The Garage Bike Project is complete!
Let me clarify, this may not be the absolute final version of this bike. There will probably be a few tweaks and upgrades once I get a chance to ride it a little more. There are still a few parts I may try and track down.
But, right now it is a rideable, very cool bike and it was scrounged from the workbenches and used parts bins of mountain bikers across the great state of Ohio.
- Richard Lewis
- Ben Michels
- Anonymous Benefactor
- Cory Knight
- Kenny Kocarek
- Jeff Rupnow
- Jeff Endres
- Richard M. Rose
- Chris Emberton
- Ryan O’Dell & OMBC
- My own used parts bin
Last November I came up with a crazy idea. I wanted to build a bike created entirely by the goodwill of others.
Over the summer, I had a pile of parts sitting in my garage. There wasn’t really anything wrong with them, but I probably wasn’t going to ever use them. I posted a photo of them on Facebook and offered them up to anyone who thought they could use them. I didn’t care about trying to sell them or make money, I just wanted them to go to a good home.
I gave them away. Happy that they had found a new life and they were no longer cluttering precious space in my garage.
Somewhere in there it occurred to me, I had a perfectly good crankset that had only been used once or twice and I just gave it away. There were probably other people out there like me. Someone probably had some brake levers. Another biker probably upgraded from 9-speed to 11-speed and probably had a perfectly good rear cassette in their toolbox. Could I find enough generous cyclists with extra parts to create a whole bike?
I drew up a diagram of my dream bike in November. I had no idea if this crazy scheme would work or what the final product would look like, but I aimed high. I came up with a bike that I thought would be perfect for the type of riding I do on the road.
It was basically a road version of my mountain bike. What did I want in the bike?
1) 1X drivetrain. I went 1X on my mountain bike and have never regretted it. Occasionally I miss the extra gears on a big hill, but that is definitely outweighed by the fact that the bike is easier to maintain and runs more quietly and efficiently. I can’t see myself ever buying another bike with a front derailluer again.
2) Flat bars – I never use the drops when I ride on the road and I’m trying to get more of a “mountain bike for the road” feel.
3) Mechanical Disc Brakes – I feel like disk brakes have more stopping power than rimmed brakes. It drives me crazy when a wheel goes out of true and it affects the performance of the brakes.
There were a few other items on my wish list, but those were the main priorities.
On November 6th, I released my drawing and plans to the public on Quickdirt and Facebook. It was cool to see the response. Several bikers offered up parts for the project and I just had to coordinate the logistics of getting my hands on the components.
There was just one problem though. Despite having offers for a lot of what I needed, I didn’t have a frame. I figured this was going to be the toughest aspect of this challenge.
I was starting to think that my project was going to fail. It felt like forever, but it really was only two and half weeks – an eternity. I made arrangements to drive to Chillicothe at the beginning of December to meet Richard Lewis, who generously offered up a bike frame that met all of the specifications that I was looking for.
I decided I was going to paint the frame and started doing research about what I would need. Just when I had built up the confidence to give it a shot, Ben Michels offered to paint it for me. He is an experienced painter with all the equipment necessary to do a killer job. I told him I wanted orange and he came up with a cool candy orange paint job that required six coats. It sparkles in the sun.
Once I had a freshly painted frame, I resumed my search for the rest of the parts I needed. They were coming from all over Ohio. Richard Rose stopped by on a trip from Toledo for work. Kenny Kocarek was driving from Jackson Township, near Akron, on his way to the Snake Creek Gap Time Trial in Georgia. He made a pit stop at my house to drop off a box of goodies.
Everyone was excited to help out and it was fun talking about bikes. It felt like the community really was rallying behind the project. I had been friends with some people, like Cory Knight, for quite some time, while others, like Jeff Endres of Westerville, I was meeting for the first time. There were some guys, like Jeff Rupnow, who I have seen at races many times, but that I finally got to see in their home environments. Jeff has a cool workshop in his basement, with a stash of old parts that could probably be used to build six garage bike projects. It definitely felt like I was making new connections in the community.
I gathered everything in my basement and slowly began putting the bike together. I like to make jokes about my lack of mechanical prowess, but I was able to assemble the entire bike on my own (with the help of the Park Tools Big Blue Book). Not only that, I was able to make the bike run, shift and brake smoothly. The bike quietly glides across the pavement and is very smooth and efficient.
I’m still shocked that I was able to pull this off and appreciative of everyone that helped make it happen. Not only did people donate parts, but they also offered advice and expertise that helped make the bike better and easier to build. I love it. I can’t wait to take it some longer rides this summer to explore the city and countryside around me.
Still to do:
- Create a decal with the names of those that helped.
- Ride the Garage Bike across the state of Ohio from Cleveland to Cincinnati.
- Enjoy another fun year of riding!
A Few More Pics…