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  1. #1
    Luke
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    The best bike ever! Since my Schwinn Sting Ray

    Just before last Thanksgiving I decided that I wanted to buy a really good mountain bike. Previously I owned a Ross single speed for 28 years that I kept in great shape and then gave it to a friend. It was a wonderful bike and I missed it. My current bike is a Specialized Hard Rock that I bought in 1994 the owners manual has tips from Ned Overend “Anticipate climbs ahead of time, and shift gears before you reach the climb.” With all the best intentions, I ridden off-road exactly once in the 12 years that I owned the bike, but I really liked the idea.

    I went to my LBS and placed a deposit on a Jamis Dakar XLT (on sale discontinued model) that had more stuff than I knew what to do with. The dealer gave me a few days to make up my mind so I began to explore other options.
    At another LBS, an salesman got me excited about high end single speeds. Since I missed my old Ross, and was not that great at anticipating hills “Sorry Ned”), I thought this would be the way to go. I went back to the original LBS and told them I would like to change my deposit to a Jamis Exile (their new single speed) and he told me I was crazy; “only bike shop employees who own 4 other bikes ride them, and you’re too old.” That was true enough; I am a 54 year old grandfather. So I told him “OK, go with the Dakar.”

    Later that week I went to my nieces wedding in Austin Texas and test rode a Gary Fisher Rig. Good Night! What a ride! All cool pieces and 29” wheels. I asked the bike shop if I could call in my order for delivery after I returned to my Fort Lauderdale home. The salesman assured me I could for a $50 delivery fee.
    When I returned home, I had lost the deposit on the Jamis but it didn’t matter, I found the most exciting bike I had ever been on. I called the bike shop back in Austin to order the bike and they told me that I could only buy it in person. Their salesman had given me wrong information.

    Undeterred, I called every Gary Fisher dealer in southern Florida to see if they had my size (17”) in stock. No cigar. I had to wait until March if I wanted to order one.
    So I went back to the 2nd LBS who is a Cannondale dealer. He let me test ride a 1FG that was really great but had 26” wheels and also had a March wait.

    I went to a 3rd LBS; they had a single speed hanging on the rack that the salesman knew very little about. It was an On One Inbred. I fell in love with that bike on the parking lot test ride. 26”, all rigid, great handling and he wanted $1,400 for it. So I began to research On One bikes on the internet. I found On One, Brandt and Zed Sport (On One US distributor). They were very helpful and I found that I could purchase their newest 29” complete for $990 + extra for shocks and discs. Delivery was going to be just after Christmas. The thought of an English bike seemed so cool!

    But I was confused, three different bikes all seemed wonderful; then I discovered MTBR and these forums. In the classified section I came across an ad that said, “Let us build your dream today.” The owner was Ben Witt of Milltown Cycles (507) 331-2636.
    I told Ben of my search and he suggested a fourth choice; a Surly Karate Monkey. It had all of the advantages of the others, but this one came built by Ben. I spent hours with Ben on the phone going over every component (after researching each on MTBR). Ben not only built me a bike, he gave me selection guidance and lessons on each piece.

    It finally showed up last Friday night. Having zero mechanical ability; Ben spent 3 hours with me on the phone (I had put my shocks on backwards, and had to send him internet photos to re-clip in the rear brake cable).

    To me, the bike is gorgeous; Chris King hubs and headset, DT Swiss wheels, Eno cranks, Thudbuster seatpost, Reba forks, Avid discs and a custom Jen Green headbadge.

    I took it out for a ride today in Oleta State Park in Miami. I am still smiling as I write this. I never knew biking could be this much fun! The Karate Monkey is basically a “point and shoot.” I found myself starting to look ahead instead of just the stuff on the trail. The more I rode, I started to get into a nice flow and I even got air! Bumps, roots and rocks are no problem; it rides on trails like my old motorcycles. This is the best bike I have ever ridden, (not counting my Schwinn Sting Ray when I was 12).
    I don’t mean to go on, but I am so excited about this bike, sport, MTBR, and Ben Witt. Thank all of you!
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  2. #2
    Harmonius Wrench
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    Great First Post!

    Welcome and thanks for that post! Awesome read! I'm glad you found the joy of cycling again. I wish you many miles of that joy with your new steed. And a fine one at that! (Fellow Karate Monkey owner here!)

    Your post made me smile, thanks!

  3. #3
    Premium Member
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    That looks great! I am also getting my first 29er soon. How do you like it so far?

  4. #4
    Nat
    Nat is online now
    Solo contendre
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    How funny/unexpected/cool it would be to see a 54 year-old grandpa roosting around on a singlespeed Karate Monkey! Nice bike!

  5. #5
    mtbr member
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    That's so cool. You got me motivated! Happy trails.
    "There is no try, either do -- or do not"

  6. #6
    mtbr member
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    Yeah, I think you just raised the bar for all of us.
    "There is no try, either do -- or do not"

  7. #7
    mtbr member
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    Wow, great first post! Enjoyed the read.

    Beauty of a bike, too. But how about removing those reflectors? A monkey decked out with sweet parts just don't look right with 'em

  8. #8
    Tree Hugger
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    Congratulations.

    That was the best post I've read in a while. I'm glad you got the bike you wanted and are enjoying it. The customer service that you got from Ben sounds above and beyond. Count yourself lucky on multiple accounts.

    Keep riding and smiling.

    ~Reed

  9. #9
    what a joke
    Reputation: ozlongboarder's Avatar
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    That is a very cool looking monkey and a great story!
    blah blah blah

  10. #10
    Transplant
    Reputation: ekoostick's Avatar
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    Man, going from a Hard Rock to a custom Karate Monkey must be night and day! And to go from sub-par mountain bike parts to Chris King is just...wow. Enjoy your new bike indeed! And if there is any questions you have on it, you are more then welcome to post them here! There are more then a few mechanics (myself included) and monkey men and women. Enjoy!!

    -Keith

  11. #11
    And He was Not
    Reputation: Enoch's Avatar
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    Nice bike, Looks like Ben used a tall headset crown too for fork clearace. Great Bike and Great Build.
    The Truth is out there. Here it isThe TRUTH

  12. #12
    Luke
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ojai Bicyclist
    That looks great! I am also getting my first 29er soon. How do you like it so far?
    The ride is awesome! I'm learning so much riding it; it actually corners. I noticed that as I rode a workout on it in my neighborhood that has a winding asphalt path. I can now lean and fly. On the off-road trail, I tried one of those raised bridges, got scared halfway across, fell off onto the seat (about 2 feet) and the Thudbuster saved me from having to speak in a higher voice.

  13. #13
    Luke
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave.
    Wow, great first post! Enjoyed the read.

    Beauty of a bike, too. But how about removing those reflectors? A monkey decked out with sweet parts just don't look right with 'em
    Thanks for your comments. If you notice on the rear wheel, Ben put in two sprockets; a 19 for off-road, and a 17 for on-road. Since Hurricane Wilma, all of the off-road areas in my county have been closed and the closest off-road trails are an hour away. Most of my weekday riding is workout on paved bike paths in my neighborhood. My city (Coral Springs) has a regulation that for night riding, you must have lights. Ben found some small Trek flashing lights; as I ride at night, the flashing reflects off the top of my shocks in a really cool blue color.

  14. #14
    what a joke
    Reputation: ozlongboarder's Avatar
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    I have friends who live in Coral Springs, I was there just over 16 months ago. Are there many trails in the area?
    blah blah blah

  15. #15
    Luke
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozlongboarder
    I have friends who live in Coral Springs, I was there just over 16 months ago. Are there many trails in the area?
    Bike paths (paved) are everywhere in Coral Springs. The closest off-road is the Levy (see Florida Trails). It is a dog flat 30 mile truck path into the Everglades but with tons of wildlife. The other trails are still closed due to the hurricane (Quiet Waters and Markham). I have to drive to Miami for Oleta or Fort Myers for Caloosa

  16. #16
    I <3 NM
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    Awesome man! Just awesome!

    -Nate
    "Someone must have put alcohol in my beer last night." ~ Mr. Richard Baty, Esq.


  17. #17
    try driving your car less
    Reputation: jh_on_the_cape's Avatar
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    congratulations on the new ride and new passion.

    Just want to say that you should feel confident that you have a great bike. Every part thought out and very high end.

    Great to hear that you got such good service... sounds like you did not get that level of service at the LBS, which is too bad.

    Be sure to keep up on the maintenance of your bike. It's very very low on the bike you have there, but just keep it in mind.
    Only boring people get bored.

  18. #18
    mtbr member
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    I'm curious as to the brand of stem and handlebars you selected working with Ben. Looks like a nice set up and I'm looking for some ideas for my own Camp Stove Green Karate Monkey.

  19. #19
    mtbr member
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    Another 29er convert...

    Before long, you'll have 3, 4 or maybe five 29ers in the garage and promising yourself that you're not going to build any more bikes! It's such a healthy sickness!

    Ride on.

  20. #20
    mtbr member
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    Nice!

    Mister, that is sweet looking bike. People cruising around on bikes with big smiles on their faces - that's what it's all about!

  21. #21
    Squalor
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    Very nice bike.

    I've got one of the first batch of 2003 Monkeys. Been riding it hard all this time. Kind of makes it hard to drop the cash on a "blingy" bike when every time you get on the one you have you just forget it is under you.

    Enjoy -

    LP

  22. #22
    Luke
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    Quote Originally Posted by MMcG
    I'm curious as to the brand of stem and handlebars you selected working with Ben. Looks like a nice set up and I'm looking for some ideas for my own Camp Stove Green Karate Monkey.
    The stem is a Ritchey Comp 100mm 84/96 deg. Black, and the handlebars are Surly 1x1 Torsion Bar 25.4 15deg. 620 mm wide CrMo Silver, the grips are Dimension Black Cork Mountain

  23. #23
    Luke
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reedster
    Congratulations.

    That was the best post I've read in a while. I'm glad you got the bike you wanted and are enjoying it. The customer service that you got from Ben sounds above and beyond. Count yourself lucky on multiple accounts.

    Keep riding and smiling.

    ~Reed
    Thanks for the kind words! Ben could not have done more to help me. As I cruised the posts on these forums, I kept finding Ben giving out a lot of valuable technical advice. I learned to really trust his judgement. The payoff came in the trail riding; I was able to attempt more things because I had confidence in the builder and the parts.

  24. #24
    Master of the Obvious
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    This is probally one of the best threads I have read in awhile, thanks for sharing your experience and enjoy many miles on the monkey....
    Check out my Blog!
    Yes ! I am posting on my Blog again! come visit!

  25. #25
    mtbr member
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    Me to, me to!

    I loved your post! Made me smile, made me want to ride, and it made me want to buy a custom headbadge. Thanks!

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