I build old bikes to give the maximum fun to ride for the minimum outlay, not as a period-correct museum piece. I was glad to find a 1994 seat post the same as the one I cut out, as they’re quite rare and it looks just right, and I like this 1995 saddle (1994 ones are very rare). But I wouldn’t enjoy the bike with its original fork and brakes, which don’t work too well. There’s no point owning a bike if I don’t enjoy riding it.
As the frame was saved from the scrapheap, I had to fit some ‘junk’ parts. A scruffy XTR rear mech with play in the linkages isn’t sellable but changes the gears flawlessly. XT shift/brake levers with no covers look fit to throw away, but they work perfectly too. And the LX chainset was spare in a box – it works, so it qualifies. Some junk things really don’t work though – chain, cables and pads must be regularly replaced. Skinny and heavy period tyres are also pretty rubbish, so a 2.25 Schwalbe is on there atm.
Fork and Geometry
The 2002 Rockshox SID SL is light, easily adjustable and works fine under my 10 stones. What’s more it’s a reasonable match for the colour of the decals, so it’s in.
But is it a problem that it’s 4cm longer than the frame was designed for? Well, make that 2cm with a rider on board, but that would still slow down the steering if I did nothing to compensate. I don’t like slow steering, but a shorter stem soon speeds it up. A rule of thumb is cm for cm – the sagged fork is 2cm too long, so a 10cm stem (2cm shorter) restores due sharpness. With a 635mm Go Fast, the steering is as nice as you like and the riding position is perfect. Not an old-school head down and charge style, but that was always a throw back to road culture anyway and doesn’t really work with suspension.
V-Brakes and the dog collar
Canti-era Konas lack a rear cable stop but used a seat tube-mounted guide known as a dog collar. It can work as a V-brake cable stop, but it’s mounted too far back. On a small frame like this, the outer cable run is so short it has nowhere near enough flexibility, so it forces the left side brake arm into the rim, overwhelming the tensioner.
Nokon is the way to go – it’s so much more flexible than standard outer that it hardly pushes the brake arm into the rim at all. Nokon is a 1mm cable within a separate liner and alloy links outside that. I ran liner through the dog collar and an inch or so forward, to keep out gunk so the cable stays sweet. The bigger size the frame, the longer the cable run and the less essential Nokon becomes, but it’s still an advantage. It’s expensive, but you can always sell what you don’t need to fellow sufferers out there. Some people drill the dog collar a couple of mm so the ferrule has a hole to fit inside, but I haven’t and I don’t think it’s necessary.