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  1. #1
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    16" Custom Build Project

    My two year old has been riding a Specialized Hotrock 12 for almost a year now and I was idly wondering what the next step would be when I stumbled across this forum and all the amazing builds and mods.

    I decided it would be a good idea to attempt my own build, despite (or rather because of) having very minimal bike mech knowhow I thought it would be a good idea to teach myself more about how bikes are put together so I can do more of my own work on all the kids and my own bikes. My husband (yep I'm a girl) is not into bikes, only motorbikes) and with four kids we have a lot of bikes to service!

    My goal (as well as learning how to do stuff) was to hopefully have a fairly lightweight 16inch bike ready for next Summer when he would be about 3 and a half.

    My enthusiasm somehow got the better of me and the bike is almost done...

    The build so far:

    I picked up a Merida Dakar 616 with an aluminium frame, and started sanding. Gave up and got it blasted Have kept it raw aluminium as I really like the look. At the same time I began buying bits...

    Still waiting for the cranks to arrive from Spawn Cycles, then will do BB, chainring etc and also the brakes at some point. Will do a list of all the parts I've used. Just remembered I still need a seatpost clamp! The one that came with it has disappeared and atm I can't justify the one I really want (red Sinz for a 22.2 seatpost)
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 16" Custom Build Project-merida.jpg  

    16" Custom Build Project-stripped-frame-2.jpg  

    16" Custom Build Project-sam_2036.jpg  

    16" Custom Build Project-sam_2042.jpg  


  2. #2
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    Meant to say thank you for all the advice and inspiration I have received on this forum

  3. #3
    Birdman aka JMJ
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    Looks nice so far! I've seen the smaller Salsa LipLock clamps on sale a few times - very nice design with few sharp edges.

    You'll get lots of great advice on this forum.

    JMJ

  4. #4
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    Great looking start. You might try polishing some raw aluminum, see if you like the polished look for this frame.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the tip about the clamp, googling now. GrayJay - I have been umming and ahhing about whether to polish or not. I left it untouched in the end, but I don't know what it will look like once it starts to age a bit. Good idea to try it out on a spare bit of aluminium.

  6. #6
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    Hurry up and grow boy!

    16" Custom Build Project-big-bioke.jpg

  7. #7
    Havok
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    What kind of headset is that? That looks cool.

  8. #8
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    Trailbright Threadless External Headset

    It was only cheap - £17 ($27) It was the lowest stack height I could find without spending a lot of money.

  9. #9
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    One thing I would recommend, is getting a new fork that has V-brake bosses. One of the main reasons I went from a Specialized 16" Hot rock (that I put U-brakes onto), to the 16" Spawn Banshee, was that the U-brakes had no stopping power. If kids aren't confident in their brakes, they won't ride that confident either. You can get by with a u-brake on the back though.

  10. #10
    Havok
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    If you do find a good light weight option for your 16" fork. Let me know, I am looking for one as well.

  11. #11
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    I will see how he goes with the u-brakes first, then probably start the hunt for a fork. Let me know if you find a good one first

  12. #12
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    I just added a front Tektro 984 u-brake along with a 316AG lever and my 3.5 y.o. is stopping himself fine. Of course he's only been riding a pedal bike for one week now so performance braking is not exactly what it's all about. He didn't take to the coaster at all so this is very confidence inspiring for him!

    I will probably have brake studs welded-on down the road as his skills improve, unless a good replacement fork is cheaper.

    One tip on the u-brake for those adding one: disassemble it and bend the return tension spring arms in, to lessen the actuation power needed. Don't bend in the middle or it won't fit back together, instead bend to the outside of the "loops". A pair of pliers is all you need. Also, it has no grease so disassembly is a must.

    I also cleaned the rim with alcohol and then roughed up the black anodizing with a scotch-brite pad to increase grip. Sand paper would be better.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProjectMayhem View Post
    I will see how he goes with the u-brakes first, then probably start the hunt for a fork. Let me know if you find a good one first
    I would see if Spawn sells forks only. Not sure what diameter steerer tube you and it has, but it is a decent fork with V-brake bosses.

  14. #14
    Havok
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    I messaged spawn, but they won't sell me a fork.

  15. #15
    Mantis, Paramount, Campy
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    FYI those are called 'side pull' or 'caliper' brakes.
    U-brakes mount to studs similar to cantilever/V-brakes.

    Those brakes will have no problem stopping 60lbs of kid/bike.

    If you feel the need for something different you can get a 990 plate (to mount U brakes or rollercams) or a V-brake plate. for ~$20 that will bolt on and let you add re respective brake.
    *** --- *** --- ***

  16. #16
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    Yes that's right they are side-pull brakes, no idea why I referred to them as u-brakes

    Glad to hear that they might be okay - I am hoping bike and boy together will be less than 50lbs, hopefully about 45lbs.

    A quick question about levers: The levers I bought are v-brake levers and when I googled it says you need specific sidepull brake levers. However the new levers are identical to the old ones (but rather less bashed...) so surely it must be fine?

  17. #17
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    Sorry that was my bad in referring to them as U-brakes, Shayne is correct, they are cantilever brakes.

    But I disagree that they are able to stop a kid/bike as fast as a pair of v-brakes. With the cantilever brakes I put on the Hot Rock, my daughter several times a ride would miss turns or hit objects in her path that she couldn't get around. I am pretty sure I got them adjusted as well as they could, roughened up the rim, etc. She rode them for a good month before we got the Banshee, and they didn't get any better. The first time on V-brakes, she almost endoed, as she was used to having to grab the cantis with a death grip to come to a stop.

    Every kid is different, and maybe my daughter doesn't have great hand strength, but she has done several 2,000+ foot descent steepish trail rides with the V-brakes and only complained about hand soreness at the very bottom. We could barely do a ride to the park on streets with the cantis, without having to stop and massage out her arms.

    But it sounds like the best advice is to try what you got, and then if that is not enough, try what Shayne recommends above (v-brake plate). But seeing that your family has a motorbike background, I assume that your little one will be riding fast and dirt, and brakes sure reduce the chance for hurt.

  18. #18
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    That's true. At the moment he uses his coaster brake very well, but of course it makes him skid when going down steep dirt. I'm trying to encourage him to use his front brake (now I have a longer screw to adjust it - hadn't thought of that til I read it here, doh!)

    If we have problems with the sidepull brake I will look at those plates which look useful. Though how come these things are always harder to find in the uk and we usually end up paying the same price in pounds as you do in dollars? (googled and found it for $24.99 or £24.99...)

    Anyway none of this matters til the damn cranks arrive from Spawn Cycles...

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProjectMayhem View Post
    Yes that's right they are side-pull brakes, no idea why I referred to them as u-brakes

    Glad to hear that they might be okay - I am hoping bike and boy together will be less than 50lbs, hopefully about 45lbs.

    A quick question about levers: The levers I bought are v-brake levers and when I googled it says you need specific sidepull brake levers. However the new levers are identical to the old ones (but rather less bashed...) so surely it must be fine?
    V-brake calipers (and most MTB cable disk calipers) generate a high mechanical advantage so for a ballanced braking system are paired with v-brake specific levers which have less mechanical advantage (otherwise, there would not be enough travel of the caliper arms and the levers would bottom-out against the bars before the calipers were fully engaged. Using v-brake specific levers with either cantilever or sidepull brakes has the opposite effect, plenty of caliper travel but insufficient mechanical advantage so poor braking requireing high lever pressure. For sidepull brakes, you instead want hand levers with high mechanical advantage. Some MTB levers can be switched between V and cantilever/sidepull settings (by altering the cable pivot location) but others are only made specifically for use only with V's or only with cantilevers.
    Sidepull caliper mechancial advantage is similar to cantilevers, perhaps even a bit less so dont use them with V-brake specific levers.

    My thoughts are that a kid on a 16" bike is just not going to be able to bike trails/hills that require serious brakes. Some kids sized to fit a 20" bikes get into more demanding riding but I suspect that very, very few 16" bike riders are strong & skilled enough to actually need much more than sidepulls. I tested them myself and was actually very suprized how well the cheap stamped steel sidepull brakes on my 5-year old daughter's cheap/heavy 16" bike worked and she certaily had no problem stopping with them for the riding conditions she could handle.

  20. #20
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    Thanks for that info. I'll see how he goes, he does ride more demanding stuff than most kids his age, but obviously nothing too gnarly

  21. #21
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    Brake lever and rear hub upgrades for Hotrock 16.

    I did the side pull on my son's bike and got v brake adapters at evolution bicycle. Night and Day difference. We have a lot of hills and I have much more peace of mind now. Bill

  22. #22
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    Done!

    16" Custom Build Project-sam_2105.jpg

    It is too big for him still but he can ride it and put a foot down when he stops.

    Will maybe need to go down the v-brake route as the sidepull don't seem very effective (or it could just be he isn't interested in slowing down ). I might have a source for a fork though.

    Also need to swap the pedals as his feet keep slipping off these ones.

    PS Excuse the dog's nose in the photo!

  23. #23
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    Great job!

  24. #24
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    The whole thing weighs in at under 16lbs.

    Frame & fork: Merida Dakar 616
    Wheels: stock 16"
    hubs: stock (with new axles bearings and cones)
    brake calipers and cables: stock
    brake levers: Tektro TS325A
    headset: Trailbright threadless external headset
    stem: Sinz Pro-Lite 55mm reach
    handlebars: Redline Mini
    grips: LikeaBike
    saddle/seatpost: Onza BMX mini race
    seatpost clamp: Sinz Lite Seat Clamp
    BB Adaptor:?
    BB: Sinz Expert Square-taper
    cranks: Spawn Cycles 89mm
    chairing: Aerozine 7075 22t
    chain:?
    freewheel: Dicta 16t
    Pedals: Primo Stricker plastic (for now)
    Tyres: stock

  25. #25
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    Right, I now have a new fork with v-brake bosses (just need to get it stripped). The steerer tube is longer than the old one (kind of makes a mockery of my seemingly endless search for a low stack headset) so do I:

    a. cut it down
    b. put spacers on top of the stem so I can move the bars up as he grows (is it even ok to do this?)

    It wouldn't be an option to put the spacers beneath the stem as the bars would be way too high.

  26. #26
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    I always have spacers on the top of my stems, as it makes me feel better that the stem is contacting the entire steerer tube. I probably have 1.5" of shims on top of mine (didn't want to cut the fork for resale value and also gave better support to my Ibert chair. The only thing that I would be worried about for little ones is if they hit a curb/rock with the front tire and it stops them and the body keeps going forward. May want to put a stem pad or something else on it to protect the teeth/face/chest/knees.

  27. #27
    CJH
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProjectMayhem View Post
    Right, I now have a new fork with v-brake bosses (just need to get it stripped). The steerer tube is longer than the old one (kind of makes a mockery of my seemingly endless search for a low stack headset) so do I:

    a. cut it down
    b. put spacers on top of the stem so I can move the bars up as he grows (is it even ok to do this?)

    It wouldn't be an option to put the spacers beneath the stem as the bars would be way too high.
    Maybe some combination of A and B. How tall of a spacer stack would you have if you didn't cut it?

    What's your final verdict on the brake levers? Close enough to the bars? Wish they were closer? Sorry if I already asked you this before.

  28. #28
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    I will need to do some measuring, and probably a combination of a and b, as you say I don't want too much above the stem because it does look a bit dangerous for wee ones. I'm rather terrified of measuring/cutting wrong...

    I can't remember if I ever replied about the brake lever, sorry. But with the fork I also got new v-brakes and levers (Tektro JL350) and they look really small and very good reach

  29. #29
    CJH
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProjectMayhem View Post
    I can't remember if I ever replied about the brake lever, sorry. But with the fork I also got new v-brakes and levers (Tektro JL350) and they look really small and very good reach
    So you're not using the Tektro TS325A brake levers you mentioned in post 24 and in my thread?

    Where did you find the JL 350's?

    Regardless of what lever you used, can you post a pic similar to this?

    16" Custom Build Project-img_20130929_151202_648.jpg

  30. #30
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    Will do both with the Tektro TS325A and the JL 350 when they're on The JL350 came from a British manufacturer of children's bikes, as did the forks.

  31. #31
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    Tektro TS325A. Apologies for the crap photo. The levers are 2.5cm away from the bar (measured from 4 to 6.5cm in photo) Will be putting new fork in soon for new brakes and levers.

    16" Custom Build Project-sam_2197.jpg

  32. #32
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    Oh dear. New fork with v-brakes bosses was ready to fit. Small problem, the distance between the drop outs is 86mm. The wheel is too wide Even when I took the locknuts off the axle to see how much too wide, the spokes hit the fork legs. Only option is new wheel, isn't it?

  33. #33
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    Managed to make the wheel fit using a bit of brute force.

    Next problem (and it's a biggie) I stupidly hadn't noticed that I had been sold a fork for a 14inch wheel instead of 16". It is the same size as the fork that was on the bike and I didn't notice til I went to install the brakes and the bosses are in the wrong place

  34. #34
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    Wow, that is awesome that it's 16lbs. My sons 16" is 21lbs. My youngest will inherit it soon. This makes me wanna shave some more weight off it.

  35. #35
    CJH
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProjectMayhem View Post
    Tektro TS325A. Apologies for the crap photo. The levers are 2.5cm away from the bar (measured from 4 to 6.5cm in photo) Will be putting new fork in soon for new brakes and levers.
    Thanks for the info. I've been out of town and unable to reply.

    So you're still going to try the JL350's?

    Sorry to hear about the fork. Is it returnable or was it bought used? If you think the fork is going to work you could always look into the front V brake clamp on adaptors and grind the old bosses off?

  36. #36
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    I will get a photo of the JL350s, they are on.

    Problem solved - I bought the forks from a British kids' bike manufacturer and they have said they will send me the correct fork free of charge Very generous seeing as I had stripped and cut the old ones...

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jordan300 View Post
    Wow, that is awesome that it's 16lbs. My sons 16" is 21lbs. My youngest will inherit it soon. This makes me wanna shave some more weight off it.
    You should do, it makes such a difference. He is loving riding it so much the Hotrock 12 hasn't been out of the shed since!

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProjectMayhem View Post
    I will get a photo of the JL350s, they are on.

    Problem solved - I bought the forks from a British kids' bike manufacturer and they have said they will send me the correct fork free of charge Very generous seeing as I had stripped and cut the old ones...
    That's great. Was this Islabikes by any chance? Is that where you got the JL350s from as well?

    Look forward to the pics and to hearing your comments on which brake levers are higher quality and a better fit for your child's hands.

  39. #39
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    It wasn't Islabikes, I'll check with the company if they mind me sharing. That is also where I got the levers. I will get a photo, been very busy in the run up to Christmas

  40. #40
    Havok
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    Could you guess how much weight you saved by switching out the cranks? I'm trying to see if it's worth it or not.

  41. #41
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    I'll have a guess...


    One piece crank with chainring and bearings (forgot to weigh cups) - 960g
    New BB (210) and adaptor (100) Lcrank (150) Rcrank&spider (160)chainring (16) - 636g

    A fairly precise guess

    So saved over 300grams. Also as he grows I will be able to swap the 89mm cranks for 115mm.

  42. #42
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    JL350 levers

    Not adjusted in at all yet. And sorry again for the rubbish photos with an invading labrador.

    16" Custom Build Project-sam_2261.jpg16" Custom Build Project-sam_2262.jpg

  43. #43
    CJH
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProjectMayhem View Post
    JL350s. Not adjusted in at all yet. And sorry again for the rubbish photos with an invading labrador.
    Thank you for the pictures.

    Which ones do you like better for your child? It seems like the Tektros have room for more fingers and run parallel to the bar so they'd be easier to get ahold of?

  44. #44
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    I've adjusted the new ones in a bit to make them closer. Also I have finally installed the new fork (had to strip paint and cut down first) and the v-brakes seem to be amazing. Can't wait to get my son to try them today!

  45. #45
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    Wow what a difference with the v-brakes! I will need to fiddle with them because they stop him TOO well

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProjectMayhem View Post
    Wow what a difference with the v-brakes! I will need to fiddle with them because they stop him TOO well
    V-brake calipers have more mechanical advantage than sidepull (and cantilever) calipers. Some levers have two different cable anchor positions that allow you to switch them between low ratio (for v-brakes) and the high ratio (sidepull & cantilever). See if your levers have this adjustment, you may need to switch the front brake lever to the v-brake cable anchor position? Problem with having high ratio levers together with v-brake calipers is that the pads need to be set too close to the rim (producing rubbing & drag) and the levers dont have enough travel so may bottom out against the bars before they are fully applied, also make for poor modulation of the brakes.
    Same v-brake levers probably dont have enough leverage to work well with the rear sidepull brake unless there is a cable anchor position designed for cantilevers.

    How much did the fork weigh? Aluminum or steel?

  47. #47
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    New fork is aluminium and weighs just over one pound. Lighter than the old one.

    Thanks for the information, very helpful as I don't really know the subtleties of working with vbrakes. They are specific v-brake levers, but I think I have set the pads too close to the rims. Plus he is used to having to really grab the lever with all his fingers.

    Will let you know how we get on

  48. #48
    Havok
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    I'm really interested in where I can find an aluminum 16" fork! I have been searching everywhere.

  49. #49
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    It was Frog bikes in the UK.

  50. #50
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    Jordan300, I have a Hotrock 16 fork that is aluminum I would be willing to part with if you still need it. Let me know.

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