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Old 08-16-06, 12:04 PM   #1
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Newbie Trying To Upgrade Bike Components


I have a problem. I know nothing about bike mechanics or how to upgrade. I don't know gear ratios or whatnot. I have had a Trek Navigator 300 Comfort/Mountain bike for at least 4 years. The past few years I have been hitting the local (paved) trails hard. I can get up to around 20-22 MPH easy in the highest gear on downhills, but I average about 15.5 MPH.

Shifters SRAM MRX Pro, 8 speed
Front Derailleur Shimano C102
Rear Derailleur SRAM X-7
Crank Bontrager Sport 48/38/28 w/chainguard
Cassette SRAM PG830 11-32, 8 speed
Pedals Dual density platform
Tires 26"x1.95" Comfort/Mountain

I am thinking about trying to turn this into a commuter bike. Does anyone have any ideas short of getting a road bike for making my ride faster and more efficient? It is a great bike but I need something that's faster and easier on my knees (rather than riding in top gear all the time).

I have gotten a suggestion on getting slicks for my rims. Does this add speed? My qualm is if the gear ratio is bad to begin with, it won't help, right?

Do I need new handlebars or something? A new crankset? My crankset is kind of cracked anyhow from use and abuse. If I replace the crankset with new gear ratios, do I need to get a new cassette?

Also, what about clipless pedals? Any suggestions? My feet have never felt right on the pedals I have....

Is it even worth the hassle trying to upgrade my bike?

Thanks for any help or suggestions!
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Old 08-16-06, 12:29 PM   #2
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Be careful to not spend too much money, easy to do when you're not sure what you want or need.
Generally commuter bikes are subject to more weather, abuse and possible theft. I'd say your performance is good for the type of bike you are riding. If you need to replace the crankset you can do that without changing anything else and I would not change the size of the chainrings. If you need a new cassette (rear cogset) and chain you might benefit from closer ratios, maybe a 12-26 or 12-27 but that really depends on where you ride, in particular how steep the hills are. Your present cassette is really meant for riding mountains. A closer ratio cassette could be better for flatter road riding. If you replace the cassette it will need to be with another 8-speed unless you replace the shifters and that could add a lot of expense. Slick tires at higher pressure would make a noticeable improvement when road riding. As for your knees, a high cadence (pedal rpm) at all speeds will be better, and saddle height is also important. A closer ratio cassette will allow you to maintain a higher cadence within a wider range of riding conditions.
Turning the cranks at a higher cadence will benefit your body in several ways, especially your knees.

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Old 08-16-06, 12:41 PM   #3
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You've had your bike for four years and have had no interest in working on it, but now you want to do a full conversion? Are you sure? You'll have to get a workstand, proper tools and a repair/maintanence manual of some sort...then there are the parts which you admittedly know nothing about. Start by getting a good maintanence manual like "The Big Blue Book" by Park Tools and read it. Try riding your bike as it is as your commuter and take notes on it's short comings, things you'd like to be different. Narrower tires, less tread and higher tire air pressure will make you faster and lighter right off the bat. Changing handlebars gives you more hand positions, but do you need them? You can add bar ends that do some of the same thing. If you get road bars you'll have to buy new brake and shifter levers. Changing the stem will also change your position and is much cheaper. You need to have some idea of what you want to accomplish before you start spending money. Also consider that this time of year is a good time to buy an excellent used bike.
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Old 08-16-06, 12:43 PM   #4
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The only thing you really need to change to increase speed is a set of narrow, slick tires. That shouldn't run you too much. I wouldn't really bother changing too much else.
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Old 08-16-06, 01:08 PM   #5
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Your 48x11 pulls plenty of chain to run with a road bike. Put high pressure, narrow slicks on it, then start working on the engine(you).

I have that same front/rear combo on my urban assault machine, no problems running the flats with roadies
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Old 08-16-06, 01:35 PM   #6
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Yeah, 48x11 sounds like a pretty good gear ratio. Increase that cadence, and maybe go for a pair of slicks.
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Old 08-16-06, 03:38 PM   #7
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Well you don't need a stand it makes life a hell allot easier I work on my bikes all the times I just started getting "advanced" with the headset don't have a repair book don't like reading the only refrence I use is the nice people at the LBS and sheldon site and other internet sources and BF maybe should I do something diffrent?
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