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  1. #1
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    Fixing the old bike!

    Hello everyone!

    I'll let this serve as my introduction as well since it is my first post. As a kid I was a huge biker, and now I've come to a new place where biking again is a good way to travel. I've been trying to get my old mountain bike back on the road. I've been searching things all over the web, and it seems like for the half the topics I inquire on, I get this forum. I figured I might as well join!

    I have a low end mountain bike, a Schwinn Mesa from at least 7 years ago. It was the first non-department store bike I ever had. For the couple years I rode it, I was very rough on it. It was poorly taken care of, but it's in surprisingly okay shape. Since I'm in college and have little money, I'm trying to make it more suitable for the road to save on gas and such.

    If I had lots of money to drop, I would probably get something like a road hybrid, something with maybe 1"-1.5" tires, a nice setup for comfort, and a just sturdy enough for a rough road or a needing to go through the dirt. Having a variety of gears is also nice, but I live in a flat place now, so mountain bike range isn't needed. I do love my straight handlebars though, and it would be tough to do much else.

    So, I'm basically turning an old worn out mountain bike into a hybrid! It sounds like a fun project to me, if I can only come up with the cash for the parts I need.

    These are the areas I could use some recommendation on...

    My tires are definitely worn out and need replacing. I'd like to find a relatively cheap and narrower, perhaps 1.5" or less. I'm a big guy, so I need to keep some width. It seems so hard to find anything under $20, but then I found these forte bike tires for so cheap! I wonder if they're worth it.http://www.performancebike.com/bikes..._400013_400237

    The rims don't seem too bad; the wobble in them is barely unnoticeable. Do you guys think that's worth doing anything about?

    My front suspension is fairly locked up, which isn't that much of a problem with what I'm doing with the bike. Plus, it's really expensive to replace it. I took it apart to see the problem, and it was very, very clear. The springs and everything were coated with a collaboration of mud and grease. I cleaned the springs the best I could, but they still have lots of rust in them and work poorly. I'm not sure of any real way to fix them up any better. Also, what kind of grease do you put on these things? I had to take off the grease to take off the mud unfortunately. I suppose the worst suspension fork is still better than none at all.

    The gears have rust spots on them, but work fine. They will need to be replaced one day, but it doesn't seem like they will fail me anytime soon. However, I'm unsure if I will need a new derailleur. It shifts, but it definitely doesn't stick on the right gear very well. It looks like it's ok though. It could also be that the bike is in drastic need of a tune up. The bike shop wants $65 dollars for that though, and I'm wondering if I can do it myself.

    The front shock is a RST 281R. The rear derailleur is a SRAM 5.0.

    I could use any recommendations, and I would definitely appreciate it. I would really love to get back into biking. I felt like I was a kid again the first time I got back on this bike.

  2. #2
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    Without even a ballpark guess about your budget, i can't say much; I would, if I were you and fixing up the beater, get a rigid fork (Surly Instigator for me, a Clyde; it runs about $80+shp). $65 for a good tune-up would be money well spent. Might save you $$ on parts you think you need.

    I have a similar project on the back burner -- an old aluminum hardtail I'm converting to a rigid singlespeed (hence, the Instigator fork). Gonna run me about $400, since I have only a bare frame right now to work with...that's why it's on the back burner! Kids kinda come first....

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
    Without even a ballpark guess about your budget, i can't say much; I would, if I were you and fixing up the beater, get a rigid fork (Surly Instigator for me, a Clyde; it runs about $80+shp). $65 for a good tune-up would be money well spent. Might save you $$ on parts you think you need.

    I have a similar project on the back burner -- an old aluminum hardtail I'm converting to a rigid singlespeed (hence, the Instigator fork). Gonna run me about $400, since I have only a bare frame right now to work with...that's why it's on the back burner! Kids kinda come first....
    As cheap as possible is my first response to budget. Then again, I know where that goes. As long as it's far enough below getting a new bike at around $400-$500, then it should be worth the money to fix up this bike. I'd like to spend less than $100, but that seems pretty ridiculous. Since I'm not doing anything that requires great performance, I can go with some cheap stuff for the fork and such. I do need good tires though since I'm big.

  4. #4
    GO BIG RED norwood's Avatar
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    If you are able to figure out EXACTLY what you need for front fork replacement, ie: steerer tube dia., steerer tube length, overall length, threaded, non-threaded, etc., I have seen some older model suspension forks go for fairly cheap on ebay. Most everyone wants the "latest and greatest". But you do need to know the critical dimensions. Close enough just doesn't work.
    And yes, there definitely is a point where it makes more sense to look for a different bicycle.
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    I am riding on those tires right now, on a Mt. to Hybrid type conversion bike. They are holding up well , but I only weigh #170. Sounds like good oiling, adjusting, etc., can get the bike back in decent shape. Repair videos here;
    bicycletutor.com/

  6. #6
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Colleges are one of the places where bikes walk very quickly. Best thing to do is not spend a great deal on the bike- The rougher it looks- the less chance it has of being "Borrowed".

    And if you are looking at spending $100- don't bother- look on C.L. for a cheap bike that works and is in your size.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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    Thank you!

    I really appreciate all the tips guys!

    I've actually been looking at craigslist and cheapies at Walmart to take to campus. At the very least, I figure I can take some cheap bike off of craigslist and steal some parts. Craigslist has little to offer in my area, or at least my ideal bike hasn't been posted yet. I have read some nice reviews on a $100 Walmart bike called the Next Avalon, but I fear that the bike will fail, and my money will have been better spent fixing a good bike.

    My school is large, but it seems like it's rather safe. It's Missouri State if anyone has ever heard of it. It's had some thefts, but so many people here use cable locks - I imagine that's the main culprit.

    Bicycle tutor has really helped me understand what I need to do to get the shifters working right. As soon as I find a metric Allen wrench, I will get to work on that and tell you how it went.

    For the fork, is there a way to figure out exactly what the dimensions are or what kind it is? I really know very little about this part of the bike.

  8. #8
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    Shouldn't be too hard. I got back into cycling on a mountain bike about 10 years after college, then decided I wanted to ride the road, too, but couldn't afford a bike. I even did a couple of metric centuries on an old Bridgestone MB3 with just a tire swap
    I never could feel much difference among MB road tires--the worst is better than a knobby tire. I haven't shopped at Performance in years, but I used to, and I was always satisfied with the house brand stuff. You're wise to stick with 1.5 or so, too, if you weigh more than about 140.
    whether wheel wobble matters depends on how bad it is, but it's usually fairly easy to adjust out. Google "truing a bicycle wheel" and you'll get more information than you can stand.
    No reason to change the bars if you like what you have. You won't have as many hand positions as on drop bars, but my wife has ridden 3000 miles this summer with flat bars. I also wouldn't worry about the gearing. Most people have far higher gears than they need. If you reach a point where you're pedaling as fast as you can in your highest gear and still want more, worry about it then. It won't happen soon.
    Re the fork: I don't know anything about that particular one, but taking it apart, cleaning it and greasing it can't hurt. Type of grease probably doesn't matter much--loads on bikes are fairly low, and any decent slippery stuff should work. You may be able to download a manual, or at least tips, for the thing. I did that recently for a 14-year-old Rock Shox Q21R.
    Before you pay for a tune-up, try cleaning and lubricating every pivot point on the derailleur, then loosen the bolt that holds the cable to the derailleur, pull out the cable (from the shifter end), smear it good with any kind of grease and run the cable back through the housing (or replace the cable--they only cost a couple of dollars). Google can help you here, too ("adjust rear derailleur" is a start). Also lube any place the cable slides against something, like maybe under the bottom bracket. Use a LITTLE lube anyplace that's exposed to dirt, and wipe it off after a few minutes. Lubricate the chain as well, and for that, a bike-specific chain lube like White Lightning or ProLink is worth the money. Ordinary oil will work, but holds dirt like you wouldn't believe.
    Rust spots on the gears is pretty much harmless. Spray the cassette with WD40 or something, let it sit a few minutes, then use an old towel or rag to get between the cogs, like flossing teeth. It doesn't need to be lubricated, by the way--you're using the WD40 as a cleaner and solvent and wiping it off
    Other things you may need: Tubes, rim strips, brake pads. And of course tools, which you can buy as the need arises. Bikes are simple; anybody can learn to work on them.
    All this information is widely available online. Try www.parktool.com or www.sheldonbrown.com.

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    In terms of safety get the brakes in order. At min replace the cables.

    You should look at parktool.com and sheldonbrown.com plus other bike repair video sites to figure out if your wheels are true enough AND if the spokes are properly tensioned(as you claim to be a big guy)

    I would suggest you get one of those tire repair kits either from a bike shop or dollar store. I would avoid the no glue kits until you know a bit more.

    Ride the bike for a while and see what is not working for you. What is causing pains.

    If there is a bike repair class in your area it would be a good idea as you will learn by repairing your old bike. Check out clubs in your area. Find the best bike shop in your area.
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  10. #10
    surfrider
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    I recently rehab'd my 2006 Trek FX 7.3 for about $120. Not top-of-the-line parts, but its going to be my new errand bike. The BB and fork bearings looked OK, so I just replaced the cassette, chain, brake levers & calipers, cables, and large ring on front (ditched the FD, since I never really used it). Also added some larger tires (38's) although the older ones still had some miles on them (another $40). Runs nice!

  11. #11
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    1. The first thing that I would do if it was my bike would be to install a pair of 1 1/2" slick tires. You'll probably find it easier if you also buy a pair of narrower inner tubes than the ones you have now. I couldn't get the reference to work but I assume the forte tires would be fine.

    2. Shift into a gear that makes the derailleur arm point straight down and look at your bike from the back. The derailleur arm should point straight down, not toward the tire. If it does, bend it back straight with your hand. If it's already straight, go to the Park tool website and look up derailleur adjustments. That'll tell you how to fix your shifting.

    That's all that I'd worry about at this point. It's probably not smart to pour a lot of money into a campus bike. Just make it rideable and use it up.

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    I've been taking advice.

    So far, I've gotten the gears so they shift reasonably well. I wouldn't call them smooth by any means. A local bike shop told me my chain was at 75%. I don't know how bad that is, but when I ride and watch my chain, it definitely seems like that could be the problem. It tends to get stick on a sprocket or not fall on it right. Other than that, it goes in the gears I tell it to. It's just jerky. I hear that this is a good time to change the chain, before I have to change the cassette as well.

    The breaks work pretty well perfectly.

    As for the tires, I haven't had the money to replace them yet. I'd like to go as skinny as I can, but I'm not sure if there's really a difference in wear between a 1" and a 1˝" tire. I've read that road tires are more likely to get punctured and such since their not as meaty, but I don't think the diameter should matter. I'm a heavy guy, but that wouldn't matter would it?

  13. #13
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rainier22 View Post
    i've been taking advice.

    So far, i've gotten the gears so they shift reasonably well. i wouldn't call them smooth by any means. A local bike shop told me my chain was at 75%. I don't know how bad that is, but when i ride and watch my chain, it definitely seems like that could be the problem. It tends to get stick on a sprocket or not fall on it right. Other than that, it goes in the gears i tell it to. It's just jerky. I hear that this is a good time to change the chain, before i have to change the cassette as well.
    the breaks work pretty well perfectly.

    As for the tires, i haven't had the money to replace them yet. I'd like to go as skinny as i can, but i'm not sure if there's really a difference in wear between a 1" and a 1˝" tire. I've read that road tires are more likely to get punctured and such since their not as meaty, but i don't think the diameter should matter. I'm a heavy guy, but that wouldn't matter would it?

    warning!!!!

    The bike shop have told you that the chain is .75% worn. You should change it when or before it gets to 1%. Problem is-- that the chainrings and cassette may be more worn that the chain. All that will happen if you fit a new chain to worn cassette and chainrings- Is that you will start skipping teeth on the gears and it will be very awkward to ride. Infact- it could be impossible.

    And if you are heavy- go to a 1.5 tyre as it would not require as much pressure as a skinny one and would give a cushier ride..
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
    warning!!!!

    The bike shop have told you that the chain is .75% worn. You should change it when or before it gets to 1%. Problem is-- that the chainrings and cassette may be more worn that the chain. All that will happen if you fit a new chain to worn cassette and chainrings- Is that you will start skipping teeth on the gears and it will be very awkward to ride. Infact- it could be impossible.

    And if you are heavy- go to a 1.5 tyre as it would not require as much pressure as a skinny one and would give a cushier ride..
    Ah! Thanks! I'll take a closer look at the gears. I found a couple threads on the forum on this subject. Do chain rings stretch out like chains?

  15. #15
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam View Post

    And if you are heavy- go to a 1.5 tyre as it would not require as much pressure as a skinny one and would give a cushier ride..
    +1

    Also remember the rims may not take asskinny tires as you aretalking about (1").
    °Empty drums make a lot of noice... (Old Hungarian proverb).

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    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rainier22 View Post
    Do chain rings stretch out like chains?
    No, but the teeth wear down and gets more pointed.
    °Empty drums make a lot of noice... (Old Hungarian proverb).

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rainier22 View Post
    ...
    As for the tires, I haven't had the money to replace them yet. I'd like to go as skinny as I can, but I'm not sure if there's really a difference in wear between a 1" and a 1˝" tire. I've read that road tires are more likely to get punctured and such since their not as meaty, but I don't think the diameter should matter. I'm a heavy guy, but that wouldn't matter would it?
    What's a "heavy guy?" To a lot of cyclists, 175 pounds is a monster. I don't think "heavy" kicks in until about 225.
    If you're over about 150, though, I'd stay away from skinny (below 1.4 or 1.5) tires. There's no advantage, and you have to run higher pressures to avoid pinch flats, so your ride and handling suffer. Especially around town and commuting, something in the 1.4-1.7 range works well. You get a decent ride, good acceleration, shock absorption and they're wide enough to float over obstacles that would catch a narrower tire.
    You're going to ignore this and buy the 1.0s, I know. But you'll be sorry.
    Incidentally, if you're going to be riding mostly on pavement, you don't actually need suspension, to there's no need to sweat fixing that fork. Make it do what you can make it do, then forget about it. Billions of people ride bikes with no suspension at all.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velo Dog View Post
    What's a "heavy guy?" To a lot of cyclists, 175 pounds is a monster. I don't think "heavy" kicks in until about 225.
    If you're over about 150, though, I'd stay away from skinny (below 1.4 or 1.5) tires. There's no advantage, and you have to run higher pressures to avoid pinch flats, so your ride and handling suffer. Especially around town and commuting, something in the 1.4-1.7 range works well. You get a decent ride, good acceleration, shock absorption and they're wide enough to float over obstacles that would catch a narrower tire.
    You're going to ignore this and buy the 1.0s, I know. But you'll be sorry.
    Incidentally, if you're going to be riding mostly on pavement, you don't actually need suspension, to there's no need to sweat fixing that fork. Make it do what you can make it do, then forget about it. Billions of people ride bikes with no suspension at all.
    I honestly haven't weighed myself in over a year. I would say I'm probably somewhere between 230-250, so definitely above your heavy mark.

    I'm definitely not ignoring your comments. I appreciate them very much. I'm a big kid on my bike; I like hitting little bumps and popping the front wheel up or jumping (riding) off a curb. Last night I tried climbing this really steep hill in a park (I fell off near the top, embarrassed and happy). I'll have to say goodbye to that with road tires.

    At the same time, I want to get something skinny enough to make a difference. I've seen bigger guys than me on road bikes without compressing their tires at all. I guess it's all about tire pressure. I'm basically trying to find something that will go as fast as possible while withstanding my weight and at least a little bit of abuse (Unfortunately my ride isn't the smoothest).

    Something I've noticed is that the bike shops here are really high. They say I'll be paying at least $25 per tire. I'm not sure if they're better brands or what, but it seems like Performancebike.com has much cheaper tires. I don't see anything bigger than a 1.25 though.

    The fork definitely takes on some of the bigger bumps. It's not in great shape by any means, but it does more than what I need it to. If I ever get any money, I'll probably replace the bike before the fork.

  19. #19
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by badmother View Post
    No, but the teeth wear down and gets more pointed.
    I wouldn't be overly concerned about the chainrings unless you beat the stuffing out of that bike for several thousand miles. Just take a good look and note their condition. But a new cassette and chain should be acquired. It should ride great with those. If it doesn't - then I'd look into new chainrings.
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

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