My friend Sean wanted a new mountain bike, but the sticker shock of a new full suspension ride was putting him off. He had access to a 1998 Santa Cruz Heckler frame so we decided to upgrade it a bit so he’d have a sweet rig at a reasonable cost.
I put a new LX derailleur on back as well as a Schwalbe Fat Albert 26 x 2.4″ tire. I kept the existing 8 speed cassette since it was in decent shape.
I replaced the beat up v-brakes for a set new of Deore stoppers. I kept the old rear wheel after tensioning and truing it.
The robust single pivot suspension design of the Heckler was in good shape with no play. The rear shock was working fine.
The cranks, BB and front derailleur were all serviceable so I just cleaned off the crud and adjusted them. I put a new SRAM 8 speed chain on.
The paint was in good shape so I cleaned off the bike and polished it with some Pedros Bike Lust. I pulled the cables and housing at first, but ended up reusing everything, but the brake cables.
The old Marzocchi Bomber came off and a new Fox Float RLC 100 fork went on…mmmm…buttery smooth suspension travel.
The Fox fork won’t accept v-brakes so I binned the old ones as well as the old front wheel. A new Sun Ryhno Lite/Deore disc wheel shod with a Schwalbe Fat Albert took its place. An Avid BB7 and 160mm rotor will handle the braking duties now.
The cockpit got a complete upgrade with a Salsa stem and bars. Ergon grips and Avid brake levers. I kept the old 8 speed XT shifters.
I was amazed how well the bike rides now. I used to own a Heckler of the same vintage and it did not ride this nicely. I’m giving most of the credit to the Fox 100mm fork which jacks up the front end an inch slowing down the steering and providing some excelent suspension action which seems to be a good match for the ~3″ of travel in the rear. The Schwalbe Fat Alberts are light for a big tire and roll nicely adding a welcome dose of traction and even more plushness. The wide riser bar and Ergon grips are really nice on the hands and give you lots of leverage for precision steering.
This bike rides so sweetly I’m sad to give it back to Sean….=-)
This is why you buy quality – not many FS frames from 10 years ago would be worth upgrading and even fewer would give you such an amazing ride compared to modern FS bikes. Nicely done Santa Cruz.