Ever since I got the Framed MN1, I've wanted to tweak a few things. The bars were really wide and too far forward, etc. Also, as I've been riding it, I'm starting to see the places that they saved a few bucks to bring the price down to such a low level. I'm not complaining, well except for the tires, but I'll get to that, because it's a low-spec bike, and you kind of know that. Well, I've made some changes that I thought I'd share, and have us at a bike that is quite good, regardless of price.
- Tires. Let's start with the obvious. The bike comes with Vee Missions, which are horrendous. This is the biggest corner that they cut. I think the second wheelset is genius and generous, but they should offer a deal on some real tires. First, they have no grip - ramped knobs that are maybe 1/8" tall. They are directional for low rolling resistance, but they do NOT track a straight line at all. You have to fight to keep the bike straight. I noticed this on the test ride, but thought it was my unfamiliarity with the kind of bike. Then a buddy of mine with a Mukluk rode it and couldn't hide his shock at how bad the steering was. I rode his Nate-shod Mukluk and saw the light. So tires out the door to be replaced with, at first a Nate in the front (so that I could steer and stop ...), and then a Nate in the rear as I realized how little grip the Missions had. These are pathetic tires, and I can see why they helped keep the cost down. So, there was an extra $150 tax on the "cheap" bike to get usable tires.
- 29er wheelset. This is the winter bike. And winter has a number of road surfaces. Much of the winter, the roads are clear, packed, and icy. Fats don't take studs too well (low pressure doesn't make them bite), so I put a set of Schwalb Marathon Winters on the 29er wheelset. This is a waste of the other tires, but I don't think they were so hot either. Now, however, the bike is really a winter bike for all conditions. Another $140 tire tax ...
- Bars. Too wide, too flat, and too far away. I swapped in a Soma Clarence with a nice wrist-friendly bend, some Ergon grips, and a shorter stem to bring them closer. Result is a much more comfortable cockpit. Ergonomics tax of $15 for the stem, the bars and grips were already in my generously stocked parts bin.
- Brakes. Came with BB5s. Not bad, but not great. Also, thanks to the well-stocked parts bin, I swapped in BB7s for some greater leverage, bigger bite surface, and adjustability of both pads for the front. Haven't done the back yet (need new pads for the other BB7 caliper) $free! (in this go-round ...)
- Added rack ($45 Planet Bike jobbie - works great) and fenders (the big SKS ones, $80 for both).
- Cassette. So, they delivered the fat wheels with a 11-32 cassette, and the 29er wheels with the 11-34. Huh? Wouldn't you want the lower gear on the fat wheels? So, I swapped the cassettes. $free (since I have tools ...)
- Pedals. The platforms that came with the bike were AL, and barely spun. After some cold, salty rides, they basically froze up completely. This is lame coming from Framed/The House, given that they are based here in the Twin Cities. It's not like they didn't know better. So, a cheap set of plastic platforms at $19 reduces the heat loss on the foot, and they spin like pedals are supposed to (for now at least).
- Haven't done anything yet, but I can tell the cables are galvanized (another cost cut), and I know will be replaced with stainless at some point ...
So, after my $900 bargain bike (including the $100 wheelset), I'm now in an extra $430. $1330 is starting to be Mukluk territory, but I'd still have BB5s and the cockpit changes to make. And I wouldn't have a spare wheelset for that either. All in, still a bargain, and now it's dialed in for me, which is pretty kick-ass.
So I went for a ride today around the creek. Giant piles of fun, and MAN do those Nate's grip!