Sunday, April 4, 2010

Project Access - Ready to Roll

After a late night wrenching session on Friday that concluded at 2:00 AM - Project Access became a living, breathing, ridable bike. And if I may say so myself, it turned out pretty damn sweet. Looks cool, really light - guessing under 23 pounds, should be a killer bike for a 10 year old - no?

Build went together fairly easy, only hassle was the headset. After installing, impossible to adjust without being too loose or binding up. I pulled the fork back out to discover the bottom bearing had imploded into several pieces. Either a defective bearing from Cane Creek (doubt it) or I installed upside down (most likely) and blew it apart. Pretty strange. In any case, I had the exact bearing replacement laying on my workbench - a left over from my HeadShokectomy experience last summer. Total dumb luck and easy fix. Only other complaint would be the chainline not being as perfect as I'd like - still, it rides and shifts fine. I'm just being the fanatic.

Let's buckle up for a build review and tour, shall we?

I started with a new $99 Performance Access XCL Comp frame from uh, Performance. Access is their house brand frame and I was pretty pleased, actually kind of amazed, how decent the frame is for the dough. Under four pounds, disk and v-brake mounts, paint and graphics - all good. Original frame arrived damaged from shipping, the replacement arrived quickly and the build started......

New 170mm Shimano LX crankset off eBay, complete with BB for $76, nice deal. Pedals pulled from Ian's now retired Specialized Hotrock. He's still riding platform pedals, we'll give clipless a shot later. Shimano XTR front derailleur pulled from my Cannondale donor bike.

Fox Talus fork, circa 2004, features adjustable travel (now set at 80mm) - still a killer nice fork. XTR hub laced to Mavic ceramic rim, XTR v-brake to slow things down, Panaracer Fire XC Pro tire for traction. All parts pulled from my Cannondale. Pretty sweet front end, no?

Sette stem pulled from Ian's Specialized, Sette handlebar sitting in garage unused - until now. I cut the bars down a bit, think they maybe a tad too narrow now - may swap 'em later. Grips were laying in the garage, no memory where they came from. XTR shifters and brake levers, pulled from the Cannondale. New Cane Creek headset, eBay sale for $30. Hey, look at that - frame even sports an actual headbadge - no sticker.

Super light Fizik saddle and Ibis seatpost, originally from my Ibis Silk Carbon road bike. I swapped 'em out for other items at the time, so these are new - been laying in the garage since 2006. Perfect for this build.

View of BB area. I dig the unfinished "Stack-O-Dimes" welds and matte black finish - very stealth.

Curved stays and Panaracer Fire XC Pro rear tire.

Shimano XTR v-brake slows down the rear.

XTR rear hub and Mavic ceramic rim, XTR rear derailleur - pulled from Cannondale. New SRAM cassette from local Craigslist sale - $20. New Shimano chain from eBay - $20.

There it sits - not bad, huh? I was going to swap the stem over to lower the bars, but Ian digs it this way. I don't want to cut the steerer tube any shorter. As Ian grows, the extra spacers allow possible use with a larger frame down the road. Smart, eh?

So all in all, a pretty cheap build for a pretty trick little bike. Most of this due to pulling almost everything from my Cannondale frame - XTR goodies, cables, wheels and fork. The XTR parts and Mavic wheelset are from 1999 and first lived on my Ellsworth Truth for many years, then later transfered to my Cannondale - now in use on Ian's bike. Hats off to Shimano for manufacturing quality stuff. That's 11 years of use and now going on bike number three - very impressive.

Whoever built that wheelset also deserves a raise (wasn't me) - still dead true after 11 years. Amazing. The Mavic ceramic rims also held up fantastic. Expensive at the time, but well worth it. Without the ceramic coating, rims would have been toasted years ago from mud damage. Ceramic rims and v-brakes were the hot set up before disk brakes hit the scene. Even today, they still work pretty well.

Another aspect to the low price build was the online deals for the few parts needed. Yeah, hitting the local bike shop for this would have been cooler, but the savings were needed to allow this project to exist at all. That's my excuse anyway.

Due to Easter festivities and other distractions this weekend, no woods time for us. Ian demo'd the bike on our street for a bit and said it felt great. Sizing wise, looks good. I bet we get two years of use out of this set up.

I'm pleased and Ian is happy. Can't wait to see it dirty. As usual, blog updates to follow.


  1. Good job on the build, looks nice, should provide a lot of fun.
    If that Red Car you're looking at is a Corolla, buy it, I own one and it can't be beat.

  2. Thanks! It turned out really well. Fun project.

    The red car pictured is a Toyota Yaris - small, high MPG egg mobile. That didn't work out, but I'm looking for another one.

    Thanks for the Corolla tip. I've heard all postive comments about that model and Toyotas in general. We also own a '97 Toyota RAV4 that's been incredibly reliable.

    I'm a bit of a recovering gear head and still read Car and Driver, Road & Track mags, so I keep up a little on this scene.

  3. hi great review -- how would you compare the sette and access frames? one better than the other?

  4. nice bike! i have a previous access frame and love it but i want to build another with current frame...what size frame do you have?

  5. @Pat. I'd rate the Sette frame a bit nicer. However, the Access frame for $99 (on sale) is pretty amazing. I was shocked how decent it was for the dough (as well as the Sette). Makes you wonder what the actual production costs are for most of the frames you see out on a bike shop floor.

    @EyeKno. Thanks, this bike turned out pretty sweet. The frame is 14" and fits my 11 year old son well. He's about 5 feet tall.