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Upgrade older GT Karakoram or start over?

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Upgrade older GT Karakoram or start over?

Old 05-15-14, 05:09 AM
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KiwiTramper
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Upgrade older GT Karakoram or start over?

Iím trying to sort out a bike for touring, currently considering Vienna -> Istanbul as a destination.

I own an older GT Karakoram. Iím not sure of the exact age, but itíll be 1994 or thereabouts.

It seems I have three options:

- re-rig the current old bike
- try find a second-hand touring machine (not that easy in New Zealand and I donít want to wait forever)
- buy a new touring bike (expensive!)

Iím having trouble working out if re-rigging the current bike is worthwhile as it seems to me that Iíd have to replace pretty much everything except the frame itself, the wheels and perhaps the rear derailleur/group set. (The front biggest gear has some damaged teeth.)

There are a few scratches on the frame, too, which makes me wonder if thatíd want a paint job just in case itíd expose the frame to rust. (And cracked decals, which makes for an interesting "crazied" look!)

Iíd welcome general thoughts. Itís been a few years since Iíve ridden now. I am slowly coming to grips with the newer ideas in bikes but itís also doing my head in and a stymieing the whole plan.

(Just if it helps to give any idea: if thereís a bike I like the look of, at least, itís the Koga 26" World Traveller, but thatís too expensive for me, at least new! I donít know what to make of aluminium front forks either.)
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Old 05-15-14, 06:04 AM
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Having an old scratched up frame might be a theft deterant
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Old 05-15-14, 09:32 AM
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Old rigid mountain bikes can be made into good tourers. Your Karakoram has a rigid front fork, right?

However, they need to be in decent condition to begin with. It sounds like yours needs some work. Look at how much it would cost to fix its needs and compare that to a new bike. It depends how much of the work you can do yourself.

Don't worry too much about scratches on the frame. If they're not rusting yet, just touch them up with paint or nail polish. A contrasting color paint adds battle scars, and makes your bike even less attractive to thieves!

Maybe try option 2b, find a second hand bike that can be made into a tourer. You may find an older rigid mountain bike or road/touring bike in better shape than your GT, and use that as a base for a build. Mtb + butterfly handlebars = decent touring bike.

I recently found an old rigid Schwinn mtb in really good shape, and I am working on converting it for road use. I tried upright handlebars, but I think I'm going to go full touring with it and put on drop bars with bar-end shifters, and full racks.
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Old 05-15-14, 09:39 AM
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I think a Karakoram would be an excellent platform to turn into a touring rig (assuming of course it's fully rigid), sounds like you need a new set of chainrings, chain and cassette for sure though. So this leads me to ask how mechanically handy are you? If the answer is that you do your own wrenching.. I personally would opt for the overhaul of the GT you're looking at under $100 USD more than likely, so I'd start with that, than we need to consider what handlebars are on it and what you ideally want.. then if the levers/shifters are compatible with the current bars... so more details please? Pics also would help a lot.
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Old 05-15-14, 09:59 AM
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yes, Id fully overhaul it , so you know the parts are in top condition before you start.

it just has to be relatively comfortable to ride daily for days in a row. & carry your stuff ..
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Old 05-15-14, 10:58 AM
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I put drop bars on my 1993 Timberline and love it as an allarounder. It could easily be refined into a tourer and would make a great one imho.
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Old 05-15-14, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Number400 View Post
I put drop bars on my 1993 Timberline and love it as an allarounder. It could easily be refined into a tourer and would make a great one imho.

Could you post a picture? I have a '89 Timberline and have wondered about putting drops on it, as I still have the original straight bar on it. What other mods have you done to it?


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Old 05-15-14, 11:44 AM
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Picture attached. Also check out the post about vintage MTB's with drop bar conversions, lots of info and more pictures there.
I replaced everything as the bike was pretty much destroyed in an accident.

Cheap ebay aluminum fork Only to stay with 26" wheels. I have a cyclocross fork and was going to do 700c wheels but changed my mind.
RaceFace cranks
Sora shifters and RD
Salsa Cowbell II drop bars, VERY comfortable
Oh and I went with a threadless headset as well.


It's a budget build but it rides and feels great. I made it to gravel grind and to ride in foul weather. It's my good looking beater


Originally Posted by dannwilliams View Post
Could you post a picture? I have a '89 Timberline and have wondered about putting drops on it, as I still have the original straight bar on it. What other mods have you done to it?
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Old 05-15-14, 05:20 PM
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Quick notes - more later

Sorry, I should have added more detail. The bike has rigid forks. No mods.

Option 2 was to be a touring bike, i.e. already kitted with racks, etc.

One concern I didn't raise is that when I did use it for a little on & off-road touring [edit: not long-distance touring, just a few days!] with a Blackburn rear rack, it’s very close run thing with my heels & the panniers. No idea if that reflects a shorter chain stay length on this type of bike - ?

Was wondering if for the money and time involving in re-kitting I’d be better to pick up a second-hand, but more modern tourer despite that there don’t seem to be a lot of them around here. (Not helped by needing a smaller frame - of the few I see for sale, most have large frames.)

More later - busy day in front of me. Thanks for the feedback.

[Edit: Blackburn rack fits onto clamp (P-clamp?) on seat upright portion of frame, not entirely solid fitting - can wriggle just a little - & carrier always felt a bit light. No front racks, not sure if you can fit them easier either.]


Originally Posted by Tim_Iowa View Post
Old rigid mountain bikes can be made into good tourers. Your Karakoram has a rigid front fork, right?

However, they need to be in decent condition to begin with. It sounds like yours needs some work. Look at how much it would cost to fix its needs and compare that to a new bike. It depends how much of the work you can do yourself.

Don't worry too much about scratches on the frame. If they're not rusting yet, just touch them up with paint or nail polish. A contrasting color paint adds battle scars, and makes your bike even less attractive to thieves!

Maybe try option 2b, find a second hand bike that can be made into a tourer. You may find an older rigid mountain bike or road/touring bike in better shape than your GT, and use that as a base for a build. Mtb + butterfly handlebars = decent touring bike.

I recently found an old rigid Schwinn mtb in really good shape, and I am working on converting it for road use. I tried upright handlebars, but I think I'm going to go full touring with it and put on drop bars with bar-end shifters, and full racks.

Last edited by KiwiTramper; 05-15-14 at 05:52 PM. Reason: Clarity + a couple more notes!
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Old 05-15-14, 08:44 PM
  #10  
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I have the fork off of one of those bikes, the frame broke. The only reason I mention this is to recommend you inspect it thoroughly.
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Old 05-16-14, 10:01 AM
  #11  
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BikePedia - 1994 GT Karakoram Complete Bicycle

If this is the same as your bike is built, and most importantly, if it's comfortable, then I think it could definitely make a decent touring bike as long as the wheels are still in good condition and it has eyelets for a rear rack. Are you mechanically inclined? You can find a new chain, cassette, chain-rings, and all new cables for not too much online. Repack all of the bearings. Then some new tires, and touring specific stuff(panniers, etc) and you're good to go. Add a little more work and money if you plan to try drop-bars on it.
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Old 05-16-14, 03:35 PM
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Where are you in NZ KiwiTramper?
Theres a few touring bikes on trademe at the moment (i was looking for a smaller one for a couchsurfer just a few days ago)

i.e. Surly long haul trucker small touring bike | Trade Me
most look to be circa $1200. But i did see some pretty good looking ones starting at about $2-300. What sort of budget do you have? I replaced pretty much everything on my bike bar the frame and it doesnt work out too cheap, probably about the same or more than one of those complete ones. That said i ended up picking exactly what i wanted and expect the bike to get around the world with no issues (pay now rather than pay later i guess)

Its usually cheaper to order from overseas too, maybe spend a few days making up a refit list and work out roughly what its going to cost.
If you are in Hamilton, you can pop by and talk touring with me, im just sorting out the last of my stuff be for heading off
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Old 05-16-14, 03:38 PM
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Plenty of THORN tourers in your part of the world.
if you can afford it buy a new bike.
anto.
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