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Advice needed on converting to a Triple?

Old 03-01-13, 12:27 AM
  #1  
warrennnnnnnnnn
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Advice needed on converting to a Triple?

I own a 1981 58cm Univega Sportour, pictures here. I love the bike... it is a great experience and I want to ride it everyday around my area in the flatness of downtown San Jose, CA. But when I visit family and friends in San Francisco and want to take it out for a ride, especially where my parents live (Inner Sunset), the hills are just brutal and I end up having to walk the bike or just going on downhills and taking the bus (they have bike racks). I just don't think a compact is going to work out for me.

Anyone have an idea how I would go about working this out? I am thinking about converting to a classic looking triple setup. I have heard people mention Sugino, Specialites TA, and Stronglight (I even checked out some drillium stuff online... beautiful!). I've come across plenty of triple cranksets in good condition on eBay at prices I can manage. But before I buy one, I wanted to make sure I didn't cause a domino effect of compatibility problems for myself... Overall, the idea of a conversion on a bike of this era intimidates me since there are so many things I don't understand.

As you can see from the pictures, I currently have Shimano 600 Arabesque rear derailleur, and an old Dura-Ace front derailleur and Shimano Custom cranks. I don't know how long the crank arms are.

My LBS repair guy mentioned I'd need a different front and rear derailleur, "long cage" I think he said, in order to ensure the chain won't fall off due to the slack from switching to the smallest chainring. Is this right? How would you go about procuring the right parts? Any widely available old-school component groups you would recommend I look at before I accidentally go hunting for more obscure parts? Would you buy a triple crankset and old-school triple groupset separately? This seems like a nice setup.

Since I've started riding (a couple months now), my legs are getting stronger, but I should add also that I weigh almost 300 pounds and my legs are not getting strong enough, fast enough! Hope you guys can point me in the right direction.
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Old 03-01-13, 12:47 AM
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had and resold the TA' s given the arms are no longer made , i should have charged more..
trouble with those is design is 60 years old, and now some stuff just does not work so easily

like brifters, newer FDs, & such...

another thing your old bike frame is useful for is a base for an internal gear hub.. rear wheel rebuild.
Sram and Sturmey Archer, both make a mixed cassette, IGH hub , the triple is in the hub.
a shifting simplification..

you can save your money for that collectable bejeweled bike for wealthier feeling times, and
are ok with b.o.a.t. like spending..

Out here the term means, Break Out Another Thousand.

Last edited by fietsbob; 03-01-13 at 12:53 AM.
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Old 03-01-13, 12:56 AM
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There are several low cost solutions, but at minimum you'll need a triple crank, BB, and probably a FD.

I've had great success buying a donor rigid frame mtb for cheap and transplanting the drive-train. Not "Classic" looking, but gets the job done just fine.

For example, this drive-train came off a $20 mtb garage sale bike, and bolted right on to a nice Centurion frame set I had laying around:

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Old 03-01-13, 12:57 AM
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your cranks will normally say on the back I guess 170mm

but do ask yourself this.
how about a different bike for visiting SanFran?
We forumites dont have any guilt in buying another bike for the most foolish reasons(like the color,its rare, only one i have ever seen)


to purchase-
crankset,
spindle
long cage RD
maybe different front
maybe a different freewheel
all this has a cost,

you may be able to find another bike, even better, for around the same money.
in december I almost picked up a fuji with a triple setup for under 200,
the parts alone were worth more then the complete bike
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Old 03-01-13, 01:03 AM
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warrennnnnnnnnn
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Originally Posted by puchfinnland View Post
your cranks will normally say on the back I guess 170mm

but do ask yourself this.
how about a different bike for visiting SanFran?
We forumites dont have any guilt in buying another bike for the most foolish reasons(like the color,its rare, only one i have ever seen)


to purchase-
crankset,
spindle
long cage RD
maybe different front
maybe a different freewheel
all this has a cost,

you may be able to find another bike, even better, for around the same money.
in december I almost picked up a fuji with a triple setup for under 200,
the parts alone were worth more then the complete bike
Knowledge. Bam.

Obviously, having two bikes does solve the problem, but two bikes is one more than one. I may be in the wrong forum to talk about making minimal lifestyle choices, haha.

Will update you guys after I decide what to do...
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Old 03-01-13, 01:33 AM
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Originally Posted by warrennnnnnnnnn View Post
I just don't think a compact is going to work out for me.
A compact would certainly be cheaper and simpler to install, just take off the old cranks, install the new cranks, adjust the height and stops on the front derailleur, and maybe shorten the chain. No need to change the bottom bracket or rear derailleur.

Don't sell the compact crankset option short. It looks like your small ring is about 40 teeth. A compact's small ring is 34, 15% lower.

Shimano has a compact double that will work:

The inspiration for more people to enjoy road cycling. 2300 series components are perfect for road-sport bikes with flat handlebars

2300 FC-2300, 2303, 2350
Hyperdrive SG-X chainrings

BB Included: No
Arm Length: 175.0 mm
Rings: 34/50
Spindle Interface Type: Square Taper JIS
Spindle Length: 110.0 mm
Chainring BCD: 110
Crank-FD Type: Road Compact
Chain Compatibility: 3/32"
Pedal Spindle: 9/16"
Defined Color: Black
Color: Black
Weight:
Crank Intended Use: Road
Catalog Page:
Wght/Dims: 2.7 lbs. 12 x 10.75 x 2.5

Invoice Description: Shimano 2350 8spd 175mm 34-50t Crank BLK
Manufacturer Part Number: EFC2350E04XL
Country of Origin: SG
UPC: 689228434899
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Old 03-01-13, 05:46 AM
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Climbing steep hills, like those in San Francisco, does require a deep gear range. Try to match the largest cog on the freewheel to the smallest chainring to achieve a 1:1 ratio. If your freewheel is a 14-28, find a crankset with a small chainring in the 26 to 30t size.

You will need to change the following;

Crankset,
BB (to something wider)
Rear derailleur (with a long arm, most Mountain Bike derailluers will work)
A new, and longer chain.
Your existing front derailleur might work, depending on a number of factors

I have a 52-40-28 Apex SR crankset with 14-32 6 speed freewheel
I really like the Shimano XT M735 derailleurs

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Last edited by Barrettscv; 03-01-13 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 03-01-13, 07:24 AM
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I like the donor MTB drive-train idea the best... I'd imagine San Fran is ripe with pickings this time of the year. If you buy one with trashed wheels you could donate the frame to a co-op or something to avoid cluttering your lifestyle up with bike parts. A good co-op might be able to help you do some or all of this work too. Personally I'd look for a suntou V-GT for a solid rear derailleur. I see nice triples and these rear derailleurs on a lot of early/mid 80s ATB and MTB styled bicycles. I could probably find a nice garage-queen for cheaper than new parts.
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Old 03-01-13, 08:40 AM
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Another option is to buy a Mega-Range freewheel, a used MTB derailleur, a new chain.
https://www.biketiresdirect.com/produ...ange-freewheel
https://www.biketiresdirect.com/produ...-8-speed-chain

And depending on your current cranks, you may be able to get a smaller inner chain-ring that will fit. I'd start with your local co-op. they will probably have a derailleur and chainring for peanuts.
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Old 03-01-13, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by clasher View Post
I like the donor MTB drive-train idea the best... I'd imagine San Fran is ripe with pickings this time of the year. If you buy one with trashed wheels you could donate the frame to a co-op or something to avoid cluttering your lifestyle up with bike parts. A good co-op might be able to help you do some or all of this work too.
I'm telling ya...... I've done it several times, expressly for selling tripled road bikes to city folk - SF city folk. You can find old Treks 820's all over the place for $20-$40. The co-op idea is great, too, for those that need assistance.

Hell, I've probably got everything you need in my parts pile. I've stripped a few bikes in my time.
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Old 03-01-13, 10:44 AM
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Do the math -- what is your current low gear, and how much lower would you like to go? Before I gave it to my elder son, I converted my 1980 Peugeot PKN-10 from its original 52-42 / 13-23 gearing to 48-45-34 / 13-26, which required only a freewheel, a longer spindle, a 110mm BCD triple crankset, and a couple of select size chainrings, all courtesy of eBay. I was able to keep the OEM Simplex derailleurs, and I even used a short cage SunTour Cyclone II rear for a year of two. The half-step-and-granny gave me a very versatile range of 35 to 100 gear-inches. (The last time I bicycled the hills of San Francisco was 40 years ago as an undergrad, and 45 gear-inches (47/28) was all I needed back then. )
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Old 03-01-13, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by jeirvine View Post
Another option is to buy a Mega-Range freewheel, a used MTB derailleur, a new chain.
https://www.biketiresdirect.com/produ...ange-freewheel
https://www.biketiresdirect.com/produ...-8-speed-chain

And depending on your current cranks, you may be able to get a smaller inner chain-ring that will fit. I'd start with your local co-op. they will probably have a derailleur and chainring for peanuts.
this is probably the fastest cheapest option for getting close to what you want. remember tha you need a claw style derailer (long cage)



Big Bossmans MTB is not bad idea either (there is a $60 univega mtb on southbay craigs list)
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Old 03-01-13, 08:08 PM
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If you decide to strip a rigid frame MTB, make sure that the front derailleur is bottom pull with a 28.6 mm clamp and the bottom bracket shell is 68 mm so that the BB will fit on your frame.
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Old 03-02-13, 12:57 AM
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Warren: I have a Univega SupraSport that's similar to your bike, and I live in SF. To tame the hills, I installed a Shimano Megarange freewheel and a Suntour long-cage derailleur. I also ditched my large stock chainring (it was a 50 or a 52) and replaced it with the 42-tooth ring that had been the "small" ring. Then I found a 34-tooth chainring and installed it in the small-ring position. Voila! A compact double with low gearing for hills. NOTE: Double-check to see if you have a six-speed or seven-speed freewheel on your bike now, then buy a replacement accordingly. Harris Cyclery (among other online sellers) offers both six- and seven-speed Megarange freewheels. P.S. If you can take your bike to the Bike Kitchen in SF (Google it) they can likely sell you the parts you need for a reasonable price, and they'll help you install the parts, too!
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Old 03-02-13, 01:50 PM
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Thanks guys, so many great responses. Lots to think about. I found a great little repair shop in San Jose and the guys there are super nice and extremely knowledgeable. They agreed with what a lot of you guys said about buying a second bike or stripping parts from a complete drivetrain being the easiest/affordable way to go. Although I did see a Shimano 600 Arabesque Triple Crankset pop up on eBay two days ago... Haha. It is expensive though!

vintage SHIMANO 600 ARABESQUE cranks w/ RARE triple chainring 52 42 26

https://bit.ly/ZNNBO9

Last edited by warrennnnnnnnnn; 03-03-13 at 12:51 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 03-02-13, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by warrennnnnnnnnn View Post

vintage SHIMANO 600 ARABESQUE cranks w/ RARE triple chainring 52 42 26

https://bit.ly/ZNNBO9
that is a way funky triple!
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Old 03-03-13, 03:49 AM
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Another one here agreeing with BigBossMan's method. Touching upon Paramount1973's advice, I agree to an extent but dont pass up a good deal on a MTB if all other parts work fine (other than the FD.) A brand new lower end model Shimano FD will be well under 10 dollars at your LBS, and piles would be available at your co-op for real cheap.

edit: A 28.6 clamp bottom pull Tourney FD should have an MSRP of $4.99. Ugly black, I know, but it will work fine.
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Old 03-03-13, 05:31 AM
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If you love the bike the way that it is, a second bike kept in SF is a good option.

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