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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Recently picked up another 8900, this one is a 1999 version. I will be chronicling the build periodically over the next couple of days as I put this together for my wife.

18 inch frame weighs 3.4 lbs with rear dérailleur hanger and nothing else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Frame: came from eBay. The following description comes from the listing:

"This auction is for a used 18" Trek 8900 Alpha SL aluminum Superlight frame with a rear Hayes hydraulic brake set up. The frame is scratched like normal wear and tear on a mountain bike. I put up pics of all angles so please look closely. What you see in the pics is what you will get (THE BIKE STAND IS NOT INCLUDED)?"

As most eBay buyers, I was wary of the purchase but the buyer had 100% reputable feedback for selling several bike frames and had frames for sale. The bike came as pictured but one angle did not show a shallow dent in the downtube on the left side as you look down on the bike from above. You cannot see the dent as it is behind the large 'TREK' label but as I cleansed the frame from 13 years of dirt and stickers and put on a fresh coat of wax, it revealed itself. I was slightly disheartened, but this in no way will affect the structural integrity of the frame. My major disappointment comes from the dent being left out of the description as I do not feel "The frame is scratched like normal wear and tear on a mountain bike" is a substitute/blanket statement for a dent. From the description and pictures I expected scratches, nicks, chips, and dirt...not a dent.

As always, eBay buyers beware!

Pictures are from the eBay listing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Fork: 2006 Marzocchi MX Pro ETA/TAS with 9mm dropouts. At 4.4 lbs. it is heavier than the frame.

So I have been out of the mountain bike scene for awhile and most of my knowledge of bike parts resides in the XTR M952 era. Poignant memories for parts are as follows:

Marzocchi is heavy but smooth like butter.
XTR M952 grey is an addicting color and has sharp lines (noveau Cadillac style).
Chris King headsets are "king".
Gore Ride-On cables are heavy, cumbersome, but low maintenance.
Hydraulic disc brakes are finicky and not to be trusted as an easy fix on the trail.
Thomson stems and seatposts are borderline porn.

Anyways, I was on the hunt for a fork now. I built my 2007 8900 with a Marzocchi MX Pro ETA/TAS. Heavy, but smooth,well built, and reliable. I was on the hunt for an updated version of this fork when I stumbled across the exact same one as I owned on...wait for it...eBay. The following description is from the listing:

"As you can see from the pics, the condition of this fork is practically new. It was used just a few times on a single speed mountain bike I had at one time. There are no scratches on the stanchions and the rest of the fork is 99% blemish free."

Arguably the seller had a 100% feedback rating and was actively selling several mountain bike parts. He had excellent high resolution pictures of several angles and for the angles he did not have, his excellent description seemed to fill in the blanks. The fork arrived quickly and was packed with several layers of bubble wrap in a well built fork sized box. I quickly glanced at the fork and put it in the 'bike room' in anticipation of my future build. A couple of days ago, as I was putting the bike together, I realized that the fork WAS scratched. I was dismayed and went back and looked at the pictures that were posted in the auction. Sure enough, that side of the stanchion was not shown, although it is clear in one of the pictures where a nick close to the top shows up in the exact same shape, etc. I was rather upset at myself for not inspecting the fork with a fine toothed comb immediately after it arrived. The scratches are high with only one anywhere close to passing the seal on FULL travel. It would have to be a full on hit with the fork at full use before it would become an issue. Nonetheless I picked up some 2000 grit wet/dry sandpaper to take out any burrs and left NEUTRAL feedback stating what had happened.

I feel this was an unintentional oversight. The seller had excellent packing, included the manual, air adapter, extra parts, etc. I feel that I got lucky this time with the minimal damage and have decided to no longer purchase used parts from individuals on eBay.

Pictures are from the eBay listing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Headset: I want a king. A Chris King to be more precise. In my 25 years or so of bike riding, I have acquired some 20 odd frames and over half of them have had CK headsets. It is at this precise moment that I have to ask myself what direction this build is supposed to take. It is for my wife to ride after all, remember? She will never care what type of headset is installed on the bike, never look down as she is riding and marvel at the smoothness of the bearings while beaming from ear to ear as the sun catches 5 of the sexiest words ever: "King Sealed Bearing" "No Threadset". But even though it is not a bike that I will be riding, I WILL sometime get on it for a quickie around the block...can I live with myself if I put subpar parts on this frame?

My dilemma is intensified as I take to the Internet in search of headsets. Ball bearings, needle bearings, double bearings, steel races, CNC aluminum cups, sealed crown races...the Internet is a dangerous place. I decide that I cannot live with 'El Cheapo' but CK will set the wrong tone, all of a sudden this build takes shape in a middle of the pack manner and the blinders are on. Brands are eliminated, price points are set, and I realize that I need a Cane Creek S-3. To my utter dismay, of course, it has been discontinued but optimistically superseded by Cane Creek's Forty series. I say optimistically as my price point's ceiling is broke by its average price of $50-60. To me, at this price I am half way to, wait for it...a Chris King. And I have come full circle. Medusa's head rears itself and I am frozen by the snake like trail I have made through the Internet with hours of research wasted. I decide to dredge my way through eBay to look for a used Chris King (yes, I realize that my last two used purchases have not been up to muster), remember how enticing Woodman components were while swooning over promises of how their DBS out-techs the King, briefly dab my toes in the El Cheapo pool, then decide to go back to the web.

I come across a web site,AAWYEAH Bikes and Bicycle Parts, purveyors of NOS and high end parts for absurdly low end prices. It is too good to be true, but believe it or not they have the Cane Creek Forty for $23.80. Free shipping seals the deal, I jump on the headset like white on rice (its okay, I'm half asian, mongolian actually according to my birth certificate), then look around to see if anyone shares in my triumph. Super Mario Bros 1-infinity defeated, Gran Turismo 2 conquered with all licenses, trophies, and a stocked garage, Little Big Planet One and Two mastered with 100% stickers recovered in all levels. You get the picture.

My new conundrum is how to install the headset. Earlier in my quest I was faced with the decision of investing in some quality Park headset installation tools, buying some one-off no namers from the web, or piecing together my own press from threaded rod, washers, and some nuts. Even with my extensive bike ownership, I have never had to install a headset and uncertainties about the process swirled around in my head. If I was installing a Chris King, no question asked, buy the Park tools, ream and face the frame, install properly. The problem now was my $23.80 find was now making some of the more barbaric methods of headset installation previously discounted seem more feasible. This new price point made brute force, hammer, and a wood block seem very doable.

Rubber mallet:$4.85, 1 inch thin wall PVC pipe:$2.85, sandpaper from garage:free, wood block from garage:free. I already had a tub of Park grease from 1995...so believe it or not, 15 minutes and headset installed.

Only question now, has this become a budget build?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Brakes: The frame came with the obligatory Hayes 22mm caliper/hose/caliper assembly. Looks like someone did a no-no and squeezed the lever with nothing between the pads. The pads will need to be reset, probably needs to be bled, and there is quite a bit of corrosion that should get some attention. I also have two NOS Hayes 22mm calipers. Early on I decided that I wanted to go with V-brakes for the sake of simplicity, boy was I ever wrong!

The frame came without studs for the brake bosses. I figured, how hard could it be to find these? Hours of internet searching, two trips to local bike shops, and some email correspondence directly with Trek proved how hard it was. The real problem came down to figuring out the size and thread pitch. Two separate local bike shops swore that it was 9mm (including Bike World that had NO brake studs on hand). This to me seemed odd considering that 8mm and 10mm are the standard, but what do I know? Trek Corporate had NO idea when I first called saying that they did not keep blueprints for bikes that old, then responded with a cryptic email stating that 1999 was the year that they switched from 8mm to 10mm...no they did not say whether this frame was part of the switch.

To make things worse, there are three thread pitches that each stud size could have. I finally got a bike shop to rummage through some old brake parts and find some studs that fit. I had them measure them and they said that they were...9mm?

I bought the studs for the kingly sum of $20 plus tax!!! I has been a long time since I was taken advantage of and paying $20 for some studs that cost $2.50 hurt. A lot. I could buy titanium ones for less than that. The only problem was that I did not know what size or thread pitch I needed so I was at the mercy of the bike shop. I left the shop and made a quick stop at Lowes with my "Super Studs". They are 10mm with a 1.25 thread pitch. So two professional bike shops were dead set on them being 9mm. I question whether or not that was a tactic to keep me from buying them online. To make things more interesting, I came back home to another email from Trek saying that they were confident that it was 10mm and that the thread pitch was 1.50.

Now, what kind of v-brakes? I have M952 on my 2007 Trek 8900 and those are some confidence inspiring brakes. I cannot locate any NOS, my second choice of Avid Ultimate/Black Ops is not part of my budget-mid build mindset, and I am leery about the Cane Creek Direct Curve. If I could locate some Direct Curve 5, that would be gravy but the CC DC 3 is tempting with $70 for a pair. I decide on some Avid SD 7 with SD 7 levers. eBay has a brand new set for $49.95/free shipping and I pick up the levers from Cambria on sale for $18 with some XTR Brake cable and housing for $17.00 (free shipping of course!).

The brakes come in today and I anticipate an easy bolt on operation. Problem is that it seems my Golden Studs from the LBS are too long! Looks like it is too long AND it looks like the shank (to wrench it into the frame boss) is keeping it from sitting flush with the boss. No problem I say to myself, my trusty Dremel can shorten the stud and also shave down the shank. After about twenty minutes of cutting, shaving, measuring, etc. the stud sits all the way in the brake. I carefully mount the stud on the frame as it now has 1/2 the wrenching area and realize that for some reason the brake is now inoperable flush against the boss...I should have just mounted both of them and tried it instead of 'fixing' it. Titanium studs are now on their way. At least I know what size to order! Thank you LBS (please note twinge of sarcasm).

I need to note at this point, I feel my Dremel tinkering was a side effect of a successful tinkering yesterday. I am running a 1x8 setup with some M952 cranks and a Rohloff chainguide. The guide stuck out a few mm too far not allowing the chain to access all 8 gears of the cassette without some rubbing. Only the first 5 were solid, but how do I explain that to my wife when she is riding? "Look honey, when you shift and hear a loud screeching metal sound, you need to shift back. Even though the shifter says there are 8 speeds, you can only use 5." I gave the chainguide a once over and decided to take a few mm off two of the shafts which would bring it in closer to the frame. I could then space out the outer plate. Tape, Dremel, success!

Update: Upon reflection and some minor re'search' on the internet, I realize that the Avid SD7 does have vertical play on the brake stud as part of the design. Lesson learned:

http://forums.mtbr.com/brake-time/v-brake-wobbly-avid-sd-7-a-463703.html

I bet the titanium studs make it onto my 2007 Trek 8900 and the steel studs from that one mysteriously appear on the 1999...

And here is some 22mm adapter research for those interested (Yes, this does mean the 22mm calipers/levers/etc. are for sale!).

The A2Z adapter. It is readily available, suited more to a M/L/XL frame size. The real problem is getting the right caliper to fit. Most have had success using a caliper meant for the front in a 160mm disc size. Avids will fit, mainly the hydros though. What seems to be key is finding a small caliper.

The Hope adapter. Perhaps the holy grail of 22mm adapters. Basically, good luck finding one.

The Woodman adapter. Man, I really like Woodman components. I never knew that they made a 22mm specific adapter. This is still available from the right shop. I refuse to say where at this point until I can procure my own. You understand and you know you would do the same thing!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Crankset: Very old school XTR M952. This is from a downhill version with the 4 arm spider. I am running a single 34 XTR chainring in the front along with a Rohloff chainguide. This crankset is from one of my downhill bikes that has been packed away and I like the idea of a single on the front with an 8 speed cassette for my wife. She will not have to worry about 27 to 30 different gear combinations and the range of 8 will suit her fine for the type of riding she will probably be doing. The sealed bottom bracket is in excellent shape and spins smooth and freely with just the crankarms mounted. As a side note, I wonder what the deal with XTR bottom bracket is. On my 2007 8900 the sealed bottom bracket actually tears down to where you have access to the bearings. The bottom bracket on this crankset has an actual sealed unit. On the 2007, you can actually adjust how much friction/play the bearings have externally. Very odd.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Wheelset: Mavic Crosslink. Anyone remember these? I bought them new in 1999 and they have made their way onto a couple of different bikes now. There is a review at the following link if anyone is interested:

Mountain Bike Product Reviews - DirtWorld.com

I am amazed at how light these wheels are! The spokes are true, the hub spins smooth, and the rims are stamped as having been fabricated in France. My only complaint would be the boat anchor steel quick releases. Remember, budget build, bike for my wife, let it go...

It still has a XTR M950 8 speed cassette and some IRC Mythos XC tires. Although the tires have good rubber (still have the mold tits), the sidewalls seems to have deteriorated showing wire in place, mainly where the 'orange' rubber is/was. Fearing scenes of 18 wheelers shredding their tires on I-35, I swapped over some old Kenda Kharisma UST tires which seems to negate any weight savings I felt I had in the wheelset. UST tires are not necessary for this wheelset as I am running tubes. Again, I need to stay focused on this build and not care so much. I will just tell myself that when my wife runs over large piles of glass, nails, and razors that the extra rubber in the UST tire will keep her from getting a flat.

As a side note, I have run Stan's Tubeless conversions for a few years and debated putting one on this wheelset when I had to switch tires. My main problem has been that the rubber rim strip has failed on me 9 out of 10 times (literally!) right where the valve is molded into the strip. The rubber always cracks at that exact spot no matter how tight or loose I have screwed down the valve stem and even though the sealant sometimes manages to prevent a leak, I cannot trust it. In the past year I have switched to running extra lite tubes with two syringes full of Stan's sealant. Bliss and peace of mind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Cockpit: This became a mix of mainly old parts with a new saddle. What I found interesting is that I am building up a 2009 Trek 8500 right now as well and that both bikes have an external front derailleur size of 34.9 but the seatpost size for the 8900 is 27.2 while the 8500 is 31.6. This really shows the difference in the thickness of the tubeset used between the two frames at almost a decade apart. The Thomson seatpost I am using is 410mm long and probably about 1/4 of an inch from bottoming out in the frame. At the 1/4 above bottoming mark, it just sets with the etched Thomson Elite logo above the clamp. Originally, this seatpost had spent its time in a Jamis Dakar XLT 3.0.

The Monkey Lite XC riser bar feels downright clownish. I do not know how else to describe it. I think that the combination of width with the rise makes it feel like I am riding a beach cruiser. I will wait until I mount the brake levers before debating about taking some width off the ends.

I forgot how debatable choosing a stem becomes. Luckily I have a supply of various sizes sitting around and settled on a 100mm/5 degree rise. While looking to buy a new stem I realized that most are set up for a 31.8 bar? Another part and fact that is showing my age in mountain biking.

If I thought figuring out the right stem was a problem, I quickly remembered how much time goes into finding the perfect saddle. Comfort, looks, weight, price. I run a couple of Titec Pluto saddles on my main mountain bikes, but it is definitely not the most comfortable saddle.

Titec Pluto Saddle Reviews

I searched around for awhile on the internet and settled on something I felt I was sure to hate: a Velo Pro Uno Road Bike Saddle. I bought it mainly for price and looks and hoped for the best. When it came in I was immediately surprised at how well put together it was (I have had some really expensive saddles put together very cheaply), how good it looked, and how comfortable it felt on the bike. All for $20.40. Best of all, the saddle brown "leather" looks rich and even better in person. If you have seen the new Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland with saddle brown leather interior, you know what I mean. I would but that SUV based on the interior alone.

I have been using Sram X.0 Grip Shifters for awhile now. I like to grab a bunch of gears all at once on the cassette and love the fact that I can pick where I want the front derailleur to set. My problem lately has been that the grips that come with the shifters have started to leave my hands numb on long rides. I had the Oury ODI grips on an old full suspension bike and remembered how comfortable they were and how grippy/sticky the rubber was on hot days if my hands hot sweaty. Excellent grips that made their way from my full-susser to this 8900 build. Sorry GT STS-1000, I will pay you back somehow. A couple of new sets should be in the mail for my main bikes and I have one set of new Sram lock-on grips to try still. Hopefully their lock on grips are better than the ones that come with the Grip Shifts.

Stem: Thomson 100mm/5 degree rise/25.4 clamp
Handlebar: Easton Monkey Lite XC (carbon)
Grips: Oury ODI
Seatpost: 27.2 Thomson
Seatpost clamp: ?
Saddle: Velo Pro Uno
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Conclusion: I took it around the block. Shifts are tight and crisp, the Avid SD7s are just like their namesake, 'single digit' braking, the MX Pro ETA is buttery and almost old school Cadillac like. I felt like I was floating around the block. Acceleration is ridiculous, I attribute this partially to the length of the beach cruiser handlebars and mainly to the thirteen year old wheelset.

AND, it is tough to believe, but weight without pedals is 23.1 lbs! WTF! I am reluctant to let my wife ride this and question whether or not she will appreciate the amount of research, thought, and work that actually went into pulling this off. I love her to death, but wonder if there would be any difference to her between this bike and some Target special. My only solace is that I built this for her to 'ride', not to 'have'. Petty, I know, but it keeps me sane!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Titanium bits for the brakes came in today. While I was waiting I sourced some more steel brake studs from a different local bike shop, this time for what they are worth, $5.00, just to finish the build. I had planned on putting the titanium studs on my 2007 8900 but lo and behold, they are a different thread pitch!

1999 Trek 8900 10 x 1.25
2007 Trek 8900 10 x 1.00

Only some 2007 models have the bosses for brake studs, most seem to be disc brake only.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Update:

I played around with what type of pedals to get for awhile. My wife has had one foray into clipless pedal territory and will be staying away from the whole concept. Her level of riding would never benefit from clipless anyway. After a little research into platform pedals and reminding myself of the idea of a mild budget build, I picked up some Odyssey Twisted platforms in black. The bearings have a definite friction to them, reminds me a little of sand. I noticed this when they were off the crankset, on the crankset though, they spin nicely and stay level which should help her with the pedal being where she left it. The platform is nice and wide and the built in pins have just enough grippiness without destructiveness to make atheletic shoes and shins safe.

The 8 speed drivetrain has been perfect. Shifts are smooth and crisp and I have received some well deserved comments for the 'antique' M952 cranks. I might switch the chainring to a proprietary single that has longer teeth and no shift ramps and try dumping the Rohloff chainguide. I like the look of a single in the front.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It is tough to say. Most parts are NOS from my parts bin, some are carryovers from older bike builds. What I actually paid for in order to complete this build this year (prices rounded to the nearest $5):

Frame: $100
Fork: $175
Brakes (including 'super studs') $95
Cables: $40
Headset: $25
Saddle: $20
Pedals: $15

So, $470 or so. If you want to include the price I originally paid for the Mavic wheelset, XTR M952 crankset, XTR bottom bracket, XTR rear derailleur, XT shifter, XTR cassette, Thomson seatpost and stem, Easton carbon Monkeylite XC bars, Oury ODI grips, Kenda tubeless tires, etc., then that really changes the bottom line. At least I put a bunch of parts that were just laying around into use!

Is my labor worth anything?
 

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Conclusion: I took it around the block. Shifts are tight and crisp, the Avid SD7s are just like their namesake, 'single digit' braking, the MX Pro ETA is buttery and almost old school Cadillac like. I felt like I was floating around the block. Acceleration is ridiculous, I attribute this partially to the length of the beach cruiser handlebars and mainly to the thirteen year old wheelset.

AND, it is tough to believe, but weight without pedals is 23.1 lbs! WTF! I am reluctant to let my wife ride this and question whether or not she will appreciate the amount of research, thought, and work that actually went into pulling this off. I love her to death, but wonder if there would be any difference to her between this bike and some Target special. My only solace is that I built this for her to 'ride', not to 'have'. Petty, I know, but it keeps me sane!
I did a build for my wifes bike similar to what you did minus the customization you had to do. I used a Cro Mo clearance Performance frame which was surprisingly light with old XT/XTR parts laying around and some old Sun rims with Ringle hubs. The bike turned out to be pretty light and very quick and she definitely noticed the difference from the clunker she had been riding.

Last year I took an old Trek 9800 carbon hard tail out of the corner of the garage updated some of the parts and have been using it for my main ride. I forgot how nice that frame rides.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
That was the step that I missed out, having her ride around on an old clunker or Wal Mart special for a year or so first. I'm afraid by having started her out on something that is light, responsive, and snappy, she will never have an appreciation for the bike. I remember my first bike, a 50 pound banana seat Huffy. Some new handlebars, seats, pads, and convincing from my dad made me think I had a bmx bike for awhile. Still one gear and 50 pounds, but my imagination helped. Most of my later childhood bikes consisted of steel frames with what must have been lead components. My first decent bike was after high school and was a Schwinn Moab. It was SO light! One Z.2 Atom Bomber fork, some XTR v brakes and an XTR rear dérailleur and I felt like I could conquer the world.
 

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Nice set up. You can find some good deals on eBay if you spend the time. I've been wanting to do the same thing.


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