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Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

Time Event
Rehabilitating my old commuter bike
Instead of throwing a ton of money at getting my old early 90's commuter bike back on the road with new shifters/derailers/etc, I decided to rip out all the shifter/derailer systems and simplify the drivetrain by installing a singlespeed setup. Realizing that I need to keep the front chain rings together (else I spend more $$ on a new single ring crank set), I kept the two smaller front rings on while removing the big ring. About that time I decided to add a second cog to the wheel hub and make 2 speeds to manually choose from (called a "dinglespeed" or double singlespeed). Along with some new brake levers and fresh brake line, I put on some new grips after the previous ones rotted on the bar and had to be cut off to fit the new brake levers.

The chain was shot and so were most of the gears, but I still haven't replaced the gears since they're an awkward configuration (and thus difficult to find replacement parts for). I never really noticed how messed up the chain rings were before. I have bent/broken teeth and the original rear cogs are all worn to hell. I replaced the bearings in the rear hub and replaced the grease. There was some pitting on the bearing races, but it'll do for now.

SS conversion kit: $18
bearings: $4
brake line: $2
grips: $6
chain: $9
misc grease/lube: $5

Tool cost (chain whip, chain tool, freewheel tool, flat wrenches): ~ $25

So, for less than $75, I have a fun beater bike AND a small set of bike tools. I'd feel comfortable leaving this bike locked to my trailer hitch at work so I could do evening/lunch rides without having to lug a bike up an elevator.

So now, I have the new chain soaking in degreaser overninght to unseat the packing oil from it in preparation for a helping of White Lightning tomorrow after it dries.
Test and tune at White Rock Lake
I rode around White Rock Lake to see how the dinglespeed bike would function in high gear with slick tires. It was immediately obvious that I need a new chain ring and small rear cog. It kept trying to "shift" to a gear that does not exist, and I believe it was partly because the chain line wasn't 100% lined up. However, the biggest problems were the chipped and bent teeth on the chain ring. That'll be about $15-20 to fix. I also noticed that my brake pads were petrified, so new front pads were needed ($10).

This purchase will put my parts tally under $80. Including my tools tally puts me just over $100 for the cost of a DIY bike makeover. I need a pedal wrench to change out my pedals since nothing else I have is strong enough or small enough to fit. I couldn't bring myself to pay $20 for 15mm wrench that's a piece of flat stamped steel with a rubber handle. I might buy one online or just look for a thin 15mm wrench.

As for the choice of gear ratio, my finger was searching for the nonexistent shift lever right about 16-18mph. That's not fast enough for me, so I'm upgrading from a 34 tooth chain ring to something a little bigger..maybe something like 36-38. Going with 39 would make it more of a standard size. Apparently, my Alivio 5-arm crank was not a popular setup and hasn't been sold since the mid 90's. It was suggested that I upgrade the crank for $25, then buy the appropriate chain ring for it for an additional $15, but I'm going to cheap out on this and run with what I have. Though including tools, I went over $100, I want to keep the parts budget under that.

Also of note, I have a coworker who is considering buying a new bike this weekend. He doesn't really know what he wants, so I'm curious to see what the Mad Duck people sell him.

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