i put this on usenet recently, where it was met with disappointing response. better luck here?
i've had a thoroughly used paramount mtb hanging in the basement for a while now, and recent need for a campus commuter (school, not gas prices!) has me thinking about an SS conversion. goals are low-cost, light, reliable, and stealth...no bling, but no junk, y'know?
1992 PDG series 90 ('blue velvet gas' colored! sometimes i get that after i eat mexican...), silver-brazed, lugged, tange prestige OS, hand-made in japan (*not* a waterford). also the original welded prestige OS 1.125" threaded unicrown. lots of paint damage, very slightly tweaked seatstay, tiny dent in top tube. currently built as a hardtail with eccentric mix of 9spd (eg: 600 ultegra rear derailleur). use will be short-range (couple miles/day) urban commuting by a moderately-skilled XC rider, so stairs and small drops are certainly a possibility (when i'm not packing the laptop!), no major hills, no major crime. possible light trail use as well.
i have and plan to re-use:
frame, fork, xt v-brakes & levers (pod-free, thank-you), kore al threadless stem, xt/mavic wheels, xc pro crank & grease-guard bb, custom 'torque' ti seatpost (which is an absolute work of art...*beautiful*) & flite kevlar seat, m757's.
here's what i'm wondering:
vertical dropouts. i've got a 'rennen' chain tensioner on the way (i understand it's da proverbial bomb), and i plan to put a real SS cog spaced out on the existing xt cassette for good chainline. i'll keep the outer chainring as bash-guard, replace the inner with an SS wheel, and lose the inner. how solid is this really? i understand it's the least costly has been done many times, but is it reliable? the stack of spacers seems a little 'redneck' (speaking as a north carolinian), and i have no time for machines that do not work well. 34 x 16 about right?
i need to replace my probably fatigued ultra-light flat bars. low-rise this time i think? are carbon bars durable enough to be crashed/dropped more than once? ok with set-screw bar-ends (no way)? too much bling? how about a quill-to-clamp stem adapter? solid or redneck?
tires. i think a want a fatty in front, 1.95 in the rear, city/urban tread, light-weight. does this make sense for the described use? does it exist? most wide tires seem to be heavy DH specific knobbies...got any urban recommendations? trials tire? will pretty much anything fit a unicrown with v-brakes?
Spacers work fine long term. I run them on a couple of my wheelsets and have had no probs, even for endurance racing events.
As far as durability goes, carbon bars haven't presented me with probs. Plenty of mild crashes and I haven't had any failures. I have had some issues with sharp stem edges scoring bars if overtightened. Wide riser bars and w/ no bar ends seems to be the common ss setup. Lots of torque and I haven't missed my bar ends. Actually, I've moved onto the On One Mary bar and a Jones H-bar over risers.
Gearing is highly variable depending on the rider and the terrain. I run 32x18 offroad in Colorado. I run 42x16 on my fixed roadish bike.
mtbr.com has a very active ss board that can give you great feedback...