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Old 13th September 2021, 21:02   #1
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Default Scrap, junk & budget Bicycle builds

Thought I'd start a thread here to showcase interesting bicycle finds and refurbs, whether my own or others'.

There's loads of such material out there on YouTube and some of it makes for very interesting and almost therapeutic viewing as old bikes are methodically resurrected.

India is till now not too huge on DIY in general, the less so as we move up the socio-economic ladder... but there must be a few of us out there who've undertaken these kinds of projects, and if so would be great to see them featured here. I'll kick it off with a few examples from my own garage.

To preface re: my own "bicycle thing": For me it all started off innocently enough - an Aussie friend here was heading back to his homeland and had what was then a not-too-old Merida Matts 20 which I expressed an interest in purchasing, since having arrived in my mid-40's, I thought I really ought to work on getting myself more physically fit. He was above 50 and made regular loops from Manali up past here, which I felt was pretty impressive indeed, since on the one attempt I'd made years before to ride those 6-7km's up here from the main bazar, I'd given up by the time I reached the Circuit House - which is I guess around 1km from my starting point. Hills really can be challenging and seem about impossible when you're not used to them.

Anyway, back to the Merida:

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Around 10k to purchase, and a new cassette/chain/rear tyre later (an older American lady friend here must have taken care of changing the cassette for me, as I had no clue how to do that at the time), I had a really great riding cycle. Which over the course of about the next five or six years I rode on average less than once per year, and very short distances at that (utterly pathetic!). The desi tyre I put on the back cracked badly from simply letting it sit out in the cold the first winter. Which was a good excuse to let it sit some more. I liked bicycles - but actually getting out and bicycling was another thing entirely. Despite all I'd done in my youth, I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to get back to it.

One day a scrap-dealer friend called me to see something he'd picked up, and I was pleased to find an older alloy Firefox, in weathered but not spent condition. Asked the pice and he said, "pandra".

"Fifteen thousand???!!! I can buy a new one for that!" I blurted. "Nahi, pandra sau" he replied.

That much I could manage. No original pics that I could find, it was partially painted then but can't remember the model. Bought a rear wheel and put a plusher seat on it so my wife would have something comfy to ride... But the wife managed to get out even less than me, I think

So that one I eventually did up more like a hybrid, with a 700Cx35 front & 26x1.75 rear wheel/tyre combo; In full polish it came out looking pretty nice, isn't too heavy, and rides pretty fast in comparison to your average MTB:

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Meanwhile I had started working on bicycles a bit as a sideline, since at my fabrication shop village kids kept coming over with their badly neglected machines saying "Pleeeze Ankal... mera cycle banao" - and I realized that if I didn't finally buy a few proper tools and stock some spare parts and start charging a bit for my services, I was going to spend a good part of my days getting distracted from my main business over things that definitely were not going to pay the rent.

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Occasionally that small voice within piped up telling me it was a bit incongruous to be working so much on bicycles while owning two I never rode, but I managed to mostly ignore it.

Occasionally, too, tourists would come by asking whether I had cycles for rent... I had no idea at that time how that sort of thing would work re: security and payment, so generally just told them no, despite the Merida and Firefox sitting there almost all the time.unused.

So fast-forward to early 2020... I'd just spent the winter out in Mizoram doing nothing much but eating (great food, and a culture of having an appointed "rice replenisher" present at the table each meal, who stealthily generously dumps fresh loads of carbs on your plate when the pile starts getting down a bit... Of course, with that big pile topped off, several other items need to be added to wash it all down). So yes, I gained some weight and in my case, it all goes to my paunch. And despite all the technically healthy food and clean air all that time, I can't say I was feeling especially great. Then the original emergence of Covid and months of lockdown followed which of course only got me to feeling worse, and so in a lull after that first wave I figured I'd do well to risk the hospital visit and full blood tests done.

I guess I've always been a "naturally healthy" kind of low-stressed person - no B.P./cholesterol/sugar issues ever. So was a bit surprised when my blood sugar result turned up borderline. Decided to take it VERY seriously and finally started exercising in earnest - walking the mountain paths and road up behind here mostly.

I tried riding the Merida again to that end, but somehow, though it was still utterly smooth despite all the neglect, it just never inspired me - maybe because it wasn't something all that unique or different, and because I'd not really put a lot of pains into building it myself.

Somewhere along the way I started accumulating more junkyard cycles as winter projects...

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...Some of which were later sold, and some of which got me more inspired to ride, if for no other reason to test out some new unit and/or its mods...

The idea was to build and commision some rental units out of these... which I partially succeeded in, though these days Manali tourists seem overall highly lazy and disinclined towards any kind of physical exertion...

I've continued servicing cycles, though, whether for myself or the local population.

So on occasion will share a few of my more interesting or inspiring defunct bike finds and builds/ refurbs here, and would encourage others to do so, too.

At present am pretty limited re: route options starting/ending at home, so while the riding aspect has driven me to boredom at times, the building process never seems to.


Last edited by ringoism : 1st October 2022 at 21:48.
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Old 28th September 2022, 22:32   #2
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Default re: Scrap, junk & budget Bicycle builds

Will start with the latest one first:

Had first seen my first folding bicycle in the area when we were down-valley in Naggar for our anniversary earlier this year. It was chained to the iron fence outside a little eatery and looked weathered, as though it had been there a LONG time, maybe even abandoned. Curious little thing.

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Couple weeks ago drove past one of my scrap-dealers and saw another almost just like thrown on a pile out front... Figured I'd better grab it, as it was unlikely I'd readily find another. At ₹600 it seemed worth whatever risks.

At home, fitted a (fatter) rear tyre, derailleur, cables, and a front mudguard on it (original was there but scratched), removed most of the peeling stickers, cleaned it up a bit, and it was pretty much ready to go:

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Looking at the 20" wheels one would think this was a kids' cycle, but they were really designed more for adults, as is evident once handlebar and seat are raised:

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My wife says I look like a circus bear riding it and I'm sure she's right, but I don't mind. It's cute.

Had Korean-language stickers all over it and must have been brought from there one way or the other. Icon brand, which I couldn't find out a lot about online. It's a budget model for sure, and despite the alloy rims and handlebar, is way heavier than it ought to be for its size.

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Has a quick-release for lowering/turning the handle, another which allows it to easily fold in half, a third (as usual) to lower the seat - thereafter it's easy to stash in the boot of whichever car... I'll get some folding pedals for it too, if Decathlon ever starts selling their parts online again. Am actually thinking to make it into an e-cycle, as that is quite common with folding units abroad. It's got a rudimentary f&r suspension, which would suit that purpose pretty well I guess.

Not that I can really think of a time when I'd really need something like this - though if I lived nearer a New Jersey shore boardwalk, it would be more obvious. In no way built for efficiency, it's certainly good enough for plodding/ perusing/ showing off a little. So Mall Road Manali, I guess? Just for kicks?

Quite ridable and a cool looker, regardless. It's got a longer wheelbase than I've ever seen on a 20-incher, and with the tall handle and fat/skinny tyres, it evoked comparisons to a Harley () from a couple of my young customers - could go even further and put some real ape-hangers on it, I guess!

I had a couple people already ask whether it were for sale - I guess we'll see about that once I have an estimate on the e-conversion and can decide how far to go with it.

Interestingly, this one has a band-brake on the rear - something I had on my old go-kart years ago but have never seen on a bicycle. Big friction surface there.


Last edited by ringoism : 1st October 2022 at 21:51.
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Old 28th September 2022, 22:58   #3
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Had posted in the general thread on this one earlier: Discovered chained together with a number of other corroding frames at an atrociously disarrayed little bicycle / welding / tyre shop about 20km's south of here. Didn't pay it much mind the first time but got to thinking it could be interesting to rebuild, and as it turns out it is extremely rare (seen as-found near the center here:

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It's a Hercules / ACT 108 Max. All alloy full-suspension model that I haven't been able to find any reference to anywhere online. Doc has a more common and quite good ACT 110 hybrid, and I've got an ACT 105 Max MTB besides this, which I'll probably feature in a later post. I've seen (but couldn't manage to purchase) a differently-configured ACT 107(?) full-suspension, alloy-framed unit too. All apparently made by TI Cycles (Montra, etc) back in the mid 2000's. Not high-end but definitely a cut above your usual present-day steel-framed desi cycles.


This one turned out to be a longer, staged process where I switched stuff around and experimented and upgraded over time. It's still got stuff to be done but is great to ride.

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In its "final" configuration here it's got sealed cartridge-bearing hubs, SRAM derailleur and changers, Hayes MX5 brakes, and an SR Suntour XCM fork, which is pretty beefy and being a proper hydraulic fork damps a lot better than the original. Also has a custom-made 8-speed rear freewheel and replaceable double-rings up front, so a 2x8 gearset which works well for forest trails. I've actually had this thing airborne a number of times - lands pretty well and is good fun on rocky, root-covered trails and even stairs. No complaints here. Weighs about what an average downhill cycle weighs. I'm not going to pretend that it's anywhere near as capable, but anyway... it's a functional relic / showpiece and my most prized bicycle.

Will probably strip the little bit of paint that's left on it off and polish it all up - with the huge-cross-section swingarm out back, I think that would look stunning.

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Other than cables, I hardly bought a single new part for this one, excepting maybe the bottom bracket, chain, and grips - everything else was salvaged stuff.

People in the main bicycles thread generally complain about anything with a suspension - but they don't live up here or ride the roads I / we do here. I'll add that particularly as I age, I really appreciate the plush ride that something like this provides. And I mean plush even when riding through potholes / over rocks and the like - my spine is thanking me regularly, and in truth I find hardtails pretty harsh and uncomfy much of the time around here.


Last edited by ringoism : 1st October 2022 at 21:39.
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Old 28th September 2022, 23:27   #4
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A mature (I hesitate to say elderly, as he seems too young for that category in terms of his physical movements, activity levels, and general attitude) foreign friend came by my former shop one day and asked whether I wanted a cycle that a friend of his son's had abandoned at their place years ago. I was thinking it might turn out to be something appealing (imported, lightweight, and good quality?), so told him that yes, I'd take it.

Took a few months to arrive, and when finally it did, I cannot deny that it was a bit of a letdown - it was a nondescript ladies' model with a spindly steel frame, plasticized steel cranks, low-end injection-molded V-brakes, a very heavy steel handle and neck, etc, etc... Had adjustable-detent SunRace twist-type gear changers (never had seen those before) a lightweight aluminum rear carry-rack, and half of a quick-release luggage mount on the handle - its only mildly interesting/ worthy features. It only had the rear one of the original 700C rims - a single-wall at that - and its tyre was worn out. Other included rim was a Mavic 26" rear from something else. All in all, a very sorry sight with scarcely even any decent spares to scrounge off it. I figured it was mainly worth scrap metal value. Can't win them all:

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To that end started stripping some parts off it:

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On second thought the idea came that with the thinner tyres than anything else at my disposal, it could make a good low-rolling-resistance chassis for an e-bike conversion. Carrier could suit that end as a little runabout for errands. So decided to keep it around awhile and see.

But when that little bit of yellow paint had emerged from under the seat-clamp and a few other places, I realized it had been brush-painted black - and got curious about what was under that.

So started working it with some lacquer thinner and a mild scrubber, and from under that hideously-applied black, the name "Riverside" emerged from the top tube.

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What on earth is a "Riverside"? I asked myself.
Must have Googled it and digged around a bit.

Ah, so it was one of these - a true import from back in the 1980's, when I suppose Decathlon was still genuinely European (French, iirc)!!! Not really my thing still, but a rare and interesting enough to catch my attention:

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Cool cycle - but the remaining problem was that I am not a lady, and moreover I couldn't imagine what local lady around here would want to ride something like this (even the ladies don't want ladies' bikes now!). Not worth putting time into then - and despite its origins, it didn't seem a feasible restoration candidate.

I think it wasn't too long after this that I came across a YouTube vid of someone converting an old Indian-style roadster into a pretty cool gravel bike. And he had started with a ladies' frame! Ah, right - this is steel (not meaning stainless), and unlike aluminum, easily formable / weldable! So coming to "Plan C"... cut and welded the top tube up higher - high enough to where it wasn't going to interfere with anyone's sense of manhood... yet still low enough to show respect for the brand's longstanding preference for low top-tubes on both their modern "unisex" and even older male-specific models.

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Later finally got around to stripping most of the rest of that black paint off... not an easy task to manage without damaging the original paint underneath. But mostly got it:

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Put a new front wheel and a flat alloy handle salvaged from elsewhere, along with a new aluminum stem from Suncross.

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It turned out to be a nice-riding bike for the smooth NH up towards Palchan / Solang and beyond, approaching the Rohtang Tunnel. Good for that stuff, but no kind of offroader / rough-roader for sure - wrists and palms hurt on the choppy sections, and with the 700C's, effective gearing was sufficiently high that in my grinding away towards my goal of Koti village one fine morning, I badly messed up my knee, something that would put me out of commission for at least six months.

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Put the "Megarange" 34T 1st gear freewheel out back after that, and a 22T front small chainring, as well. Climbs the steepest pretty easy now.

I have a new rear hub and cassette-type freewheel body that I'll eventually find time to put on, if I decide to keep and ride this one longer-term. I would be able to improve my overall gearing with that.

So in the end this has turned out pretty ok, weighs about 13.5-14kg, thus while not light, is certainly better than the average desi steel MTB and definitely rolls a lot easier. I can get another half kg off it with better tyres and tubes.

Anyway, was glad I'd said "yes" to this one sight-unseen and not tossed it in the scrap too hastily when I first laid eyes on all its retrograde, decrepit ugliness. Good reminder of the kinds of transformations wrought in humans, when placed in the hands of a good and patient Maker. That superficial outer layer was the most noticable flaw here, but at its very core there were things that needed re-orienting. Grateful it could finally come together.


Last edited by ringoism : 1st October 2022 at 21:36.
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Old 3rd October 2022, 08:29   #5
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 3rd October 2022, 11:00   #6
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Beautiful. Looking forward to meeting these girls soon :-)
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Old 6th October 2022, 15:47   #7
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Fantastic writeup and really good on restoration part, trust its a fullfilling activity with a sweet end if you can ride what you restored regularly
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