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  1. #1
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    How to Upgrade Vintage Stumpjumper Mountain Bike to Expedition Off Road Touring Rig

    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:

    http://www.renaissancebicycles.com/category/shop-talk/

    (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)

  2. #2
    BikeForums Founder Joe_Gardner's Avatar
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    I'm betting a local competent bike shop could spread the frame to fit a modern 26" mtn bike hub. I would not worry about stuff happening 2 - 3 years down the road, get your bike built up now, you seem to have a good idea of what to do, and then ride it.

    I toured the top half of the GDT on a superlite w/ a bob ibex. The trailer held up, but the bob QR's bend easily, pack an extra. I'm glad I had a fully suspended bike, but that obviously adds extra issues should something break when away from town. Luckly, nothing did or has. There were road days where suspension sucked and I really wished I had a hard tail or no susspension at all. But any time I jumped back on a trail, I was happy for it. Good luck!

  3. #3
    Wrench Savant balindamood's Avatar
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    I have a couple of thoughts, having built a two similar bicycles, but they can be summed up in a single phrase:

    -Leave it stock

    Though it has a traditional freewheel, they are relatively servicable at 120mm. The solid, nutted axles help, and your wheels are less likely to disappear. The drivetrain is simple, can work for locomotion even if the changing mechanisms fail, and can be replaced with almost anything. Get a decent seat, decent tires, and forget it. Change the pedals if you want (platform or traditional toe-clips) and fenders if you choose. The non-sealed bearings are completely servicable anywhere, and parts can be replaced relatively easily. With sealed bearings, field repair is difficult.

    Spend the time BEFORE you leave to ensure that your wheels (rims/spokes) in particular are in good shape. This is one of the more common failures due to in adequate or uneven spoke tension. Odviously, cleaning adjusting, and re-packing other bearings is a good idea.
    "Where you come from is gone;
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by balindamood View Post
    I have a couple of thoughts, having built a two similar bicycles, but they can be summed up in a single phrase:

    -Leave it stock

    Though it has a traditional freewheel, they are relatively servicable at 120mm. The solid, nutted axles help, and your wheels are less likely to disappear. The drivetrain is simple, can work for locomotion even if the changing mechanisms fail, and can be replaced with almost anything. Get a decent seat, decent tires, and forget it. Change the pedals if you want (platform or traditional toe-clips) and fenders if you choose. The non-sealed bearings are completely servicable anywhere, and parts can be replaced relatively easily. With sealed bearings, field repair is difficult.

    Spend the time BEFORE you leave to ensure that your wheels (rims/spokes) in particular are in good shape. This is one of the more common failures due to in adequate or uneven spoke tension. Odviously, cleaning adjusting, and re-packing other bearings is a good idea.
    This is exactly right (IMHO)

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe_Gardner View Post
    I'm betting a local competent bike shop could spread the frame to fit a modern 26" mtn bike hub. I would not worry about stuff happening 2 - 3 years down the road, get your bike built up now, you seem to have a good idea of what to do, and then ride it.

    I toured the top half of the GDT on a superlite w/ a bob ibex. The trailer held up, but the bob QR's bend easily, pack an extra. I'm glad I had a fully suspended bike, but that obviously adds extra issues should something break when away from town. Luckly, nothing did or has. There were road days where suspension sucked and I really wished I had a hard tail or no susspension at all. But any time I jumped back on a trail, I was happy for it. Good luck!
    Hi Joe thanks for the tips. Got any hints for packing the trailer and how it affects handling, or does it not matter too much? I checked out your site, in the pic of you in the plus 50 jersey on the fixie, are those Stratos 200 bars? How do you like them? Thanks again...

    Quote Originally Posted by balindamood View Post
    I have a couple of thoughts, having built a two similar bicycles, but they can be summed up in a single phrase:

    -Leave it stock
    Interesting, this would certainly save me some time and money. So you're saying because the hub/axle is 120mm, and solid instead of hollow, it's much less prone to bending than other freewheel systems? (I didn't realize till just now I can use BOB Nutz to hook the trailer to a nutted axle).

    So as far as the sealed cartridge vs. open bearing system comparison, this is what I'm getting: Sealed are good for no hassle use, but when they go out there isn't much that can be done. Unsealed will need routine maintenance, but they really can't totally fail out in the middle of nowhere as long as you have the tools to remove, clean, repack? Is that right?
    Thanks again...

  6. #6
    Wrench Savant balindamood's Avatar
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    So you're saying because the hub/axle is 120mm, and solid instead of hollow, it's much less prone to bending than other freewheel systems?
    Yes. Please do not assume this will make the axles bomb-proof. In fact, the "hole" in a quick release axle is in the exact location which does not provide alot of bending resistance, but a solid axle will be a bit better to resist bending. Add the shorter spand dimension (120mm) and it is a time-proven system, and I would argue that it is probably as strong (or at least close enough) as a 135mm 9-speed quick release found on new bikes today.

    So as far as the sealed cartridge vs. open bearing system comparison, this is what I'm getting: Sealed are good for no hassle use, but when they go out there isn't much that can be done. Unsealed will need routine maintenance, but they really can't totally fail out in the middle of nowhere as long as you have the tools to remove, clean, repack? Is that right?
    Exactly. The tools amount to two flat cone wrenches...probably 6-oz total, paper towels or rag you don't care about, and some grease. Taking a couple of spare ball bearings with you ( I usually manage to loose one or two even in my garage when re-packing) may not be a bad idea, but you can get those most anywhere as well.
    "Where you come from is gone;
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  7. #7
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    a bit late, but I hope this helps

    I have been slowly turning at 1993 Stumpy into a CC machine. Converting to a free hub was not an issue for me. I'm not sure if mine was wider than yours to begin with, but I even got a 10-speed to fit in there.

    By now you must have completed this project. How did it go?

  8. #8
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    I have upgraded most of my old bikes. Both road and mtn got upgraded to 135mm rear. No problem having steel frames opened up. Most now have freehubs and cassette. I am happy with 9 SPD.

  9. #9
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Trekking bars work for me.. touring...


    My old Stumpie is my Icy road winter bike drum brakes, studded tires.
    built up from bits and pieces .. all I had was a frame needing a Dropout replaced..

  10. #10
    Senior Member Medic Zero's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CalmLikeBomb View Post
    a bit late, but I hope this helps

    I have been slowly turning at 1993 Stumpy into a CC machine. Converting to a free hub was not an issue for me. I'm not sure if mine was wider than yours to begin with, but I even got a 10-speed to fit in there.

    By now you must have completed this project. How did it go?

    Considering that the original poster hasn't posted here in over three years, I doubt you're going to get a response from them...


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