|A thoroughly abused MTB becomes a Winter bike|
Hardy Menagh 1/19/09
This old Giant Sedona mountain bike appeared in the "Free" listings on craigslist. When I brought it home, I found out that it had real "issues".
I was able to affix a date to this bike by the Shimano components. With the exception of the rear derailer, they all have the code "OI" on them, which means that they were made in September of 1990* and installed on a bike likely intended for the 1991 model year. The Altus rear derailer has a 1993 date code but doesn't fit in with the scheme of the older Exage components.
Giant's current Sedona model has become a "comfort" bike in recent years.
Like the Trek Antelope, on this site, which also came free from craigslist, this Taiwanese Giant was a similarly fitted, good quality bike when it was new. Unlike the Antelope, it had seen little or no maintenance and some abuse. To further complicate things, someone had hammered an oversize seatpost into the seat tube, enlarging it and making adjustment or even removal next to impossible (you can see the enlarged area in the seat tube image).
Other problems included a crank that had been used while it was loose on the spindle, a very loose and dry bottom bracket and headset bearings plus overly tight and dry wheel bearings. Someone had also disassembled the rear brakes and switched the springs, left to right, rendering them useless.
My first and probably only rational inclination was to strip this bike and use it for parts.
I tried sitting on the saddle and found out that the stuck seat post was at exactly the right height for me. Okay, so that was one small point in its favor and I don't usually need much encouragement to proceed with something senseless.
It also had a good cassette and chain. Possibly, both were replacements, an idea supported by the fact that the spoke protector was clear and flexible, not dull yellow and brittle like it should be on a bike this old.
I decided to examine the bearings and see how bad they were. From the sound and feel of them, I wasn't expecting things to be pretty.
At best, this bike could become a Winter/beater bike that I didn't have to worry too much about. At worst, I'd only waste some time on it.
I decided I would absolutely not spend any money on the repairs, except for a set of cheap tires that could be used on another bike, if it came to that.
An Exercise in Compromise
I cleaned the bottom bracket and found that it had some moderately worn and pitted bearing surfaces and the ball bearings were corroded junk. I replaced them with some low-mileage shiny used ones and added a generous amount of new grease. The reinstalled spindle had to be adjusted to alternate from a bit tight to slightly loose, as it turned but it seemed to work acceptably. I performed a similar procedure on the headset bearings, with slightly better results.
I tried tightening the loose crank and, as I suspected, it was too badly worn to be used as-is. The nut bottomed out against the spindle and it was still loose. I found a piece of tempered sheet steel that had previously been a shield inside a computer. From this, I cut a piece that was exactly the right size to cover two of the flats on the spindle and bent it at a 90° angle (spindle shown is to illustrate and is not from the Giant). I slipped it inside the crank mortise and put the crank back on the spindle. The sheet metal shim brought the crank out enough to allow the spindle nut to be tightened and keep the chainline correct. It seemed to work but I had never tried this before and had my doubts as to its durability.
The wheel bearings were in better shape but the cones were quite worn from being overly tightened. A cleaning, fresh grease and proper adjustment made them tolerable for use.
Everything else was just routine cleaning, lubricating and adjusting.
The knobs were worn completely off some sections of the rear tire. Both tires had dried-out sidewalls and looked iffy. Performance Bicycle had a good deal on their Forté brand Versatrac 26 x 2.0 MTB tires. These are knobby but have elongated center knobs so that they almost meet each other. This makes these tires run reasonably well on pavement, as well as other surfaces. At less than US$8, you can afford to put them on a beater bike, so I did. Just know that if you buy these tires, you can expect to spend considerable time trimming a lush forest of lengthy sprue.
It was a balmy 10° F, when I test rode the Giant. I tried it on dry pavement and on hard packed snow. It felt very similar to the Trek Antelope and there were no surprises. So far, the crank repair seems to be holding but I'll let you know what happens after I've put some real mileage on it†.
Although all of the bearings in this bike are in poor condition, it works for my fitness rides and trips to the store in the Winter. I wouldn't want to take it on a long trip but my rides rarely exceed 1 hour anyway. The best part is, if I'm feeling too cold and tired to clean the salt sludge off after a ride, I won't loose any sleep over not doing it.
As with all used bikes, I have no way of knowing if all of the parts on this bike are original. The Shimano parts nearly all have the same date code so their originality would seem to be a given. The seatpost is clearly not original.
Original Specifications (as far as I know)
Frame: Welded Double-Butted Cro-Moly
Crankset: Shimano Exage 300 LX, biopace-SG 48, 38, 28
Pedals: VP-882 plastic, adjustable bearings
Hubs & Wheels: Quick release Shimano Exage alloy hubs, Araya welded-seam rims 26 x 1.50HE RX-7, 36 stainless spokes, Schrader valve
Tires: Kenda, 26 x 2.1
Cassette: Shimano HG 7-speed 13-30
Derailers: Front - Shimano Exage 300 LX, Rear - Shimano Altus C10 (likely a 1993 or later replacement)
Shifters: Shimano Total Integration
Brakes: Shimano cantilever
Brake Levers: Shimano short reach
Stem: welded tubular steel
Handlebars: Steel flat
Grips: Tioga Biogrip
Seat Post: (not available), quick release on seat tube (a great practical joke if somebody tries to steal the seat)
Saddle: Viscount (Giant branded), padded plastic w/ vinyl cover (painfully uncomfortable)
Weight: 31 lbs. (with new Forté tires)
*Shimano date code information courtesy Vintage Trek
†Update 1/23/09: After rides totalling more than 60 hilly winter miles, I think it's safe to conclude that the shimmed crank worked. It shows no signs of loosening.
Questions about Winter cycling? Visit the Winter Cycling Forum on bikeforums.net
Copyright © 2009 Hardy Menagh