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  1. #1
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    Converting old Mtn Bike into commuter, wheel suggestions

    I've got an old Bianchi Mtn bike that I want to make into my commuter. Right now it needs wheels as both are bent where the brakes hit. I'd like to get a 26" wheel that I can run a 1.25" tire on and maybe convert to disk front brakes later.

    I looked at bicycle wheel warehouse and found some good deals on wheels but 1.5" tire is the thinnest they recommend. Where else should I look? Would like to keep it kinda cheap

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    I would go for a road bike, my $0.02. And wheels would be good, thinner would be best, but I look for quick release so if you get a flat on the road, it's easier to change. I would go for a used double walled set with quick release and slick/semi slick tires. Also keep your old wheels and set them up for bad weather tires just in case.

  3. #3
    This bike is cat approved monsterpile's Avatar
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    Nashbar often has good deals on wheelsets. You said you wanted disc brake wheels, but if not these people are pretty happy with the Vueltas. I ordered a set a while ago (got a great deal on them after thanksgiving) but haven't put them on my mountain bike yet but for the price I paid they seem pretty good. Nashbar has some disc wheelsets that may be good IDK.

    http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...1_10000_202477

    Bike Island has a bunch of cheap wheelsets including the Vueltas that Nashbar has in disc form. I am not an expert on wheels, but for around $100 I would think its tough to go wrong on some of these.

    http://bikeisland.com/cgi-bin/BKTK_S...0Wheelsets-ATB

    Also I have put 1.25 Nashbar slicks on a number of different rims and never had a problem. I haven't racked up a ton of miles, but I would think the rim would have to be pretty wide to be an issue. I should probably sell them because I prefer 1.5 tires anyway.
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    born again cyclist Steely Dan's Avatar
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    i have a set of those bikeisland Vuelta Zerolite ATB wheels and i've been really satified with them, especially considering they only set me back 100 bones. depending on season, i either run 1.95" schwalbe snow studs on them or 1.0" Ritchey tom slicks. the 1.0" ritchey's are a little bit below sheldon brown's recommendation table for matching tire width to rim width, but in the time i've ridden on the tom slicks with the vuelta zerolites, i've only had one pinch flat, so i'd say they be more than fine with a 1.25" tire.

    but they're not disc compatible, so that would be a bust if you have your heart set on a future conversion to disc brakes.
    The first rule: if you're riding a bike and not having fun, then you're doing it wrong.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Fenway's Avatar
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    Since the wheels are shot, you're better off putting the money into buying a used road or townie bike. Any decent lugged steel bike from the 70s-80s with a good set of fenders, a rack, a comfortable seat & handlebars will serve you better commuting than a typical mountain bike.

  6. #6
    Nipples of Steel! AngelGendy's Avatar
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    Get whatever 26" wheels are the cheapest, there will be a commuter tire to fit any rim width.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member canyoneagle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by opie View Post
    I've got an old Bianchi Mtn bike that I want to make into my commuter. Right now it needs wheels as both are bent where the brakes hit. I'd like to get a 26" wheel that I can run a 1.25" tire on and maybe convert to disk front brakes later.

    I looked at bicycle wheel warehouse and found some good deals on wheels but 1.5" tire is the thinnest they recommend. Where else should I look? Would like to keep it kinda cheap
    Depending on how badly out of true ("bent") the rims are, they might still be salvageable. Unless the wheels are the REALLY old school (early 80's) variety (wide rims) you should be able to put 1.5's on there with no issues.

    What is the commute like? Distance? Terrain? Weather?

    Mountain bikes can be make into great commuters. If yours is one of the better quality bikes of the line (Deore variety components would be a good clue) you could have a fun project on a not-so big budget.

    If the bike was one of the entry level models and the wheels are really shot, the money might be better spent on another bike.
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  8. #8
    born again cyclist Steely Dan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fenway View Post
    Since the wheels are shot, you're better off putting the money into buying a used road or townie bike. Any decent lugged steel bike from the 70s-80s with a good set of fenders, a rack, a comfortable seat & handlebars will serve you better commuting than a typical mountain bike.
    i gotta disagree with this post. MTBs can make great commuters if you've got a decent bike to begin with and run slicks on them. in fact i commuted exclusively on my old MTB for years before i bought my expensive road bike. now my MTB serves as a winter/back-up commuter. if your old bianchi MTB is in otherwise good condition and only needs new wheels, i say get some inexpensive new wheels, use the bianchi as a commuter, and if you really take to bike commuting, then start saving your dough to get the commuter bike of your dreams.

    the only x-factor is the fork. if your bianchi has a suspension fork without lock-out and you ride exclusively on pavement for your commute, then the fork shock will be nothing but an annoying energy suck, at which point you can consider putting on a rigid fork, or perhaps look to a different bike. or i suppose you could live with the suspension fork; i know some people don't really mind riding them on pavement, but i found it to be annoying after a while so i switched out my old suspension fork for an inexpensive rigid one.
    The first rule: if you're riding a bike and not having fun, then you're doing it wrong.

  9. #9
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    There's no shock on the fork. it's a 94 Bianchi Osprey. And I already commute, it's 9 miles each way and pretty hilly. I have a cross bike that I swap tires on. I just was going to put the old MTB to use and have a fun project hopefully. Had even thought about powder coating the frame and fork. Already replaced the shifters and shift and brake cables. Was going to get new pads for the brakes once I got wheels that weren't bent and then put a thinner tire on to gain some speed and have a comfy flat bar commuter. Probably replace other bits as I find good deals

  10. #10
    Real Men Ride Ordinaries fuzz2050's Avatar
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    Just a brief aside, disk brakes require mounts on the frame, mounts that an older Bianchi almost certainly doesn't have. Switching to disk brakes is almost impossible for that frame, I'm afraid.

  11. #11
    Senior Member canyoneagle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by opie View Post
    There's no shock on the fork. it's a 94 Bianchi Osprey. And I already commute, it's 9 miles each way and pretty hilly. I have a cross bike that I swap tires on. I just was going to put the old MTB to use and have a fun project hopefully. Had even thought about powder coating the frame and fork. Already replaced the shifters and shift and brake cables. Was going to get new pads for the brakes once I got wheels that weren't bent and then put a thinner tire on to gain some speed and have a comfy flat bar commuter. Probably replace other bits as I find good deals
    Sounds to me like an ideal project. According to what I found on that model, it retailed for $539 in 1994, and was(is) equipped with mid-level components - certainly worthy of keeping alive, IMO.

    Slim tires, fenders, rack, lights, you are SET for inclement weather and for getting groceries.

    I'm wacky enough that I would do something like powdercoat the frame and build it up with an IGH (would probably need a tensioner if the frame has vertical dropouts) and a dynamo up front- a true bad weather ride. Because of the ATB heritage it could take nice fat studded tires in the winter yet it would be just as happy with 1.5" slicks for all other seasons.
    Currently one bike: Singular Gryphon do-it all bike with Nuvinci N360
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  12. #12
    Senior Member canyoneagle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fuzz2050 View Post
    Just a brief aside, disk brakes require mounts on the frame, mounts that an older Bianchi almost certainly doesn't have. Switching to disk brakes is almost impossible for that frame, I'm afraid.
    Probably possible, with some skilled brazing/welding including proper reinforcement of the rear stays and a new fork. If the OP was going to paint/powdercoat the be in the first place, it could be a worthwhile thing to have done. I'd think the brazing/welding could be done for under 75 smackers and a basic disc fork can be found for $60. I don't think I'd trust disc mounts on the old fork.
    Currently one bike: Singular Gryphon do-it all bike with Nuvinci N360
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  13. #13
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    The Bianchi Osprey s a nice bicycle... the frame is double butted Tange, fork is Tange, and the parts group in '94 was mainly Shimano STX. The stock wheel set was a step down from the rest of the bike and if the bike is still in nice condition a new wheel set would be far more economical than buying a new comparable bike.

    I spend far more hours riding 26 inch wheeled bicycle that I do 700c wheels... for commuting and utilitarian riding they serve my needs quite well and I do not know what this "slow" is that people speak of.

    A slick 26 inch tyre will roll out nearly as fast than a slick road tyre and the compromise comes more from having a less aero riding position. and gearing better suited for mixed terrain than road use.

    opie - You could probably pick up a decent wheel set for $100.00... unless you are looking to upgrade the shifters I'd look at getting a rear 8 speed cassette wheel and just use a cassette spacer to run a 7 speed cassette. This will serve you well if you want to move up to an 8-9 speed.

    I'd have someone check your wheels to see if they just need to be trued... they might have some good miles left in them and even if they get replaced you could keep them as a second set with different tyres.

  14. #14
    Senior Member AltheCyclist's Avatar
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    If your roads are pretty smooth, I'd throw on the Nashbar 1.25's and use the cheap wheels, shouldn't have problem with the 1.25 on the wheelsets. If the road is rough, go with the 1.50s.

    It'll make a great commuter.

    The only part I disagree is the disc brakes. I personally hate them. They offer little advantage and maintenance is a pain (i.e. constant bending of the rotors).

  15. #15
    Senior Member sonatageek's Avatar
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    I am one of the Nashbar customers who has a set of the Vuelta Zerolite wheels on my commuter/all around MTB and have been very happy with them. They go on deep sale every so often (like about a week ago) for under $60 for the set. They may be cheap, but were a step up from the 16 year old single wall low end Shimano hub wheels that were OEM on my Raleigh M60.

  16. #16
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    Putting disk brakes on not only requires specialized hubs, it typically requires a special fork as well. I find I am happy with good rim brakes properly set up with good pads. If you are planning to commute on 1.25 tires, you must have much better roads than I ever commuted on. I always seemed to find myself wishing for wider tires to absorb the roughness of the surfaces I had to ride on. I am no longer commuting but I have recently found that Panaracer Pacela 26x1.75 tires are fast enough and provide a nice enough ride that I am using them.

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    I'll probably just go with a new wheelset then (the $100 nashbar vuelta's) and some slick tires and see where that takes me. It does have shimano STX on it and shifts and rides pretty good now.

    The wheels are bent like someone ran over a curb with a flat tire. Right where the tire meets the rim. I don't mind putting a little money in it and sprucing it up so no worries there

    So .. these wheels on Nashbar will accept a 1.25" tire?? Just confirming before I spend my money. Also can I use any 7 speed cassette?? they have a cheap SRAM one
    Last edited by opie; 03-09-11 at 11:45 AM. Reason: more info

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClemY View Post
    Putting disk brakes on not only requires specialized hubs, it typically requires a special fork as well. I find I am happy with good rim brakes properly set up with good pads. If you are planning to commute on 1.25” tires, you must have much better roads than I ever commuted on. I always seemed to find myself wishing for wider tires to absorb the roughness of the surfaces I had to ride on. I am no longer commuting but I have recently found that Panaracer Pacela 26x1.75” tires are fast enough and provide a nice enough ride that I am using them.
    I wouldn't say the roads are nice but I train on the same roads and believe me.. the mountain bike feels a lot softer than my road bike

  19. #19
    born again cyclist Steely Dan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by opie View Post
    So .. these wheels on Nashbar will accept a 1.25" tire?? Just confirming before I spend my money. Also can I use any 7 speed cassette?? they have a cheap SRAM one
    your link doesn't work, but if you're talking about the Vuelta Zerolite ATBs that retail at various places online for around 100 bucks, then yes, you can roll with a 1.25" slick on them just fine. i roll a 1.0" slick on my zerolites and have only had 1 pinch flat in that whole time, so as i said before, you'll be fine with 1.25s.

    as for a 7 speed cassette, it will work fine with the Zerolites, you'll just need to get a cassette spacer that you should be able to pick up at any decent bike shop. i roll with a 7 speed cassette on my zerolites and the set-up works just fine with a spacer. and a SRAM cassette will be compatible with the shimano hubs on the vuelta zerolites. cassettes are pretty much the only interchangeable drivetrain parts between SRAM & shimano.
    Last edited by Steely Dan; 03-09-11 at 12:08 PM.
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  20. #20
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    As long as the frame is sound, everything else can be fixed.

    Get the strongest wheels you can afford and the widest that the frame will accept. Get semi-slick tires. If the handlebars are the straight-across kind, replace them with back-swept ones to give you a more upright posture, and set the seat back as far as you can. Add some racks. You might want to see about replacing the derailleurs with an internal hub gear of some sort; far better to have the gears tucked away inside the hub if you are going to be riding in all sorts of weather, as they will be protected from the rain and snow and mud and general muck.
    Last edited by Elkhound; 03-09-11 at 12:09 PM. Reason: got cut off.

  21. #21
    Senior Member AltheCyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
    your link doesn't work, but if you're talking about the Vuelta Zerolite ATBs that retail at various places online for around 100 bucks, then yes, you can roll with a 1.25" slick on them just fine. i roll a 1.0" slick on my zerolites and have only had 1 pinch flat in that whole time, so as i said before, you'll be fine with 1.25s.
    Steely is right. It'll work. And, those Nashbar 1.25 slicks are bulletproof, from my experience., I've bought 1.25s from Performance, others, and have had pinch-flats. The Nashbar 1.25s, not so much.

  22. #22
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    My old mountain bikes...

    For touring...



    Commuting... all seasons.



    Monster cross... I have multiple wheel sets so can run slicks if it is more road than trail.


  23. #23
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    so will those vueltas also run with freewheels as well as cassettes? I have an old mtb that I've (sort of) converted into a commuter but the wheels are something I was thinking about replacing. The problem is it's a 6-speed and I think that means it has a freewheel and not a cassette, and I've heard that doesn't work right with newer wheels.

  24. #24
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    Oh and 65er, those look awesome

  25. #25
    Come here often? <wink> exile's Avatar
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    I can never get enough of looking at your bikes Sixty fiver.

    To opie I say get the wheel set as they should be fine for what you have in mind. If you want disc brakes in the future you would probably need to change the front fork as well.
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