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Old 04-24-08, 09:01 PM   #1
jonathancorrie
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touring without the frills

has anyone ever heard of putting 700c wheels on an old mountain bike frame? Im eyeing up a couple of old specialized and trek chromoly frames with the intention of making them tourers. the reason.. there really cheap, 50 euro or so. Im planning a trip across europe, so almost everywhere will be paved. I'd love a LHT but, need to keep some cash for the trip! anyway im wondering if anyone has any experience of making an old chromoly mtb frame into a LHT type of beast.. they seem very similar in geometry to look at? just worried about the techincalities, gearing, racks, wheels etc. anyone done this type of conversion id love to see some pics!cheers
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Old 04-24-08, 11:21 PM   #2
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You should be able to make a decent MTB frame into a tourer, forget the 700c wheels though. Just get some slicks for the 26" wheels. If you are on the shorter side it may work out better

The subject of racks i going to vary from bike to bike, gearing will depend on weight carried and hills but you can likely get by if it has a triple front ring.


MTB's usually have a higher bottom bracket, for clearance while tourers have them lower. Most will be relatively different in the geometry. That doesn't mean you can't do it and be fine. People have toured perfectly happy on much worse than a MTB frame.

Do some searches, there is a lot of good reading in this forum.
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Old 04-25-08, 12:08 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by jonathancorrie View Post
has anyone ever heard of putting 700c wheels on an old mountain bike frame?
Even if your frame and fork permit you to do that, you'll still run into the problem of the brake bosses not being at the right place.

Unless some company came up with brakes that compensate for the extra distance of the rim from the hub between a 26" and a 700c wheel, you won't be able to fit brakes. Maybe such special brakes exist, or maybe some brakes are adjustable enough to do it. I don't know.

Just make sure you take this into consideration before buying new wheels...

Other than that, if you can fit brakes and your frame allows the bigger wheels, I don't see any problem.
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Old 04-25-08, 01:52 AM   #4
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Pauls components do a brake which is a linear pull (read v style brake) requiring long pull leavers for 26" wheels and can adjust up to 700 cc wheels but then requires a short pull lever.

It's Pauls components.

It's high quality

It's expensive.

I have put 700cc wheels into a mbt frame to make a fixed wheel bike. It works really well for that as you end up with a nice high b.b but for touring I'd keep the 26" and buy some slicks. Even if you are building your own wheels this would be an expensive way to go about the job of converting a mtb with no advantage over sticking slicks on the current wheels.
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Old 04-25-08, 04:13 AM   #5
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MTB slicks are available in 1.25 inch profile, which equates to 31C in 700C measurement. The only issue might be whether the MTB rims on the bike you acquire are narrow enough to avoid other issues.

Otherwise, fitting 700C wheels into old MTB frames without disc brakes is a liability and as TheBrick points out, could be expensive.

To me, the advantage of getting an old MTB like you suggest is to have a bike to go offroad after you finish touring in Europe.

If I was building up a project like you suggest, I also would do only one thing -- put on bullhorn handlebars because I think they eminently more comfortable than flat bars with bar ends, and you can retain the same shifters and brake levers (I think).

Otherwise, if the chainrings and cogs are in reasonable knick, just go for it... if the bike fits (and that's a whole different story).
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Old 04-25-08, 06:21 AM   #6
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cheers guys
yeah i think i'd be happy with 26inchers just thought i may have more steamroller effect with the bigger wheels. the issues with brakes etc seem obvious once its pointed out!! thanks for that.
well off to see some bikes for me..
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Old 04-25-08, 11:46 AM   #7
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Why put 1.25" tires on a 26" wheel? The contact patch of a 26" wheel is shorter, so wouldn't you want wider tires to compensate? Someone linked to a write-up about this the other day in a thread about touring on folding bikes.
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Old 04-25-08, 12:34 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by jonathancorrie View Post
Has anyone ever heard of putting 700c wheels on an old mountain bike frame? I'd love a LHT but, need to keep some cash for the trip! Anyway im wondering if anyone has any experience of making an old chromoly mtb frame into a LHT type of beast.. they seem very similar in geometry to look at? just worried about the techincalities, gearing, racks, wheels etc. anyone done this type of conversion id love to see some pics!cheers
Surly LHTs use 26 inch mtb wheels as standard specification on frame sizes 54cm and below. There is nothing wrong with touring on 26 inch wheels and many folks argue that there are advantages to touring with 26 inch wheels: 26 inch wheels and tires are available throughout the world; smaller rims are generally stronger than bigger rims; and you can easily tour off road if you want to. Depending on your tire widths and tread, speed differences, if any, are negligible and irrelevant. The 54cm and smaller, complete LHT's come with 26*1.5" tires. Imo, save your "700c wheel cash" for something else enjoyable on the trip.

If you run in to any rack fitting challenges, you should be able to find some that will work at Old Man Mountain: http://www.oldmanmountain.com/index.html

Last edited by Skewer; 04-25-08 at 02:26 PM.
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Old 04-25-08, 12:54 PM   #9
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Assuming you haven't picked the bike yet, go for something hardnose/hardtail. For pavement riding, suspension isn't worth the weight. Conversion is simple: street tyres, mudguards, clipped pedals, racks as desired, change the handlebars as you feel necessary. I'm still riding the flat bars on mine and they're OK, but I'm toying with going to something else to have multiple grip points.

I PM'd you with a pic to give you some ideas on this project.
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Old 04-25-08, 02:09 PM   #10
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FWIW, on a hardnose/hardtail bike, I'd consider a sprung seat and north roads style handlebars. YMMV.
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Old 04-25-08, 02:34 PM   #11
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Yeah nothing wrong with 26" wheels or a MTB frame. Rolling resistance difference vs 700c is probalbly hard to actually feel.

Apart from the brake issue (there actually adaptors to do that: some sort of bridge with extra bosses that bolts to the frame bosses), by switching wheel size you will likely change the front end geometry by effectively decreasing the head tube angle. By how much and if it's significant I don't know.
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Old 04-25-08, 03:57 PM   #12
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Since speed is not the point of touring I would put 2 inch low rolling resistance type 26 inch tires on the bike. This allows you to run 10-20 psi lower air pressure and have a more comfortable ride. Also, the wider tires handle better if you get in an off road situation.

I would be inclined to go with something like the Maxxis Hookworm 26 inch tire. ALthough it is 2.5 inches wide. It is semi slick and has a thick tread covering most of the tire which resists punctures better than most small knobby tires do.
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Old 04-26-08, 02:22 AM   #13
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switching wheel size you will likely change the front end geometry by effectively decreasing the head tube angle. By how much and if it's significant I don't know.


Switch wheels will raise the b.b height but it will not alter the head tube angle unless you only replace one wheel.
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