Photos by Caleb Smith.
Alex’s Ti Hei Hei is a great example of how a seemingly simple project can spin its way into complexity very quickly. Alex’s first mountain bike back when he was a teenager was a Kona Lava Dome, which his family still has to this day – though it’s on the small side these days. The Kona hardtail fire continued to burn for him, though, and last year, looking for a fun cruiser project, Alex started the hunt for a Ti frame from the same era.
He found the Hei Hei frame basically as you see it here, a blank slate on which to lay his own brush strokes, and the beginning of a search for just the right pieces to finish the build to perfection. The mango Chris King hubs and headset started a landslide of orange, including the King bottom bracket and the Salsa seat clamp that we’re seeing pop up on many a modern Ti Kona build.
The orange theme continues with the Chromag cockpit and orange cable housing, leading to a 9-speed XTR group. The XTR parallelogram brakes are, to many, the pinnacle of v-brakes, and Alex was able to separately source an XTR drivetrain with the requisite titanium cassette. Add to that a Chromag single chainring, Paul Component brake levers, and skinwall Maxxis DTH tires, and Alex’s vintage Hei Hei build has just a bit of modern flair.
With the build being so fresh, Alex’s Hei Hei drew an audience when he dropped by our office to show it off. We pored over the details, but because the bike doesn’t have its original decals, we were unable to exactly pinpoint the year of the bike. With its signature bullet dropouts we do know that it was made at Ti Sports in Pasco, WA, between 1996-1999. While it took Alex about 6 months to put the build together, the result is clearly worth the effort.