Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Long Haul Trucker (Luisa's Bike)

This project turned out to be one of my favorites. Not only did I put a bike together but my part specs were all done for for specific purposes, which all played out in the end. This bike is for my daughter Luisa. Lusia is tall, 5’10” and weighs over 200lbs. Most bikes are made for riders 180lbs or less. I wanted a bike that would be user friendly, comfortable and strong.

The first choice was the frame. I decided on the Surly, Long Haul Trucker. The LHT is a very strong steel frame. The frame/fork weighs 1/2 to 1 pound more than other Surly frames; that’s should equate to more steel. Due to female proportions I decided to go big, 60 cm. The stand over might be a snug tall, but top tube needs to be extra long for the sweep back handle bars I’m going to use; using a long stem with these handle bars would be unstable.

Next the wheels. My first choice from the beginning where 48 spoke tandem wheels. I initially ordered some Shimano XT 48 spoke tandem hubs and 700 Sun Rhino Lite rims. For some reason these never arrived. Back to this later.

I recently changed the cockpit on my Burly tandem to a mustache bar with bar ends shifters. The bike originally was set up as a mountain bike with 9 speed grip shifters and while it has 26” wheels, so do Burly tandems set up for road. This left me with the 9 speed shifters and Shimano LX Brake levers for the Surly. I then decided to go ahead and switch out the brakes also, and found some NOS Avid Arch Rivals for the Burly.

The road triple crankset and bottom bracket, both Truvativ affairs came to me in a trade as did the front Shimano Sora triple derailleur. My decision here however was to reduce the crank to a single chainring to keep things simple. TruVativ bottom brackest come with a 5 mm spacer. This allows you to use the same bottom bracket on either a 68 or 73mm bottom bracket housing. The Surly is 68 mm, but I installed it without the spacer anyway. The reason was I wanted to mount the single chainring on the outside of the crank for aesthetic reasons. However this would move the chainline to far outboard, as the middle position is the proper place. By installing the bottom bracket without the spacer, it positioned the crank 5mm more inboard, making the chainline perfect. After that I simply put the spacer on the other side to take up the extra space. I installed the Sora front derailleur just to keep the chain on the chainring and will also be able to upgrade to a front shifter (I kept the original chainrings) if the need should arise later.

Back to the wheels. Since my LBS was unable to come through with the wheels I looked elsewhere. Ebay turned out to be the answer. There I found a set of NOS Shimano (XT/ Sun RhinoLite) 48 spoke 700c Tandem wheels for $200. There were two easily solved problems with these wheels. #1 the hubs were 140mm while the LHT frame was 135mm; but it was nothing a little cold setting couldn't solve. 2) the hubs were 7 speed and I had planned for a 9speed drivetrain. After considering the possibilities for a while I decided to go for the wheels and switch the shifter to a 7 speed. I checked a nearby LBS who has a lot of used parts and he came up with an old 7 speed SRAM shifter for $10. I then order the tires, tubes, new brake pads and a 7 speed cassette. While I already had a cassette and grips, I wanted the cassette to be as wide as possible and found one 32/12. I also found these cool Celtic braid grips and I had to buy them. Other parts came out of the parts bin; an early Ritchey cartridge headset with steel cups, a short 90 deg Salsa stem, and a cushy Avenir gel seat.

While waiting for the rest of the parts to arrive, I started putting the rest of the bike together. No real problems, until I came to the rear derailleur. This derailleur has a strange history. My mom inherited a child’s bike and she wanted to know if it could be fixed so the kids in the neighborhood could use it. I discovered that someone had put a 2000 XT derailleur on the bike, but the main spring had sprung. I switched out the derailleur with one that was working and rebuilt the XT. Unfortunately, when I tried to stretch out the derailleur, the spring popped out again. What followed was an hour of trying to get the thing to work. Finally I decided that something had to be wrong, as these things usually go together and work flawlessly. It was at this time I realized one of the tabs on the spring was bent less then 90 deg. This of course meant that any tension on the spring would cause the tab to pull out. I took a ball peen and pounded the tab to 90 deg. After that the derailleur went together without any more problems; I love it when I figure out stuff like that.

By Friday all the parts had come in, the wheels being the last to arrive. With the exception of the rear derailleur problem I just spoke of, the bike went together beautifully. This was quite fortuitous, as Luisa is visiting from LA, I would be able to let her take it back home with her. The finishing touches were a basket for her little dog, a kickstand, and a speedometer. I liked this bike because everything I wanted to do worked. It should be bullet proof and give her years of riding without problems.

And heres a little movie of Luisa on her new Bike!

1 comment:

Charles Plager said...

The smile makes it all worth it, doesn't it. :D