A Fat City Restoration : Kai's Bicycle

As we prepare for the arrival of Sheila’s new frameset I thought now would be a good opportunity to shed some light on the bicycle I will be using on our trip around the world.

Originally purchased way-back in 1996, my Fat City Cycles “Wicked Lite” frameset was due for an overhaul.  In a rather curious coincidence, I initiated this process three years ago, well before the concept of this world tour was even a twinkle in our eyes.  Its as though the bike knew something we didn’t, since following its makeover, it has gone unused, consigned to hanging on a hook, seemingly just waiting for this moment.

So, gone are the factory paint job, the XTR M-900 eight-speed groupo, the original Mavic CD rims and the TTT handlebars.

  Wicked Lite Frameset as Displayed in 1994 Fat City Cycles Catalog:


In exchange, along with a thorough media blasting, the brazed addition of a pump peg and a modern powder coating, I managed to collect a host of new parts, all of which, in addition to meeting our stated procurement policy, were specifically chosen for their reliability, their ease of service and their simplicity.

The three attributes listed above, for example, are typified by my choice of hubs.  Phil Wood FSA Touring hubs are arguably lifetime hubs given the fact that they are completely re-build-able.  Plus, they feature cartridge bearings which, aside from their other advantages, mean that the entire bearing assembly is easily and wholly replaceable, in this case simply by the use of two 5mm hex wrenches.  Conventional hubs, like those originally used in the first incarnation of this frameset, utilize loose ball bearings which travel in races pressed into the hubs and press against cones mounted on the axle.  In this manner, all modern hubs have one major flaw in that the bearing surfaces are effectively non-renewable.  While cones can be replaced (assuming adequate replacements have not become obsolete), the races in the hub bodies cannot.  This means that entire hubs with worn-out races must be replaced.  This equates to having to build an entire wheel in response to a couple of worn out bearings.  You may agree that this doesn’t make much sense for the long-distance touring cyclist nor for resource conservation.  And while some of the classic hubs from yesteryear theoretically had replaceable races, their Achilles heel hung on securing replacements, which were few and far between.

Kai’s Touring Bicycle 2010:


When possible, I chose new-old-stock (NOS) components over their modern counterparts.  It should also be mentioned that I thought long and hard about switching from 8- to 9-speed.  In the end, I wagered that over the next decade I would have much better luck finding replacement parts for 9-speed gear since 8-speed stuff is already hard enough to come by. I personally built the bike up from individual parts, utilizing a local shop (Old Spokes Home) for the wheel building, the post-powder coat frame prep and for the headset and bottom bracket installation.  Powder coating was provided by Vermont Ware.

Find a detailed list of the individual parts that now make up my new/old Fat City touring bike, as well as additional photos, under our Gear Page: Kai’s Bicycle.

Update 09/10/2014:  This just in (!) Chris Chance (founder of Fat City Cycles) is once again gearing up to build frames – check out his website here.    

2 comments to A Fat City Restoration : Kai’s Bicycle

  • Fredo Elfredo

    What was the total cost for this project?
    I’m building a touringbike by Scott Iroquois from early 90s.

    Please let us know! Sincerely Fredo

    • Kai


      Thanks for the question! In the interest of modesty, I’ll leave it up to the reader to extrapolate total cost by googling the individual parts I have listed and then adding everything up. Do keep in mind that the bulk of the parts were purchased, and most of the work completed, several years ago – material and labor costs were correspondingly lower back then.

      I’d love to know more about Scott Iroquois’ frames. A google search turns up nothing. Where was he building? What materials did he use?

      Good luck with your restoration!

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