Older bike conversion questions- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Older bike conversion questions

    Hello, I'm sure this has been covered, and I appreciate you helping me (a complete noob) out, even though it may be semi repetitive for you. I just read the SS FAQ, and am going from there.

    I just started MTB riding, and I love it! I bought a specialized hardrock sport disc 29er on craigslist, and I'm having a blast. However, I seem to have gotten the rigid singlespeed bug caught in my ear... and not by a little bit. I'm obsessing a little, and it is annoying my wife. So I want to convert an older mtb to a singlespeeder (not my hardrock), and I'd like a little advice.

    I'm a fairly heavy guy (6'0, 240lbs, all torso, 29/30" inseam). I've been looking at some 90's Giant Rincons on craigslist for around $100. They look like what I'm after, but I wonder if any of you could comment on their trail durability. They look pretty thin-framed compared to today's monsters.

    I'm also looking at a Bridgestone Comp MB-3, but that guy is asking $250... it is outfitted with all deore components currently.

    Do you guys prefer slightly smaller frames for SS than geared? My specialized is a 21" frame, and is borderline too big for me (It feels great riding it, but I have no standover clearance, and the curved seatpost keeps it from dropping the last little bit that would give me a little more space to stand and mash too) I'm planning on a shorter seatpost so I can drop it another inch (which would still be 2 inches above the clamp). With that said, I'm looking at 19" frames for my SS project at the moment so I might be more in the middle of the size range. Although, since my hardrock is a 29er, could a 26er 21" frame actually be a better fit?

    Any recommendations on other older bikes to look out for? I'd like to end up with something relatively light. I also see a rigid Dakota (never heard of it) that looks solid, Raleigh M40 and M50, an older rigid hard rock.

    Thanks for the consideration! I'm excited to tinker around with bikes a bit more, and this project seems like a lot of fun. I just don't want to get something too flimsy that won't last a few rough trail rides.

  2. #2
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    There have been some major advances in bike technology over the last 10 years. As such standards have changed and parts for the older standards are getting harder to find. I am also looking at craigslist for bikes only I am looking to make a commuter out of mine.

    Since we seem to be in the same boat as far as the type of bike desired here is what I am looking for.

    Frame: By the mid 90's every bike manufacture was jumping on the aluminum bandwagon. Most of them had also upgraded to the semi-current headtube(1.125") and BB standards (68mm English). Parts for these bikes are easy to find. Most of them also had suspension forks that are garbage but thanks to current standards rigid forks for them are cheap. Steel rides better but steel bikes in the $100 range have tiny forks and usually use threaded headsets. There is also very few options that had disc tabs on steel bikes

    Brakes: as previously stated disc tabs on frames make life easier but are not a deal breaker. Canti brakes are a mystery to me as I've never owned them but you know what they say "can't stop won't stop". V brakes work great.

    Cranks: nothing to specific but when SSing them it is nice to have removable rings. I've done this before and found that the outside ring was riveted onto the middle ring. Again not a deal breaker but worth looking at.

    BIkes: lots of Trek 6 and 7000's out there and they are ideal. Also found K2 Zed, Iron Horse Maverick, KHS Alite, Giant Ranier, Cannondale Delta V, Specialized Hardrock and Schwinn Mesa's.

    My problem is that I am 6'3 and none of these are my size. Hope this info helps

  3. #3
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    I'm 6' with a 32" inseam I can ride either a med or large ,18 " is about right. The bike should fit no matter if you are ss or geared. If you are stripping the shifters ,cassette ,derailuer's off ,then you don't want to pay for better components. A lot frames the same with different components. You might want to look for a ss like a Haro or Redline,should be albe to find one of those for under 250$

  4. #4
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    I recently converted a GT Pantera to SS. Afterward, I was curious about what GT was offering in their current line, and found that they have a very similar model in their lineup - The Gutterball.

    Pretty much any somewhat modern bike will work. Just find one that fits, and has decent hardware.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the comments everyone. I don't really want to buy an already setup SS bike. I think building it will be half the fun.

    Anybody have any comments on Raleigh bikes? I'm looking at an M20, and supposedly it has horizontal dropouts. I don't really know what that means in regards to SS conversion, except that I read that it is good.

    They are asking $25, so I figure even if I just use the frame that is good enough for a first project... and I won't have to worry about screwing it up and being out a lot of money.

    edit: the picture sure looks like a vertical dropout though... maybe a different year had the horizontal dropout. I don't mind a chain tensioner anyway.

  6. #6
    one chain loop
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    problems i see with that bike:

    rear wheel: it has threaded cassette, you need a new wheel if you want it hassle and pain free.

    cranks: chain rings are not removable, need a new one. bottom bracket is crap too.

    brakes: cantis work but weak. upgrade to v-brake and matching levers for the correct cable pull.

    fork is 1" threaded, not suitable for off road unless commuting. fork upgrade means stem upgrade as well plus new bars.

    25 seems cheap. but after few upgrades, might as well buy something with a LESSER upgrade cost.
    everything sucks but my vacuum cleaner.

  7. #7
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    I'm building up my 94 Giant ATX890, I'll tell one thing, if your building up a SS you drop some coin no matter what.

  8. #8
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    Yes, you CAN drop a bunch of money. My GT got a new set of Deore wheels, suspension fork with disk brakes, new chain, Forte SS conversion kit, grips, pedals, seat, tire, tubes, and time spent building. I think my $40 donor bike ended up costing well over $250 before I could ride it.
    Last edited by Kurt J; 05-10-2012 at 07:25 AM.

  9. #9
    playin hooky
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    I'm with fishcreek, find something that would first of all pass for actual mountain biking (your rigid SS is going to take a banging if you really ride it) and the take into account the main challenges of setting up SS:
    - chainstay length (tensioner takes care of that if you use one)
    - *chainline*

    For chainline, you will want positioning options up front (removable chainrings) and you will *need* positioning options in the rear, which either means a cassette body with spacers around a cog (easy and changeable) or re-dishing the rear wheel if you use a freewheel (did this for my first fixie - and had to file down the 18 spoke ends that then protruded out of the spoke holes - not exactly easy and changeable).

    Good luck!

  10. #10
    playin hooky
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    As far as cost, you can limit that to
    - original bike (my fav SS is built from a rigid '98 Rockhopper - perfect example of a worthy conversion bike)
    - spacers and cog
    - single-ring chainring bolts and possibly a chainring
    - tensioner if you use one (I didn't but that's a different story)

  11. #11
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    Thanks for the new posts!
    Question, when I'm looking online, how can I tell if a bike has a threaded cassette, nonremovable chainrings and a threaded fork? Can you tell from the pics, or is there a bike model lookup or someething?

  12. #12
    one chain loop
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    Quote Originally Posted by divideoverflow View Post
    Thanks for the new posts!
    Question, when I'm looking online, how can I tell if a bike has a threaded cassette, nonremovable chainrings and a threaded fork? Can you tell from the pics, or is there a bike model lookup or someething?
    you can tell the cranks and forks just by looking at it. the quill stem gives it away.

    as for wheels, it is based on experience.

    most of the time, you can tell if the bike is low end depending on what seatpost they used.

    and 90% of the time, crappy seatpost = threaded hubs.

    everything sucks but my vacuum cleaner.

  13. #13
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    I recently converted my wife's early 90's Raleigh M-20 (steel) to SS. Since it has semi horizontal dropouts, I was able to avoid using a tensioner.

    This is what I did:
    Removed the threaded cassette and had the LBS redish the wheel for SS use - $15
    Sourced an old pair of square taper crank arms - $15
    Gently used 34t chainring - $5
    Shimano freewheel - $20
    3/32 chain - $15
    1 1/8 Quill Stem adapter from Universal Cycles - $20

    I had a bash guard, stem, bars, grips, pedals, and a set of Kenda 2.3's in my parts bin so I slapped them on. I kept the original cantis because she's only 125 lbs.

    Bear in mind that I slapped this together as a winter project and it only gets mild use. You being a big boy would probably break this fairly easy riding in the rough stuff but it would be enough for you to decide if you want to go the SS route. Then you can get a Forward Components EBB for your 29er and move on from there!

  14. #14
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    Alright, I need some direction. I'm currently looking at 2 craigslist bikes and would like comments on what you think.

    1.) GT Karakoram


    I would need to do the conversion and probably change out the cantis to V-Brakes. And those bars would have to go.

    2.) Giant Iquana already single speeded


    I asked the dude about the dropouts and if he had a tensioner, and he said, and I quote: "For some single speeds you do not need a tension component depending on the length of the chain.
    and it is as is. Believe me, it will never slack up (chain).
    Ya have to see it for yourself."

    I noticed he left the front gears in there, but just set the chain on the outside one. On the plus side, his asking price is half of the GT's. But those bars would definitely have to go too...

    I think the GT has more swag...

    Or, I could forget the whole thing and go for a Nashbar SS 29er or lie to my wife big time and get a Kona Unit. :-p

  15. #15
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    Big difference is the GT looks like the frame is 16" and the Giant looks to be 21". Huge difference.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by redwing24 View Post
    Big difference is the GT looks like the frame is 16" and the Giant looks to be 21". Huge difference.
    18" for the GT, and the Giant is a 20". My 21" bike is currently too big for me (I have short legs and can't lower the seat enough for adequate knee bend)... so maybe I'm better off with the 18".

  17. #17
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    The GT is much more modern, with 1 1/8 stem and Deore build group. I really like the handlebars! Adding a Forte singlespeed kit will set you back about $30, and you'll have a nice bike.

  18. #18
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    Team gt, I love Giants, but not so much that model.

  19. #19
    playin hooky
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    Gt!

    with a different stem

  20. #20
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    I have a GT Lightning of the same vintage; I imagine that it has the same geometry as karakoram. it's my favorite bike, it has V-Brakes but it makes a mean single speed.
    Friends don't let friends ride geared bikes

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