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  1. #1
    Senior Member gforeman's Avatar
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    Convert my Mtn. bike to a Road bike?

    I have a Gary Fisher Mtn. bike. Got it a few years ago, but ride my Trek 90% of the time because I like the geometry of the road bike and the gearing.

    I already have Road only tires on it, but is it feasible to put drop bars and shifters on it, and also gear it close to my Trek?

    I have an extra set of bars, but would need the shifters. And of course the gearing will have to be addressed. It's just too low for the riding I do.

    I'd love to have an extra road bike like this with the bigger tires.

    Is it possible or even cost effective?
    Gary F.


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    I've tried what you're thinking of. It didn't work out so well for me. The handling was not good, I couldn't find a comfortable position, etc etc. Making road shifters work with mtn front derailleurs doesn't work. And of course you're limited in getting much bigger gears because of the rings hitting the chainstay. So I stripped it down, ebay'd it and bought a cross bike.

  3. #3
    cs1
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    An interesting idea. By the time you spend the money it takes you could have bought a used bike off of CL or ebay. Sell the MTB and use the proceeds towards a real road bike. Good luck
    1999 Waterford RSE-11, 1995 Waterford 1200, 1989 Specialized Rockhopper Comp
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    you will end up with a "hybrid" bike... most mtb-based hybrids are called "city bikes"

    converting to drop bars will require new brake levers and new shifters (mtb and road bars have different widths). it's a lot easier & cheaper to just use bar ends

    put a 48t chain ring on the front and you will probably have a lot higher gearing
    1986 Diamondback Apex ~ 1988 Diamondback Ascent EX ~ 1989 Jamis Dakar ~ 1989 Specialized Stumpjumper Comp
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    Possible - no

    Cost effective - no

    As frantik, you will end up with a hybrid, which isn't a bad thing, but a MTB can never be made into a road bike, simply as the geometry is different.

    For cost effectiveness, this is where it really looses, you can't fit down tube shifters, as there are no brazeons (an adaptor is a posibility), and your really limited to using STI's, which are normally the most expensive part of a road bike.

    If you want somthing like drop bars, look at On-One, Mary, Mungo or Midge bars, these are avaliable from On-One USA, and offer handlebar positions near a drop position, than MTB bars, but will take MTB shifters / brakes.
    Last edited by jimc101; 09-11-11 at 12:52 PM.

  6. #6
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    Gary, Making a mountain bike handle like a roadie is impossible because of the frame's slacker geometry. Swapping the cassette with a closer ratio road cassette and adding a couple of teeth to the outer chainring will help. Enjoy it for it's differences and you'll have a good foul weather and rough road bomber. Butterfly (trekking) bars accept mountain bike levers/shifters and offer many more hand positions.

    Brad

  7. #7
    Senior Member gforeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cs1 View Post
    An interesting idea. By the time you spend the money it takes you could have bought a used bike off of CL or ebay. Sell the MTB and use the proceeds towards a real road bike. Good luck
    The problem there is, I want the wide tires on the Mtn. bike, as the paved roads are rough alone the beach, and I do long rides there.

    I also like my hands in the position where the shifters are on top of the hoods. I put climbers on the Mtn. bike bars, and it allows me to get my hands out and stretch out, the lack of brakes there makes them a little dangerous (had someone pull out in front of me, and that little time it took to get my hands to the brakes almost cost me the bike and some skin).

    I'll look at getting a little more top gear, and just have to live with it, but it was an interesting idea
    Last edited by gforeman; 09-11-11 at 09:53 AM.
    Gary F.


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  8. #8
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    I'd go for it.

    Cheapest reasonable transformation that doesn't require searching for amazing prices on everything:

    Brifters $100, Stem $20, Bars $35, tape $8, cables/housing $4.
    Total $167

    You can get some 9-speed brifters for $100 (Microshift/Nashbar) even eBay 9-speed 105 for $100 with a little luck, easier to score Tiagra for that though.

    If you're fairly comfy with your current bar height you'll want a higher/shorter stem for the drop bars to make the reach to the hoods reasonable and allow easy use of the drops.

    None of the problems that have been brought up are insurmountable. Problem is to really get the bike dialed in you need to have all kinds of parts at your disposal to do some proper trial and error. Lots of bottom bracket, cranks and chainring swapping involved. A basic swap using current gearing isn't too tough to do though.

    You might have to fiddle around with chainrings and spacers/washers to get them spaced properly. Might want to get a triple brifter set to help make that a little easier. Or maybe brifter on the right and barend shifter on the left.

    Getting the higher gearing could take some trial and error with different brifter/crank/chainring/BB options. Some of my MTBs will handle a 53T ring, others will not. Sometimes you can get a BB with a wider spindle to allow for bigger rings. You have to make sure it doesn't put the big ring too far out for the front derailer to reach it, though.

    A rigid fork of the appropriate length can reduce your head angle and BB height a bit. Looks like stock HTA for your GF is about 70, taking it up to 72 might be nice. This is one where diligent measurement is all that's required, no need for lots of parts at hand. Just get on the bike and have an assistant measure the axle to crown distance. Dust off your trigonometry knowledge to figure how a shorter axle to crown fork will change head tube angle and bottom bracket height.
    Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 09-11-11 at 10:54 AM.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by gforeman View Post
    The problem there is, I want the wide tires on the Mtn. bike, as the paved roads are rough alone the beach, and I do long rides there.

    I also like my hands in the position where the shifters are on top of the hoods. I put climbers on the Mtn. bike bars, and it allows me to get my hands out and stretch out, the lack of brakes there makes them a little dangerous (had someone pull out in front of me, and that little time it took to get my hands to the brakes almost cost me the bike and some skin).

    I'll look at getting a little more top gear, and just have to live with it, but it was an interesting idea
    It is possible to do the conversion but it usually turns out less than optimal, due to the reasons above.

    It is possible to have a 'road' bike and still use fatter tires - some touring and cyclocross bikes can fit up to 45mm wide tires (like ~1.9" wide), although I cannot imagine a road bad enough to 'need' tires that wide. I weigh 260 lbs and I ride regularily on terribly broken and rutter pavement, and on rough gravel roads, on a touring bike with 35mm wide tires without problems.

    Trouble is, when people hear the term 'road bike' they think of 'road racing' bikes that usually cannot accommodate tires wider than 28mm. CX and touring bikes and 'road sport' bikes are more versatile because they can take wider tires.

  10. #10
    Constant tinkerer FastJake's Avatar
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    I've went down the road -> MTB and MTB -> road path before. Sure, you can put drop bars on a mountain bike. But like everyone said the geometry ends up terrible and the bike is no fun to ride.

    +1 to selling the MTB and getting a cross or touring bike that will handle the wider tires you want.
    Why "derailer" is the correct way to spell the gear-change mechanism: sheldonbrown.com/derailer.html

  11. #11
    AEO
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    The geometry is fine and fun to ride, as long as you choose the right MTB to start with.

    This was awesome to ride both on and off road, but the largest chainring I could use was a 46T.


    It can also run 700x28 if the wheels are swapped and if I gave it 46x11, it's no slouch.
    Food for thought: if you aren't dead by 2050, you and your entire family will be within a few years from starvation. Now that is a cruel gift to leave for your offspring. ;)
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  12. #12
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    Cheapest way to handle the shifters are to pick up a set of barcons. Still an expensive undertaking.

  13. #13
    Senior Member gyozadude's Avatar
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    I sort of did that to my Bridgestone MB-6 many years ago. It wasn't a cheap undertaking, though. But it does ride really nice and it's my trusted commuter. It's got some old limited edition Nitto dirt drops from way back. Extra wide and flared for wrist clearance. Suntour barcons, and diacompe BRS aero levers. The crank is still 48-38-28. But instead of a wide range rear, I got a closer 6 speed 14-23 FW. I built up some lighter 26 x 1.5 rims based on old Nashbar/Sun rims. They were Ritchey Vantage knock offs. But with double-butted spokes and some slick fat 1.9 inch rubber, the bike rides really nicely. Corners great, handles fast and goes up/down curbs and just avoids bumpers and parking meters pretty nicely, but really comfortable and gives real confidence when riding on longer road trips.


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  14. #14
    AEO
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    btw, older XC type MTBs have geometry that are closer to road frames AND they also can be fitted with a 30-39-53 triple.
    The downside is that they won't have disc brake mounts.
    Food for thought: if you aren't dead by 2050, you and your entire family will be within a few years from starvation. Now that is a cruel gift to leave for your offspring. ;)
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    Chainstay Brake Mafia
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    here is my roadified mtb btw. 46t chainring... i rarely get up to the highest gear though (46x11). I can operate the brake levers with my thumbs when holding the bar ends


    1986 Diamondback Apex ~ 1988 Diamondback Ascent EX ~ 1989 Jamis Dakar ~ 1989 Specialized Stumpjumper Comp
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  16. #16
    Senior Member gyozadude's Avatar
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    Frantik:

    Love the light blue colour with yellow rack and red bottle cage as accents! Goes great w/ the black tires ... looks like Kenda 1.9 inch rubber? Got a -really- clean layout w/o the FD and looks way comfortable and solid. Must turn heads. Did you do anything special for chainline? And for the bullhorns, was that a common width? I've tried regular one-piece bullhorn bars with a variety of levers. I like the natural curvature over buying a flat or riser bar and getting clamp-on bull horns. But I destroyed my only set of ultrawide alloys from years ago in a crash, and haven't seen any affordable ones of the same style that I wanted to pay for. But I still like them.
    Yes, I can roll my own potsticker skins!

  17. #17
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Looks like Frantik's running barends, with bar and barends wrapped in tape. I'm thinking I might try the bar tape treatment on my setup. Either that or some long track grips for the bars and some longer grips for the barends too, maybe BMX grips with the flange cut?

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    drop bar bar ends might help you out a little and save you a penny. http://www.amazon.com/Origin-Bicycle.../dp/B0013G6PB8 I just hate getting rid of bikes that work because I know that I'm going to need it one day......hence the 18 bikes piled up in my garage. lol But I'm going to need them one day!

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    Quote Originally Posted by frantik View Post
    here is my roadified mtb btw. 46t chainring... i rarely get up to the highest gear though (46x11). I can operate the brake levers with my thumbs when holding the bar ends
    OMG. Nice looking bike, but I thought my computer sufferd a Y2K glitch and reverted back to 1987

  20. #20
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    This is how hobbies begin. You start tinkering with some modification ideas. The first six or seven are moderately successful but not exactly perfect. You keep tweaking and tinkering -all the while learning lots of new things. 12 Franken-bikes later you'll be the local bike expert, have purchased ~$400 worth of new tools, have well populated junk drawers with hubs and derailers and shifters and cranks and bottom brackets and handlebars and seatposts and pedals and cassettes and frames and forks and headsets, etc. At some point you'll wonder if it wouldn't have been simpler to have just bought a decent cyclocross bike in the first place. But it's too late to look back now. You've got a new hobby to occupy all your time and money.
    David Green, Naperville, IL USA "The older I get, the better I used to be" --Lee Trevino

  21. #21
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    I've done this twice. Once with a 2008 Marin Muirwoods 29er:



    Once with a 1989 Specialized Rockhopper:



    Both worked well as city bikes, but I wouldn't want to take either one on a long ride.

    I had a 44-32-22 crankset on the Muirwoods and used a MTB front derailleur with Tiagra shifters. It was a major pain to get set up, but I was able to get it to shift cleanly to all three rings. Inline barrel adjusters are absolutely necessary because the cable tension needs to be perfect. With the Rockhopper, I have a 48-36-26 crankset so I was able to use a road front derailleur with Tiagra shifters. The crankset has Biopace chainrings, which add an additional element of pain in the setup. Otherwise I think it would have been easy.

    You'll notice I'm using a stubby stem in both cases (70mm, I think).

    Brakes are also an issue. With the Muirwoods, I was using road-specific Avid BB7's. With the Rockhopper, I have V-brakes with Travel Agents. Cantilevers are also an option, as are mini-V's.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbg View Post
    This is how hobbies begin. You start tinkering with some modification ideas. The first six or seven are moderately successful but not exactly perfect. You keep tweaking and tinkering -all the while learning lots of new things. 12 Franken-bikes later you'll be the local bike expert, have purchased ~$400 worth of new tools, have well populated junk drawers with hubs and derailers and shifters and cranks and bottom brackets and handlebars and seatposts and pedals and cassettes and frames and forks and headsets, etc. At some point you'll wonder if it wouldn't have been simpler to have just bought a decent cyclocross bike in the first place. But it's too late to look back now. You've got a new hobby to occupy all your time and money.

    Have you been looking through my garage?

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    I took a 930 Trek 920 which I bought for the OX Platinum frame. I used a set of used Tiagra 9 speed shifters, Richie Bio-Max bar, a short stem , a 1 1/8 threaded stem to thread less adapter, a deore rear derailleur, a Tiagra cassette (11-28 ) and an old sugio AT crank. Most of this was in the spare parts bin, I did have to buy the rear cassette and inline cable adjusters as well as figure out what bottom bracket to use with the crankset. I could not get the stock FD to work with the 48-38-28 crankset, but a Tiagra FD was cheap. A clamp on cable stop and drilled the bottom of the BB to take a cable guide. very fun project! I built it to be a funky weather bike w/fenders, I found that recumbant fenders fit better on the 26" rims. It rides great, certainly not as fast as my road bike, but hell for stout and very solid. I'm quite happy with the result, if I had to buy all new parts maybe not, but for a foul weather, nasty roads, or Katy trail bike it's the bee's knees.

    dave s in KC

  24. #24
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Nitto Mustache Bars and bar end shifters in the ends of the bars ,
    are on one of my bikes, an old Stumpjumper. the brake levers
    are old style road levers, with the cable out the top, or in this case, running sideways .
    the road lever follows the curve of the Mustache bar bend, nicely.

  25. #25
    Junior Mint jimn's Avatar
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    I'm assuming you're converting to drop bars.

    Geometry on MTBs tends to be different than on road bikes, though the differenced changed over the years. Generally, MTBs have longer top tubes for a given seat tube length.

    You might want to measure the top tube length of your two bikes, and the top of the head tube, to get a sense of where the handlebars will end up on your MTB relative to where they are on the road bike.

    When people do this, they usually go for a shorter, taller stem.

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