Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Commuting
Reload this Page >

Building a commuter bike...

Notices
Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

Building a commuter bike...

Old 07-25-09, 10:14 PM
  #1  
kblair
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
kblair's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 10
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Building a commuter bike...

I have a cheap/crappy Magna mountain bike and I'm looking to make this my commuter project bike. I do not know too much about bikes since I just recently started riding, but thought if I worked on making this one better over time, I'd learn a lot about them along the way :] Now the problem is, I have no idea where to start.

My commute is only 6 miles each way on rough urban roads. There is only one little stretch on a bike path that's smooth. The rest of the ride is dodging sewer drain drops and other random road debris.

Please help me learn the ways! Thanks!
kblair is offline  
Old 07-25-09, 10:18 PM
  #2  
iwegian
Steel snob by accident
 
iwegian's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Des Moines, IA
Posts: 648

Bikes: Masi steel cross, Torelli steel roadie, Brew steel bmx

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
fat tires would be good. probably 32/35, or smaller if the frame won't fit them. since it's 6 miles and i assume you want to do it cheaply, you might think about ss. it will also be low maintenance. but if the geary bits on the bike now work fine i'd stick with those.

a rack might be good depending on how much stuff you have and whether or not you can stand wearing a backpack/mess bag. also think about fenders

edit: probably 26" wheels, so probably 26x1.5" will work good and still roll fast
iwegian is offline  
Old 07-25-09, 10:23 PM
  #3  
kblair
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
kblair's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 10
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Awesome! Thanks for your help. I don't have too much to carry, and usually keep clothes at work to avoid having to bring so much with me.
kblair is offline  
Old 07-27-09, 09:26 AM
  #4  
Ka_Jun
Who farted?
 
Ka_Jun's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 1,287

Bikes: '06 K2 Zed 3.0, '09 Novara Buzz V

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by iwegian View Post
fat tires would be good. probably 32/35, or smaller if the frame won't fit them. since it's 6 miles and i assume you want to do it cheaply, you might think about ss. it will also be low maintenance. but if the geary bits on the bike now work fine i'd stick with those.

a rack might be good depending on how much stuff you have and whether or not you can stand wearing a backpack/mess bag. also think about fenders

edit: probably 26" wheels, so probably 26x1.5" will work good and still roll fast
+1. Wouldn't put much more than that into your Magna, just not worth it. Lights, I would get lights.
Ka_Jun is offline  
Old 07-27-09, 12:21 PM
  #5  
Andy_K 
Senior Member
 
Andy_K's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Beaverton, OR
Posts: 12,251

Bikes: Yes

Mentioned: 314 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1828 Post(s)
Liked 134 Times in 87 Posts
Here's an extensive plan that I think will help you pick up the skills and confidence you need to work on your bike and let you stage things to spread out the expenses.

1. Clean and oil the chain. This is probably the biggest thing wrong with most Magnas I see. It's easy but well worth doing on a regular basis. Read here: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/chains.html

2. Replace the tires. This is essentially the most basic task you can perform, and all the tools you need for are things you should have with you for commuting anyway. If your budget is tight, stop by Performance Bike and pick up a pair of Forte Gothams. If you have the money, go for something more puncture resistant.

3. Learn to adjust the brakes. If you get a multi-tool like the Crank Brothers multi-19, it will have everything you need to completely remove the brake arms, put them back on, adjust the cable length, remove the pads, etc. Take everything off and apply grease anywhere it pivots. I'd recommend replacing the pads while you doing this. A set of Kool Stops will make a huge difference in your brake performance. This is probably what you need to know: http://sheldonbrown.com/canti-direct.html

4. Learn to adjust the derailleurs. Start with the rear, it's easier. This will be tricky with the low-end derailleurs you have on a Magna, but if you master it, you'll be a whiz once you upgrade to something nicer. This part is a lot easier with a workstand, but you can get by without it. Look here: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/derailer-adjustment.html It will seem at first like you're missing something because it just doesn't work the way Sheldon says. You just need to develop a better feel for things.

5. Replace the cables. You really should have done this sooner, but it's kind of an intimidating job until you've mastered the above skills. You'll want a good cable cutter like the Park Tool CN-10, which is well worth the cost. How-to: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/cables.html

6. Take the derailleurs off and put them back on. This is mostly a learning and confidence building exercise. It won't improve anything, but you'll feel better about your knowledge of how things work.

7. Replace the bottom bracket with a cartridge bottom bracket. You'll need a crank puller and a bottom bracket tool for this job. Removing the old bottom bracket may take a different tool. I'd recommend taking it to an LBS to have that done, because they'll charge you less than the cost of the tool and the old one was probably insufficiently greased which will make removal hard. Have them figure out what size cartridge you need while you're there.

8. Replace the frame. Do you have one of those Magnas with front or dual suspension? If so, that's lots of dead weight. If you head down to The Recyclery at 9th and Madison you can pick up a decent used rigid mountain bike frame for under $50. You can probably move most/all of the parts from the Magna over to that and then replace them with better parts as needed/wanted. If you've done everything above, this should be a piece of cake.

Last edited by Andy_K; 07-27-09 at 12:28 PM.
Andy_K is offline  
Old 07-28-09, 02:28 PM
  #6  
rsbeach
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Maumee, Ohio (near Toledo)
Posts: 122

Bikes: Rans Stratus XP, Trek 740 hybrid

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Good site

Here's a site which will shed some light on all your questions - wide range of stuff, all helpful.

http://www.biketoledo.net
rsbeach is offline  
Old 08-03-09, 08:07 PM
  #7  
kblair
Junior Member
Thread Starter
 
kblair's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 10
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
Here's an extensive plan that I think will help you pick up the skills and confidence you need to work on your bike and let you stage things to spread out the expenses.

1. Clean and oil the chain. This is probably the biggest thing wrong with most Magnas I see. It's easy but well worth doing on a regular basis. Read here: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/chains.html

2. Replace the tires. This is essentially the most basic task you can perform, and all the tools you need for are things you should have with you for commuting anyway. If your budget is tight, stop by Performance Bike and pick up a pair of Forte Gothams. If you have the money, go for something more puncture resistant.

3. Learn to adjust the brakes. If you get a multi-tool like the Crank Brothers multi-19, it will have everything you need to completely remove the brake arms, put them back on, adjust the cable length, remove the pads, etc. Take everything off and apply grease anywhere it pivots. I'd recommend replacing the pads while you doing this. A set of Kool Stops will make a huge difference in your brake performance. This is probably what you need to know: http://sheldonbrown.com/canti-direct.html

4. Learn to adjust the derailleurs. Start with the rear, it's easier. This will be tricky with the low-end derailleurs you have on a Magna, but if you master it, you'll be a whiz once you upgrade to something nicer. This part is a lot easier with a workstand, but you can get by without it. Look here: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/derailer-adjustment.html It will seem at first like you're missing something because it just doesn't work the way Sheldon says. You just need to develop a better feel for things.

5. Replace the cables. You really should have done this sooner, but it's kind of an intimidating job until you've mastered the above skills. You'll want a good cable cutter like the Park Tool CN-10, which is well worth the cost. How-to: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/cables.html

6. Take the derailleurs off and put them back on. This is mostly a learning and confidence building exercise. It won't improve anything, but you'll feel better about your knowledge of how things work.

7. Replace the bottom bracket with a cartridge bottom bracket. You'll need a crank puller and a bottom bracket tool for this job. Removing the old bottom bracket may take a different tool. I'd recommend taking it to an LBS to have that done, because they'll charge you less than the cost of the tool and the old one was probably insufficiently greased which will make removal hard. Have them figure out what size cartridge you need while you're there.

8. Replace the frame. Do you have one of those Magnas with front or dual suspension? If so, that's lots of dead weight. If you head down to The Recyclery at 9th and Madison you can pick up a decent used rigid mountain bike frame for under $50. You can probably move most/all of the parts from the Magna over to that and then replace them with better parts as needed/wanted. If you've done everything above, this should be a piece of cake.
Thank you so much! This is exactly the advice I was looking for. This will be a fun project. I know Magnas really aren't worth putting money into, but if I can learn how to do all this, and then move all these to a different frame, it wouldn't be a waste at all! Thanks again.
kblair is offline  
Old 08-03-09, 08:22 PM
  #8  
curbtender
Senior Member
 
curbtender's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: SF Bay Area, East bay
Posts: 5,977

Bikes: Marinoni, Kestral 200 2002 Trek 5200, KHS Flite, Koga Miyata, Schwinn Spitfire 5, Schwinn Speedster, Mondia Special, Univega Alpina, Miyata team Ti, MB3

Mentioned: 32 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 695 Post(s)
Liked 196 Times in 148 Posts
Andy has good suggestions, but I think what will help most is going to a thinner slick then what comes on the mountain bikes. The Gothem is good, but I'd go even thinner, maybe 1.5 on the thickness for a road commute.
curbtender is offline  
Old 08-04-09, 04:37 AM
  #9  
sonatageek
Registered User
 
sonatageek's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Cleveland,Ohio
Posts: 2,778
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I don't think I would automatically replace the bottom bracket. If it is cup and cone style, take it apart, clean it and re-grease it. If it is smooth (okay smooth enough ) use it and only if it starts making noise or really threatens to fail, replace it. That will save you $20.

How about a picture of the bike. Being a Magna it could be rigid/front suspension/full suspension, really bad side pull brakes, bad cantilever or v-brakes etc. Many variables.

I just did a total rebuild on a Royce Union front suspension mountain bike and I think the only really really bad component on it is the Lee Chi cantilever brakes. I am thinking of swapping out the levers with something that doesn't bend and deform when used and seeing if that improves things a bit.
sonatageek is offline  
Old 08-04-09, 07:02 PM
  #10  
u2chin
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 56
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
The main issue is that, if everything's working and the parts are fine with you, the only thing left is to remove the parts and pop em back on.
On the other hand, u can look up what makes the $1000 bikes worth that much, and try to improve your bike to something of the sort with less cost by using used parts.
Main things that people change out are the shifters, which fit to a certain gearing that you want. This in turn might need to you to change the cassettes, crankshaft, derailers, and chain. The brakes are also another thing that people upgrade depending on their needs.
In addition to the parts, you'll need certain tools to change the parts you get. I think there's ways to ghetto it, but you'd want tools that fit if you value the parts you found, because a hammer and screwdriver isn't going to change out all the parts.

Basically, choose the frame you want, then pop in parts you want depending on what you want the bike to do. What ends up on the frame will be dependent on you experience, budget, and needs

Last edited by u2chin; 08-04-09 at 07:17 PM.
u2chin is offline  
Old 08-04-09, 08:14 PM
  #11  
Grim
Senior Member
 
Grim's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Atlanta
Posts: 2,993

Bikes: Cannondale T700s and a few others

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Don't put a dime in it. Use it till it falls apart and throw it away save up and buy a better bike when the right deal comes along.

Local thrift stores and yard sales are you best deals. but it takes a lot of leg work. I have dragged some really nice bikes out of thrift stores. Find one in a good area that takes drop offs and hit them a few times on a Saturday if they are processing as the stuff comes in. Last week I got a 1983 Fuji DelRey that once I clean up it will sell for $180. I paid $25 but it needs a full tune up and tires just because of how long it has been sitting. If it has 50 miles on it I would be surprised.
Also look here.
http://portland.craigslist.org/bik/
Find a full rigid or at least a hard tail if you are mostly on hard pack. Suspension soaks up energy that could be used for forward motion. Find a quality mountain or possibly Hybrid from Trek, Cannondale or other better brands. Put a tire on it with a locked center tread. I like Specialized Cross road on the rear and Hemisphere on the front.

This is a good deal on a better quality bike. In fact if you can talk the seller into leaving the fenders (point out that unless his road bike has 26 inch tires those 60mm fenders are not going to work).and most of the hard rocks have rack braze on's. This is boarder line a smoking deal if you fit it.
http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/bik/1306196427.html
Another not so bad deal if you are short.
http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/bik/1306100688.html
Good bike idiot seller.
offer $100 no more unless he fixes the tire then offer $110.
http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/bik/1306044413.html
Nice bike price is high. Watch and see if it comes down.
http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/bik/1305950087.html
If this is really a cannondale and it is in any sort of shape its a deal. Sounds like they need crack money. Bring friend and even better if they have a gun. offer $20.
http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/bik/1305895406.html
Decent bikes but price is out of line. Pay no more then $110. I just sold one of these for $80. Check the shifters carefully. they are prone to jamming. REI has new grip shifts for $17. The Shifters off you manga would work.
http://portland.craigslist.org/wsc/bik/1305832062.html
On the higher end. Good bike fair price they may take an offer.
http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/bik/1305768200.html
Probably where the crack head got the cannondale.
http://portland.craigslist.org/clk/bik/1305749927.html
Decent price
http://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/bik/1305708463.html
Decent bike with decent mid line parts. Price is not out of line but you might be able to get them down around $110.
http://portland.craigslist.org/wsc/bik/1305694369.html
All off those bikes were $400 or more new. Some much more. M500's were around $600 if it has the silk fork. Just make sure you get the bearing serviced even on a garage queen that has been sitting with less then 50 miles on it. Grease dries out and you will ruin the bearings.

Sheldon (RIP) can help you on working on your bike.
www.sheldonbrown.com/
Grim is offline  
Old 08-05-09, 12:17 AM
  #12  
Andy_K 
Senior Member
 
Andy_K's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Beaverton, OR
Posts: 12,251

Bikes: Yes

Mentioned: 314 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1828 Post(s)
Liked 134 Times in 87 Posts
Originally Posted by curbtender View Post
Andy has good suggestions, but I think what will help most is going to a thinner slick then what comes on the mountain bikes. The Gothem is good, but I'd go even thinner, maybe 1.5 on the thickness for a road commute.
You know, I'm not so sure thinner is necessarily better. I've put some two inch wide Marathon Supremes on my rain bike this spring, and that thing'll move. In fact, I think it's faster than it was with 1.6" wide Conti Town Rides. I think the main thing is getting rid of the knobs (which neither of the tires I just mentioned have).

Someone here recently linked to a technical article which showed that all other things being equal wider tires generally have lower rolling resistance that thinner ones of the same type. The thing that thinner tires have going for them is a better aerodynamic profile, but I'm not sure that really comes into play much at the speeds most commuters are usually going.
Andy_K is offline  
Old 08-05-09, 02:48 AM
  #13  
FreddyV
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: 5257'N 621'E
Posts: 1,977

Bikes: Giant OCR

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I wouldn't go with slimmer tires. It's only 6 commutes, and yes it makes you faster, but the wider, more off-road tires would make it more comfortable to hop curbs and road debris. Plus, I'm always worrying my tires/rims are getting shot with every bump I take...

Getting new cables should be a nice way to start, and not too expensive either. After this you'll naturally run into adjusting derailleurs and brakes. Brakes are the easy part, derailleurs are the 'hard' part. Check out youtube, there are some instructables around on how to adjust them.

As said (in a few posts before) grease is very important. It's easy to take a part the wheel axles and regrease the bearings in it. Just make sure you have proper bearing grease and don't lose any bearing balls.

Clean your bike each weak, or as you ride only 12 miles a day (equals 60 miles a week) every two weeks. Sand and other dirt can slow you down on your way as it increases rubbing alongside the brakes, or near the axles of the wheels.

A few things you might want, are a Topeak seatpost clipon luggage rack with a fitting fender, and a front fender. Getting your legs and your back wet after the rain isn't fun. And if you ever need to take something extra to work, you have a place to put it (which obviously goes for your clothing as well, since you do have to take it to work once in a while).

Not sure what Magna type you have, but did a quick Google search for it. You might want to go with clipless pedals in a few months, but it's not a necessity (yet). Make sure you have reflectors in your spokes, and nice and bright lights in the front and rear of your bike (lighting is very important when commuting). Maybe some bar ends for the extra hand positions, could decrease or prevent cramping/numb/tingly fingers while on the road.
FreddyV is offline  
Old 08-05-09, 07:31 AM
  #14  
rumrunn6
Senior Member
 
rumrunn6's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: 25 miles northwest of Boston
Posts: 24,365

Bikes: Bottecchia Sprint, GT Timberline 29r

Mentioned: 99 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3557 Post(s)
Liked 571 Times in 409 Posts
I converted a MTB for commuting and put on these tires:

http://www.biketiresdirect.com/piksc...ty_tire/pp.htm

It was good to get rid of the MTB tires.
rumrunn6 is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.