I've decided I want to try off road touring in a big way this year; and I want to use a 1984 Specialized Stumpjumper frame. I didn't know exactly where to put this thread since I'm using a Classic & Vintage Mountain Bike for Touring and will be making a number of Mechanical changes, but hopefully there's enough crossover that I can get some help. I would like to not only get advice but have a thread that others can refer to if they go the same route I plan to. I realize it would be easier in many respects to use a slightly more modern bike, but that's not the point. (Also please don't tell me not to butcher the frame, I have two 1984 Stumpjumper Sport frames that are not in collectible condition. I will be doing them a favor getting them outside doing what they were intended to do!)
What I want out of this bike is:
Bombproof reliability: It will be outside on the trail for days, weeks, or even months at a time, often far away from a bike shop. I don't want to be stranded several day's hike from civilization. Needs to be able to be left in the elements at times. Components have to work when I need them too.
Tough: Has to be able to carry a load; I'll be pulling a loaded or maybe even at times overloaded BOB Ibex trailer, and sometimes will be using front and rear panniers at the same time.
Fixable: If I do have a breakdown it would be nice to be able to get my parts in stock at a bike shop at the nearest town. (This is hopefully not as important as reliability, because the goal is it simply won't break down on the trail, and I can fix it when I get back home.)
Budget: Not cheap-o, but I'm not going to use boutique parts even if they are bombproof (like King headsets, Phil Wood BB etc.) If this bike gets stolen because I left it under a shrub when I went hiking, I'd like to be able to afford to replace it within a reasonable amount of time!
So what suggestions do you have for components? Right now the only things I know are I'd like to use the original Suntour Power thumb shifters. I don't have the bullmoose bars so I can use any stem / bar combo. Obviously I'm going to want it geared low for pulling weight up hills.
My biggest quandary right now is the rear wheel. It needs to be tough, and this frame presents an additional challenge in that it has super narrow 120mm rear spacing. For durability under a heavy load I want to ditch the freewheel for a cassette freehub. This necessitates respacing, but how much should I go? I could go 126 and use a vintage road freehub, but my guess is they aren't built quite as beefy or sealed as well as a mountain hub, which would be wider than 126 right?
I could go up to 135 for ultimate fixability using modern parts, but then I feel I might be jeopardizing the reliability thing, because with that much change in spacing I think I would have a risk of ruining the frame. If I get it spread without popping off the brake / chainstay bridges, I wonder if there is still an increased chance they could pop off under load out on the trail months or years later?
And what about the opposite possibility, leaving it stock? I'm assuming the rear axle would eventually bend or break, and that the unsealed bottom bracket could get really grindy if I leave it out in the elements for long periods of time. I don't think I want to do this but just thought I'd throw that out there for the retrogrouches.
Thanks to anyone that has read this far and can offer informed advice. I know it's a sin to put up so much text without a picture, so here's a link I found of someone else upgrading a Stumpjumper, though for different purposes and not much info yet:
(For people that come across this thread in the future the above is a blog post, so you may need to search the blog for Stumpjumper after it gets buried)