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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    gt hardtail trail project.help.newbie!!!

    hey guys,

    new member here so thanks for having me!!!

    on my first bike project from scratch and am aiming for a decent trail bike without breaking the bank. So far i have a gt hardtail frame which i picked up cheap (ebay) which feels pretty light to me so a good place to start me think.

    added manitou sherman breakout fork and dmr moto 2.2 tyres.

    now as i understand it it would be a good idea to save as much weight as poss? well the frame and forks are good on this score but since im on a budget I need to pick and choose the best places to save weight and hence spend more money.

    could anyone help me with a decent set of 26'' rims/hubs/wheelsets for this kind of project? this is where im willing to spend the most really. 200 the pair tops.

    also any suggestions about the key areas to save weight? I was thinking the cassette maybe? am after a 9 speed as am going with a 1x9 setup as this is good for a trail bike i hear?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Dan

  2. #2
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    wheels will help the most, but first, what type of riding are you doing? Huge jumps, smooth dirt, or commuting. Do you know the model/year of the frame? Does the frame have disc brake mounts in back or rim brakes only? Is your fork a 100mm wide quick-release axle or the thru-axle (15 or 20mm diameter)?

    Jenson has free shipping on over $50, so for now, this is a pretty good price on a wheelset. Here's some links to decent wheels. Issue will be weight vs. strength. I wouldn't use wheels with less than 32 spokes because I'm a clydesdale. However, if you weight 140 lbs, you may be able to add 24 spoke wheels back into the list of options.
    Shimano MT55 26" Wheelset > Components > Wheel Goods > Mountain Bike Wheels | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop
    Shimano WH-MT65 Wheelset > Components > Wheel Goods > Mountain Bike Wheels | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop

    1x9 is fine once you're used to it. May take practice to handle hills on the lowest gear. Worst case, have to get off and walk a bit. a lightweight cassette is good, but lighter wheelset is more important. Lower rotating mass. For weight savings, a decent aluminum steam, seatpost, seat, and handlebar are all you really need. I wouldn't use carbon, just because I don't want to risk destroying a $200 handlebar when the $20 aluminum handlebar (on sale) will work almost as well without the risk of destroying it. also a lot cheaper.

  3. #3
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    you are going to need to give us more info on the frame. photos would help too. there are several options out there that will depend on the limitations of the frame. does it have a tapered head tube? what size dropouts? disc brake tabs?

    also, where and how do you plan to ride this bike?

  4. #4
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    thanks for that info so far guys!!

    its an old gt hardtail i dont know anything about it tbh except it has a 1.5'' steerer tube and fittings for disc or v brakes.

    intended for smoothish trails (gravel/dirt) with odd bit of rough stuff i should think. The fork is 130mm/170mm travel with 20mm.

    and i havent a clue what a dropout is haha!!!

    thanks
    dan

  5. #5
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    Is the 1.5" from the outside dimension of the headset/headtube, or is the actual fork steer tube 1.5" both top and bottom. If it's the second, I didn't know GT's older frames had full blown 1.5" headsets. Might be a downhill or dirtjump bike?

    If the fork came with the bike, and the fork uses a 20mm thru axle, it could very well be a downhill frame, which might have different rear axle spacing and size. Need to know if it's 135mm width and if it's either a quick release rear axle setup or a thru-axle style (similar to the fork). the fork could also have 110mm space between the dropouts (where the wheel attaches to the bike) instead of the standard 100mm. This is because the 20mm axle is usually used on downhill and dirt jump. Stronger and heavier, not necessarily what you want on smooth trails. Here's a link for a front wheel that's avaialbe with the 20mm and 15mm axle types.
    Easton Vice 26" Wheel Oe > Components > Wheel Goods > Mountain Bike Wheels | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop

    If it's got 135mm quick release rear hub, you might have a difficult time finding a matching wheelset that uses a 20mm front axle. Are you willing to sell the fork and get a different one? That 20mm axle could limit you on new wheel options unless you're willing to mix and match. A new fork with a 15mm thru-axle or a 9mm QR might be cheaper in the long run.

  6. #6
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    I think at this point a picture is worth a 1000 words. Take pix of all the parts you have. Then close ups of areas near head tube.

    What is your budget? Realistically.

    You can dump a fortune or scrounge around for used parts to pull it off. It all depends on your budget.

    Buying a used complete bike will always be cheaper than trying to build something up. Only do the build if you want to learn how bikes are put together and/or you've got more time than money and you don't mind not riding it for months.

    Things that can easily break the bank:

    Fork
    Wheelset to match front fork axle and rear axle
    crankset
    brakeset

    In terms of drivetrain, getting a 1x9 is the way to go. Especially a grip shift.

    Do you have another bike you can canabolize parts from?
    Just get out and ride!

  7. #7
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    IMHO, cassettes are a stupid place to try to save weight. Light ones are a lot more expensive it's still something you wear out and throw away every couple years.

    Also IMHO, the weight thing is overrated. A swing of 20 lb one way or another makes a big difference. A swing of 2 lb... I don't think I could tell. But that's a lot in the world of light bikes.

    Building a bike from parts costs more than buying a complete. I think a better starting point would just be to buy a bike that's complete. If you want to tinker with it, nobody's stopping you. And, you'll have some context for what you're doing.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  8. #8
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    You're biggest bang for the buck weight loss wise would be to replace that fork.
    I think they're around 6 lbs, and not all that great performance and reliability-wise. Since you obviously want to get the bike running and already have the fork and still need to buy a bunch of other necessities, you do not need to do this right away, but I would take any extra money you're thinking about paying for lightweight parts (particularly drivetrain parts) and start socking it away for a nice light air fork that's a few years old, like a Fox Float or something along those lines.

    If your frame is a 1.5" headtube, picking up some 1 1/8" reducing cups will open up your options for fork/headset choices in the future.

    Weight loss make the biggest difference when it's rotating weight, and the farther it is out on the wheel, the more difference you'll feel. Tires and rims affect things the most. Remember that at the same price point - lighter is weaker pretty much as a rule. Strong and light combined gets expensive quickly.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by baker92 View Post

    and i havent a clue what a dropout is haha!!!
    you are in waaaay over your head. please don't drown. get us some photos of the frame. the way this is headed, it sounds like you are going to build an un-rideable Frankenbike. we really need to know what specific frame you have!

    I really doubt you have a 1.5" head tube.

    if you have a frame that was designed for a 80 or 100mm fork, and you put a 130mm fork on it, you're likely to rip the frame in half on a hard landing because you are going to rake out the fork angle beyond what the frame was designed to handle.

    photos of the frame or you are wasting your time!

  10. #10
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    gt hardtail trail project.help.newbie!!!-20131119_082953-1-.jpggt hardtail trail project.help.newbie!!!-20131119_083001-1-.jpggt hardtail trail project.help.newbie!!!-20131119_083001-0-.jpggt hardtail trail project.help.newbie!!!-20131119_083104.jpg

    wow thanks for all the replies!!

    i have tinkered with different bikes before but this is my 1st full build and i would rather build than buy just cuz its more fun.

    these are the pics of the frame which i know nothing about except it cost the princely sum of 10 on ebay.

    i did think i was off with the steerer but i get 1.5'' from the inside of tube at the the little step round?! and i really have no clue if the frame is intended for quick release or not

    slapheadmofo- reviews on the fork made it sound quite light? its the 05 fork thats either 130mm or 170mm. Tbh i wasnt sure if it was right but it had 1.5'' steerer.

    thanks so much for the help people!!!

    dan

  11. #11
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    that frame will only take a 1 1/8" fork. the head tube is closer to 1.5" because that's the outer diameter of the bearings that would fit in that frame. I am not sure exactly which headset you will need, but your local bike shop will have some measurement tools to help you figure that out. the fork you bought is useless to you because the fork might fit in the frame, but there will be no room left for any bearings! also, without seeing the rest of that frame (more photos!), I can't tell what that frame is made for, but I really doubt it was designed for a 130-170mm fork with a 1.5" steerer tube. forks like that are designed for lift-assisted downhill rowdiness.

  12. #12
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    Couple questions; how much do you weight and how much are you willing to spend. Already established you plan on using it mostly on singletrack with some technical terain, but no crazy downhill or jumps. You own the frame and fork. What else have you already got that you can put on the bike.

    Not too familar with GT frames, but I'd look hard for a model number on it. Like mack said, making sure you have the correct travel fork (within 20mm at least) is important. Really want to keep your headtube angle near 69 to 70 degrees if you're using it for XC.

    The headset looks like a 44mm zerostack which will take a 1 1/8" fork. You can also get an external cup for the bottom and use a tapered fork (have you're LBS measure to make sure). This would open you up to a lot of good options for lightweight wheels and decent quality forks. Could you measure the distance between the rear axles too? It looks a litle wider than I'm used to, but hard to tell just from a picture.

    In general, I agree with Andrw's comment about weight, except in the wheels. lighter rotating mass will making accelerating and uphill pedaling much easier. I swapped out a wheelset and went from 2.1 tires to 1.5 tires on a bike (just for an experiment) and dropped about 1.5 pounds just in rim/tire/tube weight. There was a huge difference in climbing and acceleration. Unfortunately, they bounced me around more and the handling went down too. Skinny tires just aren't as much fun, but they are fast

  13. #13
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    I do love me some 23 mm tires on my road bikes.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  14. #14
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    E-Speculation: Looks like it could be a Zaskar of some sort from around 2000 or 2001, which is an XC frame designed for a 3.15" (80mm) travel fork with a 1-1/8" steerer fork. They didn't get to 100mm until 2007. It's not a Ruckus (which was their thrasher dirt jump bike at the time) because the tube shapes just are not right.

    I'd like to see a pic of the whole frame from the side, and the fork too.

    There are some dyed in the wool GT fanatics over on the retro-vintage board that can likely nail this down with greater accuracy.

  15. #15
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    gt hardtail trail project.help.newbie!!!-20131119_175824.jpg

    OK so here be the full frame, can anyone name it? I'll throw it on the vintage page as per jeffj suggestion and see if we can work it out.

    all this info makes me so glad i joined this forum!!! thanks

    well ive wasted money on a fork but then it can go back on ebay at least.

    ive got a pretty basic muddfox that im planning on stripping for parts, shimano grip shifts and rear derrailleur and the crank which I drilled 2 rings off of as i want to go 1 x 8/9 speed (hope this works as it took ages to drill rivets!!!) and now the forks which have about 80mm travel but weigh a tonne.

    watts888 im a tall skinny beanpole of a man and pretty light and the distance between rear axles is 5 1/2''/140mm ?!

    Much thanks

    Dan

  16. #16
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    If the rear axle is 140mm, I wouldn't toss the fork yet. That might be a dirtjump frame that uses 1.5" external cups, 20mm front axle and 142mm wide rear axle. the diameter and orientation of those rear dropouts aren't what I'd expect from the bikes I've used. It could also be a case of the rear end is spread apart some and should use 135mm spacing.

    If you have a micrometer, it's time to bust it out and get an accurate inside diameter of that headcup. It'd be best if it's a 44mm zerostack (sligthly beveled inside edge). If it's a special order headset, it could cost much more than the frame is worth. Probably need good measurement of rear axle spacing too. FYI, unless it's a dirtjump, AM, or DH frame you probably want 135mm, not 140 or 142mm.

    Here's a link to canecreek's fit guide for headsets. Ton of information about what to look for when you need a new headset, which you probably will.
    http://www.canecreek.com/resources/p...tion-guide.pdf

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffj View Post
    E-Speculation: Looks like it could be a Zaskar of some sort from around 2000 or 2001,
    Yeah...or maybe an Avalance from about that same period.

  18. #18
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    it is most likely a standard frame with 135mm rear spacing that you might have mistaken for 140mm. when you clamp the quick release skewer on there, it should end up at 135mm with a standard mountain bike hub.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by watts888 View Post
    If the rear axle is 140mm, I wouldn't toss the fork yet. That might be a dirtjump frame that uses 1.5" external cups, 20mm front axle and 142mm wide rear axle.
    look at the seat tube on that frame. that's no dirt jump frame. it's an entry-mid level XC frame, most likely made for a 80-100mm fork. think Avalanche, Zaskar, etc.

  20. #20
    Big Gulps, Alright!
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    Looks like a fairly ordinary XC/trail frame. The head tube appears to have a 44mm internal diameter and would traditionally require a zero stack (ZS) headset style, or ZS44. IF this is the case (and you should take actual measurements) then you COULD use an EC44 (external cup) headset and install a 1.5" steerer tube fork. That being said, a 170mm fork is way overkill for that frame and will cause it to ride like garbage. You probably want 100-120mm of travel max.

    Rear dropouts will be 135mm spacing. They might measure slightly wider but as mentioned, when the quick release is clamped that extra room will disappear.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by baker92 View Post
    Click image for larger version. 

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    OK so here be the full frame, can anyone name it? I'll throw it on the vintage page as per jeffj suggestion and see if we can work it out.

    all this info makes me so glad i joined this forum!!! thanks

    well ive wasted money on a fork but then it can go back on ebay at least.

    ive got a pretty basic muddfox that im planning on stripping for parts, shimano grip shifts and rear derrailleur and the crank which I drilled 2 rings off of as i want to go 1 x 8/9 speed (hope this works as it took ages to drill rivets!!!) and now the forks which have about 80mm travel but weigh a tonne.

    watts888 im a tall skinny beanpole of a man and pretty light and the distance between rear axles is 5 1/2''/140mm ?!

    Much thanks

    Dan
    To figure out what year it is look on the bottom of where to bottom bracket is. On my old GT fram the H5 XXX indicates 1995:

    gt hardtail trail project.help.newbie!!!-img_20130321_141601_941.jpg

    EDIT: Check out this post that helped me find what year mine was: Post your commuter photos! - Page 81

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