Bike Filter-Old mountain bike, upgrade or not??
June 15, 2008 9:12 PM   Subscribe

Bike Filter-What should I do with my old mountain bike?

So, I was rummaging through my storage and found my old '94 or '93 GT Pantera. I had pretty much forgot about it and obviously haven't ridden it in years. Of course, it isn't ridable right now since the tires are flat and rotted, chain is rusted, wheels are all out of true and the BB is messed up. I already have a hardtail urban/street bike (Surly Instigator) and I am building a trail ride (SC Bullit), so I really dont need it.

But I really used to like riding it and am having thoughts about making it a single speed commuter/utility/beater bike. Most likley it would stripped down the bear essentials-no derailleurs, rear break only, single speed, a rack or two on it...etc. I dont want to spend more than a few(100-200 MAX) dollars on it.

Would converting it to a single speed be a good idea? I would have to put a little money/time into it this project, but would that money/time be better spent on a newer commuter/utility bike (Not really a commuter, since I have to drive a work truck for my job) It's not like I am going to trick it out with XTR components or anything. I want to make it a low maintenance bike that I can ride around to the store, the park and casual rides in town with my friends.

Or should I just get rid of it?



ps. A few of my friends ride fixies and suggest that I make it a fixed. Im not so sure. Any input?
posted by MiggySawdust to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total)
I am old and timid, but just google "fixie injury" if you need any help with the last part of your question.

You can't have too many bikes. It would be like having too many pens. So you should fix it up, make it single speed, and make it look so ugly that nobody will steal it. Then you can get away with a cheap, light lock for short trips.
posted by mecran01 at 10:01 PM on June 15, 2008

a couple of years ago, i converted my old klein pulse into a commuting singlespeed - it's what i use 100% of the time for commuting now. it's great for getting over curbs/construction/whatever, and the more forgiving geometry of a mountain bike makes me feel alot more secure in unfriendly weather and hostile road conditions in general.

as for fixie vs. singlespeed, that's more of a judgment call. i think that choice primarily boils down to how confident you feel in your bike-handling skills - if your commute is sufficiently "urban", the city streets can be a hard place to learn the lessons that a fixie will teach you. i think it would be hard to go wrond converting to singlespeed first to see how you like it, then if you find you really have the bug, build a fixie. either way, you can definitely use this frame as a jumping off point into singlespeed-land for modest $$$.
posted by the painkiller at 10:02 PM on June 15, 2008

Ok, I have an even better idea. Make a bike with an extended rack off the back for passengers. You can try this instructable or shell out some bucks for an Xtracycle rack thingy. Sadly, the Xtracycle kit is $400. Or you could just permanently attach a cheap cargo trailer: link to inspirational picture.
posted by mecran01 at 10:14 PM on June 15, 2008

Seconding the Xtracycle. They're unspeakably useful and fun. To keep the cost down, you can get the base frame for $224 and, as the Xtracycle folks suggest, make your own carrying system out of lumber and conduit. But I'd just save up for the kit.
posted by sculpin at 11:45 PM on June 15, 2008

am having thoughts about making it a single speed commuter/utility/beater bike

I accomplished a similar fitness effect by putting my bike in top gear and keeping it there. I guess there might be reliability advantages to simplifying the system, though.

Most likley it would stripped down the bear essentials-[...] rear break only

I had the rear brake go out on my bike a few months ago. Having redundant brakes meant I could continue riding while waiting for the replacement part to arrive.

Consider sticking with two brakes for availability, if not for safety. Also, being able to brake with either hand is useful if you want to slow down while signalling a turn.
posted by Mike1024 at 12:03 AM on June 16, 2008

Also, if as you say you don't need it, there's a non-profit place here called re-cycles that takes old bikes and then volunteers fix them up then sell them to the community, I assume at a low price in order to get more bikes back out there with people riding them. Maybe there's something similar in your area?
posted by hungrysquirrels at 2:12 AM on June 16, 2008

Go single and double-cog the rear wheel so you can flip it around for fix or coast. This will also help you make up for the extra space from removing your cassette.

If you plan on riding it fixed, I would recommend only using a front brake. Rear braking on a fixie is a pain.

And if you don't feel like messing with it at all, donate it to a bike recycling center. Someone else will.
posted by roygbv at 3:42 AM on June 16, 2008

Rear brake only? You've got it reversed, the front brake is the primary one; there is really no need for a rear brake except to comply with obsolete laws in some parts of the country. (The laws say that you have to be able to skid one wheel. Why they would say that is beyond me; when you're skidding you can't stop any faster and you can easily fishtail into the traffic lane. That's why you brake with the front brakes; you can't skid, so all the force you apply to the brake lever goes to actually stopping the bike.)

See here for details on braking.

Anyway, try your front brakes some time. You stop a lot faster and have a lot more control. If you're worried about going over your front wheel, just don't squeeze hard until you know where that point is.
posted by jrockway at 4:58 AM on June 16, 2008

Making a single-speed out of it sounds like a good fit for you -- a ss mountain bike is the epitome of a low-maintenance city/fun/casual riding bike. I strongly recommend keeping the front brake, though, as it has a much greater amount of stopping power. (If you're worried about flipping the bike, practice leaning back while braking or something. As usual, Sheldon Brown has some good advice.)

A fixie may or may not be practical, depending on where you live (hills, kinds of traffic, etc.). If you're already getting a new rear wheel for the conversion, try a fixed/free hub -- it can take a freewheel on one side and a fixed cog on the other, so you can just take off the wheel and put the other side of the axle in the chain to switch modes. Either way, keep your front brake.
posted by trouserbat at 5:11 AM on June 16, 2008

@jrockway: beat me to it.
posted by trouserbat at 5:12 AM on June 16, 2008

You can't really ride a fixed-gear mountain bike off road because you can't level the cranks and coast, which is essential on even a slightly technical descent. But you can ride a single-speed mountain bike on the road. So making a fixed gear means pretty much confining yourself to the road.

If you go single-speed and plain to take it off road, I'd leave both brakes in place, because you'll want the front brake for stopping power and the rear brake for control on the trail.
posted by dseaton at 5:29 AM on June 16, 2008

Perhaps you can fix it up and donate it? I read about Bicycles for Humanity this morning -- they distribute unused bikes in Africa.
posted by sugarfish at 6:28 AM on June 16, 2008

Fixed gear bikes are great for training yourself to pedal perfect circles. Some people ride fixies off road though they are best for non-technical trails if that is what you want. Since they are best for roads and wide trails you might want to put on some slicks, or at least something slick in the middle.
posted by caddis at 7:05 AM on June 16, 2008

Don't buy into the fixie hype. Your knees will thank you if you have 1. gears and 2. the ability to coast. A singlespeed seems like a better bet if you're inclined that way-- no geared drivetrain to clean when the weather gets messy.

Nthing the Xtracycle idea. It'd be a bit more than you say you want to spend, but in addition to functioning as your beater, it can also haul 200lbs. of cargo! I love the make your own Snapdeck suggestion, or you could use an old skateboard. Used Freeradicals are pretty hard to come by these days thanks to gas prices, but they are out there; I just bought one from a friend yesterday.

I know folks who have singlespeed Xes, though the ability to shift seems kind of important.
posted by hollisimo at 1:52 PM on June 16, 2008

Coasting is a pernicious habit.
posted by caddis at 2:44 PM on June 16, 2008

there is really no need for a rear brake except to comply with obsolete laws in some parts of the country.

I dunno.. I think redundant systems are good. Also, Mr. Brown's reasoning breaks down in low grip situations. Of course you probably shouldn't be riding if grip is that low, but stuff happens...
posted by Chuckles at 3:35 PM on June 16, 2008

yeah, Sheldon rode nice bikes with fancy brakes (RIP great bicycle icon). my youngest son has a cheap bike as he will grow out of it in a year and the front brake just failed. good thing he had a rear one, but then if he were riding a fixie he wouldn't need any brakes at all.
posted by caddis at 7:15 PM on June 16, 2008

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