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  1. #1
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    Converting a utility bike to loaded touring

    About 15 years ago I bought a Trek 520 touring frame and built it up to use as a utility bike (fenders, light, rack), at the time I didn't plan on ever doing any loaded touring so I did not put a triple on it. Now I'm thinking I'd like to do some loaded touring so I'm looking for advice on exactly what I need to order. I'd like mid-range quality, 105 or the equivalent and I do prefer the sti style shifters. Here's the catch--It'll probably just be used only a little for loaded touring and a lot for unloaded daily stuff so when I'm not loaded up I'd like to just be able to switch a cassette or a small chain-ring to get back to higher gearing. Also, I prefer to go with panniers instead of a trailer.
    BTW it's a clamp-on front derailleur.
    It'd be very helpful if I could get the below information:

    Front and Rear derailleurs
    Make, model, length of a BB
    Opinions on preferred sti style shifters.
    Gearing suggestions
    Any other information that you might suggest that would be helpful.

    I appreciate any information that you might be able to provide.
    Bob

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheels78 View Post
    About 15 years ago I bought a Trek 520 touring frame and built it up to use as a utility bike (fenders, light, rack), at the time I didn't plan on ever doing any loaded touring so I did not put a triple on it. Now I'm thinking I'd like to do some loaded touring so I'm looking for advice on exactly what I need to order. I'd like mid-range quality, 105 or the equivalent and I do prefer the sti style shifters. Here's the catch--It'll probably just be used only a little for loaded touring and a lot for unloaded daily stuff so when I'm not loaded up I'd like to just be able to switch a cassette or a small chain-ring to get back to higher gearing. Also, I prefer to go with panniers instead of a trailer.
    BTW it's a clamp-on front derailleur.
    It'd be very helpful if I could get the below information:

    Front and Rear derailleurs
    Make, model, length of a BB
    Opinions on preferred sti style shifters.
    Gearing suggestions
    Any other information that you might suggest that would be helpful.

    I appreciate any information that you might be able to provide.
    Bob

    Greetings and welcome to the forum

    While I can't give you any specifics, and while you're waiting for answers ....... if you search through the touring forum you'll find a wealth of info here as your question is common.

  3. #3
    Senior Member TrekFix's Avatar
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    You may be able to find the BB info here...not sure if this is what you were looking for but....

    http://www.vintage-trek.com/

  4. #4
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    tell us the parts you already have, since many might work well already.

    A sugino xd600 triple, a 113-115mm BB should sort out your front end woes, but Im not sure about your derailleurs and STI compatibility. If you would consider friction bar-end shifters you could likely retain both derailleurs.

  5. #5
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    Rear Der- The good thing about Shimano derailleurs is that the rear derailleurs all pull the same amount of cable (at least the modern ones), so they're all STI compatible. That being said, I find that the best bang for the buck is Deore LX for the rear der- it's a mountain bike derailleur capable of large gears (up to 32) and is 9-speed compatible with the long cage you'll need for a triple up front. But any higher der would be good too, like XT.

    Gearing- 9 speed rear. That way you can use mountain bike cassettes which have wider ranges. On my touring bike I have a 12-32 cassette with 28-46-52 cranks. 10-speed MTB cassettes are rare as hen's teeth. So, the choice of STI shifters reduces to Sora or Tiagra, or something used, since 105, Ultegra and DA are 10 speed groups nowadays. I'd choose Tiagra.

    Front Der- You're limited to road group, since the mountain group pulls a different amount of cable per shift. Any of the road triples are roughly equivalent in performance and longevity. I'd use Tiagra or Sora, since 10 grams of weight savings aren't worth 20-50 extra bucks to me.

    Second the XD600 suggestion for crank and BB.

    If your bike is 15 years old, you probably have a freewheel rather than a cassette, so you'll need a new rear wheel (at least a new rear hub) to bring it up to 9-speed compatibility. Also, measure the distance between your rear dropouts- I don't know what yours is, but it could be 126mm (old road standard), 130mm (current road standard) or 135mm (current mountain and touring standard). If it's not 135mm, it might be worth your while to have your frame cold-set to 135mm- I've done this to numerous bike without any problems, so I could run modern strong wheels on older frames. Again Deore LX hubs are strong, reliable and inexpensive. If your over-locknut distance is 126 mm, a 130 can be wedged in, so the cold-setting isn't absolutely necessary. 135mm hubs will allow a stronger wheel and are highly recommended for touring but a pretty strong wheel can be built on 130mm road hubs.
    Last edited by cycle_maven; 05-14-10 at 10:14 AM.

  6. #6
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    it's not clear you need to change anything without knowing what you have. I've got two bikes set up as doubles that have low enough gears. One is a triple with the outer gear occupied with a chainring guard. It's got a 44t and 30t. with 12-32 in the rear. The 44t is a middle position so I can use the entire range of the cassette. Put in a narrow range cassette and you've got a commuter set-up. The other bike has 34/48 chainrings with 13-34 cassette. Only difference I can see between a utility bike and touring bike is that the utility bike has more of an upright riding position with ease of dismounting and the touring bike is closer to road bike for higher output.

  7. #7
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    More info

    >if you search through the touring forum you'll find a wealth of info here >as your question is common.

    Garthr--Thanks, good point; I should have done some homework before posting.


    >tell us the parts you already have, since many might work well already.



    Thanks for all suggestions. Here's more information


    The bike currently has:

    XT hub (so yes, mountain bike spacing at the dropouts)

    8sp Shimano HG 50 cassette------13-26 ( replaced 11-2009)

    Shimano ultegra cranks 170's

    chainrings 39-53

    Bottom bracket shell measures 67mm

    Shimano 600 rear derailleur

    Ultegra Front derailleur

    Sora 8 sp sti shifters (Originally I put on 105's but replaced them with Sora about 3 years ago after the 105's broke)

    Bob
    Last edited by wheels78; 05-15-10 at 04:23 AM.

  8. #8
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    Only thing I'd do is get a triple or compact front crankset , rear deraileur and make sure the rear wheel on the bike is up to the load. The prevalence of 11tooth cog cassettes pretty much eliminates the need for big chainrings. I'd get honest with your gearing and whether you need a 110" top gear but either way you could get that with a 48/12 or 46/11. Unless you have to have super low gears you can get a 1:1 low gear with a compact.
    While 9spd is the standard and 10 becoming more common most of the 9spd touring set-ups I see have totally unnecessary high gears and folks are essentially riding on 7-8spds. This way you won't have to change your shifters.
    I'd get a 34/48 compact double so you don't need to change the bb, new derailleurs (don't think the Ultegra will handle 34 but try it) and two cassettes, a 12-25 and 13-34. My $.02 is a 100" gear is plenty big for touring.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    There are several ways to go. None of them are complicated, but it does take some thinking things through. In our family I've setup bikes (all are triples and have 68mm bb shell widths) with the following combinations:
    50/40/30, 11-34; 48/36/26,11-34, 110mm bb; 46/36/26(can take a 24, 8 speed), 12-34, 107mm bb; (2)44/32/22, 11-34 103mm bb; 44/32/22 Shimano Octalink bb on Cannondale T800 (real challenge); 50/42/30, 11-32. I've also tried some other combinations, but did not keep them on the bikes very long.

    In all cases I changed out the rear derailleur to a Shimano Deore or LX. Tiagra front derailleurs are really flexible and work well with all those combinations. All use Shimano STI shifters ranging from Sora to 105's. All are 9 speeds except one (my favorite and the one I ride every day). If you have a short cage, double, rear derailleur, you will need to change it , and you might as well go mtn bike RD at that time. I tried an 11-30 rear cassette with a long cage 105 RD and could not make it work very well.

    If you use the "trekking "cranks the bb axle is the same size as used for "road" cranks. If you go for a mtn bike crank set a shorter bottom bracket is needed. The 8 Speed went from a 115 to a 107mm, and the 44/32/22 setup went from a 110 to a 103. It seems like it takes about 7mm difference to maintain a 45-47mm chainline.

    One way to figure out your bb size is to get the cranks you want to use. Install them on the present bb, and then measure your chainline. About a 45mm works well for road/touring bikes. Take the difference from what you have to what you need and order appropriate size bb. Check out the Park Tool website for chainline measuring advice.
    44/32/22 on LHT. I'm just building this up now, and used the crankset from the Volpe(below)


    46/36/26 on Trek 1000. My every-day bike.


    44/32/22 on Bianchi Volpe. This crank is now replaced with the original 48/36/26 crankset.


    On the 46 -12 combination I spin out at about 28 mph at 90 rpm. With the 44-11 it is about 26 mph at 90 rpm. How fast do you want to go on your commute?
    Last edited by Doug64; 05-15-10 at 10:30 PM.

  10. #10
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    Thanks very much everyone for all the great suggestions!

    Bob

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