Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Paramount Series 20 Mountain Bike

Just a quick post tonight, with an update about and pictures of my Paramount PDG mountain bike, which I spent some time writing about not long ago.

Three weeks ago, the washing machine here in the apartment blew up. Two weeks ago, I needed to make some space for the dryer (which normally resides on top of the now-dead washer) elsewhere in the apartment, so I had to get the Paramount out of the kitchen. It had been sitting idle since I moved in, in part the victim of a bent fork tip from a bike rack tip-over incident.

I'd picked up a new-old-stock Tange fork (I believe it's a B.O.S.S. model, whatever that is) on eBay, but hadn't gotten around to installing it. I briefly considered a shock fork, but didn't want to alter the geometry of the bike, and make the steering lazier. At any rate, having to find a new spot to park the bike inspired me to just get the fork installation done -- just in time for a blizzard.

As you can see, the new fork is black, possibly powder coated, and you can take my word for it that this one is somewhat beefier than the fork it replaced. The OEM fork had heat treated chromoly (Tange's Prestige tubeset) fork blades and forged tips and it was pretty nice. This one is also made of chromoly tubes, but they are fatter, and it has investment cast tips brazed into the ends of the blades. I don't know what the tubeset on the new fork is, but I'm guessing it's also Prestige. Whatever the tubing, it's stout and light. Sorry for the blurry picture -- the digital focus on the camera I use doesn't know how to handle bicycles for close-ups, it seems.

Installation was simple. I started by taking off the front rack that was on the bike (an inexpensive front cantilever rack). It wasn't adding any value, since I am using a self-supporting and smallish handlebar bag. Then I took off the brakes and took apart the headset to remove the fork. I'd just installed the XTR headset on the old fork last summer, and getting the crown race off proved pretty simple -- it was much harder to get it onto the new fork, but I've gotten pretty good at it, using a technique involving PVC pipes to avoid doing any damage. The last part of the front end replacement was installation of the front brakes. The only complication, there, was that I had to chase the threads in the cantilever studs with a 6mm x 1 tap before they'd take a mounting bolt.

You can also see that I installed a bunch of spacers under the headset nut. I ordered the fork with a longer-than-necessary steerer tube so I could do this. One thing about this bike when I got it is that the reach to the bars was very long. I'm now using some riser bars and a shorter, taller stem, and with the slight bump in steerer tube length, I can get the bars still higher if need be. An upright position may not be ideal for climbing steep trails, but it's far better on your back and wrists for most terrain.

In the spirit of making the bike a mountain bike again, I also took off the rear rack I've had on it since I first did the build for commuter duty. I'll keep it around, just in case, but if I do put a rack back on this bike, I may look for something nicer. At a minimum, I'll go with stainless hardware to replace the now-rusty chrome bits. I left the trailer bike hitch on there just in case I need it. And I also left the tires alone for now, but may switch to knobbies if I find myself back in the woods a lot.

Finally, I saddle soaped the old Brooks Professional again. This is a very old brown saddle that was not heavily used, but not well cared for, either. I used it on the Kestrel for training roller duty last winter, and on the Paramount last season, where it saw probably no more than 200 miles of use. It's possibly the least comfortable saddle I've ever used, so I've been softening it up with saddle soap and neatsfoot oil the past few months. If this approach doesn't work, I'll put it on the TV as a piece of sculpture and buy a different saddle.

So, just a little light work on the bike for now. Mostly I just wanted to share what the bike looks like, since I've started adding pictures more . It's really just an old mountain bike in its current state, but it introduced me to a whole new genre of riding, and never left me stranded in the woods.

I'd like to get the bike repainted. It's a mismatch today, of course, and the paintwork was never perfect (not that perfect paint much matters on a mountain bike -- it's bound to get trashed anyway). But more importantly, it's a pretty dated-looking pearlescent pearl white. Very 1993. Richard Schwinn responded to me in an email this fall that it'd cost me maybe $400 for a repaint with correct decals, and I'm thinking about it. The old Schwinn baby blue with white decals would be nice. Maybe someday.

All for now,


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