KORE LITESTEM CUSTOM TUNING, Vol.2
Custom bikes building
...a mountain bike you have always dreamt of
I`ve made another great restoration - now mountain bike retro cult - Middleburn RS7 square taper crankset. The crankset came to me with black Race Face chainrings. Once decoupled, I cleaned, brushed and machine polished the cranks to remove all damages, as well as I`ve removed Middleburn logo. I deciced not to restore it. I like the cranks in a new look without logo, thought. I restored and polished both self-extracting bolt caps, too. Original 5-arm Middleburn spider has been kept unchanged. I`ve mounted new classic MTB chainrings from Vuelta USA, SE series, big one with 42T and middle one with 32T, both in 94BCD size and brand new. Non-original Race Face chainrings are still in good shape, however, they don`t fit shiny look anymore. A small Race Face ring with 22T was restored and re-chromed. All chainrings have been mounted with a brand new set of chromium steel chainring bolts.
Yet another 1996 Rock Shox Judy restoration. I`ve used many new-old-stock parts to build this fork up. The fork currently works with new bushings and stanchions, GEN2 aluminium cartridge, experimental coil springs and new custom painting. I did black anodization of crown and steerer (the steerer has been custom-made from aluminium), as well as I made black painting of V-brake arch. I`ve assembled the fork with all titanium bolts. The lower legs have been professionally painted to bright red-orange with a custom-made black/yellow Rock Shox Judy decal set. The fork may come with a spare cantilever brake arch that has been painted in bright red-orange as well (not visible in pictures). Preload adjuster knobs have been re-anodized in black.
The steerer length is almost 210mm, which will fit most of frames in size of S, M and L. The fork travel is 63mm. Original fork boots are available, but have not been installed.
Do you like this restoration? Check out my other restorations and let me know your thoughts. Do you need help with your restoration and/or project? Do not hesitate to contact me.
When had been doing my last restoration of the 1996 Rock Shox Judy fork I`ve realized a serious fact - missing coil springs on the market. It`s really strange that it`s almost impossible - today - to find any of them (right, if you`re lucky enough you may find - from time to time - rare Kronos or White Bros springs, but not too many). Does it seem that the coil springs after-market is currently empty? Well, it might be true. This observation led me to think about custom springs for Judy forks.
During last months I did some measurements and calculations, as well as I got in touch with a company, here in Slovakia, that regularly produces various coil springs for many engineering deployments. I showed them my blue-print of the springs for Judy forks and they produced a few - experimental - pairs of them in custom production. I decided to use stainless steel wire (that allowed us to keep the wire unprotected by any painting, just for this reason of experiment). To be as close to former after-market products as possible, we`ve made the same number of spring threads and length. I didn`t have precise measurements for spring rates of different weight riders (like "soft", "medium" and "firm"), therefore I firstly decided to make a set of springs for my current rider weight, which is around 73 - 75kg in high season (so I can say "medium" ride firmness). Once a set of custom springs were done, I prepared a blue-print for spring end-caps used to properly match the springs on top of the shafts in the fork. I made it easy from aluminium and it fits perfectly the inner and outer diameter of the springs. Again, due to same reason as above, I kept the end-caps without any painting or anodization, however, when needed, I can make any standard colour anodization.
The springs fit perfectly Rock Shox Judy model years of 1995, 1996 and 1997. I installed the springs in my spare 1996 Rock Shox Judy XC fork. Because the wire used to make the springs is a bit thicker, I cut off some outer material from the springs to get them easily into plastic adjuster top-caps. The springs work together with a 63mm damping cartridge. All works well, but I have to note that additional 2mm plastic shim (e.g. plastic "jax" connector for MCU elastomers) have been required, because the springs are 2mm shorter :)
Some people asked me about my restorations of Shimano XTR crankset I`ve done so far. Crankset restoration is actually requested more than others, because there`s nothing to do more than a new facelift (...and that`s cool). Well, I decided to response on these requests and write a short how-to story with some description of steps I usually do. I got another opportunity to restore XTR crankset, so go for it. Great, welcome to my how-to story about Shimano XTR FC-M952 crankset radical restoration.
I already wrote in one of my previous blog posts that the cranks were originally painted by Shimano. Before I start anything, I clean both crank arms in warm water with degreaser and remove old dirt and remaining grease (1). Next step of the restoration is to remove old painting (2). Nothing special, just use old good paint removal, which works perfectly. As per my experience, it will take some time and I need to apply paint removal in a few more rounds. When completed (...and crank arms are now paint less) I repeat cleaning in hot water with degreaser (3). A step after is brushing (4). As you my envision, I do hand- and machine-brushing. I use several types of sand-papers. At the end of brushing I apply finishing glaze and polishing paste (5). Again, I have couple of with different grain sizes. I always do maximum to polish the cranks. Don`t be hurry, the better surface preparation, the better anodizing effect. Do not forget to clean the arms in warm water in the end. Next step would be anodization of the cranks (6). But even before that, cut threads for the pedals again. I obviously use M10 hand step-screw tap. The crankset goes for black anodizing and lasering Shimano XTR logos. I request same black anodizing for dust nuts, too. However, it`s not on me, this will be handled by my friend.
When completed and sent back to me, last step of this restoration is crank set completion with a pair of self-extracting bolts and dust nuts, and mounting a set of XTR chainrings on drive-side arm. Job`s done. Hope you like it. My short how-to photo-story will help you with your restoration. If still complicated, don`t worry, I can help you.
What`s next? I do plan another radical restoration with chromium plating. Stay tuned.
After some Judys overhauling I did nice restoration of 1997 Rock Shox Indy XC. I got this fork for free and let it lie back of my garage for a while. When "found" again, I decided to make a complete restoration in white and green. Why? Because it`s quite unusual and never was in Indy`s product catalogue (...and then, I wanted to use it on my DevilWork Cycles bike).
Indy`s overall condition was pretty good. Lower legs had still original cream white painting and stickers, but with many scuffs and scratches. However, internals were in very good shape. Stanchions were still untouched, shiny silver. Wiper seals were in proper working condition. Type 2 coil spring system with one-piece elastomers were like new. Threadless steerer had been cut down to 190mm.
When disassembling the fork, I completly stripped off old Rock Shox painting and decals and prepared the fork for powder coating. White powder coating was the only choice in this project. One more layer of clear coating was applied on top. The legs were polished after coating. I replaced original steel canti-brake studs with titanium ones. Plastic preload adjuster knobs were replaced with red aluminium adjusters taken from SL edition. Finally, the fork must have black fork boots.
Some words about custom design and new stickers. I like that design. White is always nice and green stickers look fresh and expressive. A set of Indy stickers is completely home-made. I just wanted this colour scheme, but with original Rock Shox and Indy logos. The stickers have original size and been made by digital printing with clear thin vinyl layer on top. Do you believe the fork is yet 21 years old?
How do you like this restoration? Would you make a restoration of your fork, too? Let me know your thoughts. I can support you with your project.
I`ve got another chance to make a greatful restoration of the Shimano XTR FC-M952 crankset. The cranks themselves were in very poor condition (as usual after years of riding), thus I didn`t have much work to remove old painting (already have a lot of skills how to do it). After intensive brushing and cleaning the cranks I wanted to apply anodization, however, I decided to use a new coating - teflon. I had discussons with some coating makers and I chose XYLAN 8840. Very durable coating with deep black colour and a little abrasive surface. A new "Shimano XTR" logo has been lasered directly to teflon. Self extracting dust caps have been re-anodized in black. All completed with a set of original 4-arm chainrings (all three in very good condition) and with original Shimano bolts.
In fact I wanted to use this crankset in my retro MTB project of Heavy Tools HT Comp, but in the end I decided to use another drivetrain and thus these cranks left unused in the bin. The arms were in well-driven condition, therefore I did complete restoration and painting. I cleaned up and brushed well both arms, then I sprayed them with acid primer and very durable black-eben coating. The "Shimano XTR" logo has been professionally lasered. Pedal threads on the left arm were damaged, thus I used Helicoil screw thread insert (and this is why I couldn`t have anodized the cranks). I bought the cranks without original XTR chainrings, but I mounted up older XTR M900 ones. The 5-arm spider is original XTR.
This facelift is the next in a row. Now I do a facelift of my own 1996 Rock Shox Judy XC fork I rode in 90`s. The fork have been in great condition for long time, already with Kronos coil springs, but with malfunctioning (empty) damper catridge. However, with a new coming project of the Heavy Tools HT Comp, I decided to take the fork back in life.
First I rebuild the catridge. When disassembling the fork I did surprise that the cartridge was newer one, with aluminium body (I should have replaced it, but I can`t remember), mechanically in very good condition, but without any oil. I found out that there were missing some small parts to fix the cartridge not leaking again, so I completed them all and I filled the catridge in with Rock Shox oil. Now the cartridge doesn`t leak anymore.
Original painting was in very good condition, too. I didn`t remove it, I just made some cosmetic repairs. The brake arch allowed using classic cantilever brakes, but I decided using V-brakes. Instead of removing the brake cable-stop, I found very used arch on “evil-bay”. After that I repainted the arch.
Rock Shox Judy XC forks had all stainless steel bolts, while the SL all titanium hardware. I did manage finding all titanium hardware and replaced it. Original, but short steel steerer had been replaced. Now my fork looks more like SL than XC.
I have placed the fork in the Heavy Tools HT Comp project and repainted it in Volkswagen/Audi silver like the frame. Well, to be honest, my paint job was not sooo perfect and you may find some cosmetic marks here and there. Anyhow, all the overhauling was great experience and I`m glad that my Judy XC fork is back in life again.
When working on another retro project I imagined out a bike with a 1x9 drive train. Indeed, today nothing special, there are many classic ways to do it; however, my idea was to build the drive train with Shimano XTR FC-M952 cranks and direct mount (i.e. spiderless) chainring. Well, interesting idea, but where to get a spiderless chainring for those old cranks? I did some research (and it was really intensive one with many negative results) and finally found a company that made one for me. It`s Garbaruk. I requested Garbaruk to make a custom black 30T narrow wide spiderless chainring. And they said yes.
Before completing the old cranks with a new custom chainring I did a complete refurbish of the cranks. As you may envision, the cranks were in bad visual condition. I did a lot of handwork to get nice, smooth and polish-like surface, just perfect for anodization. Now I have to say that I did a mistake when I thought the cranks were anodized. No, they were not. The cranks had been originally painted and therefore the old paint must have gone. More time needed, more effort done. Anyway, after new black anodization, a friend has made a new Shimano logo by laser. And retro MTB becomes cooler again.
Before I start working on various carbon components I did a test of my hands-on skills and theoretical knowledge. Clearly I didn`t want to remove painting from carbon parts by heavy hand-brushing, but finding easier way of working and have a fun. I decided to test a new Canadian product – Carbo-Lift (EDIT - nowadays it`s PaintLifting company with CarboLift Sport product, the company has been re-located to the U.S.A.). Based on the product description, it`s ecological, non-toxic, water soluble and 100% reliable when proper work order and temperature setup (I later realized that the proper temperature is a key). OK, where to start my project? I took a carbon seatpost Bontrager XXX Lite Carbon delivered with a Trek Elite SSL 9.9 frame, but not used any more. If something wrong, it won`t be an issue. I ordered a small 500ml bottle of Carbo-Lift and kicked it off.
First time I applied Carbo-Lift emulsion at the seatpost`s surface I didn`t care much about proper temperature in my workshop (was end of summer) and even waiting for almost 24 hours, the result was more than bad (very bad, I would have said – "it does not work at all"). I was disappointed, however, I increased the temperature by using a powerful heater – an old electric oven. The temperature had increased up to 30C and I started working again. Now the mission completed successfully. Painting went off the seatpost like nothing and pure carbon surface remains untouched. Finally, good job, Carbo-Lift! I did more steps with other applications of Carbo-Lift emulsion till I removed all painting off. Every time I hung up the seatpost over the electric oven and slowly heated it.
Once fully completed I slightly re-brushed the seatpost with water sand paper, grain size 1000. It was easy and little job, it took me a few minutes only. At the end, I washed the seatpost in warm water with soap and dried it.
Bontrager made its seatpost from two different carbon textures, which caused another decision - to re-paint the seatpost back. I decided to create a custom design – painting seatpost`s head with black colour, while the body remains unpainted. On top of that I sprayed the seatpost with a clear UV-block coat. The seatpost clamps were re-anodized to black to match the seatpost`s head design.
I tuned SRAM X.0 Trigger Shifters for the old-time 9-speed shifting. The shifters body and all aluminium bolts were re-anodised to black, while the carbon shifter covers were re-polished in clear coat (with no SRAM "X.0" logo). Bigger shifter levers were replaced by their carbon alternatives (Zdyn Components). Together with the shifters I changed the original SRAM bolts of the brake levers with AVID Matchmaker to black titanium.
A Specialized`s 2004 FOX FLOAT R w/Brain rear shock has been re-painted based on the main design of a new 2009 FOX F100RLC suspension fork.
We made rear shock`s custom painting done within a regular shock service works. We painted both shock`s chamber body, as well as Brain`s one in a new design. As both bodies were fixed back on the shock with strong torque, the final finish`s quality was double-confirmed in burning kiln.
The forks overhauling didn`t match any on-going project, just came in as an instant non-project activity. Very simply, one day I got to my hands an old Rock Shox Judy SL forks and I quickly realized that the forks are in better condition than I could have ever supposed.
I was very surprised when I was checking the 28mm uppers/stanchions. I found neither cosmetic blemishes nor other problems. Moreover, I was very happy to see the forged aluminium crown and the 190mm long aluminium steerer. Well, I realized that the forks truly need a complete service.
The forks have been upgraded and serviced with brand new bushings, dust seal/wipers, coil springs (the old MCU springs were dead) and other seals. The hydraulic damper cartridge has been re-sealed and filled up with new Rock Shox 5wt oil. Moreover, I re-sprayed the magnesium lower legs as well as the forks brace in Rock Shox yellow. At the top of that I put a brand new set of decals.
Previous owner drilled the cantilever brake cable-stop away of the brace, thus I had to make some additional job to fix it. All titanium hardware kept in place, the original fork boots were reinstalled, too. The forks travel is 63mm, the current weight is 1535 grams.
I did complete restoration of the Nakamura Vertical MTB and my friend asked me for new suspension forks. I made a choice of Rock Shox Judy SL. The forks were in excellent condition; however, I decided to re-spray them. Before that I checked all internals - bushings, dust seal/wipers and hydraulic bumper cartridge. All worked well, nothing to restore. I checked uppers/stanchions and I found them without cosmetic blemishes. All titanium hardware kept in place; the original fork boots are ready for reinstallation, if needed. Old MCU springs were good, but I changed them with Kronos coil springs to get better forks function. Thanks to my other friend`s help we swapped old short steerer with a brand new 25cm-long one.
Forks re-spraying fitted exactly the same colour as the frame. We used Audi Dolomite Grey colour. Before re-spraying I did all preparation works to perfectly prepare the surface. Old colour was stripped down, both legs and brace were brushed. Once re-sprayed, legs and brace were polished. New Rock Shox decals were applied in the end as well.