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Converting 90's Sherpa Rocky Mountain bike into a touring bike?

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Converting 90's Sherpa Rocky Mountain bike into a touring bike?

Old 03-29-14, 09:43 AM
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Converting 90's Sherpa Rocky Mountain bike into a touring bike?

I didn't know if I should post this in Vintage Appraisals, or MTB's, but my ultimate goal is touring so here goes:

I got this Sherpa Rocky Mountain (from the 90's?) as a cast-off from an acquaintance. What can anyone tell me about it? Is it a good bike? It obviously needs some maintenance and cleaning, but beyond that.

I'm new to bicycles in general, but it's been mentioned to me that a 90's rigid steel frame MTB, with this geometry, would make a pretty good touring bike. What do you think I'd need to change to make it tour-ready? I was thinking of ordering high-quality custom 26" wheels, and replacing the handlebars with drop bars... or simply Ergon handlebar grips.

Can anyone also tell me what the gear situation is? Gears just confuse me. How many speeds does it have? What's the lowest and highest gear? (I'm not sure if this would be something you can tell from the pictures).

The rest of the pictures are in this album:

Sherp Rocky Mountain MTB - Imgur
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Old 03-29-14, 09:51 AM
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Gears just confuse me. How many speeds does it have?
can you count? "speeds" is how many cogs are on the back X how many chainrings there are on the crank

Lowest gear, the small one on the crnk is turning the largest one in the back

High gear its the opposite big ring , little cog.

how big? .. count teeth .. the tooth counts are mathematical Ratios

Example: crank 40t and a 20t rear cog are 2:1 multiply that x wheel diameter .
a convention called 'gear-inches' is popular..

its as if you rode a high wheeler .. that is how big the equivalent wheel would be



touring , you need some way to carry your stuff. racks and panniers or a big bag in a bike trailer ..

either will do .

Last edited by fietsbob; 03-29-14 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 03-29-14, 10:37 AM
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I would step back and start with the simple "does it fit?" question if you answer yes then it looks like it might be a good place to start... that being said based on the frame and parts spec I'd say it's an mid 80's bike and with what it has now looks like a kewl start


it's a steel lugged frame, nice, pretty and strong...
6 speed out back and 3 up front means its an "18 speed", more than likely the shifters are friction only, if the rear shifter doesn't "click" as you move it then it's friction only... if it does click there is prob a "switch" on it to make it go between index and friction... if you choose to upgrade the rear wheel/speeds you don't need to change the shifter or derailleur with the friction shifter.

the "bullmoose bars" make changing the bars a bit more of a hassle as you'll need to buy a 1" threadless stem as well as the bars of your choosing... but on the plus side the stock bars should have some value on ebay.

the rims are old Araya rims... good stuff back in the late 80's and unless they have issues I wouldn't bother upgrading them right away.

so make sure it fits you decently before you throw money at it... THEN is what I would do is clean it up and get it into good ride-able condition, new rubber (pads, tires, tubes, grips), replace the cables and housings, clean and re-lube/repack all the moving parts/bearings and enjoy, change parts once you know they need changed... if you don't intend on any real off road riding some slicker tires would be nice (but keep them larger for the extra cushion they give), a new saddle, and different bars (that bike looks like it's just begging for some "trekking bars" if you want to use it as a touring bike)

on an unrelated but kewl note... it looks like rocky mtn still has the sherpa in their lineup and it is a proper "touring bike" Sherpa | Rocky Mountain Bicycles

whatever you do... keep us posted, and if it doesn't fit LMK what size it is, i'd LOVE to have a bike like that for kicking around the neighborhood with my kiddos and stuff ;-)
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Old 03-29-14, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by donalson
I would step back and start with the simple "does it fit?"
I'm not entirely sure. I'm 5'11, slightly long torso. When I stand over the top bar, it nestles right in my crotch. Like, touching my pubic bone. The seat is probably a little too high at this point, but I haven't ridden the bike yet because I need to WD-40 the seat clamp to lower the seat. I know there are other considerations like distance to the handlebars, but do you think that sounds like a good fit? I honestly have little experience with proper bike fitting, I've only ridden cruisers and comfort-type bikes in the past and I'm pretty sure I never got those properly fitted. I might take it to a LBS and see if I can get advice on fit.
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Old 03-29-14, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by seaanemone
I'm not entirely sure. I'm 5'11, slightly long torso. When I stand over the top bar, it nestles right in my crotch. Like, touching my pubic bone. The seat is probably a little too high at this point, but I haven't ridden the bike yet because I need to WD-40 the seat clamp to lower the seat. I know there are other considerations like distance to the handlebars, but do you think that sounds like a good fit? I honestly have little experience with proper bike fitting, I've only ridden cruisers and comfort-type bikes in the past and I'm pretty sure I never got those properly fitted. I might take it to a LBS and see if I can get advice on fit.
honestly the pubic bone fit isn't a great metric for measurement... but it could easily indicate the frame is a bit large for you... but until you really ride it you won't know... get that saddle to the proper height and go from there, you can also change the height of the bars at the quill (bolt in the center of the headtube) but that will likely require working with the brake cable to get the front stoppers to work properly... if you plan on going to different bars anyway you'll need a new stem anyway, I'd consider one of the quill to threadless stem adapters that way you can use "normal" modern style stems

something like this then add a stem that fits the bars you want
Nashbar Stem Adaptor - Bike Forks / Headsets / Stems

or you could goto a more traditional quill stem, these are cheap and have the removable faceplate so it's easy to pull the bars off and swap stems or bars
https://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...0052_174788_-1

for bars these would likely work well... a lot of touring riders use them for the multi hand positions and they use MTB controls so you could use the original shifters and levers.
Nashbar Trekking Mountain Bike Handlebar - Normal Shipping Ground

for the front brakes you will need to add a threaded cable hanger/stop
Bicycle Brake Cable Hardware from Harris Cyclery
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Old 03-29-14, 12:24 PM
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When I stand over the top bar, it nestles right in my crotch. Like, touching my pubic bone.
Might be a Bit too big ,, will you want to always lean the bike over a bit every time you stop?

it will be even more too much when there is a load on it too ..

you have to get your leg over the load and the topbar.

looks like the last guy was wel over 6 foot tall ..

a level top tube 58 would be more appropriate , size numbers go smaller if the top tube is not level

as seat tube length is usually AKA size what does that measure? [ BB center to top of the tube. ]
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Old 03-29-14, 12:30 PM
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Interesting bikes those are, I picked one up and got it running for a youth once. I'm curious, is there a sticker on the bike frame that says Tange? And if so what else does it say. Looks like you're getting great advice on the fit thing already.
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Old 03-29-14, 04:14 PM
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Just guessing the bike is too tall if you need to lower the seat.
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Old 03-29-14, 11:03 PM
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Nice bike!

When you replace those knobby tires with some touring tires, they are more likely going to be a little smaller, which is going to give you a little more standover height, which just might be enough. To me, the geometry looks like it's a 24" frame, which would usually be better suited to someone taller than 6'2" or so. You could probably scare up some cheap 26 x1.5" tires at your local bike co-op or used bike parts place, or if not there, online at Nashbar (or elsewhere) for about 10 bucks a pop to see if that'd be enough to make it fit. Or, if you are sure you are going to convert some MTB to a tourer, go ahead and buy the tires you are going to use and pull them back off this if this bike doesn't work out.

If not, flip it. 24" frames of that vintage aren't exactly common, Rocky Mountain is a nice brand, and since it's lugged too, someone should be willing to pay a little (~$100?) for it.

Mountan bikes of this era do made a good basis for touring conversions, one thing I find that really helps is a rear rack that sets the panniers back a little further, because even though MTB's of this era often have fairly long chainstays, they often aren't quite long enough, especially if you don't have small feet or wear something larger than minimalist shoes. The Jannd Expedition rack does a nice job of setting the panniers further back and is what I use on my MTB conversion for bike-camping and the short tours I'm able to take. The only downside of this rack other than expense, is the paint quickly flakes off. I'd love to hear other folks mention any other racks that fit the bill.

Otherwise, other folks have pretty well covered much of what I'd say in regards to converting MTB's and your particular situation here.
I agree with trying these wheels first before just blindly replacing them. Take them to a shop and have them stress relieve and balance them for you and they'll probably be good to go for a very long time. What it will need is some touring tires. I'm a fan of the Vittoria Randoneur Pro tires in 26 x 1.5" for this application.

Feel free to hit us up with any questions!

Oh, and based on the frame and the gearing, I bet it's a late 80's bike rather than a 90's.

Last edited by Medic Zero; 03-29-14 at 11:11 PM.
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Old 03-31-14, 01:39 PM
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I have an early 90's Rocky Mountain Fusion, and it uses Shimano Deor brifters. they don't look like yours. It's a great bike. Like somebody else said, the Sherpa they sell now is a touring bike.
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