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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 07-03-12, 07:45 PM   #1
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Vintage MTB commuting mods

So I know a bunch of you are using vintage mountain bikes as commuters. I'm talking about mtbs that haven't been polluted by a suspension fork. The cool thing is that they are kinda cheap for nice old bikes and they can be modded in all kinds of ways. So I'm curious what people have been doing to their vintage MTB commuters.

I'll start. I picked up a 1988 stumpjumper comp from craigslist for cheap (complete Deore XT with a u brake in the rear) not too long ago. I haven't done too much to it yet (other than overhaul the bike, change the cables, and mount new tires with a reflective stripe) but I'm planning on doing some mods pretty soon. I'm running two blinkies in the rear (a planet bike superflash and a catetye reflex) and cateye HL-EL600 up front but I'm thinking of adding a dynamo of some type. This is my commuting bike with minimal mods:
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Old 07-03-12, 07:51 PM   #2
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Good to see a vintage well represented. I have a Giant Sedona ATX in stock form for city use and another one done to the 9s for modern with 27spd, hydro disc, Sid fork etc. Which one is better for all-around, probly the mod one, lots and lots of race years on it but the stocker has its own allure. When I ride it I almost get nostalgic back to my early teen years when I got the mod one as a bones chassis.
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Old 07-03-12, 08:47 PM   #3
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Nice ride! I have a Rockhopper that was my first commuter. I gave it to my sister-in-law a few years ago, and then took it back last summer (she hand't used it in years) and have it rideable again. I don't normally use it as my commuter, but it makes a great backup. I agree, those are some great bikes for commuting.
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Old 07-04-12, 05:16 AM   #4
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I sometimes ride a GF wahoo 1997 with slicks and moustache handlebars. Otherwise, it's stock with everything else. Old mountain bikes make excellent commuters IMO -- you just usually need a good rear pannier rack, and a set of panniers that you can adjust "rearward" (like ortlieb, arkel) to avoid heel strike.
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Old 07-04-12, 09:32 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
So I know a bunch of you are using vintage mountain bikes as commuters. I'm talking about mtbs that haven't been polluted by a suspension fork. The cool thing is that they are kinda cheap for nice old bikes and they can be modded in all kinds of ways. So I'm curious what people have been doing to their vintage MTB commuters.
There is no "pollution"* worse than taking a off-road machine and making it unworthy of off-road. Kind of like making a low rider out of a jeep! All of my mountain bikes are ready and willing for off-road use.

*Shocks aren't "polluting" mountain bikes. A shock...even a cheap one...are more about enhancing control than about comfort
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Old 07-04-12, 10:07 AM   #6
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I bought a used 1986 Ritchey Ascent in 1987, intending to ride it in the mountains. It was too big, though, so I ended up buying a smaller, new, Ascent because I liked the way it handled. I turned the '86 into a commuter with half-step gearing and 1.5" tires. The combination worked well and I put thousands of miles on the bike in commuting and errand running and the occasional longer ride. I still have it, and it's still a really good bike, although its role has been taken over (since retirement) by a Rivendell Bombadil, which handles basically like the Ascent but even better.

The old Ritchey could use some help. I've thought about getting it repainted, but the main thing it needs is new drivetrain bits. If I do this, the bike will keep its roller-cam brake, bullmoose bars and mountain-worthy tires. The problem with repainting is that I can't get decals like the ones on it, which are the old-style blue-and-yellow.
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Old 07-04-12, 11:11 AM   #7
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There is no "pollution"* worse than taking a off-road machine and making it unworthy of off-road. Kind of like making a low rider out of a jeep! All of my mountain bikes are ready and willing for off-road use.

*Shocks aren't "polluting" mountain bikes. A shock...even a cheap one...are more about enhancing control than about comfort
Vintage MTBs weren't built for shocks which is one of the reasons they make great commuters. Just saying.

I have three no shock vintage MTBs (one for each member of my family); they're ridiculously cheap and they make great all around bikes.

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Old 07-04-12, 11:13 AM   #8
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I sometimes ride a GF wahoo 1997 with slicks and moustache handlebars. Otherwise, it's stock with everything else. Old mountain bikes make excellent commuters IMO -- you just usually need a good rear pannier rack, and a set of panniers that you can adjust "rearward" (like ortlieb, arkel) to avoid heel strike.
Great point about racks and panniers and the problem with heel strike; agreed that vintage MTBs (sans shocks of course, ) make great commuters.

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Old 07-04-12, 11:41 AM   #9
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If you like this thread, you may also be interested in this one: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ar-Conversions
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Old 07-04-12, 01:38 PM   #10
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Vintage MTBs weren't built for shocks which is one of the reasons they make great commuters. Just saying.

I have three no shock vintage MTBs (one for each member of my family); they're ridiculously cheap and they make great all around bikes.
...And yet we still managed to install shocks on them. The first Rockshox was introduced in 1989 while the first Manitou was introduced in 1990. Your 1988 Stumpy could have had a shock installed on it. Many did.
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Old 07-04-12, 01:58 PM   #11
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...And yet we still managed to install shocks on them. The first Rockshox was introduced in 1989 while the first Manitou was introduced in 1990. Your 1988 Stumpy could have had a shock installed on it. Many did.
Yep but it's a bad mod for a commuter, imo.
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Old 07-04-12, 02:23 PM   #12
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Beautiful ride. The only fly in the ointment I can see is that you may want to straighten the angle of the PBSF to make it perpendicular to the ground. Might just be the camera angle. If so, nevermind.

Planet Bike mtb fenders can be had for 34.00 from www.bikeisland.com w/no shipping. They're 60mm, so able to cover any size tires up to 2.0 I'd think.

Purchased a 3x7 Univega ht/hf w/1.75 street tires from Goodwill for 10.00 a few months ago and am going to mod it into a winter beater. Bike has less than 50 miles on it, I'll bet. The only thing I don't like is the indexed front shifter. Going to swap it out for a 'ratcheting' twist-grip, thumb-finger friction like yours or even a stem mount lever. My wife's got an old Crossroads w/a ratcheted twist grip and having the option to vary the trim is great.
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Old 07-04-12, 02:30 PM   #13
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Yep but it's a bad mod for a commuter, imo.
IMO, I've never found it to be a detriment. In snow and ice, a shock can be an asset for the same reason that it's an asset when riding off-road. The fork will all the wheel to climb up and out of ruts rather than be trapped in them. And, if you can find a place that you can actually ride off-road for you commute (all or part), a shock and an off-road ready mountain bike can inject a little fun into the normal tedium of bicycle commuting. Getting from point A to point B may be the main goal but why not enjoy the journey?
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Old 07-04-12, 03:17 PM   #14
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Old new MTB commuter Giant Yukon bought new in about 1993
rebuilt to this config in June this year
best money I have spent so far on a bike
I call it a old mans fat tire road bike
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Old 07-04-12, 10:20 PM   #15
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Here is my budget conversion:
I spent $25 on levers
$3 on a cable hanger
$15 on new cables
$5 on bar tape and
$12 for stem shifters

When I got the bike, the original shifters were trashed, and the derailures (sp?) were crapped. The stem shifters made that an easy and cheap fix since I was still able to use the derailures




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Old 07-04-12, 11:47 PM   #16
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Yep but it's a bad mod for a commuter, imo.
I have commuted on roads with so many potholes that the road destroyed wheels faster than single track. At the worst point of the road disrepair, a full suspension was a reasonable option, unless of course you really like rebuilding wheels.
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Old 07-05-12, 12:37 AM   #17
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My winter commuter is an 80's Shogun set up with bar extensions, street tires and fenders and I love that beast. I rolled right over chunks of debris on the roadside that would have probably trashed a wheel and earned me a face plant on my road bike.
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Old 07-05-12, 05:35 AM   #18
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1988 Specialized Hard Rock, with fenders, lights, a rack, shopping panniers, trailer hitch and street slicks, that's how I roll.
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Old 07-05-12, 08:30 AM   #19
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1994 Trek 8000 w/ slicks, otherwise stock. This has Deore DX components on it w/ canti brakes. I have a rack & mountable messenger bag, f&r lights, and a bell on it.
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Old 07-05-12, 08:42 AM   #20
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The 2.35" Big Apples on my early 90s GT Karakoram are my suspension.

Front and rear racks, lights all around. It's a bombproof commuter.
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Old 07-05-12, 09:48 AM   #21
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I don't commute to work on it, but my '88 Trek 900 makes a great grocery getter and camera carrier. Not much modded but I'm considering putting drop bars and bar end shifters on it. Maybe some slightly narrower tires once these cheap Forte's wear out, but not too narrow. I still want it to easily handle gravel trails.

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Old 07-05-12, 09:58 AM   #22
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I have commuted on roads with so many potholes that the road destroyed wheels faster than single track. At the worst point of the road disrepair, a full suspension was a reasonable option, unless of course you really like rebuilding wheels.
Sure but that's like riding offroad. I grew up in a city with some of the worst roads in the country (New Orleans). The ground was constantly sinking (the city is built on mud) and the pavement expanding because of the heat. Never felt like I wanted or needed a shock for commuting. I happen to like shocks for going offroad but I'm skeptical that they add anything but weight for most commuting applications. There will always be exceptions.
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Old 07-05-12, 09:58 AM   #23
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A 2000 or so Specialized Hardrock Classic with 26x1.5 slicks, rear rack and lights for me. Well I also upgraded the shifters, rear derailers, saddle, and made it an 8 speed, but it still does all I ask it to.
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Old 07-05-12, 10:00 AM   #24
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Here is my budget conversion:
I spent $25 on levers
$3 on a cable hanger
$15 on new cables
$5 on bar tape and
$12 for stem shifters

When I got the bike, the original shifters were trashed, and the derailures (sp?) were crapped. The stem shifters made that an easy and cheap fix since I was still able to use the derailures
There is something so cool about building up a great bike and not having to put much money into it.
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Old 07-05-12, 10:01 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yo Spiff View Post
I don't commute to work on it, but my '88 Trek 900 makes a great grocery getter and camera carrier. Not much modded but I'm considering putting drop bars and bar end shifters on it. Maybe some slightly narrower tires once these cheap Forte's wear out, but not too narrow. I still want it to easily handle gravel trails.

Old Red by Yo Spiff, on Flickr
That bike looks immaculate; very cool.
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