Mountain Bike to Touring Bike

Discussion in 'Touring and recreational cycling' started by erikmi, Aug 2, 2006.

  1. erikmi

    erikmi New Member

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    I have a friends 5-10 year old aluminum downhill mountain bike. It seems quite solid for my purposes, but perhaps the frame may be too small for touring. I would like to ride it from Victoria, Canada all the down the west coast for the US and thoughout the Baja and throughout Mexico. It appeals to me because I know I may need the 26" wheels because spares are easier to find in Mexico. Also I figure it should be quite robust for poor roads or when i get driven off the road onto the gravel by passing trucks on those narrow baja roads. N e one have any advise? Let me know.
     
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  2. ishiwata

    ishiwata New Member

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    Since it's a downhill bike, I guess that means full-suspension. I don't think that would be very effective for a long tour. They're heavy and inefficient -- and I doubt it has provisions for racks. A rigid MTB with eyelets for racks would suffice, and I suppose a hardtail could be used, but a downhill bike seems very impractical. I suppose it could be done with a trailer, but it will be sloooooooow. My suggestion would be to sell it and buy a touring bike or a well-equipped, rigid MTB.
     
  3. blackbird05

    blackbird05 New Member

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    ishiwata brings up some very good points, and I agree that a dedicated touring bike is the best way to go. On the other hand, if you don't have the cash to spend on a new tourer, there are a few things you could do to a mountain bike to make it more suitable for touring.
    First, tires: see if you can get skinnier (not necessarily road) tires for the bike. This decreases rolling resistance, which should help with your dinstances.
    Racks: Check if you have eyelets that you could attach bike racks to. Rear ones, at the very least, but I found that 2 months into a long tour I broke down and bought a set of front racks as well.
    Suspension fork: If you have a front suspension, you can replace it with a rigid fork to cut down drastically on weight. A front suspension can weigh as much as the rest of the bike frame.
    Handlebars: perhaps the most important modification (in my eyes) would be to get a set of aero bars (expensive but very confortable) or bow bars (costs only a few dollars, but not as effective) so you can change hand positions during the long rides. Aero bars specifically can also help improve your riding posture for greater comfort int he long run, especially if your frame is as short as you say.
    Seat: If you've got an uncomfortable seat, get a more comfortable one. I like the gel seat with the hole in the middle, but everyone has their preferences. Your rear will thank you.
    Good luck!
     
  4. Rich8P

    Rich8P New Member

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    I converted my mountainbike for touring too.

    I used an Alu Focus black hills with front suspension and hard tail. In addition to the comments about slicker tyres and a nice seat, I'd recomend:

    1. Brake pads. Change to XT-style with interchangable pads. Carry some spares.

    2. Puncture protection. Adds weight but not as much as a couple of spare innertubes. Carry the spare innertubes anyway.

    3. Good cycling trousers. The seat is important but useless if you don't have the right padding for bloodflow.
     
  5. blackbird05

    blackbird05 New Member

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    Interesting point, Rich. I have to disgree with you on this one though. I found that, with the right bike seat, I didn't have any need for padded bike shorts - simple lycra ones did the trick. We were in the saddle for 5 out of 7 days, 5-6 hrs/day for 4 months without problems. There's likely a difference between men and women in this area though:)
     
  6. erikmi

    erikmi New Member

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    Thanks for all the info. I have 20" another steel Hybrid Norco Olympia that fits me a little better. I think the mountain bike is too small for the long distances. I buildt a rear wheel with a 4-cross spokes pattern hopefully that will work. I am a little worried abot the bottom bracket, and puncture resistant tires. N E one reccomend anything? I also put some easier moutain bike gearing in. cheers, e.
     
  7. Rich8P

    Rich8P New Member

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    Ah yes, those little differences!!!

    Just got back from Alps. I took a good pair of shorts from Brico and a cheep spare pair. Wore the spare for 20 minutes on one of the morning accents and changed back to the bricos.

    Bricos are wearing thin a bit quick though, I find.
     
  8. Velotour

    Velotour New Member

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    I have found this to be the case also. A really comfortable seat does away with the need for padded shorts. The only problem was the only seat I found that comfortable was a very heavy $12.00 mattress saddle out of Wal Mart. Man oh man was that seat 100% comfortable. I plum wore that seat out and that is no lie. Then they stopped selling them and I could not find one anywhere. Too heavy but absolutely the most comfortable ever.
     
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