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The Making of Frankenbike

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The Making of Frankenbike

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Old 04-20-12, 01:55 PM
  #1  
Andy_K 
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The Making of Frankenbike

I like to tinker with my bikes. It started as upgrade-itis, but as I got some experience I learned that you need to "listen" to a bike to figure out what kind of bike it wants to be. Sometimes you'll try an upgrade and the bike rejects it in some way. Over time, you discover the true nature of the bike. Or you make a monstrosity. Sometimes both. With that as introduction, I give you the latest incarnation of my 1989 Specialized RockHopper.



This bike currently has the distinction of having at least one part that came from each of my five other bikes. I believe it to be the ultimate Frankenbike. In keeping with the "Frankenbike" theme, while also paying tribute to the lightning bolt on its head tube, and in consideration of its general crankiness, I've named it "Kreacher".

As discussed in the recent "stealth bike" thread, it looks like a POS, yet it has actually become a pretty nice bike.

It started out as a completely stock RockHopper that I picked up for $120 on Craigslist. It was in excellent mechanical condition, but I wasn't content to leave it like that. The first thing I did was build new wheels for it. Because it has 130mm rear spacing, I went with Tiagra hubs laced to a pair of Mavic XM317 rims that I got for about $50 from Crosslake Sales. This let me put a 9-speed drivetrain on it with a mix of newer mountain bike parts. (You can see it here if you're curious.)

I later tried it with drop bars and Tiagra STI shifters and derailleurs, but at that point I still had some fat Country Rock tires on it, so it wasn't working for me. (You can see it here like that.) More recently, I got some 26x1.25 Panaracer T-Servs and a Soma Sparrow bar and rebuilt it with mountain bike parts. For whatever reason I couldn't get the fit to work with the Sparrow bars dropped and had to flip them up to make it comfortable. It was OK, like that, but it wasn't really my style. (You can see it here.)

Then one day I came across a picture of it with drop bars, and I realized I liked it a lot better that way.

Looking over my spare parts bin, I found a pair of 8-speed bar end shifters. These originally came with the LeMond Nevada City I bought on Craiglist. On that bike they were attached to flat bars via Paul Thumbies and so were incomplete as bar end shifters. I visited a local co-op and bought the bits I needed to put them on bars.

Also among my spare parts was a pair of broken Ultegra 6500 STI shifters. I picked these up for $10 at a swap meet several years ago, not really having any idea what I was going to do with broken shifters. In a moment of inspiration, I decided to take them apart and remove all the shifting bits. It turns out this is relatively easy to do and I figured out a way to use some of the loose pieces to reassemble it in a way that prevented the lever from moving in the intended shifting fashion while still allowing it to work as a brake lever. Finally, using a Dremel tool to grind off the shift cable protrusion, I ended up with this:



You can't see it because of the lighting and my poor photography skills, but I splurged on new nameplates because the right-side nameplate was missing.

Now, I needed an 8-speed cassette to go with the bar end shifters. I had a 12-26 Sora cassette from the LeMond, but it was a bit meh. I also had a wheel hanging in my garage with an 8-speed cassette on it. The wheel was a rear MTB wheel that I had gotten in a trade via Craigslist. I traded a 700c front wheel with Tiagra hub and unknown Alex rim for a 26-inch rear wheel with a Rhyo-Lite rim and an M900 XTR hub. That would have already been a good trade, but the guy asked me if it would be OK if he left the old cassette on there. It had some surface rust and was an 8-speed cassette, so I ignored it and left it hanging in my garage. Well, it turns out that the cassette was a 12-28 M900 XTR piece and it cleaned up very nicely. The bike already had an M750 Deore XT rear derailleur (from an earlier upgrade cycle) that I had taken off my 1999 Kona Muni Mula when upgrading it, so the XTR cassette and the Ultegra shifters made for a nice bit of rear shifting.



I'm still using the original crankset from the RockHopper, but I couldn't stand the BioPace rings. It happens that the crank has a 110/74 BCD, so I was able to use a 50/38 pair of chainrings that were on my Major Jake when I bought it. I splurged and bought a new 30T Sugino ring to round out the triple. Since I was using bar end shifters with friction front action, I just left the original Mountain LX front derailleur. The brakes are Avid Arch Rivals that came on my Muni Mula with Travel Agents.

I rounded out the build with some Salsa Poco bars that I took from my Cross Check and some old bar tape that I took off my Kona Jake and hadn't gotten around to throwing out yet.

The fenders are SKS P50, which SKS claims fit either 700c or 26-inch wheels. In my experience, the rear fits 26-inch but not 700c, and the front fits 700c but not 26-inch. Maybe the front wouldn't look so bad if I did something to lower the top mounting point. The rack is a PlanetBike Eco rack that I got for $3.83 at an REI used gear sale because it didn't have the original mounting hardware.

So that's the overly long story of how Kreacher came to be. I'm really loving it so far.

[/NOVEL]
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Old 04-20-12, 02:58 PM
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Very nice. Been thinking of replacing the straight bars for drops on my beater Hardrock too.
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Old 04-20-12, 03:06 PM
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After working on my 200? Hardrock over the years and changing lots of parts I've kind or realized they may never die, they just keep changing parts.
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Old 04-20-12, 03:21 PM
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As an old cranky retrogrouch I have to say, very impressive.
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Old 04-20-12, 03:25 PM
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Yeah, it's hard to kill a bike like this. I was, however, getting pretty close to just putting the original parts back on it and selling the thing. I kept it because I like the idea of having a beater for times when I want to lock it up in the city or whatever. I built it like this with the idea that I'd use it when my main commuter (2008 Kona Jake) was down for maintenance and maybe so I could take the rack and fenders of the Jake in the summer and still have something fendered on those rare summer rain days. As it turns out, I've enjoyed riding it so much in this configuration that the Jake is sitting at home fully ready to go while the Kreacher is here with me at work.
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Old 04-20-12, 03:38 PM
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I keep thinking I want another better bike, and then figure I'll just change this part and then I forget about a new bike for a while.
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Old 04-25-12, 08:39 PM
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Andy K, thanks for showing whats possible with an old rockhopper. Mine was too fast, so i had to slow it down with 2.35" Big Apples
After reading about Frankenbike im feeling the urge to upgrade. I have some old Shimano XT thumbies i want to throw on but i'll need to build up a wheel for an 8-speed cassette. Unlike yours, i have a U-brake that im stuck with...but I can still convert the front to V-brake.

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Old 04-25-12, 09:16 PM
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I have my 199? Rockhopper in pieces right now, broken cogs, ruined chain, derailleurs that are not staying in place when shifted. I test rode some bikes today, I really was dead set on dropping $600 on a new bike, just to avoid the headache. But this thread... it has really made me not want to. The frankenbikes have a lot more soul than a new shiny bike. And this thread made me realize I don't need to change the bike, just some parts.
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Old 04-25-12, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by vsanthos View Post
I have my 199? Rockhopper in pieces right now, broken cogs, ruined chain, derailleurs that are not staying in place when shifted. I test rode some bikes today, I really was dead set on dropping $600 on a new bike, just to avoid the headache. But this thread... it has really made me not want to. The frankenbikes have a lot more soul than a new shiny bike. And this thread made me realize I don't need to change the bike, just some parts.
It's really a great bike. As long as your frame is in decent shape structurally, it's worth hanging on to. That's not to say that you shouldn't also buy a new bike

Originally Posted by CabezaShok View Post
Andy K, thanks for showing whats possible with an old rockhopper. Mine was too fast, so i had to slow it down with 2.35" Big Apples
After reading about Frankenbike im feeling the urge to upgrade. I have some old Shimano XT thumbies i want to throw on but i'll need to build up a wheel for an 8-speed cassette. Unlike yours, i have a U-brake that im stuck with...but I can still convert the front to V-brake.
I've got a 1990 Rockhopper Comp, and the frame angles look much steeper than yours. Interesting, I'll have to see if there's a year-by-year comparison out there.
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Old 04-25-12, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris_in_Miami View Post
It's really a great bike. As long as your frame is in decent shape structurally, it's worth hanging on to. That's not to say that you shouldn't also buy a new bike
As of now it's not the easiest thing financially. I could buy a new bike. But I would be limiting my fun money for a few weeks to come. I'm hoping it can be saved, a new bike can be bought when I can afford it a bit better.
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Old 04-25-12, 10:03 PM
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Found the info and the difference is so minor, that I'm sure I can't see it. I doubt they'd feel noticeably different to me either.

[table="width: 700"]
[tr]
[td]year[/td]
[td]chainstay length[/td]
[td]seat tube angle[/td]
[td]BB height[/td]
[td]head tube angle[/td]
[td]fork rake[/td]
[/tr]
[tr]
[td]1988[/td]
[td]16.9"[/td]
[td]73[/td]
[td]11.6"[/td]
[td]70[/td]
[td]1.8"[/td]
[/tr]
[tr]
[td]1989[/td]
[td]16.9"[/td]
[td]73[/td]
[td]11.6"[/td]
[td]70.5[/td]
[td]1.75"[/td]
[/tr]
[tr]
[td]1990[/td]
[td]16.9"[/td]
[td]73[/td]
[td]11.6"[/td]
[td]71[/td]
[td]1.65"[/td]
[/tr]
[tr]
[td]1991[/td]
[td]17.16"[/td]
[td]73[/td]
[td]unpublished[/td]
[td]70[/td]
[td]1.65"[/td]
[/tr]
[/table]
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Old 04-25-12, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by vsanthos View Post
As of now it's not the easiest thing financially. I could buy a new bike. But I would be limiting my fun money for a few weeks to come. I'm hoping it can be saved, a new bike can be bought when I can afford it a bit better.
That sounds exactly like mine when I got it. I paid $50 for a Trek 950 that was too big for me, and swapped over the parts. I later swapped those parts out with bits from a Stumpjumper donor that also didn't fit.

The paint on my Rockhopper is really ugly, but the steel is sound and not rusty. I won't hijack a second of Andy_K's threads with photos of my bike, but there are some photos of it here.
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Old 04-25-12, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by CabezaShok View Post
After reading about Frankenbike im feeling the urge to upgrade. I have some old Shimano XT thumbies i want to throw on but i'll need to build up a wheel for an 8-speed cassette. Unlike yours, i have a U-brake that im stuck with...but I can still convert the front to V-brake.
I actually bought an 8/9/10 speed free hub from a local co-op with the idea of just changing that part of the original rear wheel, but I decided on a full wheel build instead.

I've thought about Big Apples to add variety, but I don't think my rims are wide enough.
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Old 04-25-12, 10:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris_in_Miami View Post
The paint on my Rockhopper is really ugly, but the steel is sound and not rusty. I won't hijack a second of Andy_K's threads with photos of my bike, but there are some photos of it here.
I was actually hoping to see some more pictures of frankenbikes here.
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Old 04-25-12, 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
I was actually hoping to see some more pictures of frankenbikes here.
I'm going to get banned if I post any more photos of this bike Oh well, just to illustrate that 2.3" tires will work on a 1.5" rim:

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Old 04-25-12, 11:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Chris_in_Miami View Post
I'm going to get banned if I post any more photos of this bike Oh well, just to illustrate that 2.3" tires will work on a 1.5" rim:

Seeing you are in Miami, is that a Hai Alai court your Frankenbike is parked on? Now all it needs is late 80's neon-paint scheme like Specialized (Miami Vice).......actually i wish my Rockhopper was chromed-out like yours...hides the scratches better
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Old 04-26-12, 12:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
I actually bought an 8/9/10 speed free hub from a local co-op with the idea of just changing that part of the original rear wheel, but I decided on a full wheel build instead.

I've thought about Big Apples to add variety, but I don't think my rims are wide enough.
BA's will slow your Frankenbike down a lot....FYI my rims are 1.50 28mm/21 I.D. I run my BA's 20-25 lbs front and 40-45lbs rear. i should mention the rear BA is 2.15 so i could fit the SKS fender. only got 200 miles on em' but so far no problems with this rim/tire combo.
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Old 04-26-12, 01:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Chris_in_Miami View Post
Found the info and the difference is so minor, that I'm sure I can't see it. I doubt they'd feel noticeably different to me either.

[TABLE="width: 700"]
[TR]
[TD]year[/TD]
[TD]chainstay length[/TD]
[TD]seat tube angle[/TD]
[TD]BB height[/TD]
[TD]head tube angle[/TD]
[TD]fork rake[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]1988[/TD]
[TD]16.9"[/TD]
[TD]73[/TD]
[TD]11.6"[/TD]
[TD]70[/TD]
[TD]1.8"[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]1989[/TD]
[TD]16.9"[/TD]
[TD]73[/TD]
[TD]11.6"[/TD]
[TD]70.5[/TD]
[TD]1.75"[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]1990[/TD]
[TD]16.9"[/TD]
[TD]73[/TD]
[TD]11.6"[/TD]
[TD]71[/TD]
[TD]1.65"[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]1991[/TD]
[TD]17.16"[/TD]
[TD]73[/TD]
[TD]unpublished[/TD]
[TD]70[/TD]
[TD]1.65"[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]
Like you said its a great frame, similar touring geo to a newer 26X26" touring bike IMO...which is interesting because around the same time they made a "touring rockhopper" (i forget the name) . Same two-tone paint, but really all they did was add drops and a touring fork to the same MTB frame we have. Wish i could find the specs/name
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Old 04-26-12, 08:10 AM
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Not a Jai Alai court, that's a skatepark. I've currently got 2.15 BA's on that Schwinn, and I don't find them to be any slower than 1.5" Kenda Kwest running at 100 psi on the Rockhopper. Granted, the Kwest is a cheap tire, so that may have a lot to do with it.

I have about 30-40 psi in the BA's, and I rarely check them with a gauge, they seem to work well at a wide range of pressure.
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Old 04-26-12, 08:52 AM
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Poor pic, but here's my convert. '89 Bridgestone mb5, Technomic, drops, lots of racks. Tips the scales at just over 40lbs with the dynamo wheel/light installed.

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Old 04-26-12, 09:13 AM
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The drop bar 26inch wheeled bike is a brilliant idea.
This is my 1993 Bridgestone XO-2. Not a Frankenbike, although I've changed it a bit from stock. I swapped the Nitto Dirt Drops and stem for a Nitto Technomic and a wide pair of Nitto Noodles. Best bike I own, and it's easily the cheapest.

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Old 04-26-12, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
I was actually hoping to see some more pictures of frankenbikes here.
My semi-retired Frankenbike:

The derailleur version:



The IGH version:


There was also a shimagnolo version of the bike that's not pictured which shifted better than the STI version. Getting a front STI shifter to work right on a MTB is a challenge. While Shimano rear derailleurs index the same whether mountain or road, the same is not true of their front derailleurs. There are also not any front road derailleurs designed for use with top-tube cable routing.


The Bianchi will now be going back to close to it's original set-up for my son to use.

BTW: I had a mid-90's Rockhopper that was the first winter bike I regularly commuted on. Had I kept it, there's a good chance it would have turned into a frankenbike. Those 90's Rockhoppers had good frames.
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Old 04-26-12, 10:05 AM
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I love it, too, Andy! I think everybody's seen my Diamondback drop-bar conversion, so I'll abstain from junking up the thread. Gotta love those urban assault bikes.
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Old 04-26-12, 10:16 AM
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How are you running the shifter and brake cables? Are they both under the bartape? Can't see them. If so, that is cool and gets them out of the way that way. Let us know how you did it so I can keep my dash tidy if I use bar ends one day. Thanks.
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Old 04-26-12, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by lungimsam View Post
How are you running the shifter and brake cables? Are they both under the bartape? Can't see them. If so, that is cool and gets them out of the way that way. Let us know how you did it so I can keep my dash tidy if I use bar ends one day. Thanks.
Yeah, both are under the tape. This was my first time using bar end shifters, and I wasn't sure how to do it so I looked up a bunch of pictures before deciding on this. I can definitely feel the cable when I'm in the drops but everywhere else it's transparent.
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