Project Ziggy: Part Zwei

In part one of this series I talked about the history of my Gunnar Rockhound frame and how, thanks to a one-off paint/decal art project, that frame recently took on a new life as "Ziggy the zebra." While the frame restoration was a mini-project in itself, that was only half the battle. Next up was scrounging the components required to make my art project a functioning bicycle again. That’s a story in itself.

Ziggy the Zebra Bicycle

Perhaps the most interesting angle to that story is the fact that many of the components used in my "build" started out life as "test parts" that I reviewed for Dirt Rag over the years. I’ve been using some of the test parts on my personal bike(s) for a number of years. That gives me an opportunity to provide some longer-term feedback on  how the particular items have been treating me.

ziggy rear

The rear wheel is from a Bontrager Race Lite tubeless wheelset that I reviewed back in 2001 in issue #89. The wheel has been on Ziggy (nee Rockhound) for the past eight years, and has held up well for many, many miles. Sure, my personal bike often hangs on a hook while I’m testing a "review" bike, but I do manage to rack up saddle time atop old faithful. The Bontrager Race Lite rear hub involves the bombproof DT-Swiss Star Ratchet engagement system that  provides excellent reliability and ease of maintenance. Despite the svelte, 28-count 14/17G stainless steel spokes, the wheel has stayed true and I’ve not broken any spokes. At 950g it’s not the stiffest wheel you’ll ever ride, but that’s to be expected. This is the wheelset that made me a believer in "tunelessness" eight years ago. Since my 2001 test, I’ve purchased a couple Bontrager tubeless-compatible ceramic rims for other bikes of mine. Though they are pricey, I love ceramic rims for all-weather performance (and improved wear resistance means that they last a long time). Early on in my testing, I ran insanely low tire pressure and managed to chip the ceramic coating on the rim, but since that experience I’ve learned how low is "too low" on the pressure, and I’ve not had any recurrence of chipping.

Ziggy the Zebra Bicycle

Since suspension forks with V-brake mounts are getting rarer, I decided that this make-over was the right time to swap out the Bontrager front wheel for a disc-compatible model (I’ve got plenty of other bikes that can still use the rim brake wheel). I reached for the Industry Nine all-mountain wheel that I reviewed in issue #119. The I9 has proven reliable, and has a solid feel that helps keep the front end pointed in the right direction. That’s especially noticeable on an trim, chromoly frame like Ziggy that has a perceptible amount of  flex, compared to, say, an overbuilt aluminum alloy frame. The Industry Nine build involved DT Swiss XR 4.1 rims, which I converted to tubeless using DT Swiss’ Tubeless Kit. Did I mention that I like my tires tubeless? So far, so good on the I9.

Speaking of suspension forks, I’m in the market for a new 80mm model and plan to spend some time at Interbike in September looking at 2010 options. In the meantime, I grabbed the Magura Durin Marathon 120 that I reviewed in issue #141. While it’s too tall in its native 120mm mode for my old-school rigid frame, the Magura is externally adjustable to 90mm travel, which makes it an acceptable temporary solution, while I sort out my 80mm fork situation. The more I ride the Magura,  the more I appreciate the tunability it provides. It’s a knob-twiddler’s dream fork. The only nit I have to pick is the noise produced from the compression valving and the shim stack movement (mentioned in my original review).

Ziggy the Zebra Bicycle

Fire up the wayback machine for August, 2001, Sherman. That’s when I reviewed the SRAM 9.0 group, including the V-brakes and levers that I’m still running today. They’ve been stopping me cold for eight years. In my original review I wrote: "I liked the SRAM brakes/levers better than any of my personal V-style brakes. The ‘infinite adjust leverage’ feature allowed me to dial the ‘feel’ and power exactly the way I like it—a progressive feel, with plenty of power at the end of the stroke." I did have a problem with the red plastic quick release things breaking off the brake noodles, and ended up replacing the stock noodles. I was not sure how well the composite material used in the the brakes and levers would hold up in the rough and tumble world of mountain biking, but they’ve proven to be survivors (and I’ve been know to crash and burn on occasion). All in all, a nice set of vintage stoppers.

Ziggy the Zebra Bicycle

SRAM also contributed the Truvativ Noir crankset  that I originally reviewed in issue #128 and that’s been on my bike ever since—performing without complaint. The carbon fiber has resisted scuffing better than I expected and the crankarms still look great. No bearing play, no creaking. Oh, that reminds me—I decided to make Ziggy a 1×9; therefore, said crankset is now sporting a Gamut bashring that I purchased, and is less the original granny ring. Pay no attention to that vestigial front derailleur. It’s serving temporary duty, until I can score a proper chain-keeper device. I’ve had my eye on the Paul Chain Keeper. When I get some spare change, I just may spring for some CNC eye candy, and tidy up the aesthetics.