In-Depth post #4: Buying a hub, Boxxer forks, and defying the laws of time

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For this update, I’ll start by explaining how to defy the laws of time itself, with next to no effort. It works quite simply: All of my updates are actually in the past-tense, since a lot of the work I did started before the project was assigned since that’s when bike parts are cheapest (September-December). I knew that the project was going to be assigned since my sister went through the same program, so I decided to start early and take notes as to what I did and when, meaning that nearly everything I’m talking about is in the past-tense. In the current day (when this is posted) I already have all the parts, the only thing left to do is to build it up. However, in this update, the bike is just a frame and a rear shock, with some wheels that I had from my old bike which I can’t put on yet. However, my work with the mentor is present tense. I didn’t need a mentor to buy parts, since that would make my project into a bartering topic. Instead I bought the parts already, and the mentor is teaching how to build them in the present tense. So without further ado, I present to you two different timelines.

Timeline 1, buying parts:

Without much luck finding parts at local stores and Pinkbike, I had earlier turned to ChainReactionCycles (see last post) to acquire some of the more specific and harder to find parts. However, there was still one odd shop that I did not look at yet. In the summer, my dad had spotted a little shop called North Shore Sports Swap, and decided to look in quickly. In a display case, they surprisingly had a large selection of Shimano Saint parts, which are some of the best parts you can come by. Searching through the case, he found a set of cranks normally priced at $250. At this hidden shop, they were a meager $120 for last year’s model. Without even hesitating to see if I actually wanted them, he went ahead and bought the set, then got me to pay him back. I didn’t argue, since it was a great deal. Now, back in the present (past tense present), I decided to go back and see if they had gotten anything interesting. Upon my return, I realized that hardly any of the Saint parts had been sold, and it had been nearly 2 months. This was highly confusing, but I had no reason to complain since it just meant that I could get all the good deals. What I was after was the Saint rear hub, which was normally priced at $220. Here, it was only $90. Why? I don’t actually know. My assumption is that the store got a large shipment of parts from someone else who couldn’t sell them before the newest model came in, and since nobody looking for expensive bike parts really came through their shop, all the parts were priced insanely low. After hunting through I find the right size of hub for my frame, and got it without hesitation. I knew right away that I wanted to get it, since I need all the good deals that I can get. So far, my parents paid for the frame since I needed a new one anyways, and I have been paying for the rest using saved up money from a paper route and dog sitting jobs, and birthday and Christmas money. In the present (present as in now in real life) the bike ended up being $2150, and I still have around $600 left in my open account, with another $1000 left in a locked account. I guess saving all of my money really ‘PAID OFF’ (get it?).

After having success in the local shops, I went back on Pinkbike to continue looking for a fork. I spent a couple of weeks monitoring the prices so that I could guarantee I was getting a good deal. After searching through a variety of prices ($400-$600 for the exact same quality), I was able to find a 2009 Boxxer Team dual crown fork for a low price of $300, much cheaper than anything else that I could find. Although it’s a bit of an older fork, it’s in great condition, and the guy that had it before me ended up replacing the interiors as well as getting a new set of stanchions which are TI Nitrite, a material that makes them slide much smoother. The downside is that they wear out faster, but based on their condition I don’t have any concerns about it at the moment. The lowers of the fork are pretty scratched up, and they’re a relatively boring silver colour with torn up decals. There’s dirt caked on them, and one of the crowns was painted, but it’s wearing off now. Although it’s a pretty nasty looking fork right now, I have a plan to make it look a whole lot better. I’m going to be ordering a new set of decals, then I’m going to fill in some of the scratches and marks before repainting the whole thing. I’ll also end up cleaning the worn out paint on the crown.

 

Timeline 2, mentorship:

Back in the present, where I already have nearly all of the parts needed to make my bike, I have started working with Dave McInnes at the BicycleHub, and for my first day of work we were going to rebuild my back wheel with some new spokes and nipples. Yes, nipples are a part, they’re the little screws that hold the spokes and rim together. Recently, I had gotten some anodized red nipples that I wanted to put on with black spokes to replace my silver and silver combination. To start off, we took the wheel off the bike and removed the tire and tube from the rim. With my beefy Nevegal tires, taking them off the rim is an absolute pain, but it’s not as bad as some other types of tires. Once the tire was off, the next step was to release the tension from the nipples. This had to be done evenly, since if you released all the tension in one area, but another area was still tight, it would warp the rim. To release tension, a spoke wrench is used to turn each nipple one full turn looser, going around the rim twice. At this point, a large majority of the tension is released, so a screwdriver can be used to loosen them off the rest of the way. An important thing to note is that on the rear wheel, the spokes on each side are different length. This is because the hub is offset on the rear so that it can hold the cassette, and to make the wheel centered one side of the spokes needs to be longer. Because of this, the spokes on each side need to be put in separate piles so that they don’t get mixed together. Once all the spokes have been removed, the next step is to use a spoke calculator to find the length of the new spokes. Doing this involves using a caliper to measure a bunch of sizes on the hub, then inputting them into the calculator. The calculator will then tell you what length of spokes you need. For my hub, I needed 16 spokes that were 258mm long, and 16 spokes that were 260mm long. I had a set of 258 spokes, but neither Dave nor I had a set of 260mm spokes. Dave did have a set of 259mm, so we used those instead. A 1mm allowance will still work, but a 2mm allowance starts to get a bit too high. My old spokes on that rim were significantly too long, 260mm and 262mm, and although they still worked they just barely did.

After finding the correct length of spoke, they then get laced into the hub and rim. Laced meaning put into all the correct holes and loosely screwed on. Because the lacing process would take an entire page to explain to someone who knows nothing about the parts, I’m not going to bother trying. Dave’s lacing technique was a bit different than the one I had seen before. Spokes are usually laced in 3 cross, meaning each spoke crosses over 3 other spokes before it enters its hole. Most people lace their rims so that there is no cross on top of the valve hole, giving you easy access to pump up the tire. However, Dave prefers to lace his rims so that the valve hole does have a cross on top of it, making it harder to pump but giving the rim much more stability, so following along with his technique I got the rim laced. The next step is to tighten all the spokes to what is called “working tension”. To find the tension, a tool is used to grab on to the spoke and flex it, the tool then shows you the tension. I don’t actually know what the measurement is, but working tension reads 15 on the tool’s scale. 15 is the working tension since before that tension, tightening or loosening the spokes won’t actually change anything. Once it is at 15, tightening a spoke will pull the rim to that side. Once all the spokes are tightened, you spin the rim in the trueing stand (a stand the holds the rim so you can spin it) and see where the rim has wobbles side to side. To find and fix these wobbles, you push in the feelers on the stand (metal arms that are put next to the rim), and when the rim brushes against the feeler, you know that there is a wobble to that side. To fix these impurities in the rim, you tighten spokes on the opposite side of the wobble, pulling the rim to that side, and causing it to straighten out again. After you are done checking the side to side straightness, you check if there are any high or low dips in the rim. If there was a low dip, you would tighten the spokes on the dip to pull the rim back up. There are two important steps in this: 1. You can only tighten spokes in even numbers, if you tighten an odd number of spokes the rim will get a side to side wobble, and 2. the spokes on the outside of the dip get tightened less than the spokes on the inside of the dip, ensuring that you tighten it with the curve. For high spots, you loosen instead of tighten but follow the same process. After fixing dips in the rim, you stress the rim by pushing it against the wall on each side of the hub, making quarter turns as you go around the entire rim. This ensures that all the spokes have been settled properly. Next you check dish, which means how centered the rim is on the hub. If the dish is further to the right than the left, you tighten the left side spokes only to pull it back to the center. After you have finished all these steps, check the tension and then repeat until all the spokes are close to the recommended tension (mine were a tension of 23) and make sure the rim has no impurities. All of this took me around three and a half hours from start to finish. Doing this at Dave’s shop ended up being a lot better than doing it at home, since he has a few specific tools at his shop that I don’t have which made the process a lot easier. His trueing stand is also a much more expensive, reliable, and accurate stand than the one that I have at home. If I had not had Dave to help me along the way, I’m guessing the entire process would have taken around 4-5 hours instead.

 

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