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  1. #1
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    New question here. "Wanna Be" SS - Convert or Buy?

    There are several posts about converting specific bikes, but I thought I would start a new post, being a little more general. A couple of facts:

    - I am not a mechinal guy. Nor do I really want to be. I constantly cuss at my all the deraileurs on my XC bike and don't even get me started on the need for the complexities of hydraulic disc brakes!
    - All the above has really made me think about the SS world
    - I would primarily use it for commuting about 21 miles a day on dirt roads, but wouldn't mind the idea of entering a race in the SS category.
    - I just recently bought a XC bike, so funds are not plentiful, nor will the purchase of another bike be looked on kindly by the better half.

    Give that. I would love to hear opinions and experiences on converting an old hard tail to SS, or buying a new or used SS. Both in terms of general hassle and price. Given the fact that I an not a mechanical dude, if I went the conversion route, I would probably lean toward bringing the bike to a LBS and asking them to do the effort. Is that gonna be a significant cost?

    My ultimate SS would be front suspension and V brakes, but my current hardtail does not have front suspension. So I would probably forgo that initially. If I bought a SS, there would definitely be the requirement of NO DISC BRAKES!

    Anyway, any and all thoughts / previous experiences would be great. (For those detailed oriented folks out there, the potential conversion bike would be a Trek 850).

  2. #2
    human dehumidifier
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    I think you'd cuss at your bike less if you learned to fix it yourself instead of relying on the LBS for support

    I've got an old converted MTB, and a newer dedicated SS. The old bike is rigid with V-brakes, and the only reason I bought the other bike is the tire clearance on the old bike is terrible, and it's got a 1" headset.

    On the new bike, the disc brakes can be a pain when I take the wheel off, and also related to that are the track ends and chain tugs. The old bike has it's difficulties related to the back tire too - it's got veritcal drops, but with the spring tensioner I have to take the QR out to drop the wheel. Not a serious problem in the big scheme of things, but then I'm not a racer who's liable to lose those small parts in the heat of a race either.

    Either way you go, welcome to the club, you're going to love the simplicity.
    I may or may not be laughing at you.

  3. #3
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    Converting your bike should not be much problem at all. Just get the cog and spacers for the rear and a chain tensioner instead of the derailuer. If you don;t like it you can always switch it back.

    If you did take the time to learn a little bit about the mechanics of the bike you would be able to fine tune your bike in a matter of minutes. There are plenty of videos online and some bike shops give clinics on how to work on your bike once a month or so. If you are doing a long dirt road commute you might want the gears just to get you there quicker.

  4. #4
    Combat Wombat
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    Interesting statement.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bike_Muchacho
    My ultimate SS would be front suspension and V brakes, but my current hardtail does not have front suspension. So I would probably forgo that initially. If I bought a SS, there would definitely be the requirement of NO DISC BRAKES!
    I started out riding a geared rigid, then went through several different HTs, to a FS, a SS HT, a rigid SS and then to, and so far my favorate, another rigid SS. Of all the different bikes, originally the item that was the biggest pain to maintain and service were bottom brackets when they still were serviceable and had to be adjusted. Cartridge bearing bottom brackets took care of that headache a couple years ago. Since then, the number one item that sits at the top of my "most tedious item to service" is without a doubt, suspension forks. Maybe I have just been lucky, but even after a couple different brands, I would put disc brakes darn near at the bottom of the list of things that are a hassle to maintain.

    Brian

  5. #5
    808+909 = Party Good Time
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    I'd convert the old bike to SS since you just bought one. The kit will cost ya peanuts and the LBS will do it for very little cost also.

    As far as not wanting discs you should try cable discs first before canning them. Avid BB7's are the benchmark. The power of hydraulics with the easy maintenance of V brakes, I'd nearly say they were easier myself.

    Only buy a serious SS bike if you are sure that is the route you want to take.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by chumbox
    I'd convert the old bike to SS since you just bought one. The kit will cost ya peanuts and the LBS will do it for very little cost also.

    As far as not wanting discs you should try cable discs first before canning them. Avid BB7's are the benchmark. The power of hydraulics with the easy maintenance of V brakes, I'd nearly say they were easier myself.

    Only buy a serious SS bike if you are sure that is the route you want to take.
    agreed, i've ridden my BB7's for thousands of miles on both bikes and i havent done anything but turn the dial every couple months to adjust for wear. I'm still on my original pads, and still going strong. WAY easier than v brakes, no comparison.
    And i'd like to add, learning how to work on a bike should be mandatory, as getting stuck out in the middle of nowhere can be dangerous. And it's also a drain on your riding buddies when they have to wrench on your bike for you on the trail because you dont understand how to get it rolling again. No offense, it just sucks riding with helpless people, at least ones without an extra set of lips. It's like those dudes that would be helpless if there were no such thing as AAA when they get a flat tire on their car.

  7. #7
    mtbr member
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    Quote Originally Posted by ISuckAtRiding
    it just sucks riding with helpless people, at least ones without an extra set of lips.


    And why do you so often hear this "Disc brakes are so much trouble, I'm sticking with V's" rubbish ???

    Disc brakes are the best thing that happened to mountain bikes - well, ones that get used anywhere it's wet, muddy and steep anyway.
    Fit them and forget them....

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the feedback. And maybe I over did the non-mechanical statement. Its probably more about me being lazy and frustrated when simple adjustments take longer than I think they should. I would prefer to never go to my LBS, but I probably end up going there every few months. That being said, I also put in about 100 miles a week commuting, so maybe that makes sense.

    In reality, based on your comments, I would probably buy the SS kit, attempt the conversion myself and bring it to the LBS to help me out when / if I get stuck.

    I know this isn't the brake forum but I'm still not convinced on the disc brake issue. Just a few of my observations (Based on Avid Juicy 3s versus V Brakes)
    Pad Price ($25 vs $3)
    Frequency of replacement (Every few months vs years)
    Complexity of maintenance (Always vs Never)
    Cost of maintenance (Bleeding, $50 Rotor Price, Hydraulic line price vs $3 cables?)
    Ability to repair in the field (Walking the bike home vs unhooking the cable)
    Required sensitivity of adjustment (1/32 in vs 1/2 in)

    Anyway, you get my point. Besides performance in wet conditions, which doesn't apply to my situation, I'm still not convinced they are a good value proposition. That being said,
    the cable disc brake option does eliminate some of my gripes. Might be worth giving that a shot. However, my intended bike for conversion already has V brakes, so I'll obviously stay with those for this first attempt.

  9. #9
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    Back to the main subject at hand. Sounds like doing the conversion is the right way to go. Any guidance about where to get started. Some of my questions:

    - Is there a good step by step guide somewhere?

    - Are there different types of conversion kits based on the current deraileur currently on the bike? Or will any kit basically work?

    - Do the kits come with a variety of gears included, or do I need to figure out which ones I desire first, then order the kit with these specific gears?

    - Is there a reference post (or site) somewhere that helps me understand what gears I need, based on my riding conditions?

    - Any special tools I need for the conversion?

    - What else should I be asking?

    Thanks again for the insights. This might seem real basic for all of you, but its all new stuff for me.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bike_Muchacho
    Back to the main subject at hand. Sounds like doing the conversion is the right way to go. Any guidance about where to get started. Some of my questions:

    - Is there a good step by step guide somewhere?

    - Are there different types of conversion kits based on the current deraileur currently on the bike? Or will any kit basically work?

    - Do the kits come with a variety of gears included, or do I need to figure out which ones I desire first, then order the kit with these specific gears?

    - Is there a reference post (or site) somewhere that helps me understand what gears I need, based on my riding conditions?

    - Any special tools I need for the conversion?

    - What else should I be asking?

    Thanks again for the insights. This might seem real basic for all of you, but its all new stuff for me.
    i think a good all around gear to start with on a 26er is 32 in the front and 18 in the rear. i started on it, and i still run it quite often. The only special tool you'll need is a cassete removal tool, including the splined tool to take off the lock ring that holds on your cassette, and the chain whip to keep the hub from spinning as you remove the lock ring. These should be purchased regardless who does the conversion as you'll probably want to change gears eventually for certain terrain without having to go to the bike shop every time.
    If you want to buy an assortment of gears, i'd say 16t-20t should cover most situations on a 26er. As far as the kits, i dont have experience with them, but id say they'd be universal for the most part.

  11. #11
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    I was in the same boat as you. I bought a new bike and decided to convert my old hardtail as a way of confronting my lack of mechanical talent. It was remarkably easy. I bought a kit at the LBS; I think it was called a "Rock Werks" conversion kit. It included 2 cogs, chain tensioner, and spacers. I think I got that plus all the tools I needed for around $70. I watched some videos on YouTube to figure out what to do. On the first try I didn't put enough tension on the chain tensioner, but that was really the only problem. Now I'm addicted to singlespeed and I got up the nerve to deal with adjusting derailleurs, brakes, and swapping handlebars on my geared bike.

  12. #12
    Drinking the Slick_Juice
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    here is the "guide"
    "If women don't find handsome , they should at least find you handy."-Red Green

  13. #13
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    Convert.

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