Mongoose Brutus vs. 15 y/o demolition expert

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Mongoose Brutus vs. 15 y/o demolition expert

Postby Tomcat65 » Thu Jun 02, 2016 5:07 pm

It was November when the lady called me asking for a recommendation for her 130lb 15 year old son. She said he had seen the Huffy Warhawk, but he was not wanting a bike with gears and handbrakes. I suggested the Mongoose Beast at WalMart. We went to an area WalMart and they had a returned Beast on the rack in green. She didn't like it and that was the end of the Beast. We stopped by a Kmart and looked to see what they had. There we found the Brutus. Single speed fat bike, black with yellow stripe decals and military looking stars. The young man who would be riding this bike is a gamer, military weapons enthusiast, and our very own WWII aficionado. The bike seemed perfect for him. We left without the bike, but she was set on it and I thought I had done a good deed, we were satisfied. 2 days later, Kmart set the price at $175, online only price. (currently $242.99) She sent me the link asking if it was the same bike, I looked, told her to grab it quick. She did, we picked it up a few days later in the box. I assembled it carefully and delivered wee early Christmas morning.

I got it back before March first. lol

Now June, I have it back again, and this time the sad state of repair is even worse than in late February.

And the main list of talking points goes:

1. The crank arms. The crank arms are not the weakest part on this bike, but they are the most likely necessary mechanical part to fail. The arms are narrow and weak, and I have become very quick to grab a 1" conduit bender with a 4ft handle, and wrench them back into place. They get bent quickly and he keeps riding, the chainstays are clearly notched to bear the evidence. The pedals wobble as the crank goes around and the kickstand has evidence carved into it too. lol

2. The chain guard. Gone.

3. The handlebar stem. This bike has a weird 1 1/8 threaded headset with a single allen bolt holding a block style, BMX wannabe stem. I have not been able to tighten it in a way that holds true and keeps the handlebar straight. And this time, the handlebar was shifted left, until the bar mount splines were almost all exposed. Adjust, tighten again, Hope for the best.

4. The inner tubes. rekt. I don't know, whether he ran over something, or if it had a contaminate inside the casing, but at some point, the tire came off of the bead and grit found a way inside the tire carcass. Of course, it was aired up again and again, and by the time I got it back, it needed a wash, inside and out. I was actually able to patch the tubes with scabs though, so, Viva la Scabs!

5. The bottom bracket. I adjust and service this piece every time I get it back. This time, it was loose in the shell, and I'm worried about how much longer it will last. The bearing grease is always blackened, but so far, it's hanging in there.

6. The rear wheel bearing. The first thing I noticed when assembling this bike in December, was the over tightened rear wheel bearing. I remember it setting alarms off in my mind and how I felt it might be overtightened for a reason, But I backed it off a quarter of a turn and it made a tremendous difference. I then disassembled it and re-packed the bearings with blue grease and reassembled. It was fine at the end of February, but now in June, it was loose and open. Disassembly shows all looks fine and no reason for concern, but the fact that it was so loose, makes me wonder if the kid was trying to service it, or if it's self destructing? I'm sure time will soon tell. Reassembled and working flawlessly now.

7. The rear brake arm. As a kid, owning several single speed bikes, I experimented with the brake arm on a few bikes and found the brake arm is necessary to stabilize the rear hub in an emergency braking situation. Hard braking on any OMG downhill was affected directly by the rear brake arm attachment. I also learned to check it occasionally, and to ALWAYS reattach it after having the rear wheel off.
So... Why do BBB's have such weak attachment straps? This is the second time I got this bike back, and the second time I cut my hands trying to save this lil piece of poo. This time, I used a piece of flat steel, a vice, a B.F.Hammer, and a drill press to create one serious hanger. I figure it will last this kid about a week.

8. These grips. wasted. You can't just drop a bike on soft rubber grips many times, before they just give way, and the handlebar fills with mud. yay

9. The kickstand. If it were mine, it would be out in my shop, in the dead parts box. This kid insists that it stays. It hangs away from the frame in a really grabby way. Perfect for hanging a pants leg or boot lace. So far, only one complaint from the kid though. Time passes and all kickstands loosen, This one isn't spinning all the way around yet. That's good, right?

10. The weight. Not 50lb. but it feels like more. Especially when you attempt to wheelie. I'm a long legged 5'9 @180lb. and I can not overcome the combination of, weight, the long cruiser style chainstays, and the high gearing, to effectively wheelie, manual or ever bunnyhop this heavy thing. Call me weak, call me an amateur, but I am not willing to put in the time to figure it out lol... And the kid, wants to lower the gear ratio. I agree and have ordered the rear gear and looking at new square taper cranks. I just don't see this bike on a DJ track, or in any real trials type of artistic expression. I see this bike as a tank, like the snobs accuse BBB 29'ers of being.. Don't get me wrong, it's a fun cruiser, and would benefit from a suspension fork and a front disc brake. It could be so many different things, but it's just not an MTB, a BMX, a DJ, or a trials bike. If this bike weighed just 20lbs. less (lol) I'd change my mind part way, but it would take shorter chain stays and a gear set with Disc Brakes front and rear, to excite me about it. The weight is the most obvious penalty on this bike.

All said and done, it's straight, rides smooth, and looks dern tough. This one is really getting rough around the edges, but it's held up very well for the abuse it sees. I'd spend a slick $100 on it right now if it were mine. I'd buy a new crankset, inner tubes, grips, a new chain, the lower rear gear, and a wider handlebar. But this particular mom was doing good just to get it home in time for Christmas. So, I'll buy the gear, buy tubes later, and maybe a pair of handlebar bumpers.
I'm willing to bet, this bike would hold up to a person who cared for it, for a really long time. I mean Years. But for this 15 y/o, 2 years tops before it goes into catastrophic failure, but I suspect it will end well before then. An expensive LBS bike, would just hurt the feelings more, as it deteriorated in the hands of this young rider. So, even with it's problems, I am impressed. Much respect for the Brutus!
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Re: Mongoose Brutus vs. 15 y/o demolition expert

Postby Tomcat65 » Fri Jun 03, 2016 4:57 pm

I drilled the rivets out of my Schwinn Ascension crankset. It has thick, wide, but fairly light crank arms. The smallest chainring and the largest chainring are just riveted onto the middle chainring. It's a 34 tooth.. Did I mention before that the Brutus has a 32 tooth chainring? I hate that, but I do have a 22 tooth rear cog on the way with a new chain. I hope it makes things a lil better and a slight easier to pedal.

Anyway, I have pics today! :D
Notice the gouge in the chain stay where the old crank rubbed
Brutus 1a.jpg
The Schwinn Crank 34t
Brutus 1a.jpg (172.06 KiB) Viewed 829 times

The brake lever hanger is bigger than the brake lever lol.. I moved it up to the seat stay in an attempt to try to avoid hanging it on anything near the ground
Brutus 2a.jpg
The B.F. brake lever hanger
Brutus 2a.jpg (160.26 KiB) Viewed 829 times

Waiting for the new 22t rear cog
Brutus 3a.jpg
Not a bad bike to look at
Brutus 3a.jpg (198.74 KiB) Viewed 829 times

Man, It's heavy... :P
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Re: Mongoose Brutus vs. 15 y/o demolition expert

Postby Tomcat65 » Thu Jun 09, 2016 8:20 pm

Gear swap, 18t to 22t rear cog and a new chain.

There's a snap ring that holds the rear cog in place. I used a couple of picks in 2 of the 3 splines to pry it out and pop it up and off. Simple.
I have pics of the new one going back on;
Brutus 4a.jpg
Line up the 3 splines and nubs, it drops in place
Brutus 4a.jpg (145.61 KiB) Viewed 802 times

Brutus 5a.jpg
Make sure it seats properly
Brutus 5a.jpg (153.43 KiB) Viewed 802 times

Brutus 6a.jpg
It wasn't hard to snap it down with my bare hands
Brutus 6a.jpg (114.03 KiB) Viewed 802 times

Necessary items, a chain breaker, a new chain 112 links in the one I bought (I removed a few links), picks or a tiny screwdriver to pop the snap ring off. 15mm wrench to remove and replace the wheel, 10mm wrench to disconnect the brake arm and bracket. The new chain came with a quick link.

34t chainring and 22t rear cog Made A Huge Difference Not too slow, makes awesome power now. Like shifting down 2 gears on a 7 speed on your middle chain ring.

Also today, I used a spray adhesive made by Loc-Tite on the grips and handlebars. Maybe they won't slip anymore.
Hoping the bar end plugs come tomorrow. The 15y/o comes home from his 2 weeks with his dad tomorrow evening.
It's been fun making little improvements in this bike.... and repairs... Maybe I'll get some finished pics tomorrow before I deliver it back
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Re: Mongoose Brutus vs. 15 y/o demolition expert

Postby Tomcat65 » Fri Jun 10, 2016 8:51 pm

Delivered the Brutus in time for the kid to get a ride in before dark, He was pretty dern happy about the gearing and the wheel bearing situation lol
No new pics, but the bar ends I used;
Brutus 7a.jpg
ODI bar end plugs/Ebay
Brutus 7a.jpg (106.32 KiB) Viewed 787 times

$4.50, free shipping, Beefy plastic, about 1/4"+ of shoulder thickness, only a little larger than the grip diameter, should last a while, and the ODI brand name looks cool with the white graphics on the bike!
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Re: Mongoose Brutus vs. 15 y/o demolition expert

Postby Hank McMauser » Mon Jun 20, 2016 6:32 pm

I think Id be having that lad over for an afternoon of learning how to care for his bicycle, at 13 years old I was repainting, and rebuilding old bikes rescued feommthe scrap heap. It taught me a lot about mechanics and working withnhand tools. It may also help him reallize that he needs tomreaoect the gifts others give to, and do for him.
Hank McMauser
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Re: Mongoose Brutus vs. 15 y/o demolition expert

Postby Tomcat65 » Mon Jun 20, 2016 6:42 pm

Kind of funny that you posted that today.
He's apparently very much in love with that bike now. I believe it was just harder to pedal than he expected, and now, he claims he's "drifting" it (most likely really skidding), and able to pedal up the hills where he was pushing before.
Sometimes, it just takes a tiny change to make a big difference.
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