Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Monkey Decade: Part 5

The Karate Monkey Today
 Intro: This year marks the tenth year I have been riding 29"ers. It also is my ten year anniversary of owning my Campstove Green Karate Monkey. There will be several posts throughout the coming months about my story with my KM and what is going to be happening to it now. Here is the last update.

Okay, the last four posts have dealt with the history of this bike with me. Now it is time to look into the future a bit. The bike needs some work too, and so I will paint a vision for where I want to go with parts and upgrades as well. But before any of that, I am going to point out a few things about this bike that have always driven me a little nuts. Things I just do not like about the Karate Monkey. You know.....nothing is perfect! 

One of the things I didn't care for from the get-go was that the Karate Monkey was a bike that tried to play nice with a lot of possibilities. This probably still made sense in 2001, or whenever Surly put pen to paper on the Karate Monkey design. Many folks were not on board with disc brakes yet then, and honestly, there were  not too many good designs yet. Fortunately SRAM/Avid had the venerable BB-7 brakes and I didn't have to use cantilevers, but I had to live with those "tumors" on the fork and seat stays. 

Track ends....bah!
The other thing that always bugged me from the time I got this bike till now is the track ends in combination with the disc brake mount. To remove a wheel to swap tires, (which I often do), or to repair a flat, is a half an hour ordeal and three wrenches involved. Sometimes it is frustrating to have to deal with this when I have other single speeds I can walk over to, flip a quick release lever on, and drop the rear wheel in a flash.

I also always had to use a chain tug with this bike or I would inevitably crank the wheel sideways in the frame. It is just a cheap, bent steel and threaded rod chain tug, but regardless of what it is, it is, and that is enough to ruffle my feathers when I have to deal with the rear wheel.

The final thing that always bugged me was that dratted cable stop on the drive side chain stay for a rear derailleur cable. I'll never gear this bike up, and that cable stop, brazed on so it peeks out a bit from underneath the chain stay, is a snagger. Once I tore a heel cup off a brand new pair of Lake cycling shoes on that bit. Gah!

Small concerns to be sure, but there they are. All that to say the Karate Monkey circa 2003 has its warts. (Pun intended) Sure- I could have all those unwanted bits ground off, but then we're talking repaint, and There is a certain patina and character on this frame from over ten years of use, and I feel that- for me- it would not be right to mess with that. Warts and all, it stays. There will be a thorough cleansing, yes. There will be some measures taken against any rusting I may find, but that is about it. Clean, touch up where necessary, and wax it up before rebuilding. But the stickers are staying put!

Somewhere in there lurks a UN-52.....
Yes, there will be a rebuild, if a certain component comes out. I have tried twice before over the years, with no success, to remove the cartridge bottom bracket from this frame. When the frame was new, I had a salvaged UN-52 X 118mm bottom bracket cartridge, circa mid-90's vintage, that I installed. It has lived there ever since, and it has developed a knocking, indicative of a bearing crying for mercy. has lived a hard life, after all.

But try as I might to relieve it from duty, it won't budge an inch, or a millimeter, as it were. I must try to find a good way to get this bottom bracket out, or this whole project will be taking on a very different complexion. I am confident that it will eventually break free, but this will be difficult.

If I am correct, and the bottom bracket gives over, I will then go about the business of re imagining the bike, not doing a restoration to my original build, but a combination of things I have done over the years. Drop bars will stay on, but likely they will be Midge Bars. Single speed- of course! New wheels will be a part of the build, with a twist. I will likely break up the "Chocolate Chip" wheels, use the Surly Jim Brown hubs, and lace them anew to some rim or another, which I have yet to determine. The rear will be bolt on. May as well be another wrench in the tool kit! (A Surly wrench at that!) I may even retain the bolt on front hub.

I'll get a White Industries free hub, and I may resurrect the Cook Brothers crank I used in the beginning. Then the bike will also get a Brooks saddle, a new seat post, (Maybe that Paul Components one), and the brakes will be the good ol' Avid BB-7's, unless something better pops up. It'll end up being the gravel rig I used it for most of the time, and I'll refine that set up to where I had it back in '07-'08. Then the plan is to do a really long ride on it.

Next: It may be a while before another update, but the next step is tearing the old girl down and getting that nasty BB out!


Roasta said...

GTed that rear wheel change sounds like a royal pain in the butt.
Good luck with that bb. I have just had un26 bb issues restoring a bike for a customer. Let's say that wd40 left overnight, a little part turned on the lathe used with the tool and QR skewer and a 2 ft breaker bar with me standing on it eventually moved it. Good luck.

jonathansmith68 said...

Though I doubt this would ever happen, it'd be cool to see a KM DLX that utilizes the Salsa-designed alternator drop-outs. But it does kind of go against Surly's "less is better" philosophy. Still would be pretty cool! I love that curved seat-tube!

Isolation Helmet said...

My favorite way to remove a stuck bottom braket is to mount the removal tool in a vice, place the bottom braket on the tool and rotate the frame. Has worked every time for me.

James Stewart said...

You could hack off the canti-posts and cable stop and get a close-enough matching touch up paint and call it good. Warts and all.

Guitar Ted said...

@James Stewart: You know what they say about "close enough", don't you? It only works in a game of Horse Shoes and with hand grenades.

El jefe said...

Hi GT,the KM is the funnest rig I have ever had too, altho mine has only just made it into SS mode. Can you tell me if it was the first ever production 29er? I am constantly amazed at Surly's ground breaking stuff. They really are innovators.

Guitar Ted said...

@El jefe: It was not the first production 29"er, (that would be Fisher's Supercaliber 29), but it was the bike, (or I should say frame set, as it was not offered as a complete), that brought the concept of big wheels to the masses at a "relative bargain" compared to customs and Fisher's bikes. That it also was a standard setter for geometry of 29"ers for years only cements its place more firmly as a "classic" of the big wheeled era in mountain biking.

Rob said...

DOn't know if you'll even see this, but any luck with the bottom bracket?

Guitar Ted said...

@Rob: I got the plastic cup side out finally just last week. Soaking the rest. Hope to have good news soon!

Spitch Grizwald said...

I've had excellent results with a penetrating oil called "Kroil." They key is to spray it and walk away, come back the next day and repeat, for multiple days.

Guitar Ted said...

@Spitch Grizwald- Yep. Tried that as well. It got the plastic cup out, but after a month plus of soaking it, the BB is still stuck. Next I am trying Coca-Cola. ;>)