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Old 11-29-01, 07:54 AM   #1
TELFORD
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How to modify MTB for Touring?

Hello,
I have a '93 Diamondback Topanga MTB.
I thought of starting to do some touring rides.

Beside changing the tire to slick ones, what are some things I can do to make it more
fitting to touring;i.e., I try think some ways to shed some weight off the bike (currently weighs 31 Lbs.)

What are some other components that can be changed?

Should I change the frame? what is the best material, carbon? aluminum? some other type?

If I change enough stuff, I guess the cost probably would run up to another new bike, and few things that I do change probably would not justify the cost for the amt. of weigh lost, but just curious to know what you think.
Just want to change a few things to make it little easier (lighter) and avoid buying a new one, if possible.

Thanks very much.
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Old 11-29-01, 09:00 AM   #2
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Telford,
Welcome to BikeForums!

I wouldn't change a whole lot to start with. Try changing as little as possible initially. As you actually use your bike for touring you will probably get some ideas of your own. I will list a few basics that you will need to do before you can do much of anything.

1. As you mention, slick tires as narrow as your rims will accomodate, maybe 1.5-1.75 inches. You can go to sheldonbrown.com to read about tire widths. If you know the brand and model rims you have you could go to the mfr website to see what tire widths are recommended or you could measure the inside width of your rims then go to Mavic's website and find the recommended tire widths for a similar size rim.

2. Racks for mounting panniers. If you are lucky, your frame may have threaded eyelets on the rear dropouts for mounting a good solid rack. If you have rear suspension, things get more difficult because you can't mount a good solid rack only a clamp on of some type that have a VERY limited weight limit. Ditto for the front. Some bikes have eyelets for mounting front racks also, but suspension forks present problems. Tubus makes racks for both situations. If you have full suspension, you may have to get racks for front and back to spread the load in light bits. Wallingford Bicycle Parts (wallbike.com) and Peter White Cycles (peterwhitecycles.com) both carry Tubus racks. If you have a hardtail that has eyelets for front and rear racks, you can use more basic racks like Blackburn Expedition 2.

3. Something to carry it all in. You can use panniers or a trailer. There are many brands of excellent panniers - Ortlieb (all waterproof), Carradice (also waterproof), Jandd, Arkel. Some are waterproof as is, some require rain covers. There are a variety of features. You can do all right with any of the better brands, just plan to spend a little money. Cheap panniers will fall apart (I know). If you have a full suspension bike, you may consider a trailer. A BOB trailer costs less than a rack and a good set of panniers, about $250-270. Since it comes with a big waterproof bag, you don't need rack and panniers. A BOB is rated for about 70 lbs. Since the BOB is no wider than the bike and has a single wheel that tracks straight behind, it can go anywhere the bike goes and you don't have to worry about a tire dropping of the shoulder of the road to throw you off balance. Many people prefer the BOB to panniers and say that it is easier to pull a BOB than ride with heavily loaded panniers front and back.

Obviously, you need camping gear, etc., but I am limiting my remarks to the absolute minimum you need to do to your bike - slick tires and something to carry gear in. If you plan to do extended touring, you might consider a different bike, but don't run out and buy one until you have tested the waters and feel pretty sure you are ready for longer trips.
Good luck,
Raymond
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Last edited by RainmanP; 11-29-01 at 09:18 AM.
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Old 11-29-01, 09:57 AM   #3
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The Rainman is right. Unless you have steel rims, steel handlebars, or other obvious excess mass, it will be hard to reduce the weight of the bike significantly. Furthermore, for most touring applications, weight simply is not as important as most people seem to believe. Loaded touring on a light, whippy frame is no fun, and it can be dangerous.
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Old 11-29-01, 09:39 PM   #4
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Just did a 1300km tour on my MTB. Here are my thoughts:

1. Definitely go with the slick tyres. 26x1.5" is the way to go here.

2. Definitely get a rack and panniers, but forget about the so-called "waterproof" panniers. They might be good for a light shower, but if you get any major rain (my tent was on an island above floodwaters on my first night), they won't keep it out. You are better to pack your stuff in plastic bags inside your panniers. Something you'll need to do anyway to separate the stuff that gets wet from the dry.
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Old 11-30-01, 01:03 PM   #5
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Hey! Hey! Hey! Did we get a complete report on that tour Chris L? We want daily journal entries!
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Old 11-30-01, 02:25 PM   #6
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It's coming when I can be bothered typing it all out. I'll eventually have some pics as well, although I've gotta scan those so I'm not quite sure when.
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Old 01-13-02, 10:06 PM   #7
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Don't forget to upgrade the seat...that part of your body will think you to no end (pun intended).

The rest of the advise given is solid - also consider accessories like lights, both fore and aft. Don't recommend the pricy recharagble stuff - a Cateye using batteries will work fine. Remember that the night should be for snoozing, not crusing.

I also run with a gps unit and a compass on the bike
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