Velobrico Workshop: BMC Fourstroke FS04 (update 1)

I recently bought a tired BMC Fourstroke FS04 mountain bike, which had seen plenty of action and not enough maintenance.

I saw potential (or as much as anyone can from a couple of mobile phone photos…) and brought it home to breathe new life into it.

Sometimes you get lucky and there’s not much wrong with a bike. And sometimes there’s some skeletons in the closet, though finding them can also be fun.

I’m always itching to give new project bikes a good wash. Often so quickly that I don’t get any “before” photos… I’ve got to learn some patience!

Washing a bike gives you the chance to look at it closely and spot things you previously overlooked. The BMC was superficially lightly dirty, but chain, chainrings, cassette and jockey wheels were well overdue a de-griming. Is half of restoration actually just cleaning?

Now funky shaped frames are great, but who wants to clean their bike with a toothbrush after every muddy ride?

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Overall, the bike is sound, frame is good, components all there. There’s a few dings, but no visible evidence of crash damage – especially important for aluminium frames. Brakes are ok (if a bit spongey), rotors are true, headset is fine, BB has no wobble.

The front hub was loose, so I stripped and repacked it with new grease. Bearings were fine, races good. This was sorted very quickly and only minor adjustment was needed to the disc brake caliper to avoid rubbing against one pad after tightening the cones.

The rims are slightly out of true. Usually I use rim brake pads as a makeshift truing stand, to see minor wobbles and where to adjust spoke tension. Truing wheels on a bike with disc brakes will be more tricky, so I’ll leave that for later…

The biggest fault the seller mentioned was the twisted derailleur and chain. The derailleur looked ok, so I removed the hanger with the intention of replacing it with a spare from the Steppenwolf, but found it was a slightly different shape and wouldn’t fit.

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A trip to the bike shop later, the mechanic told me he didn’t have any spare hangers in this shape, but he could bash it straight for me. Back home I reinstalled it, stripped the derailleur, serviced the jockey wheels, reinstalled the derailleur and chain (minus one link), and wouldn’t you know it – it worked perfectly! ūüĎć

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If you read my earlier post, you may recall the seller mentioned his local bike shop quoted almost twice what I paid for the whole bike to sort this out (presumably replacing derailleur and hanger).

Turns out that was pretty poor advice as I sorted it in two hours (including an hour’s walk to the bike shop and back with the kids), at zero cost (a contribution to the tip jar was all they would accept – but I also bought some cleats). Some adjustment needed for perfect indexing, but 80% there. Result!!

Next I adjusted the handlebar position, flipped the riser stem down and adjusted brake and shift lever positions, taking the opportunity to lube/grease all the screws that hadn’t been loosened in years.

While poking around I found a couple of other issues: a sawn off seat post (kids, just don’t do it…!), a loose pedal spindle and some broken chainring teeth, but overall this is turning out to be a nice little restoration project.

Watch this space for the next steps!

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