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  1. #1
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    Should I save this neglected Kona

    My current bike is a Trek 4100 alpha that I spent my time to replace or repair all the various things on the bike. I had a blast doing it, I learned a ton of stuff about bike maintenance. I told myself not to buy another rehab bike but I put heart before head this craiglist deal was too good to pass up.

    I bought for 60 bucks this Kona Explosif of pretty old vintage (94?). It is a very lightweight bike that I would like to restore. The thing is I already know you can put a ton of money into restoration. In fact I know that you can easily spend more than a new bike if you want it to look like new again. Still I figured the parts were good enough to at least attempt to make it fully ridable.

    The Marzocchi bomber Z2s are in excellent shape. The owner told me he rebuilt them a while ago for 200 bucks then let the bike just sit outside. The rebound and preset adjustments seem to work, and there is no leaking. The head tube bearing seems good and there is no play in the fork.

    The frame is pretty straight but has a lot rust spots, especially where there was a ton of chain slap. The rust spots seem to be surface spots. I looked around the frame and there are no cracks or bends in the frame.

    The front chainrings are bent and bent a lot. I figured on putting on a new crank and bottom bracket, unfortunately I do not have the tools for this and would have to go to repair shop.

    I figure I would put a lower end crank set or maybe just replace the BB and chain rings.

    The chain is rusted to all get out. The brakes work good, the rims are true, and the rear Deore derailleur works well. The front mis-shifts but this could be the bent ring. It works right now in the center chain ring.

    The wheels are trued mavics with no name hubs. The rear freehub cassette is in better shape than the front but has seen better days.

    So the question is should I save this Kona that looks like its been left outside way too long. My heart says yes, but my brain says no. I probably can resell the bike and recoup most of my costs, but I figured at worse I have a donor bike.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Should I save this neglected Kona-p1030536.jpg  

    Should I save this neglected Kona-p1030537.jpg  

    Should I save this neglected Kona-p1030535.jpg  

    Last edited by y0chang; 11-18-2012 at 05:27 PM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by y0chang View Post
    So the question is should I save this Kona that looks like its been left outside way too long. My heart says yes, but my brain says no. I probably can resell the bike and recoup most of my costs, but I figured at worse I have a donor bike.
    If the bike fits then yes I would restore it. I'd give it a shot, does not look bad at all. Had an old Explosif back when they were new and it was a great bike. Even if the components are shot the frame is still worth while.

  3. #3
    ish
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    The Explosif was one of the best bikes from the 1990s. Even factoring in replacing those parts, its a steal and you would be hard pressed to find a better bike for the price.

  4. #4
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    Definitely, you wouldn't have to spend a ton of money on it if you didn't want to. Some used parts from here and there would have it going again. As far as the rust from chain slap you could try to get some spray paint and match it as best as you could then slap one of those protective strip stickers on it (I know that this seems like a tacky jerry rig way of doing that but I'm sure it would work, and if you were very precised with the paint I doubt anybody would see it under the sticker)
    All vintage all the time. Nothing like a nice chromo frame with some properly adjusted cantilevers.

  5. #5
    gobsmacked Moderator
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    The tools to swap out the bb and crankset aren't too expensive and actually, you end up using them a lot. yay for square taper bbs!

    The front hub at least looks like a Shimano parallax one.

  6. #6
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    oxalic dip the frame the rust will get away, electrolysis would also work at a faster rate of speed

    would stripp all the rust, get a spray can made for the exact match color and redo the the whole chainstay

    component may profit from that electrolisis bath (derailleurs love to get unstuck like that)

    for the chainrind, find your nearest coop and get a crankset there, found a couple deore over here for 15$ ,older biopace 400lx for 10$, my advice is scavange over these places or if you get along well at the lbs, ask to raid the " waste part bin" I personnally saved 3 wheels 2 crankset, a couple derailleurs and even some cable cutters from the " trash" at my lbs

  7. #7
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    If it fits do it! Very nice frames.

    If it doesn't fit than let me know

  8. #8
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    I've looked over the bike a second time and there is some good news and bad news. The good news is that girlonbike was correct, they seem to be parallax deore hubs and they are in good shape. The bad news is that the rims are less true than I thought and have pretty good wear gouges. The good news is that at least according to the sticker on the frame, I have a Tange Ultimate Superlight MTB frame, and from what I read that is one of best quality steel frames of the era. I need to figure on my budget and whether or not I'm gonna do a restoration or replace with modern or used parts. I think looking used is a great idea, although I don't have a bike collective in my area. I might scrounge for another donor bike to get the bike in working shape. Finding vintage deore stuff might be impossible unless I find another bike of the same era and probably out of my price range if its better shape than what I have currently. Even the cranks, the sugino 170 cranks are in good shape, but the chainrings and bolts are not. I'm not sure if I should try to replace the crankrings or replace the entire crankset with a used or new. I kinda feel like I've stumbled on the bike equivalent of rusty Shelby Cobra sitting in a barn. Thanks everyone for the comments and gives me a ton to think about.
    Last edited by y0chang; 11-19-2012 at 09:30 PM.

  9. #9
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    The fit is a perfect for me. I measured the bike when I got it and it was a 17 inch frame and im 5-9 with a slightly shorter than average inseam.

  10. #10
    gobsmacked Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by y0chang View Post
    The fit is a perfect for me. I measured the bike when I got it and it was a 17 inch frame and im 5-9 with a slightly shorter than average inseam.
    Great news

    Quote Originally Posted by y0chang View Post
    I kinda feel like I've stumbled on the bike equivalent of rusty Shelby Cobra sitting in a barn.
    No, you did not but it's middle of the road with some low end parts. Deore stuff is dirt cheap and you can't even find modern stuff for cheaper. The frame is nicer than the parts so whatever you decide, it'll be good. Glad you like it.

  11. #11
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    I think its a helluva find especially considering the price. It should prove to be a fun project. If it was my bike I'd replace the worn out bits with vintage xt m73x parts wherever possible. Possibly do a spray repaint of the frame and some new decals. A good wheelset shouldn't be difficult to come by.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by eshew View Post
    I think its a helluva find especially considering the price. It should prove to be a fun project. If it was my bike I'd replace the worn out bits with vintage xt m73x parts wherever possible. Possibly do a spray repaint of the frame and some new decals. A good wheelset shouldn't be difficult to come by.
    Yeah I think this is what I'm gonna do, although I might have to go used rather than like new on my budget. Girlonbike is right, the older Deore XT stuff is pretty cheap at least used.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by y0chang View Post
    Yeah I think this is what I'm gonna do, although I might have to go used rather than like new on my budget. Girlonbike is right, the older Deore XT stuff is pretty cheap at least used.
    Actually, I was talking about the later Deore stuff. That would be sweet to clean up the bike and set it up with XT stuff.

  14. #14
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    I thought I posted to this thread last night, but it seems to have disappeared? Anyway, I would say, yes this is a good bike to restore and you got it for nothing. Sod's Law says if I give you everything all over, the earlier post will reappear, but just briefly:

    Your frame alone would be worth $200 in the UK, where Konas are much better known and more popular than in the US. The size 17 wasn't imported into the UK until 1995, so this would be unique if it was over here.

    It is actually quite a rare frame, as most 1994 Explosifs had the Tange Prestige Ultimate Ultrastrong ribbed down tube, and Ultrastrong sticker on the seat tube. There were just a few made with the Superlight down tube and sticker and these are as a consequence a few ounces lighter than the standard frame.

    I gave some details of my own 1994 Explosif restoration and Kona history in this website I hope it might be of some help to you. This is a picture of what I bought (For 100 or $160).
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Should I save this neglected Kona-1994-explosif-offered.jpg  


  15. #15
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    So I go got a SRAM 8 speed chain just to see how it feels...and its amazing even with age old tires and parts that desparately need to be replaced. The front rim is out of true enough to make the brake pads rub, but other than that, the bike is light, maneuverable and smooth. I decided to get some m737 cranks off ebay and a pair of NOS ukai rims on deore hubs.

    Anthonyinhove, your site was super helpful. I think I will do a similar touch up and reseal job on the paint. I can't wait to get started on restoring this bike.

    The front deralleur shifter is a friction/index hybrid thumb shifter (suntour xc pro?) that I'm not familiar with. It takes a lot of pressure to get to the big ring. I am not sure if this normal or because they need a good cleaning/relubing? I wonder if I need a new front derailleur to smooth things out. Or does that mean they are shot and should I change to m737 index shifters? Using the rear shifter though is amazing because I can pick any gear any time.
    Last edited by y0chang; 11-25-2012 at 02:22 PM.

  16. #16
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    Just clean and lube and check the cables/housings. You should not have to use excessive force with a properly functioning suntour front der. thumb shifter. Their micro-ratchet system is designed to decrease the force needed (ratchets as you shift to a bigger chainring, and relies on friction to counteract the derailleur when shifting to a smaller chainring).

  17. #17
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    After some wrench work, elbow grease, and some polishing up. I've gotten the bike ready to roll. Going out to our local single track bike park today. But pictures before the grime is in order. It took me a little longer time and a bit more money but it rides and shifts awesome. I decided to keep the XC pro shifters because they work great now after I adjusted the deralleurs,

    What I replaced until my budget ran out:
    Deore XT m737 crankset
    Deore XT m737 rear deralleurs
    SRAM 11-32 rear cassette
    SRAM chain
    Ukai EX-17 rims with Deore m510 hubs and Panaracer Fire XC pros (bought on fleabay for 50 bucks)
    New SS rear deralleur cable
    Alloy GT platforms bought for 5 bucks used at a local LBS. These were supposed to be temp pedals, but they kinda grew on me because they are bomb proof.
    Chainstay guard.

    I still want to replace the cable housings, the seat post is pretty scratched up, want to get a matching vintage kona seat, new accessory bolts, and while the brakes work great, I think I'm gonna get kool stops. Anyone know the seatpost diameter? I think its either 27.0 or 27.2. Also anyone know of a automobile touch up color that matches Kona Green. Im thinking Miata or Jeep Hunter Green metallic. Anyways thanks everyone for their help, I learned a ton about steel frame bikes rebuilding this bike.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Should I save this neglected Kona-p1030551small.jpg  

    Should I save this neglected Kona-p1030553small.jpg  


  18. #18
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    Love it!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by y0chang View Post
    Finding vintage deore stuff might be impossible
    Vintage Deore stuff is widely available and can be had fairly cheap on eBay if you are patient and hunt for bargains. This 'Shimano History' link has part numbers and some photos of the parts to aid in your hunt. If you feel intimidated by the task I constantly search eBay for parts and could assist in locating items for you to bid on.

    Shimano History

    I'd bail on the wheelset. The cassette might be salvageable. Rear derailleur should be fine with a rebuild and cleaning. Soaking in cider vinegar for 20 minutes to remove any residual metal corrosion may help for some of the corroded but salvageable parts. You can get a quality wheelset for $50 on CL - $100 on eBay. $200 gets you a premium used set of wheels. I suggest these be acquired with interchangeability in mind if you plan on more than one or two bikes.

    Buy a cheap Park crank puller and probably a BB removal tool. A big adjustable crescent wrench is also handy here (to hold the 'nut' part of the crank puller so it doesn't dig into the crankarm and mar it - also used to grip BB removal tool). On a rusty Cromo bike removing the BB may be an issue. If the BB is decent I'd consider leaving it.

    I wouldn't get too far into this until you determine how tough it is to remove that BB.

    Installing cranks you get into 'torque wrench' territory. Don't guess. There is a specific torque that should be applied to cranks. 40-50 Nm I often see. Middleburn suggest 28-32 ft lbs. Somewhere in that range may be great but search for a specific torque (two different scales mentioned - a good torque wrench probably has both scales).

    Are you considering a 'full restore' and doing something about the frame rust and the paint job, just looking to refurb a cheap multi purpose rider....or?

    What thumb shifters are on this Kona? Suntour XC Pro? The photo Anthony posted shows XC Pro but yours look like XC-9000 or XCD-6000 (which are 1989 era so that seems weird). Thumbies sell - XC Pro brings $50.

    There is a bit of rust on that frame. Anthony gave some excellent info suggesting this bike may deserve more restoration than you are willing to invest at the moment (this is not to imply it is a priceless find - it is still a 90's MTB that could easily find the dump as it's next home). If you can get more than $100 for that frame I'd sell it. There is decent money in buying old bikes and selling them for parts (sort of a sad occurrence - although it does help builders as well). If you are on a budget considering buying and flipping on eBay to fund the retro build you REALLY want. Save the gem parts/frames you come across in the process.

    ....not that I follow this advice. I buy, build, keep and donate. Can't quite bring myself to the selling phase. 1

  20. #20
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    Thanks for all the advice Groundoggy...in fact I pretty much came to the same conclusions you did. I bought a set of NOS vintage double wall Ukai for 50 bucks on fleabay, replaced the cranks with vintage deore that wasnt that expensive, and kept the BB because it was still rolling smoothly, even after I gorilla'ed off the old sugino cranks. The shifters are definately XC pros, mine looks just like anthonyinhove. I think everything was original on the bike except the v brake conversion, the riser bars, and seat. I don't have the money for a repaint, so I'm gonna do touch up with automobile paint, but I was kinda impatient and already put on the parts to see if it worked well and it does. Right now its more polished beater than full resto, but I like the bike a lot and it actually was pretty damn maneuverable on the single track park that i was on. I must have not done a good job polishing because I don't think you noticed the differences between the old and new posts

  21. #21
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    I think it's more a case of me not reading thru the thread completely and realizing you had completed the job. Oops.

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