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Old 09-17-11, 04:13 PM   #1
Telly
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Newbie Question: Upgrading components on a city bike

Hello everyone,

A couple of quick questions from a newbie (Clydesdale) at bike mechanics. I purchased a European budget city bike a few months back to start commuting to work (actually to see if I could pull it off). After three months, and close to 500 km of cycling, I've decided to upgrade some of the questionable components on an otherwise fine bike (see pic below).

1st question- The bike has stock factory v-brakes which aren't too shabby, but for safety's sake, I wish to upgrade them to something better (quality-wise); preferably Shimano brand. Can someone suggest a compatible set of v-brakes and brake levers; or inform me if the following are compatible with each other (found them on a Greek site):

Shimano Deore V-Brakes BR-590 (set)
Shimano Deore Brake Levers BL-M590


2nd question- The bike came with a stock Shimano 6-speed setup (14-28) which doesn't cover my needs. After looking around the local web shops, I found a 8-speed cassette (11-32) which seems ideal (Shimano CS-HG 30-8). Can anyone suggest something similar and all the required hardware (derailleur, gear shifter, etc) so I can swap out my current gears?


3rd and last question- Can you please recommend anything else that might need swapping out? (putting tires/rims and accessories aside which seem to be good quality)


Thanks for all the help so far, and I hope I haven't taken up too much space and time on this forum!


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Old 09-17-11, 05:40 PM   #2
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Some answers

1 - why not just upgrade the pads, Koolstop Salmon are the normal prefered choice on BF? if you wanted to replace, the Shimano 590's you mention are designed to work with each other

2 - You haven't said what's wrong with your current setup. for replacement, this could be problematic, as if you have a 6 speed rear, this is probably a freewheel, and going to 8 speed would need a freehub rear wheel, and new shifters

3 - as is, the bike looks ok

Would be careful about putting money into any low value bike, what you have looks great as is, but the cost of replacing say the rear wheel with an 8 speed hub, cassette, shifters and the v-brakes, could come close to a whole new bike with these alreads installed, as buying individual componets is almost always more than buying them on a complete bike.
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Old 09-17-11, 05:48 PM   #3
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O don't want to discourage you from upgrading, but keep in mind that if you spend a lot you'll end up with a fairly expensive, but essentially cheap used bike.

Brakes are a straightforward upgrade, and you don't have to replace the levers to make the change. Odds are the better brakes won't stop better, though they might, but they'll be easier to keep in adjustment.

The cassette and derailleur is where you have to do lot's of soul searching. To go from 6s to 8s, will probably require (besides the cassette) a new rear wheel, a new derailleur, and definitely new shift levers (or combined brake/shift levers). This will add up to fairly serious dough, and combined with the brakes and labor could exceed what you spent in the first place.

Also consider that bikes are built with frames and components somewhat matched in quality, so those parts you didn't change will become problems down the road and begin to need replacement or repair, and you'll still be riding a fairly basic bike.

Before spending a Euro on upgrades, work up an analysis of what the total will be and compare that to what a decent upgrade bike would cost. If the money is anywhere close, stay with what you have a bit longer, doing only what's necessary to keep it rolling, and save the money for a replacement bike when you're ready. This bike can then become a bad weather or utility bike, or you could sell or trade it toward paying for it's replacement.

As you've no doubt learned by now, the most important upgrade to a bike like yours is the engine, and I'll bet that's happening already. pretty soon the hills will get flatter, and the need for upgrades may disappear anyway.
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Old 09-17-11, 06:37 PM   #4
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If you can find a good used rear wheel, perhaps even with an 8 speed cassette attached, you can likely pull off the conversion for relatively little money. It appears as though you current have a single grip shifter on the bike. At least in the US, single grip shifters in 8 speed can be had quite cheaply: http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=450004

You may be able to get away with using the same derailler but if you needed a replacement, even a decent quality MTB rear derailler isn't that costly: http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ucts_id=414532

That's $35 for those two items one of which isn't likely necessary. If you can find a used rear wheel for ~$30 (not unreasonable) even with a new cassette and chain you'll come in under $100. Bare minimum I think it could be done for $70 ($30 wheel local buy, $17 shifter, $13 cassette, $10 chain) plus shipping. If those changes keep you happy for a few more years, that's a decent deal versus spending a few hundred now to get a better bike.
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Old 09-17-11, 07:13 PM   #5
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I think new rear wheel, cassette and shifters is the minimum you'd need to convert. I'm not sure but you may need a new chain as well. Some chains are listed as 6,7 or 8 speed chains but someone here insisted there's a difference between a 6 speed chain and an 7/8 speed chain.

As for brakes, I'd just use Shimano Acera brake levers and make sure the brakes are adjusted. If they're well adjusted, they should work. But, the M590 is still an upgrade in the sense I think they are easier to adjust.

For a cheaper 6 speed bike though, it's kind of tempting to find a bike like a GT Traffic 3.0 and forget about upgrading. If you sold your current bike and bought a new 8 speed one, it might save you a bit of money. I don't know what brands sell in Greece but I think maybe an 8 speed bike with minimum Shimano Acera might be nicer than what you have now.

Here's hoping the European economy doesn't implode under your feet with the crisis.
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Old 09-17-11, 08:52 PM   #6
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Wow, a lot of good advice here from everyone, thanks!

The brakes have got to go because they've been nearly impossible to adjust from day-1, either by me or by the LBS; of course that doesn't stop me from using Koolstop Salmons on the new ones!

Now for the gears... the reason I wanted to switch to an 8-speed is because of a couple of hills on a weekly commute (not my daily one) which I feel I need a slight lower gearing (xx/30 or xx/32 would be perfect). Also my "engine's" been running smoother since I started commuting and at times I've topped my highest gear relatively easy, although I wouldn't call it absolutely necessary to change that.

There's a bike fair here in Athens, and I paid a visit yesterday morning looking for a replacement bike. The ones I did like, and seemed well built were in the 500-700 euro category ($700 to $1000); mind you, these models didn't have disc brakes or top-of-the-line equipment either. Comparing them to the cost of my bike, and what it's been through (I'm currently 280 lbs), mine was a steal at 200 euros (clearance from a out-of-town LBS who's 300+ lbs and commutes on the same exact bike).

A fellow forum member informed me on a sale of the following bike:

http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/M...?ModelID=69510

The specs look great, and the price is excellent too, with only 28 euros shipping to Greece. The only thing I'm worried about is the front fork having suspension... I was told repeatedly by local bike merchants that at my weight, suspension just wouldn't work right, and that I should avoid buying a bike with it.

@hybridbkrdr, the local Greek economy has already collapsed... we're just hovering till we realize it and drop.... sorta like a roadrunner cartoon! lol
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Old 09-17-11, 08:55 PM   #7
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In a case like this there is always a chorus of replies making the perfectly valid point that by the time the upgrades are done it would have been more cost effective to trade to a better bike. In one sense these replies are entirely correct. However, I am glad I never listened to such advice. I now have six bikes -- after having sold four. Two are based on what were originally "low end" complete bikes, one on a used cyclocross frame, three on unbranded CF frames from China. All are now customized to my specific tastes and would be very hard to replicate off-the-shelf. But, far rewarding than that, is what I have learned re' maintenance, upgrading, and building.

And the numbers haven't actually worked out that badly. Where I once spent $50 for a "tune-up" I now do everything except powder-coating, pin-striping and wheel-building myself. I have become practiced at finding close-out deals on E-bay and elsewhere and picking up pieces at Frankenbike meets. I have accumulated pieces such that I can often give a riding partner a derailleur, a wheel or a stem from my growing stash.

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Old 09-17-11, 09:08 PM   #8
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I believe you can buy suspension corrected rigid forks (suspension corrected because you'd need the correct height). I don't know if the suspension fork on that bike has a lock-out feature however.

There are freewheels that go 14T-34T. But, you may want to find the Shimano technical document on your rear derailleur to find out if your RD can take a 34T cog. Here's one model: http://www.bikeparts.com/search_resu...p?ID=BPC310476

I believe that bike in your link would be worth converting to a rigid fork. However, you could always try it for a while. And if you can lock it out, well, that might solve the problem.

One of the reasons I'd prefer going 8 speed is with an 8 speed cassette, you can go down to 11T which means the ability to save a lot of time if you wanted to pedal down a long gradual hill against the wind. A small cog in the rear can make a larger difference than a large chainring at the front. Plus, 7 speed cassette rear hubs I find are somewhat more difficult to find now.
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Old 09-17-11, 09:09 PM   #9
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I can see where you're coming from Don, my passion back in the day was VW Bugs. I bought a few, starting throwing money at them (restoring) and eventually did almost everything myself (engine building and electrics where my specialty). Because I was always looking for ways to improve my daily driver, the same mechanics which I paid (handsomely!) in the beginning would call me over and ask for some advice on the latest mods found over the 'net or the States for their customers.

Truth be told, I've gotten use to old "sparky" (electric blue... lol) and by fixing these two issues I would be a happy camper... for the time being of course! lol
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Old 09-17-11, 09:17 PM   #10
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@hybridbkrdr I'll look into the front suspension by giving the people at CRC a call in the morning (it's 6:15 am now).... insomnia! lol

As for the cassette in the link, I believe that a 30 or 32 low gear would be all that I need... the best available option, if it exists, is a 12/32 6-speed cassette, would probably be compatible with my RD. BTW, I checked to see the model of my RD, and found nothing but the words Shimano on it. Is there any way to tell which model I have?

Thanks again!
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Old 09-17-11, 09:27 PM   #11
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For me it isn't a matter of replace rather than upgrade, or vice versa. It's a matter of being very cold blooded, and looking at what you expect to end up with and what it will cost.

All to often folks begin an open ended process of upgrading, and end up with an expensive, sort of OK bike, that they have too much invested in to give up on.

If you can spend a reasonable sum to make an existing bike meet your needs, so much the better. But know where you're headed and keep your eyes open to alternatives.
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Old 09-17-11, 09:42 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
For me it isn't a matter of replace rather than upgrade, or vice versa. It's a matter of being very cold blooded, and looking at what you expect to end up with and what it will cost.

All to often folks begin an open ended process of upgrading, and end up with an expensive, sort of OK bike, that they have too much invested in to give up on.

If you can spend a reasonable sum to make an existing bike meet your needs, so much the better. But know where you're headed and keep your eyes open to alternatives.

My original thoughts where to slightly modify this bike (keeping costs reasonable by doing the work myself), keep it for a while and use it a my daily commuter until it either breaks down, or I lose enough weight to start thinking of getting something seriously better. So far I've been car-free for a month and a half, have lost 20 lbs and commute daily to work and back with no problems.

BTW, I use to be a fellow NYer, lived in Babylon, Long Island back in the day.
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