is a very light old aluminum unit (including the wedge and bolt) and I'm afraid to raise it any higher for the trails, that's why it's buried. It's more comfortable than it looks, but I'll be adding a set of drop bars with a more upright stem.




No room for fenders with this tire/brake combo, but I'm going to try a set of Big Apples in 2.15", and I can always go smaller.

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Old 08-29-11, 09:12 AM
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Nice! I am running my 86' High Sierra w/ Schwalbe Marathon 2.0 and full, SKS fenders with plenty of room. I currently have mine set up w/ moustache bars but will be changing out to a set of Nitto Dirt Drops in the near future. I really like mine.
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Old 08-29-11, 09:35 AM
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If it ever snows in Miami you should be set. I guess with those tires( they look huge) it would make a nice beach cruiser.
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Old 08-29-11, 09:50 AM
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Thanks! I forgot to mention, the tires are 2.4" CST Cyclops Pros. They were on sale at Niagara a while ago for about $12, and I couldn't resist. Fast 'n' bulbous!
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Old 08-29-11, 12:23 PM
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It looks like it would be a real kick to ride on groomed trails and across the grass. I think old hard tail / rigid forks MTBs make a great platform for Frankenbiking. After all, the evolution of the MTB began with old paperboy Schwinns modified into dirt bikes by guys like Fisher and Ritchey.

https://sonic.net/~ckelly/Seekay/mtbwelcome.htm

As a kid, I modified my old Tornado numerous times.

BTW, yes, these old bikes do have long wheel bases and slack HT angles, however, at least with some, like my '88 Fisher Procaliber, the ST angles are closer to 74 degrees. I have shamelessly posted the Fisher many times and do so again below. I also have another Procaliber frame, one size smaller, that I am going to Franken into a drop bar, big tire MTB, maybe with 7-speed STI's.

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Old 08-29-11, 12:42 PM
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Looking good! btw I've used Michelin Country Rock tires - they're pretty plush but small enough to fit fenders. Niagara has them currently for $13.

RFC, cool bike. Do you have a closup of the front end? I'm liking that stem with the roller cable hanger.
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Old 08-29-11, 01:02 PM
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Thanks. Here you go. I really wanted to use the Fisher stem, so, in some ways, my Frankendesign was around the stem.



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Old 08-29-11, 01:04 PM
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BTW, these bikes are really very close to the LHT in design and fabriation.
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Old 08-29-11, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by due ruote View Post
Looking good! btw I've used Michelin Country Rock tires - they're pretty plush but small enough to fit fenders. Niagara has them currently for $13.

RFC, cool bike. Do you have a closup of the front end? I'm liking that stem with the roller cable hanger.
Thanks for the tip, I bought the Country Rock from Niagara's a few years ago and I liked them, but I thought they picked up too much gravel in the treads. I might go with a set of 1.75 Paselas if the Big Apples don't work out for some reason.

I love that Fisher RFC, can't wait to see how you treat the other one!
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Old 08-29-11, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris_in_Miami View Post
Thanks for the tip, I bought the Country Rock from Niagara's a few years ago and I liked them, but I thought they picked up too much gravel in the treads. I might go with a set of 1.75 Paselas if the Big Apples don't work out for some reason.

I love that Fisher RFC, can't wait to see how you treat the other one!
Thx and likewise. Anxious to see yours with the drops.
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Old 08-29-11, 07:28 PM
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Totally dig the Phatty tires!!!
Sweet ride, can't wait to see where this goes

Cheers,
Chris
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Old 08-29-11, 09:13 PM
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I think you might still need a bigger frame Seriously, it looks great, and I love the big tires. I couldn't get 2.4s on my earlier High Sierra so I have a set of 2.1s, I'm sure the smaller Big Apples will fit with the brakes. I love the ride of contemporary fat tires on these early mtbs. But I do have to question the idea (it seems I've been hearing it everywhere) of converting these bikes to drop bars. I tried to do that several times years ago with similar projects, but finally I've decided that a nice wide set of vintage risers or Nitto north road bars really suit these frames better. Though, I'm over 40 and I want to put north roads on every bike I own now

Really looks sweet!
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Old 08-29-11, 09:34 PM
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I love those Black Chrome High Sierras...

I'm really interested to see where you're going with this!
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Old 08-29-11, 09:36 PM
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Originally Posted by swen0171 View Post
I think you might still need a bigger frame Seriously, it looks great, and I love the big tires. I couldn't get 2.4s on my earlier High Sierra so I have a set of 2.1s, I'm sure the smaller Big Apples will fit with the brakes. I love the ride of contemporary fat tires on these early mtbs. But I do have to question the idea (it seems I've been hearing it everywhere) of converting these bikes to drop bars. I tried to do that several times years ago with similar projects, but finally I've decided that a nice wide set of vintage risers or Nitto north road bars really suit these frames better. Though, I'm over 40 and I want to put north roads on every bike I own now

Really looks sweet!
\
Thanks. I really think it is a matter of personal preference and certainly must consider physical condition and flexability. For me, these drops are a couple of inches above my standard road bike drops.
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Old 08-29-11, 09:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris_in_Miami View Post

The stem is a very light old aluminum unit (including the wedge and bolt) and I'm afraid to raise it any higher for the trails, that's why it's buried. It's more comfortable than it looks, but I'll be adding a set of drop bars with a more upright stem.

That looks like an early ('89-'91ish) Syncros stem, from the days when Syncros meant "made in the lower mainland". It likely has a minimum insertion line that will indicate the max height that you can run it at. It's a quality piece: light, strong and (originally) expensive. I wouldn't fear breaking it, it's a tough unit. I still have one in my parts bin somewhere...
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Old 08-29-11, 10:12 PM
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Very nice! That is one sweet looking ride.
I tend to look for older, large frame off road bikes to use especially as commuters/utility bikes! I love cheapskate LHT's...

Originally Posted by Chris_in_Miami View Post
A few weeks ago I picked up a 1986 Schwinn High Sierra frame & fork as a replacement for a too-large MTB that I was using as a commuter/utility bike. I chose this frame for the slack geometry, long chainstays, and full complement of brazeons - the cheapskate's LHT! ...
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Old 08-29-11, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by tashi View Post
That looks like an early ('89-'91ish) Syncros stem, from the days when Syncros meant "made in the lower mainland". It likely has a minimum insertion line that will indicate the max height that you can run it at. It's a quality piece: light, strong and (originally) expensive. I wouldn't fear breaking it, it's a tough unit. I still have one in my parts bin somewhere...
I concur. That stem has more "leg" than you give it credit for, just like the Fisher stems. However, when you go drop, you may want more upward angle.
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Old 08-29-11, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
I love those Black Chrome High Sierras...

I'm really interested to see where you're going with this!
I was going to ask if this was a black or smoked chrome. Beautiful.
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Old 08-30-11, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by swen0171 View Post
I think you might still need a bigger frame Seriously, it looks great, and I love the big tires. I couldn't get 2.4s on my earlier High Sierra so I have a set of 2.1s, I'm sure the smaller Big Apples will fit with the brakes. I love the ride of contemporary fat tires on these early mtbs. But I do have to question the idea (it seems I've been hearing it everywhere) of converting these bikes to drop bars. I tried to do that several times years ago with similar projects, but finally I've decided that a nice wide set of vintage risers or Nitto north road bars really suit these frames better. Though, I'm over 40 and I want to put north roads on every bike I own now

Really looks sweet!
Thanks, but where can I find a bigger frame?

I was surprised that these tires fit, they wouldn't go on my Rockhopper without hitting the chainstays and chainstay bridge, but there's plenty of room here.

The drop bar conversion is something I tried before and liked it a lot, but the frame I was using had me too stretched out - the aforementioned bike has a longer top tube. I picked up a touring bike after doing the last MTB conversion and I switched over to it for my commute, but I found that I preferred the smaller wheels and bulletproof feel of the MTB.

I like northroads a lot also, but my hands & wrists tend to get sore on longer rides if I can't change my grip, and I envision this bike doing dual duty as a commuter/tourer.

Thanks for the ID on the stem, it does look like a quality piece. I'm sure you're right about the durability, I think it's the light weight that gives me the vibe.
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Old 08-30-11, 07:52 AM
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Chris that looks bad a$$, I just picked up a taller GT Outpost with Tange tubing and a U brake ( no pics yet) and was going through my mountain bike parts bin yesterday trying to decide on how I want to build it up. I have a pair of Forte Slick City ST tires in 26x1.5 I thought about using until seeing your build, I really like the fat tire look so much better. I don't know if that size tire will fit my frame but I do have a few nice MTB wheelsets starting very narrow to the wide boxed Araya's that I can play with. Do you know how wide your wheels were and or how wide the tire is now that you have it mounted.
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Old 08-30-11, 08:11 AM
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There have got to be more conversions out there. How about some photos?

BTW, in terms of perceived rolling resistance, how do the fatties compare with a standard treaded 2.0 MTB tire?
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Old 08-30-11, 08:53 AM
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Thanks Glenn, I'm really digging it too, I've been riding it every morning and hope to hit the trails again tonight if it's not too rainy. The rims came from a Specialized Stumpjumper and are fairly narrow, I believe they're marked 1.5". I haven't measured the tires' inflated width, I'll break out the calipers later.

RFC - the tires roll easier than a set of Geax Sedonas that I have on another bike (I think they're 2" wide.) They are easily twice the weight, and I can feel it in the steering and acceleration. I like the cushion that I get at 35psi, but I'm curious about how they'll roll at their 65psi max. I managed to get into top gear on a slight decline, but I don't think I could push them that fast on the flat.
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Old 08-30-11, 06:06 PM
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Pics of my 86" Black Chrome High Sierra, prior to adding the Schwalbe Marathon 2.0 tires. It will be getting drops shortly.

[IMG][/IMG]
[IMG][/IMG]
[IMG][/IMG]
[IMG][/IMG]
[IMG][/IMG]

With Schwalbe tires

[IMG][/IMG]

Last edited by fender1; 08-30-11 at 06:09 PM.
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Old 08-30-11, 09:07 PM
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Your High Sierra is a beauty fender1, and you've convinced me to stop messing with these U-brakes. I didn't realize the roller cams had so much clearance! Too bad they didn't come with a black chrome finish

For those interested in the blimp tires, they measure 2.32" on 1.5" rims. I increased the pressure to 50psi and I couldn't detect any difference in rolling resistance, but it was raining and these tires throw an epic rooster tail.

I hit the trails again and found that the grip was fine on wet leaves and mud with the increased pressure, but the ride was too bouncy. I dropped back down under 30psi, and it just floats over roots and rocks.
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Old 08-30-11, 09:54 PM
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Do you run 26" x 2.125 tubes in these, or do you have to get a 2.5"-ish tube?
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