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  1. #1
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    Upgrading old MTB. Parts suggestions needed.

    I have an old MTB I picked up on Craigslist awhile back, and I haven't been using it as much as I like.

    I'm pretty sure that its this old horse, the 1993 Giant ATX 780. I'd like some advice about what to do in the "is it worth my time and money" sense.

    My original plan was to first replace the fork, and possibly rear wheel if I can find a disc fork that is compatible. I've been meaning to replace the stem for awhile now, because its the only thing that keeps the bike from fitting perfectly. Also, while I'm at it, I figure I should replace the shifters because the rear shifter sticks so bad that its almost unusable. Here are my impressions on these two main parts:

    Fork: I'm pretty sure that I've got a 1" threaded headset, which doesn't seem to be an easy size to find from a cursory glance on ebay. My ideal fork has around 3" of travel and has disc tabs that are compatible with modern disc brakes, while still fitting my original frame.

    Stem: There are a couple of great LBS's nearby that stock stems that will fit a threaded headset, so I'm not worried about finding an appropriate one.

    Shifters: From another cursory glance on ebay, there seems to be no shortage of used or NOS 7-speed shifters that I could swap in pretty easily. If I can score a fork that lets me use disc brakes, I'll have to use the brake lever that comes with it for the front, which will rule out integrated brake/shifters. I've also thought about going to 8-speed (I'd just need a new cassette/chain right?), but then I'd have to replace more parts and spend more money.

    If you have any advice, suggestions, or can help me sort out the compatibility issues here, don't hesitate to reply. Thank you.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    You need a different Free Hub body to go to 8 or 9 speeds. The 7 speed body is too short.
    8 speed, you can use the same chain. 9 speed requires a new chain.

    IF you are going to go to more speeds, I'd go directly to 9. Your Ebay prices won't be that much higher vs 8, and I think you'll find a better selection of cassettes for your riding type. plus the additional gear.

  3. #3
    cs1
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    IMO, I wouldn't throw any major money at the bike. It's a nice piece as is. If you want more gears and suspension buy a new bike. It's going to cost way more to upgrade what you already have. If the shifter sticks try flushing it out with WD40 or brake cleaning fluid. It should be as good as new. The supply of 1" suspension forks is very limited. Even more limited with disc brake tabs. If you do manage to find one you have to have a disc/V-brake lever for the front and canti for the rear. That is unless you go V-brake in the rear, more money. Not to mention the cost of new disc hubs. Are you going to pay a shop to build new wheels or do them yourself? If you sit down and really plan this out you'll find it won't be cheap.

    A thorough overhaul of you current bike just might surprise you. Good luck
    1999 Waterford RSE-11, 1995 Waterford 1200, 1989 Specialized Rockhopper Comp
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  4. #4
    Senior Member z415's Avatar
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    ^ +1.
    Falling is learning...[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]...learn to not fall in a box.
    Any good American will watch THIS -and- WHERE WAS MY BIKE MADE?

  5. #5
    Senior Member CACycling's Avatar
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    That should be a very nice ride as-is if you do a thorough clean, lube and adjust. Suspension forks, if you find a set to fit, will probably throw the geometry off as the frame wasn't designed for them.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by cs1
    IMO, I wouldn't throw any major money at the bike. It's a nice piece as is. If you want more gears and suspension buy a new bike. It's going to cost way more to upgrade what you already have. If the shifter sticks try flushing it out with WD40 or brake cleaning fluid. It should be as good as new. The supply of 1" suspension forks is very limited. Even more limited with disc brake tabs. If you do manage to find one you have to have a disc/V-brake lever for the front and canti for the rear. That is unless you go V-brake in the rear, more money. Not to mention the cost of new disc hubs. Are you going to pay a shop to build new wheels or do them yourself? If you sit down and really plan this out you'll find it won't be cheap.

    A thorough overhaul of you current bike just might surprise you. Good luck
    Your whole post is pretty much exactly what I figured anyway, but wasn't sure about. The information about forks is pretty much what I thought already, but I haven't been around bikes long enough to really know. I'll try the WD40 in the shifters, it'd be awesome if they worked well.



    Quote Originally Posted by CACycling View Post
    That should be a very nice ride as-is if you do a thorough clean, lube and adjust. Suspension forks, if you find a set to fit, will probably throw the geometry off as the frame wasn't designed for them.
    It already has a suspension fork, it just has so little travel that its mostly useless.




    I guess my plan is just to replace the stem, and the gawdawful seat that's on it now. It should be much more comfortable if I just invest that small amount of money in it.

    Thanks for the help and suggestions.

  7. #7
    cs1
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    Sometimes just repacking the bearings and new cables make a world of difference. Don't forget brake pads and straddle wires. I'm still using my 1989 Rockhopper Comp, bought new, and it works perfect. Deore LX is a step above regular Deore and is a really nice group. Good luck
    1999 Waterford RSE-11, 1995 Waterford 1200, 1989 Specialized Rockhopper Comp
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  8. #8
    Steel Member fiataccompli's Avatar
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    I went through the same thought sequence with my '88 GT Karakoram that I bought new. Every time I thought about upgrading, it wasn't "worth it". I ended up getting a series of other bikes, & ultimately a slightly newer Karakoram + a Zaskar to satisfy the 'more modern' quest. But, about your bike: routing maintenance like cleaning, cables, pads etc. is cheap...no problem. Things like a stem...well, that can be pretty cheap w/ Ebay. Other parts like a seat, maybe different bars, maybe different gearing on a crankset....I'd look at those as parts that you can always keep to migrate to another bike, so the idea of "is it worth putting the $$ into" becomes relative. You can buy the parts, use them & then transfer them to another bike or resell them on Ebay later. Personally, I love the non-suspended early MTBs as 'round town utility/beater/fun bikes. My '88 GT is from the era when you'd still have pretty tall gearing on MTBs, and with slick/narrorer tires, it's a nice way to get around when you doubt you'll have to hop any tree stumps, climb muddy hills or the like.... above all; have fun with it!

  9. #9
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    +1 Old rigid mountain bikes are great. But if you really want a suspension fork, rear wheel, shifters, stem, etc., then you are better off finding a bike that already has these features, from a financial standpoint anyway. But not everything we do makes sense financially.

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    I'd like to clear something up about this bike, because the BikePedia page doesn't have a picture: It has suspension.

    Maybe I linked to the wrong bike (though the components listed are correct), but this one has a suspension fork of roughly an inch or two of travel, and is so stiff that it might as well not be there. I've considered even replacing it with a rigid fork to save weight, but they seem to be equally hard to find as well.

  11. #11
    Arsehole PlatyPius's Avatar
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    You can order a 1" suspension fork from any shop that uses J&B as a supplier. You won't, however, be able to get anything "great". The *1* model that is available is by some company called "SWK". It has coil springs, steel legs, preload adjustment, and 50mm of travel. Canti mounts only. Should retail for around $60.

    Just remember that anything old enough to have a 1" steerer isn't going to have much travel. You might be able to find an old Marzocchi on eBay that has a 1".... it'll probably have around 60mm of travel. You *might* be able to find one with 80mm. That's going to be the limit.

    With that being said, here's a 'period-correct' fork on another board I'm a member of. I think it's probably a 1". I've posted asking him to verify. It comes with new elastomers, so you should be good on the squish-squish. Still, this is a short travel fork - so don't expect drop-off-proof suspension from it.

    http://www.usbiketrader.com/viewtopi...4dd4c61ab33d37

  12. #12
    Senior Member sonatageek's Avatar
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    Get the shifters working right first, and this is one case where WD-40 is the right tool for the job. Do the cables and bearings etc and you will most likely be surprised at just how nice it goes and stops.

    If the stem is the wrong size replace that too -- get the fit dialed in and ride it. Unless the fork is really shot I would leave it as is.

  13. #13
    NC cyclust
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    I picked up an old Cannondale MTB with a rigid fork a few years ago myself, and after rebiulding it with some newer drivetrain parts, I have come to appreciate the beauty of this great bike. I've always been one to keep the tires pretty firm, but lacking suspension, I've learned that running tires with a lower pressure can actually be a pretty good substitute for a suspension fork! I don't ride any really rough or technical stuff, but for mild singletrack and railtrails, the lack of suspension is a real godsend, as this thing is super light. So before you sink major money into a suspenion fork, and certainly disc brakes, try using your present set up with a bit lower pressure in your tires when using it off road. You'll be suprised how comfortable it can be. I would recomend getting a threadless stem adapter, so that you can use the much more available threadless stems. Getting a proper fit will make a huge difference. And why do you want to switch to disc brakes? I've owned 3 bikes with discs, and despised every one of them. V brakes are so much easier to set up, keep adjusted and work on. Unless you are ridding thru deep water and mud, V brakes are just fine.
    Last edited by nccyclust; 12-24-08 at 07:19 AM.

  14. #14
    Steel Member fiataccompli's Avatar
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    nccyclust, which old Cannondale do you have? I recently got a '96 M400 & have high hopes for it....and it's roadbike lightweight too! Here it is, still in it's "fresh of the rack of some dude's RV" condition:

    +1 on tire pressure. I rode my '88 GT for a long time it all sorts of terrains....early in my ownership, shock forks were too exotic for my budget & by the time they weren't, I realized I was hitting diminished returns if I found a 1" fork. So, my tire pressure varied with the terrain I was on. That said, I'd guess the converse of someone else's comments may be true...installing a rigid fork on your bike may make it look like a funky time trials bike & ride like....well, not good.

    I'd say unless you're riding with a group of folks who can endure vast amts of mud, water, ice, etc. w/o slowing down & you might have to stop & clear mud or just go slower 'cause you can't stop, then it doesn't matter. People have been riding bikes and having a darn good time doing it for far longer than there have been disc brakes, suspsension forks, or even gears for that matter!...oh, heck, even brakes at all!

  15. #15
    Bike Junkie roccobike's Avatar
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    JakcBeNimble, NYCBikes.com has two MTB suspension forks with 1" steerers. (Check the "Warehouse" section. They are inexpensive but they are low end with only 40mm travel. If the steer tube length is correct for you and you just want to replace the fork, the Suntour option is cheap and will last for a couple of years. I put one on my 88 Nishiki Ariel. It performed OK for a low end fork, but wore out within two years. FYI.
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    I've been reading your suggestions and thinking about what's actually worth it, and I think that replacing the fork with a rigid fork might be the way to go. I'll have to find one that doesn't goof-up the geometry and has all the correct measurements. If I remember right, they make "suspension corrected" forks just for this purpose, but I don't know where I might find them.

    A quick brakes question: Are the post mounts for cantilevers the same as for V-brakes? I'm not deadset on changing them because then I'd have to change the levers and therefore the shifters too.

    To answer the "why discs?" question, I ride near year round in Seattle, which has near constant mild rain, and rims get destroyed just from routine riding, even with constant cleaning. That and bling. Can't forget bling. Based on what y'all've told me, its not worth the effort or money anyway, so I think I'll drop the disc plan.

    Thank you all again for the helpful advice and replies. Its amazing the quality of answers you get around here when you make a thorough first post.

  17. #17
    Arsehole PlatyPius's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JakcBeNimble View Post
    I've been reading your suggestions and thinking about what's actually worth it, and I think that replacing the fork with a rigid fork might be the way to go. I'll have to find one that doesn't goof-up the geometry and has all the correct measurements. If I remember right, they make "suspension corrected" forks just for this purpose, but I don't know where I might find them.

    A quick brakes question: Are the post mounts for cantilevers the same as for V-brakes? I'm not deadset on changing them because then I'd have to change the levers and therefore the shifters too.

    To answer the "why discs?" question, I ride near year round in Seattle, which has near constant mild rain, and rims get destroyed just from routine riding, even with constant cleaning. That and bling. Can't forget bling. Based on what y'all've told me, its not worth the effort or money anyway, so I think I'll drop the disc plan.

    Thank you all again for the helpful advice and replies. Its amazing the quality of answers you get around here when you make a thorough first post.
    Personally, I'd go with a steel or carbon rigid fork. As some of us have mentioned, there ARE a few 1" suspension forks available, but nothing of any real quality. If you're going to be commuting on it, you'll be fine.

    Yes, Canti and V-Brakes use the same brake bosses.
    Vs are a massive upgrade in power, IMO. You can buy replacement shifter/brake levers (Alivio-level) for $40. Figure $20/pair for the V-brakes. $80 upgrade that will make a LOT of difference. Assume you get lucky and find a steel replacement fork for $40 (I'm sure some of us here on BF have a few stashed away) and you're looking at $120 total to get your bike commuter-ready. You can't buy a new bike for $120.

    Ergo, I think you would do well to upgrade/replace those 3 things. You could probably put the current fork on eBay and offset some of that cost, too.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by PlatyPius View Post
    Personally, I'd go with a steel or carbon rigid fork. As some of us have mentioned, there ARE a few 1" suspension forks available, but nothing of any real quality. If you're going to be commuting on it, you'll be fine.

    Yes, Canti and V-Brakes use the same brake bosses.
    Vs are a massive upgrade in power, IMO. You can buy replacement shifter/brake levers (Alivio-level) for $40. Figure $20/pair for the V-brakes. $80 upgrade that will make a LOT of difference. Assume you get lucky and find a steel replacement fork for $40 (I'm sure some of us here on BF have a few stashed away) and you're looking at $120 total to get your bike commuter-ready. You can't buy a new bike for $120.

    Ergo, I think you would do well to upgrade/replace those 3 things. You could probably put the current fork on eBay and offset some of that cost, too.
    You've pretty much summed up my plans, but I don't know where I'd find the right fork. I'm going to ask a mechanic friend of mine if I do in fact have a 1" threaded headset before I proceed, but I'll take suggestions now. I'm almost certain that's the righe size/style, but I'd like someone else to look at it first. If I can get a camera, I'll post pics of the headset here.

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    Arsehole PlatyPius's Avatar
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    Considering the year, I'm sure it is.

    You'll need to measure the length of the steerer tube. You can get a good "guesstimation" by measuring the length of the headtube and headset. Start at the top of the fork crown/bottom of the headset cup and measure to the top of the headset lock nut. That will give you a rough idea of the length you need.

    Then you can post in the "Wanted" forum here and describe what you're looking for.

    Read here:
    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/headsets.html

  20. #20
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    Unfortunately I'm out of town for Christmas, but when I get home I'll give it a measure. If I remember right, it has a pretty short headtube, at least compared to my roadbikes.

  21. #21
    Bike Junkie roccobike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JakcBeNimble View Post
    You've pretty much summed up my plans, but I don't know where I'd find the right fork. I'm going to ask a mechanic friend of mine if I do in fact have a 1" threaded headset before I proceed, but I'll take suggestions now. I'm almost certain that's the righe size/style, but I'd like someone else to look at it first. If I can get a camera, I'll post pics of the headset here.
    I thought you had already checked and determined it was a 1" head. YES certainly check it. While most MTB heads were still 1" at that time, I've come across a 91 and 92 Nishiki MTB with 1 1/8 and a 90 Miyata with a 1 1/4 inch headset. Your bike is an upper level Giant and just might be a 1 1/8. If it is, there are plenty of inexpensive used fork options on ebay that will have disc mounts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by roccobike View Post
    I thought you had already checked and determined it was a 1" head. YES certainly check it. While most MTB heads were still 1" at that time, I've come across a 91 and 92 Nishiki MTB with 1 1/8 and a 90 Miyata with a 1 1/4 inch headset. Your bike is an upper level Giant and just might be a 1 1/8. If it is, there are plenty of inexpensive used fork options on ebay that will have disc mounts.
    I wasn't planning on spending a penny before I'd doublechecked that.

    If it does turn out to be a 1-1/8" headset, do I have to use a threaded fork? Does the headset dictate what kind of fork you can use, or just the size? As in, can I use a modern 1-1/8" threadless fork instead?

  23. #23
    Arsehole PlatyPius's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JakcBeNimble View Post
    I wasn't planning on spending a penny before I'd doublechecked that.

    If it does turn out to be a 1-1/8" headset, do I have to use a threaded fork? Does the headset dictate what kind of fork you can use, or just the size? As in, can I use a modern 1-1/8" threadless fork instead?
    If it's 1-1/8", you can use a threadless headset and just about any fork you want.

    If it's 1-1/4" (which I doubt), you can get reducers to use a 1-1/8" headset.

  24. #24
    Senior Member southpawboston's Avatar
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    i would say replace the fork but keep the deore LX cantis and levers. they're pretty good as-is. then throw on a couple pair of koolstop salmon canti brake pads and replace the brake and shifter cables with quality ones, and that alone should really have a nice effect on the bike. total cost for two sets of koolstops and two cable kits is about $50-60.

  25. #25
    Steel Member fiataccompli's Avatar
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    I was thinking it was around '90 that the higher end MTBs were 1-1/4" & it took a few years after that for that size to become standard across the market range. W/ Deore components, I guess that bike could go either way.

    p.s....I love it - the 'bling' factor! There needs to be an equivalent of the 24" wheels for cars for bikes! Personally, I'm still avoiding discs for the same reason I avoid developing carbon road bike frame lust....but living in a rain forest climate is not an insignificant factor, granted.

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