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  1. #1
    S-Mart's Top of the Line
    Reputation: H3LlIoN's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Upgrade Questions...

    Alright, I'm new to this, as if you couldn't tell by the postcount, and I need some help upgrading.

    I've got an '04 Hardrock Comp Disc with the stock Shimano HG-50, 8-speed, 11x30t Cassette (although I don't know what that means) and I've also got the stock Truvativ ISO Flow, alloy, capless bolts crankset (can you tell I copy/pasted?), although the one side has a Truvativ fiveD crank arm, since the stock one kept coming loose. I've probably got a cumulative 400 miles on the bike, and I've already lost the smallest (#8?) gear on the casette. I can pedal light on it, but if I put any serious pressure, it jumps. I've also had issues with the chain jumping gears on the main crankset too. I'm definately looking to upgrade from something more serious, and more durable. I've eyeballed the race face crank sets, but I quite frankly don't have any idea where to look or where to head. Is there a "beginner's guide to upgrades" or something? My biggest gripes about the main crankset are A) the chain jumps off, then scratches the hell out of my frame, and B) it is wickedly noises/creaky. People hear me coming, and I want to be mtb ninja. :P As far as the cassette goes, durability is my biggest gripe. What else will I need to get this project kicked off? What else can I do to improve the drivetrain? What can I do to keep the chain from chewing up my frame? Who framed Roger Rabbit? You get the idea, if anyone would care to lend $.02 I'd appreciate it. I don't even know what frame measurements I would need to take.

    I ride mostly Urban offroading due to my weight, but am working back towards freestyle/cross country, and a little bit of DJing. Current crank setup tops out at about 32mph.

    Oh and yes, I understand I could run credit card in hand to my LBS, but I have the ability to do this, and might as well learn sometime. Besides, I'm cheaper than they are!

    Thanks, I have manufacturer specs for any additional info needed.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: cgreen9761's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Learn to wrench your own bike.
    Everything you asked in this thread and more can be answered by a bike maintenance book.
    I HIGHLY recommend Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike Maintenance.~$20 at your local bike shop.
    Theres a lot of simple maintenance checks you can do to get her running silently and correctly and they will all be in a repair book.
    The BEST part is, MOST things are very cheaply fixed.
    If you are an instat gratification type of guy, try
    The repair section is great.
    Try looking into the derailer sections for how to adjust the "high" and "low" limit screws.
    I think you will find a fix to your shifting issues there.
    Try those first then hop back on and let us know how it worked.

  3. #3
    S-Mart's Top of the Line
    Reputation: H3LlIoN's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Funny you mentioned that...I picked up my sister's Frontier GSX tonight so that I could fix it for her, then swung by the new local LBS that just opened to check it out, since they carry Specialized, for which I am a sucker. Anyway, I just so happened to grab a copy of Zinn & the art whilst I was there. $24.95 though. Given enough time, I always stumble my way upon the correct path. Thanks!

  4. #4
    Ski during the off-season
    Reputation: journey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004

    durability & drivetrain maint.

    Quote Originally Posted by H3LlIoN
    ... Shimano HG-50, 8-speed, 11x30t Cassette (although I don't know what that means) .... I've probably got a cumulative 400 miles on the bike.
    Welcome to the world of upgrades ;-) ... and MTB maintenance. There are some decent online maintaince guides and there is pretty long one on this site as well (I think its under the new-to-mtb'ing forum but its been a while since i looked at it).

    8-speed, 11x30t cassette: means that there are 8-gears/rings, with the smallest having 11-teeth and the largest having 30-teeth. The sizes of in between rings can vary. Some cassettes have 34t for the largest ring, which allows provides an 'easier' climbing gear.

    If you are not already running clipless peddles, i would consider it a next upgrade as well. As far as upgrades, many will point you to getting a better set of wheels first as having lighter wheels will make your bike more nible and start faster. I ended up replacing my drive train first as I woreout my 8-speed drive train before I knew about good drive maintenance.

    If you decide to upgrade your drive train (sounds like you may ready to replace some component already), one of the first things to address is whether you are going stay with an 8-speed drive train or switch over to a 9-speed. A 9-speed drive is more the standard for higher end mtb's. Some people swear by 8-speed setups, as they can be a bit more robust. As an 8-speed and 9-speed cassette are the same width, the 9-speed achieves this by having thinner rings / cogs, slightly thinner chain, etc. The tolerances are slightly tighter for a 9-spd drive train, so an 8-speed drive train gets whacked or wears, it is more likely to keep running. Its hard to find 'high-end' 8-speed components though as most are geared towards intermediate or entry level bikes.

    Too change to a 9-speed drive train, you minimally need to replace your rear-shifter and cassette. If you have a SRAM rear der., you will need to make sure to get a compatible shifter (i.e., if you have not already found this out, SRAM & Shimano have different standards for rear der. so you have to make sure that your shifter & rear der. are compatible). If your chain is not woren (see below), you do not need to replace it, but if you are replacing your cassette, replacing the chain at the same time is a good practice. You can using the same rings, but depending on the wear, etc., you may need to replace them as well.

    OK, enough about 8-spd vs 9-spd.

    Regarding your current drive train - an essential part to drive train maintenance is regularly cleaning your chain (use chain cleaner or someother mechanism) and regularly lubing your chain. If you regularly clean your chain (every few rides or 75-100 miles, which every come first), then you can expect apprx. 500 miles out of chain. If you do not clean it or ride in dusty/dirty climate, you can expect your chain to only last few 100 miles. Its probably covered in your Zinn book (I forget), but the easiest way to check for chain wear is to measure the length of your chain. As your chain wears, it lengthens. In one foot of chain, there should be 24-links (2 lins are 1 inch). On a brand new chain, if you measure the distance from the center of one link to the distance of the center of the 24th link, it will measure exactly 1 foot. In a worn chain, the distance will be greater than one foot. Some rough guidelines are: 1/32-1/16: its time to replace the chain. 1/16-1/8: replace the chain & likely the cassette (some but not all cogs will likely be woren, skipping when under load). 1/8-1/4: replace chain, cassette & possibly the ring you primarily use. The problem you described about your chainring may be a sign of wear as chain-suck is often caused by a woren chainring (it could be something as simple as the Frt der. needing to be adjusted though so try that first).

    Sometimes replacing the chain is good enough but if your cassette or rings are woren, a new chain will wear out more quickly. Here is a good site for more details on chain wear:

    As far as durability goes, a good rule of thumb is to expect 500 miles out a chain, 1000 miles out of cassette & 1500-2000 miles out of a set of rings -- YMMV depending on how often you clean it, how you drive, etc.

    If you have not had the frt & rear der. adjusted since you have gotten the bike, usually its a good idea to have them adjusted as cables can stretch some during the first couple of hundred of miles. As far as the squeaks go, bolts can work their way loose, and they just need to tightened up. Do pay attention to the torque settings on bolts -- its a painful business when you strip one. I learned it the hardway. I could have easily paid for an inexpensive torque wrench by the time I replaced a suspension bolt that I stripped due to over tightening it in the first place (something was squeaking on my bike so I over tightened everything...).

    Anyway, if your bike is in need of basic maintenance, and you are not used to doing your own wrenching, sometimes it easier to pay for a basic tune-up and then keep it in shape. On the other hand, you can jump in head first and learn by doing if you have the time. When I started, I paid someone else to do the initial maintance, and after a while, started doing all of my own.

    Good luck with it.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Everything he said....

    ...just agreeing to check the cable tensions first, you can waste a lot of money upgrading (trust me, a lot) when simple adjustments will fix your shifting problems. Maybe something as simple as cable adjustment, maybe you need a new shifting cable... Then you can dump that money into a pretty new fork, or some carbon bars, or something else you probably dont need but absolutly love. Just start with the simplest solution and you can save a lot of money until you decide what you really want to upgrade to.

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