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  1. #1
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    Repurposing a late-90s hardtail for city riding

    Neighbor has a late-90s or early 2000s Diamondback Zetec that he doesn't want. Says I can have it for $100. It has STX-RC drivetrain, some low end Avid brakes. Frame is aluminum and a suspension fork. It has a 24 speeds.

    Now I'd like to buy this as my beater bike when I don't want to ride my newer, 2009 Marin Muirwoods. I understand that the Diamondback has higher end components that my Muirwoods, but whatever. This one already has scratches all over, but frame looks straight and no dents or dings. I figure I'll just put 1.5-1.75 tires on the bike.

    Now what I want to do is make it rigid. Since this is fat tube aluminum bike, is that necessarily a bad idea? I was looking around and the Surly 1x1 80mm correction fork seems like a good value and has good reviews. Will this fork fit the bike? The only thing I'm certain of is that that the bike has threadless heatset. This bike is only trails the bike will hit are things like unpaved multi-use trails, and even then I don't anticipate using such trails for more than 1/2 mi at a time.

    The bike definitely needs a new front wheel. Neighbor said the problem is at the rim seam and that 50 miles after getting the wheel trued, the same problem came back. The shop mechanic advised him of this before he went ahead with truing the wheel.

    Additionally, I'd like to put one Avid BB7 brake on that fork and keep the rear V-brake. Will that work ok since the bike did not originally have disc brakes? My understanding is that disc brakes exert different forces than V-brakes. I need a new front wheel for that bike anyway. My existing V-brake levers should be ok right?

    So here's what I'm looking at:
    $100 -- bike
    $75 -- Surly 1x1 fork
    $60 -- Avid BB7 w/ rotor
    $60 -- Cheap wheel from Performance Bike

    Alternatively, would I be better off with this wheelset? If I buy the brake, wheels, and some small parts together, then the shipping will be free it looks like. http://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...+Wheelset.aspx

    I'm sure I need some new cables and such too, and new tires. So total I'm spending roughly $350-400 since I'm not going to do the labor. Does this sound like a good or bad deal for a bike like this? I have no idea how to replace a fork.
    Last edited by jsdavis; 10-14-11 at 10:42 PM.

  2. #2
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    For a beater, I'd find a used fork. Try a local bike co-op if there is one in your area. I also wonder about putting a disk brake on a cheap wheel. Not that it won't work, but why the extra expense for a "beater". If the Diamondback has higher end components than your Muirwoods, why not swap out parts (assuming they are compatible) keeping the lower end parts on the beater. Then put your used tires on the Diamondback and put the money into new better tires for your good bike.

    Not that this is the only or even the right way to do things, but I try to put money into higher end parts for my best bike and then move the midlevel parts to my beater bike and the low end parts from the beater to a flip bike that I can sell to get other high end parts for my best bike.

  3. #3
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    Some folks might think that putting 400 bucks into a 12 year old bike doesn't make sense. In your case I think it does. Where else are you gonna get a bike like that, when your project is complete, for $400? I'd make certain that it's going to fit you first though.

    Since both current setup and "new" fork use 1 1/8 steerer, the fork swap is doable. I see the Surly fork has a steerer tube length of 260mm. Make sure the old fork has a steerer shorter than that. I'm sure it does but measure anyway. You may want to upgrade the headset. The STS Aheadsets were fine if properly serviced however.

    For brakes I'd probably do a linear pull rather than discs. But you have both options so it's up to you.

    A friend put a set of those same wheels on his ride, and he's getting as good of service out of those as anything else- and he's pretty rough on gear. Other than that I don't have any first hand experience with those. Whaddaya got to lose? $60 dollar wheels aren't all that plentiful.

    However, I do the think it would make more sense to get the wheelset form Jenson. This gives you a new rear hub, and the Deore is a decent hub.

    Cables are cheap. Absolutely replace. Service all else and tune, and you'll have a good ride for the money.

  4. #4
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    This is the problem with $100 beater bikes. They often become $500 beater bikes. I would look for a fully rigid Stumpjumper/Rockhopper/Singletrack from the ninties and keep it stock, except tires and other minor items.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
    This is the problem with $100 beater bikes. They often become $500 beater bikes.
    Right, and you can buy a decent and suitable new bike for that much money or a suitable used one that needs little to no modification for less.

  6. #6
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    One question you havn't answered is what is the state of the current suspension fork? Guessing it's a Manitou from that age, if it's still working you could keep it, or ebay it as a retro fork to get some funds for the project.

    For the bike being good for an update, don't see why not, but as others have suggested, would stick with the current v-brakes if mainly using on-road, and putting the money from the disc into a good front wheel.

  7. #7
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    Offer your neighbor $50 for the bike. Add a cheap rigid fork ($24: http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ducts_id=10811). Add a cheap front wheel ($27: http://www.niagaracycle.com/product_...ducts_id=34641)

    When the mechanic has the bike to install the fork and new cables, have him check the tension on the wheel and adjust as necessary. You'd be doing this with the Performance Bike wheel too (if you wanted a reliable wheel). Skip the disc brake for now as this is just a beater. You'll have less than $200 (even if he doesn't back down on the price) into a bike that should last a long time and offer comparable performance to something costing twice as much.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    If I was in your shoes, I'd swap the tires and ride it. If something was a real bother, then I'd upgrade. I installed Nashbar disc brakes on my Nashbar-framed MTB. It has a Nashbar carbon front fork. If I had to do it all over, would keep the steel fork and V-brakes. The gain was real, just not really worth the expense. Keeep the fork and see how it works.

  9. #9
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    jsdavis, True enough, swap the front rim, brake pads, tires and just ride it. My guess is the bike has a Rock Shox Indy (Jett if a later model) variation on it. If so, it's perfectly fine for a commuter, not so fine for serious single track. The Alivio, STX and STX-RC are very good parts and should be kept if possible.

    The bike most possibly has a 1 1/8" threadless headset, not a 1" threaded headset as by '97 most upper middle and above level mountain bikes were so equipped.

    Brad

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    I guess I can stick with the suspension though personally I prefer rigid.

    The bike does definitely need a new front wheel. The bike vibrates badly when the front brake is applied. It has some kind of Alex rims and I think the hubs are Alivio so the Deore hubs on the Jenson wheels are a step up. The mechanic told him that because the problem is at the seam of the rim, the only real fix is to replace the wheel.

    The current fork is a Rock Shock Jett XC with 3" travel.

    About the only component from the Diamondback that I'd be interested in transferring over would be the LX rear derailleur; but is there going to be a noticeable difference or benefit going from a 12 year old LX from a new Deore?
    Last edited by jsdavis; 10-15-11 at 10:34 AM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsdavis View Post
    I guess I can stick with the suspension though personally I prefer rigid.

    The bike does definitely need a new front wheel. The bike vibrates badly when the front brake is applied. It has some kind of Alex rims and I think the hubs are Alivio so the Deore hubs on the Jenson wheels are a step up. The mechanic told him that because the problem is at the seam of the rim, the only real fix is to replace the wheel.

    The current fork is a Rock Shock Jett XC with 3" travel.

    About the only component from the Diamondback that I'd be interested in transferring over would be the LX rear derailleur; but is there going to be a noticeable difference or benefit going from a 12 year old LX from a new Deore?
    The front wheel can be rebuilt with a new rim and more likely than not be better than a inexpensive machine made wheel.

    Probably not enough difference to be worth the effort.

    Brad

  12. #12
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    Decided I'm going to keep the fork and V-brakes as is. Front wheel definitely needs to be replaced or repaired though.

    So I have a choice here, I found a new wheel consisting of Deore Hub and WTB DX23 rim is about $70. If I get a new rim, it's about $40 for WTB DX23 or WTB Dual Duty XC. Labor to build a new wheel is $50 plus. There is a $10 charge to dismantle a wheel so I assume that's additional if I want to salvage the hub. So $70 for a new wheel or $100 to rebuild a wheel and reuse the hub. Am I spending too much here?

    Here's the wheel I found: http://www.amazon.com/WTB-DX23-Front.../dp/B004KNOMD4
    It's about the same cost as the Performance Bike $60 wheel after tax. The up side would be I know what rim and hub I'm getting.

    Current front wheel is Alex 559x17 with Shimano MC18 and everything I find points to Alivio hub.

    The pedals are feel kind of "chunky" if I turn them by hand. They rotate freely, but if I rotate them by hand, it does not feel smooth. This is the pedal only, not moving the crank. I may replace these with BMX style pedals.

  13. #13
    Rolling along fas2c's Avatar
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    Does the dismantle fee include saving the spokes to reuse? If not get some bolt cutters and cut the spokes out and give him the hub to re-lace to another rim. Either way if you buy a new wheel I'd save the hub for future use or to sell .

  14. #14
    Chainstay Brake Mafia
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    look for a cheap replacement wheel on craigslist, or even a cheap whole bike which you can take the front wheel off of and resell.. if you're getting a $100 bike don't spent $60 on a wheel

    for the $300-400 you're thinking of spending, you could get a really nice fully rigid mtb from the 80s or 90s that doesn't need any work.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member zukahn1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
    This is the problem with $100 beater bikes. They often become $500 beater bikes. I would look for a fully rigid Stumpjumper/Rockhopper/Singletrack from the ninties and keep it stock, except tires and other minor items.
    +1 I would second this idea if you want older no suspension mountain bike buy one doing major configuration converions like suspension to none suspension even something seemingly as easy as a fork change can end up costing a lot of time and money. It can be a black hole where your 3 hour $30 project can easlily morph into a 20hr plus project costing hundreds of dollars. It is just easier and cheaper to buy a hard frame bike on cl for about $150-$200 there are a lot of great old school mountain bikes in this price range.

  16. #16
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    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/bik/2611645829.html

    How is this wheel? My concern about it, aside from it being warped, is how do I tell if the rim brake surface is worn out?

  17. #17
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    can a braking surface get worn out? you probably can just clean it/sand it if so

    if you're in SF i would get this complete mtb for ~$300.. i have the same frame and it's super light and very fun to ride. put on slick tires and it's a perfect city bike: http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/bik/2616782285.html
    1986 Diamondback Apex ~ 1988 Diamondback Ascent EX ~ 1989 Jamis Dakar ~ 1989 Specialized Stumpjumper Comp
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  18. #18
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    can a braking surface get worn out?
    Aluminum rims, YES.
    though, people usually drag the rear brake, so it wears thin first .

    A Donor bike , even if it is the wrong size is where I look for beater parts,
    to keep the price down

  19. #19
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    So $60-70 for a new wheel is definitely a bad deal?

    Why would the back rim wear out first? My current bike bike has disc brakes and the front wears at a much higher rate judging by the frequency that I need to adjust the brakes.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by frantik View Post
    can a braking surface get worn out? you probably can just clean it/sand it if so

    if you're in SF i would get this complete mtb for ~$300.. i have the same frame and it's super light and very fun to ride. put on slick tires and it's a perfect city bike: http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/bik/2616782285.html
    The bike I'm looking at is a 18 and my current ride is a 19. I've taken a ride on a 20.5" version of my bike and it took all of 300 ft to know it was too big -- I compared back to back with the 19 at the shop. I still (barely) cleared the top tube, but the top tube was too long even if only 1cm longer compared to the 19.

  21. #21
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    This is your bike right here. 18" Fisher Tassajara for $80. If you drive a hard bargain you might ride off with it for $60, who knows. Might fit a tad bigger than an 18 because the guy measured c-c.

    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/bik/2658615815.html

    Worst case, ride it for a while. If you don't like it steal the front wheel off it. Keep eyes peeled for a good/cheap front wheel to replace then sell the Tass.
    Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 10-20-11 at 01:44 AM.
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