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Lightweight vintage mtb?

Old 12-25-20, 05:39 PM
  #1  
nlerner
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Lightweight vintage mtb?

So I built up this winter commuter with a generic steel 90s (I assume) mtb frame. It replaced a Jamis Exile, which was pretty nice but a bit too small. The current steed is one heavy-a$$ ride. While my commute is short, and itís unclear how much commuting Iíll actually be doing in the new year, Iíd still like to build up something that uses these parts, but is lighter and has a lower BB. Does such a beast exist? Should I be looking at old Cannondales or other alu frames? A larger Jamis? Should I ditch the 559 wheels and find a Trek hybrid or some such?

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Old 12-25-20, 05:50 PM
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Does weight matter that much? I don't worry much about the weight. This bike has a quality frame and parts which means that the weight can't be too bad.

That said, there is a fair amount of variation in terms of weight on production vintage MTBS. I like vintage MTBs and I have four that I ride on a regular basis. My lightest ones have prestige tubing. My 1993 Bridgestone MB 1 weighs in at 26 lbs; my 1992 Specialized Stumpjumper weighs 27 lbs. Neither bike is kitted out as a commuter though.

My commuter is a late 80s Specialized Stumpjumper Comp and it must weigh a bit north of 30 lbs.


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Old 12-25-20, 05:55 PM
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I think my old Cannondale M500 would be a pretty light utility bike, though I built it a little heavy.
Frame is just a little small for me, though, and I've got the components in mind for another project.
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Old 12-25-20, 06:05 PM
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The frame isn't going to be a big part of the weight, even a lighter older frame will only drop a couple lbs off at best, my old 90s c-dale came with a steel fork and wasn't all that light. But looking at your build there's nothing light about it. Nice looking and well equipped as far as being a commuter, doesn't look like there'd be anything on there that would fail or not serve its purpose well, but nothing that looks all that light to really build a lighter bike. From the amount of stem showing another size larger frame might not be a bad idea though that won't help in the weight department but it would get the stem a little further in the headtube and the seatpost still has plenty of length showing so you'd still have plenty of adjustability if you needed.
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Old 12-25-20, 06:36 PM
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light weight.

maxxis 2.35 tires? they appear north of 600g's. each? if seeking lighter try 1.95's & still have enough sidewall to absorb potholes.cro-mo steel or mild steel?
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Old 12-25-20, 07:46 PM
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The 1990s Kona Lava Dome Race Light weighed around 25 lbs, not bad for a steel frame mountain bike. A change from knobbies to street-friendly tires would save a little weight.
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Old 12-25-20, 09:07 PM
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That looks like a great commuter set up. When I started commuting again on Long Island I used my bike with 700c wheels. The potholes, irregularities and garbage in the road caused me to rethink and use my 90's Trek 800 mountain bike. The mountain bike was heavier, but took everything in stride. I put smooth tires on it but kept the flat bars.

One of the big advantages of 559 wheels is that they are strong. Really strong. The only thing stronger is BMX wheels.

I wouldn't change a thing. Ok, maybe skinner tires, but I believe you got those for the ride and I would be inclined to think that that may be a good way to go especially if you are seeking more comfort.

In fact, one of my thoughts while I was commuting is that a suspension fork with only a little bit of travel would be a good way to take some of the jolts out of the ride. But fat tires might be a better way to go.

The fact that it is non-descript frame is a plus as far as I'm concerned.
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Old 12-25-20, 09:12 PM
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I think much will boil down to the frame and/or tires. Iíve not fully delved in to the supple tire business, but I do recall going from schwalbe marathons to pastela tour guard (both 1.5Ē) and noticing a good difference. Switching to the non-belted 1.75 pastela yielded even better results.

along the same lines, I had a 26Ē surly long haul trucker built with heavy duty tires and found the ride completely dead and uninspiring.
Flopping parts to an 80s Schwinn high Sierra seemed a bit better. The jump to an even higher quality frame from there (and where Iíve landed) have an even more inspiring ride.
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Old 12-25-20, 10:26 PM
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While not a MTB, it was a hybrid from Japan. I had a local welder reposition the cable stops and came up with this.
It is running 1x9 Shimano and could benefit from a clutch derailleur.

3x7 hybrid with Canti brakes

Setup as a SS

3x9 MTB that developed rust issues under the paint.

Stripped and rebuilt to 1x9



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Old 12-25-20, 10:34 PM
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After looking at the photo of your bike, the frame is probably the lightest part. You have every heavy bolt-on I can think of aside from a rack? Is that front hub a generator?
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Old 12-25-20, 11:05 PM
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Ritchey P-23
you will need to Pay though
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Old 12-26-20, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by '02 nrs View Post
maxxis 2.35 tires? they appear north of 600g's. each? if seeking lighter try 1.95's & still have enough sidewall to absorb potholes.cro-mo steel or mild steel?
Yeah, the tires aren't the lightest, but they seem pretty supple. It's the wheels that are likely a major contributor, but I don't really want to upgrade wheels with that existing frame.

Originally Posted by krakhaus View Post
After looking at the photo of your bike, the frame is probably the lightest part. You have every heavy bolt-on I can think of aside from a rack? Is that front hub a generator?
Hah! Yes, Shimano generator hub. Hey, Shimano Deerhead mechs aren't the heaviest! I actually have taken off the Sugino AT crank shown in that pic and installed a no-name triple that might have been from the Box 'o Crap at some point. Yeah, I added weight.

Originally Posted by repechage View Post
Ritchey P-23
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Clearly, we have a difference of opinion as to what's best for urban winter commuting.

I think one problem is that my longest trip so far with this bike was 20 miles to Costco and back, hauling my two-wheel Burley trailer. For my very short commute, I probably won't even notice the weight, right? Even though I did commute on it once last week, and, well, that's what prompted me to start this thread.

Thanks for the suggestions, all.
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Old 12-26-20, 12:06 PM
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Keep your eyes open for a Prestige tubing bike. My Alpina Team was lighter than my Stumpjumper.
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Old 12-26-20, 12:14 PM
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nlerner , I just weighed my MTBs. My late 80s Stumpjumper Comp commuter with fenders, rack, and pump weighs a bit under 33 lbs. It has double butted chrome moly tubing. My 1992 Stumpjumper with Prestige tubing weighs 27.75 lbs but it doesn't have a rack and fenders. That's 5 lbs weight difference.

The commuter has heavier tires, so the additional weight of the tires, rack, and fenders is right around 3.5 lbs. So call the weight difference between the 2 stumpjumpers at right around 1.5 lbs (5 minus 3.5). Honestly that seems like a lot just based on frame tubing but I always thought the late 80s Stumpjumper Comp was a bit heavy and overbuilt.


1992 Stumpjumper

Late 80s Stumpjumper Comp Commuter

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Old 12-26-20, 12:33 PM
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I was just thinking that "light weight" and "commuter" are rarely used in the same sentence.
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Old 12-26-20, 01:08 PM
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Finding a low bottom bracket on a Mountain Frame is kind of a trick. I have a Bridgestone CB-1 "City Bike" that has a lower bottom bracket height, and combined with 175mm cranks feels pretty low. I've got he 2.10 Maxis tire under fenders and could tell I was higher when I sized up from 1.9 slicks. I have a nicer 170mm triple that is going on at some point. I hope they don't make the bike feel any higher.
Now, me being me, the bike has another 25 ponds of stuff tacked on so not a light weight. I don't know any specifics, but I would suggest checking out some of the frames that where marketed as city bikes, like the Specialized City Stomper or the Trek 890.

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Old 12-26-20, 03:16 PM
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I'd been wanting to build up a lightweight gravel bike with similar frame. For many years I've kept eyes out for a larger 60cm Cannondale ST framesets, maybe one of their ATBs? Cannondale, Klein, GT, Giant and others were making alloy framesets in the 90s but I've had a tough tie finding anything worthwhile all these years. I'm sure there were probably others out there I'm missing.

Will be interested in following this thread, see where it lands.
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Old 12-26-20, 04:25 PM
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I took the winter commuter out for some errand running this afternoon and pondered some possibilities while not particularly enjoying the ride. Perhaps one problem is that my current road bike of choice is a sub-20lb titanium rig with 38mm tires. Perhaps I just don't like the geometry/ride qualities of MTBs refashioned as upright (or flat) bar commuters. I've tried several over the years, some reasonably decent ones, including a Ritchey Ascent that I even put some high-zoot Compass tires on, but it didn't really do it for me. I have road bikes in various configurations I could repurpose. I have a couple of sets of Schwalbe Marathon Winter tires in 700 x 35mm that do reasonably well in ice/snow. I also have my gugicafizioned '71 Raleigh Int'l, currently with 650B x 42 Soma Cazadera tires, which work quite well in snow--though winter commuting in the Boston area is really hard on a bike, particularly given the constant brine of road salt and slush, and I don't want to abuse that bike more than I already do. I have a fairly rusty Lemond Tourmalet on the indoor trainer that could likely take 650b x 38mm wheels, maybe even 42mm. Hmm.
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Old 12-26-20, 04:39 PM
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89 Diamondback Axis XT is a possibility, Tange Prestige.


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Old 12-26-20, 07:43 PM
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That’s a nice winter commuter bike, so nice that I think I might like to imitate it.

But you’re saying you just don’t like it. Is it possible that the position doesn’t suit you? Or could it be that the cranks are too long? I never got comfortable with 175mm cranks.

I just picked up an old Trek 800 that’s probably too big for me. Let me know if this sounds interesting.
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Old 12-27-20, 07:58 AM
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My 18" 92 Stumpjumper Comp comes in at 23.33 lbs with pedals, which I think is a decent weight for a MTB not trying to be light. An 18" 94 Prestige S-Works came in at 22.6lbs w/o pedals so its not terrible.

Weight is relative though, I am skinny and weak, and live in a 6Fl walkup , so its about 3 lbs over what I would like. I have some lighter MTBs, old Cannondales are cheap and light right off the bat (stock M500 = 23lbs)

Lower BB was a west coast thing (fire roads), east coast bikes had higher BBs (woods). Specialized is known for a lower BB, Cannondale for tall BBs - Beast of the East being an extreme example.

If you want racks and fenders, many race bikes like the P-23 will be more challenging to adapt those to as many lack eyelets.



92 Stumpjumper Comp

23lbs 5oz
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Old 12-27-20, 08:33 AM
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If you want to experiment some more, maybe you could look at a cyclocross frame. You probably wouldn’t be able to fit the balloon tires though. I’d lean toward an aluminum frame for regular commuting on salted roads, but you, fortunately, have more experience in that. Trek XO1 and Specialized TriCross were the common aluminum models and the Trek has dropout eyelets.
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Old 12-27-20, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
Perhaps I just don't like the geometry/ride qualities of MTBs refashioned as upright (or flat) bar commuters. I've tried several over the years, some reasonably decent ones, including a Ritchey Ascent that I even put some high-zoot Compass tires on, but it didn't really do it for me.
If youíre in the Boston area, it sounds like youíre going to see snow at some point, and then icy conditions. How far do you regularly commute?

I have two (well technically three now that I built up a fat bike) commuters up here in the mountains of MT. My commute is just under 2 miles one way over mostly residential streets but with a 1/4 of it on various types of gravel. I see a lot of snow packed and icy conditions over the winter, so commuter #1 canít get the job done.

1) Ď83 Stumpjumper Sport with fenders and a front rack w/basket. Pretty much stock and heavy. It fits me well (an Ď84 Ross Mt Hood does not - not all UJBs have the same geometry). I run Rene Herse Rat Trap Pass tires and they were a revelation for me in comfort on gravel roads, bike weight be damned. It literally feels like the bike is floating. Iíve commuted and explored over 1000 miles on that bike this year and loved every mile of it.

2) Ď05 Fiji Monterey 2.0. Aluminum, upright beast (almost like Iím standing up when I pedal) that weights more than the Stumpy. But I couldnít give a rip about what the salt does to it. Set up 1x9, outfitted with a rear rack, fenders and some cheap studded tires. The word supple could only be used near these tires if I was fixing a flat after immediately after having a manicure. But those tires cut through light snow like a hot knife through... snow, handle glare ice confidently (nothing will ever make ice feel like pavement) and the geometry + upright position make recovery from little slips and slides fairly quick. (Iím also less likely to go down on a shoulder like when Iím riding a drop bar bike.) Most of my weight is over the rear tire so I get very good traction. I rode home through a snow storm the other night and for some reason couldnít stop giggling all the way home (maybe life was getting a bit too stressful...).

Thatís a long way of saying that everybodyís mileage will vary, but if you donít feel comfortable on a bike, I donít think itís the bikeís weight that is causing the problem - itís fit.
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Old 12-27-20, 09:16 AM
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As others have noted you can certainly get a lighter better quality of frame, it is just a matter of how much you care to spend. But a lighter high end MTB frame is likely have just as high if not a slightly higher BB shell. Higher end bikes are all about performance and an extra 3-6mm of BB height can mean the difference between cleaning an obstacle or not/

How long is your commute? Unless you lie in downtown Hooterville or Kabul you can, as others again mentioned sae considerable weight with different tires. If your only going a few miles on relatively smooth road a Paselea 1.75 tire will be much lighter and likely give you just as smooth a ride.
Ditching the Dynamo hub in favor a rechargeable LED light will same a few grams too.

Do you really need that giant seat bag?
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Old 12-27-20, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
Ditching the Dynamo hub in favor a rechargeable LED light will same a few grams too.
Weight at the hub will only be noticed when carrying the bike up a fifth-floor walk up. A dead battery will be cursed all the way home.

Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
Do you really need that giant seat bag?
What a silly question! Actually, it should be ditched for a front rack and basket combo!
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