Classic & Vintage - Convert old MTB to a Touring Bike?
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03-01-03, 06:46 PM
Looking for some advise. I have the original Nashbar MTB. Very solid and comfortable (slightly heavy steel frame) non suspension frame. The bike does have really nice shimano thumb shifters, great canti brakes, very big and heavy combination handlebar stem, oversized brake levers. These oversized brake levers may be why the brakes work so great on this bike. It originally came as a 15 speed and now it is a 21 speed. Shifting works great on the bike as it is set up. Wheels have nutted axles. Holds a nice rack and fenders with a lot of clearance.
So the question is about upgrading to drop handle bars, different brakes and road tires, would this make this bike similiar to the Bruce Gordon BLT X? Also, would this be worthwhile in your opinion?
I've toured on my MTB and it works great. I was allready stretched out on it so I didn't change the bars. I put 1.0 Ritchey tom slicks on it. They're a great tire and roll pretty good if you pump em up good.
03-01-03, 07:57 PM
If you like the bike, why not upgrade it? You may drop two or three hundred bucks upgrading it. If I was going to set this bike up for touring I think I would strip everything off the frame and build up a new bike on the frame. This will run a bit more four to five hundred. You could do it for less if you shop around for your parts.
The Bruce Gordon BLT is a fine bike, It also starts at $1500. Your bike would more likely be heavier then the BLT. But with the $1000 bucks you could take off for a tour.
03-01-03, 10:26 PM
It shouldn't be too hard to add a drop handlebar, some Dia-Comp brake levers and Shimano bar end shifters.
03-02-03, 06:17 AM
Thanks guys. I will try to convert it and see how it rides with different bars and tires. If nothing else, it should make a great commuter.
03-02-03, 10:18 AM
I have toured with my mountain bike and the only disadvantage I found was with the lack variation on handholds on the handlebars. Of course there are other differences to a tourbike, but a Mtb has some advantages. I found a few books at my library on using a Mtb for touring but I can’t remember names. Try this page for a conversion: http://briandesousa.com/bicycling/tech/convert.htm it will give you some ideas on cost and what to do. I am considering using an old Rocky Mountain Hammer for weekend touring/commuting. My plan is to change the tires to asphalt and gravel/hard pack not sure what to use yet, put on front/rear racks, water bottle cages, bar ends and a handlebar bag. I may change the gearing at some point but will wait until I see what I need.
Consider, also, that many ATB's don't offer long enough chainstays for adequate heel/pannier clearance. You may be able to mount panniers further back on your rack, but not always.
03-02-03, 01:02 PM
You may be able to mount panniers further back on your rack, but not always.
This is a very important point D*Alex! I have large back panniers and had to move the hooks to the forward position, meaning the bags hung further back thus making my bike rear heavy and awkward. (The Mtb I used had a 42.5 cm. chainstay length.) I also adjusted the rack the best I could and the cleats on my cycling shoes. The bags, 56 litre, had to be stuffed full, otherwise my heals would hit them. I purchased medium size panniers, 40 litre, for the front, which works well on the back. I would try using medium size on front and back to see if that would work.
detrieux keep us informed, I am interested in how your conversion works out.
03-02-03, 10:23 PM
For the conversion, you need new bars and brake levers. You will likely also need a new shorter and higher stem, because road bars put your hands further away.
But most importanlty, you will need new shifters, or at the very least, you will need to work some adaptatative gizmo to your thumbshifters. Road bar diametre is not the same as straight bar diametre, so you won't be able to slide your thumbshifters as is on the road bars. You have a few options, but they all cost money.
1. Get new downtube or barend shifters. All current ones are labeled "9-speed", but there is an altenate cable routing to make current Shimano derailleurs (post 1995?) work with 8 speeds (or 7 speeds). Now, your derailleur may be too old and not work with the same cable pull, so you might need a new derailleur if you want indexed shifting.
Also note that Shimano downtube and barend shifters always shift the front derailleur in friction mode. For the rear derailleur, it is also possible to use them in friction mode rather than indexed mode. That solves all compatibility issues.
2. Get almost new 8-speed shifters, from someone that have upgraded to 9 speeds. Some LBSs throw the old shifters while others sell them.
3. Find recycled shifters of that era. If you are lucky, you might find the proper indexed shifters or Suntour retrofriction shifters that would work like a charm with your current derailleurs.
03-03-03, 05:35 AM
Drop bar gear systems usually place the threaded barrel adjuster on the downtube. There is one at the rear mech as well, but if you convert an MTB, you wont be able to tweak the cable tension whilst riding. This is not a broblem with friction bar-ends.
On a CX style MTB, the riding position is usually equivelent to riding on the hoods of drop bars in a touring position. If you simply replace your flats with drops, the hand position will be moved forward by about 4-5". You may need a shorter stem.
As an alternative to drops, consider some butterfly style flat bars. You have plenty of hand positions and can re-use your brake and gear levers.
My sister found some bar ends that were actually like drops that you add to your straight bar. I am not sure if they're safe to use on all bars. If your interested I'll find out where she found them.
03-03-03, 06:54 PM
I want to thank everyone for all the great ideas. I did go and measure from the locking nut on the bottom bracket to the center of the axle as the wheels are mounted on my Nashbar Touring bike and the MTB and was pleasantly surprised to see the MTB was about an inch longer to the same location. Talk about long wheel base. Maybe the long wheel base is is why I really like the ride of this frame. It just seems so stable and does what I ask as long it is not a race. Will try to swap parts around when the weather breaks. My shop is in an unheated area. I will let you know how this turns out as I make progress on it. I want to try a few strange things to see how they work out. Good or bad, I will report. Thanks again for all of the great ideas.
Hi there detrieux,
Below are some pictures of my old mtb bike I converted to a touring bike. Steps taken:
- strip old paint and painted frame
- cold set rear triangle to accept 7 speed hub
- bought and installed new 26" wheels with 7 speed hubs (stx-rc)
- new rear derailler (old one was shot)
- added Tioga City Sickers (26"x1.25)
- added road bar, with bar end shifters and road brake levers
- new cable housing
- new chain
- new 7 speed rear cassette
- new triple crank
- new fenders
All other parts are original.
No real problems. How your cable housing is routed and location of cable stops may cause some problems with bar end shifters, but nothing that can't be solved. Also had to add a barrel adjuster to the rear brake cable housing in order to adjust brakes as they wear.
Since I cannot figure out how to add 2 pictures to one post, see the next post for the upgraded bike.
Here is the upgraded bike
03-06-03, 05:05 PM
Great pictures Digger. That is what I am hoping to achieve. How does it ride compared to other bikes you have? Is it slow, comfortable, solid ride?
It was a fairly ok bike. Certainly slow and solid. It was comfortable in one way as I was more upright and didn't have to crane my neck back as much as I would on my road bike. It was also able to handle rougher road better, which is obvious with the 1.25" tires.
No doubt it would be able to support a heavy load, but I don't know how WELL it would handle with a heavy touring load. I didn't try it with a load on unfortuneatly, as I have since stripped the thing down to use the parts on another touring bike I am building. Ya see the thing I didn't like about this bike was the way the steering was....jittery. Unlike my road bike which seemed to track better when moving, this touring bike did not, and it was like I had to constantly adjust steering or be conscience of it more. It's difficult to explain but the thing (front wheel) would...waver slightly when moving and I had to be constantly aware of it. Using this same bike with a flat handlebar would not produce the same results and would track fine. But when I put a road bar on it, which means my hands were closer together it was more...jittery. I didn't like it. It was much worse when I would stand to pedal. I think it had to do with the narrow road bar and perhaps not a long enough stem.
I would have kept the bike as is but my brother gave me his old '85 Raleigh road bike which I am now in the process of converting to a touring bike, using the parts from the bike in the picture.
Don't despair about your converting process based on my comments. I have heard of many success stories of converting a mtb bike to a touring bike, and like I said I would have continued with this one had I not gotten my brothers old bike. I just thought I could do a little bit better.
Here is the bike almost done. All I need now is a triple crank and a new 7 speed rear casssette. Well, I have to connect the derailler cables and rewrap that handlebar, but that's 30 minutes work.
03-07-03, 11:38 AM
Best of luck with the rebuild.
03-07-03, 05:22 PM
Nice looking Raleigh. Wish my brother gave me a bike. lol Hope it is a sweet ride for you. Sometimes, I think ride is better than weight. I live in a very hill area so I think of weight often as I grind up the hills.
03-08-03, 09:30 PM
here's an idea... why not go with mustache bars? I love mine :)
03-09-03, 06:43 AM
Not sure what mustache bars are but I thought of cutting down an old set of road bars and turning them upside down like bull horns. Is this similar in design to mustache?
03-10-03, 02:21 PM
Sort of, but mustache bars will give you more hand positions, and work similar to flat bars without messing up the geometry (ie, making the bike steer too fast.) Nitto still makes them, and I got mine at my local shop (www.gaansari.com)
Picture a cross between the letter M and a drop bar thats been squished flat :)
03-10-03, 05:13 PM
Thanks for the information on the mustache bars. They do look a lot more versatile.
The links were very helpful.
03-22-03, 04:58 PM
I have converted my Cannondale M600 mtnbike into tourer/commuter and it is a great ride. I have fitted dropbars and barendshifters. There is a list to my equippment.
Take a look
klick on "Bicycling" in the top main menu, and then on the link "Pictures and tips about the bike and gear".
There she is, my beauty;)
03-22-03, 06:19 PM
Great post and pictures. I have been cutting firewood, our sole heat source, so I have not gotten the the project. My plans are to recycle as much as I can and then upgrade if I like the ride.
Will keep everyone posted.
By the way, nice website.
03-23-03, 02:07 PM
05-03-03, 06:25 AM
Well I finally had the time to convert the old frame to a touring configuration. Everything works well but the ride is so stiff that every little imperfection in the road comes right thru the frame. The extremely long wheel base and low angles did not help the ride like I thought it would. So I will be hanging this bike up for good. Thanks for all the great responses and ideas. It was a nice fun project while it lasted.
05-03-03, 08:50 PM
What kind of tires do you have? If you have room, try tires -- and especially the rear tire -- one or two sizes larger. Don't use a knobby, use a slick (smooth high pressure tire), and you'll hardly notice any loss in performance, but suddently, the road will seem smoother.
I know first hand as I have a Trek 520 which I like very much, except it felt very harsh, especially on those pothole-infested Montréal streets. My 1980 tourer (now commuter) has the same geometry, yet felt much softer. The only measurable difference between both bikes (apart from gearing) is that the rear triangle of the newer bike is much stiffer than the rear triangle of the old bike.
The bike came with Continental Top Touring 700x32 tires. When the rear tire was due for replacement, I replaced it with a Top Touring 700x37. Problem solved!
BTW, the rigid geometry of the 520 is wonderful when loaded. And now, it rides perfectly with and without load, with and without trailercycle...
05-04-03, 06:09 PM
I had 26 by 1.25 K belted tires from Performance at 90 lb psi. I switched to some 1.95 treaded tires and it ran a lot smoother but really much heavier. Will keep experimenting with the bike and see what comes of it.
I will have to load it up and then see what happens as well.
Thank you for all of your insight into this experiment.
Well here is the bike I was building finsihed!
I did not get the triple for the front but instead got a 48T and 36T chainring and a 12T-32T for the rear cassette.
Thing handles well on the road, but I am gonna have to change the seat as i do not like this one after about 50km.
06-18-03, 05:11 PM
Very nice looking ride. Mine was not so great so I just hung it up for now. Hated the ride with the narrow high pressure so I am back on the recumbent for right now. Thanks for posting.
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