Yet Another Old Bike

This is a 1991 Cannondale SM800. Also known as The Beast of the East. The BotE was made for singletrack. It had shorter chainstays, and a taller bottom bracket than the regular Cannondale bikes. The point was to shred trail, and you needed a Beast to do that.

This poor old Beast hasn’t shredded much of anything lately…

We have the technology.

I took everything off it. Trashed the wheels, cut all the cables, pulled the cranks, and incredibly, even the bottom bracket came out! This is always the most terrifying thing about cleaning up old bikes. So many projects have wrecked on the seized and useless bottom bracket…

Look at that chain!

But we’re good – everything is off and it’s cleaned up. And I have an idea – let’s make it exactly what it was supposed to be. Let’s make it shred trails. Extra-low gearing with a new 9-spd cassette, a new bottom bracket, a bash guard instead of a big ring, and mis-matched, but period correct thumb shifters.

I’m particularly keen on the wheels. They’re Shimano DX hubs from 1990 which was for 7 speeds. I’ve replaced the freehub body though with a 9-spd. So we have the correct old look and part, but modern functionality. Same for the Micro-Shift 9 speed thumbshifters.

The sad old RapidFire shifters were completely done. But the brake levers were fine, so I sawed the shifter pod mounts off. Did a solid job of filing them down too – it looks good.

I also custom-built a very low-range crank with no big ring, just a Rock Ring bashguard.

I think that bar will have to go though. It just looks too tall. The bike already has a very tall headtube and a high-rise stem, so a flatbar may be better. I haven’t rode it yet though, but just looking at it though, it looks like it would be very hard to keep the front end down on a steep climb.

If only someone made a wide, flat, 25.4mm bar with 9 degrees of backsweep, that wasn’t super expensive. I’m describing the Titec Hellbent Flat Trackers. I have one, and I’ll never let it go, but somehow, this part just doesn’t exist anymore.

Any time us old bike guys complain about parts not existing anymore, the response is, “You wouldn’t buy it anyway – you just want it to exist.” Well, I’d buy three of these if I could. I hate the stupid 560mm bars these old bikes came with.

As usual, I take so long to put these posts together that all kinds of things happen while I’m doing it. In this case, I’ve already sold the Beast. Here it is complete looking pretty bad-ass with a 600mm wide flat bar. Not quite as wide as I wanted, but still not a bad option. I wish it was a little lighter though.

The 9speed gear got swapped onto another bike, and instead I went with a NOS set of 8speed GripShifts. Brand new drivetrain apart from the chain rings. New cables, rebuilt wheels – virtually a new bike.

So it’s out there on the streets of Edmonton now. I’m not sure the guy that bought understood the significance of it, but he did seem to like it at least. I guess that will have to be good enough.

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