Tribute to my very first Mountainbike, a Wheeler 313


Klein Fan
It's been a while since I last did a build thread here on retrobike. I blame it on the language barrier... :D

So. This time round I had to scratch the itch and buy back some of my childhood memorys.
My first "proper" mountainbike that I bougt new around 1991. I think.
Here is my only picture of it in 1993. I stumbeled across that picture while clearing my mom's flat.

Of course it had a set of "horns" bolted to the bar. You can't see it in the picture, but I did a lot of weight reduction to those, buy drilling tens of holes into them.
Then again - completely forgetting about the weight - I had to fit these wheel covers to the back. Because I had seen some famous rider in the magazine riding them tensions disks...

[OT] If you are wondering what the hell is going on in that picture: It's a german custom that on the last day in school the class stays in the building over night and prepares some kind of prank for the teachers. In this case some concrete brickage and - of course - water baloons... [/OT]

I really loved that bike back then. I learned the ropes of repairing your own bike. It had a shimano 200GS. Didn't last long. I had to replace the hubs soon.
The rear derailleur was ripped off at some point. And it was quite the hassle to get a replacement. A used XT one that I found in the ad section of our newsletter. Remember these?
I had to ride 20km to the next town to get it. And I had to borow that puny 20" foldable bike from my dad for the trip. No fun, that.

Anyhow. I managed to get my hands on a very nice example of on of those bikes for cheap. Ah, the wonders of the internet.
This is the beauty, as I got it a few weeks back. Very mint condition. No rust. No fading in the paint.
Just a glorious neon paint with dark splatters.

I love it.

The plan is to strip it completely. Then use all the stuff on it, my 13 year old self used to drool over bitd.
That would be Manitou forks, lots of XT, maybe some anodized Aluminium. And Magura brakes. Because Magura brakes are the best. :D
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Klein Fan
The big advantage of beeing an adult as to compared to my teenage self is: Actually having some proper tools and knowing how to use them.
The big advantage of beeing a hoarder is having all the suff laying *somewhere* :D

So it didn't take long for me to dig out that fork, that I had seen in the magazine bitd. It is a glorious work of art. Lots of CNC and "lots of travel"... Compared to a steel fork, that is.

Well it had travel at some point in its life.

This particular fork - thow it still looks good - has no travel. At all. As suspected for 30 year old elatomeres.
But it looks good.

Did I ever mention that I really like the looks of that fork?

It also has a 1 1/8" steerer. The Wheeler wants it to be 1". Duh!

Time to put that adult advantage to work.
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Klein Fan
Enter: Pace 1" steerer from *somewhere*.

What goes in must come out...
With a little heat to help and my trusty old oak "opinion amplifier"

Fabricated on the lathe: a 1 1/8" to 1" press fit bushing.

Some more heat and hammering...

Aand its in.

It needs another bushing to accept the lower headset coup. So back to the lathe.

I even found a Klein LVE *somewhere* :D
It happens to have the right color. But it is rather short. I'll have to do something about that.


Klein Fan
Thinking about what parts to use.
These are the front derailleurs I have. None of them has the correct size.
And I think I'll be going with the thumbies...

And I did a quick mockup just to see what I'm working with.

Magura RS33 with the early style handles
XT thumbies
XT rear derailleur
XT Headset
XT Wheelset (I'll have to try silver rims at some point.)
RaceFace and BB-UN5x (still considering an XT crank instead)
Klein LVE

Still missing:
some nice skewers
seatpost (the frame needs some serious reaming prior to measuring the needed diameter)

Also I fired up my lathe again. Bar extensions in the making.

If you look closely at the picture above, there is a large gap where the bar and the extension are supposed to meet.
So before I can glue them in, I have to do something about the rough sawn ends.

I quickly cobbled up a custom bar end mitering tool. I don't have anything professional, obviously.
It is made from Aluminium scrap and a broken of and ground to fit drillbit as the blade.

The tool at work:


Next up: Heavy Manitou tuning.
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Klein Fan
It's been a while. I'm still on it, thow.

My next step was to modify and upgrade the forks.
When you disassemble those, inside they look like this:

It's simply a stack of red elastomeres and a long bolt. Too simple. As we all know, the elastomeres deteriorate over time. And they don't like cold weather. ( On the positive side: They are lighter than oil and steel coils. And the forks tend to have less friction going on because the don't need may seals and wipers. )
What those old Manitou forks also miss, is some form of rebound dampening. I aim at adding that. In addition to the rather obvious coil conversion I added a dampener cartrige.

In the following picture you can see the coil and dampener configuration, I came up with.

That dampening cartridge is of the RS Judy flavor. It will sit inside the right stanchion. I had to shorten that rod on the right side of the cartridge to make room for travel. And I had to turn a sleeve and a expanding cap to fix the cartrige inside the stanchion. So it wouldn't be able to side up and down.

This is a picture of the cap I made. It works like those Aheadset-expanders used for the steering colums. It consists of 3 parts. The cap, the bolt and a cone the spread the lower part of the cap.
In this picture, it is still missing the slits in the cap, so it can actually expand...

Here you can see the cap in it's new place. The drill is used to prevent the cap from turning while tightening the bolt.

The fork now looks like this. The changes are barely noticable from the outside. I do hope they are somewhat noticable while out in the woods...

The first oil dampened coil springed Manitou 2 forks. As far as I know... ;)
No original Manitou parts were hurt in the process. Everything is 100% reversable.

I hope you like it.
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Klein Fan
Much appreciated.
But the hard part was not making that cap. :LOL:
Getting the rebound dampening in so it actually works, that was rather complicated. For me anyway.


Klein Fan
Are you guys maybe familiar with that kind of situation? That you want to do something quick but then realize that your tool to do the job needs fixing because you went all cheapscate while buying it? Then you spend all day on that tool instead...

Well, that happens to me all the time. Wanna change tyres. Cheapo Compressor broken. Spend 5 hours fixing the compressor. Ran out of daylight. Ah well.

Same with the Wheeler. It has a really badly finished seat tube. It would scratch those seat posts so badly like you wouldn't beleve it.
So I bought a set of adjustable reamers. Used. 10 of them for the price of one. And of course they are as dull as me thinking it would be a good idea to buy them unseen over the internet... :rolleyes:

So I did the right thing and tried to sharpen them myself...

Nope. Should have bought a new reamer.

As I don't have a proper grinding machine, I used my lathe instead.
Build a fixture to hold the blades. And a mandril to hold a grinding stone.
To my own surprize it didn't blow up in my face. Just worked instead.


Mid work:

It only took all Saturday. And now the Wheeler has a nicely clean and smooth seat tube.
No picture of that. Use your imagination. 😐