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Old 09-16-12, 11:41 AM   #1
earlybp
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1987 Specialized Hardrock and $500 to trick it out- What would you do?

Hey all-
I love the Surly LHT, but I'm coming back to biking after a long time, and my better half would like to make sure the bike habit sticks before investing $2k plus in a bike + accessories.

So, the guys from Crank (here in Portland) recommended that I find an old hardtail mtb to convert into durable commuter. I am now the owner of a 1987-1988 Specialized Hardrock.
It's in excellent shape. Cro-moly steel, nice geometry, no suspension. ($95 on craigslist!).

After the tune-up and the fit session, I'll have about $500 to spend on tricking it out.

So if you had $500, and everything on the bike worked fine, and you were going to use it as a grocery getter and to ride around town, what specifically would you buy/do to it?
I've got this odd index-friction combo shifter on it. So I might want to switch that out. But it's Suntour, not Shimano, and I don't know if I can change companies.

She also needs a rear rack and some lights. And I think I'd like different handlebars.

Do you have racks/lights/accessories that you just love that you'd like to steer a newb towards?

Thanks!
B
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Old 09-16-12, 11:54 AM   #2
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A bike from 1987 will have very little that will be compatible with modern parts.

For going from Suntour to Shimano, how many gears does the bike have, what else do you need to change, can you even get parts?

Would suggest that putting any money other than the rack and lights, and possibly slick tires into the old bike will be a false economy, where you will start throwing money trying to upgrade an old bike where money could be better spend on a new one. For the lights and rack, if you buy the right ones now, they can be transferred over to a LHT when you want to drop the money on that, also keeping the Hardrock in as original condition will get you a better return if you come to sell it in the future.
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Old 09-16-12, 12:08 PM   #3
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I have an Older stump-jumper, it has Drum brakes now.. [7 speed freewheel version],
20 years and counting.. good wet weather stopping..

a Sturmey 5 speed IGH / Drum brake combination rear hub, would be a good utility set up.

they make a combo Drum brake/ Hub Dynamo, that you may or may not like..
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Old 09-16-12, 12:08 PM   #4
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1987 was probably still 6-speed. Are the shifters really odd, like this?


Suntour wishbone shifters 1990 by felixdelrio, on Flickr

Or the once commonplace thumbshifter?


I'd just get a rack and some grocery panniers I reckon. Save the remaining $400 or so for the next 1991 Bridgestone MB3 that came along.

I love old Suntour stuff personally, I'd just run it. If you decide you don't like your shifters, then you're probably best off changing out your freewheel (chances are good you have a freewheel, not freehub/cassette) and shifters as a set. Shimano 7-sp freewheels are about $15, 7-speed Gripshifts start @ $15, 7-speed trigger shifters for a little more.

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Old 09-16-12, 12:11 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimc101 View Post
A bike from 1987 will have very little that will be compatible with modern parts.
Actually most parts can be replaced with modern parts. You can put most any rear derailer on there, Sram has top/bottom pull front derailers, many a square taper crank is still being made, Tons of 68mm English BBs to choose from, etc, etc.
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Old 09-16-12, 12:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
Actually most parts can be replaced with modern parts. You can put most any rear derailer on there, Sram has top/bottom pull front derailers, many a square taper crank is still being made, Tons of 68mm English BBs to choose from, etc, etc.
Agree most can if you have the time and money to source them, but when you have changed one, say the shifters, that then leads to needing a new rear mech, cassette, chain, rear wheel the list goes on, and it quickly get to the point that you may as well start with a modern bike.

Any old bike like this is far better left to the retro crowd, who often try to keep them in as stock condition as possible, and also they have the knowledge of what parts are completable and were to source obscure parts, which most people don't.
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Old 09-16-12, 12:42 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by jimc101 View Post
Agree most can if you have the time and money to source them, but when you have changed one, say the shifters, that then leads to needing a new rear mech, cassette, chain, rear wheel the list goes on, and it quickly get to the point that you may as well start with a modern bike.

Any old bike like this is far better left to the retro crowd, who often try to keep them in as stock condition as possible, and also they have the knowledge of what parts are completable and were to source obscure parts, which most people don't.
It can get tricky at times but mostly no biggie. That's one reason I'd keep the shifters. I've shifted 6,7,8 & 9 speed clusters from Suntour,shimano,campagnolo ,sedis,sunrace,etc with my thumbshifters in friction.

Used the same Suntour XCPro RD for all too.

Money's no issue cuz 7sp freewheels and shifters are dirt cheap and widely availa

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Old 09-16-12, 01:11 PM   #8
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If you're doing the work yourself, from cheap used parts available at the bike coop
or some other source of reasonable, used, interesting stuff..........sky's the limit.

From your description of your circumstances, I agree with the guys who are telling
you add some 1.5" street tires, like the Schwalbe offering in 26", get yourself a decent
girly anatomy seat (I think the Performance house brad comes in a feminine version),
and buy the best U lock you can find.

I'm partial to the rear wire double baskets that are made by Wald.



Don't get the really huge ones, and make sure when they are mounted they
don't interfere with your heels as you turn the pedals. Depending on what
it has for pedals, you might want to swap them out or not.

To be comfortable riding around in city traffic you need to be certain you
can put a foot down on the ground quickly.

Someone already mentioned lights. There's a very good headlight called the
Magicshine that goes for around a hundred bucks and you can get some darn
nice rear red flashers for about ten or fifteen bucks now.

I think with all that, I'm pretty close to using up about $400. Use the other
hundred bucks on groceries.
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Old 09-16-12, 01:26 PM   #9
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PDX having a bike shop on every corner.. and at least, a couple CoOps
going around town you will have lots to choose from..
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Old 09-16-12, 01:54 PM   #10
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For a durable commuter bike, an older hardtail MTB is pretty good.

- 26 x 1.5 road tires, puncture resistant. $60-80 the pair including tubes. Keep them at 100 psi.
- Fenders. $40, the basic Planet Bikes are fine
- LED headlight and blinking taillight. $35 for the Portland Design Works bundle
- Another blinking red LED to mount on the rear of your helmet. $15
- Lower stem as far as it goes, and/or change stem for a low-rise stem found at the co-op. $0 to $15. The point is to get low, for power and aero.
- EDIT: Thought of something else - some mountain bikes have unduly wide handlebars. For street use, narrower bars are often more comfortable as well as more aero. When setting up my daughter's Hardrock, I shortened the bars by 1 inch per side.
- U-lock. $35
- Spare tube, pump, multi-tool and tire levers. $25 to $50, lower assumes used pump, tool, levers from a bike co-op. Refresh yourself on how to change a tire.

That's it. Don't do a thing to the gearing. Carry your stuff in a backpack. Commute for a couple of months. You will find the bike is plenty fast enough, your legs will do the rest. I commute in the winter on my early-90s hardtail MTB set up as above, and seldom get passed by other riders.

My winter commuter, I've since removed the rack.



Come October, you'll need good rain gear, dunno if that counts against your budget? I wear rain jacket, rain pants, nylon-velcro booties, waterproof gloves, and a baseball cap under my helmet. Sounds like a lot but it doesn't take long to put on/remove. Take it easy on the way in so you don't get all sweaty, then ride hard on the way home.

Sometime in January, assess. Are you getting tired of the single hand position available on the flat bars, if so add bar-ends to get a second, further forward position, works kind of like bullhorns. Do you want to carry your stuff in panniers, if so add a rack. Are you regularly spinning out 46 x 14 or whatever your top gear is, if so consider a road crank. Are you freezing, add the thinnest balaclava (should fit under helmet), a fleece, and even Barmitts.

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Old 09-16-12, 01:56 PM   #11
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Oh, you probably know this, but used stuff and reasonably-priced service is available at City Bikes and Community Cycling Center.

And, you can probably switch your shifters and brake levers to North Road or moustache or similar bars, but switching them to drop bars will be problematic, and you'll likely need a shorter stem to avoid too long a reach to the drop bars.

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Old 09-16-12, 02:01 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by THE ARS View Post
Don't go 1.5, too skinny they won't look right.

Always 1.95 slicks on a mountain bike.

EDIT; ALWAYS. You'll be just fast, plus the cush.
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Originally Posted by THE ARS View Post
Stop, dude, you don't know what you're talking about.



Tom
......................
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Old 09-16-12, 03:17 PM   #13
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Search our drop bar conversion thread in the C & V section, I am doing another one right now. With the help of a co-op, a drop bar conversion can be done for very little $$.

I have both 1.25 and 1.5 slicks on mtbs, like them both. I would probably go with 1.5s on a commuter. No need to go 1.95.

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Old 09-16-12, 04:14 PM   #14
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I would put new tires, grips, fenders, a rack and some nice panniers, and a kickass helmet. Gore-tex rain gear, maybe a nice version of the most comfortable saddle you have ever ridden (people really like Brooks leather saddles but they can be damaged by neglect and rain, so maybe not the best idea for a townie bike) could also be nice. I don't know how cold it gets where you are, but if there is often ice and snow then steel studded winter tires increase safety 1000%.

Do not try to put 'upgraded' parts on what was at the time a very entry-level bike (would have been ~$300 in a bike shop when new), except for replacing parts that are damaged or that don't work for how you want to use it.

Friction shifters that work with almost every derailleur ever made (modern Sram MTB derailleurs being one of the few exceptions) are not expensive... very nice ones like Suntour Power Ratchet shifters are available on EPay.
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Old 09-16-12, 04:50 PM   #15
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+1 to looking at this thread for inspiration:

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ar-Conversions
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Old 09-16-12, 08:04 PM   #16
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Some new tires and set of SKS chromoplastic fenders(plus some home-made mudflaps). Leave off any fancy new stuff- will just attract thieves. Get a nice commuting bag(messenger or other) to carry your spare goods, locks, and tools. You have IMO an ideal commuter bike!
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Old 09-16-12, 09:40 PM   #17
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I think most of the suggestions above are good. My short list:

- Fenders
- Rack
- Nice saddle
- Nice pedals
- Handlebar setup you like
- Nice grips

Sometimes it's the little things that make the big difference. If you want the "ultimate" commuter drivetrain, IMO that is a 7S Shimano Cassette Freehub rear wheel and a triple up front. Laced 36x3 with 135mm spacing. 87 Hardrock probably does not have 135mm spacing though..

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimc101 View Post
Agree most can if you have the time and money to source them, but when you have changed one, say the shifters, that then leads to needing a new rear mech, cassette, chain, rear wheel the list goes on, and it quickly get to the point that you may as well start with a modern bike.

Any old bike like this is far better left to the retro crowd, who often try to keep them in as stock condition as possible, and also they have the knowledge of what parts are completable and were to source obscure parts, which most people don't.
Uhh... No. You're making this way harder than it needs to be. A LOT of stuff on that bike (especially if it's Shimano) is still compatible with modern stuff. 7-speed indexed MTB shifters can still be bought new, very cheap actually.
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Old 09-17-12, 07:12 AM   #18
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This is so helpful. Thank you everyone for your 2 cents!
To answer a few questions-
The shifters are the ubiquitous thumb gears. There are 6 sprockets in the back and 3 in the front. So, what is that, 18 speeds? The shifter is indexed, but the rear derailler doesn't quite get out of the way without a touch of friction too, on one or two of the sprockets. This nuance is definitely something to get used to.
I have rain gear already (3-season sailing up here).
I feel so lucky to live in Portland. I actually have 3 favorite indie bike shops already (Crank, Citybikes, A Better Bicycle).

You've given me a lot to consider and prioritize. Definitely changing out the tires and adding fenders and of course, lights. Probably looking into brakes next (assuming I can get more comfortable with the shifting). I went down some steep hills yesterday, and the brakes worked great, but if they fail, I'm in big trouble. Want to have the safest brakes possible.

One thing, respectfully, that I don't understand- the comment about not upgrading what was an under $300 bike at the time. One of the reasons that it was under $300 was that the components weren't top of the line. In bikes, you pay money for three things- components, lightness and durability, right? So, if I have this super-durable chromoly frame, and I don't care that much about lightness (I'm not racing, and I am an avid sailor with the arms to match), it seems that components that make this thing sing are the right choice?

Again- thanks to everyone! Will check out the inspiration threads and feel terrific about being on the right track with this thing!
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Old 09-17-12, 01:11 PM   #19
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I have an old rigid MTB from 1987. I was commuting on it a lot one year until I got my road commuter/tourer fixed. I put on fenders (Zefal MTN) and Ritchey Tom Slick 1.4" tires and a Blackburn rack.

For brakes, I would inspect the cables and replace if there's any rust or fraying. Good idea to inspect the pads and replace those too. I replaced mine with Kool Stop salmon and have been very pleased with the result. U-brake takes the Supra2 and a normal cantilever takes Eagle2.

I rode SPD pedals for quite a while but when those bit the dust a few years ago, I replaced with Crank Bros. Eggbeaters and I prefer the Eggbeaters.

Shifting will be improved with a new HyperGlide freewheel or cassette and a new chain. But if it is a cassette hub, it is Uniglide (unless it's already been replaced). But HyperGlide cassette cogs can be modified (grind the fat tab a little narrower) to fit on a Uniglide freehub although you will still need to use the threaded top Uniglide cog as the lockring.

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Old 09-17-12, 02:59 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wrk101 View Post
Search our drop bar conversion thread in the C & V section, I am doing another one right now. With the help of a co-op, a drop bar conversion can be done for very little $$.

I have both 1.25 and 1.5 slicks on mtbs, like them both. I would probably go with 1.5s on a commuter. No need to go 1.95.

I've actually seen a few drop bar converted MTB bikes in the bay area the past few years. I like the bar end shifters touch on yours...

=8-)
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Old 09-17-12, 03:05 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by earlybp View Post
You've given me a lot to consider and prioritize. Definitely changing out the tires and adding fenders and of course, lights. Probably looking into brakes next (assuming I can get more comfortable with the shifting). I went down some steep hills yesterday, and the brakes worked great, but if they fail, I'm in big trouble. Want to have the safest brakes possible.
The brakes that came with your bike, if in good working order, are as safe
as anything else you're likely to find..........all brakes can fail on occasion,
but it is pretty rare and usually does not happen without advance warning
that you need to adjust or otherwise service them.

There are some pretty nice replacement brake shoes you might want to try
if yours are old, hardened, or worn out.

Quote:
One thing, respectfully, that I don't understand- the comment about not upgrading what was an under $300 bike at the time. One of the reasons that it was under $300 was that the components weren't top of the line. In bikes, you pay money for three things- components, lightness and durability, right? So, if I have this super-durable chromoly frame, and I don't care that much about lightness (I'm not racing, and I am an avid sailor with the arms to match), it seems that components that make this thing sing are the right choice?
Components on a bicycle in the mid range are very functional and are
fine for what you intend. It may seem counter intuitive, but beyond a certain
price point with components, you are paying either for lightness, more durability,
or (usually) finer finish and bling factor.

Focus on the stuff that's already been mentioned, unless something breaks
or otherwise wears out or stops working for you.
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Old 09-17-12, 04:07 PM   #22
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As soon as I'm done working today, I'm taking the bike and this thread over to Crank, and we're going to have a nice chat about what's next. 3 Alarmer, what you're saying makes a lot of sense! Thank you. There are some gorgeous bikes in the drop-bar conversion thread in C&V. I especially love the black one with the shiny aluminum fenders. And I love those bar end shifters. Love how intuitive they feel, and how well they integrate into the experience. Hmmm....
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Old 09-17-12, 05:37 PM   #23
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Stop, dude, you don't know what you're talking about.



Tom
Actually he does. I've got a garage of old bikes to prove it. A Hardrock just isn't worth throwing that kind of money at. Even late Eighties Stumpjumpers go for way less than $500.

To the OP, ride the HR enjoy it and save your money for the bike you really want. Good luck
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Old 09-17-12, 05:55 PM   #24
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Right now there a better new bikes than the Hardrock on sale for $500. Myself, I'd get a new set of street tires and ride the beauty smug in the knowledge I have about $450 left in the bank.
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Old 09-17-12, 06:20 PM   #25
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Quote:
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Hey all-


I am now the owner of a 1987-1988 Specialized Hardrock.
It's in excellent shape. Cro-moly steel, nice geometry, no suspension. ($95 on craigslist!).

After the tune-up and the fit session, I'll have about $500 to spend on tricking it out.

So if you had $500, and everything on the bike worked fine, and you were going to use it as a grocery getter and to ride around town, what specifically would you buy/do to it?

B
I wouldn't spend a cent to replace what was working, except possibly the cassette if I needed different gearing. Obviously you'll need what it takes to make a commuter, a rack, maybe fenders, slick road tires, lighting and locks. But don't spend money to make this what it isn't. Keep it as a cheap to own and run basic beater/commuter, and save your dough for a sport bike (if you get into it), or something else, not necessarily bike related, that will make you happy,
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