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Making my Ti bike a "trophy bike", deep cleaning, long-term storage, lessons learned

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Making my Ti bike a "trophy bike", deep cleaning, long-term storage, lessons learned

Old 05-28-20, 07:41 PM
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fuji_owner
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Making my Ti bike a "trophy bike", deep cleaning, long-term storage, lessons learned

After more than 8 years of absolute fun riding my custom titanium Seven Axiom SL, I've decided to retire it and make it a "trophy bike". I will cherish it, keep it and never sell it, but I won't be riding it anymore. This may sound really stupid or wasteful, but I'm sure at least a few folks here have a bike that they would consider their trophy bike, and it's their most prized possession, and they take really good care of it, keep it really clean and don't ride it too much for fear of "ruining" it.

My Seven Ti bike is the best thing I've ever ridden. It has a nice race type geometry with a stiff drivetrain and all the great characteristics you would expect of a titanium frame. Super light, super fast with the springy live feel, great vibration damping, responsive. I've ridden at least 5000 miles on it, not including all the uncounted miles from "casual" rides that I couldn't resist just because it is such a fun and responsive and smooth bike to ride. You can probably see the miles this bike has seen from the condition of the bar tape LOL.



The build is Campagnolo Chorus 53/39 11-speed 12-29 groupset and Zonda 2-way fit wheels, Chris King headset, Enve carbon fork, Ritchey Carbon WCS stem, handlebars and seat post, Speedplay Light pedals, Selle Italia saddle, Vittoria Rubino Pro tires, Lizard Skins bar tape. I was very satisfied with this build.

Now the reasons why I want to retire this bike:
  1. When I got this bike, I used to live in a place that had lots of smooth nice roads with dedicated bike lanes. So the full size 53/39 crankset got used to the fullest getting up to high speeds on the flats. I used to regularly do 65+ mile loops in the metro area without any trouble. Plus, there was a very popular big mountain in the center of the city and I had become fit enough to ride up the mountain on the 39 chainring. It was only later that I found out that most of my riding buddies had a compact 50/34 crankset that made it so much easier for them to do the climbs. I've recently moved to a city that is utter crap when it comes to cycling infrastructure. The roads themselves are really bad, full of potholes, and there are barely any bike lanes. I can barely do a few miles without having to reroute, forget about doing long loops. So I can't really use the 53/39 crankset to its fullest. And I'm scared of really ruining the bike components riding in these conditions. And that would break my heart.
  2. I now live in a city that is very hilly so I think a compact (50/34) or subcompact (48/30 or lower) crankset would be more practical. Also there are more gravel paths than paved roads for cycling. So a traditional road bike with skinny tires may be less suited.
  3. I have not bought a new bike in 8 years, and after such a long time, my eye keeps wandering around looking at all these sparkling new bikes, with disc brakes, not just carbon but also stainless steel and other titanium, and the new intriguing gravel bike category.
  4. I figured if I got a bike that is cheaper than my custom Ti bike (~$8000), I would care less if something got scratched up or damaged. I would have less emotional attachment to it.
At the same time, I don't want to abandon my beloved Ti bike after enjoying it for so many years. I'd done races and charity rides on it, there are many memories. Also, I could never afford to spend so much money on a bike again in my lifetime. So I thought I should preserve the bike, sort of like a museum. This wasn't strange to me, after all I had spent hours just admiringly staring at the bike.

So after convincing myself that I should retire the bike, I began thinking about giving it a proper cleaning, something that I'd never done when I was busy riding it. I had come to know the bike so well only where the riding mattered. I'd never sat down and looked at the different parts. I mean, I had done the routine chain cleaning and lubing. But nothing beyond that.

So now, I had a chance to give the bike a deep clean. I didn't want to spend too much getting special products that were advertised to do just one thing. So I used a lot of WD-40 for degreasing the chain, derailleurs, and cogs. This was the first time that I had removed the chain (for which I had to get a chain tool). Then I soaked the chain in WD-40 and used a toothbrush to scrub off all the accumulated gunk from 8 years. It is surprisingly tough to get the chain fully clean. Then I soaked the chain in a dilute solution of dish soap to get the WD-40 grease off.

The next tough parts were the chainrings. I didn't want to take apart the whole crank assembly, which meant that the chainrings were hard to get to in all their nooks and crannies. I probably spent the most time on cleaning the valleys and the teeth on the chainrings, and as with the chain, the gunk stuck on the metal is really hard to clean. I soaked paper towels in WD-40 and literally detailed each millimetre, sometimes scraping the gunk with my fingernails, that was the only way that I could see the shiny metal under the dirt. Then I used Lysol wet wipes to clean off the WD-40.

The Lysol wet wipes were the most useful thing in this whole cleaning process. I used them to wipe down the frame, fork, handlebars, etc. Being titanium, the frame itself does not really get dirty, and all it needs is a wipe down.

Then I did another thing for the first time. I got a special Campagnolo cassette lockring tool to get all the cogs out from the rear wheel freehub. All this took a lot of hours of reading and watching YouTube videos. Most videos tell you that you need a chain whip to hold the cassette from turning so that you can loosen the lockring. But I didn't want to spend on another tool that I would probably use just once. The lockring tool is the bare minimum needed though, because of the special splines. So I used the chain from the bike itself. I wrapped the chain around a cog, and using thick kitchen gloves I held the chain tight around the cassette while using the lockring tool to loosen the lockring. I was surprised and delighted that it worked!

I removed all the cogs and the spacers and soaked them in WD-40, giving them a nice scrub with a toothbrush. Then I soaked them in dish soap and then washed them off under the faucet. So easy! And now the cogs were nice and shiny and clean. I also wiped the freehub body with wet wipes. Then I put a thin layer of dry chain lube on the freehub body and the thread on the lockring, just to make the connection a little smooth. Then I assembled all the cogs back on the wheel. I had to buy a torque wrench so that I could tighten the lockring to 40Nm.

All this work was just so enjoyable and satisfying, that I'm seriously considering becoming a bike mechanic. I got such a good understanding of how the derailleurs work. I thought whoever came up with the idea was a genius.

Now that the bike was all clean and sparkly, I had to decide how to store it long-term. I couldn't just let it sit out in the open. It had to be properly packaged and stored in a safe and secure manner.

I spent a lot of time looking at different bike travel bags/boxes. The vast majority of the bags/boxes I didn't like because of the way they handled the front and rear dropouts. Some bags/boxes (BikeBoxAlan, BonzaBox, Evoc, etc) didn't have a way to protect the dropouts because the frame was just lying there in the middle of the box with straps. Some bags (Thule, PakGo, etc) only secured the fork in a sort of stand, while strapping down the bottom bracket and letting the rear dropouts hang loosely. Only the Evoc Pro and Scicon TSA 3.0 bags had a stand that securely held the fork and rear dropouts with skewers just as they were designed to be used with wheels. I felt this was the safest way to secure the frame. However, both of them were a soft bags with minimal protection. For the high price, you would think you could get a hard case. Then I found out about the Buxumbox, which is made of aluminum and secures the front and rear dropouts. I felt this was the perfect bike box. And it was only a couple hundred dollars more than the Evoc. So for a marginal cost, I was getting a solid, almost indestructible box made of aluminum. So I bought the Buxumbox Tourmalet.

Now came the huge headache of packing the bike in the box. Of course, after removing the wheels, securing the frame was easy -- just fix it on the stand and fasten the skewers. The rest of the packing took days.


I bought some pipe insulation from Home Depot and cut it to the right sizes to wrap on the down tube, top tube, seat tube, chainstays, seatstays and fork.



I was searching for something to protect the cassette and hub ends. There were some products that came as part of a kit included with the Scicon bag, but nothing for sale on its own. I asked around in my LBS's for those throwaway hub protection caps that came in packaging of new wheels, but no luck.

Finally I had the idea of using thick foam cushions. I bought 2" and 3" thick foam cushions from Walmart. They worked perfectly. I just made a cut out in the middle to fit the cushion onto the cassette. The cog teeth gripped the cushion, and the cushion completely covered the whole cassette. This way, no part of the cassette or wheel hub was exposed to another hard surface, because the cushion got there first. I also used cut foam pieces to protect the rear derailleur.



Another challenge was to somehow cover up the sharp edges of the bigger chainring. I had read somewhere that someone used a pressure cooker rubber gasket over the chainring. But I wasn't going to spend money to get a gasket just for this. So I came up with my own idea. I doubled up strips of black electrical tape to get a thick layer, and then using more smaller strips of the tape across the long strip, I taped the strip around the chain ring. This worked beautifully.



Another challenge was the positioning of the handlebars along the fork. The cables on my bike were too short and tight, so I didn't have enough slack to be able to turn the handlebar easily. In the end, I decided to remove the hoods from the handlebar. I thought I wouldn't be using the bike anyway, so a bit more disassembly would not hurt. This was another great piece of learning. The Campagnolo hoods have a recessed and weirdly angled star head bolt that tightens the hood on the bar. It was a huge PITA to pull back the rubber hood cover and loosen that bolt. In the end, I got the hoods off of the handlebar, so now I had more cable slack to use to pack up the hoods and tie them to the frame. Now the handlebar was free to be padded and placed wherever.

Another nice little trick is to use a piece of folded cardboard as a spacer when you need to remove the stem. This makes sure that the fork it firmly secured in the head tube and does not move up and down. I eventually found out I could put the stem back in place, so I didn't need the cardboard piece.


The only thing that I can call a pain point is the Ritchey stem which was C260 which means it encloses the handlebar all the way around to 260 degrees. This makes it impossible to remove the handlebar from the front of the stem. You need to slide the stem all the way to the bar ends to get it off.

All in all, the Buxumbox is a great option. It has tons of storage room. I still have a lot of room left over after putting my shoes, tools, chain and clothes.




Last edited by fuji_owner; 05-28-20 at 08:16 PM. Reason: Add photos
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Old 05-28-20, 07:44 PM
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noodle soup
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someone give me the Cliff's notes.
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Old 05-28-20, 08:04 PM
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Sorry, TL;DR I did get as far as the "stiff drivetrain." Pretty bike but needs a drive side pic.
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Old 05-28-20, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post
someone give me the Cliff's notes.
Hahaha

I never got all the helpful info I needed. So this is my attempt at creating some notes with those tiny details that I always wondered about.
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Old 05-28-20, 08:14 PM
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This entire excercise is strange and confusing. If you want to keep a "trophy bike" why would you disassemble it and package it away where you cannot admire it? Why not mount it on the wall or a shelf or something? Also, this sounds like you really like the ride if this frame, and only have 5000 miles or so on it, and you want to retire it? If your riding terrain has changed, why not just tweak the drivetrain to accomodate and continue riding your beloved bicycle? This whole things reminds me of the Egyptians packing away belongings to bury with the dead to be used in the afterlife.
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Old 05-28-20, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
Sorry, TL;DR I did get as far as the "stiff drivetrain." Pretty bike but needs a drive side pic.
Added drive side pic.
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Old 05-28-20, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by SalsaShark View Post
This entire excercise is strange and confusing. If you want to keep a "trophy bike" why would you disassemble it and package it away where you cannot admire it? Why not mount it on the wall or a shelf or something? Also, this sounds like you really like the ride if this frame, and only have 5000 miles or so on it, and you want to retire it? If your riding terrain has changed, why not just tweak the drivetrain to accomodate and continue riding your beloved bicycle? This whole things reminds me of the Egyptians packing away belongings to bury with the dead to be used in the afterlife.
LOL, I completely understand what you're saying. My friends also say the same thing. I guess I'm quirky that way. I like to pack away things that I really like so they are not "ruined". I do that with other stuff too.

The reason why I don't just tweak the drivetrain is because that would not preserve the bike the way I really loved it. But also, it only fits up to 25mm tires, and only has rim brakes. I feel like I want to explore gravel bikes with wider tires and disc brakes.

Last edited by fuji_owner; 05-28-20 at 08:38 PM.
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Old 05-28-20, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post
someone give me the Cliff's notes.
Dude took a great, perfectly serviceable bike and mummified it. In the prime of its life he decided it was too good to actually use, so he's going to bury it in a vault under Mt. Everest and throw away the key, so that no human eyes will ever behold its glory again until space aliens come upon this lifeless rock someday, pry open Mt. Doom expecting to find the One Ring, and instead unpack his glorious artifact of a bike and worship it as a god.
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Old 05-28-20, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by SethAZ View Post
Dude took a great, perfectly serviceable bike and mummified it. In the prime of its life he decided it was too good to actually use, so he's going to bury it in a vault under Mt. Everest and throw away the key, so that no human eyes will ever behold its glory again until space aliens come upon this lifeless rock someday, pry open Mt. Doom expecting to find the One Ring, and instead unpack his glorious artifact of a bike and worship it as a god.
OMG too funny LOL
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Old 05-28-20, 09:01 PM
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The initial post reads like one of those endless math questions:

Two trains leave the station going opposite directions at the same time. One is traveling 30mph while the other is going 40mph........................zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
....
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Old 05-28-20, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post
someone give me the Cliff's notes.
It's his favorite bike and he's never going to ride it again.
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Old 05-28-20, 09:33 PM
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https://hosting.photobucket.com/albums/u308/bigjohn53/.highres/003-2.jpg?width=322&height=195&fit=bounds&crop=fill

I have a Seven and I've put about 40,000 miles on it. I'll probably put some more this Saturday.
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Old 05-28-20, 10:25 PM
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While I understand that everybody has their own reasons and methods for doing things, this thread is nonetheless mind-boggling. Favorite bike ever but just 5k miles on it? I rode my first bike until I broke the frame. The bike that replaced it will pass 20,000 miles long before its 4th birthday.

If I had a custom frame, that thing would never lose sight of the road-- it would be a slim shade away from the Ship of Theseus, because at some point only the original frame would remain.

I mean, at least hang the thing on a wall. Or put it in an acrylic case, like collectors do with Hot Wheels. Just like... a giant acrylic case. I think "entombed in a shipping crate" seems more like a punishment than anything else.
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Old 05-28-20, 11:49 PM
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He's keeping it in good condition for the next owner, whether he sell it (I know OP said he wouldn't) or his kin. The C&V crowd will love finding this bike when that time comes.
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Old 05-29-20, 01:57 AM
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I mean, it is your bike and you should do what you want with it.

But if it were me, I'd put it up on a wall and take it out for casual coffee rides and such. In fact, I plan to do exactly that with a Colnago Master X Light frameset next year (am going to sell my current Lynskey for that).
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Old 05-29-20, 02:09 AM
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To be entombed forever is just a sad & shameful fate.

5000 miles? That's not even 1 change of the ol' bar tape.

My bikes weep for this poor Seven.
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Old 05-29-20, 02:14 AM
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There is some logic to it.
He is doing his best to store the bike in pristine condition.
I am sure if he ever moves back to an area that suits what the bike was built for he can unbox it and use it again.
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Old 05-29-20, 02:18 AM
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I don't fully get where you are going with mothballing the bike. Keep it out, ride it. Sure, get a new bike better suited to your current situation but why put it away???? I ride my 2000 Merlin Ti bike that looks very very similar to your Seven all of the time. I have 15 years ago put on a compact crank when I moved from Michigan to Utah and now here in Central Europe (Czech Republic) it works super fine with the big hills. It is more comfy than my lighter Orbea Orca, not as light weight, but a real honey to ride, and I do. In this day and age, riding up next to someone while you are on a Ti bike, American made with lots of American parts and Italian drive train really is fun, in this world of carbon bikes with Shimano. People here (in Europe) ask me where the hell I came from. I could not imagine retiring the bike, just making upgrades to parts as they wear out, which they really don;t other than tires, chain, cassettes, brake pads, bar tape.

RIDE THAT DAMN BIKE!
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Old 05-29-20, 05:04 AM
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I have a trophy bike. It's the Cervelo S1 that was... not my first road bike, but the first one that "stuck", and is the one I rode for most of my tri career.

Right now it's being rebuilt into a dedicated trainer-only bike so that it never, ever has to retire and can be part of my cycling career for the foreseeable future.
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Old 05-29-20, 05:12 AM
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Not hot.
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Old 05-29-20, 05:30 AM
  #21  
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So sad as steel is real and TI is real for life. That bike wants to be out in the wild riding fast. A trophy bike should be displayed and IMO played.
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Old 05-29-20, 05:33 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by guadzilla View Post
I mean, it is your bike and you should do what you want with it.

But if it were me, I'd put it up on a wall and take it out for casual coffee rides and such. In fact, I plan to do exactly that with a Colnago Master X Light frameset next year (am going to sell my current Lynskey for that).
Thanks for keeping that Master steel display going and showing for others to admire.
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Old 05-29-20, 05:36 AM
  #23  
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My "trophy" bike hangs on the wall in the garage, until I pull it down and ride it multiple times per week .

Do I wish I could fit wider tires to it? Yes, but that's not a sane reason not to ride it. For the most part, it still has the same parts on it that I built it up with almost 20 years ago, which are "ancient" in the upgrade-crazy times we live in now. 9 speed, 12-26 cassette, 53/39 chainrings, rim brakes, tubed tires, no carbon fiber to be found anywhere.

​​​I'll never sell it, but I'll not stop riding it either. I've got well over 20,000 miles on it (I didn't ride for nearly 10 years of its life), and I don't really see any limit to how far it can go. And to this day, other than a bit of crazing of the wet film decals (they were not clear coated as the frame is powdercoated) and very minor wear and tear on components, it looks as good as the day I uncrated the frame in the summer of 2001.

Last edited by mprince; 05-29-20 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 05-29-20, 06:25 AM
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Originally Posted by joesch View Post
A trophy bike should be displayed and IMO played.
As far as ti bikes go, its only mediocre looking IMHO.
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Old 05-29-20, 06:31 AM
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shelbyfv
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Kudos to OP for being a good sport and not getting a panty wad when most of us can't fathom his obsession! Lots of weird stuff coming out these days, always interesting.
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