Sunday, 28 February 2021

2000 Trek Hilo 1000 = "Plan 9 Taking Up Garage Space"

2000 Trek Hilo 1000 = "Plan 9 Taking Up Garage Space"

THE STORY: I bought this bike from a retired triathlete on a bit of a whim.  I'll admit I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do with it.  He had rattle-canned it over the original purple to stamp his own personality onto his bike, but it didn't really fit into a modern day aesthetic.  From a strictly utilitarian viewpoint, the triathlon/TT specific geometry and the 650c sized wheels were somewhat  purpose-specific: 1) the steep 78° seat tube angle created an aggressive seat position less suited to more casual riding; 2) 650c tires are a niche market, and while still available (due to shorter stature cyclists with smaller frames), they were harder to find in anything other than a 23mm or 25mm width.  But I suppose that's why I like doing neo-retro and oddball builds - I find them to be more of a challenge than straight restorations.

Frame as purchased


I didn't come up with a theme to the build until the frame was stripped down to raw aluminum.  It occurred to me the frame, and especially the Spinergy Rev-X wheels, were once regarded as the pinnacle of futuristic high-tech.  Nonetheless, items falling in this category always maintain an aura of nostalgic coolness, like Flash Gordon's spaceship, or the famous novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs describing the barbarous splendour of a still-living and still-thriving Mars.  I decided to carry the black & white science fiction theme forward, sticking to a monochromatic colour scheme of silver and black only. My mission was to convert this purpose-specific machine into a more practical everyday rider.

Anyone remember the black-and-white sci-fi/horror movie Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) by Ed Wood? Infamously labelled at one time as "the worst film ever made", it incorporated all sorts of wildly diverse elements (aliens, zombies, UFOs, vampires, government conspiracies), but nevertheless became a cult classic. I, too, ended up using a rather eclectic mix of parts.  With minimal or subtle branding or logos, the components will hopefully still have a cohesive look as a groupset. Nothing was left stock from the original bike except the Kinesis Aero carbon fork and the Cane Creek headset (which looked too much like a flying saucer to not use).  The tubing sticker (the only deliberate spot of colour on the bike) states the frame is made of Solaronite, a fictional element in the movie which has the potential to "destroy the entire universe". Oddly enough, it rides identically to aluminum.

PROBLEMS & SOLUTIONS: For me, the primary issue is the steep seat tube angle.  I've seen other builds converting triathlon-specific bikes into everyday riders, but they seem to ignore the frame geometry problem; you often cannot get the seat position adjusted back into a more standard road cycling position in relation to the bottom bracket, although you can get close using set back seatposts like the older Easton units. While not everyone is a believer of the K.O.P.S. method of bike fit, it is at very least a ballpark indicator.  The Hilo frame was designed around a forward riding positioning using an aerobar cockpit.  So how can we compensate?  The original Profile Design Fast Forward seatpost was meant to convert a standard(-ish) road bike's 73° seat tube angle into an 78°.  Would turning it around do the reverse here?  It turns out the answer is both yes and no: it has the setback required, but the seat angle adjustment is limited in the wrong direction.  In order to run the saddle +/- from neutral flat, I machined a piece of aluminum into a pivot stack to create increased pitch angle.  Problem solved.  If you are less picky about your fore-aft positioning, any set back seatpost will do.

Adapter to change the clamp angle

A second issue was the front derailleur.  I had planned to use the matching Sensah MX8 front derailleur, but couldn't mount it because the Hilo's retro-aero shift cable routing had a unique cable stop brazed onto the backside of seat tube above the BB.  So no front derailleur with a MTB-style lowered clamp style could be mounted.  It was designed in any case for road front derailleurs, so I installed a Sora road derailleur.  Here the steep seat tube again created a minor issue, as the angular difference in the mounting point moved the front derailleur both more frontwards and pitched forward in relation to the crankset; not a lot, but enough so that in a low-low (or low-2nd low) gear, the chain is rubbing (or very close to rubbing) the lower connection flange between the cage plates.  I never ride in the extreme low-low gearing anyway, but I still had to adjust the derailleur slightly lower than optimal in order to gain additional clearance.  If I had done a 1X conversion, I would not have noticed this peculiarity.

Retro-aero cable stop, seat tube angle required slight adjustment for chain clearance

The third issue was minor; a stripped rivnut on one of water bottle mounts.  I carefully drilled out the centre and removed the rivnut fragments, then had a shop install a new one as I didn't have the specific tool.  I think that was the first time in decades I paid for any kind of shop work, but they charged a very minimal fee and were kind enough to do it on the spot when I called ahead.

Damaged rivnut removed

NOTE ON THE WHEELS: You can find an awful lot on the internet about Spinergy Rev-X wheels; from catastrophic carbon failures, to the Ginsu-like edge of the spokes loping off body parts, to a European UCI conspiracy to ban the wheels - very dramatic stuff! I won't go into it, but there is always an inherent risk to using any vintage carbon, and it's always wise to regularly inspect older carbon parts prior to use.'s hard to beat the Spinergy Rev-X wheels for pure retro-cool, and they still go for a pretty penny if you check online.  I have a pair of Rolf Vector 650c wheels as a really solid alternative in case I wanted to ride the bike harder.  Back to 650c: the available tire widths are fine for road use, but as a utilitarian build, I could wish for something meatier for the mean urban streets.  One option is to adapt 26" MTB wheels; they are only slightly smaller in diameter than 650c wheels.  It's an easy fix to change out the axle spacing to make it fit in the rear dropouts. The slightly longer brake reach required can be handled by using road brakes like Tektro R539's, or even by using aftermarket brake shoe extenders. Surprisingly, the Hilo can accommodate a pretty fat tire, so fitting 26'ers was entirely viable.  For now, though, I'll stick to the 650c's.

The final result after a bit of polishing:

Frame: 2000 Trek Hilo 100, aluminum frame, triathlon/TT specific geometry
Fork: Kinesis Carbon Aero 650c
Headset: Cane Creek threadless
Seatpost: Profile Design Fast Forward aluminum (with angle modifier)
Stem: Pazzazz threadless
Bars: Kona aluminum straight bars
Shifters: Sensah MX8
Front derailleur: Shimano Sora (FD-3500)
Rear derailleur: Sensah MX8
Brake Levers: Avid FR-5
Brakes: Shimano Sora (BR-3300)
Crankset: Shimano Alfine (FC-S501) with Shimano SG 53-39 chainrings
Bottom Bracket: Shimano external (SM-BB4600)
Wheelset: Spinergy Rev-X carbon fiber (650c)
Cassette: Shimano HG 11-28
Tires: - Michelin Pro Race (650c x 23)
Chain: KMC X8 silver/black
Saddle: Misc
Pedals: Time Link

RIDE REPORT: (2021-04-11) Lately, I've been wrenching far more than riding.  Covid means tons of bike work is available as everyone wants to ride but there is a severe undersupply of both bikes and parts. I finally got to go for a real ride on the Plan 9 in between repairs.  Every time I ride 650c wheels, I am reminded of how agile they feel, but the 9's slacker head tube angle definitely helps with front end stability.  The front hub seems to occasionally produce a tiny squeak when standing up and hammering; I'm thinking the hub bearings probably need replacement soon (under $20), but the wheels felt very stable and solid nonetheless.  The Sensah MX8 shifters and rear derailleurs worked flawlessly and very quietly in SRAM-like fashion.  My modified seatpost did the job, as it replicated my usual seat slammed back position.  Overall, the bike had a really quick and light feel to it, which surprised me because of the substantial airfoil downtube.  I can see how if the bike were set up as a triathlon or time trial rig, it would be an absolute rocket.  I did the test ride during a sunny day, and the raw aluminum finish combined with the distinctive wheels garnered some attention at stop lights and at the local coffee stop.  I'm labeling this build a qualified success.  Now if I can only find some 650c x 28mm tires online, it would be perfect...or some 26" wheels running WTB Thickslicks...hmmm.



Monday, 22 February 2021

1994 Giant Cadex CFM2 = "The Purple People Eater Meets The Blue Meanies"

1994 Giant Cadex CFM2 = "The Purple People Eater Meets The Blue Meanies"

1994 Giant Cadex CFM2 updated

As purchased - utterly trashed

THE STORY: I bought this bike from a landscaper who quite literally pulled it out of a pile of landfill.  Visually, the bike looked utterly trashed, with warped wheels, bent handlebars, rotting rubber, a frozen suspension fork, and generally rusted parts.  I particularly liked the carriage bolt and nut securing the seatpost along with a soup can shim.  But the kicker was the bodge to work around a stripped pedal threading on a crankarm (see pic below).  Nevertheless, I eyeballed the frame and it seemed relatively straight, so I gambled and took it home.  I couldn't resist - I remember these Giant CFMs and CFRs back in the heady early days of production carbon fiber bikes and always wanted one.  These frames were made well before one-piece moulded frames, and like others in the era, were carbon fiber tubes bonded into aluminum lugs.

Definitely a WTF?! moment

A long way from home
Interestingly enough, the dealer sticker indicates the bike was bought at a Bicycle Superstore located in Dandenong, Australia.  I emailed the company with the serial number, but that particular location closed years ago, and records were no longer available.  I wonder how the bike ended up in Kelowna, BC, Canada?  If only bikes could tell stories....

Straightened up
A mite rusty

THE BUILD: Of course, there are always a few build obstacles.  The rear derailleur hanger was torqued off alignment.  There was little chance I could find a NOS replacement or even to cannibalise one, so I considered getting a new one cut from aluminum plate.  In the end, I managed to carefully straighten it without resorting to undue force.  When I removed the bottom bracket, I found a nice slush of water, dirt, and rust inside.  I cleaned out the insides of the tubes and inspected the BB joints; there was no signs of either notch failures or bonding issues.  The clearcoat was peeling, scratched up, or entirely rubbed off in some spots.  I carefully sanded off the old clearcoat and re-applied it.  I wanted to keep the purple fade graphics and left any flaws to give it some character.  The uniquely-shaped aluminum lugs were a Giant signature; I sanded out the scratches and chips, and matched the original silver paint.

Ready for assembly

The entire bottom bracket lug was impressively beefy, creating a solid wishbone structure for the chainstays.  The seatstays and the chainstays were made of a carbon fiber and kevlar composite; the material gave them a yellowish mesh look.  Small nubs in the chainstays indicate they were pinned as well as bonded into the bottom bracket, possibly for extra integrity.  I cut out some carbon-pattern vinyl to use as a chainstay protector.  Here is the finished result:


Frame: 1994 Giant Cadex CFM2 Carbon fiber/kevlar 18"
Fork: Tange Struts rigid fork
Headset: Dia-Compe Aheadset
Seatpost: Kona
Stem: Tioga
Bars: Kore
Shifters: Shimano Deore LX
Front derailleur: Shimano Deore LX
Rear derailleur: Shimano Deore LX
Brake Levers: Shimano Deore LX
Brakes: Tektro 865A cantilevers (purple anodised)
Crankset: Shimano Alivio with XT chainrings
Bottom Bracket: Shimano UN-52 sealed cartridge
Rear wheel: Sun Rims Rhyno Lite rim, Shimano Deore LX freehub
Cassette: Shimano 11-32
Front wheel: (Unknown) blue rim, Shimano Deore LX hub
Tires: -
Chain: Shimano HG
Saddle: WTB
Pedals: Time ATAC

RIDE REPORT: The first impression is that the bike is surprisingly stiff - it certainly is no noodle.  The CFM rode almost like oversized aluminum except there was a bit of a muted springiness to it that kept it from being harsh.  I tested it on the road and on the gravel, and I almost couldn't believe the ride quality of this thing.  By modern standards, the frame is far from the lightest.  Still, very impressive for a frame over 25 years old and manufactured by obsolete assembly methods.  I'm glad to see it lived up to the hype from the 90's.

This one sold quickly and went into an industry collection.



Sunday, 6 April 2014

1995 Kona Muni-Mula = "The Colonel Mustard"

1995 Kona Muni-Mula = "The Colonel Mustard".  The idea was to build up a minimalist 1X quick and dirty commuter for short distances and flatter conditions, with parts I had just kicking around.  Yet another garage build, but I wanted to adapt an MTB SRAM Grip Shifter to work on drop bars just to see if it could be done (and yes, I'm aware the original Grip Shift back in '87 was a road bike product).  Normally, I would run a bar-end shifter in this situation, but this was just a experiment to create a working bodge.

Frame: 1995 Kona Muni-Mula 7005 aluminum frame 18"
Fork: Ishiwata EX triple-butted cro-moly rigid fork
Headset: Kona Impact
Seatpost: Kona Race Light
Stem: No-name (with a quill-to-Aheadset adapter)
Bars: Cannondale/Coda
Shifter: SRAM Gripshift ESP 5.0
Rear derailleur: SRAM ESP 5.0
Brake Levers: Shimano 105 SLR non-aero brake levers
Front Brake: Shimano STX cantilevers (with Kool Stop red compound brakes shoes)
Rear Brake: No-name red anodised cantilevers
Crankset: Sugino with 42 T (Specialized StrongArm clone with added spacers for chainline)
Bottom Bracket: Shimano UN-51 sealed cartridge
Rear wheel: Sun Rims Rhyno Lite rim, Shimano Deore freehub, Shimano 11-32 T 8-speed cassette
Front wheel: Mavic rim, Shimano Deore LX hub
Tires: Specialized Fat Boys 26 x 1.25" (100 PSI) road slicks
Chain: Shimano HG
Saddle: Rocky Mountain (not pretty)
Pedals: Wellgo

The frame had a nice dent on the top tube.  The previous owner mumbled something about a roof rack, a garage, and her idiot husband.  But I picked it up on the cheap, and it was otherwise aligned.  Cosmetically not pretty, but damage to the top tube is less crucial and should be structurally safe enough for road use.  I think it gives the bike character.

Who remembers the old Scott-Mathauser Superbrakes? Their brakesets used repackaged Modolo brake levers with the cable run coming out of the bottom between the lever body and lever blade.  I figured out a way to run the housing out through the lever blade of a non-aero SLR brake lever. This was a less tortuous route for the cable, and created less friction.

I was planning on using an aluminum sleeve, but found a 3/4" poly plumbing coupling was an easy solution to adapting MTB Grip Shifts to drop bars. Cut off the ridges on a side, and the cut end inserts nicely into the ID of drop bars.  I've got nothing against glue, but I trust mechanical interference a whole lot more, so I fitted a small steel press-fit pin.


This little machine proved pretty fun!  The slicks blew away all those peeps still riding fat knobbies to work, and the wider 8-speed gearing with allowed me to thumb my nose at those trendy single-speed or fixed-gear hipsters once the road goes a bit up, or a bit down (which it inevitably must).  26" wheels are really agile for those circuitous routes where cutting through back alleys, parking lots, and strip malls are de rigeur, with the occasional bunny-hop over curbs and railway tracks thrown in.

I had my fun with it for a bit blasting through my part of the urban jungle, then sold it as a trusty transporter to a deserving starving student.



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