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  1. #1
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    Dang. That wasn't supposed to happen!

    Yesterday, something happened that wasn't supposed to happen. The night before, I saw a custom built steel Kona mountain bike (turned into a hybrid of sorts) on Craigslist for only $300. The guy powder coated the frame, handlebars, and stem all white, which actually looked kind of ugly to me. I'm not really into hybrids, but this bike was equipped with a practically new X7 rear derailleur, X5 front derailleur, Specialized Milano saddle, and an X5 crankset with external bearings, all of which would make nice upgrades for my Airborne Guardian 29er. After swapping the parts, I could basically flip the bike and sell it for close to what I paid for it. What a deal...basically upgrading my 29er for free!

    I didn't bother to call the guy that night, but called the next day, thinking the bike would be gone. I would not get off work until 6:30pm, and the bike was miraculously still for sale. Someone was coming over to look at the bike before I could get there, and I was sure this person would buy it. The seller promised to call me either way and tell me if the bike sold.

    At about 7:30 pm, I got the call. The bike was still available because the guy who was going to look at it had some family business to attend to, and had to cancel. I could get it and do my upgrades. I was pumped!

    I knew I was going to buy the bike, but I gave it a quick test ride just to be sure. After all, there was a small scratch on one of the brake levers, and that scratch could mean the whole bike was junk.

    The seller had spent $600 on upgrades for the bike, but because the frame was too small, and because his parents bought him a very nice new Specialized bike, he just wanted to get rid of it, in spite of only putting about 50 miles on it, on pavement. Now, he did say the bike was about 10 years old, but the upgrades and powder coating were basically new. In my brief test ride in a small parking lot, there was nothing special about the bike, but it was an obvious no brainer so I bought it. Heck, the bike was even kind of ugly!

    I loaded the bike into my SUV, travelled a few miles down the interstate and through some Omaha neighborhoods, and joined a friend on her bike ride. This is where everything changed.

    For the most part, I've only ridden relatively low end entry level bikes. The nicest part I've ever upgraded to was a $300 Manitou Tower Expert fork, which proved to be money well spent on my trip to Sedona Arizona, but I've never gone on a ride with a bike with external bearings, and I've never been on a ride with a bike with good wheels. A few months ago, I did purchase a nice Cole Lite 29er wheelset, but still had not tried them out because I was thrown off guard when I discovered I needed a 9mm adaptor and new disc brake mounts. Being a bad procrastinator, and not knowing exactly what parts I would need to buy, I put that on a the backburner. That will change tomorrow...

    When I met my friend and started pedaling, I experienced something I had never experienced on a bike before. I was moving very quickly. Well, ok, I have moved quickly on a bike before, but not with so little effort. I was actually faster on this ugly white Kona mountain bike than my friend was on her very new Diamondback road bike! I know, its a only a Diamondback, but still!

    Turns out the Kona was equipped with a very good set of Mavic X138 wheels with Shimano STX RC8S hubs. Nothing special from what I've researched online, but they rolled faster than anything I'd ridden. The Sram X5 crankset with external bearings, also nothing special, was pretty amazing compared to the cartridge cranksets I'd previously ridden.

    Toward the end of our ride, we switched bikes so she could check out my new "find". After a few seconds and accelerating away from me very quickly, she exclaimed, "WOW!". Yep, this bike was something special!

    At this point, I was kind of torn, because I had just purchased this bike to upgrade my other bike, but I also didn't want to ruin it with "lesser" parts. Since the bike was a tad big (depending on how you measure the seat tube, its either a 16" or a 19"), I figured I'd pick up a zero setback seatpost to shorten the top tube length, a shorter stem, handlebars with a higher rise, mtb tires, possibly different grips, and a suspension fork. Two years ago, I wouldn't have wanted it since it was only v-brake compatible, but at this point, I could care less. I knew it performed well on road, but what about off road?

    After swapping out the pedals and lowering the seat a little, I met my friend at the trailhead to see what the bike could do off road. I did notice that the bike handled rather smoothly, and was pretty fast. On other sections, not so much, and I noticed my 29er was better suited. I didn't like the bike as much as I thought I would off road, and after about 20 minutes, I told my friend, "I think I'm going to get rid of it". So much for my upgrade plans. Or so I thought.......

    As usual, when we arrived to the section of the trail with lots of climbing, I wasn't excited about it. Since we were running out of daylight, I asked my friend if she wanted to ride that section of the trail, or the flatter section of the trail. She opted for the harder route.

    I let her lead the way. Not long into one of the climbs, she stalled and I passed her. Then I took off!

    I was flying. Up hill. Down hill. Especially down hill. She even said I was really speedy, which she usually doesn't say.

    When I met her at the bottom of the hill, I turned to her and said, "I'm keeping the bike". Dang. That wasn't supposed to happen.

    Below is a photo of the bike. It might be older than what the previous owner eluded to, because from the photos I've researched, the frame looks very similar to a mid to late 1990s Kona Hot. I will probably make the upgrades I previously mentioned. I will also likely get rid of my cyclocross bike, since the Kona is probably almost as fast, and I really don't need 3 bikes.

    As I've done in the past, I'm also going to do some time trials and see how this bike stacks up against my 29er offroad, and my cyclocross on road. Its not a very good comparison, because the gearing is different in both cases, but I get a real kick out of time trials, putting one bike against another.

    Anyway, this is one very ugly, but special bike, so I wanted to share. Thanks for reading!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Dang.  That wasn't supposed to happen!-img_1095.jpg  


  2. #2
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    Dang. That wasn't supposed to happen!

    The question is......Is your friend hot?
    I'm sick of all the Irish stereotypes, as soon as I finish this beer I"m punching someone

  3. #3
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    Fun post! For some reason the word "spiffy" come to mind with the all white set up and it is making some trail magic for you -- what could be better? Anyway, the right number of bikes to have is N + 1, but I think we all agree the cyclocross rig can go now -- it is no longer needed in the stable.
    Enjoy.

  4. #4
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    Since you decided to keep the bike, I suggest you get white patent leather shoes and matching belt. Then your look will be complete.
    Use it, use it, use it while you still have it.

  5. #5
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    Needs a white saddle and white shifter/brake lines!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jlee197853 View Post
    Needs a white saddle and white shifter/brake lines!
    Ugh. Way too much white already! LOL

    Found some Kona stickers on eBay to decorate it. May also throw on some other bike related stickers to ad some color!

  7. #7
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    I was being sarcastic. LOL!

  8. #8
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    Looks fast!

  9. #9
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    I would use that bike for commuting.
    F*ck Cancer

    Eat your veggies

  10. #10
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    I guess I'm the minority but I think it looks pretty cool. Nice find!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by LTT777 View Post
    I guess I'm the minority but I think it looks pretty cool. Nice find!
    Thanks. Unfortunately I'm going to have to ruin it for you by adding color to it in the very near future, but I'm glad you like it!

  12. #12
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    Tonight was the first night of my speed tests. My friend is coming through town this weekend, and he might actually buy my cyclocross (a Motobecane Fantom CX) so I figured I'd better ride it while I still can and do a time trial. Because its quite easy to be biased in a time trial, and because of so many factors that can effect speed, instead of trying to go all out, I decided to do a 16 mile leisurely ride from my apartment to the lake, around the lake, and back. My goal was to ride as fast as I felt comfortable riding, without trying to push it. It took me 80 minutes to do the ride, on a nice night, with very low winds, but unfortunately, a lot of bugs!

    One thought I had while riding is that it would be very difficult for me to beat that time on the Kona, unless I'm really pushing it. The cyclocross has a 50/39, while the Kona is running a 39/26, at least from what I can tell, not to mention the more aerodynamic riding style of the cross. The main thing the Kona has going for it are the smoother tires, which will mean a much lower rolling resistance against knobby Hutchison Toro's on the cyclocross. The other thing the Kona has going for it is that because its easier to pedal and is geared lower, I will probably be able to spin the pedals faster and ride with a much faster cadence, something I'm normally very bad at, and I'm pretty sure the wheels on the Kona spin faster as well.

    Even if the Kona turns out to be slower, which is likely, I'm pretty sure I still want to sell the cyclocross. I don't really need a cross bike for most of the riding I do, and the Kona is very well suited for any riding that I do that is a little too tough for a road bike. On the downside, I don't have a road bike, so if I get invited on a long ride, I'll be stuck riding the Kona, which might not be so great at a 20 mile ride into the wind! But its a moot point since I don't plan on doing too much road riding this year, but it does open the door for me to buy a road bike if the time comes when I need one!

    Yesterday, I took my 29er out and rode it around the same offroad trail I rode the Kona on the day before. The main things I noticed about my 29er...after riding the Kona is that it feels a little klunky at times (which, truthfully, is something I noticed before I purchased the Kona), and that I brake a lot more when riding it. I think part of the reason for this is because I took the flat bar off it and put a low rise handlebar on it making it slightly less maneuverable. The cool thing about that is because the Kona feels a little bit too aggressive for me with the flat bar, I'm going to be able to take that handlebar off the 29er and put it on the Kona! Hey, wasn't this supposed to be the other way around? I'm also planning to steal the stem off my cyclocross and put it on the Kona

    In contrast to the 29er, the Kona felt surprisingly smooth, even with the rigid fork, and I felt a little less beat up on it after the ride. Maybe that had something to do with the fact that the Kona takes less effort to ride, being lighter weight and easier to pedal.

    Anyway, should have the on-road time trial on the Kona done by Monday, and will also be putting the Kona off road up against the 29er next week!

  13. #13
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    Just finished riding the Kona around the lake, and all I have to say is WOW! To my shock, I was 7 minutes faster on the Kona! WOW! I'm so pumped up right now! And so sweaty too! LOL

    Bugs were terrible tonight, and I left about a half hour later than last night. Also didn't ride with a light, because I didn't want to take the time to take the other one off my cyclocross because I was afraid, due to my crappy mechanical skills, that it would take me like 20 minutes to remount! (I know, bad).

    I was admittedly riding a little bit faster on the Kona, because I think I wanted to prove something. There was also one point on the ride when I sped up a little because there was a guy I passed who was catching up to me, who was listening to annoying music on his bike!

    The main difference between tonight and last night, though, was that riding the Kona made me WANT to ride faster. This bike has that "IT" factor that makes you want to just push it

    Also was a little warmer tonight and had stronger winds...and it was darker outside during most of the ride.

    Anyway, I guess this means that there is no room for the cyclocross in the stable. I'm also wondering if should give the 29er the boot too. Wouldn't be as much urgency to do that if I did not have plans to go on a mountain biking vacation to the Pacific Northwest in July, and plans to relocate to a mountain bike friendly destination like Boise or Colorado on the same trip...seems like it would be best to bring only one bike.

    Dang. This wasn't supposed to happen, but I'm so glad it did! I love my Kona! Thank you God for the ugly plain looking but super fast Kona!

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