Man's Greatest Invention

When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man's convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man's brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle. - Elizabeth West

Purpose and Mission

To share our experience and to encourage and inspire others to use a bicycle as a form of year round recreation and transportation. To be an example of living car-free and to help others to make the transition to having a car-light or car-free life style.

Our bodies is the engine that moves us.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Saddle Up Urban Recyclery: Recycle-Reuse-Repurpose!

Up until now, we have kept a rather low profile.  But something we do here at Saddle Up Bike that we are particularly proud of is the recycling/reusing/repurposing of older, high quality bicycles. 
We have decided to document and share with you some of the processes that go into reconditioning an older bike to make it operate like new again.  Over the next few weeks, we'll feature some of the bikes that have already passed through our hands or bikes that are now ready for their next life with their potential new owners.

With the rapid technological progress we see with mountain bikes, particularly with suspension design, often times high quality used hard tail mountain bikes can be purchased for a very modest amount of money. Add in the cost of replacement or upgraded parts, the cost of a reconditioned older bike can still be well under or very near what an entry level mountain bike would cost at a LBS (local bike shop). What you end up with, is a bike of much higher quality.

We believe that mountain bikes make the best "urban assault" bikes.  This is of particular interest to us because we are fond of bikes that don't need to rely on the city's cycling infrastructure.  We build our bikes ready to tackle any surface; whether it's pavement or dirt. Our idea of a city bike is not an upright Dutch style bike.  We like to "explore and adventure" ride.  A bike should never be the limiting factor in where you are able to go. 

I see city bikes that never leave their neighbourhoods because they are a real chore to ride on anything other than flat land.  A bike is meant to be ridden up hills, not pushed.  If I have to get off my bike and push, I'm riding the wrong bike.

Our first featured bike is a rare gem that absolutely deserves another life and is being repurposed as an urban assault bike.  Thanks to the good folks over at for helping to identify this bike. As far as we can tell, it's a 1994 Rocky Mountain Blizzard.

How it looked when we received it.

A sign of true quality.

Regardless of vintage, Shimano XT components work very well.

The brakes are Deore XT cantilever.

XT Hubs.

It's really quite amazing just how far bicycle suspension has evolved from from this Rock Shox Quadra.

Narrow flatbar handlebar with 7 speed SIS/Friction thumb shifting.

All in all, this bike is in great shape with high quality components that still operate like they should.  A simple and inexpensive refreshing will do the trick:  new cables, housing and tires. The tires are really showing their age as the rubber is quite brittle and dry.

We are going to replace the front fork with one that is rigid to save weight and for added efficiency.  These early forks were not ideal at their task originally.  And 16 years later, their performance has not improved.

Back in the day in the year of 1994, cross country mountain bikes were long and lean.  They would stretch you out over the top tube for maximum speed.  Comfort was a secondary concern.  Because we are repurposing this bike to have more of an urban focus, we are going to change the riding position dramatically with a more upright handlebar.  It will still be plenty strong for trail use.

Setting up the rear brakes.

The drivetrain works really well.  No need to service the bottom bracket yet.

Rear derailleur adjustment.

Front derailleur adjustment.

Setting up the front canti brakes.

Last check over:  everything runs like new!

New cables and housing made a huge difference is how the controls feel. The brakes feel nice and snappy.  The shifting feels effortless.  The rigid fork makes the front end lighter and more precise.  The new riding position makes this bike a blast to ride and remains comfortable.

We are very happy with how this bike turned out.  New rims are next although these ones still have some life left in them.  Since the photos were taken, a WTB PureV saddle has been installed.  There's lots of life left in this old work horse yet.

Old school cro-moly stem.

Misfit Psycles FME Drop/Rise handlebar.

Rigid fork.

Kenda Short Tracker tires offer great grip on pavement and handle surprisingly well in the dirt.

This bike is a real pleasure to ride.  There is satisfaction in giving an old bike another life.  For a very reasonable price, we ended up with a fun high quality bike capable of handling anything the city might throw at it; regardless of the surface or weather.

Once the new rims arrive and the wheels are rebuilt, we will take the opportunity to rebuild the hubs, bottom bracket and headset.  It will make a great bike feel even better!  Keep your eyes open for the follow up post.

As always, a big thank you goes to Master Bike Mechanic and all round nice guy Chopper Bob for the tuning and wrenching services.  Thanks Bob!


  1. Hey there, I noticed a Quadra 10 Shock on one of your bikes. Do you happen to know the size of the stanchions?
    Thanks, Petr

  2. No sorry, the bike and fork are long gone.