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Steel MTB Build: What $$$ did you sink into yours??

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Steel MTB Build: What $$$ did you sink into yours??

Old 02-09-11, 03:20 PM
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steve-in-kville 
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Steel MTB Build: What $$$ did you sink into yours??

I was given an late 80's (i'm guessing) Mongoose MTB frame. I'm gonna strip everything off and build all it from scratch. I will retain the front fork and handlebar and have the frame sandblasted and painted. This will be a commuter as well as a possible touring bike.

I'll need a wheelset, brakes, shifters and derailers, the works. Even a new seat. I've been looking at Nashbar's brand of parts but I see that the basic Shimano isn't a lot more money.

I am on a budget... but I have some funds set aside for this build, about $500 - $700 depending on a few minor details.

Is this price range reasonable to buy quality parts? Has anyone done a complete rebuild with this type of budget?
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Old 02-09-11, 03:25 PM
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I don't know about "top quality" but you should be able to get good reliable stuff for that kind of cash. Definitely consider getting lightly used parts.
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Old 02-09-11, 03:35 PM
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I don't need "top quality" and I am not extremely worried about having the lightest. I am commuting/touring with this rig, not racing. But part have come a long way in the past 20+ years....
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Old 02-09-11, 03:38 PM
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as i have changed my old mid-90s raleigh mountain bike into an urban commuter, here's what i've spent so far on parts:

new pedals: $50
new rigid fork: $60
new crankset: $75
new wheelset: $100
new head set: $50
new saddle & seatpost: $65
new bull horn bars: $60
new stem: $50
new brake levers: $30
new shifters: $40
new cables & housing: $20

TOTAL: ~$600


now, that wasn't all at one time, as i've been tinkering around with things here and there for over a year, but i think i'm more or less "done" for now. also, i didn't include the cost of things like new tires, chain, cassette, or brake pads because those are more regular "wear & tear" items that have to replaced frequently anyway. i'm also not including any other add-ons like lights, bottles cages, other superfluous stuff.

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Old 02-09-11, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by steve-in-kville View Post
I was given an late 80's (i'm guessing) Mongoose MTB frame. I'm gonna strip everything off and build all it from scratch. I will retain the front fork and handlebar and have the frame sandblasted and painted. This will be a commuter as well as a possible touring bike.

I'll need a wheelset, brakes, shifters and derailers, the works. Even a new seat. I've been looking at Nashbar's brand of parts but I see that the basic Shimano isn't a lot more money.

I am on a budget... but I have some funds set aside for this build, about $500 - $700 depending on a few minor details.

Is this price range reasonable to buy quality parts? Has anyone done a complete rebuild with this type of budget?
If you're on a budget you most prudent bet is to use what you have on hand/came with the frame. Otherwise you're going to burn through a lot of cash and in the end come up with a bike that may be a jack of all trades but a complete master of neither purpose you stated. If you have $500 to $700 to burn I'd look at saving a little more and getting a Surly cross-check or something in a similar vein.
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Old 02-09-11, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by steve-in-kville View Post
I was given an late 80's (i'm guessing) Mongoose MTB frame. I'm gonna strip everything off and build all it from scratch. I will retain the front fork and handlebar and have the frame sandblasted and painted. This will be a commuter as well as a possible touring bike.

I'll need a wheelset, brakes, shifters and derailers, the works. Even a new seat. I've been looking at Nashbar's brand of parts but I see that the basic Shimano isn't a lot more money.

I am on a budget... but I have some funds set aside for this build, about $500 - $700 depending on a few minor details.

Is this price range reasonable to buy quality parts? Has anyone done a complete rebuild with this type of budget?

I built up my KHS for about $300. It took a long time to get all the parts together, however. As far as new parts are concerned, you could check out build kits and consider just buying a bikesdirect bike and stripping the parts off it. Problem is these days most of those will have disc wheels/brakes that you can't use.

If your 'goose is early-mid 80s there's a good chance its rear triangle is 130mm, whereas 135 has been the standard since, oh 1987 or so.

Cruising craigslist for a similar era bike with better components than yours might be the best bet. In fact, just getting a '90s MTB off craigslist and riding that instead would probably be your best bet. (EDIT: actually probably not that good an idea. many MTBs in that era had tight rear triangles, which means heels hitting panniers unless you get specific racks meant to alleviate the problem. Come to think of it, even my 1988 Mongoose Alta had a REALLY tight rear triangle. I had bad heel/bag problems on it.)

Which model Mongoose is it? What's wrong with the parts? Got any pics?

Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 02-09-11 at 04:13 PM.
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Old 02-09-11, 04:01 PM
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Got an early Stump jumper sport, with a broken right dropout, replaced both.

Had no, fork, so I got one from the back of one of the shops, 'it had problems'
Cure: the blades needed cold setting to get back in alignment.

Bits and pieces , all add up maybe $500.. But I picked the components not some product manager.

Get a couple used bikes , 1 thats the right framesize, the other a donor,
and you can get off cheap.
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Old 02-09-11, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Sirrus Rider View Post
If you're on a budget you most prudent bet is to use what you have on hand/came with the frame. Otherwise you're going to burn through a lot of cash and in the end come up with a bike that may be a jack of all trades but a complete master of neither purpose you stated. If you have $500 to $700 to burn I'd look at saving a little more and getting a Surly cross-check or something in a similar vein.
Where's the fun in that !

I converted an early 90's Bianchi "Cross Terrain" bike to drops and brifters. Mostly used/NOS parts with the exception of a stem adaptor and stem. It was probably close to $300. Kept the wheels (though I had to redish the rear), derailleurs and crankset.
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Old 02-09-11, 04:48 PM
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A steel mtb sounds good!

Originally Posted by steve-in-kville View Post
I was given an late 80's (i'm guessing) Mongoose MTB frame. I'm gonna strip everything off and build all it from scratch. I will retain the front fork and handlebar and have the frame sandblasted and painted. This will be a commuter as well as a possible touring bike.

I'll need a wheelset, brakes, shifters and derailers, the works. Even a new seat. I've been looking at Nashbar's brand of parts but I see that the basic Shimano isn't a lot more money.

I am on a budget... but I have some funds set aside for this build, about $500 - $700 depending on a few minor details.

Is this price range reasonable to buy quality parts? Has anyone done a complete rebuild with this type of budget?
In fact I`ll probably be working on one myself! But I`d suggest a different strategy. Bikes are a lot like cars in that if you buy them in parts they cost 10x as much. Seriously suggest you look at picking up a couple used bikes and using them for parts. They should have components you`re interested in and be in good condition. Also suggest you double check that frame. If its cromoly I`d go with it. If its just mild steel I wouldn`t sink that kind of a budget into it.

My last rebuild wasn`t a mtb- it was a hybrid. A customer brought the bike in and it needed some serious TLC. The rear wheel was tacoed, the wheel bearings and BB bearings were loose, the cables were corroded and it needed new tires. Thing is - he wasn`t prepared to spend $200+ on it.

But the bike originally sold for $600 in 1993 and the drivechain amazingly showed almost no wear. So I offerred him $100 and he walked away happy.

About 10 hours later the bike had been completely stripped and regreased. Yup - the bearings were in immaculate condition. A new seat. tires, stainless cables and new brake pads, and it looked like a completely different machine. I did have to dissasemble and straighten and rebuild the rear wheel, but those were welded rims and were worth the effort.

And OK, I had some stuff lying around. so maybe the fenders, racks, and water bottles should go in there as a cost too. Was it a `deal`? Not if you look at the amount of time that went into it. But if you have more time than money you can still end up at the same point and I got a REALLY nice winter bike. A lot nicer than the new hybrids being sold across the street for $600.

Last edited by Burton; 02-09-11 at 09:12 PM.
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Old 02-09-11, 05:10 PM
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I've got $200 in my steel Bianchi MTB commuter build. I paid 100 for the bike as it was completely rideable and working then another $100 on making it more commuter/winter friendly. I'd say your best bang for your buck would maybe pick up a donor bike. I also picked up a Schwinn Paramount MTB recently for $50. Needed all new shifters, cables, chain, rear derailleur, grips, headset and fork. I've got less then $200 in that bike and picked up new Shimano shifters, v brakes, tubes, headset, grips, chain and rear derailleur. I'd say start asking around at your local bike shops and seeing if they have used parts or bikes they got in as trade ins.
If you piece it together then it'll nickle and dime you to death with all new parts. Every bike I build up gets the usual new chain, cables, grips, tires/tubes and lube and runs me between 50-75. If it needs more then I scour CL, LBS, here, thrift stores for donor bikes. It just depends on how much you want to drop in to your build and is it worth it in the end. The Shimano shifters/brake levers I picked up were nice since they includes all the cables, and housings needed for under $40 brand new. With your build budget you could build quite the commuter/tourer. I think I spent that much on my last three bike builds. I've seen a lot of nice complete bikes for that price or below. I think $200-300 would be a more ideal budget to drop into a project like this. I can't imagine dropping that much into a frame like this. No disrespect as my Paramount PDG30 was a nice rig back in the day but at the end of the day couldn't see dropping XTR components here and there when just the derailleur is worth more then the whole frame. lol.
Here's the before and after of my recent steel MTB projects
Bianchi Nyala

$100 later

Schwinn Paramount PDG30

After

Last edited by Henry III; 02-09-11 at 05:14 PM.
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Old 02-09-11, 05:40 PM
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The new Deore M590 stuff is pretty cheap and works great. I got the shifters from Jenson USA for $25, and I don't think I could tell them apart from the XT 770 shifters I used to have on a different bike. I built myself a pair of wheels with Tiagra hubs (because my '89 Rockhopper had 130mm rear spacing) and Mavic XM 317 rims (which you can get crazy cheap from Crosslake Sales). I used (and highly recommend) Avid Speed Dial brake levers, which you can find for about $20, and Avid Single Digit 5 brakes. I had some XT front and rear derailleurs sitting around in the garage, so I used those, but I would probably have gone with M590 if I didn't already have the XT's. I kept the original crank, bottom bracket and headset.

Overall, I think I would up spending around $350, and I feel like I have a great bike to show for it.

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Old 02-09-11, 05:54 PM
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If I were to price up all the trial and error it would exceed your budget but as is I spent including the new back wheel right about 600 bucks for everything. For sure go for what ever you can get your hands on used so long as its in good shape. A lot of this bike was kind of an experiment taken a little further than my previous one. If your staying with flat bar you can probably do the build for under 500 with no problem.
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Old 02-09-11, 05:58 PM
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Nice ride Fizally. I need to "drop bariify" one of my MTBs one of these days!
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Old 02-09-11, 06:00 PM
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I spent about $325 in parts, some new some used.
included
tires
rear wheel
road compact crankset and front derailer.
bottom bracket
v brakes
shifters
brake levers
cables
rear derailer
cables
seat
bar ends
fenders.
basically everything except the frame, fork, front wheel and handlebar.
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Old 02-09-11, 06:09 PM
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"I will retain the front fork and handlebar and have the frame sandblasted and painted. "

I'm wondering how much it will cost to have it painted?
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Old 02-09-11, 06:23 PM
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That Rockhopper looks really nice. Just don't forget about sizing and spacing with an older frame. New wheels won't fit unless you stretch the rearend. I kept my old wheels as they were decent 7spd Deore XT hubs and Ritchey rims. Not to mention new low gear stuff is alot cheaper too then what is currently new on most new mountain bikes. I was actually checking out the Vuelta Zerolite MTB wheels at Nasbar for $80 but then I would have to upgrade everything(shifters, chain, derailleurs) so I passed. But just a heads up as they are decent wheels for extremely cheap. if my wheels were toast I would go for some nice older wheelsets on eBay(Ringle, Nuke Proof, XTR, Kooka, etc) instead of going brand new. Just another option to build a nice bike for cheap.
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Old 02-09-11, 07:16 PM
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This thing was kind of an oddball. An early 29'er so it has 700c wheels. This works out great for me because I already have a spare set of fairly wide rims from my road bike that I can use on this. It makes studded tire swaps easy.

$125 for the bike and about $300 worth of new, NOS, and used parts that I got for the drop bar conversion. It's actually got Campy shifters on it now.
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Old 02-09-11, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
This thing was kind of an oddball. An early 29'er so it has 700c wheels.
<ahem>Hybrid</ahem>

Nice Ride!
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Old 02-09-11, 07:39 PM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
<ahem>Hybrid</ahem>

Nice Ride!
Definitely not a hybrid. The Project series (3 and above anyway) were offroad racing bikes.
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Old 02-09-11, 07:57 PM
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I like hybrids cause their like Cyclocross bikes in sheep's clothing. Just change a few simple things and you have a nice CX/Touring rig. Plus you can get decent name brand stuff for dirt cheap cause I think people just think of them as un cool old people bikes. I always see Bianchi hybrids for right around that $100 mark. 700c, canti's and steel frame(lugged models also!)...what more could you ask for? Toss some drops, new levers and some barend shifters and you've got a nice bike.
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Old 02-09-11, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
Definitely not a hybrid. The Project series (3 and above anyway) were offroad racing bikes.
I guess they were in a bit of a grey area. I did a race or two in 1993 and I was about the only one there running a rigid bike. Because of that I don't think I could call the Project 3 a racing bike. On the other hand I had a 1992 Bianchi Grizzly, definitely race oriented, but still a rigid bike.

The project 3s were pretty nice bikes, though. Looks like Bikepedia calls the 93 a MTB and 94-95 hybrids, for whatever reason.

I guess I'd have to waffle on this one.
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Old 02-09-11, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
I guess they were in a bit of a grey area. I did a race or two in 1993 and I was about the only one there running a rigid bike. Because of that I don't think I could call the Project 3 a racing bike. On the other hand I had a 1992 Bianchi Grizzly, definitely race oriented, but still a rigid bike.

The project 3s were pretty nice bikes, though. Looks like Bikepedia calls the 93 a MTB and 94-95 hybrids, for whatever reason.

I guess I'd have to waffle on this one.
Project 3's, 5's and 7's were basically the same bike with better components as you went from 3 to 7. The 7 also had Tange Prestige tubing instead of Tange Infinity. Some Project 7's were also sold with suspension forks and some even had drop bars. They were Cross Country bikes.

My mid 90's Rockhopper was also rigid framed and no one would mistake it for a hybrid. The Project 3 is actually a better bike. The only reason the Project series are sometimes mis-labled as hybrids is because of the 700c wheels which few MTBs were using at the time.
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Old 02-09-11, 09:07 PM
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How wide a tire can you go on that project 3
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Old 02-09-11, 09:07 PM
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Lots of good advice here! I agree with the donor bike approach, it's not difficult to find late 80's MTBs at yard sales for well under $100. A bit of patience and you might find a Deore XT level bike.

I've got less than $300 in my Rockhopper, and it's only a paintjob away from looking really nice (it won't be getting one though...)

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Old 02-09-11, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
The only reason the Project series are sometimes mis-labled as hybrids is because of the 700c wheels which few MTBs were using at the time.
I guess I've always thought of the term hybrid (and most other bike genre terms) to apply to a spectrum of bike styles. Pretty much from what are now called flat bar road bikes to what are now called Niners. There are simply more descriptive subgenres today than there were back then. Heck, there are 5 different MTB subgenres now, not including the Niner descriptor. In 1992, there were just Mountain Bikes, no All Mountain, DH, XC, etc.

Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 02-09-11 at 09:15 PM. Reason: Had to add quote.
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