Kona Stinky 6 NSMB Jared 8.JPG
EDITORIAL | PART 3

Min-Max: Claire's 2009 Kona Stinky 6

Words Andrew Major
Photos Jared
Date Mar 28, 2022
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Tapered In The Two Thousands

Without even discussing how the bikes ride, there are three categories of used mountain bike I'd consider from the first decade of this millennium, and it all comes down to pre-tapered headtube dimensions. The first is hardtails. That's an easy one. There are plenty of rigid fork options with 1-1/8" steerers. Even if you're not using the bike for commuting, the investment in an i40 rim and a 27+ front tire will get you on the trail faster, cheaper, and with a much smaller headache than chasing an old straight-steerer fork that's still serviceable and has a chassis that you know is not some missing teeth, or worse, waiting to happen.

The second is bikes that are dual-crown friendly. Replacing the fork on a dual-crown-friendly DH rocket or Freeride ferry in great shape, with a straight EC34/EC34 headtube, is no problem. A lot of the time bad bike geometry gets increasingly scary as travel goes up and many of the better big bikes of the decade had 1.5" (49/49) headtubes; the Specialized Demo 8 I, Intense M6, Turner DHR etc. Heck, the Trek Session 88 had a 44/56 tapered headtube in 2008. Most of the '00 DH bikes I'd be interested in riding share the same story but after a bit of brainstorming I'd take a lap on a Balfa BB7 or an early 2K Turner DHR.

The last category is full suspension trail bikes that had tapered, 1.5", or the very, very rare 44mm headtubes from that time that were deep enough to accept an external lower cup. Many of these bikes came with forks with straight 1-1/8" or 1.5" steerer tubes, but with the right upper or lower headset cup installed, a current tapered steerer fork is an easy addition. That's good news for Claire and her 2009 Stinky 6 because Marzocchi has changed ownership and factories a couple times since her 55 was made, which means getting the proper coil spring rate may be impossible, never mind getting the fork serviced if it needs anything more than seals.

Kona Stinky 6 NSMB Jared 1.JPG

Before all else, when looking at a used full-suspension bike from the zeros, make certain it can accept a current tapered-steerer fork. That's going to mean a 1.5" (49/49) headtube, a tapered (44/56) headtube, and some rare examples of a straight 44mm headtube that can take the deeper skirt of an EC44 lower cup. Yes, the fork axle is tight. Marzocchi used a silly ratcheting axle that required a whole pile of force to reposition the lever properly - it's in a good spot now.

Kona Stinky 6 NSMB Jared 6.JPG

Claire's 2009 Stinky 6 currently sports a 1-1/8" steerer Marzocchi 55 coil fork that's unsupported beyond seals as the brand has been sold twice and changed factories multiple times since this unit was made. But, with the installation of an EC49 (external cup) lower headset it's fully compatible with tapered steerers. Whether to replace the fork or not is a big question here. I'll be keeping an eye open for an as-new takeoff like a RockShox Gold 35 27" as we head into spring.

This adaptability isn't only important if Claire wants to, or needs to, upgrade her suspension fork but also if she plans to sell the bike and upgrade in the future. Upgrade? A 2009 Kona Stinky? It comes down to how much you relative to what you could get from selling your current machine and piling the money together. But, there's also something to be said for the potential experience benefit upgrading a rideable machine over time. When I was getting into mountain biking that's how I assembled most of my machines; start with what you can afford and then upgrade parts as you can afford them. I knew riders who would sit out for months to stockpile funds, but that wasn't going to happen for me.

It was fun to look at this bike and weigh the upgrade options. This generation of Stinky sports a 66° head tube angle (HTA) with the stock 160mm fork and the top tube lengths are generous from the perspective of a seated pedaling position. With the 73.5° seat tube angle the pedaling position is more rearward than that showroom-fresh ride would be, but it's easy enough to bump the saddle full-forward on the rails and switch to a bit wider bar, or a slightly longer stem, to try and dial in the length.

I love this bike. In part I love it because it's being ridden, as it is, off-road, in the year 2022. In part I love it because it's still fully upgradeable with the potential to be strategically evolved for an improved on-trail experience without the upfront expense of buying new.

Kona Stinky 6 NSMB Geometry.jpg

Yes, the seat angle is slack, and the Reach is short, and the head tube angle is a touch steep for a current 160mm bike. The frame is also still very well supported by Kona, 13-to-14 years after it was made, has zero weird proprietary sh*t going on, and is being ridden regularly. Plus, Kona killed it on the graphics.

Stinky 6

Claire's is the first entry for min-max that's more than a decade old. It's geometry chart sits pretty damn close to the 2013 Process DL, the walking-beam sleeper bike that marked the cut off point between the Kona bikes of old and the more radical looking 2014-2017 Process V2 lineup. Between decent geometry and the 1.5" (49/49) headtube, the Stinky 6 has a lot going for it, especially as a bike for a new rider.

As multi-pivot bikes go, it's far from the most intimidating to overhaul with the bearings in the frame and swingarm all being easy to access for replacement without any specific tools; punch them out, press them in. If I didn't own a press then this is a bike that can easily be introduced to fresh bearings using a vice. Just cover the jaws if they aren't smooth. The linkage arms house those bearings, rather than the frame, so they're straightforward. The main pivot requires the bike to be lifted into the vice so that's going to probably be a two person job. Is it presumptuous to assume that everyone has access to a bench-mounted vice? Probably. Although I will say if you can find a way to have one in your space - even if you have to mount it every time you use it - I'd almost guarantee it will pay for itself many times over even with none-bike projects. I'd give up a lot of tools I have in my apartment before my vice.

If you don't have the time, patience, or tools to source bearings and press them in but you're comfortable doing most of the rest of a bike teardown, don't be afraid to send your local shop a message to see what they'd charge for labour to swap the bearings if you just bring in the front triangle and the two linkage arms. Some shops are very DIY friendly and others aren't and. Identifying which is which is a wise first step if you're planning to do as much of your own work as possible. You want to bring me a SRAM master cylinder for a rebuild but you're going to do the bleed yourself? Great. You need a headset pressed in, or a bottom bracket pulled out of an otherwise bare frame? Great. A lot of service can be done without owning any of the expensive tools that best practices dictate be used on your inanimate best friend. I have a buddy who builds his own bikes and then rolls them by his preferred local mechanic for a basic go-over.

Kona Stinky 6 NSMB Jared 15.JPG

I was trying to explain this dropout system to a friend the other day and I think his brain melted a little bit. Instead of a replaceable hanger it's a fully replaceable dropout that also houses the seat stay pivot.

Kona Stinky 6 NSMB Jared 12.JPG

Because, bike industry, the drive side is a QR, but the non-drive is 12mm? It's an insert that captures the QR threads and the floating brake arm. If it was my bike I'd ditch the floating brake arm.

One of the first things I'd consider is replacing the non-drive side dropout to ditch the floating brake arm. I don't need the extra weight and I've come across so many of these floating brake arms with a combination of noise and play that no one wants for their rear brake. Kona used this specific version of the DOPE LITE dropout system on a huge range of bikes from 2007-2010 and the specific non-drive dropout needed to ditch the floater on the Stinky 6 was used on a whole range of very common bikes like Dawgs, Coilers, and Coilairs, among others.

The system is QR on the drive side and 12mm on the non-drive side, because bikes, and Kona still stocks the dropouts for both sides. Or, it's easy enough to switch the lighter QR-specific non-drive dropout at the same time. Either way it's a 40 USD investment to ditch the floating brake arm and that replaces the seat stay bushing at the same time, which is something I'd be checking for play on a rig from 2009 anyways. I'm sure there's an inventory manager somewhere who disagrees with me but I think Kona deserves a lot of credit for supporting their past machines by both having inventory in small parts, and providing an in-depth and easily searchable small parts database that's available to riders. What's worse; that recycling a frame because you can't buy a dropout? When the dropout exists in inventory and you still can't track it down.

Kona DOPE Dropout Lite QR.jpg

Kona did an excellent job of using common parts through the majority of their full suspension platforms, and they do an excellent job of supporting those parts. These DOPE drop-out & hanger & pivot structures fit a pile of models.

Kona DOPE Dropout 12-ND.jpg

This is the 2007-2009 DOPE ND-12 to ditch the floating brake while still using the stock 12mm QR nut. Alternately the DOPE LITE ND-QR non-drive dropout fits too but uses a standard QR nut instead of the 12mm insert.

Suspension

The shock on Claire's 6 has already been updated to a Fox Float CTD. This is a good little shock, as long if the routine 100hr/yearly service interval has been respected, and the Kona uses one of the most common rear shock sizes, 7.875 x 2.25, if it should become necessary to source a replacement. These Kona frames worked well with coil shocks and that usually means that any basic air shock in good working order will do that job as well. If someone wanted a brand new shock with a warranty I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the SR Suntour Edge (350 CAD | 280 USD) for this application. There can be good deals and also often absolute money pits when buying used suspension and the Edge runs about the same as buying a basic air shock used and having it rebuilt straight away, which is usually the best strategy.

With the CTD shock sorting out the back end, the real question is the aforementioned Marzocchi fork. It looks from photos like Claire could use a lighter spring rate if such an animal existed and even then there's the question of what the fork looks like inside since small parts support is nonexistent unless you are a true scrounger-level home wrench, and this was a basic fork to begin with. It's a beefy coil fork with an air pre-loader and plenty of oil though, so I don't doubt it's accomplishing the job of tying the handlebars to the front wheel and brake or taking the edge off bumps and providing some traction.

Swapping out the fork would provide a boost to Claire's riding experience. It would improve performance and allow for better tuning so the front and rear suspension will work together, and could drop significant weight off the front of the bike. The Stinky 6 could take any tapered steerer fork by adding an EC49 lower headset cup and there's a strong argument, whether new or lightly used, that the way to go here is a 27" Boost-110mm fork. The 27" is only slightly taller than a 26" fork and opens up the opportunity to move it to another bike in the future, and Boost-110mm because there's a hub-hack to avoid replacing the front wheel.

Kona Stinky 6 NSMB Jared 3.JPG

Claire's already upgraded the basic coil shock that came stock for a Fox Float CTD unit. This is a great basic shock with a usable ProPedal platform and it's still supported for hard parts in addition to service kits.

Kona Stinky 6 NSMB Jared 7.JPG

Looking at the dust on the stanchion, Claire is leaving a lot of travel on the table which isn't at all surprising with this basic coil-sprung Marzocchi 55. Even with no air in the preload system, the one-size-fits-most spring didn't work for many riders.

Claire's front wheel is a pre-Boost 20x110mm unit so moving it straight across to a Boost 15x110mm requires two steps. The first is to acquire a rotor spacer and long bolts to shift the rotor out 5mm to the Boost position and, second, adapters to reduce the 20mm (internal diameter) hub axle to 15mm. You can find the rotor spacer kit in a shop or on most online stores and prices range from about 15-25 CAD. You can also make your own spacers by cutting up dead brake rotors and stacking them. The bolts are just M5 steel bolts with a button head. It's nice to use a T25 head but 4mm heads work fine too. For the axle reducers, I've never seen anything available from a bike shop, but there are various animals on the internet and I've seen some proper hobby-jobs that worked just fine as well. The nice folks at Risse Racing sell their version for 20 USD and I've bought machined fork axles from them before so I can certainly recommend them as a vendor. The only question with the Risse reducers is that they may require an additional 5mm of spacers per side to fit a Boost fork, in which case they'd be best combined with a proper Boostinator kit including rotor spacer, bolts, and axle spacers. For investment sake, I'm going to call that 45 USD worth of parts versus replacing the front wheel but it's certainly possible to do it for much less money.

As to a fork, lately I've talked to some folks who've done really well buying more-basic take-off 27" forks like the RockShox Gold 35 and SR Suntour Aion that are essentially brand new for two-to-three bills Canadian. There can be a whole can of worms buying used and these are good but basic air forks, but with some patience, asking knowledgeable friends, and the element of time there are still deals to be had. Buying new, I don't know that you can beat the current Revelation RC for a 160mm 27" fork when it comes to performance and chassis. Some folks may argue in favour of the Marzocchi Z2 150mm 27" here. I myself would be tempted by a SR Suntour Auron PCS.

I can feel the blowback through my computer; am I actually suggesting putting a 500-600 USD fork onto the front of a 2009 Kona Stinky 6? Why not? First, there's no reason that it can't be moved to another bike in the future or resold for at least 1/2 of the purchase price in a couple years. Some of the purchase price would come back when selling the Stinky, and in the meantime I think it would make a huge difference to the on-trail experience. A new aluminum full suspension bike with a fork like a Z2 or Gold 35 is going to run some 3000 USD / 3700 CAD and up. But since Claire has a totally working bike now, I think with a bit of patience and diligence she could come across a take-off fork this season as folks who can't get the trim of bike they want choose to buy a lower level model and upgrade on the spot.

Brakes & Drivetrain

The first thing I noticed in the pictures that Jared sent over - thank you Jared! - is the Hayes Stroker brakes. The Stroker brakes aren't amazing, even compared to the Shimano M575 brakes that Kona went with on the 2010 Stinky 6, but if these don't have too much play between the lever and the master cylinder body and the pads clamp the rotors, then ride what you own right? I've seen enough old hydraulic brakes suddenly stop working and I've pushed fluid through many old brakes where chunks of rubber came out as well. I asked a few, generally reliable, wrench friends if they'd bleed a pair of ten year Stroker brakes that came through and I think they all assumed I was trying to refer someone to them because I only had one response, which was essentially "I'd try to bleed them if bleed port isn't corroded and the pistons aren't seized, but I haven't seen that for a long time."

I think I would ride the Stroker brakes until they definitely needed a bleed and then replace them. This is one time that living near the North Shore is in a riders financial favour as so many riders have upgraded their SRAM Guide brakes to something more powerful that you could flag a 50km race just by hanging Guides from trees on the route. You could go into the parking lot at any trailhead and ask every dude over 175lbs if they have an extra set of Guide brakes in a box at home and 50% of them are going to say either "yes" or "I already gave those away." I've scored two pairs for my daughter's bikes (she is also named Claire) in exchange for beers. They both needed master cylinder rebuilds and bleeds but the combined cost of beer and service was still significantly lower than the equivalent brakes.

And I know we test-writers like to whinge and whine about the Guide's being underpowered but the fact is they're nicely made, wonderfully well supported, excellent feeling brakes that would be perfect to replace these Strokers on a tight budget, with a quality product that can be fully rebuilt. Buying new brakes, it's hard to beat the Shimano M396 or Magura's MT Sport brakes on the performance v. price graph.

Kona Stinky 6 NSMB Jared 9.JPG

Epic-level min-maxing when it comes to smiles per dollar with the Stinky 6 as it sits today.

Kona Stinky 6 NSMB Jared 14.JPG

There are parts, like the Hayes Stroker brakes, that likely will need to be replaced sooner than later though.

The drivetrain is a Shimano 9-speed non-clutched setup that's already been converted to 1x. Claire's pedaling a 11-36t cassette with a 30t narrow-wide ring mounted on a 4-bolt 104/64 FSA Moto crankset. The narrow-wide ring should keep the chain from falling off but without a clutch she'll need to soft pedal out of corners to be sure that drivetrain is in gear before laying down the power. I'd forgotten that skill until I rode Rocky Mountain's 2020 Growler 20 down Ned's Atomic Rock Bin* and frankly, I adapted quickly and it didn't ruin my ride at all. It was a bit loud mind you ,when you're used to clutched drivetrains and single speeds.

*a local point and shoot trail in need of maintenance - Ed.

If the shifter or derailleur dies, Shimano still supports 9-speed so replacing either part is an option. Personally I'd be tempted to stick with 9-speed and pick up a MicroShift clutch derailleur and corresponding shifter. At the same time Claire could get into a 9-speed 11-40t or even 11-46t SunRace cassette. With a decent 9-speed chain the whole package will be under 200 USD | 250 CAD and even less if she trades the SunRace cassette for a cheaper MicroShift 11-42t unit. This upgrade could also happen in a piecemeal fashion since there's no reason the MicroShift derailleur and trigger couldn't shift the existing chain and cassette as well if there's no need for lower gear ratios at the moment.

Kona Stinky 6 NSMB Jared 10.JPG

FSA Moto cranks came on piles of bikes in the noughties. They're a basic 104/64 4-bolt crank that uses a preload-and-pinch bolt system and steel 24mm axle just like Shimano. Heck, they even fit through Shimano bottom brackets.

Kona Stinky 6 NSMB Jared 16.JPG

I quite fancy the finish on this Stinky 6, including the walking-beam links being colour matched to the rest of the frame and especially the colour-matched text inside the splash of colour. Kona could certainly bring this finish back.

Twenty Six For Strife

One concern that keeps coming up is getting good 26" rubber. What's in stock? What's going to come back into stock? What's the best option out there? While I put some effort into figuring out how to swap Claire's wheel to a new-to-her 27" Boost-110mm fork, there's a temptation to throw my hands up and mullet the Stinky 6. There is a number of great 27" tire options for the front and then a tried-and-true-and-available 26x2.3" Specialized Butcher or 26x2.3" Maxxis DHRII tires for the rear. Either of those tires would work fine up front with a dual 26" setup but if it was me I'd like to up my tire volume, especially running a more basic suspension fork.

This would actually be a beautiful place for an i40 rim and a 26+ tire. Sadly, Maxxis has killed their 26+ program and the 26x2.8" Minions that were out in the world have all but evaporated. Surly still supports the standard with their 26x3" Dirt Wizard but I haven't had chance to ride the DW+ tires yet. I'm hoping once I can pedal again that I can get some hours on a 29+ version of the Wizard. Barring that, unicycling on a front end with 27-Boost fork, 27" wheel, and a 27x2.6" tire is an investment I'd personally consider min-maxing the right bike from 2009.

Kona Stinky 6 NSMB Jared 8.JPG

What 26" tires would you buy? Inventory is light everywhere but there are still options out there. I wonder, if for tire options alone if we won't see most smaller wheel rigs being converted to 27"/26" mullets.

Santa Cruz Chameleon MX NSMB AndrewM (4).jpg

I have a fair few hours on the 2.3" and 2.6" Specialized Butcher in 27" and 29" and I quite like them. In 26" a 2.3" is available, it's too bad there's not 2.6" for the front. Photo: Andrew Major

Game Changer

Kona's Stinky frames do have one niggle, which is their use of a now dead 30.0mm seat post size. I have seen a number of frames, mostly Cove Bikes, that were once 30.0 and have now been reamed out the extra 0.9mm to fit any number of current dropper posts. Dremel a port in the seat tube for a stealth dropper cable to exit and then welcome to modern mountain biking. My friend had it done on his classic Cove Hustler and then never looked back until his 1-1/8" Lyrik died and he couldn't source an acceptable fork replacement. This is an undertaking that would be one thing for a bike-nerd with access to tools and time but is maybe a step too far in terms of adding a dropper post here? Maybe.

PNW makes their excellent Rainier 3 dropper post in a 27.2 diameter with a 125mm drop so that would be an option that would only require the, relatively easy, job of adding an stealth exit port in the seat tube. Cane Creek makes a nice deep shim that will take the 30.0 seat tube diameter down to 27.2 for the dropper. PNW also makes their 110mm drop Pine dropper post in an externally-routed format for those that are opposed to drilling holes in their frame. The other fantastic thing about PNW's dropper posts is that a patient rider can probably pick something up from their refurbished lineup which include a 1-year warranty. At the time I'm writing this there is a 125mm 27.2 Rainer 3 refurbished available for 120 USD and a 110mm 27.2 Pine refurbished available for 120 USD.

As components go, dropper posts have consistently moved up my list of luxuries that I can go without but would really rather prefer to have. I'd choose a dropper post over multiple gearing options every day of the week!

Kona Stinky 6 NSMB Jared 13.JPG

There are a couple ways to get a dropper post into a 30.0 ID seat tube. First, you can shim in a 27.2 post. Second, you can ream the seat tube out to 30.9. Generally speaking, I'd recommend the former unless you really want more than 125mm drop. The next decision is whether to run an external-cable dropper or Dremel the seat tube for a stealth exit port.

PNW_Rainer_Dropper_Post_2020_NSMB_AndrewM_5.original.jpg

Whichever choice, external or modified to accept Stealth, PNW Components makes some excellent 27.2 options. Either a Pine 110mm external or a Rainier 3 125mm stealth dropper will run 120 USD in their PNW-Cycled program, and are in stock as of now. I'd love to see other fork, shock, and dropper post manufacturers doing something similar with their warranty returns. Photo: Andrew Major

Sweet, Sweet, Stinky

It's a good thing I live in a small space and have other projects going on because the more of these older bikes I look at, the more desperate I am to build up a decade-plus old machine selected with current information. Like a sized-up Stinky, press in a Works Components ZS49/EC49 -2° angleset in the correct length for my head tube, a 26+ or even 27+ wheel up front with a 150mm or 160mm fork. My buddy has an old Fox DHX 5.0 coil shock in a drawer that would fit and it's so overdue for a rebuild I could probably get it for a case of beer and the price of a service. I'd need to run a 60mm or even 70mm stem and some folks will say that's crazy but I'm positive I could make it work. Better yet, I could pick up the slightly fresher but still traditional Kona-looking 2013 Process I mentioned earlier, run a 50-60mm stem with the 450mm Reach, and not find myself reaming out seat tubes.

To date this series has mainly evoked two responses. Depending on your perspective it's either a neat look at ways to keep older bikes fresh and make mountain biking significantly more affordable or it ignores the value of more recent changes, like much longer Reach numbers and steeper seat tube angles. I understand that sizing-up on an older bike isn't always an option, especially for folks that have nothing to size-up into or folks with relatively short inseams who would have to sacrifice the length of dropper post to get the Reach they desire with a <50mm stem. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with spending for a new bike for that reason, any other reason, or for no reason at all other than you want something new.

But, let's consider, relative to not riding at all, how much fun this Stinky 6 would be on most trails, most places, right now and then consider how much money a new bike would cost relative to making some strategic upgrades into this one. And yes, hardtails are an option, but let's consider that learning to ride on the Shore, or somewhere similarly challenging, is very challenging. There's a reason many new riders choose to learn on a full suspension bike here.

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Comments

BadNudes
BadNudes
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+14 Andrew Major Lynx . kcy4130 Niels Velocipedestrian ElBrendo Karl Fitzpatrick Pete Roggeman bishopsmike Vincent Edwards Derek Baker Andrew McKee Twin8 sanjay.carterrau@gmail.com

Love this series! For a sport that concerns itself with recyclable packaging and enviro-friendly lubes etc It's so cool to see real in-touch and thoughtful mtb media actually acknowledging that old bikes can be loads of fun too, rather than (or alongside) the usual coverage of the new new whatever, "bike design has come a long way in the last... blahblahblah".

Through my own min-max experimentation I've found that the Suntour XCR 34 Air has impressed me quite a bit. It's stinking heavy, and in anything colder than 5*C it might as well be rigid, but for ~$250 CAD it works well enough and makes the difference between a frame dejectedly hanging in my basement or a bike that gets ridden regularly. With lots of adjustability and a high tinker-ability factor I think it can ride well above it's price bracket. Was cool to see RS bring back the Judy with some 1-1/8" straight steerer options. The best thing for a healthy industry is focus on more riders, not more sales. Keep old bikes running longer to keep the long-termers happy and help lower the barrier for entry and the sport will continue to boom.

Cheap Shimano brakes are also impressive considering the price, until they aren't. Of the 6 (2x3 sets) cheap Shimano brakes (M396 or sim) I've had, 5 have developed leaks at the caliper, master, or both in 1-2 years. Wasted a few sets of good brake pads before I found the leaks. I think you'd be lucky to get more than one season of real riding on them, but hey for the price, maybe disposable brakes makes sense. I'm curious about Magura's MT Thirty's myself.

Thanks for the food for thought Andrew! Keep it up!

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+4 BadNudes Lynx . Velocipedestrian Dan

Cheers! Going to keep it going as long as folks keep interested enough to read, engage, and submit rigs. Have a good queue coming up.

Yes, the problem with most these budget brake systems is they aren’t serviceable. That’s where I keep going back to used Guides or even the Cura2 Marty pointed to above if you can get a good price. Lots of budget-friendly sintered pad options, good OE pads that aren’t killer expensive, and all the small parts are readily available.

Lots of people currently riding 6-figure bikes were once dirt-bagging it on whatever used hardtail they could find. The industry would do well to remember it. Kudos to Kona for still supporting these rigs with service parts.

Reply

velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+4 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman Lynx . Endurimil

As someone still dirt-bagging old and used parts ~30 years later. Amen.

Reply

Timer
Timer
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+1 Lu Kz

That's surprising to hear. Cheap Shimano brakes come stock on pretty much every single commuting/touring bike sold in the last 10 years. Most of them are still on the same set they came with years ago, even if ridden daily and stored outside.

Maybe the brakes are reliable but not sturdy enough for the abuse that mountainbiking is putting them through?

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Lu Kz

I’ve seen plenty of issues over the years, but relative to the number of brakes out there? Like you say, they’re ubiquitous. Certainly mountain biking is demanding but some of the daily commuters I’ve seen… wow. 

It probably really comes down to expectations. The acceptable performance margins, especially in a truly budget brake max-power package, are going to be much tighter on technical trails v. slogging it out on asphalt.

The basic resin pads also do glaze rather easily and the brakes are usually paired with crappy resin-only rotors and those could be factors.

Reply

silverbansheebike
silverbansheebike
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+3 Andrew Major Lynx . Derek Baker

Awesome write-up Andrew! The last paragraph speaks volumes to why we all started this sport in the first place, its fun! I love the potential for fun it seems you can have on a 13 year old bike, maybe even more with some upgrades you pointed out here. Beats walking!

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+3 silverbansheebike Greg Bly Derek Baker

Smiles per dollar is the ultimate min-maxing measurement.

Reply

cheapondirt
cheapondirt
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+3 Andrew Major Lynx . HughJass

Appreciate the realistic look at a rig that could get or keep someone going.

To someone who has the option of a newer bike it may not make sense to dump money into this, but that's all many people can afford or want to spend, and that's ok. It's so much easier to spend a couple hundred every once in a while than cough up whatever a new "entry level' bike costs this year.

It's pretty key to focus on parts that can transfer to a newer frame in the future. With my previous bike I neglected to look forward. It was a 2008ish model, and in 2019 I was spending money on things like a side pull front derailleur and a 2x chainguide. They were great improvements, but when I got a 2018 frame, instantly lost all value to me. If I could go back, I would convert to 1x instead for forward compatiblity.

Andrew, you may be the only media source dispensing this kind of knowledge so keep it up!

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+3 Lynx . Velocipedestrian cheapondirt

Cheers! I've been thinking about the "dump money into this" comment a lot lately as it often comes up talking about used bike and min-maxing and I keep going back to when I started riding. I'd buy one upgrade at a time as stuff broke or wore out or I could get a sense (like switching to disc brakes) that it was going to experience changing and I'd be having a coffee with friends and they'd say "for X+Y+Z+ you'd be halfway to a new bike." 

I mean, sure. But was I supposed to quit mountain biking while I save up that money? Well no, get Uncle Visa to cover it. But paying interest on a toy never sat okay with me - and maybe this is my personal privilege talking and I need to spend more time looking at that - but I've always outright owned my bikes and any upgrades I had done to them. I bought my first Chris King headset with the understanding it would happily go from bike-to-bike (which it did for years, and it's still kicking in a 1-1/8" frame), if I was going to flip it in a bike at the end of the year that wouldn't have made any sense. 

Having now met Claire and Jared, they're the mechanically inclined types and I'm thinking I'll do a follow up with them in a year or so to see what this bike looks like. I think with the right attitude, expectations, and when it comes to the used market maximum patience that they'll make some necessary upgrades but they also have the attitude to have fun in the woods whatever they're riding. And that's really the key to min-maxing the mountain bike experience.

Reply

cheapondirt
cheapondirt
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

The toys are a privilege but I don't think buying them outright reflects a higher level of privilege. At least not in the negative sense we sometimes use that word. If it's enabled by boatloads of cash, that's different, but I presume you're talking about prioritizing and saving up for nice things.

I guess maybe it's privilege in the same sense that only those with mechanical skills and lots of spare time get to save cash by driving a 20+ year old car?

Your comment on dumping cash has also got me thinking. I have held a wrong belief that spending on a newer bike is a better use of money than spending the same amount on an older bike. But for many reasons you've been explaining longer than just this series, that's actually false. Even if I personally like the newer style geometry.

Excited to see how the Stinky has evolved a year from now!

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khai
khai
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+3 Andrew Major LWK Timer

This is a great series, but I'll admit I was super confused as to why you were building [your daughter] Claire a bike that was far too large and heavy for her to handle...  I'd forgotten that you're actively seeking submissions!

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+4 Vik Banerjee khai silverbansheebike shenzhe

Hahahaha. Yeah, one’s working on a masters degree and the other’s in grade 2! 

Actually Claire & Claire have now met and my Claire has mentioned that they need to go for a ride together this summer at least once a day since.

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andrewfuntime
Andrew Cotter
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+3 Niels Andrew Major Lynx .

Old bikes can be great fun and a relatively inexpensive way to get into the tinkering/upgrading game. 

My intro to mountain bikes a few years back was a ~10 year old Cannondale Prophet with a Lefty fork. I slapped a 760mm bar on there and rebuilt the wheels to 27.5" from the original 26". Kept the 3x drivetrain and lived with the QR seatpost. 

Aside from taking a healthy ribbing from lots of riders about riding a a "crack-n-fail" and being told bluntly that my bike looked ****ing stupid--thanks to the Lefty fork, It got me up and down loads of trails and looking back, I probably had more FUN on that rig than any of the newer, more capable bikes I've owned since then. 

I still think about trying to find an XL frame (mine was a medium and wayyy to small) in the "MX" build that had the bolt through axles and additional gusseting. The oversized head-tube allows for different fork and angle-set options and the adjustable geometry that was relatively forward thinking in 2008 could make for a fun "friend" bike to keep in the garage.

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Lynx
Lynx .
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Yeah, the ones that didn't have the weird proprietary HT that only C'dale headsets fit has worlds of possibilities. I recently converted a similar era (maybe first gen) Scalpel using a 1.5" tapered/step down headset I had spare from my PP Prime and put on a 650B X-Fusion Velvet. Hanger was completely broken, so I tried fabricating one myself from an old CPU heat sink and it seemed to be golden, but on the first ride it seem to be flexing, had given up, but then tried some home brew heat treating in hopes that it might stiffen it up - feels like it just need to find someone to come test ride it again for me, as it's a size Medium, which is more like SM or XS, but it looks sweet. Even had a set of era appropriate Shimano Octalink cranks and BB for it :-)

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
0

The Prophets should all be 1.5" 49/49 headtubes? Cannondale was on that program from around the mid-'00s at least with the bigger bikes and I thought with everything. Certainly used to come across older Cannondale's that needed their specific headsets or the reducer cups to run a 1-1/8".

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
0

Prophet is probably the best - at least relative to what other manufacturers were doing at the time - full suspension bike that Cannondale ever made. I think, the Starling fallacy aside, that if Cannondale brought it back with modern geo and standards (like the Thru-Axles) it would rival anything they've made since. Certainly, it's a bike I'd be interested in. 

The challenge with sizing up an older one (believe me, I've looked) is that they used very long seat tubes for a given size and no mast - so there isn't an option to cut the mast off and reduce the STL. So unless you have long legs going up a size is a limited option. 

The problem with the longer travel (v. XC length) Lefty Struts is that the advantages in stiffness and smoothness for a given weight started to disappear relative to traditional RSU telescoping chassis. For example, my 100mm Lefty 2.0 was brilliant but the 160mm SuperMax that I rode didn't really offer anything over a Pike of the same generation other than cool looks and all the disadvantages of a proprietary product.

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xy9ine
Perry Schebel
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+3 Lynx . Velocipedestrian Andrew Major

just came here to say love the new-post color highlight! the comment threads have been getting deep in here as of late; the added function helps streamline the nerding significantly. thanks to whomever is currently working the backend (niels?).

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

And now ranked comments to! I think Niels is trying to introduce some elasticity to my thinking?!?

Thanks Niels!

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Lynx
Lynx .
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major silverbansheebike

Yeah, sent Niels an e-mail thanking him for the highlighted new replies/comments as was sometimes quite hard trying follow the threads/comments. Not so sure about the ranked thing though, feel it moves the threads/comments "out of order" so to speak, so makes timeline a bit weird.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+2 PowellRiviera Lynx .

It certainly wouldn’t work to have the ranked system without the new post highlight. If you’d asked my opinion before I wouldn’t have had a hand up in favour of a ranked system, but in practice I’m already used to it. 

In these larger threads I think it will make the comments more accessible to a more casual reader, and I don’t think it will really affect those of us deeper into the conversation either way.

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rolly
rolly
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+2 Lynx . Mammal

Trading beer for Guide R's??? Never! Unless it's Coors Lite. That I'd trade in a heartbeat, especially since I never buy that garbage, so I'd be trading someone else's beer for them "brakes." ;)

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+3 cheapondirt Karl Fitzpatrick jgoon

I know you're at least semi-joking here, but for those following along at home. There are three used brake systems that are fully-rebuildable AND supported to such an extent that even if they're completely seized to sht freebies it's possible to get them running A-1 again.

1) SRAM Guide/Code

2) Hope 

3) Formula Cura 2/4 

Of all those brakes there's only one that you're going to be able to trade for a 6-pack, or that a buddy will give you for free, and that's a pair of Guides. And I'm not saying I'd choose Guide brakes for myself (I think Codes should come on all SRAM builds), but on a true budget build for a rider with limited funds and enough mechanical inclination to bleed a brake system, there is no better system to buy used. 

All the small parts are available. Pads are inexpensive. You can buy DOT fluid anywhere and it's much less expensive than many mineral oil options. And for a lighter rider mainly sticking to Blue and Purple trails they provide plenty of power. They also are adjustable close to the bar for small hands. 

If you're interested, I did write a separate piece about the concept 'Gift Your (Used) Guides' but I think I covered it pretty well above. 

*Someone is going to want to add Trickstuff here but I have no experience with them, or something like Grimeca where you can still get all the parts, or maybe some older SRAM system (ugh), but that's my list.

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26isntquitedead
26isntquitedead
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I recently fully rebuilt a set of hayes mag brakes from 2002...they work shockingly well for 50$ worth of parts...just saying

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
0

Much better support for Mags than many brake systems between those and the new Dominions (which are awesome).

The issue with most the Mags I see are neglect related (corrosion of metal parts / disintegration of rubber parts).

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26isntquitedead
26isntquitedead
1 month, 3 weeks ago
0

Agreed but considering how cheap people will let them go for, you can pillage abd plunder until your body is good then just buy the cheap rebuild kits and have a powerful set of brakes for not much....or maybe its just my nostalgia for that brand new set i saved up my wendys paychecks to afford...i can still smell them as i open the box in my memories!

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
0

Yeah, a lot of that is nostalgia. I mean, I regularly talk about how Guides are underpowered compared to my preferred brake systems when it comes to steep, janky, terrain and the Guides are certainly a step up on the Mags. 

BUT, if they're working great for you I think it's sweet that 20-year old brakes are hitting the trail.

vincentaedwards
Vincent Edwards
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I once I read an nsmb article touting TRP quadiem brakes as fully rebuildable:

https://nsmb.com/articles/aaron-gwins-trp-quadiem-brakes-teardown/

Probably a lot harder to find a used set… and certainly not a beer trade.

But they deserve their spot on this list due to great build quality and serviceability.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Sometimes it’s challenging to balance global possibilities with local realities when I’m writing articles and comments. As a (part time) wrench, working in North Vancouver, I’d stand by my 3-brake recommendation for used purchases. I’ve ordered small parts for all those brakes without issue. 

In theory, TRP makes a fully rebuildable brake, that’s nice to work on, but in practice I’ve had to bodge together both the busted master cylinders that came across my bench for a lack of timely small parts support. But, to support your comment, I did manage to fix them. 

So if we’re talking about service possibilities, which I imagine are realities in other places, then absolutely add TRP Quadiems to that list and Hayes Dominion brakes as well. Dominion is an AWESOME brake system that’s fully serviceable.

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mammal
Mammal
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

I  challenge that claim that they are fully rebuildable. Perhaps on the surface, but I've got those brakes, and after inquiring with the local rep about replacement caliper parts, they just referred me to local shops  that can get parts when needed... So they may be able to be rebuilt, but it doesn't sound like they want end users to do it.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Which brake system?

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reini-wagner
Reini Wagner
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major silverbansheebike

Very nice bike and article. I built up a 2010 kona minxy (= stinky air 6 with great black/pink/purple colorways) for my sister. It also has the coke can headtube, which made it easy to use a tapered steerer fox 32 talas. I swapped the nds dropout for a standard qr, which was cheaper than a prop axle, and ditched the brake support. With a short stem and decently wide handlebar, and rather lightweight cranks and wheels, the bike has a respectable weight of 15kg, and a pretty decent geometry. 26" wheels are also still sufficient for her uses.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

That sounds awesome! I’d ask after some pics for min-max but I need to look at some non-Kona bikes. It’s pretty cool how many of their older rigs are still out there getting thrashed.

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fartymarty
fartymarty
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Those Hayes Stroker bring back bad memories of trying to ride Les Deux Alpes / Alpe d'Huez (and Mega) on them. I somehow managed to survive the week though.

I can vouch for Cura 2s as a good, reasonably priced (at least in UK at £80 per end) brake.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+1 Lynx .

Love the Cura brakes, 2 or 4, but how does that compare to a truly budget brake like the Shimano M396? Smiles per dollar! The basic Shimano stuff is pretty good.

Doing a full teardown (not just a bleed / calipers and masters) on my two-year-old Cura4 brakes pretty quick here with a follow up. Excited to see what/if any difference it makes.

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fartymarty
fartymarty
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Wow the Shimano M396 are £30 an end.  I didn't realise you could get brakes so cheap.  IIRC my daughter has them on her bike and they work fine.  The only downside is the resin only rotors.

Are you planning to do a write up on the Cura rebuild?  I would be interesting to hear how the process goes.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
0

Yeah, ditch the resin rotors and even grab some sintered pads for them and they get even better.

Yes re. Teardown. Like the King hub piece I did - another look at stuff that’s still in use long past the typical review period. It’s been on my back burner to do and I’m making it happen on injury time.

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Lynx
Lynx .
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Yeah, for budget, IMHO you just can't beat the low end Shimano stuff, way above the crap from other manufacturers.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
0

The MT Sport (nee MT 2) from Magura is a better brake (power, feel) for folks who can stretch to it but when you factor in how inexpensive pads are for the basic Shimano systems, combined with proper rotors I always wind up recommending Shimano for the tightest budgets. Worth it over cheapest Tektro and ProMax and etc options even if they save a buck or two.

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Lynx
Lynx .
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Hahaha, love it, love the Stinky, the perfect next bike for this series. Agree with you on all points and specially nod and thanks to the SR Suntour shock, had completely forgotten all about them and the value they offer for the quality of product (check your links, the don't open a new tab, instead take the current one to the link) as have a friend looking to keep his 2014 Trek Rumblefish alive as his "XC" bike and his shock is done.

Love the shout to the 44 HT hack, I did it. I have the first gen Giant Trance with 44mm HT and while it did require some reaming to get the depth, that was all it was, the actual part of the HT reinforced/thicker to accept that is more than enough. Set it up with a 650B front and gave it a go, but once you're my height and have tried a good 29er, 26" just feels very wrong, but the 650B upfront defintiely helped it a whole damn lot, that and the external lower cup probably slacked the HAT out a good 1.5 degrees. Also the Reach, yeah 2005 did not have even close to real XL reach numbers.

On the whole seatpost/dropper thing, if the ST takes a 34.9 clamp, then to me it's all good to ream it out that extra .9mm to have access to a wide range of options, that's the dimensions of most 30.9 ST these days. As to making the frame work with an internal, most likely not a problem, but with some great options to run external, not sure I'd bother or take the risk.

Oh and thanks for the reminder on brake rotor shims from old rotors, got a good few been meaning to do that with, but always keep by passing them to do something else and need to do it so I can get back all my nice .75 & 1mm shims from a friend who's bike I did a "meanwhile" conversion to as he waits for his front wheel :-)

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+1 Lynx .

Brake rotor shims from old rotors is something I first saw a tech do in ~Y2K in the days of IS brake calipers. He was trying to match two wheels with wildly different takes on the hub-spacing “standards” so they could be swapped without the PIA of re-spacing the calipers. He used to collect properly bend and worn out rotors and then you could use the expensive super-thin rotor spacers to fin me tune from there. I think it’s a pretty cool example of reusing a dead product!

I always caution that I’ve seen as many old 44mm frames that couldn’t take an EC lower cup as can. 

I was all in on reaming the ST and making holes for external (less of an issue than reaming for most shops tool wise these days) but 4-5” is probably the max drop anyway, so why not shim in a rebuilt PNW 27.2 and call it a day? 

Cheers!

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Lynx
Lynx .
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Makes perfect sense instead of just junking old rotors. I just finished cutting up 4 old rotors that the surface was worn too thin, 2 ice tech and 2 regular steel, just have to go use my bros grinding machine to fine tune them. Yeah, that's what/why I have those thin shims, so I can use different wheels over various bikes and shim them so I don't need to re-adjust the calipers when swapping wheels. Only reason I used the thin shims was didn't feel like working with the old rotors and it was 'sposed to be a very temporary solution, but it's now been well over 6 months because of the whole parts shortage BS.

I mean yeah, no issue with using the 27.2mm post, especially from PNW, but was just saying, doing the reaming is a safe bet. Oh and thanks for the heads up on their refurb program, didn't know it existed.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
0

Yeah, definitely safe to ream and add a stealth port. It’s a 34.9 OD so ream to 30.9 ID and go. It’s just finding a shop that has the tools and willingness to do it.

The PNW program deserves way more of a pump than it’s gotten. I’d love to see other brands doing the same.

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mrbrett
mrbrett
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

"If it was my bike I'd ditch the floating brake arm"

Those DOPE systems were literally transformative on Stabs for hacky riders like me that have bad habits and get scared and brake in turns, but keeping the pivots slop free was an exercise in excessive maintenance. If I slipped up slightly on maintenance the back brake on those Stabs howled something awful. Not to mention required a relatively strange Ringle hub! Never ridden a Stinky with one, but I have to think less travel would make it less important. Once in a while I see a bike kinda like this pop up in a classified ad and get tempted. This series isn't helping that curiosity. 

Is it still Min-Maxing if I buy a nostalgic bike for the sole purpose of Min-Maxing?

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Lynx
Lynx .
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major mrbrett

MrBrett, definitely still Min/maxing if you do that instead of buying something new, you're giving life to a frame/bike that may well have found it's way to the bin or if lucky, recycling. Now if you just hang it on the wall, that's a different story :-D

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+1 mrbrett

Yeah, as they have less travel the floater makes less of a difference. I think a Stinky 6 is closer to a Dawg than a Stab and it would be fine without. Even on a Stab I think I’d trade having to finesse braking over all the faffing about that those brake arms created!

You are very much not alone in your interest in building an older rat rod. You can always do it, ride it, and flip it to a new rider. Save a bike from the bin and help get someone stoked on the sport and do a cool project - 3x winning!

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26isntquitedead
26isntquitedead
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I beleive it is, though my current 2005 nomad project has become max-max i think

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
0

That would be an interesting bike for Min-Max as long as it’s the V-1.5 (with the 1.5” head tube). My brother had a V-1 and it was a great bike (small for him though) but for the 1-1/8” head tube.

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26isntquitedead
26isntquitedead
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

It is a 1.5 head tube, ive mulleted it, stuck a 170mm fox dropper (this required some trimming of the seatube) and put a microshift 10 speed drivetrain.  I also did the bearings...i love the smaller more playful ride of it and i plan to slowly work my way through each gen as the price goes down and just transfer parts

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26isntquitedead
26isntquitedead
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Also, id be happy to send some photos your way!

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
0

That would be awesome. Photos and give me a breakdown of what it is, what it means to you, how long you've had it - basically why you bought it and why you're hanging on to it. It's a perfect rig for a Min-Max piece, not the least because of the model year.

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
0

It's crazy too how "modern" and unique they looked when they first came out. If the right deal on a coil shock comes across your bench most folks I know who owned those bikes found that they smoothed out the VPP-ness of them.

My brother went from his V1 to a first-gen carbon Nomad which he rode with a coil shock or an RP23 depending on what he was doing. He picked up a SWEET deal on the carbon Nomad because it was a QR rear end and Santa Cruz had just announced the .5 version of that bike using a thru-axle rear end (otherwise identical right down to the finish).

Then he moved many of the parts to a GG Smash, including Boostinating a pair of King hubs that did time on both Nomads. The GG even has a 49/49 headtube so the King headset from his carbon Nomad even moved over.

He keeps bikes for a relatively long time (particularly given that the decision to hang on to them isn't from financial pressure) but the (aluminum) GG Smash is on another level. I honestly could see him riding that bike 20-years from now. Their love is what has me semi-regularly checking what kind of deals are out there for a used (raw aluminum) MegaTrail. That's currently my dream project bike (new or used).

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LWK
LWK
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

How much would this all cost?  I think things like headsets, basic brakes arent too much money but when you start talking about forks/shocks/droppers are you not very quickly up into a price range where it might make more sense to just get a modern, albeit basic, hardtail (like the Trek Roscoe, Marin San Quintin entry models)?

Also, how much does this bike weigh?  I dont care much about weight for my personal bikes but I think for kids, who are learning and not as strong, its a more important consideration.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+2 BadNudes Lynx .

As I mentioned, I have a couple of friends who picked up near-new take-off forks for 2-3 bills in the last year. Be patient, keep your eyes open for a Gold 35, Aion, Z2, etc. In my mind, dropper, brakes, bearings and all, I was budgeting up to 1000 CAD. 

But that’s not 1000 CAD in one shot. That’s a bit at a time into a bike someone already owns. I think  this is worth noting because I see it as a very viable alternative to not riding while saving or financing a new bike.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+2 Karl Fitzpatrick Lynx .

For kids, can’t beat the wait savings and simplicity of a hardtail, especially on a budget.

I was supposed to be doing a whole series of budget (1-2k new) hardtail reviews this year. I’m actually in the middle of writing something about the project. Hoping companies will still be interested in the fall when I can properly ride.

I’d also love to write up some used hardtails for min-max. No submissions yet. Promise I won’t just recommend rigid forks and Plus tires on all of them!

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mammal
Mammal
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I read through the first 2/3 of this thinking the 'Barian had leap-frogged onto a min/maxed 26" bike already. I know kids grow quick, but that's ridiculous;)

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+6 Lynx . Velocipedestrian khai LWK Mammal mrbrett

Hahahaha so many folks thought this was The Clairebarian’s rig!

For the record, I told her papa only pays for hardtails. Her first full suspension bike she’ll be buying herself.

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velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I'm keeping Parents only pay for hardtails. I foresee that coming in handy.

I could submit the current state of my daughters 7th birthday bike, but with only 2 months to get it finished I'd be queue jumping hard to make use of any response.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
0

I'd queue jump you, or at the very least respond ASAP with any ideas I have. If you make the time to send me the photos and a description of what's going on and how you got there I'll make the time to hit you back.

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khai
khai
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

"papa only pays for hardtails. "

I can dig it.  My folks were happy enough to buy me kid bikes but once I wanted a mountain bike (or a road bike, for that matter) I was on my own...

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+3 Velocipedestrian cheapondirt mrbrett

As a teenager, my dad helped me out with my mountain bikes even though he really didn't understand the obsession. The risk? That obsession pulled me into the industry in college so I could continue to afford riding while going to school (staff deals on bikes from brands we sold used to be amazing), pulled me out of a 'career track' and back into the industry a year after I finished uni (where I learned many skills that continue to serve me well, thank you), and I've continued to dabble even though I've had a different 'career' for the last 7.5 years.

I will say, in public, talking to strangers, I always tell parents with a doctor, lawyer, rocket scientist, etc in their future to buy really, really, nice bikes for their kids until they're making six-figures themselves so they aren't pulled into the orbit of us rather-be-riding-so-we-will-be-riding ne'er-do-wells scraping by in the bicycle world. This is especially true for future-engineers who you definitely don't want getting any ideas about designing bikes for a living.

---

Also, full disclosure, if the right, fun, used project comes along when I have a teenager I'll drop that hardtail rule like a dirty rag if she agrees to do most the work herself.

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Lynx
Lynx .
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Andrew, I think that's GREAT parenting! These days too many parents (fathers) are putting <14 year old kids of FS bikes and doing them the disservice of not letting them build their bike handling skills properly. 

Don't get me wrong, the heavy, POS stuff from big box stores, I wouldn't dream of putting a kid on, not if I wanted them to really have fun and enjoy themselves, they're just too damn heavy, but a nice old HT with "upgrades" from Papa's spare parts bin from the "early years" to help keep weight down and quality up, is A++. I have a wide range of bike, once they're 26" wheeled, there's no problem finding cheap, decent quality wheels/rims for them, but below that, there's nary an aftermarket rim not seeming to be built for BMX or DJ with 36 holes and way, way overbuilt for a <100lb kid, there needs to be a better, lighter, more affordable option in the 20" and 24" market.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 jgoon

I don’t make any such claims, there’s a lot of ways to raise kidlets and financially only a few of them are available to me, so I certainly can’t claim to have tried / thought of everything. My only solid parenting advice is “go outside” and from there it’s a combo of ripping off stuff I’ve seen work and winging it. 

I’ve been very fortunate to spend a lot of time with my daughter relative to what most anyone I know gets with their kids these days and that I wouldn’t trade for anything. It helps to have good part time gigs working for folks that support my goals.

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Lynx
Lynx .
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Well, I think compared to a lot of modern parents, it's great parenting - give your kid what they need, teach them to work for what they want. Not saying that if a super deal came up on a nice, shorter travel 26" FS, that it wouldn't be right to get it and build it, just not let the kid expect that sort of thing and be absolutely fully appreciative if something like that happens.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Thanks. I much appreciate your comment, and clearly I think it’s the best way. 

I’m just very cognizant that everyone makes their best choices for their family and children and those choices may be very different from our own.

mnihiser
mnihiser
1 month, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Not sure if people know about these guys but they offer some great wheel adapters and misc stuff. Very nice machining and reasonable $$. https://mtbtools.com/?v=7516fd43adaa

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velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
1 month, 3 weeks ago
0

First look at the site has puzzled me. Why a massive Made In USA logo next to the photo of Queenstown?

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Thanks, haven’t checked them out before.

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jgoon
jgoon
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Really love this series, hope it keeps going!  I'm wrestling with the idea of mini-maxing my 2010 transition bottlerocket, but the tiny reach (394mm size small) is holding me back.  It was the recommended size for me (5'9") back in the day, but can I make it work as a trail bike today?  How long in the stem is acceptable these days?? Plan-B is to have a kid purely so they can ride it when they're 12.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 jgoon

That’s a tough one. I don’t usually go over 70mm but stems are relatively cheap, so test ride then decide?

I’m 5’9” and even a medium BR feels pretty small these days - but I ride long bikes (generally test large frames, my personal bike is a 480mm Reach / 30mm stem) so who’s to say I know anything? The good news is they’re solid and you can pick one up relatively cheap so you and your future kid can ride matching ones - the only question is medium or large for you? (Hahaha).

Glad you’re liking the series!

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Lynx
Lynx .
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Agree with Andrew on stem length, these days I stop at 70mm, if you need it any longer to make it fit right for Trail, NOT XC riding, then I think too small. 

I'll now go on to vastly contrast Andrews fit/sizing and say I'm 6'2", serious ape index and I ride between a 450-483mm Reach between my 3 bikes and all work well for me.

  • My 450mm Reach/616mm Stack bike is my size L V1 Banshee Phantom I just resurrected and it runs a 70mm/0 stem, 5mm spacer under it and 780mm wide/9 degree sweep, low rise bar.
  • The next biggest is my Banshee XL PP/V1 Prime with a 475mm Reach/633mm Stack and I run that with a 40mm/0 stem slammed on the headset and 780mm wide/9 degree sweep, low rise bar.
  • Finally there's my 2018 XL Kona Unit rigid 29+ with a 483mm Reach/601mm Stack, I run an external cup which both raises the BB, slackens the HTA/STA and shortens the Reach by a few MM and I run a 50mm/0 stem with 20mm of spacers and a 780mm wide/16 degree sweep, low rise bar.

Now I'm not lucky like Andrew, I don't live in one of the best MTB mecas in the world with access to super steep and janky stuff all day long, but we do have a few steep, tech and janky trails I enjoy riding, but in general my rides are on the longer side and involve a lot of seated, more XC pedaling and also less steep climbs and rolling trails, interspersed with a few steep and technical downs if I have the fitness to link it all up. As I've stated in another thread or two, the only one that might be a tad short is the Phantom, 10-15mm more would be ideal for how I like to set it up, the rest are perfect.

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mnihiser
mnihiser
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I think that is Lake Tahoe. The parts I ordered definitely shipped from California.

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mack_turtle
Jonathan Nolte
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

I think I'm back to min-maxing my 2016 SS Karate Monkey. I had planned to buy a new "modern" frame or bike soon, but I can't justify the expense with travel, veterinary, medical, and other upcoming expenses, not to mention out of control inflation. so I gotta work with what I got: 120mm travel hardtail with a "super short" 425mm-ish reach and a 70mm stem to make it fit me in such a way that I don't feel like a circus bear on a trike. (I'm 5'9" or 174cm tall.)

Any idea what I could do to make this bike feel more stable and confident at speed on relatively flat, tight, twisty central Texas terrain? 70 is the shortest I can go with the stem. my handlebar has 12° of backsweep with no forward wiggle, so that shortens it a bit and a handlebar change might mitigate that. I can stretch the back end out longer, but I like doin' wheelies and stuff. an angle-adjusting headset won't change the fit of the bike as much as I thought it would, but I don't want to over- or under-do that change. it would be silly to spend over $100 on a headset unless it's going to really change the feel of the bike. the BB is quite high, so a shorter fork is the only way I can think to adjust that.

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vincentaedwards
Vincent Edwards
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Jonathan Nolte

I’m with Andrew on the -2 headset… that will make a noticing difference. It’s too bad you can’t lower the fork. I don’t think 4mm of stem above the steer tube is a serious concern as long as the clamping bolts are below the top of the steer tube (but maybe get a 2nd opinion on this)

I’d also be on the lookout for a used 2016 or newer Kona honzo ST frame- they are longer and slacker with a low BB. If you could sell your frame for $150 and buy a honzo for $350 that might put you ahead of other parts changes with a bike that fits you a lot better. I believe  2017 and beyond honzo got a 450 reach for the medium. They use a tapered headtube so you would need a headset, but everything else could transfer. You could do a -1 headset on the honzo but for Texas 67-68 HA is probably just fine when paired with a longer reach. I’m in NW Arkansas and I still ride and love my Medium 2016 ti honzo SS with a 130m fork.

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Lynx
Lynx .
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

I present to you the future of your Monkey, 650B+ 2.8" rear/29x3.0" front :-D If you want to keep/use a sus fork, then I'd go for a 29x2.6" tyre on i35 rim upfront if that will fit, but basically i35 rims built to 650B/29" hoops and tyres to suit. Running the mullet will slacken the HTA out by almost 1.5 degrees by my calculations when I did it.

Making this setup completely changed my '08 Monkey and make it a lot more "real" trail friendly, especially the steep stuff, it was so fun, but then when it was approaching 10 years old, I decided it had served me well and to replace it with an '18 Unit for more Reach and slacker HTA running 29+ F&R.

650B+/29+ Monkey

You could pick up a Set of these for about $146 US + shipping and relace your current wheels.

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mack_turtle
Jonathan Nolte
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

I'll keep that in mind, but new tires and wheels would actually cost more than a new frame. Money is the limiting factor here. I'll keep an eye out for used wheels and such.

Those rims could work, but my hubs are both 28h. I build my own wheels, so calculating spoke lengths and lacing them up would be no problem otherwise.

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T0m
T0m
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+3 Andrew Major Jonathan Nolte Lynx .

Karate Monkeys are kinda short in reach but not unreasonably so. Going to a 650b rear wheel would actually shorten reach as well as slack out the seat angle just as much as the head angle, IMO not that helpful. A shorter fork will only make head and seat angle steeper, lower the BB slightly, and give a minimal increase to reach, also not a positive set of changes if you want stability. 

An angleset lowers the BB height a bit and steepens seat angle about +.1 degree per -.5 degree of head angle. It does multiple positive changes to older MTB geometry as the slacker head angle increases trail, front center, and wheelbase. Steeper seat angle? Slight, but yes. Lower BB height? Slightly, but also yes. They do shorten reach but that is a few mm overall not significant. A 2016 KM has a 44mm head tube and Works Components has a perfect -2 degree EC44 candidate for you at about 60 GBP.

I have used an Angleset -1.5 and Works Components -2 equivalents for almost a decade now and am definitely biased but always think they make a positive change. Also don’t discount sliding those rear dropouts all the way back. It’s free and a reversible change. Long chainstays have no downsides in my opinion, except for some strange cases like fatbikes in soft snow.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+3 Jonathan Nolte Lynx . Vincent Edwards

I think the answer depends a bit on what 120mm fork you’re riding, but if it’s me I’d install a -2* Angleset and lower the fork to 90mm. This will lengthen Reach, slack out HTA and steepen STA a bit. 

If you have any spacers under your stem I’d ditch them (slam stem) and make up the height with a taller bar. This doesn’t change Reach as we measure it but it makes a difference to your effective position on the bike.

Run the rear wheel as far back as it goes. At least for a few rides to get used to it. The increase in stability from a centimetre of rear-center is more notable than a cm of front-center in terms of stability but it will affect your ability to handle your bike way less than you think once you’re used to it. If it was a pump track bike you wouldn’t be looking to add stability.

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mack_turtle
Jonathan Nolte
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

good stuff. i might just try a -2° angleset. I can try longer chainstays at some point but I'll need to "lengthen" the chain. 30/19 works great at just under 430mm. the fork has a range of 120-140mm, so it's as low as it goes. the handlebar is about as low as it can go- tiny spacer, angled down, nearly-flat rise handlebar. I like it low.

edit: dang, my Cane Creek Forty (ZS44 top, EC44 bottom) has a total stack height of 20mm, plus a single 5mm spacer on top of the bearing cover. I cut the steerer short so there's a tiny 3mm or so spacer on top of my stem to compress the headset without the cap bottoming out on the top of the fork. the top of the fork is just a hair short of the top of the stem. the stem itself is about 40mm tall.

The Wolftooth -2° headset is 29mm total stack. if I take out the spacer, that leaves the steerer 4mm short of the top of the stem. that's probably ok, but it's a bit dodgy. maybe a stem with a shorter stack would help, but I feel like I'm grasping at straws.

Lynx
Lynx .
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 T0m

Straight up have to appologise, had some trouble correlating date and time, seems like just "yesterday' that the "new" Monkey was released, when in fact it was already 6 years ago in 2016, brain just did not equate :-\ Suggested the 650B+ rear as that's all the PLUS you could fit in the old version, biggest 29er was 2.4" and that ain't even close to plus and plus makes a world of difference. 

Yeah, with the new ones they went to the 44 HT, so you could run an angleset if you want it to be slacker, but definitely try the longer setting in the stays, balances the bike out really nicely, especially for climbing, for me at least, still only 423mm. Just measured a wide variety of stems and they're all about 40mm stack, although I do know that they're a few out there with less, so wouldn't be cheap.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Agreed. Works makes great headsets.

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T0m
T0m
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

If the steerer tube will end up only 4mm short of the stem top I would not be especially concerned though it’s not ideal. Any more than that would be a no go for me. Works’ -2 set appears to have a total stack of 25mm, but the Wolftooths are very nice units. Hope you can find a way.

flattire2
Brian Tuulos
1 month, 2 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Perfect.  She looks about 5'-7" and is on a old skool M or L

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

Yeah, good example of sizing up from what would have been standard in 2009.

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Vikb
Vik Banerjee
1 month, 3 weeks ago
0

This comment has been removed.

T-mack
T-mack
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

my farts are so bad at work

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month, 2 weeks ago
0

I don’t get the joke?

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