The Mountain Bike Life

As a bearded guy in a Carhart hat and a flannel shirt whipped a styled 360 my mindset whipped clunky 180. His garage sale skis probably cost him $35. I on the other hand was picking my way through the same moguls with zero flair at half the rate speed while donning $2k worth of gear. Twelve years have passed since that ski run but I haven’t forgotten the lesson.

The start of my de-beautification project

Fast forward 6 years from that ski trip and I found myself riding my new bike in a local metropark with a friend from work. He was riding a spray painted 90s Chromoly Schwinn High Plains, MSRP $350. My jaw almost got caught in my spokes as he bunny hopped up onto the top of a picnic table, hopped on his back wheel for a few seconds and rode off like it was nothing. As I got to know him better, and learned more about bikes, I came to see the validity of his philosophy. “Don’t let the frame fool you” he would say. Turns out he had a top end fork (no decals), Chris King Wheels, Magura Hydraulic rim brakes (remember those?) and a number of other upgrades which betrayed his purple spray painted steel Schwinn. He later showed me some race results where he had won a 24 hour race at Mohican Wilderness in Southern Ohio on this same steel bike. Did I mention he had 1×5 gearing with a non-indexed thumb shifter?

So in the spirit of my friend Andy and the unknown Carhart wearing skier I have gone to some lengths to de-bling my own rig over the last year.

At one point my rig looked like this

My Specialized Rockhopper Comp Disc was nowhere near top end to start with. MSRP was $900. High end enough for me, but there have been a lot of upgrades that probably could have been avoided if I had spent an extra $400 or so when I bought it. Let that be a lesson I guess. Since the original purchase a fair amount of money has gone into this bike. All upgrades were born out of necessity, or at least that is what I tell myself… and my wife.

First step was to sand down the existing frame and prime it. Remember the goal here was to simply make the bike unrecognizable. Nobody needs to know whether it is a Specialized or a Huffy, or anything else for that matter. I went for the white / sky blue combo. Nothing says “I’m a total badass more than a baby blue bike… right? Painting well takes a fair amount of prep work. However if your goal is an overall cheapening of your look I’d say any hack with a little spare time can pull it off. There are plenty of instructions online. Sand paper, primer, paint, clear coat, and a healthy dose of elbow grease is all that is necessary.

Painting a bike is not hard. Mostly prep work.

One of my upgrades was to add a Rock Shox Sid Dual Air fork. Makes up for the heavy stock wheel I guess. I scored this thing at the last second on an Ebay auction, after weeks of bidding on similar products. It is sweet… if you are into lightweight pasta. In any case a SID Fork does not sit too well on a de-blinged bike, so the fork had to lose the decals.

The fork has gone incognito

These bars are stock, but check out the old skool oury grips.That stem is about 3 miles long… I’m going back to a shorter one I have in my box, but I sort of like the goofy chrome giraffe look and the big FMF sticker. It adds to the overall hideousness and cheap effect, plus it’s nice for climbing.

Mismatched brake levers, I broke one and that’s all the shop had, no biggie, this is no fashion show.

The cranks in the picture below were the first bike components I ever bought, they turn 20 this year.  I ran them on my BMX bike back in the day. I’d like to believe my bike is the only mountain bike in existence with a SID fork coupled with ultra-heavy Profile Racing BMX cranks. I think the solid chromoly spindle weighs more than an entire XTR crankset. This thing is like the mullet of mountain biking, business up front, party in the back. Why the heavy cranks? The stock ones started coming loose regularly so I wanted something with zero maintenance. Plus it’s just strange, and I like strange.

These cranks are so old they still used a hex bolt. Notice the teal Geax rear tire. I love these tires on the back wheel, I have a ton of the laying around from a closeout deal a number of years back.

I wonder what you the reader thinks of all this. I imagine there are some that would see this type of treatment of a bike to be sacrilegious, others might get the itch to do something similar. I’m curious of your thoughts. The bottom line is you should love what you ride. If and when I get I new frame, I can promise it will get the mullet treatment before it ever sees dirt.

And there she is in all her lack of glory
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