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I want to know before I build.

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I want to know before I build.

Old 06-30-20, 11:01 AM
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I want to know before I build.

I am all about being economical these days, and one thing I hate doing is getting something that wont work the way I expect a brand new item to work. As with the case of department store bikes, which I've have been gifted multiple times as a child. They were all just shiny garbage, more so these days with cheep manufacturing and good marketing. So I am looking into buying an older bike and fitting it with up to date components.

From what I can understand is a used bike should be no different from a used car, but with significantly fewer parts and systems. What are the limitations the interchangeability of systems and parts? I will be using it for flat paved and gravel roads going medium to long distance 5-13 miles daily. I tend to be a "hard driver" so I need to make to where there wont be room for constant mechanical issues once finished.

I would so much rather buy the tools needed for trusted and sturdy parts and models than waste my money on future junk. This project is like a Honda accord of bicycles. So any info on what not to buy, what is and isn't compatible, and what models and brands have you grown to love? Thank you!
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Old 06-30-20, 11:26 AM
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You might squeak in a little cheaper by DIY'ing an older bike to new components, but likely you'll break even. Especially if you have to buy new wheels, handlebars, saddles and other stuff along with the new groupset.

If you enjoy it, do it. But don't think you won't have to buy an expensive tool that you'll only use once to remove a part and then another tool to put in the new part. I have plenty of examples from the vintage bikes for the '70's and 90's I've upgraded to very modern groupsets.

I doubt I'll do anymore vintage upgrades. New bikes have some advantages for me.

As for what tools you need to buy, how can we say without knowing in detail what is on the bike you are going to upgrade and detailed info about what you are putting on it.

Last edited by Iride01; 06-30-20 at 11:34 AM.
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Old 06-30-20, 12:20 PM
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Or you could get an older bike with working systems and just ride it, with perhaps new tires and brake pads.
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Old 06-30-20, 01:19 PM
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I recommend getting an older vintage mountain bike with 26" wheels and a rigid fork, and ideally an 8 speed drivetrain with a freehub rear wheel. If the bike has a 7 speed drivetrain it's still pretty easy to get replacement freewheels, chains, derailleurs, etc, and if you ever want to upgrade the drivetrain the 130mm spacing on these can be used with a modern road bike rear hub, or the rear dropouts can be respaced if the bike is steel. These bikes are very versatile for commuting, gravel, touring, and light mountain biking and 8 speed drivetrain components are still readily and inexpensively available. In the more recent market, some rim-brake hybrids with rigid forks and 700c wheels and 35-45mm tires have similar virtues as older rigid mountain bikes.

If you want any of these can be upgraded to a modern drivetrain, but in most cases honestly a 3x8 drivetrain works more than fine. Generally speaking really comprehensively upgrading a bike is a poor value because usually new bikes are cheaper than the sum of all their component parts because of the buying power of bike brands. If you want a bike with a 1x12 drivetrain and hydraulic brakes, just buy something with most of the components you want already.
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Old 06-30-20, 01:38 PM
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What kind of bike? Road or "other"?
IF you get a bike with at least an 8 speed, you can be pretty much assured you have the "newer, wider" drop out spacing. 130mm minimum.
Don't mess with 120-126mm if you can help it.
I "don't do road", but for MB's, I look for an early 90's Double Butted CR-MO frame.
Stay away from "Hi-Ten" steel. It's extra weight for nothing.
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Old 06-30-20, 01:49 PM
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Get to know about threading sizes, stems, brake reach, bottom brackets, tire clearance among other things.

Retro roadies- old frames with STI's or Ergos
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Old 06-30-20, 08:30 PM
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I think the theme for a number of people is to find a good quality steel road or mountain bike from the 90’s. For mountain bikes the Trek 9xx series are probably a good choice for a quality workhorse bike.

Keeping it simple, rim brakes, rigid fork, 2x, with a 3x crank, or 3x if you need the range. You can even run a 1x9 and probably get enough range.

8 and 9 speed triggers are pretty bulletproof. And if you want fewer gears you can run a 7 speed cassette spaced for 8, or 9, speed shifters. The nice thing with this setup is that you can run all 14 gears with a 2x setup.

A mountain bike that uses a 1-1/8” steerer tube is better than a harder to find 1”.

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Old 07-01-20, 04:45 AM
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What kind of special tools you’ll need are entirely dependent on what bike you’re working on. The majority of parts on the majority of bikes you’ll find can be handled with a good set of metric hex keys and combination wrenches. The bike specific tools I use the most are my chain tool, crank puller and Park cable cutter.

Like a lot of the above posters, you’ll end up paying a lot more to modernize an old bike than to just pick up one that’s a few years old, and just needs a refresh.

That being said, a 90s rigid MTB is a good base for a all-around / utility bike. They’re simple and rugged, and fairly standardized. Some are very well made, and some are just overbuilt. You can easily update them to the 9-speed/ V-brake era; after that, MTB tech started to evolve in a very different direction.

Again, a lot of what you’ll need depends on where you’re starting f and where you want to end up.
“A solid bike” is a really, really vague design brief.
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Old 07-01-20, 11:17 AM
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Adding to tools. A set of Allen keys 2mm-8mm are important. If you can get some with handles for more torque or angels even better. A good cable cutter as mention too. They’ll cut cables cleanly so you won’t have frayed ends if you have to replace or adjust things.

A decent pump, tire levers and cone wrenches to round out basic bike specific tools. Some more advance and equipment specific ones would be a chain breaker, cassette/freewheel tools, pedal wrench, crank and bottom bracket tools. But those really depend on how much you think you’ll end up working on or changing things.

Some basic tools you may already have like screw drivers, pliers, needle nose pliers go a long way as well.

Finally if you do plan on riding 5-13 miles a day you should have a bag on your bike for at least one extra tube, a little multi tool and a way to inflate a tire. That’s usually a CO2 cartridge for most to get you home or a small frame pump.
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Old 07-01-20, 11:21 AM
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13 miles doesn't even get me warmed up. LOL. It will cost you at least half the price of a decent new bike to do ANY changes. Many new bikes have horrible steep slope frames, so that is a consideration.
You said flat land, so you you need 27 speeds like a hole in the head. Old 10 speeds are invariably the skinny tire kind.
Get any old SA 3 speed steel bike, hopefully with drum brakes, 35 mm+ tires and not with a cotter crank.

3 years ago I spent $173 at the co-op club for a real nice 1973 CCM 3 spd. It has a rattlecan yellow paint job. At first I wanted the chrome handlebar that was like new. I soon found out it wasn't shifting because a plastic washer was missing, so that's likely why it sat for many years. I ended up getting new wheels/ rims with a SA RD3 drum rear hub and 38 x 584 tires. About $380 I think. It has 3,600 troublefree miles now, while I also went on a 3,900 mile tour in 2018 with my other bike. A month ago I rode the 3 sp 85 miles to a lake and back, on the hilliest highway here. Easy as pie, except my pants chaffing my thigh lately. This bike has electrical tape all over but still gets lots of compliments. Last year I took it on my car across Canada and the USA. I also did fine in Kenora, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa/ Gatineau and Quebec city. I would have rode it in Nashville, but it was fricking 99F.
I have no use for silly light bikes that can't carry a box of kleenex. LOL

Last edited by GamblerGORD53; 07-01-20 at 04:18 PM.
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