This is my 52cm All-City Gorilla Monsoon in Aqua Seafoam (“loosey brakus”) sitting in a stand at the beginning of this project. It’s been a weird bike for me! I shattered my collarbone into four pieces on this bike; it was the first bike I built for myself; it was my daily driver for about a year; and it has had a million different handlebar/stem configurations on it. I bought it to become my racked-up, all-rounder, pretty boi, everyday bike. The idea was that the only bike I had at the time — my Marin Nicasio — could become my lighter recreational bike. These two bikes have nearly identical geometry and the Marin had fit me very well. Unfortunately, life comes at you fast, and I’ve had many bike fit issues on both bikes, as well as some chronic wrist issues. I never quite made this bike work for me and I’ve been using an e-bike as my everyday bike.
I could sell this bike, but in this used market, I wouldn’t get nearly what I put into it1 and I’d rather watch it bring some joy to folks in my life. I get asked often if I have a bike I can lend for bike camping, so I figured I’d make this a loaner bike. So my task was to throw together a mish-mash of parts from my bin and the bike shop to get this thing up and running again. Also, who knows, it’s only been a few months with the e-bike and my wrists are getting treated, so maybe there’s a future for this bike with me. I also never loved the rear hub (way too loud) or the brakes (some Yokozuna hydraulic/mechanical hybrids I got a deal on) and levers so I feel kinda bad selling them.
So here’s where we’re at: I loaned the original drivetrain from this bike to Kat to get her Bridgestone BB-1 up and running; the rear rack is on egret now; the front rack donated some hardware to egret; the BB-1 is getting some of the Yokozuna housing; the shift housing is corroded; the grips are on egret; the Pitlock stuff needs to come off; the dynamo lights need to be hooked back up; and the brakes are a squeaky mess.
I took the Pitlock seat collar off and replaced it with one of Kat’s old collars. The only rub is that a different Pitlock skewer was stuck in it that needed to be removed first. This should never have had a locking skewer in it (the flanges need to be parallel, flat, and larger) and uh, it got stuck. So I took a hacksaw to it.
That worked out perfectly and I swapped the Pitlock thru axles for…maybe the ones that came with this frame initially.
Jay found a nice Sugino crank and some chainrings around the shop for this to be a 2x. I put a 9-speed 11-36t cassette on the hub, took the old 9-speed Alivio rear derailleur that came with my e-bike (aww, they swapped parts! ), and some old cheap Odyssey pedals. The Gorilla Monsoon isn’t really meant to have a front derailleur on it. I tried several front derailleurs from the used bin and they all had the same issue: you couldn’t get the right height without them sitting on the bottle cage mount or internal routing exit for a dropper. This frame is also intended to be fully housed and there’s no stop for a front derailleur. So Jay and I put a Problem Solvers braze-on adapter and a new GRX derailleur on — these let you run housing all the way to the derailleur and frankly the action on these new toggle construction derailleurs feels really nice. I was gonna put a used Tiagra 4500 rear derailleur and sweet old Campagnolo front derailleur on for a full silver look but the former couldn’t clear the 36t cog2 and putting both a braze-on adapter and clamp-on housing stop to make the Campy front work just seemed silly.
The front has a 24/38 ring combo (we’ll put a larger outer ring on eventually but didn’t have one on hand). I was surprised that this required adding a couple extra links to the chain. It’s a bit saggy when cross-chaining in small/small but only at rest. It tensions up fine when you start pedalling. Learning and growing. It also needed a longer spindle bottom bracket. There was so much coarse sand in the bottom bracket shell when I pulled the old one! I rode this bike on the beach and in the Outer Sunset a lot. The bearings were in good shape though.
I put some used parts on for most of the rest: a WTB Koda saddle, a chromoly Nitto stem (80mm?), Ahearne+Map bars (a bit too much backsweep for my princess wrists), and these horribly ugly SQlab 710 grips. We’re strapped for nice used thumbies or trigger shifters though so we put some microShift thumbies on. Swapped and upside-down in friction mode. That was enough for one night but it was looking good. Quite a loaner bike.
The next thing to do was address the brake situation. They were both contaminated and squeaking wildly with little adhesion. I had ordered new SwissStop pads to try before I stopped riding this bike — the RS compound rated to be as quiet as possible. I replaced the pads with these and then took the rotors off to give them a light sanding and cleaning. I used 300-grit sandpaper and 70% isopropyl alcohol. Success! No more squeaking and the braking force was much improved. I went out and bedded in the brakes. The bike was feeling pretty good.
Jay threw on a basket and the dynamo lights for me the next day and here it is ready to roll again!
The mish-mash of used parts and silver/black look might be my favourite iteration of this bike. I think Mary — its first borrower — is gonna love it. It felt fun to ride it a bit again but for now the e-bike is still comfier. This bike has frustrated me from time to time but it’s always been a fun project bike and I’ve learned a lot from it.
This is sort of the bargain you accept going into building a complete bike from scratch. Especially one with a lot of bling-y fun parts. ↩︎
Ugh!! The newer Tiagra 4700 stuff can easily clear above its specced lowest cog when you max out the b-screw. ↩︎