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  1. #1
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    mountain to roadish conversion

    I have the ability at work to ride on lunch, roads are really the only option though. I live over 30 miles from work so commuting is out, and although I could bring my road bike into work everyday I know I will get sick of the hassle day in and day out. I do have a 2005 (i think) Cannondale F5 that I dont really use anymore. I am thinking about leaving the bike at work to ride on lunches, but because its all road I am looking to set the bike up to better fit those conditions. does it make sense to try and convert to drop bars and a ridged fork and slicks or just try to trade the bike in for an actual road bike?

    I would like to get the gearing more to road standards, not sure what options are out there for that either. I am thinking it might be a costly conversion and there is a shop in town that always has older road bikes I could probably swap for but I have one other concern. I have a hiking/biking path within a mile of my house, but its a fine crush stone path, not pavement. would a road bike do ok with those conditions? I am not willing to take my good road bike on the trail, but if i had an older one with more of a cyclecross tire i would probably spend a decent amount of time there.

    eventually I will get a cross bike for this purpose but right now its not in the budget.
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  2. #2
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    Here's what I did with mine. 1X8 set-up (36t - 12-30t). 29'er squeezed onto a 26" frame with 700X35 tires. DOES NOT hang very well with true road bikes, but makes a great townie with enough gearing to get up some hills.

    Here's the write up: DionRidesBikes.com: First Impressions of the On-One Fleegle Bar

  3. #3
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    My 2 cents: Slick-ish tires and be done with it. If its going to be your "leave it at work" bike, I can't see sinking much money into that. Plus this leaves your options open for that trail you mention.

    I have a hybrid that I ride on the road. Damn near every ride, I find myself exploring some unmarked trail or another. I'm totally a dirt junkie.

    Or feel free to do whatever YOU want!

  4. #4
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    +1 on slick tires and be done with it

  5. #5
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    I did the same thing with an old aluminum frame mountain bike I had in my shed. I pieced the thing together out of spare parts. Over time it morphed into something with a completely different focus that gave me the feeling of being "a kid on a bike", which is something my road bike and full suspension bike were not really doing.

    I had the spare frame and wanted something to leave at work or commute to work on. All the parts on the bike, except cables, chain, cassette, bar tape, and tires/tubes were spare parts.

    Name:  2011-05-27+14.26.58.jpg
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    mountain to roadish conversion-2011-05-27-14.26.06.jpg

    I went with some WTB Pathway tires, as I wanted the smoother ride on pavement but also have some grip on dirt and paths like you mentioned. Eventually I changed the tires to Continental Travel Contact. The spacing of the tread of the WTB tires was picking up bits of glass and goat-head thorns from the pavement and holding onto it until the debris had a chance to push into the tire casing (going deeper with each impact with the ground on each revolution). The Conti Travel Contacts had a slicker tread, which rolled faster on the pavement at higher pressures, but had a very usable side knob tread that really bit in when cornering, especially if I let a little bit of air out. I never flatted on the Conti tires in over two years riding them when I did start to commute.

    I tried putting on a more road-centric crankset, thinking that would work well for pavement riding. I put on a 50/40/28 triple I had laying around, pulling off a 46/36/24. After riding that crankset for a while, I removed it and replaced the original. It seemed to not work all too well with the weight, geometry, and wheelsize (26") of the bike...at least not as well as the 46/36/24 did. I actually just put the 50/40/28 on a road bike of mine, and it is a brilliant addition and a welcome replacement to the 52/42 I had on there. I think that gearing just works better with the lighter frame and 700c wheels. At least that is what my whole experience on the gearing experiment led me to think.

    So...I would advise you to go ahead and use that old bike, but stop with only a purchase of more road-centric or multi-use tires. Then, after you have ridden it enough you will know what you will need to do next to "upgrade" it for it's intended use. Save your money until you know it is going to fit into your work-day. After a while it became a drag to split the day with a ride where I was going to get sweaty and tired, then have to sit through meetings in the afternoon. There are showers at my place of work, but that made for more of a time crunch mid-day. I found it easier to take in a ride after work or commute in.

    One last comment, be careful with that old bike. You might enjoy riding it enough that you may get upgradeitis and start replacing old parts with new when they wear out, or get some idea of reconfiguring it. That happened to me, when parts would wear or break (almost all the parts were well and hard used 90's vintage) I would replace them with current stuff. First derailleurs, then shifters, then wheels, then brakes (from V to disc)...eventually all of the bike, including the frame, was new. The only original part now is the crankset...the one I tried to replace! I love the thing now..it morphed into a full-rigid drop bar mountain bike that I use when traveling with my wife (fits in her car's trunk) and for when I just don't want to deal with the full suspension or the road bike. I will tell you, the ride is really fun. Makes me feel like a kid.

    mountain to roadish conversion-2012-08-31-10.37.18.jpg
    "You're messing with my zen thing, man!"

  6. #6
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    Yup on slicks,

    Think you already have plenty of gears, too many for flats IMO. Can't really see longer mtb crank length being an issue either, unless you have specific training or physical needs.
    If there's anything I'd want it's a rigid, or lock-out, or at least very stiff fork for more control, fun, and efficiency.
    If your lunchtime rides are purely for exercise than more efficient = less exercise so from that standpoint you shouldn't even change from knobbies.
    Last edited by theMeat; 04-29-2013 at 03:22 PM.
    Round and round we go

  7. #7
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    I did this with my older RMB Hammer. I don't know why particularly, but it just never seemed to come together enough for me to use it over my 650bed MUSS. Knowing what I know now, I think I would've rather put the money for parts (drop bar, stem, bar-end shifters, tape, rigid fork) into other rides. I say slick it up and be done with it. I'm in the process of reverting back to the mostly original set-up. If you do go ahead, my one piece of advice is to get the drops as high as your mtb bar.
    No fuss with the MUSS

  8. #8
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    Here is mine.

    mountain to roadish conversion-img_3776.jpg

    mountain to roadish conversion-img_3778.jpg

  9. #9
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    thanks guys, i guess my hangup is I am looking for more of the geometry of my road bike, and a couple co-workers ride on lunch with road bikes so it will be a hell of a challenge to hang with a mtb so the conversion would have to get me close.

    I may have the option to trade it in for a used road bike at a local shop so that is also on my possibility list. like i said, this will sit at work most of the time, once in a while it will go home to ride the local bike trail.

    if i was to switch to a rigid fork and drops, I assume i would have to get new shifters and break levers for the drops? especially for my juicy 5 on the front, thinking i would probably have to go back to a mechanical disk rather than a hydraulic?
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  10. #10
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    When I read the title here, I thought the OP was talking about changing one of these:


    mountain to roadish conversion-peak_of_the_matterhorn-_seen_from_zermatt-_switzerland.jpg



    Into one of these:


    Name:  radish.jpg
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    This would be difficult, but makes more sense to me if it could be pulled off...
    It's all Here. Now.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by nvr2low View Post
    thanks guys, i guess my hangup is I am looking for more of the geometry of my road bike, and a couple co-workers ride on lunch with road bikes so it will be a hell of a challenge to hang with a mtb so the conversion would have to get me close.

    I may have the option to trade it in for a used road bike at a local shop so that is also on my possibility list. like i said, this will sit at work most of the time, once in a while it will go home to ride the local bike trail.

    if i was to switch to a rigid fork and drops, I assume i would have to get new shifters and break levers for the drops? especially for my juicy 5 on the front, thinking i would probably have to go back to a mechanical disk rather than a hydraulic?
    If you switch to drops, it would behoove you to not simply use a road bar but go with a dirt-drop bar (gives you more width/leverage). Look for Origin8 Gary II bars, Salsa Woodchipper, On-One Midge, or Ragley Luxy. Keep in mind the clamp diameter. You will need to match up stem and bars, and these bars use either 2.54 mm, 31.8 mm. If you do go with road bars, a lot will have a 26.0 mm road clamp size. Some come in 2.54 and 31.8...but just be aware of the potential for a headache with sizing here.

    You will also want to get a different stem, a higher rise, which will raise the bars into a more useful position. Many proponents of drop bars on mountain bikes advise to get a stem that will place the drops of the bar at the same height you run a flat bar. I thought that a little high so I went for a position that was a little bit lower, placing the bend of the drops about where a flat bar would be on my bike. You will find a bunch of the lower end brands (Summit, Avenir, etc) offering these stems if you do a Google search. I went (on a couple of bikes needing higher rise stems) with the ones offered by Origin8 and Profile Design. Another place to get a pretty good one is Interlock Racing Design, which offers a 40 degree riser, most others are 30-35 degrees.

    Your shifters will have to change. Without some sort of modification you probably wont get mountain trigger shifters on the bars, and I don't think there is any way to get a grip shifter onto anything but the ends of drop bars (sometimes requiring an adapter...like the HubBub). Brifters (brake/shifter combo levers) usually work for most people, but unless you have a set laying around the price is ridiculous. Indexed bar-end shifters work really well (I run these) and can be found for around $80 new online. Other options are the relatively new Retroshift, or Paul Thumbies.

    Your brake levers...I don't think you will be able to retain your Juicy brakes. You have probably heard the chatter about hydraulic disc brakes for cyclocross and road bikes. It is a relatively new thing, and the holy grail has been a system that is small, light, and actually works. SRAM has recently introduced hydraulic drop bar brake levers and disc calipers for road and cross bikes, but I don't know if that will ever be adaptable to current mountain bike hydro brakes. TRP has a hydraulic conversion kit called the Parabox, but at $469.99 list that is an expensive proposition.

    I went with cable disc brakes. You can get an older year Avid BB-7 for pretty cheap online (the current year are not all that expensive) which will give you more than adequate braking. If you go Avid go BB-7, not the BB-5. While perfectly functional, the BB-5 lacks dial adjustment of both pads. Setup and maintenance of pad-to-disc distance is more of a headache than on the BB-7's.

    You will need drop bar brake levers that are compatible with the cable disc brakes. You can go about this in two ways. If you get "mountain" disc brakes then you will need a brake lever that is compatible with the longer cable pull. Any lever that says it works with V-brakes or Linear brakes will work. I went with Tektro RL520 levers. The other way you can go about this is finding a "road" version of a cable disc caliper. Avid makes both a BB-5 and BB-7 in this flavor. The idea is the lever swing wraps the same amount of cable as a road caliper brake, letting you use any road brake lever that works with standard calipers or cantilever brakes (aka short-pull). I have seen these for sale at JensonUSA, so they should be pretty much available all over (at least all over the 'net).

    So you will need at the minimum different tires for your conversion, and if you want drop bars you will need the bars, new stem, new shifters, new brakes and levers, bar tape, and new cables and casing.

    As far as the fork, you can get away with a suspension fork, but if you don't have a lockout you will feel the pogo motion absorbing some of your forward impulse when riding pavement. There are a lot of options out there, but for handling characteristics if you do go with a rigid fork you will want to get one that is "suspension corrected" that matches the travel of your suspension fork. When I switched frames from my old polished finish one to the new black painted one I simply re-used the suspension fork I already had. The old frame specced an 80 mm travel fork (Rockshox Judy) while the new frame specced a 100 mm fork. When I rode the new frame with the existing shorter fork I experienced weird handling, as that 20 mm difference effectively changed the angle of the tubes of the frame, especially the head tube. I went and got the 100 mm suspension corrected fork and it made the handling spot on neutral. It was how the frame was supposed to be set up. The bonus of the rigidity of the solid fork also meant a better ride on pavement.

    Since I was going to use this bike in just as much off-road as on-road I went and got the burliest fork I could find (for the cash I wanted to spend), which was the Surly Instigator fork. Got it for under $100. Love this fork, it has handled riding a lot of dirt, including Bolinas Ridge, Waterdog, Whittemore Gulch, Skeggs, and Annadel (to name a few places) as well as my local Granite Bay/Folsom Lake and Auburn. Surly speccs it as a fork fit for dirt jumping or off-road tandems (but they are ambiguous about dirt jumping your off-road tandem with it). As I said, the fork has given no problem in all the riding I have done with it, and I am not a light guy (255 lbs). It has certainly been money well spent.
    Last edited by Bokchoicowboy; 04-30-2013 at 10:11 AM.
    "You're messing with my zen thing, man!"

  12. #12
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    thanks for all the info bokchoicowboy, going to talk to the local bike shop and see what they have for a possible trade. if they have nothing that interests me I will have to start piecing together all these components.

    I did notice a lot of the drop bikes have a higher stem, what is the reasoning for that? with my limited knowledge of actual bike geometry it seams as though that would negate the reason for the drop, at least for the purpose that road bikes use them for which I assume is aerodynamics...
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  13. #13
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    It's apart right now because I cannibalized it for parts, but it was definitely a better road/gravel bike than it ever was an MTB (for me) - although it was a fun to ride it over to the trail and then on the trail.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails mountain to roadish conversion-img_6691.jpg  

    But if you close your eyes it becomes so easy to see

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by nvr2low View Post
    thanks for all the info bokchoicowboy, going to talk to the local bike shop and see what they have for a possible trade. if they have nothing that interests me I will have to start piecing together all these components.

    I did notice a lot of the drop bikes have a higher stem, what is the reasoning for that? with my limited knowledge of actual bike geometry it seams as though that would negate the reason for the drop, at least for the purpose that road bikes use them for which I assume is aerodynamics...
    One of the reasons for the drop on the road is indeed aerodynamics. But there are other reasons to use drop bars for both road and off-road. It is also for ergonomics, which beside the obvious variety of positions for comfort also translates into increased efficiency and mechanical advantage.

    A very good source to see what this is all about is one a page by one of the MTBR forum mods, Shiggy. He posted a discussion on why he rides drop bars off road.

    As far as the height of drop bars off road, I initially went with the suggestion of Shiggy on his web page and set the height of the bottom of the drops (true drop position) at the level of my straight bars I was replacing. I think he advised this height for the ability to stay in the drops for control and better braking. I tried that and it did not work for me all that well for my uses. I moved the bars lower with a different stem, with the level of my old flat bars hitting about halfway down the bars (the hooks). That was better for my position on road and off. To give myself an added braking advantage I added some "interrupter levers (aka cross or aux levers) which can be pulled while riding the tops of the bars. These things are a far cry from the old "chicken levers" you would see on Schwinn Varsities back in the day. I do find I will ride on the hoods, ramps, and tops most of the time while cruising or commuting.
    "You're messing with my zen thing, man!"

  15. #15
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    thanks for the link and info!
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