1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Drivetrain Recommendations

    So today I picked up an '05 Giant Rincon for $80. However, I discovered that the PO swapped wheels at some point, leaving me with a 7sp freewheel setup on a bike meant for an 8sp freehub/cassette. I stopped by my LBS, who set me up with a brand new wheel they pulled off another customer's bike. Unfortunately, no such luck with a cassette or crankset (which has a really worn, small chainring).

    I've been poking around and found a Shimano HG51 (11-30) cassette and FC-M361 Acera (42/32/22) crankset. These match the OE gear spreads, which is actually a requirement for the crankset thanks to a front derailleur mounted directly to the BB. But otherwise, I know nothing about what I should be looking for.

    Budget is kind of an issue. I want decent parts, but at the end of the day, it's still a cheap bike. I don't need to spend more than the bike's value rebuilding the drivetrain. It's going to be used as a commuter bike I can take out and pound the dirt with.

    Thoughts?

    PS: Which tool do I need to install the new cassette?
    Last edited by Starfury; 12-13-2013 at 07:41 AM.

  2. #2
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    The parts that will make whatever you pick up shift like a high quality expensive setup is the housing/cable. A Jagwire lined housing and stainless slick coated cable run as one piece(drill out the midpoint stops) will make you very happy. Use a little silicone lube.
    REI has a Novara/Jagwire set for $19. Superglue the cable before you cut off the end and thread it through the housing. And put a drop on the cut end first too. They also sell the housing in bulk. You need a couple more feet because the kit is sized for a broken up run. Make a big loop at the rear derailleur to avoid drag.

  3. #3
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    Interesting, and thanks for the input. I do have a shift cable kit on my to-do list, as the current housings are thrashed.

  4. #4
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    I imagine eb1888 has his own reasons for running full length housing, and I will say he is an excellent poster here.

    Personally, I would only run full length cable housing if I lived in an area where contamination (water, mud) was a factor. Fortunately, I don't. The less housing, the less compression of housing that takes place. As long as you are not sloppy with cutting the housing, use good quality ferrules (I prefer nice aluminum ferrules), and route the housing sensibly, interrupted housing performs better IME. If you live in, and ride in wet, muddy conditions, in that case, full length housing would be worth considering.

    Still don't know that I would drill out the cable stops. That would stop me in my tracks if looking at a used bike. If you're going to bury it when you're done with it, knock yourself out. JMHO.

  5. #5
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    You don't need to drill anything to run full length - just zip tie the housing in place.

    FWIW, I don't think lined housing is worth bother with. It's more of a PIA to install, seemed to get gummed up more quickly, and I never noticed much of a performance difference, even with some pretty expensive kits. YMMV. And at $19, at least it's not a brutal rip-off, like the pricing on some of the lined cable kits.

    OP - any reason you're not choosing to just replace the worn front ring instead of the entire crankset?
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  6. #6
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    Unfortunately, the individual rings are nonreplaceable. Have to do the whole thing=/

    I really wish I had spotted this stuff before picking up the bike, but live and learn.

  7. #7
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    Gotcha.

    Don't forget to budget for a new chain too.

    One thing that might take the sting out of opening up your wallet is to just chalk it up to the fact that rings, cogs and chains are wear parts - like tires, they need regular replacement, and that regularly recurring cost is just part of the game.
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  8. #8
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    Yeah, that's how I'm trying to look at it. My wife, however, is not so understanding, lol. Considering it needs two new tires, cassette, crankset, and shift cables, plus I need to tune the shifters/brakes and grease the bearings... I'm not thrilled with the quality of the shifters either, but they're functional so they're going to have to stay until later on.

    Any thoughts on the individual pieces? Should I be looking at SRAM stuff instead? My choices were based on Amazon reviews, but no practical experience.

  9. #9
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    Definitely full length housing is necessary for muddy, wet and heavy dusty conditions. But the reason to run jag lined housing full is to remove three or more ferules from the cable run. Aluminum ferule ends cut as they wear slotting to become drag clamps on the cable and you get much sooner to the slowed down shift that you can't quite adjust out.
    Cheaper shifters and derailleurs don't seem to have quite as much spring pressure as the upper range stuff. When you put the Jag full length on and you get a butter shift that uses that lesser spring rate. You can't get that with the better sets.
    One of those things you do once and don't consider going back.

    $19 bucks is pretty cheap to spend to try something that could make a major improvement in your riding experience.
    But you do have to properly cut the end off the cable. You need it to be rounded smooth to maintain the quality of the liner in the housing.
    Use a sharp dedicated quality cable cutter, like a Pedro's.
    Coat the cut location before the cut with superglue like Q-Bond. Coat the end after the cut.
    Sand the end round and recoat.
    Spritz some silicone lube into the housing.
    Carefully thread the cable through a ferule and the housing out through the end ferule.
    Big loop of housing at the derailleur end . Cut the cable for final length after superglue again.
    There you go.
    Last edited by eb1888; 12-13-2013 at 07:27 PM.

  10. #10
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    By "loop," do you mean a full circle? Or just a large half-circle?

  11. #11
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    To me, to change crank (the BB is probably hosed too) and the other parts, you may approaching the cost of a new entry-level bike (still will probably be cheaper to fix what you have). Cassette, chain, crank, etc. is going to set you back at least $150..and that is online prices where you will have to do your own install. See what the shop that did the wheel can do for you on this stuff..sometimes they have stuff laying around the shop they want to get rid of or even used parts that will still work just fine.

    I wouldn't get too hung up on the full length housing tangent...just replace what you have if it needs it.

    To answer your question, to install your cassette, you need a cassette tool which is a splined tool that fits into the lock ring - probably runs $10.

    Seriously..from what you are describing, go to the shop and have them evaluate what you need and see what they can do for you..if they can get you fixed up for $200 including labor you have done well.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    Definitely full length housing is necessary for muddy, wet and heavy dusty conditions.
    I'm glad it works well for you, but I've be hitting the riding for almost 25 years through all seasons in New England, and it's not even in the ballpark of being a necessity.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by TiGeo View Post
    To me, to change crank (the BB is probably hosed too) and the other parts, you may approaching the cost of a new entry-level bike (still will probably be cheaper to fix what you have). Cassette, chain, crank, etc. is going to set you back at least $150..and that is online prices where you will have to do your own install. See what the shop that did the wheel can do for you on this stuff..sometimes they have stuff laying around the shop they want to get rid of or even used parts that will still work just fine.

    I wouldn't get too hung up on the full length housing tangent...just replace what you have if it needs it.

    To answer your question, to install your cassette, you need a cassette tool which is a splined tool that fits into the lock ring - probably runs $10.

    Seriously..from what you are describing, go to the shop and have them evaluate what you need and see what they can do for you..if they can get you fixed up for $200 including labor you have done well.
    The parts I originally mentioned, including the chain and a cassette tool (still not sure if it's the right one - there's a few different types), come in at under $80. While I'd love to have $150 to spend on that kind of stuff, I don't see the point in putting that much into a low-end bike that doesn't really need it right now.

    The shop I originally went to is primarily a used parts shop, and they have no 8sp cassettes. They were willing to sell me a good crankset and install it for free, until we figured out that the FD is non-adjustable and wouldn't accommodate the crankset they had on hand. They'd happily order me new parts if I asked, but I'd still have to pay overhead, and I have no problem investing in a couple shop tools (crank puller, cassette tool) that I can keep on hand vs paying a shop to do everything for me, and then having to go through the same thing when I wear out the new drivetrain.

  14. #14
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    All front derailleurs are adjustable. It's a fairly fine-tolerance action, so they have to be. What are you trying to do that's throwing the chainrings far enough out that you can't still install a different crankset? I'd expect that any other MTB triple for an English bottom bracket would be able to drop right in. Can you post a pic? I'm also surprised that an Acera crankset doesn't have replaceable rings. Mine did...

    Check out parktool.com for well-illustrated instructions when you start replacing things.
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  15. #15
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    ^^^What he is saying is that his FD is a BB mount - like a chain guide. He has to mount it to the BB and the crank has to be spaced so that it will work with his FD. Sure..its adjustable...but not from the standpoint of mounting.

    I am a bit confused OP; in your first post you are talking about swapping rear wheels to get a 8-speed compatible freehub. Then you are talking about a chain in your last post. Can you please clearly list out what all you have so far. As to the cassette tool, a Shimano tool is the one you need:

    Park Tool FR-5C Lockring Remover | Park Tool | Brand | www.PricePoint.com

    Replacing parts on lower end bikes can be v. challenging as many of the drivetrain parts are throw-away (crank doesn't have removable rings, etc.) and hard to find aftermarket. Often, finding used parts will be the way to go or going the upgrade route where in this case you would also replaced the BB-mounted FD for a seat-tube mounted unit but then you start down the road of replacing/spending more than you want.

    To be honest, the cost of the tools in your case will better spent IMHO having someone who knows how this all works to do it because the likelihood is that you will never replace these parts again on this bike and rather will probably get something newer if that time comes again. The newer bike will likely not have the same type of crank/BB (square taper) and these tools won't do you any good.
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  16. #16
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    Here is a new crank that will likely work:
    Shimano Alivio FC-M410 Compact Crank Set > Components > Drivetrain > Cranksets | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop
    BB:
    Shimano UN53 Square Taper BB > Components > Drivetrain > Bottom Brackets | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop
    Front derailleur:
    Shimano Deore M590 Oe Front Derailleur > Components > Drivetrain > Front Derailleurs | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop
    Cassette:
    Shimano HG70-I 8 Speed Cassette > Components > Drivetrain > Cassettes | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop
    Chain:
    KMC X8.93 Chain > Components > Drivetrain > Chains | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop

    Toss in another $20 for cables/housing and you are at around $100 + your time and a few tools. Tools would need to be a BB tool, cassette tool, chain tool, and cable/housing cutters.

    Obviously, you really have to know exactly what you need to order stuff online as there are many sizes etc. for the BB and the front derailleur clamp (and whether it is top/bottom pull)...this isn't a rookie job but can be done with some patience.
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  17. #17
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    Wow, that's a dirt cheap FD...and a Deore to boot. For $10, I may just pick that up. I'll go measure the tube in a bit.

    TiGeo, so far this is what I have:
    Original Shimano 3x8 shifters
    Non-original wheel w/7sp freewheel setup
    Brand new takeoff wheel/freehub from the LBS (no cassete)


    Here's what needs to be replaced:
    Crankset (OE is a TruVativ w/non-replaceable chain rings)
    8sp Cassette (don't have one for the new wheel yet)
    Chain
    Shift cables/housings

    Optional replacements:
    BB - not sure about this; there's no play in the current unit
    FD - not required, but would give me more adjustability for the future


    I'm a tinkerer by nature and I have a tendency to hoard tools, but I'll probably hold off on buying any tools aside from a cable cutter and cassette tool until I talk to the LBS about installation.

  18. #18
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    Great decision!
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

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  19. #19
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    I've read this whole thread and I am confused. I don't see that you are actually having a functional problem. It seems that you discovered it was changed from 3x8 to 3x7. Yes, that is a step in the wrong direction, but if it works, why not just ride it. The fact you got a free wheel seems to be leading you down a path to spend $100-$150 in parts and tools to make that free item work. Is it actually having a problem?

  20. #20
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    1) It's a crappy wheel
    2) The hub bearings have some play, and probably need to be cleaned and greased
    3) The 7sp freewheel doesn't match the 8sp shifter
    4) The teeth on it are kind of beat up
    5) I already got the new wheel for $40. Couldn't turn that down.

    I could relube the hub, snug it up, limit the RD to the 7 speeds available, and throw on a chain, but I'd still be stuck with a burned out small front chainring that's going to quickly wear a new chain. It would also bug the crap out of me. If it was in really good shape and the crankset was ok, I'd probably run with it. But they're not. Oh well.

  21. #21
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    Chances are the new crank won't match the existing bottom bracket.

    That's a cheap part, so it's more that it's one more expense to pile on. If you can find a complete crankset, bottom bracket included, it's a non-issue.

    You could hold off on the new crank for a while. Not having a granny ring off-road will be annoying, but you don't need gear ratios that low on the street. Does the chain actually skip when you're in the granny ring?

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  22. #22
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    OP: I see your $80 bike quickly turning into a $300 bike with what you've already bought and what you'll need. Can you find a bike that's better equipped for less than $400 that is complete and working?

    EB1888: What is the purpose of putting superglue into brake housings? I use Jagwire on all my builds and I've never done the process that you describe and have never had any of the issues like shift bind. I also use M739 or M900 shifters. The ferrules that come Jagwire are just fine too. $12 on eBay for Jag cable sets unboxed.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starfury View Post
    1) It's a crappy wheel
    2) The hub bearings have some play, and probably need to be cleaned and greased
    3) The 7sp freewheel doesn't match the 8sp shifter
    4) The teeth on it are kind of beat up
    5) I already got the new wheel for $40. Couldn't turn that down.

    I could relube the hub, snug it up, limit the RD to the 7 speeds available, and throw on a chain, but I'd still be stuck with a burned out small front chainring that's going to quickly wear a new chain. It would also bug the crap out of me. If it was in really good shape and the crankset was ok, I'd probably run with it. But they're not. Oh well.
    Now I get it. It does sound like you are in for a full drive train then (cassette, chain, crankset, FD and BB and the cables. It looks like TiGeo has you hooked up.

    I'll also repeat the notion that a set of Jagwire cables/housings is a good investment but you don't NEED to run continuous housings and drill out the cable stops.

    zygote2k: I think the notion of super glue is to go on the cable where you cut it so it won't fray and then get jammed up when threading through the housing. However, usually a brand new cable doesn't have this problem if its threaded first and then cut. I still suspect the glue idea is helpful for that "after threading cut" though.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post

    You could hold off on the new crank for a while. Not having a granny ring off-road will be annoying, but you don't need gear ratios that low on the street. Does the chain actually skip when you're in the granny ring?
    Honestly, I haven't even ridden the bike enough to tell. But the small chain ring is very obviously worn more than the larger two. That said, I do use that low gear ratio on the street. There's quite a few stop signs/lights in between here and school. I also frequently ride with my daughter to her school, and she can't go all that fast on her 16" (wheel) bike.

    zygote2k, I don't see this quite reaching $300, but I have considered your point. Problem is, this is a very street bike-oriented area, with very few mountain bike options aside from what gets dumped from college kids after they graduate. And even if I did find something, I kind of have to assume that anything I pick up in that price range is still going to need some work, and I definitely can't afford anything past that. As is, I'm trying to sneak some of this stuff by the wife. Even looking at a brand new bike from bikesdirect that would need no work, I'd end up with something less-equipped than what I'm looking at putting together with the Giant, and it'd be really hard to sneak a brand new bike under the radar

  25. #25
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    Re: Drivetrain Recommendations

    Put the brakes on parts you might need until you've actually ridden the bike!

    People get into upgrading their bikes as a hobby. Which is fine, and they can have useful knowledge. But they have a different perspective than you in terms of what constitutes value, and a lot of people get really precious about detail stuff that doesn't really effect function.

    Since the bike is in pieces, start by getting it rolling. It sounds like you're pretty committed to using the new wheel you already bought. So buy an 8-speed cassette and chain and install those. Then re-evaluate. Bear in mind that if the bike could go, stop and shift when you test-rode it (could it? Did you?) it shouldn't need anything else to go, stop and shift now.

    Once you can ride the bike again, look at things effecting reliability in the short term. You don't actually know the granny ring is worn out. You just find it visually unappealing. Maybe you're right, but we haven't reached that bridge yet.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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