Jun 25, 2012

My Mountain Bike Story [UPDATED]

Since my early school days, I went through skateboarding, rollerblading, bodyboarding and BMX'ing stages, with wakeboarding and skiing, have been down the Orange River four times, completed the Argus three times and was brought up with camping and the outdoors since age 4 (learnt to ride a bicycle on a camping trip). From age 16, I was driving a scooter and age 17 a motorbike. All the extreme stuff excited me. Grade 7, BMX days, we went as far as leaving a pick and shovel on Signal Hill and went everyday after school to build dirt jumps, ended being an epic little figure-of-8 track.

One of my goals for this year was to be more active, i.e. get back into doing an adrenaline seeking sport. June last year, I got back into bodyboarding and am loving it, but the drive to go surf started weakening with winter. At the beginning of the year, while sitting around a fire with some mates, we decided, mountain biking would be it! I got looking for a bike as soon as we were back in town.

A modern day mountain bike will set you back anywhere between R5k to R100k, no jokes. I wanted old school, I didn't want to spend a lot, I wanted to see how it would be first and not worry about scratches. I wanted v-brakes versus disks and was just after a good condition mountain bike with front shocks. Found one and bought it (Silverback Reno). This inspired the others who then bought mountain bikes and soon we were hitting the trails. Meerendal was our first ride, was cool but since then Tokai has been my bikes second home, City Bowl and Camps Bay in between. Tokai has it all, jeep tracks, single trails, downhill and scenery. The surrounding scenery of Tokai and inside the forest! I was half way up the mountain on a ride and realised the only thing I was hearing were my wheels, I stopped and the silence with the rows of trees, light shinning in at the end of the track and birds chirping was amazing, kept me there for 10 minutes, you can also walk, I've even seen a person on a horse.

Tokai starts on a 4-5km climb (I know, but well worth it)
Contour jeep track with views of False Bay

Looking toward the Atlantic side
Cross at own risk
Spot the locals, baboons!
My friend, about to come very short...
The entrance to "Mamba"
Sh*t pictures, but that's me!
Table Top, how's that backdrop! Motion blur
Going pro next year, sponsors please call during work hours.

My bike was a bit too old school, or everyone at Tokai is pretentious, or better components are the way. Either way, I'm enjoying mountain biking so far. I spoke to a guy at a bike shop in town, luckily he sold me his old riser handle bars and a flatter stem for a bargain, bike looked and felt better. Guy says, "your chain is a bit greasy" (I used motorbike chain lube), "wipe away excess" he says, I knew I wanted to do better then just that.

I started becoming very aware of my bike and the parts functioning together; I wanted to know how to service it myself. I started searching and watching YouTube videos and lots of them to find good ones, I read books and was eager to put this all into practice. I researched tools, spent some time looking at my bike and made a list of all I would need to fully service my bike. Went to some shops and bought the necessary tools, lubes and greases, all for less than the price of two bike services, I could now do plenty of services.

Removed, degreased and lubed my chain. Fitted a master link.
Removed cranks & bottom bracket (heart), cleaned & greased.
Some necessary bits for the drive train.
Some products

Thanks Traffic Brand

I bottomed out a few times at Tokai and realised, I needed to take action.
Leaning back more when going off drops did help, but my forks needed new liquids.
Time to tackle the forks!
disassembled the lot... 
all in ...
... and reassembled!
Greased the headset bearings and their housings
Put it all back together.
Results are amazing!

So what?

So my bike is definitely not fancy, but I do sh*t that guys with R20k bikes wouldn't dream of. The smile on my face at the end of a ride is not determined by the bike at this point, yet. I am learning all the basic mechanics and having a jol with it, bonus is I'm getting fitter and from the bike saving, was able to buy all the extras (shorts, tools, pump, bike rack and stand, cycle computer, handle bars, stem etc). Bike will remain in spotless working order from here on, hubs are good, but I'm ready to open them up when due.

If you ever want to go for a mountain bike session, contact me! Services charged by the 6 pack.



The bike, although working great, started feeling a little old and the forks were not quite handling the riding we were doing, they would bottom out quite often (80mm), I browsed Gumtree in the evenings for quite a while, hoping someone would post something that they didn't know the value of. I worked out what I could get for my bike if I sold it and the balance of a new bike would be the upgrade cost. I eventually found something and the upgrade if all went to plan would only cost R1000. I bought a Giant Talon, comes with much newer and stronger components, should last until I move to duel suspension. I cleaned the Silverback and popped it on Gumtree, 3 days later, cash in hand for the asking price, plan worked perfect. Now I have a whole new set of parts to learn :)

I swopped out the handle bars, stem and seat. 

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