Thursday, September 24, 2009

$100 Bike Challenge - Finale: Mission Accomplished!

When I last posted, the bike frame had been painted and clear-coated and was left to cure for a week. The final product turned out pretty nice and I was satisfied with it.

Reunited - frame and fork
Now the fun part, assembling the bike. First, the fork, headset, and quill which all went on easily. Next the bottom bracket and and crank set, went on fine but I notices the pedal were quite far out. Then I put on the rear wheel - I had removed the cassette and installed a freewheel - and quickly figured out that the chain line was not going to work at all. The free wheel was way too inboard and the crank too outboard! *&?%#@!! As you all know, the chain line is the key to a single-speed (SS); it has to be straight! So, I went out and checked with the experts. The guy at re-Rycles didn't know much about SS bikes but suggested that the bottom bracket (BB) spindle was too long. Next, I brought the frame in to the dudes at Tall Trees. They suggested a few things:

BB spindle too long,
  • a mtb crank (which I was using) is further outboard because it has 3 rings compared to 2 on a road crank
  • I could move the spacers on the rear hub to move it further out but that would require redishing the rear wheel
I have done 4 other SS builds, guess I had been lucky because I had never had any of these problems with the others. So, my option are: new BB, new crank, wheel rebuild or new wheel at that price.

Considering these options and my $100 budget, I decided to try one thing at a time starting with the cheapest. So, I started with the BB. I found one at Pecco's in Hull for $15! And not a really crappy one with plastic cups. I know it does not have great bearings, but it will do. This time I went with a 107mm spindle (the other was 113mm). Let's see what happens!

When I got home, I installed the new BB and then the crank. Well, what a difference! The cranks actually set totally flush with the spindle and gained about 1cm inboard on the drive side. Things were looking up. I put the rear wheel on and threw a chain on and 'shite'! Chain line still slightly off but not by just a couple of millimeters - slight bend in the chain. Now, how was I going to solve this bit. I put the bike away and decided to ponder this little puzzle.

See the bend in the chain at the top of the freewheel?

The next day I did a bit of research and do-it-yourself bike Guru Sheldon Brown (R.I.P.) had the solution - spacers between the crank bolts and spider. And, I just happened have 3mm spacers. I installed them as suggested and bingo! I got a straight chain line!! Pretty damn close anyway.

Spacers between the spider and chain-ring improved chain alignment

Straight chain line!!
I was finally ready to put the rest of the parts on, handlebars, brakes, seat and post, grips all went on with know. As I was adjusting the rear break, I notice something that almost made me want to throw the bike over the fence! The wheel was seriously out of true! @#$%&!!! I know that most shops charge a standard fee between $25 - $35 for truing wheel that would break my budget. So, I had to do it myself but I had never trued a wheel in my life.

So, where do you turn when you want to know how to do something? The Internet of course, and Youtube and plenty of video and I found one that I liked. I went ahead and put the bike on the stand, using the rear brake as guides and started tightening and loosening spokes as per the video I watched. After about 20mins, the wheel looked pretty good and wasn't rubbing the brake pads anymore. That's it, I can't believe it; I am finally done! The bike looks great and works great!

Grips matching the paint job

Our spokes-model shows off the new build!

This was my most rewarding build for many reasons: it was challenging, I learned a lot and it made Melissa happy!

Did I meet my objective of the challenge - under $100? Here are the details:
  • Frame - $0 (from the trash)
  • Paint materials $40
  • wheel, tires, tubes $0 (already had those)
  • Brakes, cables, housing, seat post, seat bolt $20 (Re-cycles)
  • Brake levers, handlebar $0
  • Grips $12
  • Freewheel $10
  • Bottom bracket $15
  • Pedals $0
  • Crankset $0
  • Chain $0

Add it all up for a grand total of (drum roll...) $97! I should get a few stickers with leftover $3!

Now if you remember my very first post about this build (aka Part 1), I mentioned that I built myself a fixie. Well, take a look at the pics below. Took a few days to get use to riding fixed but I love it now and ride it every day.

Vintage Miele frame, Velocity Deep V rims - Nothing says Pimped-out like Purple!
Rides like a dream on 700 x 35 tires

Sweet chrome sweep-back handlebars with rim-matching purple grips

Sunday, September 13, 2009

$100 Bike Challenge - Part 4: Paint job complete.

The painting of the frame is now done and I'm pretty happy with it. The final step, the clear coat, was the trickiest I thought. Few lessons I learned:
- Prep work is the key
- Never, ever touch clear coat before it dries
- Little mistakes can easily be fixed with low grit wet sandpaper
- Patience - don't rush it

I am allowing the clear coat to fully cure and won't build the bike until next Saturday. Hopefully for my next post, you will see the complete build. Here are some pics of the finished paint job.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

$100 Bike Challenge - Part 3: Some Lessons Learned

So the frame has two coats of Ford Light Blue and is ready for the final step - the clear coat. I was keen to get the clear coat on and got set up quickly. I started applying the the clear coat and it went on very well. All was going smoothly until I noticed a glob of clear coat on the inside of one of the chain stays. I took the corner of a rag and very gently removed the offending glob - MISTAKE #1 - clear coat really sticks to paint! Touching it or trying to remove it will peel paint off!!! &%#@@!! Nothing I could do. Bike was still wet. Best to continue and deal with it after the frame dries. I also noticed a spot on the head tube where a tiny spot of paint had peeled.

Doesn't look so bad in this picture but I could not let that go...

I considered letting those blemishes go. But I couldn't. So, the next day I set out to fix them. I wet-sanded the offending spots then stood the frame on a drop-sheet in the garage and reapplied the blue paint. Took only few minutes and the frame was back like new. I placed at spotlight to help it dry quicker. I was pretty pleased with my job and went about cleaning up the garage. I opened the door to let some fresh air in (I don't know if you've been paying attention but I had been putting the frame on a stand to paint it - not this time though- MISTAKE #2). A gust of wind blew in which caused the frame to fall on the spotlight making a nice long gash in the paint, AAAARGH!!! Well, at least it was dry or it would have been worse. So, again I grabbed the wet sandpaper and smoothed out the gash, dried it and reapplied paint. Well, a disaster was averted and the frame looks fine. Although, it will need a bit more sanding and a few more coats of clear coat. So, stay tuned as I set out to apply what I hope will be last last coats of clear coat (I hope) and start the final assembly.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

NCC Public Workshop

Hey folks,

Got this notice from Matt of Tall Trees fame. Anyone who can provide some constructive input should make an effort to attend. I regret that I'll be in England on business and will miss the event. Note the immediate deadline.

Public Workshop

Gatineau Park is an important natural area in Canada’s Capital Region, measuring 361 square kilometres. The park, which features rich cultural and historical attractions, and is a prime location for a range of outdoor recreational activities, receives more than 1.7 million visits every year.

Managing environmentally respectful recreation is a unique challenge and an important responsibility. The National Capital Commission (NCC) is initiating a recreational services plan that will guide current and future recreational activities and programs in Gatineau Park.

Have your say about the trends, preliminary assessment and initial strategic framework, during the first phase of the consultative process.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009
6:30 pm to 9 pm

Relais plein air du parc de la Gatineau
397 Boulevard de la Cité-des-Jeunes
Gatineau, Quebec

As this consultation will take the form of a workshop, registration is encouraged.

Please register by September 10, 2009, by contacting Emily Keogh at 613-239-5315 or

The second and last phase of consultation will take place in spring 2010, and will focus on proposals regarding modifications to infrastructure and activities.

$100 Bike Challenge - Part 2

In my last post, I had just finished giving the frame a second coat of primer and left it to dry overnight. The next day, I wet-sanded it again with 600 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface. I then dried it with a clean cloth. The frame was then ready to be painted. I was very excited about this part, because the other steps had gone so well.

Melissa wanted a blue bike - light blue or baby blue, to be exact. So, I went to Crappy Tire to pick up some automotive spray paint. The colour I chose was Ford Light Blue. I was ready to paint! I started with the fork because if I screwed it up, I could do it over. Heck, I could go back to recycles and get another one for $5! Well, the first coat on the fork went on very nicely. Smooth like buttah! Sweet! It was time to do the frame. I set it up on the stand and started spraying very carefully, just very light passes. I didn't want any drips or bumps. I made sure I kept the spray nozzle clean by wiping it constantly with a rag. I went through one can of paint. Fortunately, I bought two. I finished the frame using one third of the second can. I held a trouble light in one hand and sprayed with the other. This allowed me to see if I missed any spots. Once the frame was done, I let dry in the garage for about 1 hr, then I took outside to check my handy-work. Well, the first coat look great with some minor imperfections and it wasn't bumpy at all.

Ford Light Blue automotive paint

I let the frame dry overnight and fixed the imperfections and gave it a light second coat the next day. I liked the end result and decided that would be it for painting. After drying for another 24hrs, the frame would be ready for the final step - a clear coat. That's for tomorrow's post!

The frame looking very fresh in its new colour

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The $100 Bike Challenge - Part 1

This blog has been pretty quiet over the past couple of months. So, I am going to tell you about a couple of bike-related projects I have on the go. The first was building myself a fixie which I have done and is working very well. I've been riding it to work everyday.

My second project is the more interesting one (to me anyway). A while ago, Melissa challenged me to build her a ''good'' commuter bike for under $100 - basically using all the spare bike parts I have lying in the basement and in my garage. What I had in mind was to build her a single-speed (freewheel) commuter, something that would be very low maintenance. Earlier this summer, I had found two ''Supercycle'' (Canadian Tire brand) steel road frames - one blue, the other black - in the trash. They were beaten up but were structurally sound, no bends or dents. They are the right size for Melissa. She wanted a blue bike, so I decided to build-up the blue one.

Scavenging around in the basement and garage, I found all the parts I needed - cranks, BB, wheels, brakes etc. When I took the fork off the frame, I noticed one leg was slightly bent and there were some bearings missing. A quick trip to Recycles and the Bike Dump netted me a replacement fork and bearings for $5.

So, I was ready to build but one thing was really bugging me. Cosmetically, the frame was really beaten up - lots of dings, scuffs, scratches and some rust. I just couldn't let that go. It needed to be painted. So, I called around and the cheapest paint job I could find was $150. That would break my $100 dollar cap big time. The only option was to do it myself but I didn't want the frame to look like I just took a spray can to it. So, I started to search the web and I found this guy's blog. He provides simple step by step instructions on how to paint a frame. I read his posts very carefully and thought I could do it.

The original frame - Click on image to get a better idea of its condition

I began the process on Saturday and so far, it has gone very well. First, I needed to clean the frame with paint thinner then sand it with a low grit sandpaper. The trick here is to just dull the paint and smooth out all the rough spots. Once that was done, I had to clean it and prepare it for priming.

Frame primed and looking much better already

The first coat of primer turned out pretty good, not too many bumps or runs. I hung the frame out to dry for 24hrs. The next step was to wet some very low grit sandpaper (400 or higher) and gently go over the frame to smooth it out. I did so, then dried the frame and applied a second coat of primer. The frame was left to dry overnight again and wet-sanded. Now it's time to apply the colour...

Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow.