AHA !! Just back a while ago from the shakedown voyage of a new Schwinn “Empire XL”. Dang that thing is fast. Nice bike for the $ too. I measured the frame at 23″. 700 x 25 tires at 85 psi, ( rated for 100 psi but I like to let the tubes get used to air first time out). 26 lbs (by my bathroom scale), aluminum frame, unicrown road fork, alloy double wall wheels w/black spokes, dual pivot canti brakes, 52/42t alloy chainring, Shimmy TZ-40 rear, nondescript front derailiers, drop bars, Schwinn seat. The seat is actually very nice, I will most likely keep it. It is quite firm, narrow and has the requisite anatomic cutout in the foam under the synthetic leather cover. On the Schwinn Solitaire I tried 3 different other seats and kept returning to the stock seat, sooo, Kudos to Schwinn for making quality saddles.The Empire rolls forever , the wheels were almost too perfectly trued with good spoke tension. The only drawback for me is the the muscles that run up the back of my arms are not used to that riding position with drop bars, but with time I am sure they will strengthen up. Also the bike is equipped with sealed bearings in the Bottom Bracket, yeah.
I really like the included toe clips, had not used them for years but I’m a believer again. All in all the bike is a nice addition to have for pure fast street riding.Another thing I did yesterday was put a Shimmy “MegaRange” freewheel on the Hatchet.
Mongoose with MegaRange
OhMyLanta !! What a gear ratio.you could pedal up Mt. Everest with that.
Every time that wheel turns round,
Your bound to cover just a little more ground. -Jerry Garcia
It is deceptive how simple modern bicycles are. Piece by piece the average Joe’s bike (especially mine) is just metal ,bearings, and pulleis and cables. But if 1 or 2 thing are not working in harmony the results can be very discouraging. So I have given my bikes a once over today and made an improvement to the MTB. The Hatchet got a new freewheel, a Shimano ” MegaRange” Yahoo!. I also added a road / racer bike to round out the stable. A Schwinn “Empire XL”. This bike is a great bang for the buck! I bought it off the rack @ Walmart, it was the last one in stock. The bar tape was ripped (just a small nick) that I might have done driving it home in my trunk. Other than that it just needed some adjustments and I put a higher rising adjustable stem on it that I had from the Mongoose.If it wasn’t 112º F outside I’d be out riding the Mongoose right now, gotta find a steep hill to try out that 34 tooth cog on the new freewheel. But I will be on the trail with it tomorrow morning. So I have finally gotten all the bikes I want right now. I have a couple of parts on order for the Empire, I am gonna throw some “Cross Brake ” levers on the top rail of the drop bars, which means new cable housing and ferrules and bar tape. Then I believe I will just ride those bikes till the cows come home. The Solitaire continues to be a commuter workhorse and a pleasure to ride as well. I may post some more pics later and critique the Empire once I have ridden it more.
The Mongoose Hatchet 29er MTB had one of the worst rear brake squeaks of any bike I had run across. It’s really a simple fix.. TOE IN , have the pads angled so the pad edge toward the front of the bike makes first contact. This is in actuality the trailing edge as the wheel rotates across the pads from back to front. Ignore that statement if it is confusing. First clean your rim, then allign the pads where you want them , parrallel across the flat part of the rim. Now grasp the pad by the rear part of the pad, insert hex key or screwdriver on pad tightening nut and loosen. Holding wrench and pulling outwards on the pad , jiggle a bit and you will feel the pad toe in. Tighten nut keeping firm hold on pad position.Repeat on the other side. Voila! No more nerve wracking squeal.
Brake toe in
Great day so far, 3:00 PM and only 99º . Fixed a flat on the Schwinn last night and took a 5 mile cruise this morning. Nice workout and bike rides so smooth. Mowed the lawn, had been slacking on that. Gassed up the car, one added benefit of riding bike to work: used to fill gas every 2 weeks, now its every 3 weeks! Slapped some kevlar tires on the Mongoose, should help with thorns and stuff off road. Hoping to take that bike out tonight for a ride. Good chance of a Monsoon rain shower this evening so it’ll be perfect weather.
A Nice Pair, Mongoose & Solitaire
OK I bought this Mongoose from Walmart with the full intention of sprucing it up and giving myself some hands on bike repair techniques. Here is a picture of stock bike after assembly and tuneup, it rides sweet.
Stock + Seat
I decided to install a new stem and a new crankset with external sealed bearing bottom bracket. Thanks to “superbug” at ” BigBoxBikes.com” forum for pointing me to the Shimano Deore LX crankset from ” Jensonusa.com ” . A fairly inexpensive set but high above the stock parts. The stem was easy, I knew what i wanted so I got 1 off “amazon.com” .
Much better for me and comfotable for riding. This might not be best for aggressive off roading, but I like it, and its nice and solid and lighter.
Next up were the cranks. Old ones:
Removing these and installing new ones is not for the faint of heart. I got the pedals, crank arms, and left side set ring and bearings off just fine. Then came the “Fixed cup” side of the Bottom Bracket. OK, These things must be torqued on by an army of of dedicated factory workers. I tried a few methods, the 36 mm bracket wrench, backed up with a series of bolts and washers to hold the wrench tight to the nut. No joy. I tried a series of lock washers and and bolts, again no joy. Here is what worked , and easily too. A dremel with a cut off wheel. One Caveat though, be very careful not to cut into the aluminum case of the BB. Go slow and check your work often. Cut a vee in the fixed cup in the middle of the curve on top and below the flat sides of the cup.Cut all the way through the metal of the cup and into the recess of the spindle hole. Now get yourself a good 1/2″ cold chisel and knock out the vees you just cut. Spray with a loosening agent like “Liquid Wrench”. Tap Tap Tap the cup. Now position chisel and smack that dang thing with a hammer(Put on your damn Safety Glasses) till it breaks free. Do not in any way, shape, or form, hit your hand or aluminum part of the frame. BINGO now you are home free. See picture So the rest was a piece of cake .
Lots of info on line if you need more pointers.
Here is the new crankset, I used 1 spacer on each side of the external bearings and had to raise the front deraileur about 2 to 3 mm. This turned out to be a real learning experience for me.
Shimano Deore LX
Got my new bike yesterday. A 29″ MTB by Mongoose, model name “Hatchet”. So far its a nice unit. Couple of things bugged me, it was pictured as red when I ordered it, but its ORANGE! I’ll live i guess. nother thing is the paint leaves a lot to be desired, so I might have it painted red anyway. The front deraileur is crap for getting a screwdriver in for adjusting, and the mounting scew is a pain too. Good things are its a 29er (woooo), smooth shifting, front and rear suspension, and front disc brakes (YEAH). Put an adjustible stem on to raise bars and a nice seat. Going for a spin this evening and I will take it for a real test drive tomorrow morning.
Stock Mongoose Hatchet