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Thread: Bike Upgrades

  1. #1
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    Bike Upgrades

    So i'm new to the game, and everyone keeps telling me that one of the best upgrades i could make to my el cheapo is new wheels. This is a mongoose xr-75 MTB which i know is a crap bike, but i got it for free. I went to my LBS yesterday and had them put on shimano brifters and adjust the brakes. I also put a new shimano 7-speed cassette on and had them adjust the derailer... it now shifts like a normal bike.

    One of the major problems I'm having is transfering power to the ground, especially while climbing. I can feel the suspension bouncing while Im pedaling and it seems like alot of energy is being wasted. I would also like to retain the ability to take this bike offroad.

    So my questions are :

    Anybody got a reccomendation for a new set of lighter wheels that wont cost an arm and a leg, and that I could still take offroad?

    Reccomendation on a new shock with a lockout (doesnt have to be remote) or can someone fabricate me something to put there?

    Anyone got a reccomendation for any other upgrades besides these two? I would like to eventually swap out the front fork for something nicer, but this will probably be one of my last upgrades. I'm basically only going to be using the factory frame, which i will probably then swap out or redesign in the future once I get back to the states.

    I know these might be kind of obtuse questions, but we all start somewhere and i appreciate any advice in advance.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    Cut your losses! You can find a used hardtail quality mountain bike for far less than trying upgrade a roach. The Mongoose is not worth doing anything to other than a few adjustments & lubing the chain.

    If you are riding on the street, adjust the suspension to full stiff and mount a set of 26" street tires.

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    Flying Merkel makes a good point. You got the bike for free for a reason and it isn't worth putting a lot more money into. Ride it the way it is and take the money you would have spent upgrading it and put it toward the purchase of a suitable better bike.

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    Ok, so you know the bike is cheap, the simplest thing to do with it, now you have it in working condition, is to leave it, and save you money to buy a higher spec bike.

    The upgrades that you have suggested don't make any sense on a bike like the xr-75, taking it that you are in the US, it's a $119 bike from Walmart.

    Looking at Nashbar, a really cheap set of wheels is $70, Forks say from Cambia, the cheapest set of RST's they do $90, and rear shock with lock out will be from at least $200 up., that way more than you bike cost in the first place, and even do ing all those upgrades will still leave you with a bike which won't perform any better than what you have at the moment.

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    lol i kind of figured the bulk of the responses would center around cutting my losses. The point is I honestly cant justify spending 600-800 dollars at one time on anything... but what I can do is pick up a frame thats rideable and make it not quite suck so bad... maybe I'm being completely naive here, but other than choice of materials... what separates one frame from another? we're essentially talking about a piece of metal... regardless of who its made by correct? If I'm completely wrong then someone set me straight before I start dropping cash, but I'm not seeing how any one frame is different from another...

    I'm also quite used to taking 100 dollar pieces of crap and making them fun... i had this honda one time... eh.. story for another board..

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    If you want full suspension, then it will cost you money, and way more than $600-800 for a new bike, 2nd hand will obviously be less. For picking up a 'frame that's rideable', would suggest that this is a bad idea, as going the frame only route is normally far more expensive in the long term than buying a complete bike

    For material choice, for hardtail there is Aluminum, Steel, Titanium or Carbon Fiber, Full suspension, Alu and CF; all have pro's and cons, CF is the current material of choice for high end bikes, Alu for lower end; for just being a piece of metal / material, no, its all about how it's put together & who designs, these have more of a bearing than who makes it.

    You havn't said what type of riding you do, as this will have an effect on what is worth getting.

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    Sorry but I have to agree with the masses here, the phrase "Polished Turd" comes to mind, doesn't matter how much polish you use or how much it shines after you are done, it will still be a turd.

    You don't have to spend 600 - 800 to get something decent, Keep an eye on craigslist etc and you can usually find something used that will be much better then the Mongoose and this something will prob be worth slowly upgrading over time. Heck even if you want to go new you can get a new entry level bike for about 400 if you shop around then slowly upgrade as time and money permit. that's what I did.

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    Quote Originally Posted by horus11B View Post
    .. I honestly cant justify spending 600-800 dollars at one time on anything... but what I can do is pick up a frame thats rideable and make it not quite suck so bad... .... what separates one frame from another? ..
    Thing is, parts bought piecemal are so much more expensive than parts bought in the shape of a bike. And frame quality tends to go hand in hand with parts quality. So even if it might not be that much difference from one frame to another, before you've replaced enough parts to have a half-way nice bike you'll have payed through the nose for it.

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    Senior Member Monster Pete's Avatar
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    Tinkering and upgrading bikes can be a fun hobby, and learning to wrench on a cheap bike is a bit less daunting than on an expensive one. Bear in mind though, that you could easily spend twice the value of the bike on upgrading parts. Even low-end components can be made to shift reliably in my experience. Putting high-end, super-light components on a heavy frame makes little sense in my opinion.

    If you're looking to get the highest quality for the least money, put aside a small amount of money each month to go towards a new complete bike, rather than upgrading the one you have. It seems counter-intuitive, but you'll save money this way. Some good bikes can be found second hand, usually in need of only a good service and some minor replacement parts. Likewise, try ebay for second-hand parts- someone will have replaced perfectly serviceable parts for higher-end ones on their bike, and lightly used components turn up frequently. One thing to beware of, if you are mechanically minded, is that you'll become hooked on restoring and fiddling with old bikes
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monster Pete View Post
    Tinkering and upgrading bikes can be a fun hobby, and learning to wrench on a cheap bike is a bit less daunting than on an expensive one. Bear in mind though, that you could easily spend twice the value of the bike on upgrading parts. Even low-end components can be made to shift reliably in my experience. Putting high-end, super-light components on a heavy frame makes little sense in my opinion.
    +1 Set aside funds for the next bike instead, built up a bike fund, and keep an eye out for a deal on a great used bike.

    Building up a frame is a costly undertaking. Instead, find a deal on a nice, used, complete bike. I've never spent $600 to $800 on a bike, and I have some great bikes.

    The last bike I bought new was 1975..... Too much good to great used stuff out there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by horus11B View Post
    what separates one frame from another? we're essentially talking about a piece of metal
    Yes, true, but all metals are not equal, even the same type of metal.

    The biggest things people look for in a frame is..

    1) Stiffness
    2) Lightweight while remaining strong
    3) Vibration absorption

    Stiff is better, but too stiff can become uncomfortable and not allow a good ride. Materials like carbon fiber have the stiffness but also have the vibration absorption to help with the harsh ride. Cro-Moly (steel) also has good vibration damping abilities, but is not as stiff as carbon fiber and aluminum is very stiff, which is good for power transfer, but can have a very harsh ride.

    Cro-Moly is made from molybdenum and chromium, two elements that allow the steel to be light and strong. The higher you go in price for a frame the better the better the metallurgical properties are.

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    I picked up a Nashbar MTB frame for $80.00. To make a long dull story short, I'm now into it for about $400.00. What I ended up with is a great full rigid bike that fits me perfectly and does what I want. Had I haunted Craigslist and bought a good hardtail bike, it would have been much cheaper.

    Funny you mentioned motorcycles. I learned that it's cheaper and easier to buy the absolute best you can afford, not the cheapest you can get away with.

    If you want to upgrade the bike economically, do the work yourself and just replace what breaks. Did that route with my old '97 Rockhopper, favorite bike ever.

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    Save some money then sell the Mongoose to add to a bike you want. OR, this is an odd ball suggestion. Get new wheels as you want, save up the money for a good used bike then transfer the newer wheels to the used bike. This way you would always have a spare set of wheels. Personally I would just save the money for a different bike and keep using what you have till then; and I would keep the old Mongoose in case you find yourself having to lock up your bike outside in an area that could result in someone stealing your bike like at a college campus or at work, thus the old one could get stolen but not the better newer bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Merkel View Post
    I picked up a Nashbar MTB frame for $80.00. To make a long dull story short, I'm now into it for about $400.00. What I ended up with is a great full rigid bike that fits me perfectly and does what I want. Had I haunted Craigslist and bought a good hardtail bike, it would have been much cheaper.

    Funny you mentioned motorcycles. I learned that it's cheaper and easier to buy the absolute best you can afford, not the cheapest you can get away with.

    If you want to upgrade the bike economically, do the work yourself and just replace what breaks. Did that route with my old '97 Rockhopper, favorite bike ever.

    Funny you mentioned that, I was just eyeballing that frame a minute ago and wondering if my wife would ok me getting it.... craigslist is sort of out.. and so are the classifieds... funny thing about korea is most of them speak freaking korean. I don't know why they cant be sensible and speak english like the rest of the world... lol

    I get what you guys are saying... a frame build is probably not too far off in the future... but i'll keep the old beater as is.... unless of course someone comes up with something crazy in the classifieds here..

    so... anyone wanna help me spec a hardtail frame build? lol

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    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Okay, here is a good question. If one has a semi-decent bike that they want to upgrade, but they don't really have the finances to upgrade the individual parts that one wants to. How about scouring the classifieds, Craig's List, eBay, etc. for used bikes. Looking for a bike(s) that have the components that one is looking for?

    Than transferring those components to your "dream bike." And likewise putting the "lower quality" parts on the "donor bike." And than either selling that bike or parts on Craig's List, eBay, or through the classifieds, or using it as a beater bike.

    That would have a couple of advantages. As has been pointed out buying a "whole" bike is more cost effective than doing it "piecemeal." Next one would get the experience building/upgrading the bike(s) that one rides. A win-win situation, isn't it?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
    Okay, here is a good question. If one has a semi-decent bike that they want to upgrade, but they don't really have the finances to upgrade the individual parts that one wants to. How about scouring the classifieds, Craig's List, eBay, etc. for used bikes. Looking for a bike(s) that have the components that one is looking for?

    Than transferring those components to your "dream bike." And likewise putting the "lower quality" parts on the "donor bike." And than either selling that bike or parts on Craig's List, eBay, or through the classifieds, or using it as a beater bike.

    That would have a couple of advantages. As has been pointed out buying a "whole" bike is more cost effective than doing it "piecemeal." Next one would get the experience building/upgrading the bike(s) that one rides. A win-win situation, isn't it?
    Thing is, you need to know your parts really well if you're going to be able to pull off a total transplant. Most will have to do some supporting purchases. Probably to both build bike and to the disposal bike as well.

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    You can get a really nice new bike at a Bike shop these days for under $500.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    You can get a really nice new bike at a Bike shop these days for under $500.
    This is true, especially if you get a closeout sale for the model year ending in August; or if your really lucky you might find a bike brand new left over from 2010 model year and they will heavily discount it to get off their floor. I heard of a guy on another forum that bought a brand new 2008 Trek Madone (can't remember the series) that retailed for $4599 that didn't sell due to the color scheme is what the LBS told him, and he bought it in late August 2010 for $2,500 plus some minor goodies like a couple of water bottles and a seat bag with flat repair tools and patches.

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    One of the cheapest combinations of parts for a wheel I can think of (for acceptable quality) is WTB Freedom Ryder 23 rims with Shimano Deore or Tiagra hubs with DT Swiss Champion spokes. You could always look at Youtube videos on how to build a wheel then get the tension adjusted at a bike shop.

    I believe some suspension forks etc allow you to lock the suspension. If you want to browse, I know niagaracycle and ebikestop has tons of stuff.

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    Can you justify $250.00, or more, for new wheels on a junk bike? Then there is the rest of the stuff you may want to upgrade. BTW, $250 won't even get you real nice wheels. Just medium ones. bk
    Last edited by bkaapcke; 07-04-11 at 03:20 PM. Reason: inappropriate comment

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    Senior Member rekmeyata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkaapcke View Post
    Can you justify $250.00, or more, for new wheels on a junk bike? Then there is the rest of the stuff you may want to upgrade. BTW, $250 won't even get you real nice wheels. Just medium ones. bk

    If you have medical coverage, get treated for that asian cheap-guy disease you seem to have picked up. Mosquitos are the problem.
    Someone ask a honest question and he gets a smart asse response. WTF! If you can't offer any intellegent advice then don't reply.

    And Nashbar has Vuelta Zerolite MTB wheelsets on sale for only $70...that's a wheelset not one rim. See: http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...1_10000_202477

    Or the FSA FR-916 wheelset, a step up from the above wheelset for $200; see: http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...8_10000_202477

    So you have good options for under $250. But again I think you should take that money and use it to put towards a new bike instead of rims. With a $500 to $700 dollar bike you'll get better rims. The Tomac Flint 29 got rave reviews and cost just a tad under $500, as did the Kona Fire Mountain for $569, and the Raleigh Talus 8.0 for $650. Those prices are retail you should be able to find them for less. If you know what size you want you could go with BikesDirect.com (if you don't know your size they will help you); see these: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/mountain_bikes.htm I won't go dirt cheap with them but around $429 to $599 can get you a really nice bike, and shipping is free to the lower 48 states. Just look at your price range and select the bike with the features you want.
    Last edited by rekmeyata; 07-03-11 at 07:55 PM.

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    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rekmeyata View Post
    Someone ask a honest question and he gets a smart asse response. WTF! If you can't offer any intellegent advice then don't reply.

    And Nashbar has Vuelta Zerolite MTB wheelsets on sale for only $70...that's a wheelset not one rim. See: http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...1_10000_202477
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    Quote Originally Posted by horus11B View Post
    lol i kind of figured the bulk of the responses would center around cutting my losses. The point is I honestly cant justify spending 600-800 dollars at one time on anything...
    Idiot thinking. I can't justify spending $600 at once, so I'll spend $150 6 times...

    You just spent $900, good job. This is why poor people are poor. Why do you think car salesmen emphasize so much on "ONLY $250/MONTH!!!!" instead of "YOU ARE SPENDING $20,000 ON A CAR!"? That extra 5k is "only $100/mo more" ... no, it's an extra $7000 thanks to interest, and it was an extra $5000 to start with anyway. People suck at numbers.

    Stick your money in the bank, ride the bike you got, buy new bike next year.
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    Senior Member rekmeyata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluefoxicy View Post
    Idiot thinking. I can't justify spending $600 at once, so I'll spend $150 6 times...

    You just spent $900, good job. This is why poor people are poor. Why do you think car salesmen emphasize so much on "ONLY $250/MONTH!!!!" instead of "YOU ARE SPENDING $20,000 ON A CAR!"? That extra 5k is "only $100/mo more" ... no, it's an extra $7000 thanks to interest, and it was an extra $5000 to start with anyway. People suck at numbers.

    Stick your money in the bank, ride the bike you got, buy new bike next year.
    This was the most intelligent response we've had on this post!

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    So, tell me just how great this $70.00 wheelset is. Sounds like cheapthink from here.bk

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