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.


Golonghardman said...

Nice work Gilles, I thought you were sending it out.

Papa G said...

Thanks. Sending it out would have blown my $100 limit.

Peter M said...

Oh yeah, and if you need enough spare parts to build several bikes, they are located underneath my back porch where they fell through the cracks between the boards.

Rob Young said...

Very nice! (Although it looks like you primed the crown race of the headset.)