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A Single Barbarian... MTB SS retrofit

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A Single Barbarian... MTB SS retrofit

Old 06-13-20, 09:27 PM
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Happy Feet
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A Single Barbarian... MTB SS retrofit

I've had a hankering for a SS mtb but didn't want to break down the two 26r mtb's I currently use so I scanned the local CL listings and found an e stay (elevated stay) bike for a decent enough price to play around with.

The serial dates it as a 1990 Nishiki Barbarian, a mid range model that was only made for the Canadian market. A similar model of that era would be the Ariel or Pinnacle. Main tubes are DB Cro-Mo with Exage 500 components and a Biopace crankset. The rear derailer was not original but that didn't matter as it was scheduled for removal anyway.





E stay mtb's were a thing for a few years (1988 - mid 90's) with credit usually given to Richard Cunningham as a novel innovation to reduce chain slap and give better tire clearance. Eventually the design petered out as racers found them too flexy at the BB with some models prone to cracking.

I just bought it because the frame looks unique but discovered a cool feature in that, without lower chain stays, one can completely remove the chain without unlinking. Makes cleaning the chain uber easy.

I've decided to mock up the bike first as a proof of concept for gearing and fit and then tear it back down for a complete rebuild.

Up first was widening the cockpit.

As is, the reach was a bit cramped for my torso so I pulled the heavy 1" quill stem off and replaced it with a threadless converter I had kicking around. From there I added a modern stem and bars (for now some hacked dropbar/bullhorns). It will look better cut to length with spacers. Probably the bullhorns will give way to a flatbar with bar ends.





Then I went to work on the drive train.

I split a couple of cassettes for donor cogs and spacers and rebuilt the 7 speed hub, keeping an 11Tcog on the end to butt against the lock ring. After some trial and error I later found a spacing that provided a good chain line. Down the road, when I find the gearing I like I'll buy some heavier duty SS cogs in those sizes.





I decided to keep the Biopace crankset complete for another project and to avoid the oval design deviations in chain length by swapping in a Deore crank set instead. By removing the outer and inner rings and putting the middle ring on the outside of the arm I came up with a 36T single crank.





A big problem is that the bike has vertical dropouts. I was hoping I could get away without a chain tensioner (though I can also add one if needed) so I started playing with rear cog T sizes. Initially a 2:1 ratio 18T cog, but there was a bit of play in the chain. A 20T fit perfectly.



And that's where it sits for this evening.

Next up is trying out an idea by refitting the 26T inner chain ring and seeing if I can get a larger rear cog to fit the same chain length. 2 cogs on back, 2 chain rings up front. That way I could create a pseudo wide range dingle drive non flip flop hub by swapping the chain between between 36/20 and say.. 26/30 (or whatever cog fits close enough).

Last edited by Happy Feet; 06-14-20 at 12:12 AM.
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Old 06-14-20, 05:16 PM
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Juan el Boricua
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Nice looking bike, and good, solid plan. Kudos on it, Sir! BTW, Nice Monte Carlo/El Camino; '76-77?
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Old 06-14-20, 06:53 PM
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72 GMC Sprint. Cousin to the El Camino.
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Old 06-15-20, 07:05 AM
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Need to do a belt drive conversion. It's the hot setup on those elevated chainstay frames.
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Old 06-15-20, 08:29 AM
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It is always fun to see the conversion...good work!
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Old 06-15-20, 03:27 PM
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Thanks all

Today I spent more time than I wish to admit looking for two magic gear combinations for the same length of chain that would allow me to swap between two gear ratios. Like a flip flop hub, without the flip.

Up front I added a 24T ring to the existing 36T. That was pretty well pre determined. I measured the distance between the chainrings and made note of where to add the second cassette cog at equal distance to maintain the good chainline.

Then I broke apart the SS cassette many times, adding and removing various cogs, putting it back together, remounting the wheel and then running the chain around each to see how they fit.

It was a bit of fun trying to (a.) find a T size where the links lined up and (b.) two cog sizes that did the same.

In the end I have: 36/15 and 24/28





Next I'll rig up some brakes and see how it climbs. If I like it I'll tear it down and start the frame prep for repainting.

Last edited by Happy Feet; 06-15-20 at 05:31 PM.
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Old 06-16-20, 06:36 PM
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Worked on the brakes today.

I'll see how the bullhorns go initially before defaulting to flat bars and bar ends. They need to have the ends trimmed at a better angle but, as with the rest of the bike, I think they add a funky touch. I'm using cross top or Interupter levers for the brakes because mtb brake levers won't fit around the bends. The old school pear shaped brake cable ends that were common for 70's era ten speed brakes sit in the receiver nicely.

Because my new stem set up doesn't have a cable stop like the original stem, I had to drill one out. Probably voids the warranty






And it's all good. Now it's off to the paint department.

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Old 06-17-20, 07:55 AM
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I like that you use an old car as a workbench!
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Old 06-17-20, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by natloz View Post
I like that you use an old car as a workbench!
It was a rainy couple of days and the garage is too full to work in
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Old 06-20-20, 04:22 PM
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And now the tedious work begins... I quite enjoy the idea of stripping and repainting or refinishing frames but there is nothing very glamorous about the man hours needed to accomplish the task of removing the old paint first. It is satisfying to see a bare frame emerge though. From this point forward projects usually start to become expressions of creativity and not just a collections of parts.

On a previous build I experimented with sand blasting a frame at a do it yourself shop: Langley U-Blast - Do It Yourself Sandblasting in Langley, BC Canada | Langley U-Blast
The results were great! but it cost $115 that time to strip the old frame because the paint was so hard. I decided after that to at least prep strip the frame. Usually though, I just do the following:

Clean the frame of grease.
Apply Gel furniture stripper onto parts.
Scrape off the old paint.
Wire wheel with a drill to bare metal.
Sand with fine grit paper and/or 00 steel wool.
Refinish/paint.

On my last three projects I have been experimenting with Gun Blue Acid treatments to colour the bare frame before top coating. This time I swore I wanted to try a "Burnt Orange" paint job but already the bare metal is calling to me so I'm undecided at this point as to which way I will go.

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Old 06-21-20, 07:03 PM
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Kudos on your work, as it is coming on very nice! Liking a lot the idea of the two speeds, and ingenuity on the workings of the front brake. Please, post pictures as soon as you paint the frame!
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Old 06-25-20, 09:55 PM
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Frame stripped and Bluing has begun.

As expected, it was tedious to strip the multiple tubes but as the bare metal began to show I was more and more impressed by the quality of what most would now call a "thrift store" bike. Though heavier due to the extra tubes it has nice braze ons, dropouts, decent welds and drive side crimped chainstay. This is a well made bike.





I have done about 5 frames now with Gun Blue acid.
A different frame, same acid.


The process is pretty basic and creates an organic asymmetrical look that shows off the frames characteristics.
The acid basically reacts to the iron content of the metal and creates an oxidation layer that for chromoly steel is more brown/golden than blue. The more acid you add, the darker it gets; apply with a wetted rag. Later, I buff various parts to get degrees of luster. It also shows scratches and swirls and the brass from brazing so each frame is unique.

The discolouration begins





Now the frame is done and ready for buffing. It will lighten up quite a bit when buffed. If I find I don't like the look I can reapply more acid and redo the buffing. Once it's good I will topcoat with clear epoxy.


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Old 06-27-20, 08:06 PM
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Buffed and clear coated the frame and fork today.

Before doing that though, I decided to add internal brake cable ports for the rear brake using the original brazed boss sites (that I rashly removed and immediately regretted).
I was in a pique of hacksaw madness and then thought: "I needed those two".

I worked up to a drill bit the same diameter as the brake cable and then canted the hole so the cable can enter at an angle.





I bent the end of the brake cable and fed it through one end. When it drew parallel to the second hole I rotated the cable until the end came close to the hole and then grabbed it with the needle nose pliers to pull it through.

Then it was buff and clear coat time.







After some curing time I will begin the reassembly.

Last edited by Happy Feet; 06-27-20 at 08:11 PM.
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Old 06-28-20, 12:58 PM
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Juan el Boricua
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It looks like it's coming along very nice; and liking a lot your ingenuity for routing the brake cable, allowing for a cleaner look!

(Now I'm thinking of "bluing" my beater bike...)
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Old 06-29-20, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Juan el Boricua View Post
It looks like it's coming along very nice; and liking a lot your ingenuity for routing the brake cable, allowing for a cleaner look!

(Now I'm thinking of "bluing" my beater bike...)
The frame work is a lot more than just painting as you have to completely strip the frame but I like the look. I'm currently using Rustoleum 2x Ultra cover enamel but one day plan to get a frame clear powder coated to see how that looks. The spray enamel seems to hold up far better than spray lacquer. https://www.rustoleum.com/product-ca...2x-ultra-cover
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Old 07-09-20, 08:42 PM
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Thanks for sharing your progress of this paint removal and treatment, the resulting finish is quite beautiful!
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Old 07-09-20, 09:24 PM
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Thank you.
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Old 07-11-20, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
Buffed and clear coated the frame and fork today.

After some curing time I will begin the reassembly.
How long does the curing process take? Iím dying to see this completed.
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Old 07-11-20, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by aggiegrads View Post
How long does the curing process take? Iím dying to see this completed.
Like most paints, which are touch dry in 24 hours but easily scratched, it can take up to a month for it to harden to a more durable finish.

I can almost never wait that long, but a second bike project has distracted me just long enough to allow it to harden a little bit at least. I plan to buy some bar tape and work on it today
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Old 07-11-20, 04:57 PM
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Well, that's it for a little while. Now I have to ride it for a bit to see what needs tweaking.

For the time being I just added bicycle tubes as bar tape because I'm not sure how I will like the narrow bullhorns for steering while mtbing. On gravel they are fine. Once I make a decision I'll pretty that up.

I also don't like the carbon stem spacers and black stem. I added the spacers because I had them on hand but it introduces another material element that complicates the look. I'm going to source some aluminum ones to better match the seat post. I can take most of the black coating off the stem with easy off oven spray and buff it so it has a colour similar to the frame tubing. Otherwise, I like the transformation of my Barbarian 2x2.







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Old 07-11-20, 06:01 PM
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Nice looking bike you've got there! Kudos on such a great job!

OT- Do you still have the Apollo? I also liked that one a lot.
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Old 07-11-20, 06:10 PM
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Yep. It underwent a handle bar swap to flipped utility bars and I'm on the lookout for a smaller brake lever. May go with a plain Al interrupter like the Tektro's on this one.



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Old 07-12-20, 06:43 PM
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That looks great; reminds me of the scorcher-type bikes!!! 👍
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Old 07-31-20, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
Well, that's it for a little while. Now I have to ride it for a bit to see what needs tweaking.

For the time being I just added bicycle tubes as bar tape because I'm not sure how I will like the narrow bullhorns for steering while mtbing. On gravel they are fine. Once I make a decision I'll pretty that up.

I also don't like the carbon stem spacers and black stem. I added the spacers because I had them on hand but it introduces another material element that complicates the look. I'm going to source some aluminum ones to better match the seat post. I can take most of the black coating off the stem with easy off oven spray and buff it so it has a colour similar to the frame tubing. Otherwise, I like the transformation of my Barbarian 2x2.







well done
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