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Mountain bike upgrade help
Hey Guys, I am new here are kind of new to the biking world. I have just recently acquired an old mountain bike from my father for free. I am young and coming out of college and not a huge budget. So this "gift" is much appreciated as I plan to make this bike my commuter to and from work (10 miles). The bike is a Trek 800 Antelope from possibly around 1990. It is a 21 speed with Shimano 100GS gearing. It has the original Matrix 26x1.50 tires with the standard mountain bike tread. The bike is in amazing shape for its age as it has been stored in a garage its whole life and not many miles on it. I received the bike, pumped up the tires and its able to be ridden as it was brand new...

What I am asking you guys is if there is anything that can be done to this bike to make it a better commuter bike? I plan to put on quite a bit of miles as I need it to commute and I am into fitness. Thank you all for the help in advance, if there is any information that you can give me or a point in the right direction to find out is much appreciated.
To make it easier I guess is what I am asking is should I upgrade something with the gearing? As I feel like I am "maxing" the bike out pretty easily. And upgrade the tires? To something along the lines of slicks? And upgrade the handle bars?
sounds like a good deal, I would start by making the the bike function to get you from point A to B. Ask yourself, Do I need a pump,patch kit or extra tube, mini tool kit, rear rack and pack or seat wedge or will I use a backpack.
Now you can decide what else to spend money on, I say run the tires you have for their worth. As far as gearing and price I would look @ the rear cluster to get a bit more top end that you seek.
So start by letting us know how many teeth are on the smallest and largest cog in the rear and also the smallest and largest chainring on the front crank. and we can go from there
There are two kinds of people in the world, "Those who help themselves to people, and those who help people!"
- You probably can still get some use out of the original tires. However, inspect them very carefully for cracking and splitting on the sidewalls and in the tread. Even if they weren't ridden, the rubber dries out over the years. Old tires and tubes are also a little more prone to flats. Be prepared to deal with one. (Something you really need to be able to handle on a commuter bike regardless.)
- Going to slicks will make the bike faster and handle better on pavement.
- Change your brake pads out. The rubber on these hardens over time and after 20 yrs, you need new ones. Kool Stop Salmons if you can find them.
- Change out your gearing if you need to. But I would note that if you're consistently in your highest gear on the flats, your probably riding in too high a gear. Pedaling at 70-90 rpm is the most efficient. It feels weird at first, but once you get used to it, you'll realize that stomping high gears burns up a lot of energy. Of course, you may just be really strong...Smile
- For commuting, get a rack and some kind of basket, milk crate, panniers, etc. It's much nicer to be able to put stuff on the bike than to wear a backpack. Lights absolutely. A bell is more useful than you might expect.
- On handle bars, it all depends what you want. Being more stretched out will be faster. For many people, being more upright is a lot more comfortable. I wouldn't swap anything out until you've had a little time to get a feel for riding again. But if it's obviously in a bad position for you, go for it.

good luck
So, if the drive train is still in good shape: use it the way it is (and take good care of it, replacing the whole thing will be hideously expensive). Do check the chain stretch (as it is called) and replace if needed. A medium range, long-lasting chain will only set you back about 12 EUR (17 USD?).

Tyres: Read tests on which tyre runs fast and is flat-resistant. Sometimes those are indeed surprising (Schwalbe's Racing Ralph being faster on and off road than the tested Marathons...). Note however, that a fast tyre is (usually) more prone to flats and needing to swap a tube on the commute will cost more time. Keep it a bit higher inflated than at minimal pressure, too hard will slow you down.
Mudguards / fenders: For me a "must have" a commuter. I don't really mind the water from above. The grime from below is much worse.
Lights: A definite "must have", you must not ride without lights in the dark, this would only get you killed (or you run over some pedestrian). I really like hub dynamos, they are a great invention. A front wheel with an entry level (DH 30 or so) hub is not all that expensive and a great investment. Also get a decent light, I really like Busch & Müller (http://www.bumm.de). Decent lights are not cheap but so useful. Note that you also might like a helmet mounted lamp should you commute in the forest. Do not use blinking lamps: They do not help you to see and make judging your speed / position very difficult for others! (This is why some countries do not allow them on the road).
I use a simailar vintage MTB as a road workhorse.

The first thing I did was get rid of the knobbly off-road tyres, they're hard work and slow on the road. I replaced them with a set of Schwalbe Marathon Plus. These are supposed to be virtually puncture proof and in the 2 years I've had them, that has so far been true. I have 26x1.75" and the extra volume compared to the thinner versions makes them comfortable on the potholed roads where I live. The only downside is the weight, at nearly a kilo each, they are a heavy tyre.

Next thing was a set of full mudguards, something like this. Like Jow_W says, if you have a fairly decent set of waterproofs you can cope with the rain, but the spray off the road itself is much worse, it's dirty and seems to make you much wetter than the rain itself. Without mudguards your feet get soaked and you get a very wet backside and a nice line of dirt all the way up your back.

A rack and panniers is usefull if you have to carry a fair bit and a rucksac is fine, but you don't want too much weight in it, it starts to feel awkward.

The LED lights you can get these days are superb, small, light, really bright and the batteries last ages, unlike the things we had 20 years ago that were heavy, dim and ate batteries. I have also put some 3M retro-reflective tape on my "road" bike.

You should find the MTB drive train OK for on the road. MTB's are lower geared than road bikes and if you live somewhere very flat you might want something that gave you higher gearing. In which case you could swap the the front chainset for a road/touring chainset with a larger 40-42 tooth inner/middle ring and 50 or 52 tooth outer, this should raise your gearing significantly with the same cassette.
Sorry for the late response guys, I have been extremely busy!

(05-06-2012, 09:10 PM)painkiller Wrote:  So start by letting us know how many teeth are on the smallest and largest cog in the rear and also the smallest and largest chainring on the front crank. and we can go from there
Okay on the smallest cog in the back there are 13 teeth and on the largest cog in the rear there are 28 teeth. I am sorry but I am not sure what exactly you are asking for when you say the smallest and largest chainring on the front crank. I know I'm a noobie.

- Also, I am going to purchase all of the following, just looking at what specific one I want to buy as of right now: pump, extra tube, mini tool kit, light, full fenders, rack, and possibly a pannier.
I am taking your guys advice and just going to make this bike as "commute-able" as I can, and down the line I can buy something more like a road bike.
your front triple is probably a 28-38-48. You can replace the largest outer ring to a 50t and replace your rear cassette with an 11-28 and that will be all you can get for more speed and stay in your derailleurs range for good operation. This mod will set you back around $70 to $100 us dollars

When set up to commute these bike are great durable commuters and you may never have to get a "road" bike. You will be creating a go anywhere bike, road or trail

If you update your Bio with your location, we better offer advice on the products that you seek. for a tool kit I like to go through the bike and see what allen sizes it has and nut sizes and use individual wrenches for my specific bike. but there are multi-tool products to choose from also. I am not a fan of stick-on patches,use the old feather edged with the scratch and glue and pack a spare tube. any frame pump will get you going again, co2 models are a must for tubeless tires. I see Joe is not fond of blinking lights, I think they are the bomb and can be seen from far away because people wonder "what the hell is that up the road" It gets their attention. they also have steady mode to use too.

I run 2 lights on my bikes, Ventura PowerBeam online sight to store @ Walmart about $10 a pop
and you will not find a better light that cheap anywhere. the clamp will fit your bar I use the extra mount on this bike because of the bulge bar

There are two kinds of people in the world, "Those who help themselves to people, and those who help people!"
In general I do not need the largest chain ring when cruising along, but then I spin at (or above) 100 rpm. Better for the knees.
Blinking lights get other's attention, true. It makes estimating exact location and speed of the blinking object almost impossible. I hate it when I meet cyclists on the road that are only blinking (when I'm cycling or in the car, doesn't matter, even as a pedestrian it can be confusing). As an addition to the steady lights they are ok (though not legal in all countries).
I avoid battery lights on a commuter, twice within a fortnight both my main light and my replacement died on me (probably temperature related?) and I had to ride blind in the forest to avoid being killed on the road (my commute was on the shoulder of the road for 10km, about half the total distance). Laced up a wheel with a Shimano hub generator (DH-30-N or somesuch) and bought a decent light.
(05-10-2012, 03:19 AM)Joe_W Wrote:  I avoid battery lights on a commuter, twice within a fortnight both my main light and my replacement died on me (probably temperature related?)

Are you using rechargeables?

NiMH batteries self discharge quite rapidly and I found that mine were going flat quickly even if unused. This happens faster in the summer as they hold their charge better in the cold, in fact you can keep charged NiMH in the refrigerator to make them last longer.

I now have a few sets of Sanyo Eneloop: http://www.eneloop.info/ for infrequently used things like torches, cameras etc. They are a bit more expensive than the generic ones, but they do work as advertised and hold their charge.
I always carry a few spare AA batteries with my tool kit. I only need to run basic lights to make me visible (as opposed to high power ones to light the road). The standard LED lights barely go through batteries so I mostly have to force myself to swap them out occasionally even if they're still working just in case.

To the OP - brake pads and a good lock. Even if you can take your bike in at work, lock's a must for stopping by the store on the way home.
On the subject of bicycle locks.

Part 1.

Part 2.

Depressing. Sad
Nice videos, If someone wants something they can get it! Get it? the key is I guess is to make it so they only get some of it or trash it trying.I find like college campus settings, get a $30 used bike that if someone needs it more than you then they must be an angel ,so pass the test and let it be for more awaits you in the end.

Back to the lighting issue, I use a 15min. charger for my main battery use.They last a long time, I have two lights on my bike to run how ever I please. In my pack I carry 4 alkaline for backup.Half of my riding is done in the dark and I have never had a failure that I was at a loss for light. I have been with other people using generator

style lights that when they needed it most, they had no light. like going to slow, or stopped to fix a flat in the dark..etc. quite a debatable subject for sure and depends a bit on ones riding style. For me I want to go anywhere I need to or want on most any bike I have and that means the trail, woods, sewer pipes, city streets and ally's. I have used many lights over the years and buck for buck I believe using the lights I stated with rechargeables backed with standard batteries including the charger and two lights are great system for well under $100 us dollars plus as light weight as one can get. And easy to remove and carry with you if need be and to use as a flashlight when you are down for a problem. No one I know rides with lights on for 5 days straight 24 hours straight and the new led lights will work for 100 to 200 or more even if you forgot to shut them off. The worst rechargeable batteries do not lose charge in a day or two of sitting unless they are junk to begin with and should have been replaced long before that, like the first time you noticed they were bad.
There are two kinds of people in the world, "Those who help themselves to people, and those who help people!"

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