The X bike was born as the result of a political debate
My wife Mary runs one of Sweden's largest and most influential political blogs and she is often seen and heard in public debate.
During a series of debates last summer, her opponents often used the expression "Mary, nu är du allt ute och cyklar!", in english "Mary, now you're really out biking [on the wrong road]", meaning the same thing as the english expression "Barking up the wrong tree". We still hear it about her to this day.
After having heard the reference to biking a couple of times I got the idea to, partly in jest, actually get her biking. This year is an election year in Sweden and Mary is running for a seat in Parliament, so why not make a bicycle the official campaign vehicle? If you think about it, a bicycle is a really positive symbol. It's silent, utterly energy efficient, it's good for your health, it's so environmentally friendly that it's even good for other's health! The list of positives goes on and on. Sure, there are bikers that get a scowl even from me now and then but when did you ever hear anything negative about the bike itself?
Mary already has a bicycle, but that's an ordinary three-speed city bike complete with fenders, rack and a basket up front. It's a good, sensible bike but hardly exciting. What we needed was something more spectacular; an eye-catcher, a head-turner and conversation starter.
Something a bit over the top, so to speak. Or, in Mary's own words: "I want gold, lots of gold!"
Mary's second name is Xantippa
and she's known as "Mary X" or just "X", so when friends got wind of my plans the project was promptly dubbed "The X bike" even before I had started any actual building
First thing to do was to find something suitable to act as the foundation for the new bike, i.e. a frame. The search was short and swift. Her son's old MTB had stood unused and neglected under our balcony for the last ten years, slowly accumulating rust, dust, pollen and various other kinds of air-borne grime. Almost all the componentry was well and truly shot, but the frame itself seemed to be in good shape with only a few small chips in the paint.
The bike is a 1994 Cyclepro Stony Point, the best selling MTB in Sweden during the first half of the 1990's.
After a few hours of disassembling, we have a box full of rusty old tat...
...and a liberated frame.
The next step was to remove the paint from the frame. I soaked the frame in paint stripper, wrapped it in a tarpaulin and let it simmer
overnight. The next day I unwrapped it and the frame looked like this:
Yes, it is the same picture. I didn't bother taking another one because absolutely nothing
had happened. The original paint must have been made of kryptonite-reinforced unobtanium or something...
So plan B, a power drill and a paint stripping wheel.
The stripping wheel after the frame has taken its toll.
It took me over a week of evenings to get all the paint off.
While I worked myself sweaty removing the old paint, Mary had trouble deciding on the the colour of the new paint. At first she was dead set on pink (ugh!!)
then she drifted into different shades of blue, then this and then that...
But one day, in completely different circumstances, we happened upon this picture of late F1 racing driver Ronnie Petterson's
Lotus 72 in John Player Special colours.
We both decided, there and then, that black and gold was going to be the colour scheme for the X bike.
The only compontents I saved from the Cyclepro were the hubs. They turned out to be in surprisingly good condition and in order to save some
pennies I decided to use them instead of trying to source some other ones (have you seen the prices on gold hubs???
) I simply painted them with gold paint.
Hubs on sticks.
Two layers of primer.
Four layers of gold and reassembled.
Some spokes and nipples, a couple of hours spent building...
... and Hey, presto! A pair of wheels!
All this took place late last summer and autumn. I had already started hoarding gold ano stuff from all over the world and my original plan was to get the frame painted before it got too cold (since I had to do it outside) and then slowly build the bike up during the cold months.
And then winter set in much too early. I had to postpone the frame-painting and thus the entire build until this spring
Oh well, at least it gave me lots of time looking on eBay for more gold stuff
As for chainset, derailers, shifters and brakes, I had already decided on Shimano M730 as it is my favourite groupset of all times. It being mostly black I felt it would go well against all the gold. But then, in February, our very own big.eck decided to open up his chest of gold and put this on the market:
An entire groupset in black and gold!! Had to have it! PMs were sent and funds were exchanged for Deore LX loveliness
Being used, the group had some minor scuffs and scrapes, so I have spent some time bringing it back to almost factory fresh.
Only the crankset remains to restore, because it's taking me a lot of time getting my paint mix to an exactly matching gold tone.
Finally, spring has sprung and it's warm enough outside to get the frame painted
My assistant and I, sorting out the pieces of my....
...portable painting shed!
Look! It's got central heating!
So, we've got...
...a nekkid frame...
...and all the gear. Let's paint!
Two layers of etching and filling primer.
Four layers of black.
The black paint is of a new type that doesn't need any clear on top of it in order to get really glossy.
With the painting done (only about 6 months late
) it was finally time to start putting things together. Yay!
First roll on its new wheels. The fork is a Rock Shox Mag20 I have used on my Miyata Century
for many years. It was made redundant when I restored
the Miyata to original spec last year. It is still in very good shape, only a few paint chips on the brace had to be fixed.
As mentioned earlier, some of the parts of the Deore LX group (and some of mine) where slightly scuffed...
...but some light airbrushing soon fixed that.
The rear derailer ready to be reassembled, with new gold ano jockey wheels.
The rest of the build was mostly plain transport. It was just a matter of bolting things onto the frame, so I'll stop blabbing now and just present you with some pictures of how it turned out.
Things left to do: I really want to put the entire Deore LX group on, but getting my golden paint to be the exact right shade for the chainrings is painstakingly slow work. I mix up some gold paint, put four layers of it on a test patch with 24 hours drying between layers, discover that it isn't quite right, mix up another batch of paint and start another four day cycle... These days I have precious little free time (currently working two jobs) and the bike is soon due for its official debut, hence the modern gold ano crankset. Maybe after the elections in September...
The Deore LX hubs from big.eck are 32 hole and my golden rims are 36
So, if any of you have some good condition golden 32 hole hoops for sale, PM me
Well, that's it! I hope you like it. But remember that it isn't mainly meant to be a good ride (even though it is), it is meant to evoke reactions and emotions and to be a conversation piece. So, even if you hate it, it has done its job. As long as you feel anything at all about it, it has served its purpose.