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  1. #1
    Senior Member permanentjaun's Avatar
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    Can my MTB make it from the Pacific to the Atlantic?

    Hello folks,

    Just a couple quick details so you understand my situation. I am not a bike enthusiast so to speak. I have many hobbies and don't tend to get too involved with any of them. I enjoy cycling just as much as I enjoy playing the drums, building home theaters, and other hobbies I have. I am not engrossed enough in any one hobby to be reading articles every week about what products are coming out in a couple months. I like to actually partake in the hobbies and enjoy them rather than making sure what I have is the best product for me. Thus, I don't really know much about bicycles other than knowing how to ride them and that they're really fun.

    I have had the same bike for nearly 10 years now. It's a Specialized Rockhopper mountain bike. I never purposely thrashed the bike, but we've taken some rough hits together. Anyways, I recently got the idea to ride cross country. I live in Phoenix, AZ and will travel west to the Pacific and then turn around to go to the Atlantic. I'm very tight on money right now and think it would be cheaper for me to simply convert my Rockhopper mountain bike into a road bike.

    I would really appreciate it you would all please look at the pictures I have attached and make some suggestions as to what I should do to convert the bike. I know I should probably make the following conversions - switch to a solid fork, convert to clip pedals, switch to road tires, replace the current chain, and switch to drop down handlebars with aerobars. Besides that I'd probably also take my bike to a shop for a tune up. Oh and replacing the seat. The one I have now is hard as a rock.

    I am a 22 year old male. I weigh 185-195 and am 6'0". I will be doing a loaded tour with panniers, but I will be keeping it very lightweight. I won't be bringing a stove and I will be sleeping in a hammock.

    Here are the questions I would like you all to consider while looking over the pictures of my bike (Please note I know nothing about my Rockhopper in terms of specification sizes, so if there are important sizes I should know please inform me):

    1. Is the rockhopper still a good size frame for my build?
    2. What suggestions do you have for forks? Will any solid fork I find on eBay work?
    3. What size tire should I be looking for to tour across the country?
    4. Besides the wear and tear that I will have serviced, are the brakes and shifters pictured any good? What do you know about them? If they're worthy, are they only mountable on straight bars or would they work well on drop downs?
    5. I have read on several touring threads that granny gears are pretty much necessary on loaded tours. I assume I have granny gears on this bike since my lowest gear almost feels like my chain is off the gears. Can you tell by the pictures what my gear set is? 8/9/10 speed? Granny gears?
    6. Depending on your response to question 5, I never thought I was getting a lot of speed from my mtb. Is this because it is on mtb tires or do mtb's have different gear ratios for top speed compared to road bikes? I'm only looking to average 60-80 miles per day when I tour.
    7. Can you tell from the pictures if I need to replace the gears? Are the teeth shot or can they be repaired in your opinion?
    8. The tires on my bike right now are marked as 26 X 1 90147-559. I assume that means it is a 26" wheel by 1". Are my rims then a good size for touring bikes? Any clue what the 90147-559 means?
    9. Along with my brakes and shifter, is the derailluer junk or capable of handling the trek?
    10. Is there anything else I haven't considered that I should know about?
    11. Are there any sizes I should know about when looking to replace the handlebars to dropdowns, suspension fork to solid fork, pedals to clips, or anything else?

    Here are the model numbers from the bike:
    Brakes - Shimano Dia compe DP7 and Shimano VC733
    Shifters - Shimano LX Deore
    Derailleur - Shimano STX RC

    Preferably my gear would be road worthy and just require replacement wear and tear parts or a tune up. Replacing all these little parts will add up quickly to cost that I could use on other things that are necessary for the journey, like food! But if you do suggest replacing parts do you have any specific recommendations in mind? I will appreciate any and all help in this manner.

    P.S. - Please don't flame me for the shape of my bike. I know it's bad already.













    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Hello all. I hope I'm not spoiling the thread for anyone. I just want to make information easier to find people. It is now several months later and I've completed the tour. Looking at this first thread I certainly have come a long way from where I started. Thank you all of you who posted in the thread or helped me in other ways.

    I have completed posting my journal on the internet. You can view it at www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/4176

    To view every single picture I took while on the tour you can visit http://good-times.webshots.com/album/560058990dSfbIM

    As I post more online I will add it here for convenience. Thanks. Matt
    Last edited by permanentjaun; 07-29-07 at 11:31 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    You can add bar ends to your bars to make them more comfortable.
    http://www.canecreek.com/ergo_control_ii.html

    Or you can switch out to trekking bars.
    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...B%20Handlebars

    Either of these would be ideal as you would not have to change your shifters and brake levers so no money is spent there.

    Your gearing is fine, definitely replace the chain, SRAM makes good chains.

    Here is a suitable replacement fork if you want to change yours.
    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...%20ATB%20Forks

    I would have the rims trued before leaving, everything checked for regreasing, such as bottom bracket, hubs, headset.

  3. #3
    Senior Member permanentjaun's Avatar
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    Thanks for the quick reply.

    What are the advantages of dropdown bars? Does the nashbar offer all the positions available on a drop down? It's hard to tell the actual shape of the bar from a 2d picture. Will I be able to mount aero bars on those?

  4. #4
    Pedalpower clayface's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by permanentjaun
    8. The tires on my bike right now are marked as 26 X 1 90147-559. I assume that means it is a 26" wheel by 1". Are my rims then a good size for touring bikes? Any clue what the 90147-559 means?
    It should read 26 x 1.90/47-559, which refers to the size and width of the tire both in inches and metric. Get some 26 x1.5 with a smooth tread if you're sticking to the road.
    I've seen aero-bars on MTB riser bars and they seem to work.
    Roberto

    Thorn Club Tour

  5. #5
    The Wheel is Turning The Figment's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=permanentjaun]Hello folks,

    Just a couple quick details so you understand my situation. I am not a bike enthusiast so to speak. I have many hobbies and don't tend to get too involved with any of them. I enjoy cycling just as much as I enjoy playing the drums, building home theaters, and other hobbies I have. I am not engrossed enough in any one hobby to be reading articles every week about what products are coming out in a couple months. I like to actually partake in the hobbies and enjoy them rather than making sure what I have is the best product for me. Thus, I don't really know much about bicycles other than knowing how to ride them and that they're really fun.

    I have had the same bike for nearly 10 years now. It's a Specialized Rockhopper mountain bike. I never purposely thrashed the bike, but we've taken some rough hits together. Anyways, I recently got the idea to ride cross country. I live in Phoenix, AZ and will travel west to the Pacific and then turn around to go to the Atlantic. I'm very tight on money right now and think it would be cheaper for me to simply convert my Rockhopper mountain bike into a road bike.

    I would really appreciate it you would all please look at the pictures I have attached and make some suggestions as to what I should do to convert the bike. I know I should probably make the following conversions - switch to a solid fork, convert to clip pedals, switch to road tires, replace the current chain, and switch to drop down handlebars with aerobars. Besides that I'd probably also take my bike to a shop for a tune up. Oh and replacing the seat. The one I have now is hard as a rock.

    I am a 22 year old male. I weigh 185-195 and am 6'0". I will be doing a loaded tour with panniers, but I will be keeping it very lightweight. I won't be bringing a stove and I will be sleeping in a hammock.

    Here are the questions I would like you all to consider while looking over the pictures of my bike (Please note I know nothing about my Rockhopper in terms of specification sizes, so if there are important sizes I should know please inform me):

    1. Is the rockhopper still a good size frame for my build? If it fits you then it will be fine

    2. What suggestions do you have for forks? Will any solid fork I find on eBay work?Not sure check with your LBS when you take it in

    3. What size tire should I be looking for to tour across the country?The ones you have are 26x1.90 In. A set of Schwalbe Marathon xp"s (1.75 In Wide),and a spare set of tubes and Freddy Fenders and your good to go,That is if you go to rigid forks

    4. Besides the wear and tear that I will have serviced, are the brakes and shifters pictured any good? What do you know about them? If they're worthy, are they only mountable on straight bars or would they work well on drop downs?Drops may intail replacing some of the stuff on yoyr handle bars,This could get spendy,try a pair of bar ends to give you more places to put your hands,or a set of Mt.Bike riserbars or some combo of both.(I ride risers with cheap bar ends)

    5. I have read on several touring threads that granny gears are pretty much necessary on loaded tours. I assume I have granny gears on this bike since my lowest gear almost feels like my chain is off the gears. Can you tell by the pictures what my gear set is? 8/9/10 speed? Granny gears? Count the sprokets on your rear wheel,6-7or 8 and that will tell you...I ride a 11-30 8-speed casette (Rear Gears) and a 24-34-44 Tooth chainset up front worked fine on all but the steepest of hills

    6. Depending on your response to question 5, I never thought I was getting a lot of speed from my mtb. Is this because it is on mtb tires or do mtb's have different gear ratios for top speed compared to road bikes? I'm only looking to average 60-80 miles per day when I tour.Tires and gearing have a lot to do with how far you will get in a day...so will wind,weather,terrian(sp) and your load and psychal(sp) condition,a MT Bike is more like a 4x4 truck or SUV and a road/touring bike is moer like a sports car

    7. Can you tell from the pictures if I need to replace the gears? Are the teeth shot or can they be repaired in your opinion?easy fix,have the LBS let you know

    8. The tires on my bike right now are marked as 26 X 1 90147-559. I assume that means it is a 26" wheel by 1". Are my rims then a good size for touring bikes? Any clue what the 90147-559 means?26In rims(559MM) x1.90in Width tire...you dont wanna go much wider than this. leave room for those fenders!!!

    9. Along with my brakes and shifter, is the derailluer junk or capable of handling the trek?I rode that rear Derailler for years on my last bike...Adjust it and enjoy it!!

    10. Is there anything else I haven't considered that I should know about?
    11. Are there any sizes I should know about when looking to replace the handlebars to dropdowns, suspension fork to solid fork, pedals to clips, or anything else? Your wheels!!!! How many spokes?? how much weight are you gonna carry? Pannier (Saddlebags) or trailer...Takl to a good wheelbuilder...at least 36 spokes,(Tho i've toured on 32 spoke wheels) Good rims,Good hubs Good Double Butted Spokes (slightly thinner in the middle of the spoke,They will last longer if the wheel is properly built)

    Here are the model numbers from the bike:
    Brakes - Shimano Dia compe DP7 and Shimano VC733Fine...Get some KoolStop brake pads
    Shifters - Shimano LX Deore Bombproof if properly ajusted
    Derailleur - Shimano STX RCSee Shifters Above

    Preferably my gear would be road worthy and just require replacement wear and tear parts or a tune up. Replacing all these little parts will add up quickly to cost that I could use on other things that are necessary for the journey, like food! But if you do suggest replacing parts do you have any specific recommendations in mind? I will appreciate any and all help in this manner.

    One more thing...Get some tools- Chainbreaker,Good bike multi-tool,Tire levers, other asst.bike tools (you won't need all of them on your ride) Buy a $25-50 Dollar Mt Bike of the same vintage (Watch E-Bay) Go to Sheldon Browns Website and follow the instructions...Take the cheap bike apart and put it toghter...Correctly!!!!! This way if most anything happens on your trip at least you will have some idea how to fix it...Or Fake it!! This is important cuz a lot of places you will be the closest thing to a bike shop is Schwag-Mart or Tractor Supply!!! Not a good feeling to be standing in front of Schwag-Mart in a downpour needing a Cassette or a brake lever (Been There!!)

    Your Rockhopper is a fine choice...learn a bit more about it and enjoy the ride!! Oh-Keep us posted!
    :0 :0

    P.S. - Please don't flame me for the shape of my bike. I know it's bad already.



  6. #6
    The Wheel is Turning The Figment's Avatar
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    By the way,I got about 5000 touring miles on this...I like Fat Tries and Forks,But i pull a BoB Yak trailer...I bring everything including the WHOLE kitchen!! Ok so I'm a glutton fer punishment,But I don't always wanna stay on the pavement...sometimes a hundred miles of singletrack is just what the doc ordered
    Attached Images Attached Images

  7. #7
    Prairie Path Commuter
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    Quote Originally Posted by permanentjaun
    Thanks for the quick reply.

    What are the advantages of dropdown bars? Does the nashbar offer all the positions available on a drop down? It's hard to tell the actual shape of the bar from a 2d picture. Will I be able to mount aero bars on those?
    I wish I had a pic but I converted a 95 Marin into a road bike that I use for commuting and eventually it will be used for touring too. I have mounted aero bars on my trekking bars. This combination, IMO, works as good as drop bars for comfort. The aero bars gets you out of the wind, which is important, and gives you a position that gets the weight off of your wrists and hands. Although I commute with two rear panniers, I don't know how a fully loaded bike will handle with the aerobars. On pavement it works fine for me. Another disadvantage is that it gets you away from your break levers so you kind of have to pick and choose where you use them.

    The big advantage is that adding drop bars to a MTB, although it is done, can be a significant job. You will have to replace your stem, brake levers, and shifters. Furthermore, if you have/want index shifting you will have to be very careful which shifters you get as most road index shifters are not compatible with MTB derailers and vice versa. Trekking bars on the other hand are the same diameter as a MTB bar so you can use your current set up.

    I think MTB make good touring bikes, although I have not yet toured, so take my advice in stride. However, there have been a lot of threads here on the subject and it seems like people do it all the time. For the sake of argument I have been looking at Surly Long Hall Trucker frames. To tell you the truth the Marin frame is strong and light and except for some slight differences in geometry and more braze ons, I am not sure if the LHT frame would make much difference for me.

    Other things to consider. Definitely get some puncture resistant slicks such as Schawlbe Marathon Plus. Make sure you have a comfortable saddle, I recommend the Specialize Body Geometry saddles. On a ten year old bike I would check the condition of the bottom bracket too. And you may consider adding fenders.

  8. #8
    Senior Member permanentjaun's Avatar
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    Thank you all for the great detailed responses.

    What size tires would everyone agree on? Can I go smaller than 26 X 1.5" to increase speed or will I begin to run into puncture/pinching problems? Is 26 X 1.75" more recommended?

    It's a 9 speed so I should have no problem on steep climbs.

    I've priced the trekking bars at $15. Solid fork is going to be about $30. Clip pedals are about $15-$40 depending on my ebay buying skills. Fenders will be about $30-$45, but I can probably find cheaper. Seat will be $20-$40. Koolstop brakes will be about $5-$15 on a set. How much on average will it cost to have the rims trued and brakes/shifters,derailleur serviced? What's the cheapest place to get the Schwalbe Plus tires? They run for about $65 a piece on the Schwalbe site. I'm sure there's a better price out there.

    The wheels are 32 spoke. How necessary is it to go up to 36? What are the costs involved in doing so?

    Thanks again for all the great help. Matt

  9. #9
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    One thing to keep in mind is that crossing the US normally takes about 10 weeks. Your route may be 12 or more. For a trip of this length, I strongly recommend the following:

    - make sure you have enough financial resources for contingencies and emergencies.
    - make sure you have health insurance covering you for the duration of your trip, even if it's just "major medical" coverage.
    - take the Rockhopper to your LBS, tell them "I want to ride across the USA on this bad boy!" and find out if your bike really is tour-worthy.
    They will also give you prices on tires and so forth. You will likely want a semi-slick semi-wide touring tire, like the Schwalbe Marathon Racer. A folding tire is the way to go.
    - get maps, preferably from Adventure Cycling. They have extensive cross-country routes for cyclists.
    - others with more camping experience may want to chime in, but: I would not rely solely on a hammock as your camping "shelter." It won't protect you from bugs or rain (which are inevitable occurences in a cross-country trip), and may be bad for your back. A bivy sack, sleeping pad and sleeping bag may be a better way to go.

    Last but not least, you will need repair equipment and basic repair skills, many of which you probably have:
    - patch kits
    - spare tubes
    - spare tire(s)
    - chain tool
    - extra spokes
    - spoke tool
    - basic / rudimentary ability to true a wheel

    Picking up a small repair guide is a good idea. That way, you can likely jury-rig something that will hold long enough to get you to an LBS.

  10. #10
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I won't flame you for the condition of your bike, but I might for not doing your own research. However, I guess posting to this board is a pretty good kind of research, so scratch that.

    I have some questions. Have you ever toured on your bike - even a 3-day weekend trip to a nearby campground? If not, I recommend it. When I decided to ride down the west coast from Seattle to San Luis Obispo, I had quite a bit of touring experience, but nothing longer than a week. About halfway into the trip I started thinking, "Why did I decide to do such a long, stinking trip?!" I got over it, and the trip turned out to be one of the best things I've ever done, but my point is that a long bike tour, especially by yourself, can be very challenging emotionally. Your mind goes strange places when you're alone too long. You don't want to discover too late that you're not cut out for such a long trip. Even now, after I've done lots of long tours, I think twice before undertaking something really ambitious. I have to make sure my head is in the right place. If not, I tend to start thinking, "I could be at home, going on daily bike rides, but sleeping in my own bed with my wife, and my kids in the next two rooms, and my dogs at my feet, with a coffee maker and refrigerator (all the comforts of home) - what am I doing out in the middle of nowhere, depriving myself of all the basic conveniences of modern life, with no one around who even knows who I am, or even that I'm here?" And that's a pretty rational thought. Some of my mental rantings get quite weird!

    Anyway, about the bike: I think adding bar ends to your present handlebars would be the way to go. Using drop handlebars allows you to get down out of the wind a bit, but that riding position also puts a lot of strain on your hands, forearms, upper arms, etc. I have drops, and my physical suffering is usually in my hands and arms - never in my legs, neck, or back. I've recently installed an extra long stem to raise my handlebar tops up level with my seat. I'm having less pain. I think on tour comfort is a whole lot more important than speed, though the ability to streamline yourself in a stiff headwind is a good thing. However, as others have said, the extra hassle of moving your shifters and brakes to drop bars might make it not worth it.

    Make sure your wheels are bulletproof - especially the rear. I echo what one person said. Go to your local bike shop, tell them what you're planning, and ask them to build you a rear wheel that will be able to take it. I had one tour ruined by broken spokes (back when I was young and inexperienced.)

    In my opinion the hammock is a bad idea. Partly it's because I sleep on my side, and getting a restful night's sleep is vital. You're going to be tired enough as it is. Also there's rain and mosquitoes to think about. I don't know what kind of hammock you have, but you need to have shelter when it rains, and a tent is the way to get away from mosquitoes when it's hot. (Hunkering down inside your sleeping bag with DEET all over your face is no picnic.) Plus, you'll probably be camped in lots of places where you need somewhere to get some privacy. Lastly, there are many campsites without two properly-spaced trees, posts, etc., from which to hang your hammock.

    I'd say it's at least a 50/50 chance that you'll have some sort of mechanical malfunction, no matter how diligently you prepare your bike. Do you know how to fix some of the more likely, not-so-serious things, and will you have the tools? Will you have the money to get something fixed at a local bike shop if you can't do it yourself (and a way to get your bike to the LBS?) When I was having my broken spoke issues on that one tour, there was a wide range of prices the shops charged me to remove the cassette, replace the spoke, and true the wheel. Most people were reasonable, but there were a couple that knew they had me over a barrel and ripped me off.

  11. #11
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    Who cares about the condition of your bike? After your done touring on it, it's goin to look like schit anyways!

    But yes you can tour on a mtb. One of the things I would change is the bars to a road style bar becaz road bars give you more options to place your hands; and when your goin to be on the bike for many days and many miles that will become very important.

    Take the bike to a shop and have it overhauled, and replace anything that won't survive a long trip. Some stuff may be ok, but only for a short ride then break after you've pedaled for 1,500 miles and your in the middle of nowhere. So if a part is questionable, don't play with it-replace it.

    Unless you really like hammocks stay away from them because your back will start to hurt in short order.

    Campsites can literally be anywhere, you could camp in a field, with permission a school or fire station yard, campsites of course, truck stops, even people's home yards. Camping at a camp site, fire station, truckstops even someones home yard will likely provide you with shower.

    Can't tell from the pics, but you should be riding on at 36 spoke rims. The 36 spoke rims would allow you to continue to ride after breaking a spoke.

    Here is a very useful web site for touring info: http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/touring/

  12. #12
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    Any bicycle can make it from the Pacific to the Atlantic. From a one speed child's bike to a $5,000 road bike to a unicycle to a $10 Salvation Army used bike.

    It's not the equipment that matters, it's the mental aspect. Touring is 90 percent mental.

    Outside the mental aspects of touring, the importing thing is to learn how to do basic repairs on your bike yourself, and getting familiar with your touring equipment... your tent, backracks, packing, etc. Usually a mini-tour of a few days including one in the rain will help you determine how to use your gear, what gear you need and don't need.

  13. #13
    Senior Member teamcompi's Avatar
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    GPSBlalke, nailed it, I ride a nice C'dale T2000, and have no problems, good bike good ride good fun.

    That said I have seen people on the trans-am who have bikes that cost less than the tires on mine, they too have a great time sleep at the same spots and have just as much fun. The bike matters a whole lot less than whats under your helmet.

    Have a great trip, learn how to do basic repairs. I got to tell you I read about a couple who left on a tans-continental tour on Wally world bikes and where unable to fix a thing.....they made it and had a good time doing it. Now if someone gives you a nice touring bike grab it and go!

  14. #14
    George Krpan
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    You're 22 years old and you've had that bike for 10 years. That means you got it when you were 12.
    I would say that that bike is now too small for you.
    You can easily spend what a new bike costs getting you old bike roadworthy.
    Get a new entry level mountain bike from one of the major makers. Ride a few different sizes before you decide which size to buy.
    A 32 spoke mountain bike wheel is plenty strong for touring. Have the bike shop check the wheels carefully for even spoke tension. It would be helpful to tell them about your touring plans.
    My local bike shop allows customers to swap the knobbies for smooth road tires at little or no cost.
    Get the largest tires you can get, 2.0 inches or larger.
    My LBS charges for saddle upgrades so be prepared to pay extra for that.
    I think all you need is bar ends. A drop bar is an expensive modification. You need the handlebar, shifters, brake levers, handlebar tape, new cables and housings, and most likely a new stem. There would also be the labor charges to install it all. V-brakes are not compatible with road bike brake levers so you would have to buy problematic adaptors or new cantilever brakes.
    The stock gearing on a mountain bike is perfect for touring, no changes needed.
    Typically, entry level mountain bikes come with a suspension fork without a lockout. But, they always have preload adjusters. I think that if you set them at the firmest setting that that would be sufficient. No need to get a solid fork.
    My LBS sells Specialized and Trek. The entry level Specialized outsells the Trek by a wide margin. There is good reason for this, it's a much better bike, and only a little bit more expensive. I recommend the Hardrock Sport for $390. The Hardrock XC is $330 but I don't think the $60 savings is worth it. By the way, the Hardrock Sport comes with 36 spoke wheels. It also comes with an 11-32 8 speed cassette. The 11 tooth gear will give you an adequate top speed. The saddle looks very good and it comes with a very comfortable riser handlebar. Buy the size bike that makes you lean over a little bit to reach the handlebars. That puts you in a much more aerodynamic position than sitting up straight. It's also much easier on your butt.
    Of course, the components are not high end but they are plenty good. A good running bike is more a matter of maintenence and proper adjustment. Learn how to adjust derailleurs, brakes, and spokes before you go on your trip. It's not hard and you will have a lot more confidence. Buy your bike and ride it a lot before you go on your tour. You want to work out any teething problems before you go on your tour. Teething problems are fixed for free in the warranty period.
    The last time I checked there is a one year warranty from Specialized and there are Specialized dealers all over the country. The Shimano parts have a 2 year warranty and that would probably be honored at any bike shop.
    Last edited by GeoKrpan; 01-22-07 at 09:26 PM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member permanentjaun's Avatar
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    Thank you all again for the great responses.

    Bacciagalupe - Yes I am thinking ahead. I've already begun budgeting and planning on how much I need to save to cover insurances as well as bills. I am going through other threads trying to find the bare necessities to take for bike fixes and such. The one problem I have right now is planning my route. I intend on leaving phoenix and heading west to Laguna Beach. I used to live a couple miles inland from there and that was my beach. Then I want to head east up to Storrs, CT to visit the Univ. of Connecticut. That was the college I attended. Then I want to head south to New Jersey to where I used to live and finish on the beach in NJ I used to go to. I don't know how I'm going to route myself. Most of the preplanned routes I've seen usually stay to the north or south and never really go diagonal across the country. Any suggestions?

    BigBlueToe - Yea I figured someone would flame some me for not researching so much. I assure you I have been reading these forums the past week or so. It can be hard to find info sometimes though. For instance, I can't even find a thread detailing how to pick a correct size bike for myself. I think I read somewhere that simply standing on a bike with no shoes no longer cuts it. Bike geometries have some a long way to change the way we fit in them. Anyways, I'm probably searching for the wrong things, but I haven't found all the info I'm looking for. Thus, I post.

    Don't worry about me going crazy. I'm a pretty tough kid and have gone for long periods on my own as well as camped in the wild on many occasions.

    I think I'm going to take the suggestion of getting the Nashbar trekking bars. For 15 bucks you can't go wrong. I'll add a pair of clip on aero bars for aerodynamics as well as another hand position.

    I'm not worried about the hammock. I have some pretty good stories of some of the places I've fallen asleep. I'm not stranger to mother earth, and not because of passing out drunk. Like I said, I consider myself a tough kid and feed off of pain/discomfort. Some people hate it, others like the challenge. Does anyone cycle the country or do things like climb Mt. Everest because it's easy? I'm still researching for a hammock that I can zip myself in to so I can protect myself from the bugs. The rain shouldn't be a problem if I use a tarp. The hennessy hammocks are over priced if you ask me.

    freako - Yea at the least I'm going to take my bike to my LBS and tell them to over haul it. I guess I should feel comforted in the equipment on the bike since it's survived 10 years without once being serviced. It all still works great, for the most part. My biggest complaint about the bike is the rock hard seat. Someone made a joke on a review of the bike that the seat is really where they got the name for the bike. Ouch.

    What's the concensus? 32 spokes ok? 36 necessary? I would obviously normally go straight for the 36 just to be safe, but money is tight. I have to plan for car insurance/payments for when I'm gone. Phone bills. Food, insurance, other bike parts, etc.. Saving $50 bucks here and there will go a long way in my trek. Are 36 spokes necessary?


    gpsblake - Thanks for the reply. Quite a few people seem to agree with you on the mental aspect. I'm sure I'll be fine. I know how to motivate myself to push myself.

    Teamcompi - Thanks for the reply. I'm definently going to acquaint myself with my bike more before I go. I have restored my own classic car so I am mechanically inclined. I shouldn't have any problems doing so. Of course I hope I don't have to make any serious repairs. Considering how well I think my bike has handled almost a decade without being serviced once I feel confident in the equipment. I guess I should have asked myself that question before starting this thread. I still would have posted to ask if the setup of my mtb would make for a good tour or not. One thing I'm considering is to replace the crank set to the hybrid trekker on nashbar.com that is halfway between racing cranks and mtb cranks. Any opinion? I want to gain miles whenever I can and not waste energy on bad gearing.

    Geokrpan - You agree 32 spoke is plenty for loaded touring? I am going for lightweight people. No stove, pots, and maybe no tent. Just the bair necessities of clothing, tools, medical, hammock/tarp, powerbars, and the cheapest/grossest/most nutritious oatmeal I can find to eat cold. MMMmmmmm. I can't wait to be a machine on my bike. I'm not so much concerned with seeing any particular locations in the US right now. I just want to be out on the road 30 miles into the days ride and breathing in the air, turning it into carbon dioxide, pumping and breathing. Every breath a new start cleansing myself. In and out, push pull, pump and drive. I love feeling in shape, agile, and powerful. I think my economics degree is going to drive me to insanity, but I love feeling 'efficient'.

    Thanks for the suggestions on the other bikes. I think for now I'll explore using my current rockhopper more though. $15 for new handle bars isn't much. If I can keep the 32 spoke rear end then that helps. Replacing the seat shouldn't be much. Aerobars don't have to get expensive. Someone even mentioned keeping the front fork I have now. I'll have to check to see if it does have a lock to make it solid. That'd save $30 right there. The biggest expenses right now would be to just take the bike to a LBS and have it serviced. True the rims, adjust brakes, deraillieur, shifters, and have the teeth fixed.

  16. #16
    Senior Member permanentjaun's Avatar
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    To summarize the questions from my previous post if you don't feel like reading it all:

    1. Is 36 spoke necessary on the rear? I am doing a light load. No stove, pots, maybe a hammock and not a tent.

    2. If my bike's front fork can't be locked out, should I switch to a solid fork or just keep the suspension? It's going to kill my climbing abilities.

    3. I'm planning on going from Phoenix to Laguna Beach, Cali then to Connecticut and then south to New Jersey. Are there any preplanned routes that come close to my route? Most of what I've found either follow the North or South of the US strictly. I need more of a diagonal route. Should I just go state by state with a map to route myself?

    4. Hammocks - Does anyone know of a relatively cheap hammock that zips up to keep bugs out? I think hennesy hammocks are over priced. Sure they're great products and work well, but not worth it in my book.

    5. How do you size a bike these days? As Geokrpan pointed out, I'm 22 now and have had the bike for quite some time. I was into puberty by 12-13, but I'm sure I still grew several inches from then. The rockhopper I have has 26" wheels. I can't find any designation on the frame as to it's size. It's large enough that I can set the seat high enough that I can barely or can't touch the ground when on the bike. Is that big enough for me? I'm 6'0" and about 185-195.

    6. What size tire do you all recommend switching to. I've has suggestions in this thread from anywhere from 1.5"-2". The Schwalbe Marathons seem to be the big hit brand, just need to settle on a size. 1.5" too small? 2" too big? Maybe 1.75 is 'just right'?

  17. #17
    fks
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    To summarize the questions from my previous post if you don't feel like reading it all:

    1. Is 36 spoke necessary on the rear? I am doing a light load. No stove, pots, maybe a hammock and not a tent.
    32 is plenty for a 26 in wheel

    2. If my bike's front fork can't be locked out, should I switch to a solid fork or just keep the suspension? It's going to kill my climbing abilities.
    http://aebike.com/page.cfm?PageID=30&action=details&sku=FK2445

    3. I'm planning on going from Phoenix to Laguna Beach, Cali then to Connecticut and then south to New Jersey. Are there any preplanned routes that come close to my route? Most of what I've found either follow the North or South of the US strictly. I need more of a diagonal route. Should I just go state by state with a map to route myself?

    4. Hammocks - Does anyone know of a relatively cheap hammock that zips up to keep bugs out? I think hennesy hammocks are over priced. Sure they're great products and work well, but not worth it in my book.
    Get a tent, you need trees for a hammock and it is hard to sleep on your side in a hammock

    5. How do you size a bike these days? As Geokrpan pointed out, I'm 22 now and have had the bike for quite some time. I was into puberty by 12-13, but I'm sure I still grew several inches from then. The rockhopper I have has 26" wheels. I can't find any designation on the frame as to it's size. It's large enough that I can set the seat high enough that I can barely or can't touch the ground when on the bike. Is that big enough for me? I'm 6'0" and about 185-195.

    6. What size tire do you all recommend switching to. I've has suggestions in this thread from anywhere from 1.5"-2". The Schwalbe Marathons seem to be the big hit brand, just need to settle on a size. 1.5" too small? 2" too big? Maybe 1.75 is 'just right'?
    1.75s are a good size for touring

  18. #18
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by permanentjaun
    I'm planning on going from Phoenix to Laguna Beach, Cali then to Connecticut and then south to New Jersey. Are there any preplanned routes that come close to my route?
    I'm not aware of any pre-planned diagonal routes like that. But if you adjust your route slightly, you can use several Adventure Cycling routes:

    1) Southern Tier #1, Tempe AZ to San Diego CA.
    2) Take Route 1 / PCH up. Find your own route to Pueblo, CO. (Or, go all the way up to San Francisco and use the Western Express maps to Pueblo.)
    3) Pick up the TransAmerica route to Yorktown, VA.
    4) Take the Atlantic route up to NJ, hit the beach.
    5) Continue up to CT.

    Check [url=http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/network.cfm]this page to see the existing AC routes.[/quote]

  19. #19
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    Someone else wrote:
    Furthermore, if you have/want index shifting you will have to be very careful which shifters you get as most road index shifters are not compatible with MTB derailers and vice versa.

    This is not accurate. I use indexed road shifters with mtb derailleurs all the time, with no problems. Here's what you need to keep in mind, to make it work right:
    1. Keep the manufacturer's the same with your derailleurs and shifters: Shimano shifters go with Shimano derailleurs. Some SRAM derailleurs are compatible with Shimano shifters & vice versa. Otherwise, don't mix & match your companies in this department.
    2. Keep the number of gears on the rear the same as the number of shifts or speeds on your indexed shifter. Don't try to match a 9 speed cassette with an 8 speed shifter. It won't work (you can, however mix your manufacturers here--I've run 9 speed Campy shifters with 9 speed shimano cassettes, etc).

    Converting a mountain bike to drop handlebars is PRICEY. You won't be able to use your mtb shifters or brake levers on the drop handlebar. You can buy bar-end shifters and aero brake levers for your drop handlebar, but you are still looking at more than $100-$150 for new bars, shifters, brake levers and tape. Then you will probably have to replace the cassette if you can't find shifters that index to the number of gears on your current cassette. If you are replacing the chain, you should replace the cassette anyway, as an old cassette won't work well with a new chain. By the time you change tires, replace the fork, change the handlebar, replace the cassette & chain, and do any repair work like replacing worn cables, truing wheels, replacing worn brake pads, the bill may well run over $300 if the bike shop does all the work for you.

    1.5 slick tires are wide enough for touring IMO. Using a suspension fork for a nationwide trip is not a great idea. Suspension forks are boat anchors, and they will rob you of power when you stand and climb (not just the weight, but the suspension bobbing using some of your energy on up & down rather than forward motion). A basic steel fork should cost around $50 or so.

  20. #20
    Senior Member permanentjaun's Avatar
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    Is 26" considered a big wheel? I'm not sure how sizes run in bikes. 700 mm, 26", etc.

    Is there any way to plan my own route state by state without knowing much about the states? Is it smart to just look for interstate roads or maybe take route 66 most of the way?

  21. #21
    aspiring wannabe hoogie's Avatar
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    1. Is 36 spoke necessary on the rear? I am doing a light load. No stove, pots, maybe a hammock and not a tent. If your load is light then you could get away with it, but do have it checked out before you go and keep an eye on it ...

    2. If my bike's front fork can't be locked out, should I switch to a solid fork or just keep the suspension? It's going to kill my climbing abilities. If you are going to be using front apnniers then i would say change it, otherwise just leave it if it is a reasonable fork ... simpler and lighter is my motto when touring, and a rigid fork will give this, but a suspension fork will be easier on the body after long days in the saddle ...

    6. What size tire do you all recommend switching to. I've has suggestions in this thread from anywhere from 1.5"-2". The Schwalbe Marathons seem to be the big hit brand, just need to settle on a size. 1.5" too small? 2" too big? Maybe 1.75 is 'just right'? i have some schwalbe marathon 26x1.75 on my thorn nomad, and they are brilliant ... just make sure you keep them inflated to optimum pressure to keep down drag when rolling ... ihad some 26x1.5's on before that and found i was getting a bit beat up after a long day with the road vibration on nz roads ... the schwalbes take most of this away ...

    My Giant Yukon MTB touring bike that i built up ... i have also built up two other mtb tourers based on specialised rockhopper/stumpjumper frames, and they are good ... if your bike fits, then hang onto it!!!!
    thought for today: "Does my ass look fast on this bike?"

  22. #22
    Prairie Path Commuter
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richbiker
    Someone else wrote:
    Furthermore, if you have/want index shifting you will have to be very careful which shifters you get as most road index shifters are not compatible with MTB derailers and vice versa.

    This is not accurate. I use indexed road shifters with mtb derailleurs all the time, with no problems. Here's what you need to keep in mind, to make it work right:
    1. Keep the manufacturer's the same with your derailleurs and shifters: Shimano shifters go with Shimano derailleurs. Some SRAM derailleurs are compatible with Shimano shifters & vice versa. Otherwise, don't mix & match your companies in this department.
    2. Keep the number of gears on the rear the same as the number of shifts or speeds on your indexed shifter. Don't try to match a 9 speed cassette with an 8 speed shifter. It won't work (you can, however mix your manufacturers here--I've run 9 speed Campy shifters with 9 speed shimano cassettes, etc).
    I just ordered a new front derailer for my MTB and during the process I read Sheldon Brown's article on choosing derailers. That's where that came from. Otherwise I have no real experience with this.

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/front-derailers.html

  23. #23
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    Regarding your diagonal route, check out the Race Across America Route. It goes from Southern California to New Jersey. I can't comment on the route at all but I would assume the roads are somewhat suitable for bicycle riding. At the very least it should give you some ideas.

  24. #24
    George Krpan
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    Your fork may not have a lockout but I would bet that it has preload adjusters. Look for little knobs on the top of the fork legs. Turn them clockwise to firm up the ride.
    Can you tell us what kind of fork you have? Maybe someone has some experience with them.
    A Eureka Tetragon 5 tent is $60 at Campmor. It's a two person, two pole, square dome, double wall tent.
    Delightfully easy to set up and comfortable.
    How much cheaper could a hammock be?
    The length of the bike is more crucial than the height. As I said, you should have to lean forward a little bit to reach the handlebar. If this is not the case you may be able to remedy it with a longer stem. If your stem is 100mm long putting on a 130mm stem would increase the reach by about an 1 1/4". That doesn't sound like much but it is in terms of bike fit. You can also slide the saddle as far back as possible to lengthen the cockpit.
    32 spoke mountain bike wheels are plenty strong for touring. The condition of you wheels is more of a concern. Are any of the spokes pulling through the rim? Do you see any cracks around the area where the spoke passes through the rim? Clean the wheels thoroughly to be able to see this. There may be tiny cracks that you won't see on a dirty wheel. Take off the wheels, hold them by the skewers and spin them.
    Are they smooth? After ten years you should clean and regrease them. Remove the cones and axles. Wipe out the hubs and look at the bearing surfaces. Are they scored? Clean the bearings in solvent, let them dry thoroughly, pack them with grease, put some grease in the hub bearing sufaces and on the cones, and reassemble. Adjust the cones just to the point that there is no play. Put each wheel back in the frame without the tire installed. Squirt a little WD40 on each nipple. Go around the wheel and tighten any loose spokes and loosen any tight spokes. Make sure your using the right size spoke key. Do not try and turn a spoke that won't turn easily. Keep applying WD40 until they turn easily. You may have to wait overnight on some spokes, be patient. The object is to have even spoke tension all the way around. If after you do this and the wheel is wobbly then you'll have to true it. Move one of the brake pads near the rim to use as a guide.
    Go with the fattest tires you can get. I think that you'll be less tired at the end of the day.
    Do not inflate them to the maximum pressure on the sidewall, they'll ride too hard.
    Put just enough air in them to eliminate bulging when you're riding the bike.
    For example, a Schwalbe Big Apple 26 x 2.0 has a max PSI of 70. I only run 40 PSI in mine. They still roll fast but they are much more comfortable.

  25. #25
    Senior Member permanentjaun's Avatar
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    Hola,

    No I don't think it has a lockout. It does have the knobs, which I've tightened. There is still obviously plenty of play. I only handtightened them though. I'm afraid of stripping the threads. How tight can/should they get/be? The front fork is a Rock Shox RS Jett T2.

    If I need my gear teeth checked and serviced is it just better to get a whole new crank set? I can probably pull a set off of ebay for about $20-40. People preferred the Nashbar trekking crank because it was a mix between a road and mountain crank. Can I simply switch over to a road crank for the added performance? How are they compared? I see the 172.5 and 175 mm specifications. Is that the actual pedal arm length or diameter of the crank gears? What would the specs be for a road only crank set?

    Is there a site I can go to that goes over the details on servicing shifters and brakes? I mentioned I've restored a classic car so I have plenty of tools. I figure I can save a couple bucks by doing that myself as well as use it as a way to get acquanted with my bike.

    Thanks for the tips GeoKrpan. That is some of the help I'm looking for with my brakes and shifters. I haven't noticed any problems with my wheels. I've taken some good spills on the trails. I'll have to take a closer look and take the mtb tires off.

    Any suggestions for a new seat? Is it bad to get a comfort bike seat for the big cushion when touring?

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