Saturday, November 5, 2016

Tale of Three Bikes: 2004 Specialized Sequoia Elite, revisited

I inherited the Specialized Sequoia from Dad in 2005.  Sam didn't need it and, frankly, I suppose I did.  My only bike at the time was the white IRO Jamie Roy fixie.  This is so long ago I no longer have a picture of that one.

The Specialized Sequoia

But here is the Sequoia of which I speak.

It is a pretty, aluminum, compact-framed, bike in extra-large.  This is back when the height of technology was to add carbon forks and seat-stays to dampen the ride.  Whether dampening was achieved is anybody's guess, but it looks a step more technical than just another aluminum-framed bike.

The Elite version was a Shimano 105 build and came with curvy "randonneur" bars.  (Drop bars with funky backward curves in the flats as well as outwardly flaring bar ends.)  It had an adjustable stem of the sort one uses when one is unsure of fit and needs to experiment for a while.  It had an old-school suspension seatpost, the kind with a rubber boot hiding a dampened spring.  It had a triple chainring and a cheap builder-spec. set of wheels that blew a spoke the first time I tried to ride it any real distance.

On the upside, the frame is an infinitely durable aluminum frame with a nice finish, three sets of water bottle bosses, traditional straight (not tapered) head-tube, threaded bottom bracket, external cable routing, and road spacing (130mm) for the rear wheel.  In other words, a bike that can be rebuilt with very little drama.

Dad bought the Sequoia with the idea it would be a winter touring bike, permitting him to traverse some of the southwest desert.  In particular, I remember Dad's interest in riding through Needles, California, which seems a little random -- but there it is.

Photo from  (No indication there of reservation of copyright, so reprinting license inferred.)

What to do with it?

I have not ridden this bike much.  One failed attempt at the Finger Lakes 400K in upstate New York in 2009.  One wildly rainy 200K permanent (really 140 miles) in 2013.  A handful of rides around town.  Maybe 500 miles in total over 10+ years.  Not really a use case for a nice bike!

Option 1 was always to find a good charity to receive the bike as a donation.  Here was my problem:  the Sequoia had enough nostalgic value, to me at any rate, that I wanted it to be owned by somebody who would appreciate it.  A donation to Goodwill, for example, would ensure this bike got sold for $75, locked up outdoors with a U-lock on some college campus -- until it was vandalized by some fraternity jerk wrapping the frame around the no parking sign to which it was locked.

You know, kind of like this.

From Wikimedia Commons
It used to be a capital crime to steal a horse in the American frontier.  Or, more likely, that is a rural legend.  I'd be happy to institute such a severe penalty for bike vandalism, however.  I mean, we don't see people randomly wrecking parked cars, do we?

A better charity would be one that used the bike for a needful purpose.  Think a bike racing team in a high school for students with insufficient means to bring their own bikes.  Personally, I'd love to found such an endeavor.  But I have been unable to find one currently in existence.  (I did find a group in Philadelphia that purported to use spare parts to build nice bikes to donate to inner-city kids. I e-mailed and offered to drive a trunk full of nice Shimano parts to them for reuse, but never received a response.)

Option 2 was actually to sell it.  The problem, of course, is that a 10-year-old aluminum-framed bike, even nicely built and tuned, might bring $500, on a good day.  I once sold my aluminum Novara Strada (S-105) to a guy who had just moved to town for $400.  That bike was from 2006 and I sold it in 2008.  The Sequoia would never bring enough to make it worth the candle.

Option 3 was to keep it handy for Sam to ride when he visited.  And once recently, we used it for just that purpose -- Sam and Mom were in town on a nice March day and we did some wine touring, with Sam and me riding 65 or so miles in total.  Not a bad ride for early in the season.  

Wine touring in Loudon County

But other times the bike was stored too deep in the closet or not quite built up or whatever, leaving it unusable just when we needed it.  

The Rebuild

Over the years I swapped the brifters to 10-speed S105 and the crankset, bars, stem, seatpost, and wheels.  That's the bike you see Sam riding above.  But it still didn't sing to me.  The Gunnar rebuild freed up:
  • An Ultegra 6700 group, which is on the Gunnar in the picture in the last post;
  • A Dura-Ace 7900 FD, which somehow found its way into my collection over the years;
  • The 2014 Ksyrium Elite wheelset, including matching 25mm tires;
  • A new Ultegra 6800 long-cage RD that I mistakenly purchased when shopping for the Gunnar rebuild, leaving me with a redundancy.
I already had:
  • The silver Thomson Elite seatpost in 25.8mm, necessary to fit the seat tube with a glued-in spacer (which the shop must have added when building with a suspension post at point of sale);
  • The WTB Rocket saddle;
  • Black plastic Planet Bike "Hardcore" full coverage fenders, currently $38 from Amazon;
  • The Ritchey stem and bars which may well be the exact set originally spec'd on Sam's Habanero from Harris Cyclery (see picture at right) -- Sam sent them to me years ago after one or another rebuild;
  • Ample cable and housing to finish a build without drama;
  • Plenty of WB cages to go around;
  • An older-school silver Ultegra 6600 crank with 175mm crank-arms originally built on the Gunnar in 2007 (the U-6700 crank I pulled off the Gunnar was 172.5 mm);
  • Crank Brothers egg beater pedals, the pedal of choice for all but the racing bikes in my basement;
  • Gold anodized cable-crimps.
It takes about a day, if you are relaxing while doing it, to strip, clean, and build a bike.  As I've reported here recently (see "Wham-O"), I had many days since last April when riding was not really an option.  Here is what came of it.

The forward motion part.  DA7900 FD, Ultegra 6600 crankset from the original Gunnar build; Origin8 carbon cages, Crank Brothers pedals.  And a gold cable crimp to set it off a little.

The front end.  Ritchey bars and stem and a black label brake caliper with ample room for fenders.

Ksyrium Elite front wheel and a Paul Components barrel mount for a headlight.

Planet Bike front fender, Ultegra 6700 10-speed brifters.

The fender runs easily under the brake and fork crown.  It does *not* fit with 28mm tires, to my distress, so these are the 25mm Ksyrium tires.

Rear fender fits nicely over the Ksyrium wheel and 25mm tires.  Like the front, this will not clear a 28mm tire.

Rear view of front fender.  Plenty low to protect feet and gearing from spray.

The front end.  That's a tall head-tube, making for a fairly  small drop from saddle to bars.

The pretty Thomson Elite seatpost.  It looks a little thin entering the seat-tube, but one hopes the 25.8mm post will provide dampening for bumpy roads.  To make up for the skinny tires and all.  That is a WTB Rocket saddle in the medium width.

Closer look at the FD, now-classic chainring, elegant Origin8 WB cage, and fender interface at the front end.

The Ultegra 6800 RD with a gold crimp on the cable end.  The 11-speed RD works fine with the 10-speed gearing.  Plenty of room for a large cassette, too.

Crank has been used, obviously.  The Crank Brothers pedal is not new either.

Finished product and a new use model

I have not had a wet weather bike in the house since, well, ever.  Instead, I ride the nice bikes until they start to grind and then I hose them off until they are shiny again.  This should serve very nicely -- and when Sam comes to visit, it should serve well for him.

I can't get over thinking it's a little awkward looking.  That skinny seatpost really sticks up there.  The 25mm tires make for small looking wheels after years of riding 28s or larger.  (Wait until you see the sweet 38mm tires on the Ritchey in the next installment!)  The Ksyrium wheels are a touch bling for a classic-looking bike.  That head tube, plus spacers, gets really, really tall.  I think this bike would look good with much larger tires -- but nothing bigger will fit with the fenders.

I'm also wondering if I should go whole-hog and add front and rear racks for panniers.  Reason for:  I don't have a bike that carries panniers.  Reason against:  I don't use panniers.  Though there is a chicken-egg problem that may need resolving.

Lines are a little odd compared to, say, the beautiful Habanero depicted on the left.  Oh well.
All in all, quibbles and minor regrets aside, I call it a successful rebuild!  In my opinion, the 2004 Specialized Sequoia Elite is a now-classic bike, ready for real use!


Unknown said...

You should bring some of the new toys out to play on an autumn day in the near future. I had a delightful solo 200k spin through the countryside yesterday. It put Zwift in perspective for sure.

Any chance I can tempt anyone into a 12-hour race at Sebring? I think I'm going "short" next year, after having raced the 24 in 2014-16. It can be a pretty pleasant time to be in Florida.

Max said...

Both sound attractive. More 200K than 12-hour, but I'm open to talking about February as well. Assuming we survive the end times, that is.