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Looking for advice: commuting with a vintage MTB

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Looking for advice: commuting with a vintage MTB

Old 07-03-20, 05:48 AM
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Sauternes
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Looking for advice: commuting with a vintage MTB

ciao!
I plan to restore a vintage (1990) Diamond Back Apex to use as all-around bike and for commuting (when we will be allowed to return to office...)
The plan is very simple:
- change tyres
- change saddle
- service brakes, shifters, chain etc.

For the tyres I would like to mount a pair of Schwalbe Big Apple: do you recommend them?
Would you choose 50-559 (26 x 2.00) or 55-559 (26 x 2.15)?
I read that I should mount a rim tape to avoid spoke nipples to interact with the air tube: have you some reco on this?

thank you very much!
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Old 07-03-20, 06:44 AM
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From 1997 to 2015 my main commuter was a 1997 Nishiki Blazer MTB. Then it became my snow bike and utility bike with studded snow tires in the winter. For the other seasons, three years ago I put supple 26x1.86 WTB-brand slicks on it and it transformed the bike into a super fun, fast, but heavy bike. Last fall I converted it to drop bars.

https://www.bikeforums.net/commuting...ig-bouncy.html

https://www.bikeforums.net/general-c...converted.html

The one thing I would add to your list is gearing. When I bought the bike the gearing was not high enough for high-speed cruising. That was rectified by replacing the big chainring in front with the largest that would physically fit the frame (53).

Good luck, have fun and let us know how it turns out!
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Old 07-03-20, 08:02 AM
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For commuting, the 2.0s are quite sufficient IMO. Couple wraps with strapping tape is my preferred rim tape(tape with filaments). Pair of sks fenders and you’ve got yourself a heck of a commuter! Best wishes
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Old 07-03-20, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by BobbyG View Post
From 1997 to 2015 my main commuter was a 1997 Nishiki Blazer MTB. Then it became my snow bike and utility bike with studded snow tires in the winter. For the other seasons, three years ago I put supple 26x1.86 WTB-brand slicks on it and it transformed the bike into a super fun, fast, but heavy bike. Last fall I converted it to drop bars.
WOW! Looks good and sturdy!
I'm not sure I will use the bike in bad weather, but who knows?

Originally Posted by BobbyG View Post
The one thing I would add to your list is gearing. When I bought the bike the gearing was not high enough for high-speed cruising. That was rectified by replacing the big chainring in front with the largest that would physically fit the frame (53).
This is very good advice, I will start using the bike as it is, then if speed will be an issue I will consider changing the fornt gear.
Right now I would like to keep the bike as original as possible and to keep restoring work at a minimum.

Originally Posted by BobbyG View Post
Good luck, have fun and let us know how it turns out!
For sure!
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Old 07-03-20, 08:21 AM
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Be cautious with tire width. I've got a mountain bike from that era and I find that some 2.0 tires fit and some don't, including different tread models from the same manufacturer. In my case the tight spot is between the chainstays; no idea on yours.

I'd make sure I'm in a position to install/test if you're putting on something that is pushing the limits of clearance. Sort of like trying on shoes.

Last edited by flangehead; 07-03-20 at 08:23 AM. Reason: Clarify.
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Old 07-03-20, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by frankenmike View Post
For commuting, the 2.0s are quite sufficient IMO.
Thank you for your advice, if I understand well (in a total newbie...) the "2" is the width in inches, so 5cm: if this is correct I think that being wider will not add any benefit and will affect rolling.

Originally Posted by frankenmike View Post
Couple wraps with strapping tape is my preferred rim tape(tape with filaments). Pair of sks fenders and youíve got yourself a heck of a commuter! Best wishes
Can you suggest some brand of rim type?
I saw a precut Schwalbe rim tape but can't understand the sice to order (on Amazon there is no relation with the wheels size): are you suggesting to buy a roll of tape and not a precut one, right?
at the monment I don't plan to mount fenders because the idea is to use it only with good weather (then I know that weather changes...)
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Old 07-03-20, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Sauternes View Post
Thank you for your advice, if I understand well (in a total newbie...) the "2" is the width in inches, so 5cm: if this is correct I think that being wider will not add any benefit and will affect rolling.


Can you suggest some brand of rim type?
I saw a precut Schwalbe rim tape but can't understand the sice to order (on Amazon there is no relation with the wheels size): are you suggesting to buy a roll of tape and not a precut one, right?
at the monment I don't plan to mount fenders because the idea is to use it only with good weather (then I know that weather changes...)
I use regular old strapping tape, not even bike-specific.
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Old 07-03-20, 08:45 AM
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Iíd go a size smaller on the tires, personally. My MTB doubles as my commuter so it wears 2.8 knobs but if I had a dedicated commuter again itíd have 1.5 ish tires
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Old 07-03-20, 09:48 AM
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1.5" smooth tread or slick tires makes a huge difference in ease of riding and I find them a lot faster than 2" tires.

Cheers
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Old 07-03-20, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Iíd go a size smaller on the tires, personally. My MTB doubles as my commuter so it wears 2.8 knobs but if I had a dedicated commuter again itíd have 1.5 ish tires
Good point, I have 2 issues with "thinner" tyres:
- I don't know which is the minimum size I can mount on my wheels, original tyres of my Apex were pretty wide, did you mount your 1,5" tyres on regular MTB wheels?
- the second point is aesthetic: even if I want the bike to be as smoothly rolling as possible I don't want to put on tyres that don't look adequate to the overall design of the bike
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Old 07-04-20, 05:33 AM
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I use the Big Apple 2.15's for commuting on my 1996 GT Outpost MTB. They fit fine and there's enough clearance all around them; however, as someone else mentioned, make sure the 2.15's clear your frame.

Also, depending on how your brakes are set up, you want to be sure that if you remove your front wheel when you get to work, you have enough clearance to get it through the brake pads without deflating the tire.
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Old 07-04-20, 07:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
I use the Big Apple 2.15's for commuting on my 1996 GT Outpost MTB. They fit fine and there's enough clearance all around them; however, as someone else mentioned, make sure the 2.15's clear your frame.
Thank you for your comment.
Currently I have 2,15Ē off-road sizes, and I think I will go for 2Ē.

Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
Also, depending on how your brakes are set up, you want to be sure that if you remove your front wheel when you get to work, you have enough clearance to get it through the brake pads without deflating the tire.
Good point.
Even if Iím not an expert I donít think this will be a problem since it is very easy to remove the wires from the brakes arms in order to widen the gap between pads if needed.
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Old 07-04-20, 10:25 AM
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Leave it with knobs and look for places to use it as a mountain bike on the way to work.Riding to work on the same route can get tedious. Both of these do commuting duty on a regular basis.

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Old 07-04-20, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Sauternes View Post
Good point, I have 2 issues with "thinner" tyres:
- I don't know which is the minimum size I can mount on my wheels, original tyres of my Apex were pretty wide, did you mount your 1,5" tyres on regular MTB wheels?
- the second point is aesthetic: even if I want the bike to be as smoothly rolling as possible I don't want to put on tyres that don't look adequate to the overall design of the bike
- nah, it's fine
- that's a good reason
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Old 07-05-20, 05:47 AM
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here's my apex set up for daily use/abuse/commutes. i've got 2" big apples and sks fenders with tons of clearance left over. if this wasn't a parts bin build and i didn't just have the 2" laying around, i would've gone for the 2.35s, which is what i suggest for you. don't listen those suggesting a wide tire doesn't roll as fast - they do, and you'll be way more comfortable than you might be on 1.5".



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Old 07-05-20, 06:19 AM
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'95 Trek 800 Sport: started with 1.95, 2.1 just barely fits with rubbing if mildly deflated. Happily running 1.75, now, and going 1.5 on the next go round. Currently riding smooth and steady on Impact Streetpacs (Schwalbe)


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Being budget minded, thinner tires use less rubber and can cost less, ymmv....
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Old 07-05-20, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Leave it with knobs and look for places to use it as a mountain bike on the way to work.Riding to work on the same route can get tedious. Both of these do commuting duty on a regular basis.
I live in Parma, in the heart of "pianura Padana" one of the flattest places on earth!
I really like your bikes, especially the fact that they look "raw" i.e. without any paint (but form the photos I can't tell if it is the bare metal or a paintjob).
As a matter of fact when I will decide to invest some seriuos money into a bike I will buy a Schindelhauer, a German manufacturer of "minimal bikes" that can be bought with a raw alluminium finishing.
I can't post links to external websites since I'm a newbie, but if you don't know them I really suggest to have a look.
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Old 07-05-20, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by basketbro View Post
here's my apex set up for daily use/abuse/commutes. i've got 2" big apples and sks fenders with tons of clearance left over. if this wasn't a parts bin build and i didn't just have the 2" laying around, i would've gone for the 2.35s, which is what i suggest for you. don't listen those suggesting a wide tire doesn't roll as fast - they do, and you'll be way more comfortable than you might be on 1.5".
Definitely I'll go for the 2" Big Apples, but no fenders since the plan is to communte only when the weather is OK (at least when leaving home...).
Being also an avid music listener and interestd in hi-fi I see a SMSL digital amplifier paired with what looks like a pair of ELAC Debut B4 or B5: how does this combo sound?
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Old 07-05-20, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Sauternes View Post
I live in Parma, in the heart of "pianura Padana" one of the flattest places on earth!
I really like your bikes, especially the fact that they look "raw" i.e. without any paint (but form the photos I can't tell if it is the bare metal or a paintjob).
As a matter of fact when I will decide to invest some seriuos money into a bike I will buy a Schindelhauer, a German manufacturer of "minimal bikes" that can be bought with a raw alluminium finishing.
I can't post links to external websites since I'm a newbie, but if you don't know them I really suggest to have a look.
Although I live at the foot of mountains, thereís lots of flat (ish) places on the way to work. The trails I use run along creeks. They arenít highly technical but they become more so with speed. Mountain biking is a good way to keep commuting fresh.

The bikes I posted are both titanium. Itís usually not painted because it doesnít need it. Itís inert to most any chemical so it wonít oxidize. Unpainted it also shows off that it is titanium. You pay for the cachet so you might as well show it off.
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Old 07-06-20, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Sauternes View Post
I see a SMSL digital amplifier paired with what looks like a pair of ELAC Debut B4 or B5: how does this combo sound?
they're b5's. i'm casually deliberate when it comes to audio, not an audiophile or expert, but this combo is very good. they sound full, with plenty of low end - no sub required. highs are well defined, not tinny or too whispy. they'll go louder than i will ever need, without getting blowy or loosing clarity. the amp is nice, bluetooth works well, good range, no connection drops. the knob feels a little cheap though and it runs a bit hot, no cooling vents at all.
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Old 07-09-20, 08:36 AM
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My 98 GT MTB converted to a cargo bike with 2.15 Schwalbe Big Apples. I like the lower gearing when I have a load on the bike although that isn't as much of an issue now that its converted to e-assist. But I've not had any issues with tire clearance and it rolls pretty well (for a 100lb bike anyways). I currently commute 4 miles each way and it's 6 miles to the grocery store each week.
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Old 07-09-20, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by cabledawg View Post

My 98 GT MTB converted to a cargo bike with 2.15 Schwalbe Big Apples. I like the lower gearing when I have a load on the bike although that isn't as much of an issue now that its converted to e-assist. But I've not had any issues with tire clearance and it rolls pretty well (for a 100lb bike anyways). I currently commute 4 miles each way and it's 6 miles to the grocery store each week.
that's a bike earning her daily bread!

I'm convinced with the Big Apples since I don't want the tyres to look too thin in comparison with the bike.
I only have to find the best buying option here in Italy and then decide which rim tape (if any) to put on the interior of the wheels.
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Old 07-09-20, 12:05 PM
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It's a beast and a work in progress over the years. It's a hodgepodge of different brands and parts, basically whatever I felt needed to be changed or added to make it more versatile. Because the more versatile it becomes, the less I need to drive the car to do my daily activities. And now that I can haul my mountain bike on the back I can ride the 7 or so miles to the dirt trails. The only downside to this behemoth is that it doesn't fit in or on my car so that limits it's use to my local area.
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Old 07-09-20, 07:59 PM
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Running 26 x 1.95 on my 1987 Schwinn Impact commuter bike and I have mixed feelings. They handle comfortably in Chicago's pothole covered streets for my day to day 3-7 mile rides, though during longer rides I do feel their bulk and tread as an impediment.
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Old 07-09-20, 11:03 PM
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My '92 RockHopper has room for 2.1" Maxxis DTHs and fenders. They're fast, supple, and grippy (judging by the gravel pinging inside my fenders).
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