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  1. #1
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    Thoughts on my Bridgestone MB-2 conversion plans?

    I recently picked up a 1985 Bridgestone Mb-2 on craigslist for the low, low price of $110. I immediately put on a honey brown Brooks B-17 to compliment the blue and I've been fallen in love with the bike. My plan is to essentially update the bike with a modern drive-train and tour with it for a year or two at which point I'm going to purchase a Surly Long Haul Trucker frame to transfer the parts onto while the Bridgestone will be relegated to single-speed MTB duty (bless those horizontal dropouts). The lugged 4130 should be sturdy enough for loaded touring while I get a handle on the sport of it.

    My rough sketch for drive-train updates are as follows (items needing help in bold):

    Rear/Front Derailleur: Shimano Deore XT
    Shifters: Shimano Dura-Ace 9 Speed bar end
    Brakes: Shimano Deore V-Brakes
    Brake levers: Tektro Road V brake levers (the ones from Rivendell)
    Crankset: Original Sakae SA or replacement? If so, recommendation?
    Cassette: 9 speed something-or-other with wide range of gears
    Stem: Nitto Dirt-Drop
    Handlebars: "Commuter" drops donated from friend
    Wheels: Shimano XT hubs + Velocity Cliffhanger/Aeroheat (leaning towards Cliffhanger but uncertain)
    Tires: Schwalbe Marathon

    One of my small concerns is that the rear spacing is 130mm and most modern MTB hubs seem to be spaced to 135mm. As someone who started his cycling career doing botched fixed-gear conversions (I've since changed my ways) I'm under the impression that anything can be crammed into steel dropouts...but I'd rather not screw around too much if I'll be doing loaded touring.

    Any opinions or thoughts on this little experiment? Is there anything I should beware of when collecting parts? Compatibility problems/etc?

    Any help or advice is greatly appreciated!

    Isaak
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  2. #2
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    Your new bike is fine. Stop "experimenting" and start riding.

  3. #3
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    Hi restwhenyoudie,
    Congrats on the MB-2, what a great bike! I'm all for restoring/converting old mtb's into tourers. I have a 1989 Trek 950 lugged steel beauty (below) that has been upgraded almost exactly to your specs: modern XT drivetrain and hubs, Brooks, Nitto drop bars and stem, Velocity rims, racks, fenders, etc. (no it's not for sale). You may like your MB-2 so much that "upgrading" to an LHT won't even cross your mind

    As far as the rear spacing, why not consider cold-setting the rear triangle per Sheldon's article here? I had to do this on an old Trek tandem I bought because the PO had reset the spacing to 140mm from the standard 145mm. It really wasn't a big deal - all you need is a 2x4. Go slow and make small adjustments. Good luck on your project
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Nigeyy's Avatar
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    First, I think if you've found a bike you love, go for it.

    Second, my only word of warning is to try to price this project up -from soup to nuts, cables, bar wrap, etc, -right now. Figure out how much you are going to spend realistically to get it where you want it to be. You might be surprized how much it will cost (probably as much if not more than a prebuilt LHT) and it will open your eyes -but if you have the money and your heart is in the MB2, go for it!

    Concerning components, you might also consider going with LX over XT -a bit cheaper but in my experience just as good from a longevity point of view, if not better. For a crank, I'm coming to the realization that a good quality mtb crank is more than adequate for me (e.g. 90 cadence with a 42/44t front chain ring, 14t rear cog and with 26" wheelset will give me ~23mph), as well as giving me that extra low gearing (don't need higher gearing as I like to coast down hills when fully loaded!). If you're going to be using this bike unloaded, perhaps slightly higher gearing might be better, but that's more a personal choice. Anyway, there are quite a few nice mtb cranks out there.

  5. #5
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    @Takara- I agree, the bike is fine! I'm currently using it as my commuter and I love the ride, but I don't think it'll be up to the stresses of fully loaded touring. Don't try and take away my fun experimenting

    @Pexio- BEAUTIFUL build- you've got exactly what I'm looking towards building. I will re-set the rear triangle if necessary but I'd prefer to just 'cram' if it'll work on it's own. It's definitely an option though.

    @Nigeyy- Budget isn't a huge concern right now, I mostly just get a thrill out of restoration and experimentation- the Surly is just an eventual goal for when I want to do more long term adventures.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by restwhenyoudie View Post
    @Takara- I agree, the bike is fine! I'm currently using it as my commuter and I love the ride, but I don't think it'll be up to the stresses of fully loaded touring. Don't try and take away my fun experimenting

    @Pexio- BEAUTIFUL build- you've got exactly what I'm looking towards building. I will re-set the rear triangle if necessary but I'd prefer to just 'cram' if it'll work on it's own. It's definitely an option though.

    @Nigeyy- Budget isn't a huge concern right now, I mostly just get a thrill out of restoration and experimentation- the Surly is just an eventual goal for when I want to do more long term adventures.
    I think where budget becomes an issue is that it's easy to in your upgrades spend almost if not the price of an LHT, don't forget bike manufacturers pay a lot less when buying components in quantity then you do buying them individually. What you may want to do is look for components on the experienced market, that may give you a better deal.

  7. #7
    Senior Member LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    With the number of changes you've in mind, I'd suggest getting a bare frame or another donor bike with the dropout width you want and keeping this one as-is for sunny day rides around the neighborhood.

    1985 MB2 frames were not light nor particularly nice handling, IMO. My Mom has a 1991 MB-3 that is much nicer.

    Too bad yours didn't have the original gold rims.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Olde Western Auto Cruiser.

  8. #8
    hateful little monkey jim-bob's Avatar
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    An '85 MB-2 is going to be a slow, slack, heavy bike, and it probably still won't feel right when you load it down. I'd probably look at a different frame before I started pouring money into it.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by restwhenyoudie View Post
    I recently picked up a 1985 Bridgestone Mb-2 on craigslist for the low, low price of $110. I immediately put on a honey brown Brooks B-17 to compliment the blue and I've been fallen in love with the bike. My plan is to essentially update the bike with a modern drive-train and tour with it for a year or two at which point I'm going to purchase a Surly Long Haul Trucker frame to transfer the parts onto while the Bridgestone will be relegated to single-speed MTB duty (bless those horizontal dropouts). The lugged 4130 should be sturdy enough for loaded touring while I get a handle on the sport of it.

    My rough sketch for drive-train updates are as follows (items needing help in bold):

    Rear/Front Derailleur: Shimano Deore XT
    Shifters: Shimano Dura-Ace 9 Speed bar end
    Brakes: Shimano Deore V-Brakes
    Brake levers: Tektro Road V brake levers (the ones from Rivendell)
    Crankset: Original Sakae SA or replacement? If so, recommendation?
    Cassette: 9 speed something-or-other with wide range of gears
    Stem: Nitto Dirt-Drop
    Handlebars: "Commuter" drops donated from friend
    Wheels: Shimano XT hubs + Velocity Cliffhanger/Aeroheat (leaning towards Cliffhanger but uncertain)
    Tires: Schwalbe Marathon

    One of my small concerns is that the rear spacing is 130mm and most modern MTB hubs seem to be spaced to 135mm. As someone who started his cycling career doing botched fixed-gear conversions (I've since changed my ways) I'm under the impression that anything can be crammed into steel dropouts...but I'd rather not screw around too much if I'll be doing loaded touring.

    Any opinions or thoughts on this little experiment? Is there anything I should beware of when collecting parts? Compatibility problems/etc?

    Any help or advice is greatly appreciated!

    Isaak
    A few thoughts:

    Any modern derailleur will shift better than the old style pre-SIS derailleurs, XT derailleurs would certainly be nice and light. Friction shifters and an 8 speed cassette might be cheaper and more dependable, though. If you're putting drop bars on the bike, a set of bar end shifters like the Rivendell Silver shifters might be nice. My winter commuter is an MB-3 frame (1993) with Nitto Moustache bars, Silver shifters, XT derailleurs and an 8 speed cassette. My tourer also has silver shifters and an 8 speed cassette. 8 speed cassettes are still pretty easy to find, and you can just switch to 9 speed cassettes if you can't find an 8 speed.

    What's wrong with the old crankset? If the chainrings are worn, replace them, but otherwise run the crankset until it breaks. If the bike is so heavily used that you think the crank arms are cracked and might break that's one thing, but otherwise I would keep the crankset. A modern cartridge bottom bracket might be nice, though, it would certainly require less maintenance.

    Cliffhanger rims are strong, but they weigh a ton. The Velo-plugs that Velocity offers will save weight over conventional rim tape without compromising dependability. Which Schwalbe marathons are you getting? Like the Cliffhangers, Marathons are not known for being light. The XR HS 359 in a 26 x 1.6 would handle lots of road surfaces and offer good puncture resistance and durability without being quite as heavy as some of the other Schwalbes. The Marathon Supreme in a 26 x 1.6 with kevlar bead is even lighter but is really more for paved roads. Neither tire is cheap, though. The Marathon Cross in a 26 x 1.75 is a great tire for dirt roads and pavement and is very sturdy, but it weighs a ton.

    Whether you like how the bike handles is your call. I rode a 1985 MB-1 90 miles from Wonder Lake to the entrance of Denali National Park and had a blast, but that was in 1987 and maybe I just didn't know any better.

  10. #10
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    I bought an MB-2 in 1992 mainly for touring in places which would include riding on a fair number of unpaved roads. Other than changing the handlebars and tires, I left it alone. It worked out perfectly, and continues to be a great bike (which a friend has been riding for a few years now). I toured on it in Costa Rica, Chile, Argentina, Fiji, & New Zealand. I don't know how a 1985 differed from a 1992 MB-2, but my MB-2 certainly was and remains great for loaded touring.

  11. #11
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    I appreciate everyone's suggestions and I'll definitely be implementing a few of them. As for the concerns of some about this bike's capabilities- I'm a novice tourer without much time, this bike will mostly be carrying me through ~200-400 mile round trips, usually stopping in towns with friends to relax for a few days so heavy loads of camping equipment are not going to be too necessary. I'm a student with little spare time to speak of, but after graduating is when I'm ready to get more serious and make the jump to the Surly. Say what you will about the heaviness and the handling but I feel like more modern components (the elimination of those bullmoose bars for one) will make for a fine machine.

  12. #12
    Senior Member LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    The money you plan to spend, according to the list of replacement parts in your first post, could easily purchase a MUCH BETTER RIDING machine that's ready to roll. The best project you can do with this bike, IMO is to make use of its most important features. In this case historical value is the #1 feature this bike has going for it as far as I can tell. The bullmoose handlebars are one of the most obvious cues to the historical value of the bike and should be left with it, I think.

    I spent about a year and a half on a 1985 MB-2. I loved the bike, but never would consider doing a double century on it, even with dirt drops and DA barcons.
    I'd rather go with something like this for $610. Get a rack and a big trunk bag, maybe handlebar bag and roll out! get some barcons, if you want.
    Or maybe one of the steel BD offerings.

    Either one is likely cheaper and better than the MB2 + parts list.
    Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 10-07-09 at 11:33 AM.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Olde Western Auto Cruiser.

  13. #13
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    Will you marry me? Your bike is HOT!!!

  14. #14
    urban biker
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    As Takara suggested, what you have is fine & you're over-thinking things...just ride!

  15. #15
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Can I have the brakes, shifters and crank? That's good stuff.

    I completely understand the lure of converting such a bike. Been there, done that and thoroughly enjoyed the process. But as others have said, you'll spend a ton of money and end up with a bike less capable than what you could buy for less.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  16. #16
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    my $.02 is to go for the basic conversion for the bars, add new 1.5"-1.75" street tires and don't touch the drive train or wheels unless it doesn't work. For lightly loaded touring the regular Schwalbes are kinda heavy and slow, for your money you can find nicer basic tires, sure if money is no object spend $150 on a pair of Marathon Supremes but you could do just as well with some Panaracers for almost half the price.

    The reason for not going whole hog on the conversion for new parts, especially high end parts on everything is your statement that you're new to touring and are thinking of getting a LHT down the line. Your ability to go from point A to point B with a brand new $300 drive train or the old one will be no different and you may discover you like the bike and don't want to cannibalize it for a new frame.

  17. #17
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    I decided a little while ago to just keep the Bridgestone as is and use it as a commuter (I can see it lasting another few decades fulfilling this purpose) and to just purchase a Long Haul Trucker frame and build it up. The Bridgestone is too pretty too change, such a fantastic ride.

    Thanks for everyone's help and comments!

  18. #18
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    Put the MB2 back on CL for $120.

    Find a Complete LHT on sale.

    Well, I just read the OPs last post. Great idea!

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