Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Green Monkey Era Begins

There she is! The Green Monkey.
I mentioned last week that I was going to "green up" my Karate Monkey and then I also mentioned that on Monday. The final piece to the puzzle arrived Tuesday and yesterday I got it all put together. The era of the Green Monkey begins now.

This has been a process that has been a long time in coming to this point. I feel pretty confident in saying now that "it is finished".


Let's hope this time I do not dismantle it and ruin what I had, like I did last time I had the Karate Monkey dialed to perfection. That said, this variation is actually a better one. There are a couple of reasons for that. One thing I should have done a long time ago and the other bit wasn't really a possibility until last year. Both things were critcal in making this version work and work better than before.

When I first got this Campstove Green Karate Monkey in 2003, I set it up with disc brakes, which at that time was a new technology for mountain biking. There was no way I was going to use cantilever brakes, even though they were a known quantity and the '03 Monkeys could accept them. Nope! Even though the cantilevers would be lighter, I wasn't going to do it. That led to frustrations.

I believe Homebrew Components is defunct now, but that is where I got these green anodized bits.
 Anytime I had to, or wanted to remove the rear wheel it was a half an hour ordeal. Loosen the caliper, move the chain tensioner, unbolt the axle, deal with the chain, then reverse the entire procedure when you wanted to reinstall the wheel. Good luck getting that brake caliper in the right spot! Especially out in the field. This time around, I went with rim brakes, and that takes away one step of the procedure. It has been a lot easier dealing with the rear wheel this way. I should have just bit the bullet and gone with some super cool linear pull brakes back then.

The other bit that made all the difference is the Velo Orange Cigne Stem. That has the On One Midge Bars right in the sweet spot. Before this stem, I could get close. I just had to put up with a bit of discomfort at times, but no more. This stem is exactly what I needed to run drop bars on the Karate Monkey.

Other than that, the last thing I needed to get to recreate the old "perfect" version of this bike was a longer crank. I used a 177.5mm Cook Brothers crankset on my original build. That accepts a 110 BCD type sprocket, and when I tried to remove the hidden fifth bolt and nut, it siezed up and I basically haven't gotten that separated ever since. So, I ended up selling a bike recently that had a 180mm White Industries crank set on it, which I kept. I just swapped that over with its green Homebrew Components 38T ring and also matched that with a 17 tooth cog from the same company. (I believe that company is no more, by the way.)

Yes- this is not the saddle I spoke of last Friday.
Finally, sharp eyed readers will notice that the Apple Green Brooks B-17 was not mentioned before, but I did say I had a green Brooks B-17 Special which had turned nearly black. Well, after last Friday's post went live, a regular reader here named Steven contacted me about the Apple Green Brooks he had and wanted to sell. He thought maybe I might like a truly green saddle better.

He was correct. So, a deal was struck and earlier this week the saddle arrived. I mounted it to my Ritchey post and took the Green Monkey for a spin. Everything felt perfect. It is one of those rare, happy bicycling moments when everything just falls to hand and you get that satisfying feeling. Well, I had that feeling and the Karate Monkey has not felt this good while riding since 2007. I am beyond happy with how it all turned out.

While there may be some adjustments, maybe a tire swap, or maybe newer wheels at some point, I don't see anything being changed out from this point forward. I am excited to get this out on gravel, and I know I can ride hours and hours on this thing now. It's gonna be good.

A short explanation about why this was torn apart back in the day now- Well, I have to credit this bike with getting me excited about 29"ers, and also about gravel road riding. I was riding this bike exclusively on gravel in the years 2006-2007. Then when I got entrenched in "Twenty Nine", I had to pretty much forsake any gravel riding time for testing and reviewing mountain bike parts. Cue up the hours and hours spent at Camp Ingawanis, Ingawanis Woodlands, and Cedar Bend Park. Gravel was a rarity for me after '07.

So, the Monkey got pressed into commuter duties, but when after four years of Winter's muck and mire made the old UN series bottom bracket go "clunk", I found that the bottom bracket was seized up in the frame. This would have been around 2010. Then I didn't have the time nor gumption to get after that because I wouldn't be able to ride that bike much anyway.

But now things are different. No more mountain biking review duties, and all my focus is back again on gravel riding. Getting the Karate Monkey up and running again made sense now. So, there is your back story.

Now for some good times on the Green Monkey!


graveldoc said...

Look'n good! Go Green Monkey!

Phillip Cowan said...

Looks sweet! Glad the bar/stem combo is working out. It doesn't hurt that it looks good too.

Ari said...

Was brew the company that had a little hillbilly old man holding a frame as their mascot?

Guitar Ted said...

@Ari- Yes, it was Brew.

Guitar Ted said...

@Steven Butcher @phillip Cowan- Thanks guys! I can't wait to get out there on it!

Unknown said...

@guitarted Homebrewed components made single rings and cogs, and is probably out of business, a long several year old MTBR thread about failure to deliver orders. Brew racing frames is a frame builder out of N Carolina with the hilly billy frame logo and is still in business. They are actually pretty well known for having high quality US made steel BMX racing frames, I have a Brew racing fork on my 24" BMX racing cruiser that I bought awhile back, good quality Made in USA and at the time I bought it 10 or so years ago was reasonably priced and much lighter than just about any other steel BMX fork.

Guitar Ted said...

@Adam Van Dyke- Yes. I was well aware of all of that, although I did not connect Ari's question with a misunderstanding of who "Homebrew Components" was. Perhaps you did?

Perhaps Ari can shed light on that, but I wouldn't necessarily assume that was the way he was looking at it myself.

Steve Fuller said...

I have one of those campstove green KM's in my garage as well, set up, theoretically, as a commuter, with disc brakes and an alfine hub. It's been renamed "Sticker Monkey" due to all of the stickers I've placed on it. It was my first 29er, the bike I really got into mountain biking with, and was the bike I attempted my first Cup O Dirt on, as well as the bike I rode to my first DK200 finish way back in 2008. I doubt I'll get rid of the frame as it's bomb proof and can take about any parts you want to throw on it.

I do need to swap the 40c tires out for some comfy, wider rubber at some point. I also need to take the time to either get some p-clamps or get some threaded inserts welded into the frame I can mount a rack or two mounted up on it to make it a tad more flexible.

Ari said...

Two different companies:
Brew racing frames
Home brew components

Thanks for making that clear!!

Unknown said...

The yes is strong with this post. I'm about to throw some Woodchippies on my ~2013 Ogre - Just trying to decide if I really want to rob parts from two other bikes to make this happen. It's either that, or keep it configured as my bomb-proof full fender, Jones H-Bar commuter beast -- and buy for me a dedicated long ETT dirt drop gravel grindin' sled that can do 27.5+ & 29+... because consumption, yo.