wanting to build an "ultimate" commuter- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    since 4/10/2009
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    wanting to build an "ultimate" commuter

    I'm starting off by searching for an old barn bike for cheap. I'm going to strip it down to just the old steel frame and then have a framebuilder chop up/modify the frame for me. I'm going to have the builder cut off the rear dropouts and install new ones for me. The driveside dropout will be replaced with a split dropout so I can install a belt drive onto the bike. The non-drive dropout will include disc brake tabs for braking confidence in foul weather. He's going to strip the frame and repaint it for me in the process. He has also offered to build me a custom steel fork with disc brake tabs to go along with the bike.

    With the belt drive system, I'm thinking I will also have an internal gear hub like a Shimano Alfine. but I may just go SS. haven't decided yet completely.

    I think I will install a flat handlebar on this bike with mtb-style controls for better handling in traffic.

    It'll have full fenders, a rear rack, and plenty of lights and reflective bits for visibility.

    I'm still searching for the right frame at the right price (I am seeing lots of 58cm and larger road frames - even for less than $50, but I need a 56 and those are hard to find), but like I said I've already got a builder willing to do all the frame mods for me.

    I'll post pictures of this bike as it progresses in its build. I think it'll be a really fun bike to ride.

  2. #2
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    Seems like it'd be more sensible to just get a custom frame.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmucker View Post
    Seems like it'd be more sensible to just get a custom frame.
    From what sort of standpoint? You think it'd be cheaper to build a custom frame than to just change the dropouts?

  4. #4
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    Your crazy

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    Your crazy
    I found a Trek 420 at my LBS this afternoon and was able to negotiate it at $100. The components mostly look sellable, I think, to offset some of that difference. Next step: stripping the bike of its components and paint and sanding off most of the rust.

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6047415861/" title="Trek 420 project bike by mtbikernate, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm7.static.flickr.com/6076/6047415861_a57f9e7832.jpg" width="500" height="333" alt="Trek 420 project bike"></a>

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6047969670/" title="Trek 420 project bike by mtbikernate, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm7.static.flickr.com/6204/6047969670_cb7f16317b.jpg" width="500" height="333" alt="Trek 420 project bike"></a>

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6047418153/" title="Trek 420 project bike by mtbikernate, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm7.static.flickr.com/6196/6047418153_0e0356ca28.jpg" width="500" height="333" alt="Trek 420 project bike"></a>

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6047419067/" title="Trek 420 project bike by mtbikernate, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm7.static.flickr.com/6061/6047419067_93ec5087bc.jpg" width="500" height="333" alt="Trek 420 project bike"></a>
    Last edited by Harold; 08-15-2011 at 06:11 PM.

  6. #6
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    You are still riding another bike right?

  7. #7
    big legs, small brains
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    I wish I had a frame builder who would help me with something like this! I would go CRAZY!!
    Kyle

  8. #8
    since 4/10/2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    You are still riding another bike right?
    Absolutely. I have two others in my stable at the moment: an old HT mtb I'm currently using as a commuter and my FS mtb that is my trail bike.

    I wish I had a frame builder who would help me with something like this! I would go CRAZY!!
    The builder's so far pretty confident that he can do everything I want with the frame pretty easily. I got it mostly stripped of parts last night. I can't get the drive side BB cup off because I don't have a cone wrench in that size and adjustable wrenches just aren't cutting it. Also one of the rack bolts is stuck and stripped - gonna have to use a bolt extractor on it. And I don't have the tools to remove the headset.

  9. #9
    Bedwards Of The West
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    Sweeeeeet. looking forward to this build.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  10. #10
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    So you bought a crappy POS road bike that doesn't fit you for $100, with rust, and you want to drop a few hundred more modifying it into the "ultimate" commuter?

    And on top of it, you want to add a belt drive to a frame that won't take it without rebuilding the rear end completely, adding even more cost? And you need a completely new fork, since yours won't handle a disc brake? And new wheels?

    You crazy!!

    Pay attention to Bonktown - they have the Swobo Baxter on sale with 8 speed Alfines, 700c wheels and Disc brakes for around $450 lately (bought one for the GF). Awesome bikes that will suit you better than your Frankenstein project!

  11. #11
    since 4/10/2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by jtmartino View Post
    So you bought a crappy POS road bike that doesn't fit you for $100, with rust, and you want to drop a few hundred more modifying it into the "ultimate" commuter?

    And on top of it, you want to add a belt drive to a frame that won't take it without rebuilding the rear end completely, adding even more cost? And you need a completely new fork, since yours won't handle a disc brake? And new wheels?

    You crazy!!

    Pay attention to Bonktown - they have the Swobo Baxter on sale with 8 speed Alfines, 700c wheels and Disc brakes for around $450 lately (bought one for the GF). Awesome bikes that will suit you better than your Frankenstein project!
    it does fit me (not sure where you got that it didn't). and yes, I want to spend some money building it out exactly how I want it.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    it does fit me (not sure where you got that it didn't). and yes, I want to spend some money building it out exactly how I want it.
    You should measure that bad boy. I'm pretty sure it's not a 56cm. Looks a lot like a 60cm.

    "I need a 56 and those are hard to find"

    Here's the Baxter, FWIW


  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jtmartino View Post
    You should measure that bad boy. I'm pretty sure it's not a 56cm. Looks a lot like a 60cm.
    *shrug* it fits me, at any rate. The reach is right, and raising the seat a cm or so from where it is in the picture gives me leg extension that's just right. The HT does look long compared to modern roadies in the 56cm range, but comparing it to bikes with posted measurements (at 60cm), it does look like a smaller frame.

    Regarding the actual feasibility of some of the things I want, I am talking to a builder who seems to think most of the things I want are doable. I am still in the conversation stage with him, sharing pictures and whatnot and discussing plans. I shot an e-mail to Gates Corporation to see if they have any chainstay stiffness guidelines more specific than the statement on their website that if the chainstays are not strong enough, the belt may have skip problems. If the builder would need to mod the chainstays in some way, I need to make sure he accounts for it.

    We have not talked pricing yet except for parts. He's shown me some dropouts that will do what I like (sliding vertical drops with disc brake tabs and a split for belt drive). I do not know yet what he will charge for labor. We'll see. Depending on how that goes, I may well modify my plans. I might go SS, thereby saving money on wheels so he can still do the frame mods I want. Or I may skip the belt drive idea and keep the IGH or maybe even toss the disc brake idea and only repaint the frame.

    I am not entirely dead set on anything except that I wanted to start with an old steel frame and build up a commuter bike.

  14. #14
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    What you are talking about is totally doable.
    You don't need to replace the dropout. Paragon makes a seat stay splitter that does the trick.

    I did a similar conversion to a gorgeous Marinoni frame (everything except the belt, that is) and it is a phenomenal bike.
    That said, I'm building up a commuter that will fit the Big Apple 2.35's for worry free urban use, as well as bike packing and single track with 2.4 knobbies. The Singular Gryphon is my choice for this project.

    I'm actually selling the Marinoni - it has everything you mention and would only need the tube split and paint match. It's a top end build (Paul, Phil Wood, Alfine 8, Ambrosio SSC rims, etc) with new components, so it isn't cheap. PM me if interested.

    Otherwise, find a classic touring or CX bike to keep your options open for tire size.

    EDIT: Just noticed your acquisition.
    As rosanne rosannadanna would sayu, "never mind"

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by canyoneagle View Post
    What you are talking about is totally doable.
    You don't need to replace the dropout. Paragon makes a seat stay splitter that does the trick.

    I did a similar conversion to a gorgeous Marinoni frame (everything except the belt, that is) and it is a phenomenal bike.
    That said, I'm building up a commuter that will fit the Big Apple 2.35's for worry free urban use, as well as bike packing and single track with 2.4 knobbies. The Singular Gryphon is my choice for this project.

    I'm actually selling the Marinoni - it has everything you mention and would only need the tube split and paint match. It's a top end build (Paul, Phil Wood, Alfine 8, Ambrosio SSC rims, etc) with new components, so it isn't cheap. PM me if interested.

    Otherwise, find a classic touring or CX bike to keep your options open for tire size.

    EDIT: Just noticed your acquisition.
    As rosanne rosannadanna would sayu, "never mind"
    Any pics of your conversion (at least the results)? It's a much nicer build than what I would want to use as a commuter, that's for sure. The dropout replacement is primarily for the disc brakes and to allow for "SS" setup without needing a tensioner (sliding vertical drops with disc tab). The plan is to use a tube splitter to allow for belt access. The question currently has to do with the chainstay stiffness (I have a thread running in the framebuilding forum about that). There is a measuring device out there that can be used to assess whether a frame is suitable for belt drive, and if the builder I'm talking to has one or is willing to get one to measure this frame for me and make sure he mods it so the rear end is appropriately stiff (for a suitable price to be worthwhile for me to pursue for an old steel frame), then I'll go through with the whole thing.

    If he does not have the measuring device and has no plans to acquire one, then I am not sure I will go through with the belt drive conversion. I am going to try to get a price quote from him for a "worst case" scenario of the most expensive way to stiffen the rear end and if that is within my budget, I will let him do it. That said, I'm starting to lean away from an Alfine and towards a simpler SS build anyway.

  16. #16
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    TimT has an awesome post about converting a SS 29er to a belt drive with an Alfine hub. It was a lot of work, and his Raleigh 29er had beefier and wider chain stays than your Trek roadie.

    http://forums.mtbr.com/frame-buildin...ct-617192.html

    Tim used expanding foam to stiffen the rear end, and that was on his SS MTB. As you can imagine, an old road bike will have significantly less stiff chainstays, and will require even greater reinforcement.


    BTW, how'd u like the Midas Touch?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by jtmartino View Post
    TimT has an awesome post about converting a SS 29er to a belt drive with an Alfine hub. It was a lot of work, and his Raleigh 29er had beefier and wider chain stays than your Trek roadie.

    http://forums.mtbr.com/frame-buildin...ct-617192.html

    Tim used expanding foam to stiffen the rear end, and that was on his SS MTB. As you can imagine, an old road bike will have significantly less stiff chainstays, and will require even greater reinforcement.


    BTW, how'd u like the Midas Touch?
    He chimed in on my thread in the framebuilding forum about how he has come to dislike the Alfine+belt drive combo on that bike, actually. I have asked him his reasons for reaching that conclusion, but he says he plans on changing to a Rohloff.

    I liked the Midas Touch. Not as much fruitiness as I expected, actually, after reading about the grapes on the label. It was the first time I'd seen it in my LBS, and it was in the last 4 pack they had in stock, so I bought it up to try. I'd buy it again.

    I am thinking that IF my Trek roadie can be made to be sound, it would either require entirely new, beefier stays or to have extra material welded onto the frame. I'm not caring much for the idea of just welding extra slabs of metal on, to be honest and I am not sure how much labor would be involved with adding new stays. Someone on that thread linked me to some great documents that have helped me reach the conclusion that if the builder I am talking to does not have and does not intend to buy the device used to measure frame flex under pedaling load that I will not even have him try accommodating the belt drive. I just don't want to wind up with a frame that's trashed.

    If he has that gizmo, then I'll keep my options open until I hear his proposals for stiffening the rear end.

  18. #18
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    parts stripped off - almost ready to send for modding/painting.

    <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/6090251030/" title="Commuter Project by mtbikernate, on Flickr"><img src="https://farm7.static.flickr.com/6088/6090251030_8549d6aee0.jpg" width="500" height="333" alt="Commuter Project"></a>

    I've opted not to have a custom fork built. That was just a bit much, so I'm going with the Dimension unicrown cross fork with disc tabs. The builder is going to paint it all a solid color for me.

    I think initially, I will just set it up as a chain drive so I can space out the parts purchases. I'll put the Gates Carbon Drive on it after a few months, most likely.

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