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Old 02-25-14, 12:18 AM   #76
Medic Zero
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I never get a chance to actually go on a tour on mine.
For those who had, how do these conversions perform fully loaded? Do they get shimmy?
My conversion performs great! My '88 GT Timberline is rock solid. Sometimes shimmy depends on the racks too. So far I've been using a Jannd Expedition rear rack and a Old Man Mountain, Cold Springs model front rack. I went with the Jannd Expedition for a rear rack, because I've got fairly big feet, and although the chainstays are fairly long, they aren't quite as long as some later purpose-built tourers so I was getting a touch of heel-strike. The Jandd Expedition sets the panniers a bit further than many other racks.

Since my converted MTB-tourer is still stuck mid-overhaul, last summer I went on a few short bed & breakfast tours with my girlfriend and used my commuter, a 1993 GT Outpost. Not an ideal touring bike, but I've got a Nitto Big Front rack on it (I use a large saddlebag on the rear), and it was nice and solid too.

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Old 03-03-14, 02:11 PM   #77
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Never toured, but my 85 Peugeot Canyon Express has hauled plenty of groceries and junk and stuff with nary an ill effect. In fact, it seems to stabilize with a load on the front wheel.
Using Blackburn mtn racks with a combination of old Nashbar, Lone Peak, or Overland Equipment bags.
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Old 06-29-14, 04:17 AM   #78
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Never toured, but my 85 Peugeot Canyon Express has hauled plenty of groceries and junk and stuff with nary an ill effect. In fact, it seems to stabilize with a load on the front wheel.
Using Blackburn mtn racks with a combination of old Nashbar, Lone Peak, or Overland Equipment bags.
I experience the same phenomenon with both my '93 GT Outpost and with my '88 GT Timberline.

I'm now looking for another 84 - 89 mountain bike frame to convert for my girlfriends next tourer. She hates her ~2011 Novara Safari. Would welcome any new make/model additions to this great thread.
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Old 07-16-14, 05:06 PM   #79
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Here is my 1984 Peugeot Urban Express I converted for commuting. Rides wonderfully.

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Old 08-12-14, 08:32 PM   #80
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I have an Urban Express that I use for commuting and it rides like a dream.
I also have a Canyon Express that is awesome mountain bike.
I believe Canyon Express was the top of the line and the Urban Express was the 2nd followed by the Orient Express.
Love my Peugeots'.
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Old 08-17-14, 03:01 PM   #81
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1980's/pre 1995 Fuji Mt. Fuji

1980's KHS

1980's/1990's Diamondback

1980's 1990's Nishiki Colorado or?

1980's/ 1990's Specialized Hard Rock (don't know if the higher models have the braze-on's for racks and fenders)

Those are the ones I am familiar with.

Basically any with braze-on's for racks and fenders would be suitable.
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Old 03-04-15, 11:47 AM   #82
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Some issues to consider when converting an older MTB to a tourer:

1) headset compatibility - If the frame does not have a headset, or if the headset needs to be replaced, measure the inside diameter of the headtube to be certain that you have or can get the correct headset size. Headtubes are not standard sizes. Some older MTBs used BMX headsets.
2) component compatibility - Some frames have cantilever bosses with the spring tab holes on the inside of the boss, and some are on the outside. Inside appears to be more common. Make sure the brakes you intend to use will fit the canti bosses. Another compatibility point is the outside diameter of the seat tube because that is where the front derailleur is mounted. Seat tube diameters vary. Make sure that your front derailleur will fit your seat tube. Check the inside diameter of the top of the fork. Some older MTBs take 21.1 mm quill stems. Some MTBs will not accept tires much larger than 26x2.0 inches.
3) rear wheel spacing - varies quite a bit from less than 130mm to 135mm. Measure, measure, measure.

These can present major problems if not addressed as early as possible. I know, I ran into all of them on my first build. If you can find a complete bike that only needs a few or no component changes and suitable tires, you're way ahead of the game. Starting with only a frame and fork is risky business.
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Old 03-04-15, 11:48 AM   #83
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Is a Trek 820 Antelope suitable for conversion to a touring bike?
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Old 03-04-15, 11:55 AM   #84
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I think you may have already eliminated the Trek850 from consideration but I thought I'd post my recent conversion of a 1988 Trek 850 (weird lower brakes and all)


Nothing weird about u-brakes and good looking job! Actually u-brakes were pretty crummy for offroad riding (they got mucked up easily) but they're just fine for touring. Yes they're a pain to adjust but they don't go out of adjustment easily and you don't have to worry about canti's sticking out into your bags either. Plus the late 80s bikes that sported u-brakes tended to have a bit longer wheelbases and not be as "racy" (i.e., more relaxed geometry and not as long top tubes relative to the seat tube) at later ones. IMHO, U-brake MTBs are prime candidates for touring duty. Here's mine, :

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Old 03-04-15, 11:56 AM   #85
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Last little tour of the season was an out and back over 220 km of mixed road, gravel, and trail... the Cascade handled this exceptionally well and when folks on 700c bikes were struggling I just kept ticking along.

Looking forward to more adventures in 2015 and over the winter picked up another identical Cascade frame and fork that I plan to customize. Plan to add bottle bosses, low rider mounts to the fork, and add mounts for canti brakes in the rear and then I will send that out for fresh powder.

The LX compact I installed mated up well to the 7 speed block and even with a fairly hefty load the bike had no issues climbing or with handling.

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Old 03-05-15, 08:28 AM   #86
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I took an older Co-Motion "OR" MTB frame and converted it to a touring bike. Swapped out the suspension fork for a Surly LHT 26" fork and had Bilenky Cycleworks add rear rack brazeons to the seatstays. It rides really well, including with a load.

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Old 03-05-15, 12:56 PM   #87
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This is my 1990 Specialized commuter that could easily be a tourer. I have since corrected the fender lines to make them more aesthetically pleasing.

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Old 03-06-15, 02:55 AM   #88
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- 26 " wheels (for those touring outside of the first world) - preferably 36 spoke wheels and double walled
Somewhat na´ve question: Why 26"?

I've ridden 5 bikes in recent times:
- Repco 26": which was what I had in primary school as my commuter (frame is too small now, probably was too small then too)
- Malvern Star Mosco '80 (27"): my father's bike, hasn't been serviced in years and I was only just getting back into cycling at the time.
- Dahon Boardwalk (20"?)
- Giant Boulder (26")
- Giant Talon 29ER 0 (29")

My experience has been that the Boulder is good in stop-start conditions, but I find the larger diameter wheels on the Talon seem to hold the momentum better when going long-distance. Comparing this to the Dahon, I find I loose momentum very quickly on it and struggle to get any power in. My amateur radio club meets at a scout den about 40km from where I live, and I've ridden there and back on a few occasions on both the Boulder and the Talon. I've found the run much easier on the Talon.

Is it a tube/tyre availability issue when going to remote areas or is there something else that makes 26" particularly ideal?
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Old 03-06-15, 12:49 PM   #89
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What is everyone using for racks on older MTBs? Im in the process of converting a 1997 Kona Hahanna and I find the mounts at the rear dropout are too close to the QR to fit a proper rack (or at least the first rack I tried).
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Old 03-08-15, 07:17 PM   #90
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What is everyone using for racks on older MTBs? Im in the process of converting a 1997 Kona Hahanna and I find the mounts at the rear dropout are too close to the QR to fit a proper rack (or at least the first rack I tried).
Maybe try an angle grinder?
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Old 03-08-15, 07:18 PM   #91
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This looks awesome! How much $ do you have into it?

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This is my 1990 Specialized commuter that could easily be a tourer. I have since corrected the fender lines to make them more aesthetically pleasing.

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Old 03-09-15, 09:30 AM   #92
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This looks awesome! How much $ do you have into it?
Thanks! Bought the bike for $175. Stripping and powdercoating was $150. Dynohub was $75, fenders $40, rack $30. All the other components, including the saddle and nitto dirtdrop stem (and my favorite derailleur set, suntour Cyclone MKII), were from my parts bin (only original parts are the headset and rear hub). I reused all the other parts for commuter builds for my sons.
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Old 03-16-15, 08:25 AM   #93
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Our annual Wisconsin trip (~650 mi) is mostly lightweight touring (trunk bag maybe --with some of us using panniers). We have vehicles to move big stuff forward each day, but riders are on their own all day, each day. I brought this bike along as a spare for some of the stronger kids (our returning college kids who didn't have their bikes with them). There were sometimes several available bikes --because someone in each family would move a vehicle forward and might not need their bike for a day (or half day). I was disappointed to discover this bike was the last one picked. It was maybe 4 or 5 lbs heavier than some of the other choices and it became the seldom used spare. I've since pulled the racks and fenders and swapped in lighter weight tires for the next time someone needs a spare --kinda disappointing though.
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Old 03-16-15, 08:40 AM   #94
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My touring bike is an 88 or 89 GT Timberline. It originally came with the U-brake underneath. Together with a friend, in his shop, I sliced off the mounts for it and welded on canti posts in the usual place. Since then I've heard some folks say those U-brakes are quite powerful if set up right. If you aren't using it for mountain biking and can get it set up right you should just keep the u-brake. I can see why they went away from the design for mountain biking, you are likely to smack it on logs and rocks as you go over them.

I love my GT Timberline for touring. It's got quite long chainstays and is very stable loaded.
I've been thinking about doing this to my 1988 specialized stumpjumper comp. It's a bit of a drag because will no longer be original. Still cantilevers front and rear and a few extra braze ons plus a new paint job is tempting. I like the existing u-brake but it's plenty old (it's original) and I wonder how many years of useful life it has. I've looked at new u-brakes but it's not clear to me that they have enough reach. I'll have to do some homework on this.

Btw, the Jandd expedition racks you use are great. They're a bit heavy but the xtra length is a big plus when fixing up a bike that does not have a long enough chainstay.

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Old 03-16-15, 08:44 AM   #95
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Oh, okay. So, '89 and below has a fair amount of trail. What about flex? Does the bike get noodly when loaded? Much more than a true touring bike?
Old mtbs are generally overbuilt. My 1988 stumpjumper comp is built from high end tubing (DB tange chrome moly) but it won't win any lightweight contests. It can handle weight just fine.
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Old 03-17-15, 07:36 AM   #96
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Our annual Wisconsin trip (~650 mi) is mostly lightweight touring (trunk bag maybe --with some of us using panniers). We have vehicles to move big stuff forward each day, but riders are on their own all day, each day. I brought this bike along as a spare for some of the stronger kids (our returning college kids who didn't have their bikes with them). There were sometimes several available bikes --because someone in each family would move a vehicle forward and might not need their bike for a day (or half day). I was disappointed to discover this bike was the last one picked. It was maybe 4 or 5 lbs heavier than some of the other choices and it became the seldom used spare. I've since pulled the racks and fenders and swapped in lighter weight tires for the next time someone needs a spare --kinda disappointing though.
That is a shame - such a beautiful build! I guess for light touring I can see passing it up but it looks like a fantastic loaded tourer. I'm building up an old Panasonic ATB in similar fashion and have been inspired to go with a tan ( a little darker than yours) after seeing your bike. What kind of rear rack did you have on it?
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Old 03-17-15, 09:34 AM   #97
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Old mtbs are generally overbuilt. My 1988 stumpjumper comp is built from high end tubing (DB tange chrome moly) but it won't win any lightweight contests. It can handle weight just fine.
Thanks! Sadly, I'm still looking for a good specimen to convert.
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Old 03-20-15, 04:54 PM   #98
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For about 20 years I had a early 90's Diamondback Accent EX, I modified & personallinzed for dirt touring. It was o.k.

Here is my humble modern equal ~ dirt cruiseing goat

Personally, I like older & retro but by the time your done you will likely have more in it ($$$ + time) than just buying a newer value class version. I have maybe a grand $ into this one, not bad



Some modern amenities I appreciate as compared to early 90's.

*29'er over 26'er for on/off road
* Improved ergonomics from grips,seats,etc.
* Geometry
* Tour gearing more readily available on modern MTB's all purpose/tour bikes compared to ultra granny gears of yesteryear.
* Bikes really aren't more now. Even my modest Diamondback Accent upper model was about $700, ~ 20 +years ago
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Old 03-20-15, 06:55 PM   #99
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Somewhat na´ve question: Why 26"?

Is it a tube/tyre availability issue when going to remote areas or is there something else that makes 26" particularly ideal?
It is an everything related to the wheel size issue. Whatever goes wrong with your wheels the replacements are easier to find. Second, if you run two inch tires it is a better set-up, and larger than 1.5 tires are popular in certain regions, assuming less paved roads. The wheel itself is lighter, and the may have lower rolling resistance depending on the case. If you choose not to rely on what is available in the boonies, carrying extra parts is lighter. The wheels are stronger because the smaller size allows fewer spokes to be used to have the same strength, so a 36 spoke is like running a 40 spoke, and yet is cheaper and lighter, and easier to build. As far as the bike is concerned if you run the same length parts, as one would on a 700, you end up with more space on the frame for stuff like water bottles.

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Old 03-20-15, 07:01 PM   #100
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It is an everything related to the wheel size issue. Whatever goes wrong with your wheels the replacements are easier to find. Second, if you run two inch tires it is a better set-up, and larger than 1.5 tires are popular in certain regions, assuming less paved roads. The wheel itself is lighter, and the may have lower rolling resistance depending on the case. If you choose not to rely on what is available in the boonies, carrying extra parts is lighter. The wheels are stronger because the smaller size allows fewer spokes to be used to have the same strength, so a 36 spoke is like running a 40 spoke, and yet is cheaper and lighter, and easier to build. As far as the bike is concerned if you run the same length parts, as one would on a 700, you end up with more space on the frame for stuff like water bottles.
Ahh, so some advantages of wheel construction over a 700C, how does it compare to say a 29"?

I find I get better momentum characteristics on a 29" versus a 26" (at the cost of some inertia), which I'd expect to be positive for long-distance runs.
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