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borobike 06-25-11 10:46 AM

Thanks, and will do John!


Originally Posted by nfmisso (Post 12838935)
+1 :)

Great information, well told. Ever think of writing articles and/or books ?

Thanks! Honestly, I never thought anyone would care enough about my ramblings, lol.

The only major components left now are the wheelset and headset and honestly...they are holding up extremely well. The wheels are perfectly in true still after 380 miles and everything is fluid and well lubricated. There's also the freewheel which is showing no signs of abnormal wear.

Out of curiousity, let's do a part breakdown to compare this bike's price with that of other entry level Sora-equipped bikes:

Original price: $157
Kool-Stop pads: $20
Dura-Ace Crankset: $36
Sora FD: $9
Sora RD: $10
Suntour Friction shifters w/cables: $10
Total: $242

"Optional" Extras (things that are more personal/not necessary for every Denali):
Shimano UN54 BB: $20
Serfas Dual Density Saddle: $40
KMC Z-Chain w/master link: $15
Total: $317

When you consider that many Sora-equipped bikes start at $350-$400 and can go up to $700 or so new, the Denali isn't such a bad deal if you don't mind doing a little wrenching, at a base build price of $242. Granted, many of my parts are based on pretty great deals, but if you shop around a little you can find them too! For example, I saw a Dura-Ace 7402 (vintage 7-speed) RD for sale on ebay in great working condition for $60, if I hadn't already gotten the Sora I'd be all over that. It pays to browse around.

Alternatively, for $40 (another deal I found) I could have used a Tiagra RD and brought the total build price with optional extras up to $337.

If you don't like stem shifters, you can use bar-end index or friction shifters for shifting. From what I've found, these can cost between $30-$100 depending on what you like. This would bring your total cost minus optional extras up to $262-$332. Still a pretty fair price for a full Sora bike.

The only negative I can see is the issue with brifters, if you don't like friction shifters or bar-end. You can easily budget in a set of brifters on top of the $242 price and come out well, but the problem is that the bike is a 7 speed whereas most brifters are going to be adjusted for 9 speed drivetrains (you can use a 9 speed RD on a 7 speed drivetrain btw, the RD doesn't care, the shifters do!). Budgeting in a 9 speed freewheel at about $35 (there aren't many, but there are some out there) and a 9 speed chain ($15) brings the base cost up to $292. Allowing $150 for the Sora brifters (or $129 for the Nashbar variety) brings the total cost for the build up to $420-$440.

I have also found that some Sora shifters are tuned for 8 speed drivetrains, meaning you can keep your original chain and drop your price down to $405-$425 w/brifters, and allowing for the cost of an 8 speed freewheel.

Of course, there's still the issue with weight, but your cost savings has to come from somewhere. Swapping out to a road crank should save you a couple of pounds, and the derailleurs might weigh a little less as well. Likely when all is said and done though, it is probably still a 25lb bike at the bare minimum. Changing the wheelset, tires, seatpost, and fork could get this bike under 20 lbs but then it's no longer a budget build.

Anyway, for today's bike related update: I went 22 miles on a group ride today without a single problem. Ride was great, not even a dropped chain from lack of an FD. I did wish that I could have use of the inner chainring on a couple of occasions though.

Additionally, I literally just now noticed this on my original crankset. It seems that there was some uneven and excessive wear on a few teeth on the outer chainring (only one I used):

This may or may not have developed into a problem, personally having seen the testimony of others I don't think the wear would have been a problem anytime in the near future but it's still there, and something to note.

More later!

LesterOfPuppets 06-25-11 10:58 AM

The chainring comes stock with a handful of shorter teeth to make shifting smoother.

nfmisso 06-26-11 07:13 PM

+1 nothing wrong with the chain ring. If you look carefully at it, you will see ramps on the inner face that guide the chain up as you upshift, and the shorter teeth are positioned relative to the ramps to minimize the shifting duration.

sathor 06-26-11 07:36 PM


Originally Posted by borobike (Post 12665818)
As I said, I will report ANY issue I come across with this report, and here is my first, though I cannot find a mechanical cause for it. When pedaling, especially slowly, I hear/feel a light thump in my foot when the right side pedal reaches the top of it's travel. I've checked the bottom bracket for bearing play, the pedal itself and everything else connected and can find no cause. Everything is smooth and tight. Maybe it's the way I'm pedaling? I'm not worried about it if it isn't a mechanical problem, but it is somewhat annoying.

I tightened my crank arms and that helped me, but that sound came back, but if I am right, you can reduce that noise by switching to a lower gear and spinning up to speed on the crank, then shifting up to the higher gear.

borobike 06-28-11 03:40 PM

I'm sure the BB problem could have been cured one way or another, for me it was a UN54. Honestly if I were to do it over again, I might have gone with a different style like Octalink, because it would have greatly opened up my options for cranksets. Not that I don't LOVE the Dura-Ace (I do), but I noticed that options for good road cranksets (especially new ones) are pretty slim, but octalink and other more modern styles are abundant compared to the old square taper variety.

Now though, with the Dura-Ace, when the chainring wears out I'll simply buy a new one. But for you guys with a Denali who are looking to cheaply upgrade to a road crank, I would recommend swapping to a Octalink sealed BB (or whatever is in vogue at the time) to make your searching a little easier.

Interesting to know about the old chainrings though. I was comparing them to my Dura-Ace which has equal length teeth, but then again it originally came off of a 1987 Paramount. I'm sure chainring technology has changed since then.

No real updates, but I did want to post this:

Friend and I went riding on Sunday. My Denali is in the background, friend's in the foreground. Ride was a complete disaster, we got stormed and hailed on. But it did give me an opportunity to observe another Denali in action.

If anything is going to show how well the Denali holds up...this is it. I love my buddy to death, but he does NOT take care of that bike. It's stored outside, not lubricated, and horribly adjusted (chainrub and bad shifting EVERYWHERE) but he still rides it, and aside from the problems with bad adjustment (not the fault of the bike) he has no problems with it. It will be interesting to see how long it holds like that. On the plus side when stuff does break from lack of care I'll have a few extra parts laying around for him.

My bike, on the other hand, is still holding adjustments great and having no problems. I'm about to crack the 400 mile point, and if it ever clears up today I'll take a ride and do it. Still waiting on the front and rear derailleurs, I do wish shipping would hurry up on the front but I already knew I'd be waiting close to a week for the rear. I'll be able to pick it up soon.

borobike 06-29-11 06:01 PM

Shimano Sora!

Conversion was stupid easy, no problems at all. Still waiting on the FD, maybe it will be here tomorrow. Kind of surprised it wasn't here today from the tracking information.

My impressions:

As I suspected, there were no problems at all using a 9 speed derailleur with a 7 speed chain or freewheel. Things are a little narrower on the derailleur, but there's still plenty of clearance for the chain.

Shifts aren't really any smoother, but they are still very smooth. With the old derailleur things were very smooth and quiet. Actually, the Sora is a little louder, it makes a light audible click when it shifts whereas the old one sometimes would make no noise at all, sometimes it would. It's a little more difficult to downshift from 7th to 1st (takes a full pedal revolution vs 1/2 for the old one), and for one reason or another I have to push the friction shifter a little further to get it into 1st. That's a little inconvenient for my top tube bag. I might move it to the downtube.

All that being said, the Sora derailleur is a GREAT improvement, because it is a lot more precise. Shifting is much more predictable and easier to control. I can navigate from gear to gear much more reliably and consistently now. Additionally, the periodic ghost shifts I would get with the stock derailleur are gone. A very worthwhile recommendation.

Next up: Shimano Sora FD, then I think I'm done with modifications for a while. It's a great performing bike.

Full bike, before and after, and better detail shots coming later when the FD arrives.

irclean 06-29-11 10:29 PM

That Denali is starting to look like a serious road machine, borobike. Now... get rid of that dork disc (spoke protector) and reflectors!

monsterpile 06-29-11 10:41 PM

I drove past someone riding a Denali today. =)

CigTech 07-01-11 10:29 AM

Hi guys,

Borobike, good to see some one read my review. Any ways glad to see you getting out of the house and ridding. If you need any input on the bike just ask away. I have over 19,000 miles on my newest Denali.

borobike 07-01-11 11:46 AM

irclean, thanks! The dork disk is scheduled for removal as soon as I get the right tool to remove the freewheel. I'm not a fan of it as it collects dirt and tends to move around a bit. The reflectors will likely stay though as I have lately started riding home from bars with my bike and well...I need all the visibility I can get!

CigTech, thanks! Awesome to hear your Denali has held up for so long, and from what I've found, it isn't surprising. Despite the bad mouthing these bikes get they are in fact very solid if properly taken care of. Your original two reviews are actually what got me into buying a Denali in the first place.

And, the final piece of the puzzle (for now) is here! Shimano Sora front derailleur, now I can finally make use of that 42 chainring.

Anyway, as requested, here are pics of the before and after, plus some individual component pics.



Here are my component changes:

Brand new Shimano Sora 9 speed (works great with 7 speed though) road bike rear derailleur:

Brand new Shimano Sora front derailleur:

Slightly used Dura-Ace 7400 52/42 crankset (best ebay score ever):

And of course my Suntour friction shifters as mentioned earlier in this thread:

And probably a few other odds and ends.

As of right now I have 433 miles and change on the bike, and I have lost a total of 30 pounds! Which means that, among other things, I have now officially lost more than the weight of my bike. The Denali is a great riding bike, I couldn't be happier with it.

Next up: ?

Not quite sure what will happen here. I'd like to try brifters someday, but that's an expensive undertaking. In order to fully make use of the brifter options available to me I will need to convert to a 9 speed freewheel and chain which will add to the expense. So mark that as a possibility for the future, but not anytime soon.

Something a little cheaper I may try is dual pivot calipers. The bike stops fine but there's always room for improvement.

Something not on my list but one of the original remaining major components is the wheelset, but I see no reason to upgrade other than possible weight savings. They are still factory true after 433 miles. I see little reason to change out the stock Kenda tires either, they have held up very well with only a single flat caused by barbed wire (that would have made anything go flat).

There's also the possibility of upgrading to clipless pedals and shoes, but I have found that I am more than capable of keeping up with the group with my platforms, and don't have to deal with the hassle of snapping in and out, so that upgrade is unlikely.

johnj2803 07-01-11 11:52 AM

@ borobike

I was going t ask about your brakes since my factory walmart bike brakes were almost useless in the rain :D haha! Anyway, have you tried riding in the rain? you might be surprised!

himespau 07-01-11 11:58 AM


Originally Posted by borobike (Post 12866809)
Next up: ?

Not quite sure what will happen here. I'd like to try brifters someday, but that's an expensive undertaking. In order to fully make use of the brifter options available to me I will need to convert to a 9 speed freewheel and chain which will add to the expense. So mark that as a possibility for the future, but not anytime soon.

a less expensive intermediate that allows you to keep your hands on your hoods to shift is the Kelly Take Off.
Would allow you to use your current friction shift levers, just in a new location so you're not reaching back to you stem to shift all the time. Something to consider.

rodneyd24 07-01-11 12:26 PM

Hey guys,

I just want to thank you all for taking the time and effort to post on this thread, especially you Boro. It's been extremely helpful. I've been in the market for a road bike for about 3 weeks now. I'm all about buying used and have scoured Craiglist, ebay and LBS with no success. I've ridden some new and used bikes but they have either been too expensive or else too worn out and requiring serious upgrades.

I'm training for my first triathlon which is in 3 weeks and need something soon. I'm riding a MTB that is too small for me and have a budget of around $300. Getting the Denali and making some immediate mods now seems to be my best option. I've already got a seat that's comfortable and new brake pads en route. I will probably upgrade the pedals and shifters soon and still keep within my budget. This bike will be a nice upgrade for me and, even though heavy by road bike standards, will be almost 10 lbs less than my current ride.

So, thanks. If it wasn't for this thread I probably wouldn't be willing to take the chance. I will let you know how it goes.

borobike 07-01-11 12:53 PM

johnj2803 - I try to avoid riding in the rain when I can! Keeps me from having to do massive cleanup later. But I have been caught in the rain a few times. The single pivot brakes with the Kool-Stop pads are okay, definitely not the worst but not the best either. Adequate for rain riding though!

himespau - Awesome idea! The only problem I have with the stem shifters (and the reason why I'm contemplating changing) is that on long rides my left hand can go numb from constantly leaning on it while shifting with my right. Those take-offs might just fix that problem permanently. I have no problem with the Suntours themselves, they are great. Would also get the stem shifters out of the way of my top tube bag.

rodneyd24 - glad you enjoyed the thread! I think you'll be happy with the Denali, and you're on the right track of modifications in planning on upgrading the shifters and brake pads, imo. If I were limited to only two modifications, or if I could pick my favorites, it would be those. They change the way the bike performs in a greatly positive way. Please do let us know how it goes when you get yours.

I just returned from a short 5 mile ride to check out my front derailleur, worked great. Had a minor issue with alignment that was causing a little chainrub but turning the derailleur a little bit fixed it. Shifts from the inner to outer ring and back again very easily. So 438 miles on the bike now.

Not sure what's next, but I'm really liking those take-offs, just wish they were a liiiiiiiitle cheaper. For that price I could give barcons a try, but then they wouldn't be right up by the hoods.

monsterpile 07-01-11 01:11 PM

The bike looks great. Nice work and congrats on the weight loss! Keep it up.

If you go to 9 speed brifters you will need a new wheelset since you can't get a 9-speed freewheel. If you are serious about brifters and want to to it cheaply you can watch CL for a deal on a bike with brifters already and move things over. That way you have the wheelset brifters and anything else you need in one package. Its not everyday that you are able to find that deal on something like this (or be the first here with cash) but its possible. You can then sell off whatever is left from the donor bike and make your cost even better.

A set of 8-speed Ultegra Bar end shifters is what I would suggest. They run about $60 on amazon and you can run them friction or set them up to work with 7 speed.

Also since thats an aluminum frame you need to measure the spacing on the rear dropouts to see what is the max you can fit back there. Since is aluminum you can't spread it farther open so 8 speed might be your max idk.


I agree the Kelly Takeoffs while a nice design are kinda pricey. If you want something like that you could go the cheap route I have tried out with some success is getting some thumbshifters and mount them up on the bar like the takeoffs. You need to get some like these below with a metal clamp and possibly a longer screw so they will fit over the road bar. Its not the most elegant solution, but it works ok. I prefer the bar end shifters to this setup But its something cheap to try and out (you can always use those shifters on another bike you find in the trash or something) and you enjoy tinkering. =)

himespau 07-01-11 01:16 PM

yeah, the price of the take offs was a bit painful (especially as I also got some new shift levers - well NOS 6 speed - when I decided to go from stem shifting). Actually, I still haven't re-routed the cable yet (put the take offs and new levers on when I got new brakes and put new brake cables/housing in and re-wrapped my bars), so I have these non-used levers out by my hands and am still reaching back to stem shift and my bike looks like a huge mess (maybe that's why no one tries to steal it :D). Something about having a new baby limiting my free time and wanting to spend it riding the bike rather than fixing it up. Hopefully, I can get some time this weekend to actually get that done as I think it'll make my riding a lot nicer (I also have to adjust my rear derailleur as I'm having some problems with really bad shifts).

borobike 07-01-11 03:34 PM

Monsterpile, thanks for the suggestion on the thumbshifters! Do you have any pics of that setup? I'd be curious to see how it worked out.

If it doesn't turn out to be ergonomically friendly, I might save up for the bar-end shifters like you suggest or the Kelly Take-Offs, I think either would work great and help my left hand out a little. Maybe I could try thicker gloves and see if it helps, because otherwise I like the stems just fine.

monsterpile 07-01-11 04:31 PM

Thsi is probably the best pic I have of the setup. I was going to snap some pics of the setup because I thought it was a pretty solid solution for just what you are thinking, but I guess I forgot. If you want I could mount some shifters on a bar and take a pic to show you what it looks like.

Here is another pic of a frankenbike I put together. It has cleaner looking cable routing...well for the shifters anyway. LOL

borobike 07-02-11 10:28 AM

Thanks monsterpile, I don't want you to go through any unnecessary trouble taking the pic unless you really don't mind, otherwise I can get a pretty good idea from those pics. Would you say it is fairly ergonomic? And which shifters did you buy? That looks like it just might be worth trying out!

459 miles on the bike today. No problems, rode great. Wore myself out though, I think it was because I didn't take a day off yesterday.

I'm having a little trouble getting used to friction shifting with the new derailleur, I think. It doesn't have quite the same pull ratio as the old one, so occasionally I'm catching myself somewhat in between gears. I think I just need a little more time getting used to it. The top and bottom gears I have down, but the ones in the middle are giving me a little trouble. Not often, just sometimes. Not having ghost shifts.

monsterpile 07-02-11 03:57 PM

I didn't buy shifters for any of the bikes I did this on I had them sitting around or they were the thumbshifters on the bike before I put dropbars on it. On these 2 bikes the shifters are actually old shimano index thumbshifters. As for ergonomics its going to depend some on the shifters you have. For some of the shifts to particular gears I have its really nice and you can even shift a few gears from the drops. Some other gears you kinda have to reach back with your thumb for the shifter, but it beats reaching back to the stem to shift. The best was when I did this with my old Peugeot mountain bike. Those shifters were at a good angle and it worked pretty well ergonomically.

irclean 07-03-11 01:26 AM


As of right now I have 433 miles and change on the bike, and I have lost a total of 30 pounds! Which means that, among other things, I have now officially lost more than the weight of my bike. The Denali is a great riding bike, I couldn't be happier with it.
Let the (Denali) haters hate! This is the best post on this whole thread... congratulations, borobike!

LesterOfPuppets 07-03-11 01:49 AM

Seems like a lot of Denali users put a good $100+ into their bikes in short order. This makes me think that a $300 bikesdirect offering would be a better deal for a lot of folks that are assembling their own Denalis.

Not tryin' to hate. Just sayin'.

johnj2803 07-03-11 08:10 AM


Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets (Post 12873327)
Seems like a lot of Denali users put a good $100+ into their bikes in short order. This makes me think that a $300 bikesdirect offering would be a better deal for a lot of folks that are assembling their own Denalis.

Not tryin' to hate. Just sayin'.

Yes very true, but those who bought in BD will not know how to replace a simple BB or do upgrade for themselves. put in the cost of upgrades plus labor on your local LBS.

monsterpile 07-03-11 09:42 AM

I am sure alot of people that buy Denalis do nothing but ride them. Some people who put money into any bike they would buy. People like to upgrade their bike, car, motorcycle etc. Its just what some people do.

borobike 07-03-11 12:12 PM


Originally Posted by irclean (Post 12873306)
Let the (Denali) haters hate! This is the best post on this whole thread... congratulations, borobike!

Thanks irclean, it feels great!


Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets (Post 12873327)
Seems like a lot of Denali users put a good $100+ into their bikes in short order. This makes me think that a $300 bikesdirect offering would be a better deal for a lot of folks that are assembling their own Denalis.

Not tryin' to hate. Just sayin'.

Interesting, I never knew BD had $300 bikes. Looking at one now, I see that they are 14 speed stem shift road bikes just like mine. Neat.

But here's something you might not know:

Those $300 BD bikes have, among other things, a Shimano A050 front and rear derailleur. This is sub-Sora level. Something else interesting? That's the exact same rear derailleur that came on my Denali from Wal-Mart for $157! Mine is a different color than the one presented on the $300 BD bikes, but mechanically they are identical. Remember that I made the Denali into a Sora/Dura-Ace/Suntour equipped bike for less than $250 including the original purchase price, not including extras like the saddle and chain due to my own mistake.

BD bike a great deal? Sure is if you don't like working on stuff, but like monsterpile and johnj2803 mentioned if you enjoy working on your own stuff (which I certainly do) you can still turn the Denali into whatever you want and come out ahead if you shop smartly.

Here's a few pics from Saturday's group ride:

All you can see is my butt and the tail end of the bike in that one.

I'm the guy in the yellow shirt on the bridge.

Well, you can probably figure out where I am there.

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