I need Opinions.
School starts tomorrow. That means the weather will no longer be fun and dry. Wetness, potholes, mud, gravel, and trails do not affect my peers once the weather turns south (they all have mtbs). SO, I got to thinking. My dad has an old ’87 (around ’87) Spesh Rockhopper Comp that he no longer uses. I want to fix it up and start riding it. But I REALLY REALLY REEEAAALLLYYYY wanna put drop bars on it ( like this ) so it would be more like a cross bike (my ideal style of bike). It would allow me to stop abusing my roadie, and open up my options for commuting to school and around the East (shortcuts through Frick Park). I have four questions:
1: How would/should I go about changing the bars on the bike (is it hard to do)?
2: What are the considerations (pros/cons)?
3: Could I do all of this at Free Ride (cheaply. like VERY cheaply. I am in HS and have no money and/or job)?
4: Should I actually do it (Is it worth it)?
Your geometry will be totally off, making it not ideal to ride. Why not just ride it as is? You don’t need to be aerodynamic on your commute.
The other option is to put bigger tires on your road bike? Do you know what your max is? FWIW, 23mm is fine for short stints through gravel, trails, etc. 25mm is better. 28mm is pretty adequate for just about anything. The only thing it fails pretty hard at is mud, as any slick tire would be. Don’t view it as “abusing” your bike, it’s “using” it.
1. a new stem would be needed for the difference in handlebar size. But it’s easy enough to do.
2. if the rockhopper has cantilever brakes you should be ok, but you’d still need to pick up brake levers and some sort of drop bar shifters…
3. not likely, unless you can find some bar end shifters or your frame has brazeons for downtube shifters.
4. it’s only worth it if you can scavenge the parts for free or next to nothing… unless you go single speed, the shifters could be the cost prohibitive part.
I disagree with rice rocket though, you’re building up a commuter and not a race bike. More hand positions and the ability to tuck into the wind would be beneficial even if the geometry isn’t agressive… it really comes down to how you fit the frame and how you plan on riding. Personally, I think you are better off just throwing on some bar ends until you can afford a dedicated road bike.
E. it’s definitely worth developing a commuter bike. Fun to have a secondary ride, great to have a spare if your main squeeze goes in the shop, but on its own it’s great to have a commuter bike.
F. I like the drop handlebars, and what’s been previously said about the brakes/shifters is quite true. So what? You don’t have to change the bars today right now, do you?
G. Now you’ve got a project. You work it, you scrounge parts, you learn about things. Hey Christmas gifts are less than 120 days away right?
H. Can you use this story of converting an abandoned forlorn Dad-Bike into a modern green no-carbon-footprint S’cool^Bike as a school project or your senior project? Interacting with non-profits (FreeRide), community groups (BikePgh), staying within a budget, etc?
Embrace the commuter, even if it isn’t optimal yet. Let it be a commuter and not another road bike.
I’ve come to believe that no bike is ever done, they’re all works in progress.
I’m on the side of “you should totally do it”.
It is so worthwhile having a second bike that you aren’t worried about beating on.
Putting drop bars on is the easy part, it’s the shifters that will be tricky.
The best way to do it would be with bar end shifters, not cheap but not crazy either. I have found old Suntours for like $35.
The cheap and dirty way to do it (I often like that way) would be to find some old “stem shifters”. These should be all over the place at free ride, they were really common up until the late 80’s. I just put some on my oldie, they’ll get you on the road. BTW I love the Rockhopper pic you linked to.
Now that I think about that photo, you could go to Free Ride and transplant a whole pre-1990+- bar/stem/shifter/brake setup just like that. There are very few stem diameter variations, and Jerry Kraynick has shims for those.
I agree you should do it too. Taking bikes apart is fun, and this way you have the bike how you want it. If freeride doesn’t have everything you need, Kraynick’s (on Penn Ave. in Garfield if you don’t know it) probably will, and his stuff isn’t expensive.
Thanks everyone. I have a follow up question though: Where and how would I get the parts? (turns out I was wrong. The bike’s a SportRock, not a Rockhopper. They look the same though)
If this is going to be your commuter bike this fall, before doing any of the above, get some fenders.
Going to high school with a brown stripe up your back would be kinda like covering yourself with bacon grease and sneaking into the polar bear pen at the zoo.
Here’s what is sounds like you need:
1) Drop bars
2) New stem, appropriately sized for road bars (26.0 instead of 25.4mm)
3) Brake levers (I think this bike has regular cantilever brakes, which should work with normal road brake levers)
4) Shifters (Edmonds suggestion of stem mounted levers is probably the easiest way to go – you’ll need to get used to friction shifting if you haven’t already, and you’ll have to take your hand off the bar to shift)
5) Brake and shifter cables and maybe housing (depending on the length of what you have already)
To get that stuff cheaply, I would think your three best options are: Freeride, Kraynick’s Bike Shop, or people on this message board. I’ve actually got some old parts that would probably work for you (including a seatpost mounting rear fender), but they’re in storage for another week or two. If you don’t mind waiting I’d be happy to give them to you. Otherwise, Kraynick’s and Freeride would have these things cheap or free, respectively, and you’d be able to work on the bike at both those places and ask questions.
On that front fender, you want a mudflap as well so you don’t go walking around going squish-squish all day.
I did the opposite of what you want and put STRAIGHT bars on a Cannondale touring bike…
And YES — it does throw off the geometry when you do something like that and it took me a whole season and THEN riding on a stationary trainer all winter long, and swapping parts around to finally get the position comfortable on the bike. Now I love it.
I call it my “Franken-Commuter-TimeTrial-Touring-ZombieApocalypse” bike.
I took a straight MTB bar, put some old school Onza bar ends on it, and then some clip-on aerobars so it is set up kinda like a TT bike. I have the shimano aero-wheels, an XTR grouppo from an old mountain bike (canti-brakes, drivetrain, etc), but opted for a downtube shift lever / standard brake lever to be able to fine tune the front derailleur on the fly (chain rub) and also to make room for my sweet bell.
But yeah, the job definitely was a bit more than expected out of the box and I ran into lots of issues doing this along the way.
some things to watch out for would be the obvious like stem etc., but ALSO make sure the brake levers are compatible with the brakes you are using. Make sure the brake levers are compatible with the brakes you use and that the levers give enough “pull” — ie., you can’t run standard cantilever brakes with a V-Brake lever because there is not enough cable-pull to make the calipers clamp down etc…
Make sure if you use road brake levers work properly with whatever brakes you are using.
There were so many little obstacles, and it was VERY VERY weird riding this bike for a little while (my first ride with it was 400 miles, so I was used to it by the end) — and people who get on it and ride it now are all “WOAH!!!” at first.
I’m totally used to it now and actually have a good riding position but I had to pull the stem out to the maximum height and some other things to make it work. Lots of shims and spending time at Kraynik’s to find the right combination of stuff.
Then of course like others said, you need to make sure whatever shifting setup you use will work with the existing drivetrain if you are not swapping it out.
I also swapped the triple crank on this bike with a 42/53 double because I was always having all kinds of bad shifting issues with the tripple and could not find the right front derailleur. I remember using my FOOT whenever I wanted to drop to the granny gear on the crank arm because the derailleur would never bring it down properly before I finally went to a double.
This is actually my favorite bike and the only one I’ve owned that I would never sell.
Full on touring frame with 3 bottle mounts, front / rear rack mounts / mountain bike drivetrain brakes and levers / shimano aero wheels / and a time trial ghetto bull-horn bar setup.
I am riding this one to Washington D.C. starting tomorrow and I love riding long distances on this bike.
Most people would say “DON’T DO THAT!!!” but it is a TON of fun to experiment with stuff like that in my opinion.
“Most people would say “DON’T DO THAT!!!” but it is a TON of fun to experiment with stuff like that in my opinion.”
sounds like the perfect bike to experiment on, as you’re obviously not dependent on it. You learn so much on what to do and what not to do by changing parts around.
it can be frustrating at times while you’re learning, but i’m sure a lot of the folks on here would love to help you thru any troubles.
My single speed came with flat bars and I switched them to drops no problem.
To be fair marv, your bike is an urban bike w/ geometry close to that of a road/cross bike; your trail measurement is pretty close to a road bike. It was designed to be used with around the same stems that you would on drop bars.
Mountain bikes have longer chainstays and about 50% more mechanical trail, and are meant to be used with wide bars and really short stems.
It may be obvious, but remember that, though you may be out some money for parts, if you can’t get it comfy for you, you can always put it back (and maybe sell the parts to recoup lost $).
and + a million on fenders. I don’t understand why they aren’t standard, like pedals and seats.
This old mtb won’t be nearly as odd feeling geo wise as a new one. It’s geometry is much closer to a road bike than modern mountain bikes.
Im having second thoughts. I rode singletrack with a friend today and also did some cross-country type riding. I kinda fell in love with it lol. XCO is a new challenge that I would like to explore some more. I’m gonna wait on this one.
Come to my Casual Friday ride in frick. There will most likely be one or two other board members as well as a fun mix of advanced and beginner riders. So many good trails and so close to home.
im gonna have to wait and get a little better before i do. the bike is from the late 80’s so its fully rigid. I have to learn to handle better.
That’s the point of the ride! For real we have complete beginners like you and super experienced people to help them learn.
Maybe mom is secretly saying she’d like to get out on that other one.
Next Mother’s Day. Home-made card. “I love you Mom”, crayon heart, got to have a Bianchi MTB in there.
That’s a gift from a person who’s paying attention.
Yeah, +1000 to mom, and +1000 to whatever edmonds59 said.
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