New To Commuting (MTB Conversion?)- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    New To Commuting (MTB Conversion?)

    We finally moved to a location where I can bike commute. Commute is short, 6 miles or so round trip, so its hard to justify a big Dedicated Commute Bike expense.

    Thus I am looking to convert my old MTB to a commuter bike and could use some advice. I am not a bike techie (yet) so its all a bit mysterious to me.

    MTB is a 1997 or 1998 Gary Fisher Big Sur (Medium). Bought it new when I was in college and its been with me since.

    I selfishly would like to be able to quickly transform it from Commute Mode to Trail Mode (nothing serious).

    So, what I am thinking is to :

    1) replace the fork with a light suspension fork (Spinner Aeris?) that has a lockout, the idea being that when I am commuting I can lock it for efficiency and when I want to go to the trail I can unlock it (or dial-it down) and get some rebound.

    2) Pick up a set of thinner road wheels and tires (26") that I can quickly swap on and off.

    My thinking is I can do these two things and get a tune-up for around $400 or so (not the best components) and be off to the races with a hybrid-like bike.

    What do the experts think? Should I just suck it up and spend $700+ on a new bike to commute with?

  2. #2
    local trails rider
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    Lots of people do what you suggest.

    I have a couple of different bikes and the one I use for commuting just has tires that work well on pavement. I might put a rigid fork on it at some point.

    When swapping wheels, the cassette and brake setups need to be pretty identical between the wheels (particularly with disc brakes). A MTB rim can take a wide range of tire widths. I think you mainly run into bike handling issues when trying to use a tire that is way too big for the rim.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  3. #3
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    I am not planning to replace the stock rim based brakes on the bike so I was hoping that this would make the swap less painful (pop, push and adjust the cable). Does that sound about right?

    Quote Originally Posted by perttime

    When swapping wheels, the cassette and brake setups need to be pretty identical between the wheels (particularly with disc bra

  4. #4
    local trails rider
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    Sounds about right, as long as both rims are straight and close to the same width.

    On the cassette side, it is possible that cassettes are not spaced exactly the same. Then you'd have to adjust the derailer to get shifting dialed. Obviously, you need the same number of cogs in the cassette.

    When I had rim brakes, I had difficulties gettin a FAT tire past the brake without deflating it...

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  5. #5
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    The end result... (maybe)

    Here is what I have priced out and seems to be a reasonable conversion kit:

    SRAM 406 Race on Mach1 MX V Rims (front/back)
    Michelin City MTB 26x1.4 tires
    Shimano Tiagra Cassette 8 Speed HG50 (12-25 ratios) (matched tooth count, 11 - 30)
    Marzocchi 44 TST2 Air Forks 2011 130mm
    Marzocchi MX Series V-Brake Adaptor Kit

    The SRAM wheels seem lightweight and an easy swap on.
    The Michelins get great reviews for a solid road tire that is in the 'goldilocks zone' (not to big and not to small)
    The 8 Speed cassette seems to be a direct replacement for my existing 8-speed Shimano
    The TST2 Air Forks are a bit overkill but have gotten great reviews, are fairly lightweight (sub 5lb) and have a nice lockout mechanism as well as pretty good trail performance for a beginner like me.
    The adapter kit lets me use my existing v-brakes.

    This plus a bunch of random tools and lights is hovering around $600 or so which seems to be a pretty good price to get a bike that should be able to hang with the city commute and get muddy on the weekends.

    All new to me so comments are welcome!
    Tx
    John-

  6. #6
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    Hmmm, you guys go all out. My commuter is my mountain bike with the bash guard off and different tires. $70


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  7. #7
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    Your bike is also not 13 years old

    Just adding disc brakes (like you have) to my old Gary Fisher would cost me a few hundred bucks (new forks, new brakes etc). You also already have street happy tires etc.

    Parity with what you already have is expensive for me to achieve unfortunately

    For reference, this is what I am converting :

    http://www.bikepedia.com/QuickBike/B...0Sur&Type=bike

  8. #8
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    My .02 ... I would buy road tires and just swap tires back and forth. About the same effort as swapping wheels, adjusting the brakes and any other little fiddly bits that pop up. You also get to use the existing lighter rigid fork on the road.

    OR...take the $600 and buy a new hardtail mtb and put road tires on the old bike. Best of both worlds, same cost and no swapping, back and forth, parts that you will get tired of doing...and you will get tired of doing it (and end up buying the hardtail anyway).

    There is no way I would spend that amount of money just to have to frequently jack around with it.

    Edit: been there, done that and now own three bikes.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmcttr
    My .02 ... I would buy road tires and just swap tires back and forth. About the same effort as swapping wheels, adjusting the brakes and any other little fiddly bits that pop up. You also get to use the existing lighter rigid fork on the road.
    I don't have a rigid fork though, its a 13 year old Indy C that is pretty much blown out with no lockout function. Its also a hardtail already (that photo of a Specialized isn't my bike).

    My Gary Fisher is all original, hence the 'sidegrades' to get it more road friendly.

    The thing barely lets me pedal with all that front-end travel..

    Photo attached of what my bike looks like today (stock image).


  10. #10
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    I hear ya...I'm just guessing you will spend a lot of $$$ now, get tired of the swapping and buy a new bike.

    Buy an up to date hardtail and do the tire swap thing on it. If you where planning to spend $100 to fix up the old bike, it might make sense, but spending as much as a new bike costs, doesn't make sense to me.

  11. #11
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    Looking at what you are planning to do, I would go with a new bike keep the old one for friends. $700 in parts vs a new bike.

    I have a Kona Dew Deluxe that is a pretty good bike, I got it used for $500.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by gmcttr
    I hear ya...I'm just guessing you will spend a lot of $$$ now, get tired of the swapping and buy a new bike.

    Buy an up to date hardtail and do the tire swap thing on it. If you where planning to spend $100 to fix up the old bike, it might make sense, but spending as much as a new bike costs, doesn't make sense to me.
    The problem I am having is that if I buy a new bike I'll most likely lose the off-road/on-road capacity. To buy new I would have to find a hybrid bike with lock out front forks for around $550 and then add an extra set of wheels (plus cassette) for swapping between road and trail.

    I went through this math and could not find a good answer. Being a newbie, CraigsList scares the pants off me.

    Then, to top it off, the frame on this fisher is awesome. Very lightweight aluminum etc.

    So, considering the used market scares me since I won't know what i am getting and what condition its in what should I be looking at in the $600 range that can serve the dual purpose?

    Tx!
    John-

  13. #13
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    Don't get a hybrid. Get a hardtail with or without lockout. Your commute is only 3 miles one way and new suspension forks will have little pedal bob while seated for road riding.

    Either just swap tires (not wheels) from road or trail or just run small block eights or a similar tire that will be OK for both.

    Again, this is all just my opinion.

  14. #14
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    nice bike, siberian1967...

    i had a big sur back in 06? 07? soon as i sold it, i regretted it.

    anyway, you are getting good advice from those recommending that you keep your cost to a minimum to make it better for commuting.

    but your biggest error is in thinking you can replace a 60mm travel fork with one that has 130mm of travel, that won't work too well.

    good luck whatever you decide!

  15. #15
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    I really want to keep my costs minimum, the big spend in the above list is for the fork and its really not required in this setup.

    Do you think I can swap a 100mm travel fork in there comfortably? This is where my extreme newbie comes in

    Tx!
    John-

    Quote Originally Posted by markaitch
    nice bike, siberian1967...

    i had a big sur back in 06? 07? soon as i sold it, i regretted it.

    anyway, you are getting good advice from those recommending that you keep your cost to a minimum to make it better for commuting.

    but your biggest error is in thinking you can replace a 60mm travel fork with one that has 130mm of travel, that won't work too well.

    good luck whatever you decide!

  16. #16
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    So, your current fork has to go?

    Have you considered a rigid fork?

    Right now I have it all backwards the "commuter" has a suspension fork, and the main trail bike has a rigid. The old suspension fork is a bit noodly for rooty trails but does OK on smoother surfaces.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  17. #17
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    The current fork is a 1997 Rock Shox Indy C that has no resistance and does not have a lock-out feature. It absorbs a significant amount of my pedal power so it has to go.

    My goal is to have a bike that can do commute and weekend trails which is why I am looking at suspension forks with lockout features.

    What I decided to do was get a pretty low-end suspension fork for now to save some cash and worry about outgrowing it later. I'm not very advanced in either aspect so it will probably do me well until I decide to go all out and buy dedicated bikes.

    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    So, your current fork has to go?

    Have you considered a rigid fork?

    Right now I have it all backwards the "commuter" has a suspension fork, and the main trail bike has a rigid. The old suspension fork is a bit noodly for rooty trails but does OK on smoother surfaces.

  18. #18
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    Continental Town and Country


    http://www.mtbr.com/cat/tires-and-wh...89_151crx.aspx
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  19. #19
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    I don't think MTB/Commuter convertibles are worth the hassle. I'd evaluate what you really want to do. I commuted for about 3 years on my unmodified mountain bike because I am a mountain biker who happens to commute to work. Efficiency on the roads wasn't as important as performance on the trails. Eventually, I bought an old beater to commute on. Total cost on that bike was somewhere around $100. Cheap.

    You already have a bike that is prime for commuter conversion. I'd get the bike into riding shape, spending as little as possible, with the goal of making the bike your dedicated commuter. I'd skip a cheap suspension fork and go right to rigid. I'd find a tire with relatively low rolling resistance that works on the roads and trails (something like a WTB Nanoraptor Comp works fine). I'd then save all the other money with the goal of eventually getting a new mountain bike. Let's face it, your Big Sur is past it's heyday.

    IMO, a fork like the Spinner Aeris would just be a complete waste of money.

  20. #20
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    I ended up getting a pretty low cost suspension fork ($100 I think) and some new tires. If I decide I want to go trail riding I'll sort out what to do then.

    I was going to skip the fork but my test ride was pretty bad bobbing up and down like that and I was not comfortable going straight to rigid (yet).

    Tx everyone
    John-

    Quote Originally Posted by s0ckeyeus

    You already have a bike that is prime for commuter conversion. I'd get the bike into riding shape, spending as little as possible, with the goal of making the bike your dedicated commuter. I'd skip a cheap suspension fork and go right to rigid. I'd find a tire with relatively low rolling resistance that works on the roads and trails (something like a WTB Nanoraptor Comp works fine). I'd then save all the other money with the goal of eventually getting a new mountain bike. Let's face it, your Big Sur is past it's heyday.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by siberian1967
    I ended up getting a pretty low cost suspension fork ($100 I think) and some new tires. If I decide I want to go trail riding I'll sort out what to do then.
    Did you get a Rock Shox Dart 2 or something?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by s0ckeyeus
    Did you get a Rock Shox Dart 2 or something?
    Exactly, super cheap and has lockout, v-brake mounts and has 80mm of travel so it won't throw things off in a way I will notice. Worst case I wasted $100 but $100 to get another 2 years out of this bike is not so bad. Just getting my feet wet and my bearings right now.

    In a year or two when I am more serious I'll re-examine the entire thing.

  23. #23
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by siberian1967
    Exactly, super cheap and has lockout, v-brake mounts and has 80mm of travel so it won't throw things off in a way I will notice. Worst case I wasted $100 but $100 to get another 2 years out of this bike is not so bad. Just getting my feet wet and my bearings right now.
    You certainly could have done worse. The Dart 2 isn't great, but it works OK. I rode one for a year or two.

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