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  1. #1
    Rio
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    Winter Project -- Advice sought

    Hey guys,

    In my basement is a specialized hardrock that was given to me a couple of years ago. It is missing the front wheel and rear wheel (including rear derailleur, cogs, etc.).

    I'd like to get this good bike back on the road. It is a classic style hardtail. My guess is it's about ten years old, but I couldn't say for sure. My other bike is an upright, sporty type bike that is geared a bit on the high side. I'd like to set the specialized up to be better on hills and my old knees and to be the bike that I don't mind getting dirty. I love the idea of the single speed but think it's probably not really what I want given the old knees and steep hills. Still simplicity is good, low maintenance is good. I was thinking something like a 9 speed? Speed is not an issue on this bike: no worries, no hurry. Good quality, durable components.

    My attempts at researching this have left me a bit overwhelmed. I'm handy, but only slightly beyond beginner when it comes to bike mechaniching. I hope you folks can help me choose the components to get this critter rolling again.

    Thanks for your help!

  2. #2
    Rio
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    p.s. I'm interested in upgrading as needed, in addition to simply replacing the missing stuff.

  3. #3
    surly old man jgedwa's Avatar
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    Give single-speed another thought. Depending on how you will use it, you can probably gear it so that you do not have to mash too hard for your knees to stand.

    Does it have horizontal rear drop-outs? If so, maybe all you will need is to find a rear wheel to make it work. If not, you will have to use a tensioner (or a dummy rear DeR) to keep the chain tight. With luck, the crank has bolt on chainrings, so you can unbolt all but the one you want to use.

    I think you might find that the parts to bring this thing back to life as a multi-geared bike will be pricey unless you happen to have a parts pile in your basement to sort through.

    Some Hardrocks of that era have horizontal drops, but have most of the dropout filled in to keep the wheel in-line. This gives you little or no play to tension the chain. I have successfully filed out that extra material to give me a good long dropout to work with. If this is Greek to you, take a picture of the dropout on the right side of the bike and post it here and we can talk you through it.

    Of course, you could also go fixed gear too. My favorite bike is a Hardrock with filed dropouts that I run as a fixed gear with street tires. It is a tough and simple urban assualt bike. And cheap too.

    jim
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  4. #4
    Rio
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    It has bolt on chain rings and a horizontal drop out. I was wrong about it missing the rear derailleur, it's there.

  5. #5
    surly old man jgedwa's Avatar
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    Okay, that takes care of much of the expense of bringing it back to life with all its gears.

    I would keep my fingers crossed that I could find a useable used wheel for it at an LBS in the area. Some places do not keep any around, and some do. You can pretty quickly discover which type of store is which.

    Not to try to sell it too hard, but in case you do have trouble finding such a wheel you might still be able to find a super-cheap rear wheel that can be used for singlespeed. An LBS (interesting question: is it an "an" or a "a" before LBS? (interesting meta-meta question: why does it sound right to write "an "an" or a "a"", instead of using "a" both times?)) around here stocks barebones new MTB wheels for use with freewheels for $18 that I would thread a BMX freewheel onto to make it singlespeed.

    You get a red star if you can parse the above sentence the first time through. You get a gold star if you can answer both questions paranthetically posed in it.

    jim
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Vision and budget.

    It's December so you still have plenty of time. The first two things that you should do is to firm up your vision and establish a budget for this bike.

    Exactly how and where do you picture yourself riding your new bike? That'll drive decisions like gearing, handlebar style and tire selection.

    Budget is another biggie. It's tempting to say that ideally you'd like to buildit for free. Often, however, a few carefully purchased components can make the difference between a hodge podge and a bike that looks professionally done.

  7. #7
    Rio
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    Locate the bag of gold stars. It sounds better because you pronounce "lbs" "elle be ess" and English grammar precedes "elle" with "an." No red stars for me though :-)

    We have only two bike shops here. Bigger towns are several hours of driving, something I do about twice a decade at most. I will check local shops for used wheels. What exactly am I looking for? Any MTB wheel with a single-speed hub? Does brand matter? How about online sources?

    It's a bit difficult to say what my budget is because I don't know how to determine that. I had in mind the $500 range, but would be happy to go lower or higher if reality dictates one or the other.

    The riding is a mix of flats and very steep hills. Moderate amount of bad-weather riding. Range for this bike would be small, about 2-10 miles per trip. I plan to use it for all my around town errands. Though I might head out on trails on rare occasions.

  8. #8
    surly old man jgedwa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rio View Post
    Locate the bag of gold stars. It sounds better because you pronounce "lbs" "elle be ess" and English grammar precedes "elle" with "an." No red stars for me though :-)



    ---Partial credit. That was the easier of the two grammar questions. BTW, I wrote the sentence and I still could not parse it the first time through.




    We have only two bike shops here. Bigger towns are several hours of driving, something I do about twice a decade at most. I will check local shops for used wheels. What exactly am I looking for? Any MTB wheel with a single-speed hub? Does brand matter? How about online sources?




    ---For single speed you do not need to match the brand up to what you already have. I would look for one of two things: either one made for a thread-on freewheel (so you can spin on a BMX freewheel; but that might require respacing and redishing of the wheel), or else one for a cassette that you can simply put on a single cog and put spacers around it to get it to line up reasonably well with the chainring in front. I would recommend the second route. Ask, if you want one of us to say something more about putting spacers on a cassette hub to convert it to singlespeed. It is cheap and easy though. A cassette wheel would be easy to find since brand does not matter. Might look around (at your LBS's or on Ebay) for an older one for 7 speed, since they will be cheaper and it does not matter for singlespeed.



    It's a bit difficult to say what my budget is because I don't know how to determine that. I had in mind the $500 range, but would be happy to go lower or higher if reality dictates one or the other.




    ----For $500, you can make this thing into a Cadillac. It sounds like you mostly just need a rear wheel to bring it back up to specs, and I would think you could get a nice new one for way less than that. Even if you account for the chain, cables, housings and whatnot that often are needed to refresh the thing, I would think you could do the whole project for $200. Singlespeed could be done for maybe $30, if you are lucky however. I have a soft spot in my heart for singlespeed/fixed gear, so forgive me if my advice always leans in that direction. As a tinkerer, I love the robust simplicity of such a bike. Feels like you could take it to war with you. As a lover of old bikes, I would never recommend abandoning hope for the Hardrock, but I guess I should say that you might find that you can buy a brand new decent rigid MTB in your pricerange. I do not like that solution, but it is out there.



    The riding is a mix of flats and very steep hills. Moderate amount of bad-weather riding. Range for this bike would be small, about 2-10 miles per trip. I plan to use it for all my around town errands. Though I might head out on trails on rare occasions.



    --Unless you are Conan, it may be hard to find a single gear that will work on the flat and on steep hills. If you are good, fast spinner you can make do with a low gearing everywhere. If you are more recreational, then you might not like it. In that case, because you have deal with a lot of hills, full gearing is probably in order. Plus, I would think that you still can come in way under your budget doing that.

    Good luck with it; sounds like a fun problem
    Cross Check Nexus7, IRO Mark V, Trek 620 Nexus7, Karate Monkey half fat, IRO Model 19 fixed, Amp Research B3, Surly 1x1 half fat fixed, and more...
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  9. #9
    Rio
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    I think I answered the second question. The answer to the first is "a" is correct because grammarians, unlike the rest of us, claim to pronounce "LBS" "Local Bike Shop". Further, they insist that we pronounce it that way. So, now, how about that star?

    Guess I wasn't clear about the terrain around here. Clarified now, I think? So, it sounds like we're back to an 8 speed? And I'm back to the problem of 1) how to determine what of the remaining components to upgrade and 2) what to buy (and where to purchase) replacements for the missing stuff.

    I could be sold on the single but it does sound like not the best choice for my mix of very steep hills and longer flat stretches.

    Is that right?

    I definitely want to fix up the Hardrock. For one thing, I am looking forward to a bike project and learning a little.

  10. #10
    surly old man jgedwa's Avatar
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    No stars yet. Go back and reread that original horrible sentence in parentheses. Why when talking about the word "an" do we use the word "an"? As in, "I used an "an" in that sentence." And why when talking about the word "a" do we use the word "a"? As in, "I used a "a" in that sentence.

    Tinkering on old bikes is pretty easy. Unlike a car, for example, any interested layperson can usually think their way through any problem. Singlespeed is especially easy, and that is one reason there are so many people who convert their old bikes in the basement.

    If it is a main ride, then it probably does not make sense to go singlespeed for you. If it is a second bike, then it could. You may find that once you get comfortable messing with bikes that you might be interested in building one up just for the fun of it.

    But, back to your original question, you probably only need to find a wheel with an 8 speed hub. And then the 8 speed cassette. If you wanted it geared down a bit to deal with hills you could look for a cassette with low gearing. You could also put a smaller small chainring on up front. You would likely be able to do that with the current front derailleur you have. You might also look into putting a triple on up front. I think yours came originally with just a double. That quickly gives you a lot more range. Often, it requires a new front derailleur though.

    If you were not inclined to fuss with it, you could always just buy a complete new drivetrain. Then there would be no trial and error involved. You could spend a lot of money doing this, or a more modest amount depending on the quality level. Not to disparage your old Hardrock, but it seems silly to me to put a whole new fancy drivetrain on it. For that kind of money you could look for a complete used bike with more modern gearing on it on Craigslist or Ebay. Since you want a Winter project, I think the way to go is to find a wheel, find a low-geared cassette, and maybe think about putting a triple on front with an appropriate front derailleur. It would require a couple of bike tools, a little bit of time and little expertise.

    I would think that the new wheel and cassette will be found for not too much money. A used one is findable and would be very cheap. A decent quality new one might only set you back less than $200. A triple up front can be found pretty cheaply. Check Nashbar.com. New chainrings are not too expensive if you wanted to just change up the double ring.

    jim
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  11. #11
    Rio
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    Ok, that helps.

    When playing around with the single speed idea, I tried sticking to various single gears and decided that I probably didn't want a single speed -- even though I love the idea. There is almost nowhere I go that doesn't involve a mix of very steep hills (some of them long as well) and flats.

    I have the idea that an 8-speed will be lower maintenance (and lighter) than a 24-speed, for example. That the right 8 speeds will be perfectly adequate for my riding conditions. Is that right? Are there other considerations?

    How do I decide how much to spend on each component? I want it to be durable and fun to ride. But I have no need to throw money away.

    How do I know which brand and make of cassette is a good buy and appropriate for what I want to do? The same questions apply to each of the other components that I need: front wheel, rear wheel, etc? How do I know whether each of these components will work with everything else and fit this particular frame?

    The Shimano brake and shifter cables don't show any wear but do have a little rust on them. The shifters say Shimano 515 sp, I don't see anything on the brakes except the brand name. I don't know whether these are the originals or not. Should I upgrade/replace them while I'm at it? Keep them? How do I tell?

    The front cogs don't seem to have a lot of wear. The teeth seem even. When I spin the bottom bracket (?) by turning the crank it spins easily but stops fairly quickly. Replace or just clean?

    Lots and lots of questions. Any help in clearing up any of the many blank spots on my project map is appreciated.



    p.s. To say "I used an "an"", is correct. To say "I used a "a"" is incorrect; "an" should precede "a" in that case.

  12. #12
    surly old man jgedwa's Avatar
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    Now you are asking some hard questions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rio View Post
    Ok, that helps.

    When playing around with the single speed idea, I tried sticking to various single gears and decided that I probably didn't want a single speed -- even though I love the idea. There is almost nowhere I go that doesn't involve a mix of very steep hills (some of them long as well) and flats.

    I have the idea that an 8-speed will be lower maintenance (and lighter) than a 24-speed, for example. That the right 8 speeds will be perfectly adequate for my riding conditions. Is that right? Are there other considerations?


    ------The more gears you add the more complexity you add. This usually works out to be: more weight, more cost, and more that can break. But, in each case, only marginally so, probably. I am of the opinion that a very high number of gears is mostly useful for someone in top form who is racing at the envelope of what their body can do. For you and me, however, it is the range of gears that is more important than the number of gears in that range. So, if you can find a cassette with a bigger than normal range, I think that would solve your problem. Or if you can bolt on a smaller small front chainring, it likely will get you the range you need.


    How do I decide how much to spend on each component? I want it to be durable and fun to ride. But I have no need to throw money away.



    ---That is maybe the ultimate bike mechanics question. You may have to go to the LBSs in your area and actually handle the parts and ask them their opinion of each. Its a lot of fun if you like that sort of thing. Since you are building sort of a frankenbike, there may be no general advice about what quality level to get for each individual part. Most component manufacturers have a line-up from best to worst. The best is usually better than any recreational rider needs. The worst is probably heavy, clunky, and breakable. If you upgrade the current 8 speed, then since it is older tech, you might find prices on it that are reasonable even for pretty high-level stuff. Sorry, I know this is not specific advice that you can act on. One of the joys and frustrations of messing with an older bike is that there may be no specific recipe. This might be a good place to find yourself in your favorite LBS to let them give you advice about what would be a worthwhile expense and what would not. In my experience, some LBS simply do not want to waste time talking anything other than the best. In your situation, a place like this won't help you. But some LBS cater to just this sort of thing. They might have used parts, and NOS stuff, and the staff who knows which of those derailleurs from 1995 are good. Find that place and cling to it.


    How do I know which brand and make of cassette is a good buy and appropriate for what I want to do? The same questions apply to each of the other components that I need: front wheel, rear wheel, etc? How do I know whether each of these components will work with everything else and fit this particular frame?


    ---See above. Drivetrain stuff of that generation is somewhat forgiving, but as a rule of thumb you should keep the entire drivetrain the same brand. No doubt, yours came with Shimano. Unless you plan on switching the whole thing, I would stay with that. Wheels are always a good place to be choosy, given what we ask them to do. A lot of customers will buy complete bikes but want to upgrade the wheels immediately upon delivery. (It is the most common upgrade.) So, with some luck your LBS might have a small stash of wheels in the back that are good and strong and light, but not super-flashy. If they have such wheels, they are often the best deals in the shop. Again, sorry for the lack of actionable advice.



    The Shimano brake and shifter cables don't show any wear but do have a little rust on them. The shifters say Shimano 515 sp, I don't see anything on the brakes except the brand name. I don't know whether these are the originals or not. Should I upgrade/replace them while I'm at it? Keep them? How do I tell?


    ------Cables and housings always make a difference in shifting performance. Assuming these have a decade of corrosion and crud in them, I would think it would be worthwhile replacing them. Unless they are seized up tight, you can always get them to work. I can revive pretty cruddy cables for a bike I am going to sell used. But for your own bike it seems like an unnecessary corner to cut. As for levers, wait and see what drivetrain components you get. I am of the opinion that they make the least difference in performance (behind, in order, well tuned cables/housings, derailleurs, cassette, and chain). So wait on them and let them be dictated by the rest. If your current ones can be made to work with what you get, then fine.



    The front cogs don't seem to have a lot of wear. The teeth seem even. When I spin the bottom bracket (?) by turning the crank it spins easily but stops fairly quickly. Replace or just clean?



    -----Front chainrings last a long time. Unlike rear cogs that are small and so only a few teeth bear the wear, the fronts are much larger and so the wear is spread out through many teeth. I bet that unless you want to change one for gearing range reasons, you can keep them. Always a good idea to explore the BB if you are this far into a bike. Sounds to me like it needs some attention anyway. If it is a self-contained cartridge BB, you just switch it out. If if it is a ball and cone one that you can take apart then clean it and pack it up and put it back in.



    Lots and lots of questions. Any help in clearing up any of the many blank spots on my project map is appreciated.


    ------Yeah. Go to the LBS and look at the pricing options for wheels and drivetrain. That will dictate what else you have do to make it work.


    p.s. To say "I used an "an"", is correct. To say "I used a "a"" is incorrect; "an" should precede "a" in that case.

    -----------Okay, I concede. When I wrote that yesterday, it sounded right to me. Now, it sounds obviously wrong. You get the gold star.
    Cross Check Nexus7, IRO Mark V, Trek 620 Nexus7, Karate Monkey half fat, IRO Model 19 fixed, Amp Research B3, Surly 1x1 half fat fixed, and more...
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  13. #13
    Bikaholic blamp28's Avatar
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    Reasonably priced wheels that give the option of upgrading to disk later.

    http://www.blueskycycling.com/produc...-Lite-Rims.htm

    This combo works very well and is easy to set up.
    http://www.blueskycycling.com/produc...-Combo-Kit.htm

    Chain and Cassette to round out the system
    http://www.blueskycycling.com/produc...-Combo-Kit.htm

    This stuff will come out ~$250 leaving half of your budget available for other upgrades or parts to finish such as tires, cables etc.
    http://www.blueskycycling.com/produc...-Cable-Set.htm

    I also Highly recommend these brakes,
    http://www.blueskycycling.com/produc...it-7-Brake.htm

    And these levers.
    http://www.blueskycycling.com/produc...ake-Levers.htm

    This combination is about the best stopping power I have found short of disks.

    All of that still comes out to around $350 and would be a nice all around bike for your intended use.
    Trek Fuel XC MTB, Giant OCR Road Bike, Rans Screamer - Tandem

  14. #14
    Rio
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    Thinking about this project last night I remembered what got me started on the singlespeed idea in the first place. I was leaving the grocery store with a full load of groceries when my chain broke. Getting home without gears (not to mention drivetrain) was surprisingly fun. That "free" feeling that singlespeed fans talk about. Remembering that, I decided to go with a singlespeed. Rather than selecting my single gear for getting me up the hills, I'll look for a gear that gets me along the flat at a relaxed pace. When I have a hill to go up, I'll just push.

    The point is as much about the project as it is the final product anyway. And who knows, I may fall in love with one speed.

    Thanks so much for the good advice and for helping me clarify the whole thing. I started out only knowing that I didn't know much. I think I have a clearer plan now.

    But I still have questions ;-) I will go down today and check out the bike shop to search for wheels. Do you have suggestions for where to go for the hub? Should I consider flip-flop hubs or only single speed?

    A Gold star to you for helpfulness and patience.

  15. #15
    Bikaholic blamp28's Avatar
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    Flip Flop gives you the optin of later toying with the fixed gear thing.
    Trek Fuel XC MTB, Giant OCR Road Bike, Rans Screamer - Tandem

  16. #16
    surly old man jgedwa's Avatar
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    I love fixed gear. Almost all my bike riding is on fixed. I recommend it to everyone as a fun and different way to experience a bike.

    But, it does sound like the OP is more looking for single speed than fixed. Getting a flip/flop wheel does provide the option in the future. But it does somewhat complicate the equation. In order to flip a flip/flop hub, attention must be paid to to getting a specific chainline (usually pretty far in-board of the usual chainline). That might mean a new BB and/or a new crank. Simply converting a normal cassette hub to single speed requires only a cog and some spacers to bring that cog to whatever chainline the chainring happens to give you.

    Plus, finding a fixed wheel in 26" takes a bit more leg work than a 700c. There are a few budget ones available on-line, but beyond that it may have to built up by hand. Makes for a great wheel, but can be pricey. I guess another option is to respace and redish an older style freewheel wheel. Then either a track cog can be spun on or a BMX freewheel. I run at least one bike this way. It is sort of an inelegant fix, but it works. And does provide the option of singlespeed.

    Some people love singlespeed and fixed, and some people just do not see the appeal. I would therefore recommend just using a normal cassette wheel with a cog and spacers, since it is easy to retro-retro fit into multiple gearing if desired.

    jim
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  17. #17
    Rio
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    Jim, thanks again for the good advice. I took my bike (a 90 or 91 Rock Hopper) to my LBS and in about 30 minutes they had gathered up everything I needed to turn the bike into a single speed. Quite a few of the parts were used and all under $200 including a couple of tools I didn't have.

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