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  1. #1
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    ... and if we just ... Convert Trek 3500 to urban SS for under $150?

    Now I know I'm going to get laughs for Trek, and laughs for the most basic MTB Trek offers, but I have to work with what I have.

    I did not purchase this bike, my father passed away and he bought the thing. He never rode it because the brain cancer became more aggressive shortly after he bought the bike.

    So I have a brand new 2010 Trek 3500 at my disposal. I thought about selling it but i can only get a few hundred for it so I might as well keep it. Last week while pulling the bike out of storage, it hit me that I wanted to convert it to a tough urban SS.

    I live in Pittsburgh and while there are hills, I have awesome leg power so I'm not worried. I want to simplify the bike as much as possible, nothing fancy or expensive.

    I've been researching and have decided a few thing I want:

    -26x1.5 slicks. Can someone recommend me a good tire
    -I have to get rid of the brake levers as they are combined with the shifter. Black is preferred.
    -I understand I will need a chain tensioner, thinking about a Surly

    Now here's the part where I'm overwhelmed due to my lack of MTB knowledge, (I'm a skateboarder/snowboarder)

    I have no idea what I need to replace as far as the transmission is concerned. I don't know the difference between a freewheel and a cassette, and I don't what I have to replace as far as the chain wheel.

    Long story short, I want to change my tires, levers, cassette/freewheel, and chain ring as simply as possible and try to keep it under $150. All advice is greatly appreciated. Be easy on me, I'm a newbie.

  2. #2
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    slick tires-tons of choices (around 50 a set or less)

    brake levers- avid speed dials (20.00 a pair online)

    remove the cassette and get a ss conversion kit (around 40.00)

    ss chainring ( about 25.00)

    quick numbers came out to 135 on new items so yes, you should be able to set it up SS in your budget.

    Since you probably don't have any of the tools needed, your best bet would be to take it to a local bike shop and see what they can do for you. Or maybe someone local from these forums could give you a hand.

  3. #3
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    My personal opinion that you or others may disagree with:

    If the bike doesn't have any sentimental value to you (being that it was your fathers--sorry for the loss), then I'd sell it and get a SS specific bike. You can get one for as cheap as $450 new.

    If you want to keep it, it will be pretty easy.

    --1st, brake levers. You can get cheap Avid's for $10-20 on ebay.
    --Tensioner: You can just use your derailleur or get a Sette or something similar. Sasquatch Rides a SS on here also made one from a v-brake arm.
    --Cranks: Simply take off the front derailleur. At this point, you should just leave all of the rings on there and just use the middle ring. If you do take off the large/small ring, you will have to buy shorter bolts. Money wasted if you end up not liking SS.
    --Rear cog: Go to your local bike shop. Ask for an old cassette. Go home and take it apart (simple to do). Now you've got a few cogs for free. Go to Home Depot, buy 1.125" PVC pipe and use that for spacers for your cog. If you do decide to keep the bike, get a quality cog with a wide base so you don't destroy your hub.
    --Tires: I'd leave the tires alone until you're sure you want to keep this bike.

    Most importantly, you need tools to do this. I'd probably get something like the Nashbar Tool Kit or similar kit. There are plenty of youtube vids for help.

    Good luck.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by wu501 View Post
    slick tires-tons of choices (around 50 a set or less)

    brake levers- avid speed dials (20.00 a pair online)

    remove the cassette and get a ss conversion kit (around 40.00)

    ss chainring ( about 25.00)

    quick numbers came out to 135 on new items so yes, you should be able to set it up SS in your budget.

    Since you probably don't have any of the tools needed, your best bet would be to take it to a local bike shop and see what they can do for you. Or maybe someone local from these forums could give you a hand.
    Thanks for the info. How do I know what gearing to set up?

    As far as tools, I have tons of tools, the only thing I don't have is the crank tool and a chain whip for the rear cassette. Is there alternative methods to removing the cranks and cassette? If not I can buy the tools, I like to do thinks myself. I'm great DIY builds, just needed the kick in the right direction.

  5. #5
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    well you need a chainwhip and a cassette removal tool to remove the cassette.

    as for the crank, there are specific types depending on the crank style that is on there now. You might just want to do what the guy above said and leave the front rings in tact and just remove the front derailleur.


    you would spend about 30-40 bucks on the tools alone so maybe someone local could let you borrow them.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by p nut View Post
    My personal opinion that you or others may disagree with:

    If the bike doesn't have any sentimental value to you (being that it was your fathers--sorry for the loss), then I'd sell it and get a SS specific bike. You can get one for as cheap as $450 new.

    If you want to keep it, it will be pretty easy.

    --1st, brake levers. You can get cheap Avid's for $10-20 on ebay.
    --Tensioner: You can just use your derailleur or get a Sette or something similar. Sasquatch Rides a SS on here also made one from a v-brake arm.
    --Cranks: Simply take off the front derailleur. At this point, you should just leave all of the rings on there and just use the middle ring. If you do take off the large/small ring, you will have to buy shorter bolts. Money wasted if you end up not liking SS.
    --Rear cog: Go to your local bike shop. Ask for an old cassette. Go home and take it apart (simple to do). Now you've got a few cogs for free. Go to Home Depot, buy 1.125" PVC pipe and use that for spacers for your cog. If you do decide to keep the bike, get a quality cog with a wide base so you don't destroy your hub.
    --Tires: I'd leave the tires alone until you're sure you want to keep this bike.

    Good luck.
    I kinda want to keep it.

    I do want to replace the ring, I like the look and simplicity of a single versus only using one of the 3 it already has. Also, I want to replace the rings and cogs with ones that are intended for SS, because the teeth are beveled and I don't want to risk chain slippage or anything else.

    Tires aren't a problem, the bike will 99% be used on paved surfaces. if I do want to go off into the woods, I don't mind changing the tires and putting the derailleurs and parts back on.

    I'm sure I want SS, I have ridden a few and fell in love, I just don't want a hipster fixie roadbike, i hate how they look and the way they ride.

  7. #7
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    as far as gearing for the street, I would probably run a 32 up front and a 14 or 16 tooth cog on the rear.

  8. #8
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    Or I might just sell it and buy the Gary Fisher Marlin SS I've has my eyes on, buy $700 seems kinda excessive for expensive parts I won't appreciate because I don't know the differences.

    Decisions decisions

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by SimbaCat View Post
    I kinda want to keep it.

    I do want to replace the ring, I like the look and simplicity of a single versus only using one of the 3 it already has. Also, I want to replace the rings and cogs with ones that are intended for SS, because the teeth are beveled and I don't want to risk chain slippage or anything else.

    Tires aren't a problem, the bike will 99% be used on paved surfaces. if I do want to go off into the woods, I don't mind changing the tires and putting the derailleurs and parts back on.

    I'm sure I want SS, I have ridden a few and fell in love, I just don't want a hipster fixie roadbike, i hate how they look and the way they ride.
    I've used geared rings without problems. You just need to make sure that the chainline is right on (see the sticky at the top of the main SS page). Seems like you've got a 34T on there right now. So, you just need to get shorter bolts from your LBS (costs me about $6 at my local shop for a package of 5). I'd still get the free cassette so that you can play with different gearing before plunking down $20-30 for a good cog (same with the chainring).

    Also, if you don't want to use a tensioner, there is the "magic gear". Use http://eehouse.org/fixin/formfmu.php to figure out what your magic gear is. I did this on my old 26er and it's working great.

    Lastly, get proper tools. Crank removal tool is like $6. Same with the lockring tool. Chainwhip should be $10-15.

    EDIT: Just checked the magic gear. Looks like you have 430mm chainstays, meaning you can go 34x14 without a tensioner.

  10. #10
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    Seems like the best route to take is to go cheap at first. I'll salvage parts to see what works then drop $150-200 into doing it right.

    Thanks Everyone. Now all I'm worried about is how I can fix the ugly ass frame. The decals under the clear coat are so ugly and not my style. Maybe I can spring to get the extra cable hangers grinded off and have the frame stripped and powder coated matte black.

  11. #11
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    Not to throw a fly into the ointment on your plan but is your bike a 21 speed? If so, it is likely that your rear wheel has a hub for a freewheel not a cassette. You can get a single speed freewheel however unlike a cassette, a freewheel screws onto the hub and you cannot change the chain line without re-spacing the axle and re-dishing the wheel. I ran into this problem with my conversion and ended up with a new wheel set which is an added cost. Just something to think about and check out.

    Good luck.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by safme View Post
    Not to throw a fly into the ointment on your plan but is your bike a 21 speed? If so, it is likely that your rear wheel has a hub for a freewheel not a cassette. You can get a single speed freewheel however unlike a cassette, a freewheel screws onto the hub and you cannot change the chain line without re-spacing the axle and re-dishing the wheel. I ran into this problem with my conversion and ended up with a new wheel set which is an added cost. Just something to think about and check out.

    Good luck.
    While the bike is a 21 speed, it has a cassette. Shimano TZ31 13-34, 7 speed

  13. #13
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    Sorry friend but that is a freewheel
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by safme View Post
    Sorry friend but that is a freewheel
    uhhh, TREK even says it's a cassette on their web page and spec sheets. Not thinking that you aren't knowledgeable, but the manufacturers aren't wrong...

    and my component doesn't look exactly like that. Now I'm just even more confused.

  15. #15
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    Thinking about putting a Gates Carbon Drive system on the bike. Thoughts on this?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by SimbaCat View Post
    uhhh, TREK even says it's a cassette on their web page and spec sheets. Not thinking that you aren't knowledgeable, but the manufacturers aren't wrong...

    and my component doesn't look exactly like that. Now I'm just even more confused.
    The website is wrong. It is generically referring to the freewheel as a cassette. Google shimano tz31.

    Hopefully I am wrong and you do actually have a cassette.

    Good luck.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by SimbaCat View Post
    Thinking about putting a Gates Carbon Drive system on the bike. Thoughts on this?
    I would think that would be the whole of your budget. And manufacturers use generic copy constantly. I had some kore race+ cantis that had instructions with illustrations that were wrong.

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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by SimbaCat View Post
    uhhh, TREK even says it's a cassette on their web page and spec sheets. Not thinking that you aren't knowledgeable, but the manufacturers aren't wrong...
    it's a freewheel. the spec sheet generically classifies whatever cluster of cogs are on the rear wheel as a "cassette" even though it's technically a freewheel. you can't put a SS cog and spacer kit on this, you need to replace it with a SS freewheel. it might be cheaper to just buy a basic single-speed specific wheel or regular wheel with a freehub that was made for a cassette to fit.

    to convert a wheel with a multi-speed freewheel, you need to re-space the axle, re-dish the wheel to make up for the new axle spacing, and install a single-speed freewheel. if you don't know what this means, you probably will not be able to do it successfully.

    this bike is going to be ugly no matter what you do. the last time I pursued getting a frame powder coated, several shops quoted me $200-400. if you can get a frame powder coated under $100, that's a ridiculous deal.

    i think that overall, you are over your head in this. if you want to convert this to a SS beater, i suggest you get a bike shop to re-space and dish the wheel, and put a SS freewheel on it. then put a rear mounted chain tensioner on and be done with it. otherwise, you would be better off buying a cheap SS bike used instead of trying to make this bike into something it's not.

    concerning the front chainring and rear cog- if you use a standard chainring on the front, that is made to be derailed and shifted. under load with a ss setup, it might accidentally drop the chain. so I suggest a SS specific chainring, which will require a set of shortened chainring bolts. likewise for the rear cog- it could pop off under load, so a ss specific cog or ss freewheel would be ideal.
    Last edited by mack_turtle; 02-19-2012 at 08:27 AM.

  19. #19
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    The other thing to remember......in the past the front chainrings were not replacable on the stock cranks. They were all riveted together....not using chainring bolts. So you may have to look at a new set of cranks.
    I crashed hard enough on my Tallboy to break my leg,
    The carbon is way more durable than most people.

  20. #20
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    Check out Monocogs, dude. They are awesome, a great introduction to singlespeeding (and 29ers), and we've got one in the shop I'm at for 500 bucks new, which is a really great value. You might be able to find a used one with some upgrades even cheaper if you look thoroughly.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by p nut View Post
    Sasquatch Rides a SS on here also made one from a v-brake arm.
    .
    Bam, free.





    Old pic, I've got a newer/better way to attach it to the bike now. Go talk to the guys at your local bike shop. If they keep a box of old used parts, which they should, you could probably find a set of v-brakes and an old derailleur to make a tensioner, they should give you a bolt and nut too (if not it's like 50 cents elsewhere), you may even be able to find a matching set of brake levers for $5 or less.

    I'm sorry if you guys have already said these, I haven't read each and every post here. But, I'd say you could do a good conversion for much less than $150. You can pick up singlespeed cogs for $3-5 each, or a whole spacer kit with cogs for less than $15 bucks on eBay. An even cheaper route is using old plastic spacers that your LBS should have. Tensioner is did (pics above), tires will put you back $40 or so depending on what you want. Pick up a couple cheapo (still good tires) SunLite tires for $14.99 each.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
    this bike is going to be ugly no matter what you do. the last time I pursued getting a frame powder coated, several shops quoted me $200-400. if you can get a frame powder coated under $100, that's a ridiculous deal.
    My big brown beast was chemically stripped, media blasted, and powdercoated any color I wanted for $75...and I didn't even get the "bro deal" (better price)...search, they're out there

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by sasquatch rides a SS View Post
    You can pick up singlespeed cogs for $3-5 each, or a whole spacer kit with cogs for less than $15 bucks on eBay. An even cheaper route is using old plastic spacers that your LBS should have. Tensioner is did (pics above), tires will put you back $40 or so depending on what you want. Pick up a couple cheapo (still good tires) SunLite tires for $14.99 each.
    good idea for the cheap/free tensioner.

    however, single speed cogs and spacers don't help if you have a freewheel hub.

    that deal on powder coating is awesome. I called and emailed every place in the metro Atlanta area and the cheapest quote I got was $150 or so. if your market happens to have something that cheap, go for it.

  24. #24
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    HAH, freewheel...not reading the whole thread really helps a lot

  25. #25
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    to the OP- have you read this? MTBR.com Single Speed Forum - Single Speed FAQ

    if you take the time to really read that, or at least skim through to the relevant parts, it will answer 99.5% of your questions. pay close attention to this: MTBR.com Single Speed Forum - Single Speed FAQ

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