Project Zero: Zip Rebuild

Project Zero: Zip Rebuild

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Phase I of Project Zero is complete.  Stock, the Zip wasn’t a bike that i was going to be able to ride.  First of all, I’m too tall for the 270mm Ritchey seatpost, and the stem was too short.  Also, while I love the approach Bridgestone took to designing their bikes, I have to say that suspension of some kind is appreciated by my joints if not my mind.  Also, this bike is hitting my Nostalgia Button, and for that, I have to take it back to the way we were riding bikes in 1991.

My family had more bikes than sense, and we ran the gamut on technologies available at the time.  We had a full-suspension Cannondale “Boinger” – equipped with the short-lived Campy Euclid group – my Schwinn loaded up with Rock Shox, various Cannondales, and a couple Bridgestones.  We rode the Bridgestones stock for a while until we got turned onto the Softride suspension stem.  We loved the clever design; the stem doesn’t change the geometry of the bike the way suspension forks did (before they were part of the design like they are now), were very light, didn’t suffer from sticktion, and were self-damping.  Similarly, we loved the design of the Thudbuster seatpost; they worked great – as long as you didn’t mind using rear suspension that effected the height of your saddle.

The great benefit of both the the Softride stem and the Thudbuster seatpost is that neither changes the geometry of the bike.  When climbing out of the saddle, the Thudbuster doesn’t effect the bike at all – it’s still a hardtail.  But, when seated, it’s three inches of travel noticeably softens bumps.  The stem has a slight bouncy feeling when climbing out of the saddle like any other front suspension mechanism without a modern lockout, but with some careful adjustment of the stem’s spring tension, you can find a good balance between suspension when you want it, and lack of bounciness when you’re climbing.

Once I got the Zip, I went about collecting the parts I needed to get back to my mountain biking comfort zone.  To my surprise, the Thudbuster is still in production and several improvements have been made to the design.  It seems lighter than the old model, and the motion of the parallelogram seems to eliminate any noticeable change in saddle height.  Most importantly, they provide different elastomers (remember elastomers?) that let you tailor the stiffness of the suspension.  Since all I want is to take the edge off the worst of the bumps, I installed the stiffest ones.  The seatpost is also surprisingly light; the Thudbuster/Arione combo is lighter than the stock Ritchey/Turbo setup.

Softride is no longer in the bike parts building business, but I snapped up a NOS stem on eBay for next to nothing and installed it.  It’s amazing how light the system is; including the Profile quill adapter, the Softride setup weighs about the same as the original steel stem.

With that, the Zip appeared ready to embark on it’s maiden voyage.  Prepping for the ride, however, we discovered the tires were hopelessly old and cracked, so I picked up some new ones.  To my surprise, when taking the old tires off the rim, I realized they had steel beads (were the Specialized Crossmax stock?); the new ones are way lighter and a bit wider than the old ones.  Finally, the maiden voyage proved too rough for the original headset, so it was replaced with a Chris King and the old brake pads were replaced with some fresh ones.

All said, the bike weighs about the same as it originally did.  But don’t worry, all the stock parts are safely stowed in a box.

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// Mountain Biking // The Bikes

  1. @G’rilla What the chances of getting frank on a new MTB rig?

  2. @G’rilla

    Speaking of which, BuDu racing’s next MTB event is on Whidbey Island (two weeks from today). Team Velominati needs you there!

    You know how to contact me.

    Oh god. I last pinned on a race number in 1989, and my MTB skills are execrable. Is there a category for old unfit guys who suck?

  3. The goal is to stay in the air for as much of the course as possible.

  4. @G’rilla Why aren’t you pedaling? Is your bike broken? Wheels on the ground mean speed.

  5. @Chris The photo makes it look like I’m not pedaling, but I made 5 revolutions of the crank between each of those frames.

  6. @Chris

    I just want to see the next frame where he bails. Oh, and John Tomac agrees with @G’rilla.

  7. Merckx, I have to get that back back under control. Its disgraceful, the way its built right now.

  8. @G’rilla

    @Chris The photo makes it look like I’m not pedaling, but I made 5 revolutions of the crank between each of those frames.

    Unless you also managed to get your bike back on the ground between frames that would have been fairly pointless. Or are you so awesome that you pedal in mid air, old school BMX style.

  9. @frank why? start from scratch with a modern MTB. It will be worth it.

  10. @frank

    @Chris

    I just want to see the next frame where he bails. Oh, and John Tomac agrees with @G’rilla.

    Tomac wouldn’t have stopped pedaling for that, he’s only off the ground in your photo because he wants to twist his bar and stem out of the way in case the whole roadie set up gives way going down the slope.

  11. @G’rilla

    How do you get the bike to go up in the air like that? Is that what those seatposts with the cable attached are for?

  12. @G’rilla well done, it looks like you are carrying some good speed down the MTN by the height of your wheels. Or you have mastered the bunny hop. All the work up makes the down well worth it.  I just dusted off the GT Zaskar last weekend myself after doing a full diagnostic check. Just a leaky fork seal I forgot about last fall when she went into hibernation. I should have the seal kit by the end of the week and rebuild both this saturday.

  13. @PeakInTwoYears

    @G’rilla

    How do you get the bike to go up in the air like that? Is that what those seatposts with the cable attached are for?

    I’m actually at ground level. There’s a switch on the bars that makes the rest of the ground move downward.

  14. A little desert XC riding today

  15. @RedRanger

    What’s up with the weird sky? What planet are you on?

  16. @PeakInTwoYears too blue?

  17. @RedRanger

    What is this word “blue”? Are you speaking Proto-Germanic or something?

  18. @PeakInTwoYears

    @RedRanger

    What is this word “blue”? Are you speaking Proto-Germanic or something?

    “distinct terms for brownpurplepinkorange and grey will not emerge in a language until the language has made a distinction between green and blue”

  19. @PeakInTwoYears one of the perks of living in AZ. Right now it’s 30 C. when I was out it was closer to 20\.

  20. @RedRanger

    @PeakInTwoYears one of the perks of living in AZ. Right now it’s 30 C. when I was out it was closer to 20\.

    It wasn’t 30C there last weekend!  I should have stayed in Syracuse, it was warmer here!

  21. @Sauterelle you are correct, it was “cold” in Tucson this passed weekend. You got the raw deal on that end. The weather in southern AZ can be erratic this time of year.

  22. @frank

    Merckx, I have to get that back back under control. Its disgraceful, the way its built right now.

    I vote for a Tomac type build along with getting a New MTB.

  23. @RedRanger

    @Sauterelle you are correct, it was “cold” in Tucson this passed weekend. You got the raw deal on that end. The weather in southern AZ can be erratic this time of year.

    Yeah, it sucked.  I was in Phoenix and we had cold, rain, wind and a dust storm.  The day it warmed up was the day I left, naturally!

  24. @the Engine

    @PeakInTwoYears

    @RedRanger

    What is this word “blue”? Are you speaking Proto-Germanic or something?

    “distinct terms for brown, purple, pink, orange and grey will not emerge in a language until the language has made a distinction between green and blue”

    Neither linguist nor neuro-ocular labcoat guy, I am not prepared to debate this–or even to understand it. All I know are things I call “green” and “grey” and “brown.” Mostly grey and green. It’s just where I live, or maybe I’m a dog.

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