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  1. #1
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    Make my XC racer more all-mountain?

    As someone just getting back in to the sport after a few years, I'm struggling with the new terminology (free-ride, all-mountain, etc.), but am fascinated by all the different kinds of bikes nowadays.

    Back in 1998 I invested a pretty penny in a top-of-the-line bike at the time, a Trek 8500 XC racer. I hung up the bike a few years back because I found it uncomfortable to ride.

    Fast forward to a few months back: took the bike out of storage and started to ride. Got some great advice on improving the fit of the bike from a couple of posts here at mtbr.com.

    Now I'm considering taking it to the next level: I am considering turning the Trek in to more of an "all-mountain" bike.

    Not sure if this is the best investment, however, or what I'd need to replace to convert it.

    The bike already has a solid XT/XTR driveline and the frame is super-light awesome. I recently added a short riser bar and a 90mm 10 deg stem to improve some of the geometry and relieve my aching shoulders and neck.

    I would suspect a new fork, new wheelset, and disc brakes would be some good steps towards an "all-mountain" conversion.

    Can someone point me to the definitions of these types of riding and offer some pointers for component upgrades on this bike? I don't even know what "all-mountain" is, other than the bikes look like they'd be more capable for the trails I ride (albeit a lot heavier).

    Also, let me hear your advice if it "just ain't worth it".

    Thanks.
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  2. #2
    REALLY?
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    I have no idea either...I got out of mountain biking too and now theres all these new terms...hopefully whoever replys post pics too.

    I think a freeride is a big thick burly downhill bike (DH)



    And then those (DJ) bikes are basically big BMX bikes



    After that I get lost.
    DJ, "Because I'm sure the world need's more dudes stalking the woods stoned out of their mind carrying a deadly weapon."

  3. #3
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    I have an '06 Trek 8500 and a 5.5" full suspension bike so I can relate. Don't worry about making your bike "all mountain" If you think you need more travel up front, invest in a longer fork but it'll definitely change your geometry significantly especially if you're used to the classic XC stance. And if your new fork doesn't have v-brake bosses than you may need discs up front which will also lead to disc compatible hub/wheel. And unless your wheels are utter crap, I wouldn't worry about upgrading until your old ones give up its ghost.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by mooch91
    As someone just getting back in to the sport after a few years, I'm struggling with the new terminology (free-ride, all-mountain, etc.), but am fascinated by all the different kinds of bikes nowadays.

    Back in 1998 I invested a pretty penny in a top-of-the-line bike at the time, a Trek 8500 XC racer. I hung up the bike a few years back because I found it uncomfortable to ride.

    Fast forward to a few months back: took the bike out of storage and started to ride. Got some great advice on improving the fit of the bike from a couple of posts here at mtbr.com.

    Now I'm considering taking it to the next level: I am considering turning the Trek in to more of an "all-mountain" bike.

    Not sure if this is the best investment, however, or what I'd need to replace to convert it.

    The bike already has a solid XT/XTR driveline and the frame is super-light awesome. I recently added a short riser bar and a 90mm 10 deg stem to improve some of the geometry and relieve my aching shoulders and neck.

    I would suspect a new fork, new wheelset, and disc brakes would be some good steps towards an "all-mountain" conversion.

    Can someone point me to the definitions of these types of riding and offer some pointers for component upgrades on this bike? I don't even know what "all-mountain" is, other than the bikes look like they'd be more capable for the trails I ride (albeit a lot heavier).

    Also, let me hear your advice if it "just ain't worth it".

    Thanks.
    I would be realistic about how much it is worth putting into this bike to make it something other than what it is. I would definitely look into a new fork, as the technology there has inproved greatly over the last 10years, but I'm not sure I would invest in new wheels and brakes at this point, unless you are really being held back by the v-brakes. Does that frame even have disc tabs in the back? If you really get into more aggressive riding, I would hold off on dropping too much into that bike until you know whether or not you want to be going with full suspension.

    Maybe throw some fatter tires on it?

    I think the advice you got for changing the setup and fit was great advice. that makes a really big difference. Play around with the stem length and height a bit.

  5. #5
    Suffers From Binge Biking
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    It looks like you can probably make that into an alright all mountain bike. If you're going to upgrade the fork, I wouldn't add more than say 20mm to the total travel, as that might put too much stress on the head tube that was originally designed around your current fork. You won't be able to put disk brakes in the rear, since that bike doesn't have the mounting tabs on the back seat stay, does it? But that shouldn't matter too much if you don't do much wet weather/ muddy riding as properly set up v-brakes and a true wheel are just as effective. One last thing before you build this up- make sure the measurements of the frame are consistent with frames being build currently, otherwise you might have a hard time finding parts.

    "All mountain" is similar to "cross country" except the frames are built stronger to take bigger hits and drops. I would be wary of anything much more than 3' drops on this frame, as it's 10 years old and appears to built for the modern day "cross country" riding style. Also, an all mountain bike would also have a much shorter stem, probably around 40-50mm.
    If it ain't broke, fix it 'till it is.

  6. #6
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    you should consider selling the bike and buying something new.. a mid and even low end modern bike will be comparable or better than a 10 year old trek. so much has changed in 10 years!

  7. #7
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    And I can't quite tell from this picture, but it doesn't look like the lacing pattern on those wheels is what is used for modern wheels... they look a bit weaker.
    If it ain't broke, fix it 'till it is.

  8. #8
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    Hmmm... back in 1998 xc bikes were the hip thing, and so your quality mtn bike was chasing the best attributes of an elite level XC bike. They shifted great, they climbed amazingly, and the geometry and ergonomics were aimed at being the first up the hill. The focus on an all mountain bike is on heaving your big weekend warrior belly up to the top of the hill so you can blast down to the cooler full of brews.

    You can't turn an orange into a pear.

    You CAN make an orange even tastier thanks to 10 years of mtb development, without ruining the bike or its best qualities. Your move to a shorter stem and bars was probably pretty good... short riser bar- did you cut it down? A wide bar will keep your upper body in a similar orientation and keep the steering from being too fast. A nice modern fork (recon, reba, f100, or a tpc minute) with good damping and maaaaybe a little more travel might feel better, but quality damping is much more important than lots of travel. Throw on a bash ring, not having to worry about your precious big ring makes the trails a lot more fun. Round it out with some modern high volume lightweight tires, like a michelin a/t 2.2, a 2.3 weirwolf or saguaro in the back and a 2.35 blue groove or nevegal, or a 2.4 mountain king, or fat albert in front. Run some fresh cables, housings, and brake pads, and go tear it up- the bike should just be better.

    Or just ride it as it sits until you are ready to get a bashin' AM weapon. Don't sell it though, cuz after a year of AM-ming it up that old thoroughbred is gonna feel really zippy and fun.
    "Things that are complex are not useful, Things that are useful are simple."
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  9. #9
    local trails rider
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    I'll throw in a couple of opinions:

    It is not all about the bike: it is about what you do on it.
    You have a pretty decent bike on its own right. A big fork will not make it into a drop machine.
    Tyres that suit your trails and your riding style can make a difference. Not sure what exactly will fit in your frame and fork.
    Disc brakes are great for wet/mud/snow. Good V brakes (good cables and pads) are usually quite adequate in clean and dry conditions. Looks like your frame and fork cannot take disc brakes. Probably not your hubs either.

    ... ride this bike as is, just replacing what does not work right. If the trails feel a bit rough, take it as a challenge. Enjoy the challenge. Get a new modern bike, if/when you can afford it. Keep this one too and find roles for it.

  10. #10
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    Keep an eye on the chainstay, i believe that frame had a tendency to crack, replacements are beefed up.

  11. #11
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    Personally I don't think it's worth doing.

    The problem is that you don't want to put on a fork with any more than 25mm/1" travel than what the frame was designed to have. Your fork looks like it has 60mm of travel so I don't think you should go any longer than an 80mm fork.

    Let's say you went nuts and put a 100mm/4" fork on, upgraded the front wheel to a disk hub and ran a disk brake (or find a bolt on rear caliper mount and run disks on both ends) all you've done is turn your bike into is a modern day XC bike.



    My advice is to buy a new bike.

    The next question is do you want a 6" travel "all mountain" bike (Giant Reign, Specailized Enduro, whatever) or a 4-5" travel XC/trail bike (Giant Anthem/Trance, Specailized Epic/Stumpjumper and about a million more).

    My guess is that you would be more than happy with the latter choice.
    Not that all teenagers are evil mind, just most of them.

  12. #12
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    I would find a 100mm fork that is adjustable down to 80mm if need be and run it the way it is....

  13. #13
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    i would rent a am/fr machine and ride your normal trails,most places charge 40-60 bucks.
    just so you can see/feel the difference . you have several *mountains* to climb changing your bike for that type of riding. i ride an old xc hardtail and reserched this too,it would cost more just to change over to disk much less my headshock . i'm just riding trails that it is made for and will down the road get a fully with disks when mama will open the purse strings.

    a bigger front fork will change everything on your bike headtube angle ,geometry,etc...
    standover on my bike is too close to the jewels as is if i went to a lefty or some other 120-140mm fork,it would be too close for comfort.ive been trolling classifieds here and local craigslist as well as the bay and a decent fully like your wanting can be found used for 500-800 bucks. ive been ghost shopping c-dale prophets for a bit and will likely be my next ride.also a ironhorse mk-111 looks sharp plus hundreds of others...

    i would just ride your bike the way it is built to do and invest in a fs bike later.. good luck

  14. #14
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    That bike will never be anything other than what it is there. It won't ever ride or handle like an AM machine, nor will it feel right.

    They did have a 10mmLT 8500, but it rode like poo simply because it was made for 63-80mm and was not geo corrected in the HA, BB Height, or SA.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by marsh rider
    And I can't quite tell from this picture, but it doesn't look like the lacing pattern on those wheels is what is used for modern wheels... they look a bit weaker.
    What you are seeing on the front wheel is a radial lacing pattern. It is not weaker. You don't see it on mountain bikes much anymore because you can't run it with discs.

    Not much has changed in wheelbuilding basics in the last 10 years. There is nothing wrong or outdated about those wheels for v-brake use.
    Last edited by kapusta; 11-24-2008 at 09:00 AM.

  16. #16
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    Keep the XC as it is for a great backup bike.

    Test ride as many new bikes/styles as you can until you find the right bike for you then buy a new bike.

    I kept my old '90's Rockhopper and bought an 07 Rincon.

    The old bike makes a great loaner when a friend wants to ride too.

  17. #17
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    Thanks for all of the good thoughts.

    I'm going to keep the bike and try to make some wise investments to make it a bit more rideable for the terrain I frequent. Per the good advice here, I realize it makes more sense to keep it what it is, than to make it what it's not.

    V-brakes will stay: the frame doesn't readily support discs in the rear (chainstay mount, not seatstay, so limited options). I actually don't find the vees too bad, but I need a pad and cable upgrade (Kool-Stop with XTR cables).

    Tires need to go: had a pretty bad fall this week that bruised me up good. After the fall, the front Bontrager Revolt ST2 blew out; guess I should have expected that with 10-year-old rubber. Have a set of Panaracer Fire XC 2.1 kevlars on order (recommended by a number of NJ bikers for the local terrain). The old tires looked to be a narrow 2.1 (and actually a 1.95 in the rear), so I expect an improvement in performance. If I remember correctly, I'm a bit limited on tire width with the fork or rear frame. I thought a good set of 2.1s was a good compromise. (Stuck with a set of IRC Mythos XC kevlars on there in the interim after the blowout--what an ugly set of tires and amazing how narrow a 2.1 can be)

    New pedals: set of Shimano PD-M647 platform/clipless combo on order. I'm fairly experienced at clipless riding but often find myself unlocked trying to find my way back in at the worst times. I think the 647s will give a nice blend of platform and clipless and not add too much weight to the bike.

    The rest of the XT/XTR driveline still works awesome after 10 years. I make some minor adjustments about once a year, and the strength of the components still amazes me. Even the wheels, with the strange front radial lacing pattern (good eyes!), still run just about perfectly true (even with a fair size dent in the rear rim).

    I've been keeping an eye on the frame; have heard of the problems at the chainstay with this model (supposedly reinforced in subsequent years). I'm pretty sure Trek was offering a lifetime frame warranty...

    Of all the other possible upgrades, front fork seems like one I'd like to do. The Manitou SX-R is not very serviceable because of its age and it never seemed to run very smooth. Not sure what would be affordable/practical in today's forks as a replacement. With that said, other than the 1 1/8" steerer tube, I don't know what I'd be looking for as a good option for this bike. Especially since I'd like to keep the mid-range component, lightweight attributes of the bike in tact. Any suggestions? The Manitou is 70 mm.

  18. #18
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    FWIW, Fire XC's 2.1's run VERY small. They are really more like 1.9's.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta
    FWIW, Fire XC's 2.1's run VERY small. They are really more like 1.9's.
    Thanks, I was not aware of this. Again, they came highly recommended by local riders for the local terrain.

    Is there any place I can find actual width vs. manufacturer spec for tires if the advertised numbers are so unreliable?

  20. #20
    local trails rider
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    "shiggy" has some actual tyre measurements on his website:
    http://mtbtires.com/specs/panaracer.html

    Width is not the only thing. Some tyres are also taller, or higher volume, than others of the same width. Rims also affect the shape and width a tyre takes. For example, I got a 4mm difference in width, using same tyre on very different rims.

    ... and then there's tread patterns and rubber compounds ...

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    "shiggy" has some actual tyre measurements on his website:
    http://mtbtires.com/specs/panaracer.html

    Width is not the only thing. Some tyres are also taller, or higher volume, than others of the same width. Rims also affect the shape and width a tyre takes. For example, I got a 4mm difference in width, using same tyre on very different rims.

    ... and then there's tread patterns and rubber compounds ...
    Thanks, I'll have to take some measurements and use that site for reference. I'm not even sure what will fit: I know the chainstays seem fairly narrow and I know I even have problems getting the 2.1s through the brakes on the front fork. I thought I remember reading about clearance issues with this particular bike. I was considering a Panaracer FR 2.4 for the front with the Fire XC 2.1 in the back, but I thought I dismissed it after what I had read.

  22. #22
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    With V brakes it is not unusual that you need to deflate a fat tyre to get it past the brakes. I think chainstays is the spot that challenges designers most, to get clearance for everything (tyre, chainrings, your shoes, ...)

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    With V brakes it is not unusual that you need to deflate a fat tyre to get it past the brakes. I think chainstays is the spot that challenges designers most, to get clearance for everything (tyre, chainrings, your shoes, ...)
    Maybe it was the chainstays where the clearance issue is; I'll take a look when I get home tonight to see the clearance around the support arch of the fork. I would like to go a bit wider on the front to get some more float for the rocks/roots that I ride on here in NJ. Especially now that I spent some serious time tweaking the compression and rebound adjustments on my fork (found them practically at their extremes; always wondered why the front end felt so rigid). I am sure that the temporary switch to the very narrow IRC tires I've got will not be much of a confidence boost when I hit the trails again next week.

  24. #24
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    Sad to say, Kaputsa is right, the FireXCs run about 1.95", very, very skinny tyres. Try looking for something with more volume like a Weirwolf, Mtn King, Nevegal, Blue Groove, Racing Ralph...................
    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta
    FWIW, Fire XC's 2.1's run VERY small. They are really more like 1.9's.
    As to the suggestions from all above to keep the bike as is, I would tend to agree, to a point. The suggestion that dampening 10 years ago compared to now is chalk to cheese is true, so purchasing a new fork with modern dampening would make a world of difference. Consider maybe a Travel Adjustable fork that could go from maybe 80-100, thereby having the ability to ride it with close to original geometry on flats and uphills and then be able to slack it out a bit for the down hills. Not sure wha the bike was like back in 1998, but I know what/how the frame feels from the 2004 version and it was/is a fantastic riding bike in that iteration - bike came with full XT, Reba.
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??

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