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Converting Road Bike to Commuter

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Converting Road Bike to Commuter

Old 10-28-12, 07:32 AM
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popeye.
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Converting Road Bike to Commuter

Hi everyone!

I am new to BikeForums so I don't know if I am posting to the right place. If I am, forgive me

I am moving back home within the next month and I have a road bike hanging in my garage that I rarely use. Wanting to give me more outing time, I wanted to convert it to a more casual, lowkey style of commuter that doesn't scream "expensive road bike!!".. Instead of selling it, I wanted to convert it by taking off its Trek frame (selling it) for a plain colored (unbranded) frame and saving its parts for a faster, smoother ride.

This may be a silly question but is it really just as simple as replacing the frame for another? Or is there a lot more to it that I am unaware of?
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Old 10-28-12, 08:48 AM
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Is it also possible to fit to a smaller frame (from 54 to 52) while keeping the wheels?
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Old 10-28-12, 09:24 AM
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As long as you're just going down one size it is that simple. Other things like switching to disc brakes, changing wheel size, etc can a bit more involved, but not really - bikes aren't that complicated to work on or maintain.

Unless you're going to lock the bike outside, I'd just ride the one you have. I have a few really nice bikes that I was "afraid" to ride and they just sat in the garage and collected dust. Decided this was a waste so I mounted fenders on them and ride them everyday now. As long as you maintain the bike, it'll last a long time. Wearing a bike out is a pretty good excuse to get a brand new one.

Theft would be the only reason I'd equip a beater or subdue your nice one. I'm lucky and have an indoor locked area at work for my bike and live within walking distance to the stores I shop at.
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Old 10-28-12, 10:10 AM
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Just buy an inexpensive bike for commuting if you're worried about the Trek.

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Old 10-28-12, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by popeye. View Post
... Instead of selling it, I wanted to convert it by taking off its Trek frame (selling it) for a plain colored (unbranded) frame and saving its parts for a faster, smoother ride.
Starting with a generic sort of frame and fork, the Trek parts aren't going to give you a faster, smoother ride. Except for the wheels and tires. The most logical approach would be buy an inexpensive bike for the commuter and just move the wheels over, keeping the Trek intact for when you want to ride "expensive road bike".
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Old 10-28-12, 12:02 PM
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What Trek model and year do you have?
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Old 10-28-12, 04:47 PM
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I post a recent threat about this, I have a nice very fancy road bike hanging in the wall that I've been wanting to convert for commute. I had good responses that make me think before I start investing on making this bike a nice commute bike because of the concerns I had. So I made some research, I figure that I am not going to train or feel like I have to go fast every where I go however the terrain is flat but sometimes I find myself doing short cuts on parking lots and terrain that are uneven and my fancy bike will get flats all the time.

One person on the threat mention that why not keep that nice bike as a recreational bike because I was worried about theft so that kind of click on me and I rather buy a used bike and probably had a few fixes here and there to adapt the bike to commute. I'm working on getting one soon so hopefully I'll return the one I'm using that someone lend me and feel much better with my own.

Commuting have been a great experience so far.
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Old 10-29-12, 03:59 AM
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I originally bought the road bike off craigslist without strict knowledge of fit so it turns out I bought a size too big. That is one big reason I stopped riding; it just didn't feel comfortable. Plus I've had a dream bike in mind with a Brooks seat and leather grips that I wanted to try converting my current road bike to give it some use, plus the components are something I wanted to keep because if I went bargain bike then there would be no way of getting that level of quality on my budget.
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Old 10-29-12, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by popeye. View Post
Plus I've had a dream bike in mind with a Brooks seat and leather grips that I wanted to try converting my current road bike to give it some use, plus the components are something I wanted to keep because if I went bargain bike then there would be no way of getting that level of quality on my budget.
If you bought the bike for a fair price and you haven't trashed it, it should be possible to sell if tor what you bought it for. Do that. Then start over. Touring or Commuter doesn't automatically mean cheaper. There are quality touring machines and there are crappy road racers. The components aren't always the difference. Done right, a component swap over is not trivial operation. If you had the skillz I'm guessing you would have said so. Therefore it cannot be worth it to take on that kind of a project just because you like the gruppo on the road bike. Let it go. Or keep it and get a decent commuter and call it good.

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Old 10-29-12, 03:54 PM
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I think it depends on what frame you're starting with and where you want to go.

If what you have right now is a 700c drop-bar road bike and you're looking to switch to 26" wheeled fat-tire bike with straight bars, - you're going to run into some trouble. Shifters, brakes, and wheels probably won't work. A road front derailleur isn't going to work on a frame with top-tube cable routing unless you use a pulley. That doesn't leave you with many components to transfer and even if they functioned, they may not be what you want on that bike ultimately.

Instead, if you're planning to stay within the same family of bikes (road bike frame to road bike frame), you'll have less trouble.
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Old 10-30-12, 07:08 AM
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All great advice. I want to keep it in the road bike family. I really like the aggressive riding.
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Old 10-30-12, 07:33 AM
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If you can make the frame size work for you, sometimes as simple as swapping out the stem to shorten the reach and maybe also raising the bars with a shorter and more angled stem, then the easiest way to subdue a fancy frame is to wrap it in electrical tape. Uglifies it, reduces the flash, subdues the brand/model name, and only adds minimal weight.

Searching for uglify found this thread:
http://www.bikeforums.net/archive/in.../t-815508.html
Not a direct answer though.

As noted above, sometimes swapping parts between frames is easy, and sometimes not so easy, just depends on how well the frames match up.

edit: what model is the current bike? I assume it is an aluminum frame. If you are thinking of going to a steel frame for a "smoother ride" as you put it then the swap may not be as easy. You need to check seatpost size/diameter, exterior seat tube diameter if you have a clamp-on front derailleur, brake mounts front and rear, cable routing, and other stuff. Is the current bike a threadless headset? If so then you'll want to match that with the new frame if you want to swap the stem over. Sometimes it is just easier to find a better fitting complete bike and then sell your current one to offset the cost. But if you are mechanically inclined and just want to do this then go for it and figure out stuff as you go along.
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Old 10-30-12, 07:53 AM
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When swapping frames, you need to look out for a couple things. Make sure the head tube is compatible with the fork you have. Most bikes of recent vintage use 1 1/8", older bikes used 1" and some higher end new bikes are going to "tapered" tubes which is 1 1/2" on the bottom, 1 1/8" on the top. Make sure the bottom bracket is compatible. English thread (BSA) is the most common. Unfortunately, there have been a proliferation of "improved" bottom bracket standards recently like BB30, etc where the shell is threadless and the bearings press in. You should match bottom bracket shell widths if possible too (68mm being most common), but usually you can compensate by adding/removing spacers. Last thing is seat tube diameter. This affects both the front derailleur clamp and the seat post, if the frames are different, these parts may not transfer over.

For the actual transferring, you'll need a few specialized tools too. You'll need a special tool to remove the headset from your current frame and another to press it into the new one. You can make your own or buy. You'll also need special tools for your crankset/bottom bracket. Which exact tools you need again depends on the design of the crankset.

It sounds a bit complicated, but it really isn't. If you have some mechanical aptitude, it's pretty easy to figure out and nice to know how to do these things on your own. On the other hand, if you have no experience or desire to work on your bikes, it might be something to take into your bike shop and have them do. It's not too difficult, but there are some gotcha things that can screw you up.

All that said, if it's just a fit issue with your current bike, unless you don't have any standover room to the top bar, you can make the bike ride smaller by swapping to a shorter stem.
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Old 10-30-12, 08:13 AM
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I have swapped parts from frames a number of times and it's no big deal for a bike shop -- or yourself if mechanically inclined. My shops generally charge about $100-150 to swap parts, depending on the shop and amount of work involved. I generally need some extra parts when doing a swap (such as a new stem, sometimes brakes) and sometimes supply parts that I have on hand or buy them from the LBS, which would add to the costs.

If looking for a commuter frame -- in addition to getting one the correct size -- look for features such as mounts for fenders and racks, clearance for larger tires and fenders, a pump peg, and a taller head tube.
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Old 10-30-12, 08:41 AM
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The best way I've found to convert any bike into a commuter is to ride it to work.

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Old 11-12-12, 12:11 AM
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I might actually try that electrical tape mod

But my biggest concern is the frame height since it still feels a little too high up for a comfortable ride.. so a frame switch might still be necessary.
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Old 11-14-12, 03:27 AM
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Don't tear up the Trek. It is much cheaper and easier just to get a good used bike, and set it up like you want it. It's been my experience that, depending on how far, and what kind of roads you have to ride on, hybrid bikes make outstanding commuter and utility bikes. I love my '93 Specialized Crossroads.
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Old 11-14-12, 04:08 AM
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add fenders, lights and a rear rack and ride what you have.
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Old 11-14-12, 06:51 AM
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Originally Posted by popeye. View Post
I might actually try that electrical tape mod

But my biggest concern is the frame height since it still feels a little too high up for a comfortable ride.. so a frame switch might still be necessary.
I would take it to the shop and have an honest opinion on what can be done to make it fit you better rather then swapping frames. If it can be modified parts wise to make it work on the cheap then you can do the tape mod and go ahead and use it. I lived in center city philly for many years and the tape mod works very well provided its like a grey or amy green and any flashy lables covered up nobody knows what your riding.
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Old 11-14-12, 07:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Tundra_Man View Post
The best way I've found to convert any bike into a commuter is to ride it to work.

+1 (except that the OP has sizing issues with current frame -)
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Old 11-14-12, 12:22 PM
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Any bike that has too large of a frame is of no good use to its rider.

My advice would be to sell your current road bike at cost, and next time, make fit a priority before you actually buy the bike of your dreams.

I would suggest that you consider either the Fuji Roubaix 3 or the Diamondback Podium 3 from Performance, or the Jamis Satellite Comp model for the future.

PS.

Currently, REI Outlet has the Raleigh RX Cyclocross road bike going for $800!

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