Road bike conversion
I have an old Bianchi Strada LX road bike that I would like to convert into more of a hybrid. I would like a more upright riding postion, more than 12 gears, bigger tires for light off road riding. The bike currently has Sugino VP Japan 170 crank, Shimano Light Action VIA front derailer, Shimano Light Action VIA rear derailer, Shimano Light Action lower tub shifters, Front Araya 27 1/4" rim and a rear Weinmann 27 1/4" rim. Or should I buy a new bike.
As a general rule older bikes had fewer speed which ment stronger
wheels and enough speeds to accomodate the average rider in
non race rides very well. I much prefer the old 5 & 6 speeds
for in town or short country rides.
I've converted 3 old "race" bikes from the past to city bikes with
new bars, stem, seats, platform pedals and fenders. Had a lot
of fun doing it and all serve me well.
I'm in the middle of such a conversion right now. Changed the stem of my Univega Super Strada to a riser stem- made all the difference. Wish there was a greater ratio spread. Think I'll just deal with it instead of going crazy. The law of diminishing returns kicks in fast when doing projects like this.
"More gears" may not necessarily mean "wider gears" -- and wide gearing, IMO, is more important for anyone on my side of racing/time trialing. One 6-cog cassette would have the same overall gear range as a ten-cog cassette IF the largest and smallest cogs are the same, even though the 10-spd will have more closely-spaced ratios in between. You won't gain a higher top speed or better climbing gear if the smallest and largest cogs are the same; you'll only be missing out on narrow jumps between gears.
You could gain a more upright position pretty easily with a stem with more rise.
There seem to be several tires out there that would fit your wheels and are fatter. As long as they clear the fork & rear triangle, they'd work fine. If there isn't enough room, than that would be a reason to get a different bike.