Tuesday, August 17, 2010


It was the bike nobody wanted. A barely-used Mongoose hardtail with a short-travel suspension fork and chunky tires that hummed loudly on the pavement. My upstairs neighbor gave it to me when I inquired about his much-nicer Nishiki mountain bike years ago. I found it too heavy for serious mountain biking and too redundant to use instead of my Trek 720. I gave it to a friend's teenage son. He wasn't interested, and it was too big for my friend or her daughters, so she gave it back to me. I offered it to another friend's teenage son, but he scored a sweet Giant on the cheap, so I was stuck with it once again. I disassembled the bike and installed a 700c rigid fork from a Trek, intending to make a sort of low-rent 96er winter beater. There wasn't much of a winter. It languished.

Enter friend #3. Her son was going to college and needed a city/commuter bike to get around. Did I have anything that might fit the bill? Yes I did, and this time I had an inspiration. At some point I had noticed that the rear stays were really long on this frame. It turned out there was enough room to fit a 700c x 32 rear tire with a fender. I got a used rear road wheel with a 7 speed freehub and a new front wheel for peanuts at a swap meet. I swapped a MTB axle and a 5mm spacer onto the rear wheel to make it 135mm and re-dished and trued it. I found a brand new Vittoria 700x32 tire on the curb in my neighborhood (?!) and found a matching one on sale at a local store. I had two front fenders left over from another project, so I mounted them front and rear, adding an orange strip of Scotchlite reflective vinyl for added visibility and snazziness.

The 'Goose originally had V-brakes front and rear. I mounted the original front brake on the Trek fork, installing a pair of the large original pads from my Yuba. Out back, the original canti posts were too distant from the 700c rim to use anything shy of a super-adjustable, super expensive Paul Components brake. I used a rear sidepull from an old 70's Nishiki road bike that is likely bound for single/fixiehood. By adjusting it wider than I usually would, I found that it worked quite well with the V-brake ratio lever. The slightly used original pads from the front brake fit nicely and made for perfect toe-in. The vestigial brake posts remain, which looks goofy, but I had no interest in grinding them off and repainting the frame, so they remain. I was pleasantly surprised with how well the bike stopped without squealing.

Gearing-wise, this bike is a 1x7, with a Hyperdrive-C cassette swiped from my disassembled Skykomish, Gripshift from a mid-90's Trek and a derailleur from a Peugeot mountain bike frame I have. I had modified a welded triple crank to a 38 tooth single long ago with this bike in mind, but it made for an abysmal chainline, so I had to get creative. I started with a ubiquitous late 80's/early 90's 28/38/48 Shimano Biopace mountain triple. With 10 nylon spacers from the hardware store and the stock chainring bolts, I was able to space the lone 38T ring inboard. That combined with a deliberate flip of the asymmetrical bottom bracket spindle (from a Fuji folding mountain bike) made the chainline just about perfect.

The cut-down flat handlebar and Sakae stem used to live on my Trek, and both came from trash-picked bikes (I installed the grips after the pictures were taken). The frame, headset, bottom bracket cups, seatpost, saddle and front brake are all that remain of the original bike. I messed with so many major aspects of this bike that the geometry was a blind crap-shoot, but it turned out to be a nimble-handling bike without being twitchy. The high-riding bottom bracket gives it bonus cornering and curb clearance. It earned barrio approval, with a few shouts of "Nice bike!" as I test rode it on Park Street. I was pleased. Most importantly, I'm told the bike's new owner loves his new ride, and it's unlikely to come back again. Third time's the charm!


River said...

i love this bike. if you ever get "inspired" like that again, let me know, i'd take some crazy mongrel like this in a heartbeat.

Mark said...

Same paint job? Or did it get the rattle can treatment? That's a sweet Goose! I wish I did that to my Goose but I sold her.

Brendan said...

Cool bike.

What are you doing to keep the chain on the single chainring?

Interstatement said...

Thanks! The paint is factory, I just stripped the decals.
Regarding the chain, I test rode it pretty hard and the chain stayed put. I see the owner every week or so, so I'm sure he'll let me know if it becomes an issue. The lower seat tube bottle braze-on would be a convenient spot to mount an improvised chain-keeper, possibly in conjunction with a "hockey stick" chainguard. It is a commuter bike after all.

Brendan said...

I continue to highly recommend the Paul chain keeper.

Erik Jorgensen said...

'Statement, the Frankengoose looks great! Nice work.

Schleppi Longstocking said...

I like how visible this bike is. One could strip off her neon green tube top while riding it and still be noticed by motorists.