1998 Santa Cruz Heckler Redux

30 03 2010

Heckler Redux

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.

New LX dearailleur...

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.

New V-brakes and existing rear rim...

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.

Robust single pivot suspension...

The robust single pivot suspension design of the Heckler was in good shape with no play.  The rear shock was working fine.

Race Face Turbine LP cranks...

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.

Nice paint job...

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.

Fox Float RLC 100

The old Marzocchi Bomber came off and a new Fox Float RLC 100 fork went on…mmmm…buttery smooth suspension travel.

Avid BB7

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.

Ergon Grips and a Salsa Moto Ace riser bar...

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.

One nice ride!

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.





Thorn Nomad Mk1 Cockpit Mods

22 02 2010

Rohloff shifter and modified Ergon Grip

I’ve been trying out my Rohloff shifter mounted to a Thorn Accessory Bar and didn’t love it – details here.  It’s taken me a while, but I’ve gotten around to moving the shifter to my Titec H-bars.  Since the Titec H-bar is a little short on space I’ve had to cut down the right Ergon Grip to fit.  This is the same setup as I use on my Surly Big Dummy.  I’m going to really enjoy having much easier access to this shifter.  I don’t shift a lot compared to some people, but having to take my hand off the bars and hunt down the Rohloff shifter was not much fun at all.

Dual Thorn Accessory Bars

I no longer need the second smaller Thorn Accessory Bar so I’ll be getting rid of it at some point when the mood strikes me to tinker.  For now I’m not using my Ortlieb handle bar bag so I’ll put my headlight on it out of the way.

Bird's eye view of cockpit...





Titec H-Bar Update

12 09 2009
Titec H-Bar on my Surly Pugsley

Titec H-Bar on my Surly Pugsley

I’ve got 3 Titec H-bars in play at the moment.  My Thorn Nomad S&S, Surly Pugsley and Surly Big Dummy all sport H-bars.  My initial setup on the Big Dummy was with just some rubber grips and the rest of the bar bare.  This worked fine for shorter rides in town, but proved uncomfortable on longer rides – particularly long cold rough rides that beat up my hands.  So I replaced the rubber MTB grips with Ergon Grips [shown above on my Pugsley] and wrapped the rest of the bar with a double layer of cork tape.  I liked this so much when I got my Pugsley I did it up the same way.  The only downside to this setup is that the brake levers are a bit far from the Ergon Grips when riding technical terrain.  My Big Dummy doesn’t see this sort of action so I’ll leave it alone.  My Pugsley does see some technical riding [although not a ton] so I think my long term solution will be to replace the current levers with some that have adjustable reach and maybe lever arms that are a bit longer.  It hasn’t bothered me enough to do anything about it yet, but occasionally I want my hands at the ends of the bars for more leverage and my hand firmly on the brakes at the same time.  I do have some SLX hydraulic brakes that are looking for a home so maybe these will find their way onto my Pugsley.

Titec H-Bar on my Thorn Nomad S&S

Titec H-Bar on my Thorn Nomad S&S

When I built up my Thorn Nomad S&S touring bike I wanted to try a different Titec H-bar setup.  Reading Jeff Jones’ comments, the designer of the H-bar, he recommends you have a seamless transition from the grips to the rest of the bar.  The idea being your hands can move around as you ride finding the optimal position for any given moment.  That made sense and Jeff Jones is clearly a switched on guy when it comes to bikes so I decided to give it a shot by wrapping the whole bar in a double layer of cork tape. I’ve had my bar setup as shown in the photo above since the spring.  I have to agree that there is something to be said for not having a specific “grip” position and I have enjoyed moving my hands around the whole H-bar as I ride.  Having said that I don’t find the H-bar without Ergon Grips as comfortable as with them. I’ve been using my Nomad for shorter around the town rides since there are no big tours on my agenda at the moment.  For this use the double wrapped tape is excellent, but after about 2hrs of riding I start to wish I had my hands on some big flat Egron Grips.  This is another one of those projects I’ll eventually get around to and I’ll swap in some Ergons…no major rush though.





Sharon’s Urban MTB

4 06 2009
Sharon's Upgraded City MTB

Sharon's Upgraded City MTB

Like a lot of people my girlfriend Sharon owns a decent mountain bike and his no interest in mountain biking.  Living in the middle of a large city she has many cycling opportunities, but the slow uncomfortable mountain bike doesn’t encourage her to try and use it to get around.  I’m a big advocate of getting the right bike for the job, however, there is no point investing $1000+ unless you have validated you have a serious desire to actually incorporate cycling into your life.  Since Sharon’s Burning Man bike was stolen I figured it made the most sense to upgrade her mountain bike for use as a city bike this summer and then make it her new Burning Man bike at the end of the summer.  If she uses it a lot over the next few months that would justify the purchase of a new city bike and all the mods we made are useful for cruising the playa at Burning Man.

Jandd Grocery Panniers

Jandd Grocery Panniers

In an earlier post I mentioned buying some Jandd grocery panniers for Sharon’s bike.  These have turned out to be an excellent choice for her cargo needs.  They fold flat when not in use and with open tops are super easy to simply drop stuff in and then grab it as needed.  They offer no security or weather protection, but this bike is not going to be ridden in the rain and the panniers detach so easily they can come in with her if she locks up the bike for a while.

Jandd Panniers Top View

Jandd Panniers Top View

I mounted the Jandd grocery panniers to a Filzer PR-2 rack I bought at MEC.  You can also see in the photo above a Planet Bike Superflash rear blinkie for night riding.

Terry Ladies Cite X Saddle

Terry Ladies Cite X Saddle

Not surprisingly the skinny hard racing saddle that came stock on the bike didn’t make her butt happy so I replaced it with a wider ergonomic Terry Cite X saddle.  So far she has been happy on rides up to 1hr.  As her range expands we’ll consider trying out a Brooks or some other saddle as needed , but for shorter trips the Terry seems to work quite well and needs no attention.

Revised Cockpit and QR Wicker Basket

Revised Cockpit and QR Wicker Basket

The cockpit need some work to make it more comfortable so I replaced the flat MTB bar with an ergonomic Thorn Comfort Bar MK2 and added Ergon Grips.  For style and utility I installed a quick release wicker basket – which is great for holding items that need easy access or for a fashionable run to the market.

Typically I would have installed some BMX platforms to round out the contact points on this bike, but it already had some decent platform pedals installed that we’ll wear out before upgrading.

Fat knobbies aren’t useful when cruising around town so I swapped in some Schwalbe Big Apple tires in the 26 x 2.15″ size.  Inflating them to a moderate pressure yields a reasonably fast and comfortable ride.  I saved the knobbies and will reinstall them for Burning Man and possibly move the Big Apples over to her new city bike if she gets one and it has 26″ wheels.  I wouldn’t mind trying these Big Apples on my Surly Big Dummy at some point if Sharon doesn’t need them any longer…lol…don’t tell her I covet her tires!…=-)

2.15" Schwalbe Big Apple Tires

2.15" Schwalbe Big Apple Tires

I’ve tried to be low pressure about biking.  I ride to her place 99% of the time rather than drive since it’s only 15 blocks or so.  I also ride to appointments, parties etc… and walk as much as I can.  I figure being a positive example is more effective than nagging someone.  So far I’ve been pleased that she’s used her bike a fair bit…including climbing the steepest hill in downtown without stopping as well as some fun night rides home from parties.  She has even decided to store her bike in the front lobby so it’s easier to grab on the way out rather than haul it up and down to the basement.  Sharon has talked about commuting by bike and I’ve offered to ride with her all the way to work in the mornings for company and to provide encouragement & mechanical support!

It will be interesting to see what happens now that she has a bike that is both comfortable and useful.  As Mugatu says…”…girls on bikes are soooooo HOT right now!…”….=-)





Ergon Enduro Grips

2 03 2009
Ergon Enduro Grips

Ergon Enduro Grips

I tried the larger Egron GP1 grips on my Nomad when I first got the bike and didn’t love them as I want to move all over the bike when riding technical trails.  The larger grip is great for riding where your position on the bike doesn’t change much.  I put the stock grips back on the bike and used them for the time we spent in Moab.  They weren’t awesome, but they let me move my wrist freely which I liked…then I stumbled on these Egron Enduro grips at the Poison Spider Bike Shop.  I didn’t even know such a beast existed.

For $29USD I figured they were worth a try.  I’ve used them since I’ve come to Sedona and liked them a lot.  Unlike the stock grips they have an ergonomic shape that is great for my most used in the saddle riding position, but they are fairly round so when you stand or get your butt low over the back wheel your hands can rotate on the bars to follow your movement.

Ergon says:

Updated for 2009, Ergon’s GE1 offers enduro and downhill riders the advantages of an ergonomically designed grip which minimises the effects of the pounding that your hands and forearms take in these disciplines. Featuring an updated slimmer alu clamp, the grip’s sculpted shape better distributes the load away from the nerves entering your hand. It may not look revolutionary, but the effect is noticeable. Available in two sizes, and three colours”

They also have a stop at each end to keep your hands in place when the going gets extremely rough.

You can also get an all mountain grip that is similar to the Enduro grip, but with a less pronounced ergonomic shape.

Egron GP1 & Enduro Grips

Egron GP1 & Enduro Grips