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  1. #1
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    Rebuild or buy new bike, how long do frames last?

    Should I renew my old stumpjumper or just buy a new bike? I know there are lots of factors invloved, money, time, personal taste, etc. I guess my real question is, how do I know if my '92 Specialized Stumpjumper M2 hardtail is worth rebuilding, that is, how long will the frame last? I figure for around $1000, I could replace everything that needs replacing and maybe even get a paint job, all for about the same price as the Cannondale F600 or a brand new Stumpy hardtail. I haven't mtb'd seriously for years, but cleaned up the old stumpy this weekend, went out, and had a seriously good time, sure beats the daily commute, and I need the exercise. The frame has serious miles on it, was my commuter through snow and rain through 5 years of college, plus lots of mountain biking for about 5 of the last 13 years off and on. The right chainstay is worn to bare metal from chain slap, lots of nicks and scratches, a few nasty crashes, etc, but no major visable damage.

    Needs replacing or rebuilding: Front shock, both rims/wheels, shifters, bottom bracket and cranks, I'd also like to upgrade to 8/9 speed, which means new rear derailluer, all new brake and shift cables, chain, maybe a front disc brake/wheel/lever, new tires, seat and post, headset and stem. Of course, I could just keep riding it as-is until it dies.
    Thanks, sorry for the long post. If anyone knows of similar threads, I would appreciate it, I couldn't find any with the search function.
    Adam

  2. #2
    53 miles per burrito urban_assault's Avatar
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    For $1000, you can get a great new bike. Keep the old stumpy as a beater...a great one at that.

  3. #3
    Senior Member sydney's Avatar
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    You got your moneys worth out of it. Recycle bin it or turn it into some cheap beater maybe single speed of just one ring in front.Troll around for a cheap used rigid fork.

  4. #4
    Senior Member robo's Avatar
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    Your situation sounds exactly like mine. After not MTB-ing for some years, i dusted off my 1993 rigid Stumpjumper and started riding. Had a great time, but realized the bike was getting on.

    It's definitely not worth it to put the money into upgrading the old bike, unless you have a serious emotional attachment to the frame.

    I ended up building up a new dual suspension Jamis Dakar Pro from parts, which came to about $2000. The Stumpy sat on the floor for a few months in pieces (i scavenged parts of the drivetrain for the new bike), but i'm now turning it into a singlespeed city bike.

  5. #5
    Senior Member smurfy's Avatar
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    I remember as a bike wrench about six or so years ago a guy came in with a '95 or '96 Stumpjumper with trashed rims. I sold him new Mavic rims (I forget the model) installed and a tune up for $250. I thought his bike was worth it and he was as happy as a lark and the price didn't even phase him at all!
    "You handle it like you handle a bicycle" - Jacques Rosay, Airbus A380 test pilot

  6. #6
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    It's definitely not worth it to put the money into upgrading the old bike, unless you have a serious emotional attachment to the frame.
    That's excellent advice. The cost of the parts bought from an LBS or even mail order would likely exceed the cost of a brand new bike outfited with all the parts you need plus a new frame.

    I remember in the early '60's when one of the car magazines ran an article about cost of parts for a VW Beetle. At the time, they sold new for about $1800. The same car built up fron a dealer's parts supply cost over $12,000. You are in a similar situation.

  7. #7
    Senior Member robo's Avatar
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    ^^ It's not necessarily true about the parts being _that_ expensive though. If you buy from an LBS, yeah, you'll probably spend a fortune, but if you snipe on eBay and find good deals from cheaper online retailers like Nashbar, you can keep costs reasonable. This works better for high end stuff. I guess with low end stuff, there are steep volume discounts that let bike manufacturers sell for a lot less than you'd pay at retail for the same parts.

    But yeah, you are dealing with a very old frame, with geometry and tube sizes that are non-standard today, and in the ~$1000 price range a complete new bike is going to be a lot better a deal.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    I love the old rigid steel mountain bikes and I think they're worth saving. It won't cost you anything near $1000 to rebuild that bike if you do the work yourself. I managed to completely rebuild my Bridgestone for half that much and it was completely worn out. Some of the parts are new, some are slightly used and most of them came from eBay.

    http://community.webshots.com/album/354682065oGAyvO

    I got the wheelset for $50 plus $15 shipping. Sometimes you get lucky.

    I don't know how many hours I spent looking for just the right parts, assembling the bike and getting everything adjusted perfectly, but I know I enjoyed every minute of it.

  9. #9
    Senior Member rufvelo's Avatar
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    Steel bikes last 20yrs, aluminum 6 yrs and carbon 3 yrs. As a manufacturer this works great in theory so you can show up for your new carbon frame in a few years.

    The reality is that all frames will last indefinitely until they fail.

  10. #10
    Senior Member robo's Avatar
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    The reality is that all frames will last indefinitely until they fail.
    LOL..

    Dirtdrop: that's a beautiful bike.. it's in fantastic condition! But, what's up with the carbon fiber handlebars? Grant Peterson is going to come to your house and strangle you with a leather toeclip strap!

    Seriously, though, my Stumpjumper conversion is going to look a lot like that, only not nearly as pristine and nice, and with only one gear!

  11. #11
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Whether to rebuild or to buy a new bike is a question that only you can answer.

    As a general rule, upgrading a bike just to upgrade doesn't make economic sense. Bike manufacturers can buy parts cheaper than you can so you can usually buy a whole new bike with every part brand new, every part designed to work with every other part and get a new bike warranty for about the same money.

    I strongly believe in replacing parts as they break or wear out. If you follow that process, an old bike frame can continue to serve most riders well for decades.

    Oh - and I'll admit to cheating a bit on my personal bikes. I've been known to upgrade a part or two just 'cause I wanted to. It's fun!

  12. #12
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robo
    LOL..

    Dirtdrop: that's a beautiful bike.. it's in fantastic condition! But, what's up with the carbon fiber handlebars? Grant Peterson is going to come to your house and strangle you with a leather toeclip strap!

    Seriously, though, my Stumpjumper conversion is going to look a lot like that, only not nearly as pristine and nice, and with only one gear!
    Grant Peterson probably wouldn't approve of my CF bars, but at least I narrowed them to the width of the originals. He wouldn't like my rapid fire shifters either. He always insisted that the shifters must be mounted on top of the bars. I never understood that one. Under the bars seems more natural to me.

    I kind of got carried away on that bike. LX would have worked just as well as the XT and Ultegra components. I didn't stop after the pictures were taken. It now has an XT crank, Azonic pedals, a wireless computer and all of the bolts are titanium.

    It's not as fast as my road bikes, but it's more fun to ride so it gets ridden more. As a matter of fact, the road bikes have become wall art since I finished the Bridgestone.

    I'm ready to build another one and an old Stumpjumper is one of the bikes I'm looking for. I like the Bridgestones, but the prices are ridiculous.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Nessism's Avatar
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    I own an M2 of similar vintage. Mine has a 1" fork which will tell you how old it is. My advice is to keep in going on the cheap and save for an entire bike upgrade. If you don't have mechanical savy, now is time to learn - use the M2 as the ginny pig.

    Ed
    Becareful buying/selling bike parts on-line. I learned the hard way. :(

    Good/Bad Trader Listing

  14. #14
    Ouch!!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirtdrop
    I don't know how many hours I spent looking for just the right parts, assembling the bike and getting everything adjusted perfectly, but I know I enjoyed every minute of it.
    That's the REAL value in assembling or fixing up a bike (regardless of what it is truly worth). I agree 100% and find it rather anti-climatic and I actually feel somewhat sad after I am done assembling and tuning a frame-up build.

    If you enjoy fixing and tuning, then I say go for. There is tremendous satisfaction in restoring an old bike. However, only YOU can decide what that is worth.
    "Do, or do not - there is no 'try'."
    Yoda

    RIP sydney.

  15. #15
    Senior Member robo's Avatar
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    Actually, my Stumpjumper 'restoration/conversion' is almost complete as of about 2am last night. Just waiting on either a bit of PVC pipe cut to size or a handful of cassette spacers to hold the Chris King rear cog in place. All the local shops want like $2 per 1mm spacer, so it looks like PVC pipe is the way to go!

    It's also got some new but crappy brake cables that i'm going to replace soon, with silver NOS Tioga cables, and needs a new headset. I found a NOS 1" silver alloy YST unit that should be here soon, courtesy of our fine friends on eBay.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    robo

    I like it! I'll bet you can't buy a new bike that's half as cool for twice the money you have in it.

    How do you like the suspension stem? I was thinking about trying one on my next bike. Some of the Bridgestone MBs came with them.

    I'm tempted to build a single speed because I like their clean lines, but I'm afraid I'm not in good enough shape to ride one. I live in the hills.
    Last edited by Grand Bois; 10-03-05 at 10:34 AM.

  17. #17
    Ouch!!!
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    Robo, I like it too - but help me out....
    If it is a single speed, what is the jockey pulley setup below the rear hub for?
    "Do, or do not - there is no 'try'."
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    RIP sydney.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    I can answer that one. It's a chain tensioner. The bike has vertical dropouts.

  19. #19
    Senior Member sydney's Avatar
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    .^^^..0ne way to take care of chain slack if ya don't have horizontal dropouts.

  20. #20
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    Duh. Of course. Thanks guys.
    "Do, or do not - there is no 'try'."
    Yoda

    RIP sydney.

  21. #21
    Senior Member robo's Avatar
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    yep, it's a chain tensioner.

    As for the suspension stem, i've been using it since 1994 on this bike, off-road, and i think it's really good for what it is. Suspension stems have a terrible reputation nowadays, and even in Softride's heyday they were laughed at. I think this is partly because people had tried crappy ones, and partly because they didn't understand that a suspension stem doesn't do the same thing as a suspension fork.

    The 'crappy stem experience' is because some cheap/early models used a single pivot design, so your handlebar and controls would actually rotate downwards when the stem compressed. This is a disconcerting feeling, and the benefits of the suspension are cancelled out by the fact that your wrists are constantly flexing.
    The Softride stem uses a 4 pivot parallelogram design, so your handlebar and controls don't rotate, but go up and down in almost a straight line.

    As for the purpose of a suspension stem, it is to smooth out the ride, NOT to absorb hits. If you hit a big rock or ride off a drop, it's going to jar you almost as if you were on a rigid bike. A suspension fork, OTOH, will absorb the hit. However, with a suspension fork, the small stuff is not going to be enough to compress the fork, so you are still constantly rattling away up there. That's what the stem is great for. It's travel is short (1.5" or something), but it's very sensitive, so it really takes the edge off small stuff, which is generally the majority of the bumps you ride over.

    There are obviously downsides. The stem creaks, and produces nasty black gunk from the bushings (this may be my fault for greasing 'greaseless' bushings though), there is some flex in the handlebars (not so much flex actually, but play from the bushings), and when you do hit something big, the stem tops out violently because there is no damping.. it's a steel spring with an elastomer cushion for when you bottom out, which happens whenever you hit something big.

    That said, it's very light, it's as efficient as a rigid bike, and it _does_ allow you to go faster and longer when the trail isn't a mess of cobbles.
    I miss it often when riding my new bike, with a hydraulic 100mm travel Rock Shox Reba up front. The fork tames the big hits, but i get all the rattle from the small stuff.

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