From the ground, somewhere near the Tomatoes

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shadoc
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From the ground, somewhere near the Tomatoes

Not sure about you, but I’ve always enjoyed a good read that’s related to something I’m interested in; never miss a chance to get into it. 

 

This story begins at a college town in Southwest Missouri in the mid-90s, with a couple of po’ folk buddies who somehow came across a hole-in-the-wall bicycle shop. I remember we were still living in the dorms and were broke as shit, able to get by but always looking for a cheap thrill and therefore just working for the next whatever-came-our-way.  One weekend day we were down town touring the old markets for amusement and cheap furnishings for storage space. We came across the aforementioned shop that had a sign immediately announcing “Schwinn,” a blast from the past brand that I immediately associated with as my first bike back in homeland Colorado, a Stingray complete with ape-hangers, banana seat and training wheels.  But this shop had a Schwinn “mountain bike” on display in the window?  In Missouri, of all places?  The whole situation was, well, so mysterious.  “Bah,” we said, “let’s go in.”
 

Historically neither us of had any real interest in searching out a bicycle shop, so I’m pretty sure I know exactly what happened next to me and my pal..... 

 

We were seduced. 

 

This joint would have been like an art museum, had everything not been for sale.  The showroom ceiling was HIGH creating a roomy space, light was bouncing everywhere so the frame colors erupted! The aroma was fresh and sterile, the floors polished clean.  The walls were covered with what could only be described as bike art, but you could only see it if you managed to break free from navigating through the treasures on high display, like mounted statues of hero generals.  New tires full of tread begging to be worn were everywhere and the staggering placement of the bikes was nothing less than choreographed.  

  

Above that, two things: 
 

1} The patrons. 
 

Some customers were mesmorized as well, almost creating a panic (wait, what’s he looking at so intently?  Hurry up, I want to see but if I go over right now and it’s the only one, I might scare him into buying it!) Others were obviously serious about cycling and were there for a reason, which added credibility.  Subliminal thought process was something akin to “next New Year’s Resolution, man, I’m going to be just as serious as that guy, at the very least!” 
 

2} The sounds. 
 

Like most bike shops, the mechanics are right there exposed and wrenching on a different bike for a different reason, every day.  The dry Q&A on the floor could usually be dismissed by strolling close enough to eavesdrop on the mechanic’s banter, that’s really where it was at.  A variety of news and cycle gossip could be aired, anything from an upcoming event or new product, down to what NOT to do (or have done) to your bike.  Plus, the tools!  Watching a naked frame get draped in bling?  Kinda sexy. Hearing the spin of a fresh chain clicking through the gears and the cling of well-cared-for tools in action?  What a tease... 
 

We were hooked.  A couple of dudes too young to bar-hop but who saw an opportunity for a cool recreation, as well as get around like a bad ass.  We started saving loose change, “donating” plasma, borrowing from student loans, taking old text books off of friend’s hands at semester end just to resell them.  Nothing too original, haha!  We made a religion of consistently making weekly rounds to the bike shop and so, we slowly were introduced to the unicorn... Yeah, the Homegrown popped in now and then.  Never for long.  Two years available to the public and it was already a legend, even back then.  We knew it was out of our league but we weren’t blind, when we got tired of looking at the HG pictures on the pamphlets and brochures, we would actually read what they had to say.  And they said pretty much all we wanted to know.  Probably a little different for everyone, but for us, the Homegrown literature read something like, “ THIS is a real mountain bike.  With it, rainbows can be ridden, molten lava traversed.  Anything else with two wheels may as well be a plastic Big Wheel with 2 sippy cup holders, one for you and one for your babysitter.  And that’s OK.  As far as you know.” 
 

That’s really the only time I thought things were a little shady.  But, it could be all in my head. 
 

Eventually, we were ready to purchase for the 96 models.  My buddy opted for a suspension, black .2 I think, with a yellow Judy.  I wanted a hard tail and came home with a .3 because I loved the color.  I could afford to upgrade, barely, but the components weren’t as important to me as was the sleeper brown paper bag skin of my chosen. 
 

That’s it in a nutshell.   We had our bikes and knew our place.  Just out of reach from a tomato (which translated to Well Out Of Reach) but we had our connections and knew our business and we were ok with that!  So we went on to be wreckless and have fun and got dirty and experimented with the dangers of clipless vs gravity, played with shock settings, mastered balancing stairways and stop signs, always foreshadowing the inevitable trip back to the shop to collect decals and ponder the new HG paint schemes, livery and RockShox evolution... 
 

And so it’s about time to revisit that old bike that has stayed with me through so many moves.  At this point, I don’t ride enough to justify dumping a lot of money, just want to freshen up a bit.  I had neglected for years, took on the occasional spin but nothing real regular; just this last summer threw about $50 in cheap tires and tubes plus a set of pedals at it, then hit the asphalt bike lanes on the work commute.  Front hub finally gave out and the OEM crankset teeth are about done, high torque would be bad news.  I thought heavily on just finding a new-to-me homegrown but at the end of the day, more enjoyment would be had showing some love to this young-at-heart Schwinn.

 

This project is something of a build, I guess. But as any project goes, a sequence of events is gonna take place. Something most of us can identify with and appreciate: reaching for and grasping at, more NOT than often getting a grip on the elusive.  An old bike, not a Homegrown, but the spirit is there!

shadoc
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So last weekend I picked up a decent donor 17” Homegrown for $300, has XT components with a 9 speed cassette, Easton bar and seat post, decade old Fox F100 RLT with good rebound, Cane Creek headset (sealed bearing!!), newer Schwalbe Hans Dampfs on Magic XC 717s, Avid single digit 7 brakes.  To me, these are major upgrades!  And from what I can tell so far, everything is compatible (in this image, I had swapped the seat posts).

shadoc
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Now, spoiler alert.

I have very little experience with working on bicycles.  So, this past week, spent every day in one of the two LBSs near me, probing and carefully shopping.  In a sad way, I got lucky because one is closing it’s doors and tools were 40% off; since I’m taking everything down to the frame, I was able to pick up some “lower quality” tools (not Park) to do what I needed without a lot of buyers remorse, Craigslist doesn’t have a lot going on and I want to be selective vs going all out, so far so good.  I’ve been using my old TopPeak multi-tool for everything I can, good to have an understanding of what it’s capable of!  I also fashioned a work bench out of a found 14’ 2x4 hacked down to 8’, resting on two bar chairs (apartment dweller right now, no real shop space).

shadoc
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Remember these surprise

shadoc
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Faced a bit of a dilemma with the headsets.  Finally figured out a resolution, simply took a long 3/8 ratchet extension and a small ball-peen hammer I had to tap out the head sets, then a wooden mallet and some lithium grease helped tap the CC headset back onto my 96.  

shadoc
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So, now we are down to the frames!  Other than the bottom bracket removal, I think the rebuild is on track.  Not too bad for a week.  Feels pretty good, actually!

shadoc
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Got the old bottom bracket off, replaced a new sm-bb70 for it, that's the good news.  The Fox steerer tube is a bit short,  which I didn't think would be an issue because there were spacers on the HG donor tube.  Just enough to complicate things.  I suppose if I wanted to keep the Fox, I could have a machinest precicely shorten the head tube since there's enough room away from the welds.  Will sleep on it.  Live and learn.

tomatoadmin
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Cool story and progress pictures. Can you use a shorter stem?
Do you remember the text of the error message you were getting. I can see it in the logs but it's pretty ambiguous.

shadoc
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Don’t remember exact message, but suspect it has something to do with not using the default forum tools vs initially using the iPad keyboard functions (italics, emoticons, etc)?

Hmm, thanks for the head’s up on the stem!  Did some research on stems and found out there are some brands out there that carry a lower stack height.  I took a measurement, looks like just over 28mm of available real estate (closeup is deceiving, the 10mm line is level with the lower headset).  Not a lot to work with but maybe?

livernose
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Cool story. Bummer about the steerer tube being short. I had the same issue with a frame of  mine and  just got another fork. Looking for a stem  with a shorter  stack height is another option. 

Jeff

94 Underground aluminum cracked frame

2- 97 Project Underground thermoset

97- Homegrown Factory

99- Homegrown Pro

01- Homegrown Factory Limited

shadoc
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Thanks Jeff, I’d like to find a new stem since I’m not too high on what I have, found this Syntace Flatforce that has a 25-27mm stackheight (depending on which spec outline you read).  Kinda spendy though, ~$80 but at least it’s an option.  If anyone has any thoughts, give a shout!

Shane

livernose
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Might be able to find another fork and sell that one to recoup some funds.

Jeff

94 Underground aluminum cracked frame

2- 97 Project Underground thermoset

97- Homegrown Factory

99- Homegrown Pro

01- Homegrown Factory Limited

shadoc
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Progress update!  By chance came across a guy who had this XT (I believe a Shadow M77 9 spd) taking up space, so will start it out over the heavier M750.

shadoc
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Also am going lose the front derailleur and run a 1x9, found a RaceFace 28t at the shop going out of business, got it for $10.  Sounds like ideally a 30t or 32t would be better, but the price was right!  Will likely cut the tabs off of crank later.

livernose
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Is that front chain ring a narrow wide? If not you might have some chain retention issues.

 

Jeff

94 Underground aluminum cracked frame

2- 97 Project Underground thermoset

97- Homegrown Factory

99- Homegrown Pro

01- Homegrown Factory Limited

shadoc
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livernose wrote:

Is that front chain ring a narrow wide? If not you might have some chain retention issues.

 

hm, just saw this post and thanks for attention; will do some research.  Much appreciated!

 

shadoc
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Picked up new housing and cables.  Initially bought a road bike derailleur cable, took a bit of head scratching before I figured out it was a different animal, couldn’t understand if the wire end hooking screw was lost in technology!  It’s not.

shadoc
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And here’s where it’s at.  No new stem yet so adjustments will be made later, although cables and housings are fitted as it sits; components aren’t  thread-locked yet, this is just a mock.  Major hang-up (which I’m sure most of you HG riders don’t even realize is an issue) is the rear cable stop.  On the HG (or at least this donor) it sits center on the top tube and 5cm from the seat post tube.  On the s, it rides off-canter on the drive side, just 3.3mm from seat tube.  So, running the rear brake cable is really tight around the tube.  Not happy, tried all kinds of configurations and ferrules.  

So, weighing pros and cons of an internal cable mod.  On the rear brake, would be a simple task, lots of realestate on the top tube.  Running the rear derailleur, an ideal exit would be directly out of the chainstay; however that may create a stress riser so not sold at this point.

livernose
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I used a 135 degree noodle to go around the post.

Jeff

94 Underground aluminum cracked frame

2- 97 Project Underground thermoset

97- Homegrown Factory

99- Homegrown Pro

01- Homegrown Factory Limited

shadoc
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Ok, I’ll look for one, thx for tip!  So around seat tube on the drive side still in the far left cable stop it looks like.  What’s distance between your cable stop and the seat tube?  Mine is 3.3mm.

livernose
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Looks like 3.3 cm.

Jeff

94 Underground aluminum cracked frame

2- 97 Project Underground thermoset

97- Homegrown Factory

99- Homegrown Pro

01- Homegrown Factory Limited

bikeric
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Great story telling!!

You NEED an Avid SAAGO stem to solve your short steer tube problem.  Lengths and rise are minimal choices but there are 3 on eBay right now. The collet grips the steer tube and doesn’t need much length at all.

Cheers,

1996 Homegrown Factory XTR Hardtail 17"  Black w/Red Darts

1996 Homegrown Factory Hardtail 19" Bass Boat Blue

1998 Homegrown Hardtail 17"

1999 Rocket 88 Stage 2 17"

shadoc
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Thanks for heads up on the Avid stem, however I’ve opted to convert to a 31.8 bar.  Have also committed to internal cable routing, chose a DuraAce poly-coated cable set for rear, all prepped to run it through top tube, bypassing modified seat post, down through seat stay to exit the drive side dropout.

shadoc
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So I missed Jeff’s earlier advice on chain ring specs, will have to revisit!

Meantime, I understand there is some controversy about internal vs external cable routing; to clarify, this project is a personal exploration of rebuilding a bike with a deep interest in an educated process of customization.  I would not butcher a true Homegrown, just FYI, but it’s kind of my civic duty to play around here.

Boring enough for you laugh

So, been tooling around a lot with cables and housings, etc.  After a week of moderating a tormenting overhead fight between imagination vs sheer mechanics, boiled over enough to carefully shave every cable stop off the frame (6 I think?).  All sites smoothed out, beaten with 80 grit and cleaned, about to prep with body filler now.  

As far as matching paint?  Ha!  Got some stuff but that’s gonna be a little tricky.  And that’s another reason this project is so fun yes

 

bikeric
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I see you’ve already gone the route of internal cable routing, so this won’t apply to you.

Solution I’ve found on a Factory frame with drive-side cable stops is using an Avid Black Ops rear v-brake. You can choose which side to use the noodle on them. Makes for a really slick and straight housing route.

1996 Homegrown Factory XTR Hardtail 17"  Black w/Red Darts

1996 Homegrown Factory Hardtail 19" Bass Boat Blue

1998 Homegrown Hardtail 17"

1999 Rocket 88 Stage 2 17"