Thursday, March 5, 2015

Surly Mk. 3 in Progress

I've wanted to get into trials mountain biking for a while, but I just never really dedicated to buying or setting up a bike specifically for the purpose. In my own unimitable way, rather than buying a bike that is made to do what I want to do, I decided to convert my trusty Surly 1x1 to a trails and trials ready shredder. We shall see how this truly works out. I'm never going to be able to tear it up like dudes who have been riding trials for years, and that is not my goal. I'm stoked to work on my performance and handling skills. You know... flow better, ride faster, impress babes. Also, I can go to the indoor skatepark and still ride when the weather sucks.

I snagged the Complete Guide to Trial Riding by Julien Happich, the webmaster of TrashZen, which is a site with massive amounts of riding tutorials. His book and website are both most highly recommended. If you wanna check out some wicked trials riders, check out Hans Rey, Kenny Belaey, Martyn Ashton, and Ryan Leech. Really, you should just put Sabotage on repeat and watch the first 10 minutes of this.

Here we are in the current state of this build. Looks a little hipstery right now. Says grown ass man blogging, wearing skinny jeans, and listening to punk rock records.

Ahh... the venerable Surly 1x1. What can she not do? Use a derailleur! Ha! I was lucky enough to come across a pristine 2008 model, in my size (rare), on the 'Bay a couple years ago. I have a hunch it must have been used by a roadie to build a cyclocross bike. Silly roadies. It had Eddy Merckx stickers on it, and the lawyer tabs on the fork were ground off. Major fail, dude. I am not super keen on my axle coming loose and losing my front wheel while shredding down a rocky hill at 20 mph. Also, Surly, you got rid of the canti mounts on the 1x1? I'd proably have bought a new Pepto Pink frame by now.

So if you fancy doing things my way, you're gonna want to start with your main trail bike. Hope you run v-brakes and a 26er! If not, well, your technology is dumb. My vast amounts of scientific research show that a rear disc on a 26" trials wheel makes stuff break. Being a big dude who breaks stuff, I feel that is a way important detail to know. I hope you didn't invest in this 29" wheel, disc brakes, carbon fiber, and lighter is bester fad. It's all a conspiracy! Rim brake steel 26'ers will rise again!


Buy yourself a granny gear and new tensioners for both sides of your wheel. Thats a extended length bolt for a Paul rear hub. Stronger and safer when running a chain tensioner. Crucial. I have one for both sides. These are Trialtech tensioners.

Hey, look, I used my brain. That is a wrench from an old Paasche airbrush. The larger end will adjust that there tensioner when you are 5 miles from the trailhead and you just had to patch that rear tube cause you forgot to toss a spare in the saddlebag. Hopefully you remembered the saddlebag with the wrenches in it. And some way to inflate a tube.

Words on Dinglespeeding

You're gonna want to work on your drivetrain a bit. Slap that granny gear on your crankset. I had to buy a new one cause I throw that shit out every time I pull one off a bike. It's an issue I have. I know of at least a couple sets of useful and nice deraillereurs that got thrown in the trash cause, well, gears suck. I picked up a 22 tooth ring, and when my new wheel is built, I'll be using an 18 tooth cog.
The plan is essentially to build a dingle-speed (that's a single speed with 2 cogs and rings that I can manually switch the chain between) that can be run at either 32-20 or 22-18. Unfortunately, in my application, this will require a second chain. It's going to be a bit of a pain in the ass to switch back and forth, but I'll deal.
Usually a dingle speed will use two gear combos that have the same number of teeth. This allows you to swap your chain back and forth between gear ratios without affecting the alignment or placement of the wheel. Take my Trek, for example, it is set up as 36-16, so if I wanted to run a 32-20, both combinations have 52 teeth, and the wheel will seat at exactly the same spot, with the same chain. I could ride the 10 miles to the trails, then swap my chain to a ratio that was possible to ride said trails.

Fork Stuff

I did upgrade to a trials-specific disc-brake front-fork. It is a bit lighter, and much stiffer than my stock Surly fork. Goodbye front V-brakes. Man, what was I just ranting about not too long ago? Poser, huh? There is, unfortunately, much less tire clearance on the new fork, but I'll deal. The stock fork did have a ton of flex, and it was difficult to pop endos reliably. The new fork also has slightly less rake, so it brings the wheel in closer to the frame. It will be more nimble, at the expense of getting a little more twitchy when bombing down hills. All around, it should fix a lot of handling issues I had with the stock fork. It's also blacker than my soul and looks snazzy. Bonus!

I threw that guy in the clamp of my bike stand and took a hack saw to it. It's definitely a nervous task taking a saw to brand new parts, but I pulled through pretty well. We'll see have to see how the fork does.

Hints for sawing up forks (or anything else) with a hacksaw:

1. Measure many many times before cutting. A set of calipers would be rad, but I use a nice metric ruler from a dissection set. Seriously, if you paint miniatures, build models, or dick with bikes, purchase a dissection set. So many useful tools. When cutting a fork, measure your stem stack height, head tube length, and bottom bracket height. Learn it. If you are building a model, measure many times. Make a mark. Measure again.

2. Clamp down your part and mark around the top edge of it with a thicker Sharpie. You should probably use black. As you can see, all I found was a red. Subtract a couple (thats like, 2) milimeters from the line. Yes, you could do this outright and skip my last instruction, but just don't. Knowing how your parts fit and work together goes a long way into proper construction, function, and reliability. It saves a lot of frustration when you know what is wrong with your bike, and know how to fix it.
3. Use a razor saw, or diamond needle file to make a guide mark. The hacksaw is going to slide everywhere if there is not a solid groove for it to sit. It's kinda like pinning a miniature.
4. Oil that saw! Put a drop of chain lube on the part being cut when the groove in 5 or so mm deep.

Brake Stuff

I snagged an old school style V-brake booster to help lock up my back wheel better. For the time being, she will just be running a back brake. Park style.
As far as tire choices currently go, I'll continue rocking the knobby Continental Mountain King 2.4 in the rear for the forseeable future, but I switched out the front for a smoother and skinnier old Ritchey InnoVader I had laying around. I'm running a much lower pressure than I would usually use on the trail.
That is a lot of words for now. I'm suprised you made it this far. I'll toss some painting crap up here sometime soon, and check back for the exciting conclusion of Jake rants about bikes while listening to punk rock. Also, Evil Army.