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  1. #1
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    Converting a mountain bike to local use

    Hi,
    I just purchased a used Trek 850 Antelope at a yard sale. The bike seems to be in great condition and was a steal at $25 but I will probably be using mostly for just riding around town since I haven't been biking for about 18 years and have never tried offroading before. My question is are there any changes I should make to the bike to make it a better bike for local streets? I am thinking about replacing the tires, but don't know what would be best to replace them with. In addition, I really don't know where it compares with more modern bikes. What should I limit my spending to before it becomes more economical to buy new? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance,

    Hoshyoto

  2. #2
    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    I would first replace the tyres and see what else needs to be addressed after that. I would suggest something like the Specialized Turbo Pro or Specialized Fatboy if you want a little more cushion. If your streets are a bit rough on tyres, you may want to go with something like the Specialized Nimbus Armadillo plus maybe some Mr Tuffy liners for extra added protection. If you want to go cheap, Specialized has the Tri-Sport. I just converted my wife's hardtail to some generic Pyramid slicks in 26x1.25 for pretty cheap. They're ripoffs of the IRC Metro... same tyres made in the same factory... just different label and lower cost.

    Also, does the bike have a suspension fork on it? If it does, then you might find it advantageous to swap it out for a rigid steel fork such as the ones from Surly (1x1) or Kona (Project 2). Make sure you get a fork that's suspension-corrected. They should cost somewhere around $50. Suspension on pavement generally wastes a lot of energy and is really unnecessary.

    Other things you'll probably want to invest in are of course a helmet, emergency kit that includes a spare tube, patchkit, minipump and minitool. Make sure you know how to use them. If you'll be commuting or riding at night, you will probably also want lights. You'll definately want a rear blinker or possibly even many blinkers and depending on your riding conditions, a cheap LED front light may do the trick but for darker conditions without the aide of streetlamps, you'll likely have to invest in a high quality lighting system. These can get pretty expensive. Maybe look for used ones. There are a few other things you may want such as a rack if you intend to carry stuff. Do a BikeForums search for things like clothing and accessories.

    As far as comparing it to current bikes, it depends on what's on the bike. How old is it? I distinctly remember the Trek 850 in the early 1990s as being the top-end recreational steel line of MTBs with the 900-series being the racing steel line of MTBs. It was made with Tange double-butted cromoly with a cromoly fork and mid-level components. Trek used TruTemper AT steel for their 900-series. That 850 is a nice find as there aren't too many steel MTBs still being made. They generally filled the same market position as today's Trek 4500 and 4900.
    1999 K2 OzM 2001 Aegis Aro Svelte OCP Club Member
    "Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send." -- Jon Postel, RFC1122

  3. #3
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    First, thanks for the quick reply and suggestions

    To answer your questions, it has a rigid fork, not a suspension one. Unfortunately I am not sure of the year of manufacture. It was donated to a church for a large yard sale, so I did not get to talk with the original owner and ask any questions. I was told that it was around an $800 bike originally, but that is second or third hand info at best, so I'm not exactly certain.

    One additional question: I have read repeatedly while looking up info on various sites that the proper fit of the bike is for the bar to be approx 1" below the crotch. Unfortunately this bike's has no clearance when I am standing on the ground. Would changing from 26" to 24" tires make sense to correct this?

    Thanks again,

    Hoshyoto

  4. #4
    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoshyoto
    To answer your questions, it has a rigid fork, not a suspension one. Unfortunately I am not sure of the year of manufacture. It was donated to a church for a large yard sale, so I did not get to talk with the original owner and ask any questions. I was told that it was around an $800 bike originally, but that is second or third hand info at best, so I'm not exactly certain.
    $800 is probably a little high. More likely the original owner paid around $600 for it... maybe $650 if they weren't terribly good shoppers.


    Quote Originally Posted by Hoshyoto
    One additional question: I have read repeatedly while looking up info on various sites that the proper fit of the bike is for the bar to be approx 1" below the crotch. Unfortunately this bike's has no clearance when I am standing on the ground. Would changing from 26" to 24" tires make sense to correct this?
    It sounds like your frame is too large for you. If you were seriously offroading this would be more of a concern but for just road riding you might be able to live with it. Your seatpost however will probably be placed pretty low and you may be sitting more upright relative to the bars than would be normal. This may in fact be okay for you as most new riders tend to prefer a more upright riding position. The only issue you might have is effective reach. It may be too long for you and you might be too stretched out. You might need to go with a shorter stem. You cannot simply change the wheels to 24" since the brakes would no longer work if you did. The brake bosses would no longer line up your brakes with the rim. Additionally, it would drastically screw up your handling... maybe even dangerously so. Your front fork and head tube angle was designed for 26" wheels. Also, it would probably run you around $75 to do it when you include a new set of rims, rimtape, tyres, nipples, spokes and rebuild labour charges.
    1999 K2 OzM 2001 Aegis Aro Svelte OCP Club Member
    "Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send." -- Jon Postel, RFC1122

  5. #5
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    The frame is a bit too large, but for the price I paid, I was willing to accept that. As I said earlier, I haven't been biking in a long time (essentially since I got my driver's license) and am just looking to get back into riding shape. In a year or so I may look to get a new bike and at that time will be much more particular about the size, but for now this will do.

    Thanks for the information about the wheels, I didn't know all the extras that would be involved in changing sizes.

    Also, do you have any suggestions for a good place online to look for the tires and other accessories online? I haven't found a good LBS in the area yet.

    Thanks,

    Hoshyoto

    P.S. A bike helmet was the first thing I bought (before I even rode it) after I bought my bike, so no worries there

  6. #6
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    I've just converted my CannonDale MTB into a commuter and love it. I would add one item to Khuon's list, a rear rack.

  7. #7
    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoshyoto
    Also, do you have any suggestions for a good place online to look for the tires and other accessories online? I haven't found a good LBS in the area yet.
    I have had good luck with Texas Cyclesport and JensonUSA. I have had rather bad luck with Performance and Supergo although some people have been okay with them. You might also want to try REI. I haven't had to order online from them though since they have plenty of stores around my area but they do seem to have a decent selection.
    1999 K2 OzM 2001 Aegis Aro Svelte OCP Club Member
    "Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send." -- Jon Postel, RFC1122

  8. #8
    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomM
    I've just converted my CannonDale MTB into a commuter and love it. I would add one item to Khuon's list, a rear rack.
    Actually, I did mention that.
    1999 K2 OzM 2001 Aegis Aro Svelte OCP Club Member
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoshyoto
    Hi,
    I just purchased a used Trek 850 Antelope at a yard sale. The bike seems to be in great condition and was a steal at $25 but I will probably be using mostly for just riding around town since I haven't been biking for about 18 years and have never tried offroading before. My question is are there any changes I should make to the bike to make it a better bike for local streets? I am thinking about replacing the tires, but don't know what would be best to replace them with. In addition, I really don't know where it compares with more modern bikes. What should I limit my spending to before it becomes more economical to buy new? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance,

    Hoshyoto

    I use my mountainbike for commuting every day. The first thing I did was change out the tires. It seemed to me like the 25x1.25s were a little skinny for the rim. I bought some 25x1.50s and have been really happy with them. If your roads are rough, I would get something that pumps up to around 60psi. If you have fairly smooth roads, go up to 85 or 100psi. New tires have made a big difference for me.

    Here are a couple of suggestions:
    Scroll down to the Kwests at the bottom of the page.
    http://www.kendausa.com/bicycle/comfort.cfm?p=0305

    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...eid=&pagename=

    Tires are the easiest upgrade. I bought tires, tubes, a changing tool, and a pump with a gage, all for under 50$. Everything was on sale.

    The next thing I bought was a bike computer. It has turned my commute into my personal time trial. It makes for fun riding.

    Make sure you have a comfortable seat.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the frame. Just position your seat right, like some of the other posters have said.

  10. #10
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    1.5" tyres seems to be a good round figure for a roadified MTB. Some get a little wider or narrower, but its a useful size.
    You should have threaded eyelets to accept a luggage rack and fenders. If you ride on wet streets or need to haul shopping, then fit them. Add some lights as well.
    A helmet is usually advised for safety, but gloves will also protect your hands if you take a fall. My leather-palmed gloves have a big scrape where I fell. Imagine if that were skin...
    I find that traditional toe clips on the pedals provide a useful bit of security and efficiency, without having to dress up in special shoes

  11. #11
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    Wow, thanks for all the pointers. I definitely will be changing the tires, although as it is getting colder, I may wait until I start to see some sales to do so. What about changing the handlebars? I've seen some people mention switching out the straight bars for drop bars. How much work and money is involved with that? Also, I have read (and share) the opinions on "*mart" retailers for bikes, but was wondering about the large sporting goods chains. The local Dick's does repairs and tune-ups on bikes. Is the expertise of the people there enough to trust or are they more like the *mart style stores?

    Hoshyoto

  12. #12
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    Also being a larger frame- if your stem is of any long extension> you can shorten to bring your reach back. Not an expensive fix, but difficult maybe as it is probably a threaded 1 inch steerer.

  13. #13
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    I don't know the size of the frame, but I don't think it's large, just that I'm short (5'4")

    Hoshyoto

  14. #14
    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoshyoto
    WWhat about changing the handlebars? I've seen some people mention switching out the straight bars for drop bars.
    That might get a bit more costly as you will have to purchase a new stem, new handlebars (plus handlebar tape wrap), new shifters and new brake levers. Financially speaking, it's probably not worth it. You might just want to save up for a pure roadbike if you want to go that route. If you're looking for more hand positions, consider getting some bar-ends. A decent pair will cost about $15, takes about 5 minutes to install and is great for hills and longer distance riding both on and off road.
    1999 K2 OzM 2001 Aegis Aro Svelte OCP Club Member
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  15. #15
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    Conversion to drop bars will extend your reach by 6", so you need to start with a smallish frame.
    Alternatives include bar ends, small aerobars, and "butterfly" bars (sometimes called treking).
    For town riding, its hardly worthwhile switching bars..

  16. #16
    Meow! my58vw's Avatar
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    On my cannondale I swaped for 1.5 inch hybrid tires for street use and it is subtantially quicker and more responsive. Nothing beats a road bike on the street but the MTB should be fine if you can handle the weight.
    Just your average club rider... :)

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