Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Frankenstein Would Be Proud

I am often amazed at the amount of tinkering that several mountain bikers are willing to do when it comes to modifying bikes and bike parts. The amount of examples seems to be growing all the time. It raises alot of interesting points in my mind.

Not least of which is the fact that the majority of these modifications seem to be centered around 29"ers. I guess in a way it makes sense, since there are still far fewer component choices and frame choices than what the 26"er folks have. Still, some of these mods border on the bizzare.

Probably the coolest mod is the Lefty steerer tube conversion kit to allow folks to run Lefty suspension struts, ( These are NOT FORKS!!) on a mountain bike of their choice and not just on a Cannondale. Several examples of this exist in the 29"er ranks.

Lots of 96er/69er/50-50/hybrid 26/29 bikes out there built up from regular 26" bikes as well. Some are more successful than others, but the list of these mods keeps growing all the time. The latest one that caught my eye was the guy looking to mod a Specialized Epic into a 96"er. Classic back yard engineering!

The thing that always grabs my attention is the investment in time that these mods always run up. Don't these guys have real jobs? Then there are the engineering decisions that in a lot of cases are pretty sketchy, to say the least. For instance, the Lefty forks that are getting put on aluminum frames that are not designed to withstand the forces exerted by a Lefty fork.

The best is the folks that get online to quibble over a half a degree of headtube angle and then turn around and build up a frame designed for 26 inch wheels with a 29 inch front wheel and a different fork to fit it with an offset that isn't complimentary to the wheel/frame combination. Maybe they watched too many episodes of American Chopper.

Finally you have the Stan's No Tubes addicts that have to juice up every new tire that hits the market to find out if it's "tubeless compatible" or not. Kudos to them for putting their life on the line for my knowledge sake. Rock on, you latex warriors!

In the end, you've got to hand it to these garage mechanics and back yard tinkerers. They sometimes invent something pretty cool, or drive the big companies to innovate where they wouldn't have done so otherwise.

It's the engineering equivilent to Dr. Frankenstein. If it works, it's a miracle of science and you are a hero. If it doesn't, the knaves and peasants are waiting with their torches, knives and pitchforks to drive you out of town and burn your castle to the ground.

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