New bike project

edited April 2014 in The Pub
Before I moved to California, I converted an '80s Huffy road bike to a single speed, and chronicled the project on Icrontic. For a while after moving, I had no bike. Before the single speed, I owned a 2005 Specialized Allez Sport road bike, which set the bar pretty high. I couldn't just go out to Wal-Mart and pick up some POS $60 bike, and bikes are popular enough out here that even on Craiglist, a decent ride will cost more than my unemployed self can afford.

My original road bike:
<a href=""; title="Specialized Allez Sport by ghoosdum, on Flickr"><img src=""; width="500" height="334" alt="Specialized Allez Sport" /></a>

My single speed project at completion:
<a href=""; title="Single speed completed by ghoosdum, on Flickr"><img src=""; width="500" height="334" alt="Single speed completed" /></a>

Eventually, I found a local eBay seller who had some mountain bikes for sale at reasonable prices, and he offered "local pickup only" - I scored a '90s Mongoose MTB for $25, the starting bid. It was well used and kind of rusty, but a cheap ride. A couple weeks later I bought my wife a 1986 Nishiki Ariel in almost perfect condition from the same seller for $45. That bike turned out to be too tall for her, and I later found her a Univega hybrid for $35, each bike being about 10% of the original store price... each of these would still sell for over $100, if not about $200, on Craigslist here. I took over the Nishiki as my new project:
<a href=""; title="Nishiki front tube logo by ghoosdum, on Flickr"><img src=""; width="500" height="375" alt="Nishiki front tube logo" /></a>
<a href=""; title="Ariel logo on top tube by ghoosdum, on Flickr"><img src=""; width="500" height="375" alt="Ariel logo on top tube" /></a>

The Nishiki Ariel in 'as purchased' condition:
<a href=""; title="Nishiki Ariel as purchased by ghoosdum, on Flickr"><img src=""; width="500" height="338" alt="Nishiki Ariel as purchased" /></a>
It has a very '80s MTB look to it, gumwall tires and a full Chromoly frame.

The tires were very dry-rotted from years of storage, so my first order of business was picking up a new set.
<a href=""; title="Old Tire from Nishiki Ariel by ghoosdum, on Flickr"><img src=""; width="500" height="375" alt="Old Tire from Nishiki Ariel" /></a>

I found a good deal on some street tires, in a 26"x1.5" size, on Amazon for $13 each.
<a href=""; title="New tires by ghoosdum, on Flickr"><img src=""; width="500" height="375" alt="New tires" /></a>

The tire change updated the bike's look considerably, and reduced the rolling resistance so the bike is very quick on the street now.
<a href=""; title="Nishiki Ariel with street tires by ghoosdum, on Flickr"><img src=""; width="500" height="319" alt="Nishiki Ariel with street tires" /></a>

My future plans for the bike include a grip or handlebar change, a new saddle to replace the wide squishy one that's on the bike (already on order), and I'm going to transplant the indexed shifting system over from the Mongoose bike, which is still sitting in my garage.


  • I'm also going to remove the plastic frisbee from the back wheel, of course.
  • GargGarg Purveyor of Lincoln Nightmares
    Awesome bikes! I was thinking about your previous writeup just a couple days ago. I think the urge to tweak can easily spill over the boundaries from computers, to bikes, to cars. Stupid expensive hobbies. Keep us posted with your mods!

    I've been fiddling with my bike recently, mainly patching tires and replacing tubes - I'm getting flats constantly with all the glass that's on the streets of Columbus. I've got the bug to do some real modifications now. I'm thinking about replacing the front fork and converting to disc breaks, and I need to learn how to properly tune my derailleurs.

    I've got a GT Pantera mountain bike, and I think what I generally want to do is move it towards the road bike side of the spectrum a tad. It's a great dirt bike as is, but it hardly ever sees dirt these days. Given my time and money constraints right now, all I'll probably do in the short term is get smoother tires.
  • primesuspectprimesuspect Beepin n' Boopin Detroit, MI
    Alright, so I have this bike, of the department-store-special variety, that squeaks and moans something awful when I ride. It needs a lube job BAD.

    I was gonna wait until I had a spare $50 or whatever to take it to a local bike shop for a tuneup, but now I am beginning to remember that as a kid, I bought and tweaked my own freestyle bikes, including an almost completely rebuilt GT Performer. Also, I helped my friends tweak theirs. Jeff had a Haro Master, another friend had a GT Pro Freestyle Tour, etc.

    We spent tons of time and money at the local skater/surfer/bike shop, drooling over custom cranks, gears, hubs, detanglers, rims, etc.

    I did all of my own maintenance and upgrades to my GT Performer and Pro Performer. There is no reason why, if I could do that at 13 and 14, I couldn't do that now on my crap-ass mountain bike.

    Thanks for the inspiration. Time to re-teach myself how to take apart a bike.
  • Smoother tires make a huge difference, Garg. I'd say it's the #1 mod to make an MTB more streetable.

    prime, if you worked on them as a kid you'll find it to be a piece of cake now. For some of the more in-depth stuff, like servicing the headset and bottom bracket, these sources are great for repair info:

    The first and third links include adjustment procedures for derailleurs.

    Another big tip: don't use straight oil on the chain, and DEFINITELY don't use WD-40 as a lubricant (it is not a lubricant). Clean the chain thoroughly and use a lubricant specifically designed for bikes. I use Dumonde Tech Lube because that's what my LBS recommended but any bike shop will have a selection of specific chain lubes, any of them will be worlds better than oil.
  • BuddyJBuddyJ Dept. of Propaganda OKC
    I was thinking about GH's single speed project the other day too! It sure looked awesome. I can't wait to see how this turns out too.

    Prime, one thing we have here in OKC is a hippy collective bike commune shop. It's free and stays quite busy. Basically, they buy old bikes at garage sales and fix them up, giving them back to the community to use in Borrow-A-Bike programs. They also let people service their rides at the shop. Surely there's some place like that with the D being as big as it it. See what's in your area and get connected.
  • edited April 2014

    So, remember, here's what the Nishiki Ariel looked like when I bought it:

    Nishiki Ariel as purchased

    Here's the current (finished) state:


    I converted the bike to a 1x7 setup, by removing the middle and inner chainrings on the crank, and I also installed an index shifted Shimano Exage 500 rear derailleur and shifter combination. I'm still working on final adjustment, as it will drop the chain under load when shifted to the largest (inner) cog, but the pedaling effort is nonexistent in that gear combo so I'm fine with a 1x6 for now anyway. The remaining chainring is a 48 tooth, so it's a pretty easy ride. I also added a set of bar ends for additional hand positions.

    The pedals are Nashbar Soho pedals, which I think are pretty slick: they're SPD clipless on one side and platform on the other side so I can ride it with casual shoes or my biking shoes.

    As a side note, if @djmeph‌ runs a bike tour this year at Expo, this is the bike I will bring.

    //edit: sorry @BuddyJ‌ to make you wait so long to see how it turned out.

  • edited April 2014

    So... since @Zanthian‌ got me thinking about road riding again, I started shopping for a road bike, because I can't sustain over 14-15MPH on the Nishiki.

    Back in high school I bought a late '70s/early '80s Schwinn Le Tour from a local Goodwill for ten bucks. I don't remember when I got rid of it or why, but I miss that bike. It was a comfortable riding frame and had a component group a step above what you find on mass-market bikes from *Mart.

    I've been periodically searching eBay and locally for something similar. I did some additional research, and found the Scwhinn Tempo was the sweet spot in their lineup in the '80s: similar to but better frame than the Le Tour (lugged and double-butted Columbus Tenax Chromoly), along with a component group for more serious riders.

    Recently, my eBay search for the Tempo turned up this gem:


    That's the picture from the eBay listing itself. I bought it for $225 and all I have done so far is a pedal swap for my Shimano SPD pedals, and replaced the original brake pads (which were hard as rocks but unused) with a set of Shimano BR-5700 cartridge pads.

    I think I stumbled upon a true gem. This bike is fast, comfortable, and only 22lbs stock!

    Here's a link to the original 1985 Schwinn catalog's Tempo page. Here are the original specs (Tempo is the middle column). The component group on this bike is roughly equivalent to a Shimano 105/Tiagra mix in today's groupsets, and the bike I bought is mostly stock, and virtually unridden. The only wear showing on this bike is some scuffing and scratching from years of storage, but other than that it's clean and new.

    I plan to put on a new saddle, as the original Avocet saddle jams me in the jimmies after a few miles. Aside from that I plan to ride this season without modifying the bike since it's so pristine.

  • GnomeWizarddGnomeWizardd Member 4 Life Akron, PA

    I have an old schwinn I wanna strip down and Paint Black also switch to a Fixed Bike. I should start looking into it now this lights a fire

  • @GnomeWizardd said:
    I have an old schwinn I wanna strip down and Paint Black also switch to a Fixed Bike. I should start looking into it now this lights a fire

    What year/model is your old Schwinn? It's possible to find PDF copies of almost every year Schwinn catalog to get detailed information on your bike as it originally came from the factory.

  • GnomeWizarddGnomeWizardd Member 4 Life Akron, PA

    No Clue I'll have to search on the bike later on

  • edited April 2014

    For those who were interested in the original thread for my single speed conversion, I realized that all of the pics were broken since they were part of an old vBulletin album here on Icrontic. I updated all the photos in the thread with flickr links, so the photos are all visible again.

    I also realized that in my years-long neglect of my Flickr bike photoset, some folks had posted questions on the photo comments, so I posted links from all of the bike photos back to these Icrontic threads for future reference.

  • NiGHTSNiGHTS San Diego

    Do you have any sort of idiot's guide to bike hunting? Every time I start I become so frustrated - they seem ridiculously overpriced in the local market (both beach and road) and I end up giving up.

    I just don't know bikes well enough to know when I'm getting a deal and when I'm getting hosed...

  • d3k0yd3k0y Loveland, OH

    I'd love to pick up a bike to ride into work, but apparently I am in the Bicycle Capital of Ohio and the only bikes I can find from local people (eBay/Craigs) are like 600+ Italian made roadsters with a freaking sidecar or something. I don't much care for most of the bikes at WallyWorld. I really wanted a solid frame fixie just because Premium Rush made it look fun as hell to ride.

  • edited April 2014

    @NiGHTS said:
    Do you have any sort of idiot's guide to bike hunting? Every time I start I become so frustrated - they seem ridiculously overpriced in the local market (both beach and road) and I end up giving up.

    I just don't know bikes well enough to know when I'm getting a deal and when I'm getting hosed...

    Great question. It's especially tough in SoCal to get a good deal on a decent quality bike. Get ready for a wall of text.

    The way I do it is first choosing the style of bike I'm looking for: mountain, road, or hybrid/comfort. Then I pick the frame construction. I stay away from Carbon Fiber for frame and fork material because of cost and the possibility for unseen stress fractures in the substrate (due to previous owner crashes) leading to sudden catastrophic failure down the road. Aluminum is either/or for me, but usually the most affordable bikes are solidly crafted steel bikes from the '80s and '90s. Generally I try to go for 4130 Chromoly steel or better.

    My Nishiki Ariel is 4130 Chromoly, which I found out by Google searching the model when I was researching my purchase, and was confirmed by a badge on the chain stay. The Schwinn Tempo uses Columbus Tenax, which is a brand name for a type of chromoly that's double-butted. The Tempo frame is also lugged. "Butted" is a term for the practice of having additional thickness in the part of the tube where you need extra strength - the joints - and thinner tubes elsewhere for weight savings. "Lugged" means there are additional fittings at the joints, which was originally done to decrease brazing temperature (high temps can weaken the metal) but isn't strictly necessary anymore, with MIG and TIG welding techniques being what they are these days.

    Personally, I feel that frame choice is the #1 concern because every other component on the bike can be changed out over time, but the frame has a huge impact on your ride. I choose double-butted Chromoly because it walks a delicate balance between weight, strength, and flexibility, and as long as you don't let it rust the bike can last a lifetime. Some examples of common brands with good frames from the '80s and early '90s are Schwinn, Trek, Fuji, Panasonic, Motobecane, Univega, and Specialized. For various reasons, starting roughly in the mid-'90s, a lot of manufacturers started using mass-market aluminum frames from Taiwan. I don't mean to say Taiwanese aluminum frames are bad, per se, but you stop seeing good steel frames on the market at this point.

    The next issue I concern myself about is fit. Most listings include a "frame size" which is somewhat helpful to know (usually a measure of the seat tube length alone), but more important is standover height. Basically, you want at least an inch of clearance (ideally 1.5") between your junk and the top tube when you dismount the saddle and stand over the bike. Once you get on the bike, however, you also want to make sure that your reach is okay. There's a little wiggle room here in stem and handlebar choice, but this is mostly determined by the top tube length. Bikes frames usually follow a pretty close ratio in seat tube and top tube to maintain their geometry. If you can't reach the bars and ride with correct posture, it's better to have a bike with extra standover distance than it is to have a bike that's the "right" height but too far of a reach. Correct posture depends somewhat on what type of bike you're riding, but a wealth of information on how to achieve correct posture and bike adjustment can be found in Sheldon Brown's excellent article on Bicycling and Pain.

    Now, you could find a bike that seems like a great fit, but a lot of older steel-framed and newer aluminum-framed bikes are still cheap pieces of crap. 4130 Chromoly is one decent indicator of quality, but some crappy bikes could feature chromoly, and the grade of steel is not always noticeable from a listing.

    At the risk of inciting the ire of many, I would also posit that any bike that comes with a kickstand from the factory is a cheap bike.

    Another key indicator I use is the crank, since usually a listing will have a photo where you can see the crank.

    This is what a one-piece crank looks like:

    Unless the bike is free or really cheap, I tend to stay away from these. For bikes built in the '80s through the present, a one-piece crank is an indicator of a low-end mass market bike. They're also quite heavy.

    A three-piece crank is detachable from the bottom bracket, like this crank arm:

    If you have a keen eye, you can usually tell from even the most sparse listing photos what type of crank the bike has.

    Next, component group. This isn't always an indicator either since component groups can be swapped out on a bike, but usually people who own cheap bikes won't spend the time or money swapping on expensive components. The best place to tell the component group on listing photos is the rear derailleur, however, if only the rear derailleur is a high spec component, it could be red herring.

    Here's a rough guide to Shimano component groups (I don't really know Sun Tour, SRAM, and Campagnolo groups well enough to guide you). I've put each in order from low end to high end, with a rough intermixing of current and older component groups to indicate what might be on bikes of any age you're looking to buy.

    Mountain Bike and most Hybrid/Comfort bikes:

    SIS, Tourney, 100GS, Altus, 200GS, Acera, Alivio, Exage, Deore, Deore LX, SLX, Deore XT, Zee, Saint, XTR

    Road Bikes:

    SIS, 2200/2300/2400, Claris, Sora, Tiagra, 505, 105, 600, Ultegra, Dura-Ace

    General consensus (assuming such a thing exists) among the bike community is that when considering price/performance for those becoming serious about riding, Deore is the sweet spot in the MTB lineup and 105 is the sweet spot in road component groups, although other component groups each have their own advocates.

    Usually if a bike has just "SIS" components then it's department-store grade, and Acera/Sora and above tend to be bike store grade. I'd recommend starting at bike store quality as a general rule of thumb. Anything above Deore/105 tends to be pretty expensive, even in the used market, unless it's trashed.

    Putting all the above rules of thumb into effect, I tend to find the best bike deals on eBay with "local pickup only" terms, at yard sales, and at thrift stores (if you're willing to work on the bike). Craigslist tends to have only department store bikes if you're looking for low price, but if you're looking to spend over $300 on a bike you can score a good high end bike on CL sometimes. It often takes a lot of searching.

    The best deals are usually found on bikes that need some work, but keep in mind that the lower you go on bike quality, the faster you eclipse the bike's value on replacement parts! Sadly, I had to put about $70 in parts on a $10 bike when I did the single speed conversion on the Huffy Dash.

    TL;DR: (Warning: contradictions ahead) If you find a bike that fits well, is priced well, and you're comfortable with its weight, get it and ride the crap out of it. I broke all of my above rules (except for price) when I did the single speed conversion hack, and still had fun. Whatever gets you riding is what's best.

  • edited April 2014

    @d3k0y said:
    I'd love to pick up a bike to ride into work, but apparently I am in the Bicycle Capital of Ohio and the only bikes I can find from local people (eBay/Craigs) are like 600+ Italian made roadsters with a freaking sidecar or something. I don't much care for most of the bikes at WallyWorld. I really wanted a solid frame fixie just because Premium Rush made it look fun as hell to ride.

    Yep, Loveland probably is the bicycle capital of Ohio. That's both a blessing and a curse, as I've found some good bikes (in need of work) at the Loveland Goodwill. In fact, that's where I bought my original Schwinn Le Tour. It's also worlds easier to find cheap bikes here than it was in SoCal!

    As you're looking, keep an eye on the rear wheel dropouts. You'll want horizontal or track dropouts (vs vertical dropouts) to avoid having to add a chain tensioner and cluttering up the works.

    I'm in Milford and I've always got my eyes open. If you want, I can keep a lookout for good fixie candidates for you, assuming you want to do a build. If you want me to look, let me know your height and standover.

    //edit: Here's one on eBay right now that's a good candidate. It's a tall frame (25"), though, and I don't know your fit.

  • drasnordrasnor Starship Operator Hawthorne, CA

    What's the preferred method of inhibiting rust on a frame that already has chipped paint?

  • @drasnor said:
    What's the preferred method of inhibiting rust on a frame that already has chipped paint?

    Depends on how deep you want to go into a project. For spot treating surface rust, I usually use that rust inhibitor stuff. It's essentially phosphoric acid so it results in a chemical reaction that converts iron oxide into iron phosphate, then put a coat of touch up paint over that. You can also sand it off completely and repaint the section.

    Or, if you want to do a ton of work, strip the frame and repaint it completely, but that loses most of the vintage value of the frame if you're going for hipster quality.

    Deeper than surface rust, and I start to worry. That's what I had when I ground off the kickstand weld on the single speed conversion. For that, ground as much as I could out, treated it with phosphoric acid, goobed in some epoxy, spray painted over it, and then hoped for the best! It was down under a chainstay so it isn't a visible spot when you look at the bike - but it is structural!

  • d3k0yd3k0y Loveland, OH

    @GHoosdum said:
    //edit: Here's one on eBay right now that's a good candidate. It's a tall frame (25"), though, and I don't know your fit.

    I have a 31" foot to crotch (is that what the inseam is?) so 25" frame should fit pretty well. I am going to do a quick round through CL, that one on eBay looks nice too.

  • edited April 2014

    My inseam is about the same measurement, and I ride a 23" frame on the Schwinn. Keep in mind the frame measurement is generally from the middle of the bottom bracket to the center of the top tube (although in the eBay listing the seller says it's to the top of the top tube in this case), so depending upon the frame geometry, the bottom bracket ground clearance will add several more inches. Some of the older touring bikes had lower bottom brackets than today's race geometry, though, so this 25" frame might be a fit for you regardless.

  • NiGHTSNiGHTS San Diego

    Can we get forum flair of foot to crotch measurement please @lincoln?

    Thanks for the help Ghoose, I realize that you buying me a bike would be a wonderful repayment for making me buy extra DLC in Civ!

  • d3k0yd3k0y Loveland, OH

    Not sure how I feel about the colors, but it looks pretty decent. Never heard of "Thruster" before though.

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