After converting a Dawes Galaxy to a utility / city / camping bike a few years ago, I gradually realised the geometry was all wrong, so swapped things over to a 90s Marin Bear Valley frame, which got different bars (VO Tourist instead of Nitto Albatross) and eventually an Alfine rear wheel, which I got secondhand. Despite 26" wheels feeling better for what I wanted, I gradually realised (again) that something wasn't right with the reach and no amount of faffing with saddles and stems sorted it, so I looked for something else.
Anyway, I decided I wanted to stay with 26" wheels, partly cos I had the Alfine already, but to look out for an older MTB frame - in particular one with a three-piece fork, as I got a bit obsessed with them on MTBs, but they're pretty hard to find. I was eventually offered a nice but pretty knackered-looking 1986 S&G Muddy Fox Explorer for £30, so I bought that. Its top tube is a little longer, but overall geometry is also much more relaxed. My thinking is that it'll make something similar to, but cheaper and possibly even better built that a Surly LHT.
When I got the frame, I realised that the chainstay bridge was totally shot (the guy who had sold it to me was upfront about this and all other shortcomings - he was really helpful in general); also that the frame only had one set of bottle braze ons. I rang around locally (Norwich) and got a couple of wildly different quotes for the bottle braze ons - one bloke quoted £40 a set, which seemed really expensive and not worth my while; another quoted £10, so I went with him - Angus Taylor of Taylor Made Bikes. He was great.
Anyway, to cut to the chase, after faffing around for most of the weekend fashioning DIY headset crown removal tools out of copper piping and failing miserably to remove the rest of the headset, I took it to my LBS (possibly the best in the world - the reincarnation of much-missed Specialised Cycles in Norwich in the form of Andy Panks' AP Cycles) and he did it for me in minutes.
I spread the rear triangle yesterday from 126 to 135mm using the threaded rod 'n' bolts method, which worked a treat. Now off to the powder coater to get it painted. Think I'm going for RAL 5021 but might change my mind mid-journey. Here's what it looked like in its former life.
Going to build up with similar components to my last build but wondering about (a) trying this thumbshifter in place of the regular Alfine one and (b) possibly mounting my dynamo front light on the side rather than front of the Nitto campee front rack, like this though with the regular bracket for that purpose as I'm not cool enough to be able to fashion one out of an old chainring. Does anyone have any experience of using the Microshift Alfine shifter?