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Old 08-20-08, 03:24 AM   #1
DizzyEdge
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Old bike to finally get the use it deserves, questions about upgrades

New to the forums, this is my first post, flame retardant suit at the ready

So back in around 1995 I purchased a Cannondale M400, with a mix of Alivio and STX components, and intended to ride the hell out of it... but that never transpired and I'm embarrassed to say in those 13 years it's probably had an average of 6 hours riding a year, 90% of that on paved or gravel paths, or very easy riding on single track... so 13 yrs ownership, but probably the equivalent of 1 years decent riding (re: frame fatigue concerns)

Fast forward to 2008, bike is almost like new, as is my slowly growing gut, so a friend and I decided to ride min 3 times a week from now until we're both the epitome of ultra hotness. 1995 technology however leaves a bit to be desired so I'm looking for some advice:

Brakes
Alivio cantilevers.. sure they .. work.. but even today going down a fairly long hill while riding my brakes my confidence in them wasn't too high.. I've also read just tonight that a cheap upgrade to v-brakes will pay big dividends.
-Any reason not to pass GO and move directly to v-brake town?
-Can I use my Alivio cantilever shifters/brake lever setup?
-Should I disregard these old fashioned v-brakes and upgrade to disc? (will require new fork.. some sort of add-on in the rear, I'm guessing new shifters... perhaps not worth all that hassel?)

Suspension
-Solid fork.. I have thought about going suspension fork, but 1" tube, which seems to leave early 2000's ebay finds, or bottom of the line RST's (which I believe are also a bottom of the line brand in the first place), plus new headset and stem of course. I'd also have to dispose of my fancy titanium current stem.. worth the effort?
-seatpost shocks - worthwhile?

rest of the bike
Alivio hubs, STX derailleurs, 13 yr old Tioga Psycho tires, used shimano spd pedals my buddy gave me 10 yrs ago.. any reason to replace any of these? just replace if I manage to wear them out?
-the handlebars have foam grips.,. they kinda suck, any recommendations for replacement?
I'm not really into replacing anyting to save weight, as since my riding is purely exercise, the more weight the better I'm thinking, at least for now.

Sorry for my wall-of-text,
advice welcome!
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Old 08-20-08, 08:36 AM   #2
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If everything seems to work OK, the only thing that I would replace is the brakes. Yes, considerable difference with V's. Maybe a new set of tires with un-aged rubber.

So, put on the V brakes and start riding. If the trails you ride have any kind of bumpy terrain, you'll start wishing you had a suspension fork. But, not much available in 1" steer tube- I see you have that figured out already.

Get in a few weeks of riding with your bro and I guarantee you will form a clearer picture of where you want to go with all this. Frankly, the bikes and components have changed dramatically over the last 13 years (!) and a bike you buy today for $600-$800 will blow that F400 completely out of the water. In the long run, your money will be much better spent on a new bike as opposed to upgrading a bunch of parts.
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Old 08-20-08, 01:48 PM   #3
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Thanks for the advice.
Can you tell me what the 'sweet spot' for v-brakes are? basically where does better performance start to wane and it ends up being more just weight savings?
Can I use cantilever brake levers with v-brakes?

thx
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Old 08-20-08, 09:53 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by DizzyEdge View Post
Thanks for the advice.
Can you tell me what the 'sweet spot' for v-brakes are? basically where does better performance start to wane and it ends up being more just weight savings?
Can I use cantilever brake levers with v-brakes?

thx
Avid makes some good V brakes as does Shimano. V brakes that cost, say $20 max. per wheel should be fine. Also, you must use V brake specific levers because the leverage/pull ratio is different than cantilevers. Again, Avid makes some good, affordable levers, as well as Shimano. May be available as a set.
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Old 08-21-08, 08:37 AM   #5
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OK, flame me or something if you like, but if your brakes worked 15 years ago and modern bike technology has better/cheaper/etc. brakes that work better now, why would that lead you to worry about riding....especially if you are right now in a 'getting back in shape' stage? I'm probably rigorously old school on the subject, but I chuckle when i hear people saying they don't know if their older (but quite decent for the time...not talking POS walmart bikes) tech. bike will be safe or work for them. I mean, for myself until I am at a point where seconds count, I'm not going to worry too much. So, I won't have the agility/comfort/etc. the guys on the newest tech. bikes have...but who am I trying to impress anyway? Of course, this rant is coming from a guy who still has his non-suspension 1" steer tube '88 GT Karakoram with rear triangle mounted U-brake (can you say "universally hated"?)....that bike has been relegated to being an urban ATB & works great for that use. I had been in the same boat in terms of finding a shock fork for the bike & ended up buying a newer GT Karakoram (same Deore components all 'round) that uses a 1-1/8" steer tube & had a Rock Shox Indy for $65 off Craigslist....much better than the sketchy $300 I was looking at for a 1" steer tube fork for my '88. Yesterday, I picked up a newer, smaller framed GT w/ low-end Shimano components & a lower end fork for my wife to ride...$50 & I'll replace the crap with Deore in pretty short order. What I end up with is a thoroughly non-impressive ride to the usual bike bling/bike snob crowd, but a handful of excellent riding bikes to have fun, get in shape, do some light trail riding, and not worry about damaging or theft (except I'm kinda attached to my old '88 GT now since I bought the old POS new!). Bottom line - wear it out & have fun. Component upgrades can be cheap or free if you DIY, but if you end up getting really into it, then you'll find the right newer bike. Bike snobbery is for weenies...unless it makes sense because you're racing and those seconds really DO count.

Here's my low-tech old stable of GTs....
the '88 with solid fork, horizontal rear dropouts, lots of cable-through-frame routing, rear U-brake, BMX style brake levers, shimano Deore with some pretty high gearing for a modern mountain bike...


and, the new acquisition for my wife (the orange one) & my replacement Karakoram (slate/scratched paint)
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Old 08-21-08, 02:59 PM   #6
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hey fiataccompli, definitely no flamage warranted. I guess my 'reasons for asking' probably weren't super clear in my post. It's not so much that I think the circa '95 equip on my bike is unsafe (or any more crappy than they were in '95), I'm just less poor than I was 13 yrs ago, but also have some attachment to my bike, so my reasons for asking was a combination of 'I wanted to upgrade these 10 yrs ago when I was poor, should I still do it' and 'now that I could afford to upgrade these components, are there any upgrades where I would notice much improvement for not a tonne of dollars'.. I read that v-brakes are now super cheap for the lower echelons, and the improvement for bucks is worthwhile... as for the fork.. I've thought about it but I'll probably stick with the unsuspended fork... and as for the rest, I do plan on keeping them until they wear out. Basically if someone tells me for $10-20 a wheel I can have way more awesome shifting/braking/pedaling. etc then I'd spend the bux, if not then I don't care at all. My STX derailleurs never miss a shift, so I see no reason to upgrade, but my brakes have always seemed barely adequate so for the $20 a wheel I'm going to upgrade, sadly that involves replacing my alivio shift lever/brake lever combo which works perfectly but thats ok.. what's funny is in a way I'd prefer some shiny STX vbrake shift/brake combo levers from '95 to something new, but i'm a bit of a nostalgic.
Nice bikes by the way!
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Old 08-21-08, 08:34 PM   #7
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thanks. yes, I understand....all too well. my '88 was (a gift at the time) something like $800 in the store & somehow I got it out the door for more like $700 in September '87...and man was I thrilled to have it! I guess those were serious MTB early years! I used the bike for everything and it didn't miss a beat for several years and then I spent time at various points asking the same questions you are asking...and not having big bucks to sink into it (or a matured Ebay where old school but very workable technology is silly cheap). I'm quite OK with what I've got...but in the great scheme of things sinking a hundred bucks into something you're gonna put some serious seat time on (not necessarily hardcore trail riding...just USING) and that you already have an attachment to is nothing. If you want to get your money back, pick up some crusty old road bikes at a yard sale, clean them up & put them on Craigslist in your hometown for stupid bucks....seems to work well for a lot of folks! ....it's doubtful you will (or I will) get all your money back out of these bikes, but I don't think I care too much. (or, wait, just hang onto the bike even longer 'til old school mountain bikes get hip & then the money will be there to reap if you chose so). Good luck with it. What I learned is that the important thing is to ride it.
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Old 08-21-08, 10:20 PM   #8
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I'd change the cantilevers for v's and the brake levers and ride the crap out of it.

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Old 08-21-08, 10:28 PM   #9
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6 hours of riding is equivalent to a solid year of gnarls?

Try 150.
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Old 08-22-08, 01:19 AM   #10
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6 hours of riding is equivalent to a solid year of gnarls?

Try 150.
haha I meant 6 hrs x 14 yrs so 84 hrs is perhaps equal to a 'real' year of riding.. although of course there will people way more hardcore than that.

Last edited by DizzyEdge; 08-22-08 at 01:36 AM.
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Old 08-22-08, 01:28 AM   #11
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Update:
So from reading reviews and such all around the interweb, I decided to go ahead and upgrade to v-brakes.
Problem #1 - new shift/brake combos are all 8-9 speeds, my bike is 7 - FAIL
Problem #2 - oldschool shift/brake combos I've found are 7 speed, but finding a combo that's also v-brake compatible is proving very very difficult

So I decided to break up the combos, and found and purchased a pair of late 90s STX shimano 7 gear rapid fire shifters which is nice as I'm used to my "Alivio/STX combo" which I like and I expect these to be identical or slightly better, and from further reading of recommendations I am tracking down some Avid SD-7 brakes and levers.

Also with further investigation I believe my bike is actually a 1994
http://www.bikepedia.com/QuickBike/B...-400&Type=bike
but with STX front derailleur as bought, plus spd pedals and titanium stem I added, but with the wheels and tires from the 1993 model
http://www.bikepedia.com/QuickBike/B...M400&Type=bike
but with the Alivio hubs from the 1994.. odd.
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Old 08-22-08, 01:35 AM   #12
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....it's doubtful you will (or I will) get all your money back out of these bikes, but I don't think I care too much.
Well I'm basically easing into riding again by just jaunting around residential streets, and paved bike paths around the city for a couple hours a night for now, probably in a couple of weeks we'll head out to 'groomed/hard packed' trails etc getting back into some reasonable shape before we hit harder destinations. I suspect at some point a) things will start to break (on the bike..) b) my arms will start to hate me due to lack of front suspension, and that plus that fact I'm going to start commuting to work next spring as our office is moving out of the downtown core, I expect this trusty Cannondale will eventually transform into a commuter bike, and I'll find something else to hit the trails with. I honestly can't see myself getting rid of this bike unless the frame breaks, it will always have some use.
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Old 08-23-08, 11:10 AM   #13
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Purchases complete..
2 new old stock STX shifters
2 new Avid Speed Dial 7 brake levers
2 new Avid Single Digit brakes

Thanks everyone for the info!
(I may come back for help when I install
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Old 08-23-08, 11:53 AM   #14
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I will say that from expereance that STX stuff is amazing
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Old 08-23-08, 02:10 PM   #15
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if i were you i'd keep the rigid fork.

a rigid fork will put hair on your chest. ... if you're planning on upgrading to a cheap suspension fork, don't bother. cheap suspension forks = not worth it + heavy. a rigid fork will be light.

if you're a noob at mountain biking, a rigid fork should be fine 'cause i'm going to assume you're not going all out right from the get go. if you're doing easy stuff, a rigid fork will be fine + simple + light + cheap. when/if you get serious into the sport, and start doing it regularly, THEN you can do an overhaul of the bike.
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Old 08-26-08, 05:01 PM   #16
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Good advice Zan. I have to admit when i do see some old-new stock or lightly used *quality* suspension forks from the early 2000's when they still sold 1", they're approaching $300, which seems like a waste when my bike is worth less than that.. however.. that said.. if the rest of the bike seems to be riding and perfectly, other than my wrists crumbling, it might not be that bad an idea.. especially since they always seem to be in demand if I resell later. But we'll see if in a few months if I even really care that much.
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