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Old 06-19-12, 12:26 PM   #1
Ozonation
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Worth upgrading a GT Timberline Hybrid from 2001?

Back in 2001, my wife and I bought GT Timberline Hybrid bikes to ride around recreationally. I used mine intermittently, but my wife did not use her bike much at all. A couple of years later, we moved, the bikes got stored and fell into disuse. This past spring 2012, we took it back to the original LBS (chains were still embarrassingly new!) and had them tuned up, and away we went.

I recently purchased a Brompton folding bike and I've been using that more for work and a lot for travel. However, there are still times that I want a more off-road capable bike: there are about 80 km of hard packed gravel trail close by, and while the Brompton can handle it, I think the GT would obviously be better suited to it.

However, if I have to be honest, while it's a decent bike, I've never really liked the GT a lot. It seemed fine when we originally purchased it but the fit always seems just a little a bit off to me: I can never get the seat and the handle just right to be comfortable enough to not notice the off fit for an extended period of time. And now, I find I actually prefer the fit of the Brompton a lot more, despite not being a small person. I like the responsiveness of a smaller wheeled bike.

So, for not-so-urban environments, I'm contemplating either:
1. Trying to buy some new components/fixing up the GT; or
2. Just getting a second, preferably less expensive bike for trail, snow, etc. riding.

For the GT, I figure I would have to at least: a) get a new saddle, or at least a better saddle; b) upgrade the handles or at least the grips; c) change the pedals (the left side seems slightly warped); d) get some fenders to avoid splash; e) get some new panniers (the old ones do not work on the new rack, and I can't figure out a way to modify the mounts).

All in all, option 1 seems to be adding up cost wise for a 10-year old bike that I like but don't quite love. I'm thinking option 2 makes more sense. Does this make sense, or would the suggested upgrades make that much difference for the GT's ride?
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Old 06-19-12, 01:15 PM   #2
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How much are you willing to spend on either option 1 or 2?
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Old 06-19-12, 01:29 PM   #3
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Good question. Option 1 - cheap as possible; preferably $200 or less. Option 2 - maybe a $800 to $1000; preferably less if I can. The GT cost me $700 plus tax 10 years ago, so I sort of benchmarking that, and adding in a bit for time/inflation/etc.

I like the smaller frame of the Brompton because of its responsiveness; a colleague said I should look at BMX based frames! Can't really see myself doing that, but on second thought, I suppose it has some merit. The alternative is to get a more all around folder that can take bigger and more varied tires than Brompton.
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Old 06-19-12, 01:34 PM   #4
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Good question. Option 1 - cheap as possible; preferably $200 or less. Option 2 - maybe a $800 to $1000; preferably less if I can. The GT cost me $700 plus tax 10 years ago, so I sort of benchmarking that, and adding in a bit for time/inflation/etc.

I like the smaller frame of the Brompton because of its responsiveness; a colleague said I should look at BMX based frames! Can't really see myself doing that, but on second thought, I suppose it has some merit. The alternative is to get a more all around folder that can take bigger and more varied tires than Brompton.
Is this your bike? Cause msrp is not 700$.
http://www.bikepedia.com/quickbike/B...line&Type=bike
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Old 06-19-12, 01:44 PM   #5
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Huh... well, it looks pretty close. Different coloration: mine is a green/white/grey-steel combination. I *think* it was one (or two) models up from the one you've linked to. However, I can't be sure.

One thing to keep in mind is that I'm in Canada, and back in 2000-2001, our dollar was worth about 60 to 64 cents US, so any US price we'd multiply by 1.4 or even 1.5 to get the approximate Canadian price.

Still, if that really is the MSRP, I'm thinking we got a bit ripped off...
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Old 06-19-12, 02:09 PM   #6
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I'm not trying to point out you got ripped off at all. Just looking at the bike and trying to figure out what you had. If it was me; I would probably fix up the one I had. Then again I like projects and like having a custom bike. My trek 7100 is not the greatest bike as far as performance goes but I like the thought of making it better. If you have money and feelings invested into the GT I would pimp that baby out. With that said, if you dont have your heart set on the bike you already on then, I would purchase a new bike and part ways with the one you have. Ultimately the choice is yours, you can spend 500 hundred fixing yours up or spend 500 on another bike that you will likely fix up anyway.

Not sure if this is helpful, but figured I would just throw my 2 cents in.
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Old 06-19-12, 02:13 PM   #7
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Oh and if it doesn't fit then I would for sure sale it and buy another.
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Old 06-19-12, 04:22 PM   #8
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Oh and if it doesn't fit then I would for sure sale it and buy another.
Thanks... I suspect I'll get another bike at the rate I'm going.
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Old 06-19-12, 07:07 PM   #9
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Option 1 can be taken off and put on your next bike.
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Old 06-19-12, 07:54 PM   #10
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Hi All,

Just cruising the Hybrid threads and came upon this one. I, too, have an older GT, a 1999 Slipstream SE.

I use it mostly for fitness and running errands within five or six miles of my house. My story is similar to yours: wife and I bought matching bikes for Christmas, 2000. Two weeks later a friend brought home a Honda Valkyrie and it was crotch rockets for me for the next ten years! Well, I'm back on my old GT and made some changes which might serve you. I got rid of the curvy handlebars and went for a straight hybrid bar; removed the seat suspension and got a more aggressive saddle; replaced the grip shifters for Rapid Shifters, mounted locking grips with palm rests and uprights and exchanged the 42mm tires for puncture resistant 35's. I then bought a couple of Bike Repair Manuals and spent some time on YouTube to learn to do my own maintenance (rear derailleurs aren't the voo-doo magic I thought they were). It's made all the difference. As a matter of fact, I bought a whiz-bang Fuji Absolute 4.0 and, after about ten miles, realized what a gem the old GT is... sold the Fuji.

The point I am making is: If you don't like the "fit" of a bike, it is, for the most part, pretty inexpensive to correct. I learned from that almost-new Fuji that my GT wasn't the problem. When I got on that metallic bronze Absolute 4.0, it was pretty underwhelming. If, on the other hand, you have your heart set on a new bicycle, I strongly suggest you take advantage of all of your LBS' patience and ride every bike that appeals to you. Don't let the retailers "sell" you on 27-speeds or upgraded components. My 13-year old Shimano Acera set-up (which is pretty low end, today) works perfectly well and allows me to occasionally make use of the passing lane on the local trails.

Good luck, whatever your choice!
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Old 06-20-12, 10:12 AM   #11
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The point I am making is: If you don't like the "fit" of a bike, it is, for the most part, pretty inexpensive to correct.
Thanks! Your suggestions are something to consider. I'm realizing - especially with the Brompton - that less is more. I'm still waiting to hear back from a few others if I can get a good deal on an alternate bike. If not, maybe I will go back and seriously reconsider Option 1. I used to do a lot more work on my own bike when I was younger so I'm pretty sure I can manage: my concern is more on whether or not the investment into more parts and components is worth it at this point.
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Old 06-22-12, 07:27 AM   #12
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I decided to take the GT into my LBS - actually, the original LBS that I bought it from - and the owner helped readjust the seat position and angle. Then we swapped out the seat for a firmer one. Seemed to make a significant difference: not "night and day", but enough to be noticeable in terms of fit. Swapped out the grip shifters for rapid fire thumb shifters, Ergon grips with some stubby bar ends, added a kickstand (what a great thing, a short stick of metal), added some fenders too. All in all, about $200 for the bike itself. I bought some paniers because the old ones don't fit the newer rack and I just gave up on struggling to find a way to mount the old paniers.

Verdict? Definitely an improvement, and much more enjoyable to ride. It's not a complete overhaul in terms of feeling, but it was probably worth spending the bit of extra money to get something that is much more usable.

I might still have to get another seat. The firmer seat is definitely more responsive, but I might go for one with a similar shape, just with a knockout down the centre for the, ah, sensitive region.

Not completely convinced about the thumb rapid shifter for the front gears. The chain slipped twice so far because it couldn't quite settle onto the large gear and ended up around the crank. I recall the old days of simple friction shifting and how it was easy for me to adjust and trim the chain to my liking. I can see the value of index shifting for the rear cassette where it's not easy to see.

In the meantime, I stumbled across Rivendell Bicycles, the successor to the old Bridgestone Bicycles, which fascinated me as a much younger man. I might have to save up for one of those!
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Old 06-22-12, 08:49 AM   #13
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Ozonation,

Congratulations on your GT upgrades! I'm on my 4th saddle and, although I heartily concur you should have the groin region dished out, I've come to the conclusion that the problem may be me! I may just need to break down and purchase (padded) riding shorts.

Relative to "Not completely convinced about the thumb rapid shifter for the front gears. The chain slipped twice so far because it couldn't quite settle onto the large gear and ended up around the crank..." the problem you are experiencing is a simple adjustment of the rear derailleur. If your LBS can't get it right, just go to YouTube and watch a few of the "Adjusting Derailleurs" videos... you'll figure it out pretty quickly and you'll love the Rapid Shifters.

Good choices... Good Luck!
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Old 06-22-12, 09:13 AM   #14
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Ozonation,

Congratulations on your GT upgrades! I'm on my 4th saddle and, although I heartily concur you should have the groin region dished out, I've come to the conclusion that the problem may be me! I may just need to break down and purchase (padded) riding shorts.

Relative to "Not completely convinced about the thumb rapid shifter for the front gears. The chain slipped twice so far because it couldn't quite settle onto the large gear and ended up around the crank..." the problem you are experiencing is a simple adjustment of the rear derailleur. If your LBS can't get it right, just go to YouTube and watch a few of the "Adjusting Derailleurs" videos... you'll figure it out pretty quickly and you'll love the Rapid Shifters.

Good choices... Good Luck!
I have padded riding shorts and to be honest, I'm entirely convinced about them either!

About the chain slippage... so you're saying that the reason why the chain slipped on the front gear is because of the rear derailleur? I haven't had any problems (at least I don't think) with the rear gears so far.

Thanks.
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Old 06-22-12, 09:16 AM   #15
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Sorry, misspoke... same adjustment only - on the Front Derailleur! Both Derailleurs have screw adjustments for full inside and full outside travel. Very easy fix... YouTube will serve you well!
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Old 06-22-12, 01:10 PM   #16
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Sorry, misspoke... same adjustment only - on the Front Derailleur! Both Derailleurs have screw adjustments for full inside and full outside travel. Very easy fix... YouTube will serve you well!
Thanks. Actually, I used to do this adjustment all the time when I was a kid and there were only friction shifters. No choice given that my bike was the $99 special!

The funny thing is that I tried to derail the chain by endless shifting it up and down - and couldn't, of course - so that I could figure out how much to adjust it. It's only when you're not expecting it that the chain pops off!
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Old 06-22-12, 01:23 PM   #17
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I'd get a new bike that fits right out the door and not futz around with trying to make a bike that is not comfortable become comfortable.
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Old 06-22-12, 01:29 PM   #18
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I'd get a new bike that fits right out the door and not futz around with trying to make a bike that is not comfortable become comfortable.
NOW you tell me! Ah well, that is true. I'm just not prepared to pay that much money on yet another bike at the moment...
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Old 06-24-12, 08:52 PM   #19
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Went back to the LBS the other day and got a slightly different seat. Much better. Took the GT out for a "real" ride today along a gravel trailway and the upgrades have significantly improved the bike!
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Old 06-24-12, 09:41 PM   #20
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Went back to the LBS the other day and got a slightly different seat. Much better. Took the GT out for a "real" ride today along a gravel trailway and the upgrades have significantly improved the bike!
Congratulations! Glad it's working out for you. Still enjoying my upgraded '99 Slipstream!
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Old 06-25-12, 08:18 AM   #21
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Thanks... but that hasn't stopped me from thinking about new bikes! Sort of like photography for me - you can never have enough cameras!

And on that note... the Trek DS series bikes seem mighty attractive. My LBS doesn't carry Trek anymore. Any other brand of bikes with something similar to a Trek DS?
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Old 06-25-12, 08:29 AM   #22
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And on that note... the Trek DS series bikes seem mighty attractive. My LBS doesn't carry Trek anymore. Any other brand of bikes with something similar to a Trek DS?
How about one of these... Giant Revel?

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Old 06-25-12, 08:34 AM   #23
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How about one of these... Giant Revel?

Mmmm... will have to check it out! My LBS is a good dealer and conveniently very close to work, and if possible, I'd like to patronize them if I decide to replace the GT in the future. There is another LBS a little farther away that carries Trek, so I can't go wrong I suppose....
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Old 06-25-12, 08:40 AM   #24
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How about one of these... Giant Revel?

Very cool... I actually saw the Giant Roam too - which based on price, seems to be the competitor to Trek's DS. Trying to figure out the exact differences between the Giant Revel and Roam though. I have to admit I like the matte black finish of the Revel (which is cheaper) more than the pricier Roam.
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