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  1. #1
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    Stupid new guy question #1 - Convert Mountain Bike to Road/Touring bike

    I apologize for my ignorance a head of time.... but I am new to this.

    Is it possible to convert my Trek 4100 mountain bike into a more road worthy thing. I've been going on short day trips with friends (all who own road bikes) and they're kicking my butt. I want something a little more road friendly with a possible option to go on overnight trips.

    So I'm wondering, is it at all practical or possible to convert my Trek 4100 mountain bike into a more road worthy vehicle. Maybe new tires? drop down handle bars?

    Thanks,

    Steve

  2. #2
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Put slick tires on the MTB. Other than that, save your money for a road bke.

  3. #3
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    I agree with supcom: if you haven't already switched to road-specific tires, that will make a huge difference, but beyond that you would likely be better off to simply save for a road bike.

    The difference between knobbies and slicks on a mountain bike is amazing-- for $30 it will feel like a completely new bike. It will handle much better and be a lot more efficient.

    -D

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    OK, I agree. I should invest in a road bike.

    I've read all the intro stuff here on the touring forum and I've also checked out a bunch of info on the Trek 550. I'm wondering if this is a good bike to get for multipurpose use, touring, city riding and day trips?

    It seems very sturdy and looks like it might be good for NYC commuting. It also looks like it might be a great upgrade from my mtn bike on the roads upstate. Any other suggestions?

  5. #5
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    If you meant the Trek 520, yes it is an excellent bike for all aroud use, including touring. There is also more info on mtb bike mods in the Newbie guide posted at the top of this forum.
    Specialized Roubaix SL4 Disc, Cannondale T2000 (touring), Stumpjumper M5 (Mtn - hardtail), Cannondale Rize4 (Mtn - full susp)

  6. #6
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    Put slicks on and if you want racks, go to Old Man Mountain or get a BoB trailer. Mountain bikes can be made into excellent tourers.
    '94 Schwinn Moab 3
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    I choose the way to go, but the road won't set me free

  7. #7
    Science Fanboy KrisPistofferson's Avatar
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    Rigid fork and slicks will make a big difference, so will some bar ends or trekking bars for more hand positions. If you're made of money, going ahead and getting a touring bike might be an option, but despite what a lot of people on this forum will tell you, there are a lot of people who tour on MTBs and prefer 26" tires for their durability. Seems to be more popular in Europe, but plenty of people do it here.

    While I'm not assuming you're poor, I'm assuming you don't want to spend $1400 for a Trek 520 and another $500 on racks, lights, fenders, panniers for something you might end up hating, so for now, a modified mountain bike might be an excellent choice. Heck, you might be like me and find you prefer one.

  8. #8
    dbg
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiantDave
    Put slicks on and if you want racks, go to Old Man Mountain or get a BoB trailer. Mountain bikes can be made into excellent tourers.
    +1

    I think older, non-suspension MTB's make excellent touring machines. And they are probably already geared correctly. Old road bikes probably have gearing that would really suck hauling equipment up serious hills.
    David Green, Naperville, IL USA (Trek 5900 Superlight), (Lemond BA), (Peugeot UO8 (SS)), (Dozen other muts)

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  9. #9
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrisPistofferson
    despite what a lot of people on this forum will tell you, there are a lot of people who tour on MTBs and prefer 26" tires for their durability. Seems to be more popular in Europe, but plenty of people do it here.
    Seriously, I hang out on several Russian cycling forums, and I have never met anyone there who tours on anything other than a mountain bike. It's just unheard of. This has partly to do with the fact that Russia has vast expanses of relatively untouched land, so a lot of tours they do are on poor dirt roads, muddy trails and just... um... natural terrain... You can stick to the paved roads, of course, but it's viewed as a pointless and boring thing to do. But even those who tour all over the world, including Europe with all the pavement there and everything - even they stick to their MTBs, mostly out of habit, I suppose.

    So I agree, MTBs are fine for touring. Slick tires and a rigid fork should make it faster. However, your friends' road bikes will still be superior road machines, of course. Cause they're, well, intended for the road.

  10. #10
    Sasquatch Crossing mycoatl's Avatar
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    Other options that would be cheaper than buying a new bike:

    1) buy an older Japanese or American steel road frame with relaxed geometry for cheap and put all of your nice mountain components on it (I say Japanese or American because then you don't have to worry about stange French or Italian compatability issues)

    2) buy an early-90s steel mtn frame and put your mtn components on it--these were more roadie-like than modern mtn bikes and might make enough of a difference without breaking the bank

    3) buy a Long Haul Trucker frame and put your mtn. components on it (the smaller size frames even use 26" tires so you won't even need new wheels unless you're above average height-wise)

  11. #11
    nm+
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrisPistofferson
    RWhile I'm not assuming you're poor, I'm assuming you don't want to spend $1400 for a Trek 520 and another $500 on racks, lights, fenders, panniers for something you might end up hating, so for now, a modified mountain bike might be an excellent choice. Heck, you might be like me and find you prefer one.
    $1400 for a 520? I spent $900 new 2 years ago. My dad's getting one special ordered for $1100 (he needs a 25" which is rare). If you can find a bike shop with one, they will deal down, these things don't move much.
    Thats said a mountain bike can be perfect. My trek 930 has all the braze ons I needed in the rear (front suspention fork). It was great with some beefy rims, slicks, low gearing, and a good rack.
    Breaking bike parts for more than 20 years
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  12. #12
    jcm
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    I would never spend $1200 on a new Trek 520. The shops will dicker. Flash the cash if you must have a new one. My 520 is a '98 that I bought on CL for $550 in mint condition. They're out there. This is a suberb all pupose bike. Geared a little high for loaded touring but I think most people are like me and just ride for everyday use. So, the gearing is actually very good. It makes a respectably fast road bike.

    My other bike is a Trek 830 mtb. A md-low end bike in '88 but nonetheless a very good all purpose machine. I've changed the tires, saddle and bars for long distance work. All the eyelets and hardpoints of the 520. More, in fact (double eyelets in front - single on the 520). It has very long geometry and would make a very good tour bike.

    Both bikes are comfortable for day trips out to a century. I can't say which one I prefer, honestly!

  13. #13
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    I put a set of drop bars on my MTB. Just piupe clamped it to the standard flat bars. It worked just fine.
    This space open

  14. #14
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    great! thanks everyone for all the suggestions.

    yes, I am poor and i would much rather modify my MTB for long distance rather than up and buy a whole new bike. so I think I would like to make the following mods:

    1) get slick tires
    2) get drop bars. does anyone know of any good ones out there that would fit on my mtb?
    3) get new shifters. right now I have those rapid fire platicky things and I loathe them. any suggestions for something better with instantaneous action?
    4) a fixed front fork. again, any suggestions?
    5) I guess i could use a decent bike repair book also. i'll look around this forum for suggestions.

    thanks!

  15. #15
    dbg
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    Quote Originally Posted by macaroni steve
    great! thanks everyone for all the suggestions.

    yes, I am poor and i would much rather modify my MTB for long distance rather than up and buy a whole new bike. so I think I would like to make the following mods:

    1) get slick tires
    2) get drop bars. does anyone know of any good ones out there that would fit on my mtb?
    3) get new shifters. right now I have those rapid fire platicky things and I loathe them. any suggestions for something better with instantaneous action?
    4) a fixed front fork. again, any suggestions?
    5) I guess i could use a decent bike repair book also. i'll look around this forum for suggestions.

    thanks!

    You may need a quill or stem that fits your fork/headset and also is sized for a road drop. Tourers often like to use bar-end shifters onthe end of the drops. And friction shifting has durability and serviceability advantages especially for road repairs, so consider that over indexing. Also you can buy fixed forks with a geometry optimized for replacing suspension forks (i have one from Surly).
    David Green, Naperville, IL USA (Trek 5900 Superlight), (Lemond BA), (Peugeot UO8 (SS)), (Dozen other muts)

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  16. #16
    Banned Bikepacker67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chephy
    However, your friends' road bikes will still be superior road machines, of course.
    But they won't necessarily be superior touring machines.

  17. #17
    Banned Bikepacker67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by macaroni steve
    2) get drop bars. does anyone know of any good ones out there that would fit on my mtb?

    Why not try what I did?


  18. #18
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    When it comes to bars there are a few options than use MTb style controls:
    Flat bars with bar ends
    Flats with aerobars
    Butterfly-style trecking bars

    Converting to drops with lengthen your reach: the brake hoods position should be equivelent to an MTB flats position. You will need suitable cable stops on the frame.
    Many serious tourists use flats with aerobars for a rugged, high performance road and trail touring bike.

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