Extreme Southern New Jersey
Question for theWrench
Hi. First, really glad I found you online! I have a few questions and needed expert advice. So, thanks for doing this!
My 13 year old son tried out mountain biking for the first time last weekend. A local bike shop sponsored it and had rental bikes available for the kids to use. My son fell in love with mountain biking. He came home and said it changed his life. He’s a little dramatic:) He immediately texted my father who used to do downhill races. He retired after breaking ribs and dislocating his shoulder a few times. He’s also 60, so I don’t think he was ready to let up on the aggressiveness of his riding. So, after injuries, he quit.
After my son told him about how he wants to get into mountain biking, my dad offered him one of his old bikes. He sold all his bikes except this one and another that’s in a bunch of parts. My son went to the local bike shop and showed the picture of the bike (all proud) to the owner. Unfortunately, the owner kinda laughed and told him that bike was too old and said he could never find parts for it. My son came home very disappointed.
So, my question is: Is the bike (I attached a pic) still ride-able? Would this be good enough for him for now?
I’m nervous the bike shop owner just wants my son to buy a new bike from him. He’s a bit pushy when it comes to sales. Or is he right? This is what I know about the bike. I’m quoting my dad:
Full suspension 5 inches rear travel, 5 inches front fork travel, all top notch parts. The frame is an Intense Tracer. Great on the downhill sections. And you can lock out the rear shock for climbing. Marzocchi Bomber front fork, Fox Float rear shock.
Now, I do know he needs new tires for the bike. But is this bike honestly that old? The frame is in good shape. No cracks or anything.
My son is 13, he is very tall (5’11”) and very athletic. He actually raced the fastest last Saturday. Not sure if that info is needed…
Any help would be much appreciated!!!
Mountain Bike Restoration
This is a very positive start to a healthy lifestyle. To have a life changing experience on a mountain bike at age 13 is awesome to say the least. Although I didn’t receive an attached picture I can answer your question entirely on the info you have given me. (We have provided a photo of a typical Intense Tracer)
The fact that you have an experienced rider in the family is a plus. The Intense Tracer was introduced to the world in 1999. That makes you fathers bike no older than 19. Assuming the first Tracer off the assembly line, it is still not to old to fix by any means. I’m guessing this is not the case and you have a much newer version of this bicycle.
However, for argument sake, lets give this bike the once over in the virtual repair stand and right up a repair ticket as worst case scenario for your bike restoration.
There are many parts on a bicycle that cannot survive 19 years and have since lost the support of replacement parts from manufacturers.
You made mention of the obvious, rubber goods. Tires, tubes, grips, and sometimes the saddle tend to suffer. Tires dry out and begin to crack. All tubes lose air over time its the facts of science. Grips get gooey and tacky. Saddles also crack as the foam breaks down.
These are all cosmetic and inexpensive fixes. No reason to turn away a energetic young man with the desire to rip up the local trails.
The highest dollar parts of a bicycle are the frame and fork.
The Intense Tracer is a high quality bicycle frame and is 100% serviceable. A hard life of riding can be erased with new bearings in the pivots and a good cleaning.
The fork is not as fortunate. There are seals and wipers on the outside that are made of rubber and can suffer the same fate as tires … dry rot.
Most fork platforms are only supported by manufacturers for about 5 years. Making repair parts harder to get the older they get … but till not impossible to repair or replace.
Hydraulic Disc Brakes
Next we move to the hydraulic disc brakes. Also a system with rubber parts that don’t like to sit idle for long periods of time. That doesn’t mean they can’t be brought back to life with fresh fluids and brake pads. If brakes need to be replaced what is available now as entry level inexpensive options and far better that what was offered at a price back then.
Wheels and Drive Train
Wheels can be trued and hubs can be overhauled to breathe new life into them. Drive train chains get rusty and sticky but can easily be replaced if necessary. The shifting system is comprised of some consumable parts … wires and housings that should replaced once a year minimum. The shifters and derailleurs can be cleaned up and lubricated and brought back to life.
Bike Restoration … Perfect Start
So you see that there is nothing that cannot be repaired or replaced and updated for the bike restoration. Even is a shop with high labor rates you would still be looking at a bill far less than a new bike. In my opinion this is a perfect start for a 13 year old with the desire to ride.
It really comes down to the shops abilities. There are shops out there that don’t repair suspension (there are a lot of specialty tools required). There are shops out there that specialize in certain aspects of cycling.
The Right Shop
Maybe your son just took the bike to the wrong shop. I for one would have welcomed this repair at my shop. If you are willing to spend the money to fix a bicycle then it is my job to spend the time to fix it. At that point it is going over you bike with a fine tooth comb to find the best course of repair to make the bike safe and functional without breaking the bank.
Good Luck and Happy Trails