Posts Tagged ‘an mtb for the road’

nishiki 26er ‘road’ mtb – plus gravel, grass, etc.

Reading the cycling magazines lately, one would think that one’s collection just wasn’t complete without having a “Gravel Adventure Bike” in it, so here’s the latest “Re-Cyclo ‘2×8’ model” ! 

As suggested, there’s no “1×11” transmission here ( oops, now it’s “1×12″ – or  even Rotor’s latest  .. “1×13″ !! ) and no disc brakes either – but this was heaps more DIY fun !!

the derailleurs were in great nick

I had to build a pair of wheels for it, and so bought a new pair of Deore XT hubs at a reasonable price, to suit the 8 speed XT derailleur and an 11-32T  8 speed cassette. 

quill-to-threadless mod., with comfortable fizik performance bar tape

I’ve changed the bars to drops, so different brake levers were needed. I had a compact Deda Piega 26mm handlebar to use, but the Deda bar wouldn’t fit through a single bolt quill stem, due to the tight bends, so a 1 & 1/8″  ahead stem and a universal quill – to – threadless adapter were purchased.

classic gran compe straddle wheels & genetic cantis

Brakes are Genetic lightweight cantilevers, that ( handily ) use standard road style brake pads.  I later had a nightmare moment coming to an intersection when both brake cables slid through the straddle wire pulleys – note to self.. “check and double check the cable tightness before test riding” – Yikes .

The Sugino triple crank was replaced by a ( 34/44T ) double Sugino VP 110mm BCD,  on a 115mm square taper BB, giving gearing that should be adequate for 26″ wheels – i.e. from 34 x 32T  to  44 x 11T.

The 10T chainring difference means that front changes are smoother than with, say, a 50/34 compact, and the midrange gear options are greater as well.

the driveline

Sometimes, when ordering spokes, one makes a slight miscalculation, but it may still be possible to use them by changing the number of spoke crosses, either up or down, when building the wheel, which I had to do in this case with the now 4x front. Oops ! In the case of the rear, I had the old wheel, and the dimensions were pretty much the same with the new hub and rim, so I could match the 3x spokes.

On the subject of building wheels, some say it’s a black art. I would say it’s relatively easy to learn the basics and be competent, at least as far as simple general purpose 28/32/36/40 hole traditional wheels like these go. I learnt the basics from Lennard Zinn’s road bike maintenance book.

On the other hand, mastering modern high tech / high performance wheels and truing race wheels to ultra-fine tolerances would seem quite difficult.   

Lacing a wheel is mainly a matter of repetition, taking care to avoid simple mistakes or at least to pick them up quickly before the mistake is repeated on and on … DIY niceties include lacing up so as to see the hub logo through the valve hole.

I haven’t made up many wheels with new rims, but it seems naturally easier to true them than with re-cycled rims like these, which are in the majority for me.

a reliable commuter with a comfortable brooks c17 saddle

I’ve tried a couple of ‘touring-style’ rebuilds like this before, one on a Giant Boulder 550 MTB, the other on a Protour 27″ that was a decent frame, if a bit too large. Though I enjoyed both, I think this will be my most successful attempt. It’s a really nice frame, in my size, and not too heavy either, well, not considering the larger diameter MTB down and top tubes at least. The seat post is 27.0 mm ( Tange MTB ), which is the same as for my Tange Infinity tubed Shogun.

Most other parts I had already, either lying around, or borrowed from other bikes. The excellent 8 speed Ultegra bar-end shifters and the blue flat pedals have been borrowed from the Protour .. it’s nice to now have a completely matched set of 8 speed shifters, cassette, chain and derailleurs for reliable index shifting. I also think that bar-end shifters are at least as easy to use, and in some ways easier, than modern integrated brifters on drop bars.

trad 90s cable location

Because the period MTB triple cabling runs along the top tube, I didn’t need much cable outer, and managed to salvage some unused blue offcuts for the whole lot – yay !

The top tube is so long at an effective 63cm (!) versus an effective seat tube of around 55cm, that it gives a fairly leaned forward position. One possible disadvantage of MTB geometry is the high bottom bracket, which means it’s a little tricky to touch the ground from the saddle when stopped, at my preferred road seat height, at least.

This is quite a big bike for what Nishiki call a 55cm (22″) frame size !

Overall, the cons. are : slow acceleration compared to a good roadie, and still fairly weighty from a hill climbing point of view. The pros. are : great low speed handling, good low to mid gear range ( if a bit gappy ) , and a steady, comfortable ride on rough city streets,  And again, I can’t complain about the cost ….

gone ridin’

Happy Re-Cycling !


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A :  My Giant Boulder 550 with 50mm tyres and 1:1 first gear ratio.

a jack of all trades

a jack of all trades

I haven’t been previously able to settle on a format that I really like for this ’90’s model Cro-moly ‘4130’ framed MTB, ( now actually an STC –  or  “suburban touring commuter” ). I hope I have nailed it this time, all I really need are some V-brake levers for the drop bars, some bar tape and perhaps a change of pedals.

The additions/modifications since last time are :

Remove VO Belleville bars and  welded stem, fitted Nitto 10cm alloy stem and Win “Kusuki” randonneur style steel drop bars (originally from the pink mixte). The VO bars made riding it an awkwardly upright experience. Wrong choice by me !

Fitted salvaged steel guards from an old Apollo step through – they are almost too narrow for 2″ tyres !

swanky cateye rear reflector and apollo guards

swanky cateye rear reflector and apollo guards

Added a better quality Brooks “team pro” saddle taken from the reworked Repco – it was too unyielding and hard for that bike…but ideal for the softer ride of this one.

I’ve always liked this Giant bike since rescuing it as a frame only, but it’s been low on the list of cycling priorities, really a spare parts bike. Now I think it will finally get a lot more use. The frame is unfashionably large (60cm) as you can see from the long head tube, but the advantage of this is that the lowered position of the seat – for my height – means that the handlebars can be kept at a level where they feel almost like an MTB flat-bar when holding near the stem yet allow a good position for headwinds or faster riding in the dropped section.

And who cares  anyway, if it doesn’t look fashionably “bum in the air” . Also, I don’t know why stem shifters aren’t more popular with pre-“brake shifter”  bikes, because although they are associated with cheap 70s sports bikes I find them quite  easy to use compared with ‘thumbies’ or downtube shifters. This model originally came with twist-grip shifters.

that's a long headtube - salvaged alloy v-brakes replaced original cantis

that’s a long headtube – salvaged alloy v-brakes replaced original cantis

I don’t know whether a modern MTB would convert to “semi-road” quite as naturally because this bike was born at the time of styling crossroads, and looks somewhat ‘normal’ with its more slender frame tubes and rigid fork. Styling wise, that’s how I like bikes to look, and to have a horizontal top tube as well … so I would recommend this conversion for older MTBs only – but then, who knows, I’ll bet someone out there has done a similar thing to a 29er !

It’s relatively heavy so accelerates somewhat slowly, is very manoeuvrable at low speed, calm and stable at moderate cruising speed. Riding over rough surfaces, grass and ruts are almost a pleasure as compared with my usual high pressure 27″ tyres. Top ratio 48x14T, low ratio 28x28T and a triple ring with 6-speed cluster gives plenty of range too…

a versatile one

a versatile one for the road

NB – With the the current brake levers I can only brake from the drops, so they will be replaced with something nicer and more appropriate.

MTB’s – if you can’t beat them for versatility, why not join them, as they say ? ….

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