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Mountain Bike to Road Bike Conversion???

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Mountain Bike to Road Bike Conversion???

Old 05-05-12, 03:29 AM
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Mountain Bike to Road Bike Conversion???

I have been thinking of converting a mountain bicycle for road work use. The bike I have in mind is an early eighties Tom Richey.

I was hoping to install drop bars and appropriate levers, fenders and matching front and rear racks. I might even install a set of Tiagra 9 speed Brifters, derailleurs, and triple cranks.

I have never attempted this sort of conversion before. Are there any pitfalls that I should be aware of?

Here is the bike and the transmission/drive I am considering...



It is my hope to use the bicycle to ride to and from my summer cottage. The ride will always include 40 miles of pavement and one mile of loose gravel.

Anyway, any thoughts or warnings I need to think about?
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Old 05-05-12, 04:15 AM
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My conversion project started out as "hybrid to cyclocross", then became "mountain bike parts to cyclocross frame". Fun stuff!

Do the handlebars first and see if you like that riding position before you invest in brifters etc. This would be a good time to get a quill to threadless adapter for the stem. I'm sure you will want to experiment with length and rise,and the threadless makes it very easy to swap stems and bars.
I think your main problem will be tire selection. Loose gravel usually demands mountain bike tires.
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Old 05-05-12, 06:55 AM
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There's a massive thread in the touring forum called "show us your MTB conversions" that has lots of great pics and info. I built an MTB conversion for a housemate last year and it worked out well, needed to get a really short stem but otherwise it went together pretty well... used stem shifters to save her some money too.
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Old 05-05-12, 07:37 AM
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I just built one the other night. It's a lot of fun, and I have 2.4" CST Cyclops tires on it that I really like so far. The only thing that might cause some extra thought is frame size - I found a frame that was a little bigger than I'd like as an MTB, but fits great as a road conversion. Otherwise, it was a parts bin build. Pics and such can be found here.
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Old 05-05-12, 07:47 AM
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The main pitfall, fit-wise, is that the top tube is too long on the donor MTB to make drop bars workable. But that Ritchey looks like the TT is fairly short.

This may be countered by what looks to me like a fairly laid back ST angle.

Component-wise, the Ritchey has cantilevers so no need to use V-brake travel agents for the Tiagra STI
levers.

Here's what I'd do. Measure up a bike from the RJ stable with a fit you like, and see if you can replicate the fit coordinates on the Ritchey. If it's doable, then build it up. If not, looks for another donor frame.

I did something similar this winter, from an abandoned Focus Crate Lake hybrid frame. It works well, I got the position I wanted, but the steering is very, very slow.
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Old 05-05-12, 08:21 AM
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Help me with the rationale for building up a MTB for this application (other than the fun of building something different, for its own sake ). Are you going to be carrying a heavy load?
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Old 05-05-12, 09:04 AM
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Lots-o-fun to build and ride. I did this two years ago; Dirt-drop, Panaracer 1.75's, Brooks saddle, front and rear racks with roll-up panniers. On road, off road, carrying a load, it's just fun, fun, fun!


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Old 05-05-12, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Velognome View Post
Lots-o-fun to build and ride. I did this two years ago; Dirt-drop, Panaracer 1.75's, Brooks saddle, front and rear racks with roll-up panniers. On road, off road, carrying a load, it's just fun, fun, fun!


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Old 05-05-12, 09:38 AM
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Not sure of the pitfalls, so cant help you there. But I do have a friend that has a MTB with just about everything grouppo'd out to fit him and his riding on the road and trail. It works well for him. The tires he uses are more the commuter sized tire. He can run trails amazingly well but is compromised in the size of the large chainring since it's about 36 or 40 tooth.
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Old 05-05-12, 09:44 AM
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MTB to roadish conversions are a lot of fun to build and can make great allarounders. I have built a number over the years, including one I hauled on top of my Land Cruiser for a summer adventure across the country to the Outer Banks. With 1.5" slicks, the speed penalty is small -- <5% -- when compared to a steel road bike.

The key, as noted above, is tinkering with the fit. MTB's tend to have longer top tubes, sometimes requiring a taller and shorter stem. Also, MTB stems will not handle the diameter of a road bike bar (although sometimes you can spread them. The Ritchey looks like a good base for a conversion. I suggest you start with the original stem, see if you can squeeze a drop bar in there. If so, check out the fit. If need be, you can go with a shorter stem. A better option is to get an adapter and play with different threadless stem options. If still too long, go with a no setback seat post. Niagara has the Origin 8 for about $25.

BTW, I would suggest Panaracer Urban Max tires in 1.25". Bullet proof, sufficiently roadie and should be able to swim through a mile of loose gravel.

For fun do some searches on this forum for conversions and gravel grinders.

Also, both MTBR.com and retrobike.co.uk/ have great MTB dropbar threads.

Here are the two I presently have on hand. I will build more. Lots of fun. Let us know how it goes.




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Old 05-05-12, 11:00 AM
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I think how this kind of configuration turns out depends on the frame you're starting out with. Here's our MB-2 road bike; with 26x1.5 non-tourguard Paselas it handles more like a road bike than a vegetable truck. :-) The rider is pretty short, so the fact that a 19" seat tube is a largeish MTB works out just fine. Of course it's quite stiff, but not harsh at all. I almost want to write Grant Petersen a thank-you note.


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Old 05-05-12, 12:05 PM
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Possible pitfalls? - Using a frame with anykind of suspension, using a too small frame, handlebar stem compatibiltity (you can find drop pars to fit your mtb stem but the choices are limited) shift lever compatibilty with your handlebar choice, makin' it so fancy you won't want to abuse (I mean use) it as it was intended to be used and spending the next 6 months telling everyone they need one too. That's about it, have fun!
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Old 05-05-12, 12:16 PM
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I bought a 88 Schwinn Sierra for the very same purpose. Mine is a 19" seat tube as well and should yield a more road bike fit and finish than a smaller and cramped mtb frame. The only things to look out for are the higher BB shell and the longer top tube. MTB frames varied from 80s to mid 90s. The long top tube is more of an issue as you get into the 90s. There used to be stems specific to adopting drop bars to mtbs...they are curved like a banana, with shallow extension but plenty of height. Don't see them much.
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Old 05-05-12, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Velognome View Post
Possible pitfalls? - Using a frame with anykind of suspension, using a too small frame, handlebar stem compatibiltity (you can find drop pars to fit your mtb stem but the choices are limited) shift lever compatibilty with your handlebar choice, makin' it so fancy you won't want to abuse (I mean use) it as it was intended to be used and spending the next 6 months telling everyone they need one too. That's about it, have fun!
LOL! I resemble that remark.
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Old 05-05-12, 01:06 PM
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iTod's conversion
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Old 05-05-12, 01:10 PM
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Help me with the rationale for building up a MTB for this application (other than the fun of building something different, for its own sake ). Are you going to be carrying a heavy load?
That's a good question. Heavy loads - groceries from the city, carried 40 miles to my cottage, along lovely quiet smooth highways, for the first 18 miles. Then another 21 miles of hills and horribly narrow shoulders, that do little to prevent me from being forced onto the gravel, beside the shoulder, from time to time. Finally, the final mile to my cottage is loose gravel and I hate the feel of riding my road bicycles on loose gravel.

I was going to build up the Richey as a mountain bicycle until I found a really nice Rocky Mountain at the Dump one day. That will become my cottage ride but not my to and from cottage ride.



And, in response to some of the good concerns presented. My steering stem is 22.2mm and integral with the handlebars. This should make it easy for me to find a decent stem and fit it to the steering tube. The top tube of the Richey is only 55cm, c-c, darn near perfect for me since most of my road bicycles have 56cm top tubes.

I think this might be a fun project even if I don't go with the STI system.
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Old 05-05-12, 01:38 PM
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It should be a pretty easy conversion, I recently converted a hybrid to a road bike and did the following:

Replaced high rise stem with short rise two-bolt quill stem
replaced flat bars with origin 8 gary bars.
shimano 2x7 sora STIs from the parts bin
cross stop levers for braking from the flats
replaced v brakes with cantis
Compact crank and road front derailleur -mtb front derailleurs have a different pull than road derailleurs and are are not compatible with STIs

My goal was to build the ultimate baby carrier that I could use as a viable, comfortable road bike with which i could get some speed.
If all you're doing is making a bike more suitable for road use than it would be as simple as Adding drops, levers, and less aggressive tires.
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Old 05-05-12, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by RFC View Post
MTB to roadish conversions are a lot of fun to build and can make great allarounders. I have built a number over the years...

OT..., how's that chain tensioner working out? i swore i would never use one, but i'm wavering... is it an Alfine?
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Old 05-05-12, 01:46 PM
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Looks like an excellent candidate for a road / touring conversion... these early mountain bikes were based heavily on touring bikes so often share similar geometry and parts which lends itself to building them up into a more road and trail oriented bike.

The older bikes often had 28/38/48 crank sets and these are ideal for touring / commuting.

If the bike is a comfortable fit now you will probably find that the stem has too much reach for drops and a shallower drop bar can also help with this.

Most have seen this bike a few times... my '87 Kuwahara Cascade. It is a wonderful machine to ride on the road and is supremely comfortable over very long distances. I used friction bar ends and have a vintage drive set up which I prefer to brifters.



Conversely, my '89-90 Moulden gives me a more upright position but besides spending a good deal of time on the road it is set up for spending a good deal of time off road. It has an 8 speed drive and indexed bar ends (index rear / friction front) which are nicer when you are making faster shifts on the trail and the riding position is better for steep uneven decents. With that being said I have ridden it 100 miles and had no complaints... I do spend a lot of time in those drops because of their higher position.



Finally...my Kuwahara Shasta which is set up with trekking bars. I use this for commuting and utility purposes but it would be as capable a tourer as the Cascade if I wanted it to do that.



Some little pitfalls come with using indexed road shifters with mtb derailleurs... the rear is compatible with Shimano but the pull for front derailleurs is so you can't mix and match mtb / road components.
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Old 05-05-12, 01:48 PM
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Fork looks bent...
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Old 05-05-12, 01:50 PM
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Here's my budget conversion...

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Old 05-05-12, 02:29 PM
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My MTB conversion is (or was, I haven't looked at it carefully yet) one of the more fun bikes I've had. The key is figuring out the brakes...cantis give lots of options, but generally are pickier than v brakes. V brakes limit lever options, and thus shifting. If I had everything perfect, I'd probably go disc with brifters. I went with vbrakes, tektro levers and suntour commands. I'm not thrilled with the shifting, but the rest is fantastic.

The other issue is stem...you need something VERY high and short.












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Old 05-05-12, 04:32 PM
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Here is mine I built up recently. Only thing original is frame/fork and the seat post. (have since swapped saddles for a Brooks Flyer).

I'm loving it, easily my favorite bike to ride these days.
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Old 05-05-12, 05:06 PM
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Though I should be taking it easy after another long day, I decided to fool around with the Richey. It took only a couple of minutes to fit a set of drop bars to the bicycle. This is what I got and it feels much the same, just sitting on the bicycle. How it would feel on the road is, probably, another kettle of fish.





As I look at the bicycle, I can't help but notice how long it is. Do I like the look? Not sure but the look, for a serious rider, is not of primary importance to me. I just want a work horse that has some character.
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Old 05-05-12, 05:34 PM
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That is a long bike. The proportions look a little odd with that stem and bar combo. It might look better with a longer riser stem
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