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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 12-05-06, 02:38 PM   #1
Adiankur
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Commuterizing a MTB

Yes, I know there is no such thing as commuterizing, but it sounded good at the moment. I have been considering changing a few things around on my mtb to make it a little more commuter/touring friendly. I currently have slicks on, but am hoping for a pair of nokian studded for xmas. But what I was wondering was, would it hurt to put drop bars on a mtb that isnt used offroad much, maybe switch to bar end shifters and aero brakes. Slap on a rigid fork? Any thoughts? also, as i would be asking for some of this stuff for christmas, what would be the cheapest option for these items and how difficult would it be to do this work myself. I guess I should wonder about the possibility first, than ask in mechanics forum about the actual conversion.

If I decided to go with bar end shifters, should I go indexed? or friction bar end? I assume that friction used bar end shifters are less expensive, and I do have one set of barcons earmarked for a 70's roadbike Im restoring.

thanks for your time.
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Old 12-05-06, 02:46 PM   #2
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When I first started commuting I used a mtb.
I had the bars adjusted so the seat to bar drop of ~5" put me in a fairly aero position - more drop than I currently have on my cyclocross bike to the hoods.
What I am trying to say is you may not get great benefit with road bars if you end up riding on the hoods most of the time anyway. I'd lean towards saving the $ for a differnet bike at some point.

Rigid fork yes though - can you lock it out or set it to max?

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Old 12-05-06, 02:49 PM   #3
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I have a trek 4300 that doesnt have lockout. the 4500 does, but not the 4300. Though, Im kind of glad I didnt spend the extra $100 for the next bike up as I would have had less cash for other things.

The problem with the fork swap is that the shop would charge me $100 for the fork and the change. If its possible to do it myself, I would. It was easy to deal with the threaded, but threadless may be a bit more complicated.
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Old 12-05-06, 02:54 PM   #4
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According to my LBS, Shimano bar end shifters are superior to all others, although I have no direct experience. You can switch between indexed and friction shifting.

One thing I'd add is to not forget about lights, an often mentioned topic on this particular forum. Taillights are very important and the most popular and brightest (for the money) light on the market right now is the Planet Bike Blinky Superflash. To be seen, Planet Bike also makes an inexpensive blinky headlight as well. To actually see the road in front of you, you'll need to spend a little on a brighter LED, halogen or HID headlight -- options abound depending on your budget.
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Old 12-05-06, 02:56 PM   #5
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Remind me why we want to change the fork?

With or without the lockout on, I am now convinced mine does not slow me down by a measureable amount. Unless it is boat-achor heavy or wore out enough to make steering scary, I see no reason to change it.
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Old 12-05-06, 02:57 PM   #6
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I have a kona Fire Mountain that has drop bars, aero brakes, and bar con indexed shifters. I had the shifters from another project and their nice, but if you already have the friction levers you should just go with those. The whole triathlon craze has put bar cons through the roof. Does your bike use cantilever brakes, I switched from the linear pulls as they are so hard to adjust with road levers, though apparently Dia Compe makes a lever that will work. In the end though I think new tektro cantis are cheaper than the Dia Comple levers, but I could be wrong.

I also think that commuterizing is a great word, good luck on your project.
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Old 12-05-06, 02:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghettocruiser
Remind me why we want to change the fork?

With or without the lockout on, I am now convinced mine does not slow me down by a measureable amount. Unless it is boat-achor heavy or wore out enough to make steering scary, I see no reason to change it.
It probably depends on the bike, the rider weight, the fit of the bike, the quality of hte fork and if it is well tuned for the rider weight.
I once borrowed a friends (who weighed about the same as me) mtb with front shock and it squished whenever I pedaled hard or tried to sprint. Worse was how it collapsed when braking. But this is a case of a poorly adjusted fork. Anyway it just seemed wrong for road riding.
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Old 12-05-06, 03:01 PM   #8
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Well I always called it "sissifying" a mtb bike to put on road slicks and tall-up the gears a bit. And I think a no suspension mtb frame makes the best commutter and an excellent touing frame.
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Old 12-05-06, 03:04 PM   #9
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I currently have V-Brakes, so Im not sure on compatability. As to the point of a rigid fork, I can really feel my shock going on all those hills I have on my commute.
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Old 12-05-06, 03:08 PM   #10
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If you're not planning to use your bike offroad very often or ever again, then I would suggest changing out the fork. You can drop at least one pound off your bike right there, maybe more depending on how nice your suspension fork is. I converted a MTB and that was the first thing I did. I wanted a more rigid bike and it made a big difference on hills. YMMV
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Old 12-05-06, 03:36 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adiankur
I currently have V-Brakes, so Im not sure on compatability. As to the point of a rigid fork, I can really feel my shock going on all those hills I have on my commute.
If you have v-brakes and want to switch to drop bars you have 3 choices:
use a travel adjuster with standard road brake levers - some have used these with success others claim they are ineffective and a pain to seup.
Get a set of Dia Compe 287v vbrake compatible levers - expensive (~$60) and hard to find but seem to work
Or replace the V-brakes with cantis and use standard road brake levers - probably the best option for an inexpensive option that works.
The travel adapter is probably your least expensive option but if you have some nice V-brakes you may want to keep them and try to find some 287v brake levers.
Drop bars on a MTB is very doable. There is even a couple of off-road drop bars that some cyclist use (On One Midge, WTB Dirt Drop). Friction shifters should work just fine but you may miss the indexing if you are used to modern shifters. 6, 7, and 8 speed cassettes have the same spacing so if friction shifting worked for 6 speed it will work on a newer 8 speed.
I am planning to put off-road drop bars on my MTB once I work up the funds. I find the position much more comfortable than the riser bars I currently have. However the parts needed for the conversion with 287v, Midge bars, stem, shifters, and cables starts to add up.
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Old 12-05-06, 03:59 PM   #12
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speaking of sissifying my mtn bike, the suspension on mine can't be locked out, but it's not springy enough that replacing it is on the very tippity top of my list, *and* I love my sprung brooks saddle, but is going from 1.5" tires w/ inverted tread to 2" big apples on top of it all just way too much boing-boing for one bike? I really liked the extra size on the bike from running 2" knobbies last week, so I think I would like 2" slicks. Appreciate any insight.
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Old 12-05-06, 04:06 PM   #13
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You mean something like what I did?



Raleigh M 400 frame, drop bars, Simplex friction shifters, Suntour 28/38/48 crank, 11X28 8-speed cassette, cantilever brakes.
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Old 12-05-06, 07:40 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg
speaking of sissifying my mtn bike, the suspension on mine can't be locked out, but it's not springy enough that replacing it is on the very tippity top of my list, *and* I love my sprung brooks saddle, but is going from 1.5" tires w/ inverted tread to 2" big apples on top of it all just way too much boing-boing for one bike? I really liked the extra size on the bike from running 2" knobbies last week, so I think I would like 2" slicks. Appreciate any insight.
Sounds similar to me. I've got my old (mid-90's Judy) shock turned all the way up and I only notice it's there when standing and pushing hard. I'd like to change it, but I'd also like to change the headset, and bottom-bracket, and maybe frame, and then I realize that the bike is worth nothing and the XTR derailleur I put on the back is worth more than the bike as a whole. So I don't spend any money. But it somehow seems to work so I keep riding it.

I'm running 2" apples and really like them. If they conflict with the brooks, just put a little more air in them. I run mine fairly high anyway because I don't want the rear moving around too much. It sounds odd to say, but they've let me pay a little less attention to where I'm riding. I'm typically in the debris zone and they roll over stuff way better than the 1.5's I had before. They're definitely worth the weight penalty.
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Old 12-05-06, 07:56 PM   #15
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I commute on a Devinci Taos with a 100C Judy fork. All I did was slap on some fenders and a blinkie for the rear. During winter I run knobbies but other seasons go back and forthe between them and slicks. I make no changes for going off road to my bars or shifters. Why? An off road MTB setup will work on road. A road style MTB setup may not work off road. My commute is short a 3 miles, so getting a bit aero is not an issue. Since I am lugging a backpack with lunch and clothes weight is not an issue either. I used to commute on a road bike but far prefer my MTB for city riding. Curbs and potholes can reek havoc on roadie wheels.
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Old 12-05-06, 08:48 PM   #16
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I live in the suburbs, and have a 10 mile up and down ride. I go up a hill...I go down a hill, I go up a hill, another hill, then another hill, then I come back down, then back up...etc... I doubt Ill be buying a new bike, but I may be able to milk a fork out of someone for xmas, as well as the nokian studded tires. If I find the other parts used or something, I can add them a bit at a time.
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Old 12-05-06, 08:54 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffS
I'm running 2" apples and really like them. If they conflict with the brooks, just put a little more air in them. I run mine fairly high anyway because I don't want the rear moving around too much. It sounds odd to say, but they've let me pay a little less attention to where I'm riding. I'm typically in the debris zone and they roll over stuff way better than the 1.5's I had before. They're definitely worth the weight penalty.
That's great to hear, thanks!
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Old 12-05-06, 09:33 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WillisB
You mean something like what I did?



Raleigh M 400 frame, drop bars, Simplex friction shifters, Suntour 28/38/48 crank, 11X28 8-speed cassette, cantilever brakes.
Is that an adjustable quill stem? I have an old mongoose hilltopper that I want to make into a commuter. I will probably start a thread with a pic to solicit suggestions. It's a nice steel frame and would make a good commuter with the right tires, seat and handlebars.
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Old 12-05-06, 09:54 PM   #19
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Talk to your LBS and see if they have a rigid fork lying around. I got tired of watching the fork compress on hills and got rid of it. They gave me a good price installed. The stock fork was a cheapie so I saved a little weight, too. For commuter use, consider adding fenders. They make a huge difference in wet weather. For more hand positions, I have been thinking of adding some clip-on aero/jammer bars (obviously not suitable for situations with ANY possibility of traffic or quick stops, but much of my ride is on a bike trail with low traffic at commute time, especially in the morning or this time of the year.
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Old 12-05-06, 10:20 PM   #20
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I have the fenders, though I have to rig them to the front fork, as I have no eyelets for them. They are never perfectly straight on the front tire, but they cover it. I have lights I made at home, 35w headlight, a backup 20w and a light I keep in my bag. I have an amber strobe on the back now, and a driveway reflector that I installed LEDs in that runs all the time. I have a superflash on my helmet. The thing that gets me is the bounce of the fork, the lack of a decent aggressive riding position, crappy seat. I do have fairly long stretchs where there are no cars, so I could have some sort of aero bar setup, but probably not best with winter coming. I think drops would be better, but as someone pointed out, could be quite expensive, so Ill have to wait for used parts or xmas stuff. The fork is a big deal, that I may be able to do. I commute already on the bike, but with some traffic spots where I need to wait, all of the hills, I can get stuck taking an hour to work. I hoped with a bit of a better setup, I may make the ride smoother, and a little quicker.
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Old 12-05-06, 11:16 PM   #21
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For stuff to replace, I replaced saddle, handlebar, rear derailleur, tires, cables and housings, fork (old one was bent badly). Everything done on the cheap though. I got the bike for free and several parts then just added my own stuff as I went.

My Trek 800 oldie turned commuter

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Old 12-06-06, 01:07 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwoloz
For stuff to replace, I replaced saddle, handlebar, rear derailleur, tires, cables and housings, fork (old one was bent badly).
I am curious as I am making the same transition with my MTB, but why did you replace the rear derailleur? Was it because it was broken, or was it an upgrade and if so why do you decide to upgrade? Thanks
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Old 12-06-06, 01:41 AM   #23
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No reason really except that I got it for free. If it wasn't free I wouldn't have upgraded.
The old Shimano that was on there still worked perfectly well (although it had some weird play side to side)
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Old 12-06-06, 05:21 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by margoC
Is that an adjustable quill stem? I have an old mongoose hilltopper that I want to make into a commuter. I will probably start a thread with a pic to solicit suggestions. It's a nice steel frame and would make a good commuter with the right tires, seat and handlebars.

Yes its an adjustable stem. A lot of these parts were New Old Stock at a friend's shop. He showed me the frame one day and said I could have it. We then picked out some old bars with Diacomp levers, bar tape, Alivio cantilever brakes, and the stem. The BB, crank, and derailleurs came off an old Fuji that my son outgrew. As shown I had about $50 in it.

I have since upgraded the derailleurs to Deore LX and added fenders. I am getting SPD pedals and a rack for Christmas.
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Old 12-06-06, 09:34 AM   #25
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I use a hardtail MTB as my commuter. I like having the shock fork because I have had many run ins with unavaoidable potholes and curb jumping to get out of the way here in Minneapolis. I am convinced that the savings gained from not having to true my wheels constantly outweigh the performance benefit on hills etc, during the commute. I do have to admit that Minneapolis is not that hilly but I have the forks set pretty hard but loose enough to absorb all the punishment of the hard city street and my weight. I would invest in good rubber and lights. I love my Nokkian studs in the winter. I have had zero wipeouts since I bought them three seasons ago. I don't even have the super agressive ones either.
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