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  1. #1
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    mountain bike for touring?

    Rather than buy a Long Haul Trucker with racks and bags for touring, as I've been planning, I'm considering using my Specialized Rockhopper instead. The plan: another set of wheels with more road-worthy tires, fenders, and one of those single-wheel trailers. May also change rings from 42/32/22 (more or less) to 48/??/??.
    I may save money over the LHT, the Rockhopper would be more at home on trails and towpaths, and the trailer would be useful for commuting (can't see hauling a 50lb bag of critter feed home on an LHT). BTW, I live down 5 miles of farm road, and it's 8 miles to town.
    Potential problems not resolved: I'd prefer drop bars (what would fit?) and what shifters/brake levers would work with drop bars? I'd also prefer friction shifters over indexed, if that's possible.
    Anything else I should be considering?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Nigeyy's Avatar
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    The problem with road style handlebars is that you'll have to then invest in a new shifting system -be it bar end shifters or STI/Ergos. This will not be cheap! Instead, you might want to consider some trekking bars -this would allow you to keep your current shifters -the only thing you might need is a new stem and cables. I used trekking bars on my last tour and loved them -however, it's all horses for courses and what suits you. But for ~$50 (Nashbar specials and a new stem) and new cables (that you can still use if you choose not to keep the trekking bars) I'd say they are well worth giving them a shot instead of committing to new shifters.

    Concerning the gearing, personally I'd stick with the same, unless you really know you'll be using a chainring bigger than 42 teeth -I think it would still give you around 22mph at 90rpm with a 13 teeth rear cassette cog. Now granted if you want to cycle down hills you'd want higher gearing, but fully loaded I'm happy just to glide down anyway. It's really up to you, but I'd recommend you use a gear ratio calculator to look long and hard at what your current gearing gives you versus how you really think you'll be using your gears. Everyone is different of course. Keep in mind most people will not come close to averaging 15mph touring fully loading in even very moderate terrain.

  3. #3
    Senior Member littlefoot's Avatar
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    How old is your rockhopper? Going with drops shouldn't be too hard, if your bike uses v-brake you may have limited options for brake levers, canti brakes there are more options for,I personally like barcon shifters(barends) which can run index or friction. I run a weird nitto bar that is no longer made the on-one midge bar might be the closest thing to it. I like the wide sweep at the bottom of bars like this.

    As was said you may want to stick with your present gearing and maybe tweak it a little bit overtime.
    My Bike has so much nailpolish on it for touch-up paint I named it Emo

  4. #4
    weirdo
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    If you`re going to pull a trailer, your Rockhopper will probably do just fine as is. So far, my limited touring experience has been on my mountain bike- two weekend trips pulling a trailer with the bike itself set up just like I ride it on the single track and a four day trip with the addition of a front rack. I agree with Nigevy about the gearing. At least try it with your mtb gears and see if you ever find yourself wanting more. I have only a 22 and a 32 up front and I probably find myself wishing for my big ring about ten minutes out of every ten hours. I took it off long before I considered touring and I like it much better. How fast do you really want to pull a trailer, anyway? SInce the trailer carries most of the additional weight, your wheels should probably be enough unless you already have problems.

    That said, I`m just starting to "roadiefy" my Uncle`s old Schwinn mtb for a dedicated touring bike. Shifters aren`t all that expensive. I just ordered a pair of Ultegra 8s barends for under $60:
    http://www.jensonusa.com/store/produ...+Shifters.aspx
    While I was at it, I ordered a Deore RD for about $30 (the one already on that bike looks pretty short- don`t think it`ll handle my 11-32 cassette). Brake levers run about $25 if you buy them brand new (for standard cantis, a bit more for V-brakes). Racks and panniers can get expensive, but you`d still need them if you bought a whole bike. Give some thought to those trekking bars mentioned if you want to avoid buying shifters and brake levers.

    EDIT: For what it`s worth, all indexed Shimano barend and downtube shifters can be instantly run in friction mode just by turning a little wire bail with your fingers. Somebody please correct me if there are a few models out there that don`t work that way.
    Last edited by rodar y rodar; 11-25-08 at 11:29 PM.

  5. #5
    weirdo
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    Oh yeah- a fifty pound bag of critter food should work on a LHT also as long as you have a good way to tie it down.

    Compatbility: For "normal" drop bars or "Midge-type" bars, the most common options are either STI (or other companies` comparable offerings) or barends plus brake only levers. Either option is very straight up. For Trekking bars, you have the same shifter and brake options you have for flat bars. If you buy new bars, you need to check the stem clamp diameter. Very likely you`ll need a shorter stem anyway.

  6. #6
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    I just finished a project like this, and posted the results on the 50+ forum. This is an old Stumpjumper, which will be my foul-weather commuter this summer and potential tourer/fire road camping bike next summer.

    I went w/Trekking bars, because it was so cheap (got $18 bars from Nashbar plus a $15 stem)...I figure that I can always switch to drops somewhere in the future (which requires new handlebars, bar end shifters, cables, brake handles.). I am liking the Trekking bars more than I thought I would...but if it were my main bike I'd likely change them to drops.





    Here is the story of the conversion plus photos from the 50+ forum.
    It's finished: restored '88 Stumpjumper now a fall/winter Urban Assault Vehicle
    Last edited by BengeBoy; 11-26-08 at 10:46 AM.

  7. #7
    Biking to the Pits IntoThickAir's Avatar
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    I admit that I've never tried trekking bars, but I've converted a 'hybird' bike with flat bars to touring drops and bar-end shifters. I thought it worth the money, since I already liked the bike's geometry, and it felt much the same afterwards. As for the gearing, I agree with the other posts: keep the current set-up. You may be hoping for more speed when you head downhill with that sack of chicken scratch, but it's better to keep it under thirty miles per hour with 50 pounds on your trailer.

    Unless you want a thrill.

    Yours,

  8. #8
    Senior Member Nigeyy's Avatar
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    Littlefoot makes some good points -if your Rockhopper has V's, brake lever choices on a road handlebar are going to be less and probably more expensive. I think this is another good reason to try the trekking bars first unless you know 100% you do want road bars and know what kind of brake/lever setup you want.

    Quote Originally Posted by littlefoot View Post
    How old is your rockhopper? Going with drops shouldn't be too hard, if your bike uses v-brake you may have limited options for brake levers, canti brakes there are more options for

  9. #9
    Senior Member Nigeyy's Avatar
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    Oooh that's one nice conversion there BengeBoy, very very nice indeed. I got a Specialized Hard Rock frame from a junkyard for $4, and it has been built up (also with trekking bars, regular brake mounts though) as my secondary tourer. The only problem is that I loathe the colour -sort of a putrid blue/green/torquoise and have often thought of getting it repainted.

    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    Here is the story of the conversion plus photos from the 50+ forum.
    It's finished: restored '88 Stumpjumper now a fall/winter Urban Assault Vehicle

  10. #10
    Tinkerer since 1980 TheBrick's Avatar
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    These bar end are expensive but worth considering as you can keep all you existing shifters e.t.c so save moeny in that respect.
    http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/product-O...lack-18606.htm
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  11. #11
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I've toured on a mountain bike (an old, rigid Stumpjumper) with straight bars and bar-ends, on a touring bike pulling a Bob, and on a touring bike with front and back panniers. I prefer the latter. However, if I had a Rockhopper and limited money, I'd be fine with using it to pull the Bob. I'd leave the gears alone. Low gears are much more important than high when you're carrying a lot of weight on tour. Changing to drop handlebars is certainly possible, and I've seen people do it, but it involves a lot of added expense to change things over - maybe enough that you might be better off just buying a drop-bar touring bike.

    I've never used trekking bars, but they make sense and a lot of people praise them.

    You have options.

    P. S. My Stumpjumper and my Bob have now hooked up and they're my shopping rig. I'm going to the store today to get groceries for Thanksgiving. I should be able to fit everything on the Bob. I need a new 50-lb. bag of dog food though. I wonder if that would fit. Hmmmmmm

  12. #12
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hedgeapple View Post
    Rather than buy a Long Haul Trucker with racks and bags for touring, as I've been planning, I'm considering using my Specialized Rockhopper instead.


    Here is a Specialized Rockhopper turned touring bike that was low cost...
    safe riding - Vik
    VikApproved

  13. #13
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    I did this type of conversion last year with a 1987 Bianch Grizzly. It wasn't cheap by any stretch but it was more of a project and I had a lot of fun putting it together.

    Powdercoated the frame and everthing else was purchased new. Great riding bike. Quite a bit less than a LHT in cost.

    Demented internet tail wagging imbicile.

  14. #14
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    I'm assuming you have a fairly recent spesh, with a 1.125" steerer and v-brakes or discs, but with v-brake mounts?). Let's compare some options. (much of this has been said above, and by repeating it here, i'm effectively agreeing with what has been said.)

    New LHT complete is $1075 +/-

    Converting a specialized, no holds barred: (assuming new prices; less if you buy used)
    *shimano9 speed barcons: $100
    *drop brake levers $33 (any of the cheaper, shimano r400, cane creek, diacompe, tektro)
    *drop bars- let's budget $35, really, much of it depends on your stem and finding the proper clamp size. this is somewhere you might wanna buy used. If you need to replace the stem and the bar, you could still do it easily for under $50. if you have a 25.4mm stem, I can send you an old bar in silver, with ancient drop bar levers, compatible with cantis, for just shipping cost. for the sake of geometry, you may want to fiddle with your stem length/angle anyway
    *cantis (assuming you have v's or discs. if you already have canti's, no cost! just get new shoes.) $70/pair (shimano, cane creek, tektro, cheaper new ones go for $35/each)
    *tires $80 or so (marathon plus or similar.)
    *treat yourself to some new powder: $150 +/- (totally unneccessary, but fun.)
    *rigid fork (trust me. you might not need it, but you'll want it $70 or less, all sorts of steerers, on bikeman for kona p2 (great fork, but no lowrider bosses.)
    *you may want to buy the trailer, or you may want to buy racks/bags. but, the lht doesn't come with either anyway.
    ***total is way cheaper than lht complete

    hth
    -rob

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by surreal View Post
    total is way cheaper than lht complete
    My total - even with a very nice powdercoat job - was about half the price of a Surly LHT.

  16. #16
    weirdo
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    Quote Originally Posted by surreal View Post
    New LHT complete is $1075 +/-
    Converting a specialized, no holds barred: (assuming new prices; less if you buy used)....

    ***total is way cheaper than lht complete
    That "no holds barred" part is what makes the difference. I don`t think the OP was talking about that kind of build. Besides that, he`s end up with a COOLER ride! Nothing against LHTs, I`d love to have one. But they`re all the same. This thread, on the other hand, has some COOL stuff!

  17. #17
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    My Rockhopper (call it a Plophopper, I live on a farm - which reminds me, I'd want fenders, too) is an '06 with V-brakes and front suspension.
    About brakes - I love the v-brakes. This bike is my first experience with them, and they are one of the reasons I'm considering this. Rob, you seem to be suggesting cantis are better. I've no experience with cantis. Can you elaborate?
    About front suspension - I like the idea of simplicity. My bike's Rocks are fine on farm roads and I'd think they'd be okay with a Bob trailer tagging along, but truth is I'd feel better with regular forks for traveling. Is rigid truly preferable? Is bikeman a supplier? And the kona p2, a fork?
    Regarding gearing: I'd consider larger rings because I won't be towing all the time, and I'm assuming the more streetable tires I'd be running would be smaller in profile and rolling diameter than the 26x2" lugged mountain bike tires I'm currently running, and that they'd take more air pressure and have less rolling resistance. Even so, I hear what everyone is saying and it makes sense.
    I'm not familiar with trekking bars. Is that what you call the butterfly/BMW-kidney-grill-shaped bars that are shown in some the photos here? Lots of hand positions available with those, and my stock shifters and brake levers ought to work with them.
    Lots of good input here folks, and thanx a bunch for it! I'm pretty green, I just started riding again last March after a 22-year lapse. Just finished upgrading my old Raleigh GP (bought new in '72, added 700 wheels and Sora crank kit) and will ride it in RAGBRAI in '09. After that, I want something better suited for self-supported touring. That's where the Rockhopper comes in. I bought it in August '06 because I wanted to ride again and it suited our farm roads. Looks like I can use it for much more.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by hedgeapple View Post
    I'm not familiar with trekking bars. Is that what you call the butterfly/BMW-kidney-grill-shaped bars that are shown in some the photos here? Lots of hand positions available with those, and my stock shifters and brake levers ought to work with them.
    Yes, trekking bars are what you call some of the bars pictured above.

    Two sources:
    - BikeNashbar, $17.95 (I think)
    - Harris Cyclery

    The Harris site has a good article about them as well:

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/deakins/handlebars.html


    A mountain bike with smooth tires would be perfect for cruising the backroads of Harvey County...

  19. #19
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hedgeapple View Post
    Regarding gearing: I'd consider larger rings because I won't be towing all the time, and I'm assuming the more streetable tires I'd be running would be smaller in profile and rolling diameter than the 26x2" lugged mountain bike tires I'm currently running, and that they'd take more air pressure and have less rolling resistance. Even so, I hear what everyone is saying and it makes sense.
    I used to use a mountain bike for touring. It worked quite nicely and it gave me the flexibility to ride on anything from smooth pavement to railway beds and logging roads. If you're planning any touring that will take you off the main highways, the Rockhopper will suit your purposes.

    I just looked up the specs for the 2007 Rockhopper. If yours is the same, with 11-32 in the rear cluster, you should be able to get away with something like 48/36/24 in the front. That would give you something good for road riding while keeping a decent low end for climbing. While you want larger rings, make sure you have low gears for wind or hills.

    You can get narrower tires that will still fit your rims. They'll make a huge difference and you won't lose out on the farm roads. Also, when you're looking for tires, try to find something with a smoother tread rather than rough knobbies. The smoother tire will make your life a lot easier. If you're planning to do a lot of your touring on rough roads, get a smoother tire in the back and put a more aggressive tread in front.
    Last edited by Newspaperguy; 11-27-08 at 01:30 AM.
    Life is good.

  20. #20
    Senior Member sunburst's Avatar
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    I've got an old purple rigid Rockhopper that I always thought would work fine for touring, especially if I converted it to Midge bars with barcons like my touring bike. Just adding $10-15 barends helps with the hand positions. The gearing is already good. I switched to Kenda 26x1.5 semi-slicks, which really improved the street ride and efficiency.

  21. #21
    Senior Cyclist forresterace's Avatar
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    I think what a lot of people are missing here is that in converting a mountain bike to a touring bike it is best to start with an older bike (80's or early 90's) that is steel framed and no suspension. This era frame should have lugs for mounting fenders and racks. The Rockhopper is just one example. The Specialized Stumpjumper or many other makes of the same vintage would work as well.

    I just picked up an early 90's steel Rockhopper for $30, for just such a long termed project. The owner wants to keep the pretty orange drive train (?) which is fine. All I really want is the frame & fork.

    Doug
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    Last edited by forresterace; 11-27-08 at 07:07 AM. Reason: typo

  22. #22
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by forresterace View Post
    I think what a lot of people are missing here is that in converting a mountain bike to a touring bike it is best to start with an older bike (80's or early 90's) that is steel framed and no suspension. This era frame should have lugs for mounting fenders and racks. The Rockhopper is just one example. The Specialized Stumpjumper or many other makes of the same vintage would work as well.
    +1

    This is a great point.

    Some other bikes to look at like this were the Trek 900 series....when I was searching for my bike there also were bikes I saw from Gary Fisher, Nishiki (the Colorado); Fuji; Univega, and of course Bridgestone that would have worked.

    For the most part they are cheaper than good "touring" bikes of the same era. Try Craigslist or just go into eBay, which allows you to search by frame material.

  23. #23
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    I've read books by people who've gone round the world on a bog-standard rockhopper. Fully-loaded with panniers. Standard gearing. So yes it's do-able, and my advice would be to keep things simple and not think you have spend a fortune rebuilding the thing, buying trailers yadda yadda.

    So far as brakes and drops are concerned, the simplest solution (if you decide to go for drops) is to go with brakes designed for use with Vs (I've got Dia-Compe 287Vs but I think the name has changed).

    So far as shifters are concerned, you need to get Shimano bar end shifters (and use them in friction mode - easier than it sounds). You can either stick them in the bar end, or set them up as thumbies. I don't know where SJS get their thumbies from, but they look very much like the thumbies from Paul Components so (assuming you are in the US) you can get them without having to have stuff shipped from the UK. They do them in 26mm so compatible with drop bars as well. I use them and they are very good.

  24. #24
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    I've got an old purple rigid Rockhopper that I always thought would work fine for touring, especially if I converted it to Midge bars with barcons like my touring bike.

    More new stuff for me: what are Midge bars and barcons?

  25. #25
    Tinkerer since 1980 TheBrick's Avatar
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    Travelling without inertia

    London's single speed and fixed gear forum

    http://www.londonfgss.com/

    Lets make this happen.

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