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  1. #1
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    Rockhopper MTB conversion to road/commuter

    Hey everyone,

    I just acquired (for free ) a Rockhopper Comp FS frame with fork, derailers, brakes, and handlebars. I believe this is a 1998 model (see attached pics). I want to convert it for road and light touring use. I can do normal bike maintenance, but not the more advanced stuff. Here is my tentative plan, and some questions.

    1. Get regular MTB wheels, and a cassette with more road appropriate gearing.
    2. Get 1.5 slicks, run at fairly high pressure ~90psi. Is this OK with regular MTB rims?
    3. Replace suspension fork with a suspension corrected rigid fork.
    4. Srounge up a chain, brake pads, seatpost, pedals, etc. Most of these I already have.
    5. Keep the shifters, but re-cable.

    One problem I noticed is that the front chainring wobbles. It doesn't seem bent, maybe misalined somehow. I'll have a LBS check out the whole thing before I start.

    Do you think I should do all of these upgrades myself, or should I have a LBS do some of them? If so, which ones?

    I ride a 56cm road bike, but this MTB frame is 17" Is it too small for me? If it is, would putting on drop bars make sense?

    What would this co$t? I don't need anything fancy or very light, just dependable. LX parts should be fine?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Sounds like a do-able project to me.

    To determine if the size is close to right (my prediction), put some wheels and a seat on the frame and set it next to your road bike. If you can get the seats, cranks and handlebars to line up, you're golden.

    Your wobbly crank is probably due to a bent chainring spider. Figure out which arm is bent and lever it back straight.

    Do it all yourself. I mean literally "Just do it." You'll get a lot smarter as you go along. Stuff that might puzzle you today will seem like a breeze in a couple of months. Cost is going to be a function of how good of a scrounger you are.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
    Man of Leisure Ivan Hanz's Avatar
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    I agree with Retro. You can learn to do all that yourself. Get a book. Forget the drop bars, though, that's a whole big can of worms. I commute on a Rockhopper I've geared up to 48 front (probably as big as you can go), 11x28 or so on back, slicks (I suggest Specialized Nimbus). Remember chains are sized according to your cassette gearing. HOw much? wheels and tires are your major expense here...rest of the stuff's pretty cheap-fork might be alot, try riding it with the suspension for a bit and see if you like it.

  4. #4
    He drop me Grasschopper's Avatar
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    Size of the bike is probably about right. I ride a 55 or 56 cm roadie and a 17"-18" MTB fits me pretty good depending on the geometry. Heck go with 1.25" MTB slicks and the rigid fork is a great idea, they are only like $50 or $60 for a Tange or Surly and are easy to get. I put 90 PSI in my last MTB with 1.25" slicks and it wasn't an issue but you should check the specs of the wheels you buy as different wheels have different specs.

    And like the others said, do the work youself if at all possible. Ask questions here and look to the Park Tool web site for help.
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  5. #5
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    Thanks for the advice guys. I'll clear some bike workspace in my apartment. Now -- what's a good bike stand to get?

  6. #6
    He drop me Grasschopper's Avatar
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    Park PCS-1 But that new SpinDoctor Pro G3 looks nice too. The park is plenty of stand though.
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  7. #7
    Mike D
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    I've got a '93 Rockhopper Sport (rigid fork) that I use as a commuter/town bike. All I did was change out the knobby tires for Performance Fastcity 1.25" slicks. I run the tires at 80-90 psi.

    I can't complain about my Ultimate Pro bike stand.

  8. #8
    Vermonticus Outdoorsus CommuterKat's Avatar
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    I too have an early 90's Rockhopper that I use as a commuter for a 15 mile each way ride. I put on slicks, a rack, and extra long bar ends, and it does the trick. The extra hand positions are a godsend on long trips. Good luck to you!
    "Methinks my own soul is a bright invisible green" H. Thoreau

  9. #9
    Senior Member Dougmt's Avatar
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    Holy crap that's a nice looking frame... I absolutely love chrome (or polished aluminum). I just finished the build up of my 96 Stumpy into a full fledged tourer. I started with a bare frame. I used drop bars on mine. Good luck with the build up, check out the sales on the online shops, and have fun.
    D

  10. #10
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    Hey everyone, got an update (see attached or hi res):

    I took everything off except the bottom bracket and fork/stem and cleaned it all. Scrounged up some bar ends (looks like they've been a crash, heh!)

    I've decided to modify my plan a bit. I've decided to stick to 1.5 tires, so per suggestions in the commuter forum, I got a set of rhyno lite/deore wheels. Going to check LBSs tomorrow for specialized nimbus ex slicks. I'm also going to try it with the original rock shox indy xc before getting a rigid fork.

    When I got the bike, I noticed that the big chainring wobbles. It's not bent, and like Retro suggested, I also checked the spider arms -- they seem fine to me (but i don't have a trained eye, and the wobble was not THAT bad). I now also see that the middle chainring has several dents in it. But I plan on re-gearing with road riding in mind anyway (this bike has 42/32/22, don't know what cassette it had). So I'm reading up on gears on sheldonbrown.com and some other sites.

    So the next step is to fiure out the gear setup. Are there any tricky parts in terms of compatibility with deraillers? The bike has Shimano Deore/LX rear, and Shimano STX front. The bike model is 1998, I assume the components are the same age.

    Thanks for everyone's help so far. I'll post updates when I can.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Dougmt's Avatar
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    Man that is a fine looking ride... If it were a 21" I'd, well, well, well, I'd find out where you live LOL
    If your crank/bottom bracket prove to be bent you can pick up an awesome XT crank and XT BB with a 44-32-22 set up for about $119.00 from pricepoint. It would look VERY nice on your frame LOL
    I'll get some pics of mine tomorrow and we can compare apples to apples.
    There is just something about the specialized MTB that I've always liked. In the early 90's I'd oogle them in the shops but I could sooner afford a new house than one of them. Then the kids came, the bills came, etc etc etc..... I now have a '96 stump and I feel like I won the lotto. Sure there are better/more expensive bikes but for me, well, My life is now complete LOL
    A few other things:
    I think you'll be happy with those rims. I have the XT/rhino lites, I now weigh about 270 and they have held up fine. I did NOT have a good experience with the specialized tires. I have the nimbus upfront and the hemisphere on back. The sidewalls are like chalk. They are literally crumbling and the threads are showing.
    D

  12. #12
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dougmt
    A few other things:
    I think you'll be happy with those rims. I have the XT/rhino lites, I now weigh about 270 and they have held up fine. I did NOT have a good experience with the specialized tires. I have the nimbus upfront and the hemisphere on back. The sidewalls are like chalk. They are literally crumbling and the threads are showing.
    D
    I'll second the rims I'm in the same ball park and use them on my trail rig. I disagree on the Specialized tires however. I've run the same set of Nimbus EX's on my commuter for four years and have NEVER had an issue. This is how I have my commuter set for road / commuting
    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...751#post545751

  13. #13
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    Raiyn,

    Looks nice! I want a similar setup, except I want to put a rack on the back, and eventually replace the fork with a rigid. What's that on the chainstay, looks like a combination mud protector/cable guide?

  14. #14
    Senior Member Dougmt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raiyn
    I'll second the rims I'm in the same ball park and use them on my trail rig. I disagree on the Specialized tires however. I've run the same set of Nimbus EX's on my commuter for four years and have NEVER had an issue. This is how I have my commuter set for road / commuting
    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...751#post545751

    HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
    I wonder if it's because you have the black sidewalls (or at least they look black in the pic) The tan ones simply disintegrate, or at least that's been my experience with 4 of them as my wife has the same setup on her bike as mine and her's are as bad as mine.
    D

  15. #15
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stupefactor
    Raiyn,

    Looks nice! I want a similar setup, except I want to put a rack on the back, and eventually replace the fork with a rigid. What's that on the chainstay, looks like a combination mud protector/cable guide?
    You mean this?

    It's a section of an old Specialized road tire (with the Flak Jacket) with the beads cut off. I use it as a chainstay guard. On my trail bike I use a section of water suppy hose I got at Home Depot


    Quote Originally Posted by Dougmt
    HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
    I wonder if it's because you have the black sidewalls (or at least they look black in the pic) The tan ones simply disintegrate, or at least that's been my experience with 4 of them as my wife has the same setup on her bike as mine and her's are as bad as mine.
    D
    In my experience Gumwalls and Tan sidewalls are to be avoided. They do break down quite badly. They usually start having "acne" shortly befroe the start shedding badly

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