Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational)
Reload this Page >

MTB to gravel/adventure sanity check

Notices
Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

MTB to gravel/adventure sanity check

Old 04-04-18, 10:48 PM
  #1  
Black Sunshine
Desert Flatlander
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Buckeye, AZ
Posts: 88

Bikes: 2001 Trek Alpha 1000, Micargi Tahiti NX3 'The Iron Horse', and many other cheap resale and family bikes.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
MTB to gravel/adventure sanity check

Hey team,

I recently found out about gravel bikes and discovered that I want one or something to do. lol I have a road bike and a FS MTB. Both of them are relics, as is the soon to be victim of this thread. I have an old Trek Alpha 4300 MTB. I stripped it down and painted it last year. I've used it to cruise around the neighborhood with my daughter. I had it running good with it's crumby old derailleurs and some old trigger shifters. When I got the thing it was missing a wheel, brakes, handle bars, seat post, and seat. So I put it all together and that was fun. Recently I decided to take the old trigger shifters off of it and swap them onto my daughter's Trek MTB. So now it doesn't have any shifters or brake levers.

So I could grab some cheap shifters for it but I'm compelled to set it up for drop bars instead. Tonight I pulled it off the wall and compared it's size and geometry to my road bike. For comparison sake the Alpha 1000 is 52cm and the Alpha 4300 is 16". Overall they look very similar. Same wheel base. Crank is a tiny bit higher on the MTB. The seat and head tube are leaning back a tiny bit on the MTB compared to the road bike. They look parallel on both bikes. The top tubes are the same length.

So I plan to proceed with this madness (dumbness?). Obviously spending very much (any) money on it isn't a good idea. So I put together a list of parts that I think I'll need and it looks like it's going to run about $120. I guess I have a couple of questions and I'd like to know ahead of time if this list of things will work together. So without further adieu here's the list:
  • Ebay Micronew 3x7 brifters
  • ebay cheap wide and compact drop bars
  • a stem that will work with the bars (I don't think I have any because of the newer bar standard)
  • Tektro ORYX cantilever brakes

I've looked around and haven't found any info on the Micronew brifters but I really don't want bar end shifters and I don't want to spend a ton. So here we are.

I've kind of jumped into this and committed because I bought the Tektro ORYX yesterday. Does anyone know for sure if they will fit over regular MTB tires? I may still need adapters for them. I got them used and they are supposed to come with a lot of parts so I'll see if they come with the guides to set them up on this bike.

Next area of concern that I haven't fully worked out in my mind is the front derailleur. Apparently, from my research, the MTB FD won't work with the road brifters. So I guess I'll grab a cheap road FD that is made for a 3x setup. Maybe with a little luck I could find an Ultegra for $10 like I did for my Alpha 1000 when the Sora decided to fall apart. Can anyone confirm if this will or won't work with the MTB FD?

OK, here is what you really wanted when you opened this thread. Some pics. Pics or it didn't happen.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg
IMG_20180404_204223.jpg (1.13 MB, 280 views)
File Type: jpg
IMG_20180404_204317.jpg (1.23 MB, 282 views)
File Type: jpg
IMG_20180404_204344.jpg (1.08 MB, 277 views)
File Type: jpg
IMG_20180404_204352.jpg (1.03 MB, 277 views)
File Type: jpg
IMG_20180404_204434.jpg (1.15 MB, 280 views)
File Type: jpg
IMG_20180404_204446.jpg (1.29 MB, 277 views)
File Type: jpg
IMG_20180404_204611.jpg (1.28 MB, 280 views)
File Type: jpg
IMG_20180404_204616.jpg (1.29 MB, 284 views)
File Type: jpg
IMG_20180404_204637.jpg (1.13 MB, 287 views)
Black Sunshine is offline  
Old 04-05-18, 12:57 AM
  #2  
HTupolev
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Seattle
Posts: 3,962
Mentioned: 40 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1814 Post(s)
Liked 1,001 Times in 493 Posts
Originally Posted by Black Sunshine View Post
So I put together a list of parts that I think I'll need and it looks like it's going to run about $120. I guess I have a couple of questions and I'd like to know ahead of time if this list of things will work together. So without further adieu here's the list:
  • Ebay Micronew 3x7 brifters
  • ebay cheap wide and compact drop bars
  • a stem that will work with the bars (I don't think I have any because of the newer bar standard)
  • Tektro ORYX cantilever brakes
Probably new cables and housing for both brakes and shifters.

What are you doing for bar tape? Old inner tubes can work, but otherwise, budget for something.

If this is a bike that will be getting used on decent-distance rides, and especially if they're away from civilization, you'll likely want to install another bottle cage. (And have a kit for repairing flats and whatnot.)

Next area of concern that I haven't fully worked out in my mind is the front derailleur. Apparently, from my research, the MTB FD won't work with the road brifters. So I guess I'll grab a cheap road FD that is made for a 3x setup. Maybe with a little luck I could find an Ultegra for $10 like I did for my Alpha 1000 when the Sora decided to fall apart. Can anyone confirm if this will or won't work with the MTB FD?
The shifter and derailleur aren't really made for each other. Sometimes things will "just work", so you could always try hooking the current FD to the new shifter if you want, and then getting a road derailleur if it doesn't work out.

If you're insisting on indexed shifting, you'll have to play the compatibility game in some form or another.

//================================

As always, this is relevant:
Show Your Vintage MTB Drop Bar Conversions
HTupolev is offline  
Old 04-05-18, 07:42 AM
  #3  
dgodave
Behold my avatar:
 
dgodave's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: SW Colorado
Posts: 981

Bikes: 2019 Gorilla Monsoon, 2013 Surly Krampus, Brompton folder

Mentioned: 33 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6597 Post(s)
Liked 110 Times in 68 Posts
If it was me, my number one concern would be that old susp fork.

I much prefer rigid for gravel type riding, rather than lugging around this heavy bobbing old anchor.

But thats me.
dgodave is offline  
Old 04-05-18, 09:46 AM
  #4  
jp911
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: Bend
Posts: 205

Bikes: Trek Madone 5.2 Dura Ace, Niner RLT9 aluminum, Santa Cruz 5010 CC, Niner Air 9 rigid 29er

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 56 Post(s)
Liked 24 Times in 22 Posts
Are you willing to "merge" the road and mountain bike? Basically, put the brifters, derailleurs, cranks, and bars from the road bike on the mountain bike. Hard to tell from the pics if any of that will actually work, but if you're looking for a project it might be a fun experiment.
jp911 is offline  
Old 04-05-18, 10:56 AM
  #5  
Black Sunshine
Desert Flatlander
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Buckeye, AZ
Posts: 88

Bikes: 2001 Trek Alpha 1000, Micargi Tahiti NX3 'The Iron Horse', and many other cheap resale and family bikes.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
Probably new cables and housing for both brakes and shifters.

What are you doing for bar tape? Old inner tubes can work, but otherwise, budget for something.

If this is a bike that will be getting used on decent-distance rides, and especially if they're away from civilization, you'll likely want to install another bottle cage. (And have a kit for repairing flats and whatnot.)

I definitely plan on new cables, housing, and tape. I have all of that laying around here so I didn't really call it out.

I know it's against conventional wisdom but I carry a 3 liter water bag and keep all the repair stuff in it. I've got it setup so I can switch between road and MTB quickly.

Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
The shifter and derailleur aren't really made for each other. Sometimes things will "just work", so you could always try hooking the current FD to the new shifter if you want, and then getting a road derailleur if it doesn't work out.

If you're insisting on indexed shifting, you'll have to play the compatibility game in some form or another.

//================================

As always, this is relevant:
Show Your Vintage MTB Drop Bar Conversions
I guess I'll have to get these shifters and see how they work. I tried to wade through that super thread. I didn't see much about using brifters in there. I'll probably keep looking at it though. I have noticed that most of the bikes in there are older vintage than mine. The geometry might be a little better. I guess I'll see how this works out.


Originally Posted by dgodave View Post
If it was me, my number one concern would be that old susp fork.

I much prefer rigid for gravel type riding, rather than lugging around this heavy bobbing old anchor.

But thats me.
I'm keeping my eyes open for a rigid fork. This one isn't the most terrible of fake suspension forks but it does suck. lol
Black Sunshine is offline  
Old 04-05-18, 11:20 AM
  #6  
katsup
Senior Member
 
katsup's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Southern California
Posts: 1,531

Bikes: Soma Fog Cutter v1, 1989 Bianchi Tangent and Vintage Mountain Bikes

Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 529 Post(s)
Liked 380 Times in 225 Posts
I picked up the Microshift 3x7 STI type shifters for a Trek 520 that uses a Deore DX front derailleur (bottom pull). On the stand it is working, but the front seems to have an extra click which I still need to troubleshoot. I am still waiting for brake cables before I can finish this bike. I also have an old Mongoose MTB I may convert, but it depends on how I like them on the 520. That build is a ways off though.

I think MicroNew is a clone of Micorshift. I ended up going with Microshift hoping it would be more reliable.

Last edited by katsup; 04-06-18 at 08:34 PM.
katsup is offline  
Old 04-05-18, 02:43 PM
  #7  
simmonsgc
Senior Member
 
simmonsgc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: NC High Country
Posts: 657
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 83 Post(s)
Liked 13 Times in 8 Posts
Originally Posted by Black Sunshine View Post
Hey team,

I recently found out about gravel bikes and discovered that I want one or something to do.
As is often said in threads like this: Check this forum thread for inspiration -- Show Your Vintage MTB Drop Bar Conversions

When I discovered that thread, it erased the rest of my day.
simmonsgc is offline  
Old 04-06-18, 04:34 PM
  #8  
wheelsmcgee
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 504
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 101 Post(s)
Liked 40 Times in 32 Posts
Originally Posted by katsup View Post
I picked up the Microshift 3x7 shifters for a Trek 520 that uses a Deore DX front derailleur (bottom pull). On the stand it is working, but the front seems to have an extra click which I still need to troubleshoot.
Possibly a middle ring trim setting? Road shifters typically have them for the front derailers, but not sure if all MTB shifters do.
wheelsmcgee is offline  
Old 04-06-18, 08:34 PM
  #9  
katsup
Senior Member
 
katsup's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Southern California
Posts: 1,531

Bikes: Soma Fog Cutter v1, 1989 Bianchi Tangent and Vintage Mountain Bikes

Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 529 Post(s)
Liked 380 Times in 225 Posts
Originally Posted by wheelsmcgee View Post
Possibly a middle ring trim setting? Road shifters typically have them for the front derailers, but not sure if all MTB shifters do.
I should of specified, the Microshift 3x7 I purchase are STI type shifters. I'll edit my original post.

A trim setting makes sense. I don't have a lot of experience with STI shifters. My sora set doesn't have a trim setting with it's 2x9.
katsup is offline  
Old 04-08-18, 09:41 PM
  #10  
Black Sunshine
Desert Flatlander
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Buckeye, AZ
Posts: 88

Bikes: 2001 Trek Alpha 1000, Micargi Tahiti NX3 'The Iron Horse', and many other cheap resale and family bikes.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
OK, update on this thing.

Ordered some bar tape and some MTB diameter track bars. I have a few MTB stems so I should be able to figure out something for them. The ORYX canti brakes arrived. They came with a few things but neither of the guides for centering the cable. Shouldn't be hard to find those. I have to check my cable inventory. I think I only have one cable of one type and I don't remember which type.

I kept thinking about the brifters and didn't like the uncertainty that went with the brand and whether they would work with the FD. So I went to a store that I found on craigslist that carriers cheap used parts. I picked up some old levers to run the canti brakes with on the drop bars. I really don't know much about these parts. They had a ton of vintage stuff that was probably binned to build Fixies. I selected some DiaComps just because I liked the holes on them. lol (I'll feel dumb if they won't run these brakes.) Then I found some nappy old thumb shifters. They reminded me of my '93 Haro Escape so I decided that for <$10 I'd figure out how to make them work. I was thinking I could mount them under the bars in the center for a relatively traditional setup. Maybe I could mount them on the ends like bar end shifters that you click instead of flipping. Maybe I'll find some other idea. They suite the quality and budget of this build quite well.

So here are some pics. I know that's what you came for.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg
IMG_20180408_201654.jpg (841.0 KB, 151 views)
File Type: jpg
IMG_20180408_201723.jpg (819.2 KB, 150 views)
File Type: jpg
IMG_20180408_202518.jpg (1.39 MB, 153 views)
Black Sunshine is offline  
Old 04-11-18, 06:02 PM
  #11  
IslandTimePE
dirtroadcycling.ca
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Charlottetown, PE
Posts: 99

Bikes: 2016 Giant Revolt, 1985 Miyata Two Ten, 1987 Steve Bauer Chinook, 2005 Giant Rainier

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 22 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by dgodave View Post
If it was me, my number one concern would be that old susp fork.

I much prefer rigid for gravel type riding, rather than lugging around this heavy bobbing old anchor.

But thats me.
+1 on replacing the suspension fork as the #1 priority. Less than $100 for a decent new solid fork.

May I ask why you want to switch to drop bars? Just throwing this out there as an alternative based on personal experience. Pick up a solid fork. Keep the flat bar, add bar ends for an additional hand position...and avoid all the road brifter/MTB derailleur issues; just pick up a set of MTB shifters and you are good to go.

Maybe it is just me, but I don't see drop bars as a requirement for a good gravel rig. I rode this one approx 2000km on gravel and dirt last year, including D2R2.
Attached Images
IslandTimePE is offline  
Old 04-11-18, 11:37 PM
  #12  
Black Sunshine
Desert Flatlander
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Buckeye, AZ
Posts: 88

Bikes: 2001 Trek Alpha 1000, Micargi Tahiti NX3 'The Iron Horse', and many other cheap resale and family bikes.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Should I slap a cheap steel fork on this thing? I've noticed that ebay has steel forks for far less than aluminum? Does it really matter at all on this low end bike?

Drop bars seemed to make sense. I guess I'll find out. At this point I'll have equipment to set it up either way. I wish I had the crazy bars that came on my '93 Haro Escape. They were one piece but wrapped all the way up where they hand a top hand position that was almost flat. With the top hand positions and the small frame it felt like you could go up anything on that bike.
Black Sunshine is offline  
Old 04-12-18, 07:11 AM
  #13  
QuickDraw
Trout!
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: St. Paul, MN
Posts: 261

Bikes: Fuji Absolute of unknown age, Framed Gravier

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
the Surly fork above is designed to replace suspension forks, it's a bit longer than a standard steel fork i believe, you may want to go that route if you're replacing a suspension fork. i believe they make them with canti mounts.
QuickDraw is offline  
Old 04-12-18, 08:41 AM
  #14  
chas58
Senior Member
 
chas58's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 4,682

Bikes: too many of all kinds

Mentioned: 35 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1076 Post(s)
Liked 337 Times in 273 Posts
Originally Posted by Black Sunshine View Post
Should I slap a cheap steel fork on this thing? I've noticed that ebay has steel forks for far less than aluminum? Does it really matter at all on this low end bike?
I use the ~$100 carbon fork from Nashbar.
chas58 is offline  
Old 04-12-18, 06:37 PM
  #15  
IslandTimePE
dirtroadcycling.ca
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Charlottetown, PE
Posts: 99

Bikes: 2016 Giant Revolt, 1985 Miyata Two Ten, 1987 Steve Bauer Chinook, 2005 Giant Rainier

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 22 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Black Sunshine View Post
Should I slap a cheap steel fork on this thing? I've noticed that ebay has steel forks for far less than aluminum? Does it really matter at all on this low end bike?

Drop bars seemed to make sense. I guess I'll find out. At this point I'll have equipment to set it up either way. I wish I had the crazy bars that came on my '93 Haro Escape. They were one piece but wrapped all the way up where they hand a top hand position that was almost flat. With the top hand positions and the small frame it felt like you could go up anything on that bike.
The steel Surly forks do correct for the length of the suspension fork, so the geometry of the frame is unchanged. As Chas58 mentioned, there are also carbon options at a reasonable price. Main thing is that the length of the fork matches the suspension travel of the existing fork; 80mm, 100mm, etc. Either steel or carbon would be significantly lighter than the old suspension fork.

Good to see that you have access to a shop that can provide lots of reasonably priced components for this build. Definitely makes it much more feasible to experiment with various drivetrain components to make thins work with the drop bars.

Last edited by IslandTimePE; 04-12-18 at 06:46 PM.
IslandTimePE is offline  
Old 04-13-18, 07:34 AM
  #16  
dgodave
Behold my avatar:
 
dgodave's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: SW Colorado
Posts: 981

Bikes: 2019 Gorilla Monsoon, 2013 Surly Krampus, Brompton folder

Mentioned: 33 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6597 Post(s)
Liked 110 Times in 68 Posts
I found it not so easy to find a good quality steel fork for 26" with canti mounts that matches any particular axle to crown height.

I lucked into just the right $10 used Surly for at the local resale store for my Litespeed conversion.
dgodave is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
BigJW
Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational)
98
05-02-18 02:12 AM
Standalone
Touring
13
03-16-17 02:43 PM
rebelLT
Bicycle Mechanics
32
01-13-17 02:17 PM
dbrown417
Commuting
52
06-15-15 10:40 AM

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 © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.