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New gravel bike 3000$...old MTB converted to drops...couple hundred

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New gravel bike 3000$...old MTB converted to drops...couple hundred

Old 06-26-19, 02:09 PM
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SoreFeet
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New gravel bike 3000$...old MTB converted to drops...couple hundred

Of course it's not as light and stiff, but the utility of it is just the same.

The best thing I ever did was convert the MTB to drops. That 1.4 michelin slick tire is 18$...so if they wear out, big whoop. They roll great have modest flat protection. But even these terrible roads seem to like them at 85 PSI...with tubes! Glorious tubes.

Of course I dream of a modern gravel bike it's what I've always wanted. But until I can just waste three grand or find a used one which i will when they are saturated in the market, I'll do it.

Until then I suggest everybody who is tired of discomfort of road bikes with go MTB drops...The bigger tubes and tires are just so much better than 23C tire...so much better...more control, better handling etc...

Some of the 80's/90's mtbs have perfect geometry for it. Get wrenching, you'll understand on your first ride. 300$ gravel grinder is nice real nice.
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Old 06-26-19, 02:21 PM
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i agree 100%. i'm so close to wrapping up my drop bar 90's mountain bike and i can't wait for that first ride.
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Old 06-26-19, 02:22 PM
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You can get a new gravel bike for $500 though.
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Old 06-26-19, 02:48 PM
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Yes that's true a new gravel bike with indexed shifting...nope, gimme the barcon. Also these lower tiered bikes don't have the components.

I want hydraulic discs if I'm to spend money on a bike. Cable discs are just alright.

The thing is you might hit a home run and find a mint unused mtb that just needs a hub pack, and then a new cabling and bars to get going.

In my case the bike had an old drivetrain...original cranks and derailleurs are still going good.

I need to rebuild the hubs again.

Of course the new value oriented gravel bikes are nice...but suppose you can cobble the parts together...that's what classic/vintage bike stuff is all about it, these MTB drop bar rat rods can be cheap or expensive. But they are fun...and hopefully cheaper.

I'd love to have a stiffer aluminum frame. Interestingly enough I'd say it might be better to just buy a new bike, but I've only got a couple hundred in.

Of course even a new bicycle will need a new saddle...and don't get me started on saddles
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Old 06-26-19, 03:02 PM
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Its fantastic that you found what works for you.

Gravel bikes can cost $500-5000. They certainly dont need to cost $3000. This is $700 with the free corporate discount- https://www.raleighusa.com/willard-1-2018-r141 and this is $1600 while spec'd with 105, a good crank, quality wheels, TA carbon fork, and quality steel tubing- https://www.raleighusa.com/tamland-1-r142


My first gravel bike was built using an early 90s Univega Hybrid frame. It was too small for me, but the gearing worked so I tossed drop bars, bar end shifters, and a stem riser on it. Rode it for 2 years to make sure I liked gravel and then bought a frame that was modern, proper fitting, and overall nicer.


Maybe when your current tires wear out, toss some wider tires on there and take advantage of the benefit of width. You can run them at a lot less than 85 and be more comfortable. I am 235 and run 40mm tires at 45psi. You will benefit from the comfort and roll over uneven ground more vs bouncing over it.
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Old 06-26-19, 03:50 PM
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I converted a MTB for on-road use last year. I went thru all the hoops to put drop bars on it. That lasted a week! The North Roads bars are back on and have been for quite a while.

I must be getting very old. $850 to $2k for a Raleigh is just too much. I will NEVER pay that.

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Old 06-26-19, 04:59 PM
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I tried drops on our son's MB-1 and just couldn't get comfy.

Short head tube, low stack height, too stretched out etc.

On went an old set of bull moose bars and they were just the ticket.

I am in favor of using these older mtb's set up for gravel/adventure all road bikes.

It's so easy to set up an inexpensive mtb like my Parkpre Catalyst (Comp frameset) with new tires, my Revelate/Swift bags (which I already own) and my Niterider Enduro lightset.

My recommendation is to use what you already own before you haul out and buy a new bike.

Trust me, you can have a blast with an inexpensive mtb.

Plus, they make great loaners up at the cabin.
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Old 06-26-19, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by gomango View Post
I tried drops on our son's MB-1 and just couldn't get comfy.

Short head tube, low stack height, too stretched out etc.

On went an old set of bull moose bars and they were just the ticket.

I am in favor of using these older mtb's set up for gravel/adventure all road bikes.

It's so easy to set up an inexpensive mtb like my Parkpre Catalyst (Comp frameset) with new tires, my Revelate/Swift bags (which I already own) and my Niterider Enduro lightset.

My recommendation is to use what you already own before you haul out and buy a new bike.

Trust me, you can have a blast with an inexpensive mtb.

Plus, they make great loaners up at the cabin.
+ 1. Vintage MTBs make fine gravel bikes with little modification other than the tires (ditch the knobbies). Bar ends are a big help and get a nice fat tire.

A drop bar conversion sometimes works well and sometimes it doesn't. The 80s MTBs by and large make better bikes for conversion as the top tube tends not be be as long proportional to the seat tube as they would become in the 90s. I converted my 1989 stumpjumper comp by running a Nitto technomic and it worked out fine but it would be harder for me to do a conversion on my 1991 team stumpjumper because of the long top tube. It makes a fine gravel bike with mtb bars though. I'm in the process of setting up another MTB (a 1993 Trek 950) with butterfly bars which aren't a bad choice either for long distance riding because of the multiple hand positions.
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Old 06-26-19, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by SoreFeet View Post
Of course it's not as light and stiff, but the utility of it is just the same.

The best thing I ever did was convert the MTB to drops. That 1.4 michelin slick tire is 18$...so if they wear out, big whoop. They roll great have modest flat protection. But even these terrible roads seem to like them at 85 PSI...with tubes! Glorious tubes.

Of course I dream of a modern gravel bike it's what I've always wanted. But until I can just waste three grand or find a used one which i will when they are saturated in the market, I'll do it.

Until then I suggest everybody who is tired of discomfort of road bikes with go MTB drops...The bigger tubes and tires are just so much better than 23C tire...so much better...more control, better handling etc...

Some of the 80's/90's mtbs have perfect geometry for it. Get wrenching, you'll understand on your first ride. 300$ gravel grinder is nice real nice.
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Old 06-26-19, 05:59 PM
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Skip the older mtb but rather find a quality 'hybrid' 700c, swap to shorter and appropriate rise stem plus road drop bar, dual control levers (optional interuptor brake levers).

Decent condition, better quality 700c hybrids are $100.
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Old 06-26-19, 06:01 PM
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Here's my budget gravel bike. An old Nishiki frame I found was the doner - it originally came with 27" wheels and CrMo main tubes - nothing special. Converted to 700 wheels to give a bit more tire clearance and I put on 700x32 gravel tires (the major expense at $35). Used an old Suntoutr MTB crankset (42/32/22 with the smallest 22 removed for frame clearance) and the rest is from an old 9 spd franken-groupset I had lying around - inc the 11-26 cassette which needs more range. I Just put on the Uno 130mm 0 angle stem to give more reach and height (almost broke the budget at $13). I have a Deore XT rear hub I'll put on when a suitable wide rim turns up but for now it rides like a champ.
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Old 06-26-19, 06:10 PM
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Add a Surly Disc Trucker fork to a vintage MTB, put a disc brake up front, V-brake in the back, you've got most of the stopping power as a modern full disc gravel bike.
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Old 06-26-19, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
Add a Surly Disc Trucker fork to a vintage MTB, put a disc brake up front, V-brake in the back, you've got most of the stopping power as a modern full disc gravel bike.
this is basically the route i'm taking with my 90s era univega mtb drop bar build, only i'm using a surly troll fork for all the attachment points. i'm running a v brake on the front for now, but when i get around to building a generator hub wheel i'll probably switch to disc since i have the option on that fork.

the thing about the short head tube/low stack old mountain bike frames is that you gotta use a tall stem to get the positioning right. my bike being 1 1/8 threadless, i went with a 70mm reach velo orange ld stem (or cigne stem, as they call it) to get the height and short reach to make up for the long top tube.

personally i prefer the 26" wheels to 700c just for sheer tire volume, but most of those old 27" and 700c frames have so much tire clearance that you can easily run high volume 29er tires without issue.
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Old 06-26-19, 07:44 PM
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I tried going the vintage MTB for a gravel bike route and while it was serviceable in the role, it did not live up to my expectations. The last gravel group ride I went on , the Long Haul Trucker provided yeoman's service. Most of the vintage road bikes I have looked at honestly are too limited in tire size to run on gravel for my taste , and as such I have considered buying a purpose built machine.
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Old 06-26-19, 09:09 PM
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The Salsa Journeyman can be had for around $1200 retail for the drop bar version. Prices on the flat bar are slightly lower. Good entry level bike, and can pack a 2.2" 650b tire.
My previous big tired gravel ride, the '85 Raleigh Portage, is back to wall hanger status, soon to be gone.
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Old 06-26-19, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by nesteel View Post
The Salsa Journeyman can be had for around $1200 retail for the drop bar version. Prices on the flat bar are slightly lower. Good entry level bike, and can pack a 2.2" 650b tire.
My previous big tired gravel ride, the '85 Raleigh Portage, is back to wall hanger status, soon to be gone.

I have no yearning to own another aluminum bike, I have been looking at the Niner RLT 9 Steel , Van Dessel Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and the Bombtrack Hook Ext. I haven't made my mind up yet but eventually I will make a decision.
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Old 06-26-19, 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by SamSpade1941 View Post
I have no yearning to own another aluminum bike, I have been looking at the Niner RLT 9 Steel , Van Dessel Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and the Bombtrack Hook Ext. I haven't made my mind up yet but eventually I will make a decision.
I work part time for a retail shop that sells Salsa and Trek, among others. The Trek 520 was top on my list, until I saw the 2019 spec sheet for it. What a waste; aluminum fork and bottom shelf components. Trek really shot that bike down the drain this year. Besides, the employee pricing on the Salsa was impossible to turn down.
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Old 06-26-19, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by nesteel View Post
I work part time for a retail shop that sells Salsa and Trek, among others. The Trek 520 was top on my list, until I saw the 2019 spec sheet for it. What a waste; aluminum fork and bottom shelf components. Trek really shot that bike down the drain this year. Besides, the employee pricing on the Salsa was impossible to turn down.
I wish I had not sold my 94 Trek 520 but , there was a young man who needed it worse than I did, it was truly a proto gravel bike as those years had a slightly higher bottom bracket and had pretty wide clearances for bigger tires.

I can't believe they thought it was a good idea to put an aluminum fork on the 520 ..
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Old 06-27-19, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by SamSpade1941 View Post
I have no yearning to own another aluminum bike, I have been looking at the Niner RLT 9 Steel , Van Dessel Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and the Bombtrack Hook Ext. I haven't made my mind up yet but eventually I will make a decision.
Say it with me- Black Mountain Cycles.
Affordable, excellent tubing spec(8/5/8 wall and heat treated), well thought out geometry and mounts, and excellent finish. Either the rim brake or disc brake version- both build into fantastic bikes.

- Niner's frame is very nice, but the largest size is too small for me so I never really consider it. Regardless, a good bit of $ is in the brand name, I believe.
- VD WTF is well thought out, but heavy as a tank. The 853 WTF is something like 5 pounds off the regular WTF(and that isnt just due to 853 tubing) due to the elimination of the dual top tube, thinner/stronger tubing, and a carbon fork. Its more expensive too, obviously.
- Bombtrack Hook EXT frame weigs 2545g in 'medium 54'. Heck, my 65cm sasquatchian size Black Mountain canti frame weights 2230g. why does a much smaller medium sized Bombtrack weigh another 300g over that? As reference to the Hook, a Fairlight Secan(exceptionally nice) frame in 54t sizing weighs 2100g.


Apologies for geeking out above. Anyways- all the current gravel/adventure steel frame and forks have benefits and drawbacks. Some have 44mm head tubes for carbon forks, some dont. Some are tanks, some arent. Some are expensive, some are reasonably priced. Etc etc etc. There is definitely tradeoff, and whats really great is with so many varying options, there is something that will work for most anyone that wants to build up a frame.
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Old 06-27-19, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Say it with me- Black Mountain Cycles.
Affordable, excellent tubing spec(8/5/8 wall and heat treated), well thought out geometry and mounts, and excellent finish. Either the rim brake or disc brake version- both build into fantastic bikes.

- Niner's frame is very nice, but the largest size is too small for me so I never really consider it. Regardless, a
good bit of $ is in the brand name, I believe.
- VD WTF is well thought out, but heavy as a tank. The 853 WTF is something like 5 pounds off the regular WTF(and that isnt just due to 853 tubing) due to the elimination of the dual top tube, thinner/stronger tubing, and a carbon fork. Its more expensive too, obviously.
- Bombtrack Hook EXT frame weigs 2545g in 'medium 54'. Heck, my 65cm sasquatchian size Black Mountain canti frame weights 2230g. why does a much smaller medium sized Bombtrack weigh another 300g over that? As reference to the Hook, a Fairlight Secan(exceptionally nice) frame in 54t sizing weighs 2100g.


Apologies for geeking out above. Anyways- all the current gravel/adventure steel frame and forks have benefits and drawbacks. Some have 44mm head tubes for carbon forks, some dont. Some are tanks, some arent. Some are expensive, some are reasonably priced. Etc etc etc. There is definitely tradeoff, and whats really great is with so many varying options, there is something that will work for most anyone that wants to build up a frame.
I appreciate the information , still havenít decided on anything and those Black Mountain bikes look really good. They seem to be really Surlyesque though and as much as I love my Surly , I am kinda thinking of a more refined bike .

Ill keep in mind what you said about the Van Dessel WTF and make sure to look at the 853 variant.
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Old 06-27-19, 12:44 PM
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I find a huge variation in MTB top tube length. By the late 1980s, they started getting long, and by the 1990s, I can't make them work as drop bar bikes. But everyone is different. I've also done some NR conversions, those are fun too. Fortunately I have a pile of parts so any conversion is essentially free.
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Old 06-27-19, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by SamSpade1941 View Post
I appreciate the information , still havenít decided on anything and those Black Mountain bikes look really good. They seem to be really Surlyesque though and as much as I love my Surly , I am kinda thinking of a more refined bike .
I have a Black Mountain Monstercross and I would compare it favorably to much more expensive bikes.

It's as versatile as a Cross Check/Straggler/Midnight Special but it really rides exceptionally well.

I happen to have Honjos and Rock n' Roads on it and they fit great.

The ability to take 700 x 43s is a big plus. There's no beating wide tires at lower pressures in gravel.

It's a full Campy drive train that is absolutely bulletproof.

Highly recommended and Mike at Black Mountain is a great guy to work with when purchasing.
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Old 06-27-19, 01:10 PM
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i wanted a black mountain mc for a while, but then i fell in love with the crust evasion. it's basically the bike i wish i could afford. instead, i'm building an old mountain bike up with quality parts. maybe some day i can get my evasion and swap the parts over.
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Old 06-27-19, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Say it with me- Black Mountain Cycles.
Affordable, excellent tubing spec(8/5/8 wall and heat treated), well thought out geometry and mounts, and excellent finish. Either the rim brake or disc brake version- both build into fantastic bikes.
Yup.



BTW, that's a 700 x 38mm tubeless setup.
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Old 06-28-19, 07:33 AM
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I don't miss my sold Focus Mares since I converted a great Trek 950 with Velo Orange raised stem and Randonneur bars, Microshift bar end shifters and tones of room for fat tires and fenders.
Really Nice ride!!!!!
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