Sunday, January 11, 2009

WTB Titanium Phoenix...

If there is any bike that is going to ride as nice as any bike can today, tomorrow, or 10, 20 years from now, it's the WTB Phoenix frame. There's nothing "special" about the ride of a Phoenix. The incredible ride of the Phoenix comes from it's ability to disappear underneath the rider. In the age of "just do it," the Phoenix just does it. While the standard steel Phoenix is a sweet bike, the titanium Phoenix goes a stem further. Titanium is a material that has a great ride quality and it will not rust/corrode in its lifetime.

A titanium Phoenix recently spent time clamped in my work stand. The frame was delivered to me by Steve Potts who brought it back to its original glory by removing the canti brake bosses and welding on the original roller cam bosses and then bead blasting it and applying the last Wilderness Trail Bikes / Phoenix decals he has. To make the bike a perfect example of the pinnacle of a Phoenix, Steve also made a Type II fork for it.

The back story on why the bike is here is the owner of the frame is the brother-in-law with this guy named Greg who is the brother of one of my best long-time friends, John. John and I worked together at Pacific Coast Cycles in the '80's, rode on the rode several times each week for years, and rode together from Carlsbad, CA to Boston, MA in the summer of '89. The owner, Chris, sent me an e-mail asking if I would like to assemble the bike. As if!

So one day, I get the parts for the frame from Chris and start assembling. Ibis ti stem, WTB ti bars, Cook Bros. E-Cranks, White Ind. ti bottom bracket (with the original "Novato" name laser engraved in the cups), WTB roller-cam brakes, Precision Billet brake levers and NOS rear derailleur, XTR e-bracket front derailleur, WTB New Paradigm rear hub/Paul front hub with WTB Laser Beam (maybe the best 26" wheel rims - ever), WTB Velociraptor tires, WTB SST 98 seat, and Syncros seat post.

And as if the story of how the owner of the bike can be traced to me isn't coincidental enough, it gets stranger. The brakes that were to go on the front came to me from a fellow vintage bike kook who I "know." However, the stainless bushing shim that fits over the roller-cam braze-on was missing. An e-mail to Michael asking about the shim came back with the reply that the frame that those parts are stuck on went to Noah - another friend who also owns a couple of Potts and Cunningham bike that are in residence in the shop. Weird. Noah's out of the country, but will send the shims to me when he's back, so I use a couple of shims I have and am able to finish the build.

Hold on! For some reason, due to a combination of factors, the cable pull of the rear cam does not align with the angle of the brake. Extra-ordinary measures are needed. After a bit of contemplation, I come to the conclusion that I'm going to have to relocate the rollers to the bottom side of the brake. Problem, I don't have, nor can I get (conveniently) 10/32" bolts with a button head since those threaded holes in the roller-cam arms are 10/32" and not 5mm. As I'm deciding to tap out the hole to 5mm, Steve comes in and I tell him what I'm about to do. He says, let's call Charlie (Cunningham, the designer of the brake) and ask him. Steve picks up the phone and in his best Elvis impersonation, begins to ask Charlie if he can come over for a peanut-butter, jelly and lettuce sandwich. I have the feeling Steve has used this routine before because it's evident that Charlie knows it's Steve. Steve explains what' going on and Charlie says no problem. Thumbs up!

With the roller hole tapped out to 5mm and the other hole still 10/32" but with a longer shim for the spring to sit against, I install the rear brake and check the angle of the cam and it's perfect.

In the end the bike turned out really nice. It basically looks like a brand new 10 year old bike. A very satisfying build.

Check out the angle that the cam pulls in relation to the rollers.
From Repair Bikes

And after the rollers were relocated to the bottom of the arms - perfect!
From Repair Bikes

From Repair Bikes

From Repair Bikes

From Repair Bikes

Edit: As I was talking to Greg about a mutual friend and his penchant for telling it like it is, I mentioned the line in the song Oh Well by Fleetwood Mac "Don't ask me what I think of you, I might not give you the answer that you want me to." So, listening to the local radio station right now and what song comes on? Oh Well! Coincidence?

(What's playing: David Gilmour of Pink Floyd fame, Wish You Were Here - Live!)


Gloria said...

I want that bike. I decided that that bike would be my dream bike. Maybe I should ride one first... Does riding one in a parking lot count?

blackmountaincycles said...

This is one of those bikes that you don't necessarily need to ride one first. Start looking for a 12" frame.

Sir H C said...

Wow, I have one of these, this is a bike that pulls me out the door when I am thinking to not ride, it is so much fun. Beautiful pix.

Anonymous said...

Just picked p my own '97 Ti Phoenix. Some parts are changed and I need a straight fork (equipped with some marzochi thing right now - but that will change.

Anonymous said...

Can you tell me whether the Ti-Models were also made in 16.5"?

blackmountaincycles said...

Anonymous - sorry, I have no idea if there were 16.5" ti frames made. I suggest contacting Steve Potts.