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Need help upgrading older MTN bike on a budget

Old 05-26-18, 09:23 AM
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Brocephus
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Need help upgrading older MTN bike on a budget

Hey guys, rather than fork over big bucks on a new bike, I've decided to upgrade an older, lower-end 26" Trek 6000 mountain bike I got from a college kid via Craigslist several years ago. It's set up with 1.75" road tires, that I've been riding for exersize and weight reduction (I raced road bikes until my early 40's, but after 14 years back in the states, I gradually packed on some pounds, but in the last year I've dropped 55 lbs, and am down to 200, shooting for 185-190).
The bike is a good 10 years old, has all Deore 9 speed components, and Avid mechanical disc brakes (which are just fine), but hunted down some great deals, and have a set of Rhyno-lite/ XT/ DT wheels on the way from BWW ($145 delivered !), as well as a new Shimano cassette, chain, and 9-speed right shifter (and though it wasn't critical, I also scored a set of new Avid brake levers, for only $15 delivered, since these no-name levers are really thrashed).
Though it originally wasn't part of the plan, I'm now thinking about installing a a fresh rear derailleur, and have been looking at reviews and deals. I'd thrown together a number of bikes back in the day, running XT or XTR, but I'm scraping by on a serious budget here. The bike will never be raced, or even ridden very aggressively off-road, so ultra-precise shifting, or weight is no concern.
I'm interested in the cheapest level of quality and longevity, and am wondering if a new Deore derailleur will be fine ( $32 delivered seems to be the deal), or if I really need to jump up to $70+ for XT ?
Any good info is much appreciated....
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Old 05-26-18, 10:27 AM
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As you move up the Shimano food chain the functional difference is pretty arithmetic. The price difference is exponential. In other words, an XT or XTR derailleur isn't going to get you much more benefit but it's going to cost you a lot more money.
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Old 05-26-18, 12:27 PM
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Thanks guys, I've always agreed that the upper end stuff (in many things) quickly gets past "the point of diminishing returns". I'm not worried about uber-functionality or race-weight gear these days, just acceptable performance,strength, and longevity. Given how many years/miles I've put on the current Deore rear derailleur, $31.95 for a new one seems like a no-brainer.
Another question: Should I even be considering replacing this older unit, while I'm already replacing drivetrain parts, or don;t worry about it?
I'm at an impasse between, "if it ain't broke..." and, "an ounce of prevention...."
Opinions?
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Old 05-26-18, 12:34 PM
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Everything has a service life but it takes a LOT of shifts to wear out a derailleur. Jockey pulls can certainly wear out and crash damage is always a possibility but, aside from those things, I'd leave well enough alone.
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Old 05-26-18, 01:46 PM
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Thanks Retro, I'd just done some more Googling, and came to the same conclusion. No way this bike has the miles on it to warrant replacing the derailleur (probably not even the pulleys.)
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Old 05-26-18, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
I'd just say...cannibalize more old bikes..
I'm so in tune with this statement that it's scary! Must be an Oregon thing.
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Old 05-26-18, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
I'd just say...cannibalize more old bikes..
Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
I'm so in tune with this statement that it's scary! Must be an Oregon thing.


Not Just Oregon. Once you've priced out a couple rounds of upgrades on older bikes, -v- the cost of used bikes it makes so much sense.
Especially if your current bike has some feature you really couldn't replace.
I have a ~1997 Softride as my primary road bike, it was originally 3x7 RSX, with 32h box-section wheels. Serviceable but heavy and dated. I found a BD Mercier on Cragslist for $200, with Tiagra/105 2x9 and Shimano R500 semi-aero wheels. I swapped the wheels, controls and driveline to the Softride, for slightly more than the price of a decent budget wheelset, or new brifters.
*I put all the old 7-speed stuff on the Mercier frame, and sold it on CL for $200, so the cost for upgrading my bike was essentially a roll of fresh bar tape.
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Old 05-26-18, 02:52 PM
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I think dropping bucks into a 26" bike is a mistake (unless you plan on touring in third world countries), and I might have made an effort to dissuade you, but it looks like that train has already left the station....
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Old 05-26-18, 02:54 PM
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Actually, I've been scouring my local Craigslist for a good while now, hoping to do exactly this, but no joy.
Everything around here seems to be junk, kid bikes, or expensive, high-end dual suspension bikes. I keep hoping to run across a nice hardtail that someone drove over the front wheel, and want gone !! (fingers crossed!)
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Old 05-26-18, 03:53 PM
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If it's shifting fine I'd keep running it. A RD can be done anytime if needed as no special tools or procedures other than dialing in the shifting.
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Old 05-26-18, 05:26 PM
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The Frame from a ~$300 MTB will never ride like a $1500 XC racer, no matter how many parts you throw at it, so I'd focus on the contact points.
Bars, grips, saddle, and tires would be the biggest 'bang for the buck'. If your cassette isn't too worn, a fresh chain can clean up the drive / shift feel. @Brocephus if your bike has a suspension fork, but you use it primarily for road / MUP duty, consider going to a rigid fork; the Nashbar Carbon Mountain Fork would shave some weight, and tighten up the front end.
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Old 05-26-18, 08:54 PM
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A Deore rear deraileur functions at least 95% as well as an XTR. Just heavier. In terms of shifting performance, if it is not very good already, then you will gain far, far more by replacing the cables/housing (if they are old) and checking your rear hangar alignment.

I think a good bang for the buck are good tires.
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Old 05-26-18, 09:52 PM
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Budget means Cheap, if you want cheap, buy and strip more old bikes..
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Old 05-27-18, 07:11 AM
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only replace what broke (if at all) or what is an upgrade. Going from 9 speed to 9 speed is not an upgrade. Go to 1x11 if you want, since that is the only sensible actual improvement. but evaluate first everythign else ont eh bike what needs replacement and make a bill of material what you will have to pay.
a 26" MTB is worth nothing, and adding $300 in upgrades still makes it 26". sorry, but that is the market. It may be worth more to you, but not if you want to sell it.
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Old 05-27-18, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Budget means Cheap, if you want cheap, buy and strip more old bikes..
....and “upgrade” usually means something not stripped off of a cheap old bike.
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Old 05-27-18, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Budget means Cheap, if you want cheap, buy and strip more old bikes..
Buy? There was a period during which I used to cruise the subdivision on trash pick up days liking for discarded bikes to salvage.
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Old 05-27-18, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post


....and “upgrade” usually means something not stripped off of a cheap old bike.
Depends where you're coming from, and what you're going to. If the donor bike is newer / higher spec than the bike you're updating, then yes.

Say you have a nice, older road bike, from the 5-6 speed era; Swapping in a 9-speed Tiagra/105 group with cassette wheels and STI shifters would be considered an upgrade, even though 9-speed is 'obsolete'

I do question the value of putting newer, high-end components on an entry-level MTB. No matter what shiny parts you hang on it, it still has a cheap, heavy frame. My first 'real' MTB was like this, a 4130 Cro-Mo Raleigh, that ended up with custom wheels, XT drivetrain, and super-light XC cockpit with billet everything else. It still weighed ~30lb, though. After a couple of years, I got my hands on a Cannondale F-1000 frame, and moved all the nice parts over to that frame, and ended up with a nice, light high-end bike. All told, I probably spend $2 grand to build a ~$1200 bike counting the original MTB purchase.
This was all back in the mid-90's though, so high-end 26" MTBs still existed.
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Old 05-27-18, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by onyerleft View Post
I think dropping bucks into a 26" bike is a mistake (unless you plan on touring in third world countries), and I might have made an effort to dissuade you, but it looks like that train has already left the station....
What effing logic is that? Because its not a road bike composed of materials found in the Marvel universe? There is nothing wrong with putting at least a modicum of money in to a mtb. At least its usefull, unlike say a classic Stingray... something somebody will shell out 500 dollars for what's basically an incomplete childs beach cruiser.
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Old 05-27-18, 10:30 AM
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So what if its old or entry level, so what if its a mtb? Still rolls down the road and functions the same. Like comparing a charger and challenger, better yet my cvpi to a charger; yeah its got 312+ hp to my 250, irs and a 6+ speed auto, but they both roll down the road the same and get barelly decent mpg, both fullsize rwd sedans and look great doing it. I'd rather dump money in my car, than just buy a charger.

I own three mtbs; a vintage high sierra, 800 Sport single Track, and a Kaitai. 4130 chromoly, hi-ten and 41 aluminum. They all roll down the street the same, they all are going to be basically built as street fighters/pavement pounders, sure the trek outwieghs the other two, and the schwinn is the slowest by gearing alone. They are still fun to ride and take to the skate park, nor do they feel as delicate as a roadbike.

Personally if the bike is overall fine, I'd replace the cables, chain, add a sealed bb and regrease the wheel bearings. If you wanna put $300 in a $300 old bike, then do it. Who cares if you have a different goal for the bike and not trying to compete in serious mtbing...even you were. Theres always another bike or car, but so what. I'm eventually going to track my car, I could get a miata, but Im not and the track is about where the functionality ends for the miata.
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Old 05-27-18, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653 View Post
Depends where you're coming from, and what you're going to. If the donor bike is newer / higher spec than the bike you're updating, then yes.

Say you have a nice, older road bike, from the 5-6 speed era; Swapping in a 9-speed Tiagra/105 group with cassette wheels and STI shifters would be considered an upgrade, even though 9-speed is 'obsolete'
.
That’s all nice, but the OP has a Deore-level bike that is not even all that old. This is not some vintage frame with outdated parts.

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Old 05-27-18, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
That’s all nice, but the OP has a Deore-level bike that is not even all that old. This is not some vintage frame with outdated parts.
Agreed. To some people, something 10 years old is 'really old' Both my MTB commuter and my primary road bike are old enough to buy their own booze, and my townie / path bike is older than I am. They were higher end bikes when they were new, so component upgrades to top-level modern spec would quickly exceed the price of many 5-10 year old complete, mid-range bikes.

*is Deore the groupset formerly known as 'LX'?

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Old 05-27-18, 01:10 PM
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Just a side thought...don't know where you're located, but if there's a bike co-op near you, get used parts there for cheap. Or volunteer and maybe get a discount on them.
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Old 05-27-18, 01:29 PM
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Hey guys, many thanks again to all for weighing in. I tried to reply yesterday, but apparently there's a 24hr/5-post limit here (presumably only for newbs?).
Anyway, all the points were tell taken, but some of them seemed have missed mine. I have no illusions about turning this relatively humble (originally $600) bike into a premium racer. But I like the frame, it hasn't been thrashed on, and I'm just looking to do some normal preventative maintenance, to keep this frame running for a while.
I'm definitely not intending to put lipstick on the proverbial pig, stupidly adding a bunch of expensive ultra-light race-grade parts. This is a 2006 bike, that came with full Deore componentry, mostly Bontrager stuff, and Avid disc brakes, so while it obviously isn't a "nice" bike, it ain't junk, either.
A new cassette and chain is a no-brainer. I've had some glitches with the main shifter, and the internet-suggested remedy of flooding it with WD40 then some Tri-flo fixed it quick, and for a good while, but I think it's time for a new one, and at only $28 delivered for a brand new Deore shifter, I think that's a no-brainer as well.
The Bontrager/Deore wheelset is original, and I cleaned/regreased the front hub a couple weeks ago, and there was some noticeable gouging on the cones, so that wheel probably isn't long for this world.
I broke/replaced some spokes on the orginal rear (back when i weighed an embarrassing 255!!), and since replaced it entirely. So I figured I'd just get a new matching wheelest, suited to my current riding habits, and (still relatively heavy) current weight of 200. I have bicyclewheelwarehouse sending me a set of all-black Sun Rhyno-Lites, with XT hubs, and DT spokes, for $145, delivered. That's a solid wheelset, that's gonna be pretty tough to beat for my needs.
Also, though it was hardly necessary, I ordered a new set of Avid brake levers, for all of $15 delivered (right afterward they changed their ad to include $6 shipping, so I got a great deal). The levers on it are the most worn-out looking thing on the bike, and I was just tired of looking at them.
That's about it. For a little over $200, I'm fixing up the drive train, and putting a rock-solid set of wheels on it, and it should be a great ride for a bunch more years.

P.S. as ironfish recommended, I'd already considered a rigid fork, but I like have a little front suspension for those occasions I might wanna scoot down a dirt road, and I'm not worried about the added weight. Also that's a big chunk of extra change added in to this project. If these low-end Rockshox crap the bed someday, I'll play it by ear at that point.
Also, as to the post about putting money into a lowly 26" bike, that will have no resale value, I'm not trying to increase it's monetary value, just it's functional value, to me personally. Also, I actually like 26" wheels just fine, largely because they are so common and cheap. As i mentioned above, I already have a stash of 1.75" street tires, that have proven to be fantastic tires, and only cost around $15 each. So I''m set for tires, for years !
Thanks again........

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Old 05-27-18, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653 View Post
*is Deore the groupset formerly known as 'LX'?
SLX replaced LX in the MTB line up. Deore is one step lower. Deore is the lowest level of true “mountain worthy” mtb components. Nothing to get exited over, but a solid component group for drivetrain and brakes.

i guess my point was that contrary to what was being suggested, you are not going find much to upgrade over that from dumpster dives and cheap old bikes.
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Old 05-27-18, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Jax Rhapsody View Post
What effing logic is that? Because its not a road bike composed of materials found in the Marvel universe? There is nothing wrong with putting at least a modicum of money in to a mtb. At least its usefull, unlike say a classic Stingray... something somebody will shell out 500 dollars for what's basically an incomplete childs beach cruiser.
You're right, and I'll correct myself as follows: Dropping bucks into a 26" bike is NOT -- I repeat -- is NOT a mistake. It is, however, just a bad idea.....
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