I'm new to the forum & I've spent hours reading through posts. Fantastic stuff. I had a basic question about resources you'd recommend to someone new to building and converting bikes. I plan to convert my '98 Rockhopper into a budget 'cross/commuter bike, for round-the town riding, charity rides, and rec riding.
My question--There's tons of great info here and online, but what books would you recommend to a newbie bike mechanic? I'm used to wrenching on my motorcycle & car, but beyond the basics, bike-building & maintenance is an enigma to me. For starters, I signed up for a 3-part maintenance course at my local REI. But I'm someone who really likes to read a lot and build up my foundation. So fire away with your fav books, resources, essential tool recs, etc!
Second question, kind of a cost-benefit analysis--how conservative or all-out should I go on this conversion? I'm tempted to do the minimum (basically a full tune, reinstall rigid fork, and put on slicks) and save my $$ for a the best purpose-built 'cross bike I can find for under $1000. But if there's value in doing a half-decent conversion w/ the rockhopper, I'd be willing to upgrade components, add drop bars, get better wheels, etc.
FYI, The bike's in OK shape & kind of has a funny history. I bought it as a commuter so it's sized like a road bike; I have the original rigid forks as well as shocks for it. Later, it was stolen from outside my apartment by some %*@!. Amazingly, I spotted it on campus 6 months later and recovered it (!) thoroughly flogged and hurting, and minus my saddle and ATAC pedals. Now it needs a new BB, head bearing, chain, perhaps more, and a very thorough tune. Glad to have it back though!!! The prodigal bike.