Touring Bike Build
It’s been a while since I’ve built a bike for myself but a recent acquisition has me tinkering in the workshop once again. I’ve always had a passion for restoring bikes, bringing old, semi-functional creatures back to life. It’s amazing how many bikes are in this world, rusting on the sides of houses, accumulating dust in garages, stolen and re-stolen to be left abandoned somewhere in the city. I marvel at how often a bike can look destroyed, but once one scrapes past the dirt and rust, you find a beautiful machine that has probably never seen 1000 miles despite being 15 years old.
I’ve built many new bikes as well, but the process doesn’t have the same appeal as reviving a dead one. While I’ve done it, geeking out on components and dropping big wads of money are not how I care to do things anymore. It’s a never ending process of consumerism, name brand envy, and expense that really has no place in my life at this time.
I’ve been fortunate to be the sponsor and head mechanic of the cycling club at my high school, a walk-in student-run bike shop devoted to helping students/community members repair bikes for free, promote cycling, and organize rides. I’ve always been disgusted by the thought that a shop charges a teenager/kid $30 to true a wheel when I can lend them a truing stand and teach them to do it themselves in 10 minutes. I’ve built and repaired countless bikes and wheels for students and faculty and have developed a passion for the functional, daily beater-bikes of the world. Not bikes with logos and expensive parts, but bikes with big rear racks and front baskets, worn-out grips, and tape holding reflectors on. Bikes with kickstands and locks that are wound around the frame and have never come off. Bikes that get used in simple ways by people that do not worship them or the labels on their parts.
So I’m excited about the most recent addition to my stable, what will be my third bike- I already own a road bike and a mountain bike. It’s a Nishiki Manitoba mountain bike, probably early to mid-nineties. It’s all Cro-Mo, made in the USA, with entry-level Shimano parts and happens to fit me rather well. Best of all, it was free.
So the process begins as it always has, with a full strip-down, cleaning, and daydreams of how I’m going to make it mine. I’m looking to build a no-frills, functional bike and spend little or no money doing it. I want an on-road/off-road touring rig, a bike built to do everything, the sort of bike a Cormac McCarthy character would be completely stoked to find in The Road. The type of bike you’d want to have when civilization collapses and bands of roving cannibals appear…when you find yourself having to ride 200 miles of broken freeway to escape the city or 10 miles into the mountains to haul back fresh water. A bike that can jump curbs but is comfortable for distance. A bike that I can comfortably leave outside a Los Angeles liquor store without it screaming “Free Money!”.
Guidelines for this build:
- NO geeking out on components!
- Spending as little money as possible.
- Simple, functional, practical, multi-use. Beer run or double-century capable.
- Aesthetics go out the window- no paint jobs, matching parts, or other fashion nonsense.
- Reuse as many spare/free parts as I can find
I’ve got a good plan in my head and will post pictures as it nears completion.
Here’s what I’m staring with.
Cheers! To everyday bikes used by everyday people!