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Converting MTB for commute

mrkev83mrkev83 Posts: 184
edited October 2013 in Commuting general
Hi

New to forum so please be gentle

I've recently got a Diamondback M05 MTB and can't afford to splash out on a commuter bike, I'm looking at converting it to make it more commuter friendly. Commutes differ between 10-20 miles each way but initially I'll be riding in evenings and weekends to get used to the distance

First off I've bought road tyres (2 X SCHWALBE CITY JET 26" x 1.50 Bike Tyre)
It's already got a rear mud guard and lights. It's a front suspension hardtail MTB, what else is worth considering to convert?

I read somewhere about putting bars on the front for a more touring style riding position?

Any advice or tips will be appreciated
http://www.strava.com/athletes/mrkev83

Built for comfort... Not for speed
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Posts

  • Hi MrKev83

    Good luck on the rides..

    Bar ends will be handy, you can change position and get a bit more aerodynamic.
    Get some front mudguards, longer the better short ones will leave you with wet feet!
    You've got lights, have a back up eg I have Strong front light for seeing potholes etc, a super bright rear plus a nerdy helmet light front white, rear back.
    Clothing that is enough to keep you from getting cold (what if you puncture??) yet doesn't get you all sweaty.
    You've already got the most important bit - slicks for MTB.
    Clipless pedals - but would cost £60 for cheapest shoe/pedal combo - more efficient and safer though.
    Also I would say, do it as often as possible - sickness, cold and ice are good excuses!!
  • You'll be fine.

    I've been commuting 17.5 miles each way with a total of 600m (2000ft) of climbing on studded, knobbly, ice tyres (Ice Spiker Pros) on my MTB whilst the mornings are very icy up here.

    Something else you might want is a gaiter in the gap at the top of the front shock (you can buy one or make one from old inner tube and tie wraps). It stops rain and censored blowing back in your face off the front tyre which is pretty unpleasant.

    http://www.wiggle.co.uk/rapidracerprodu ... -mudguard/

    Have fun
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • InitialisedInitialised Posts: 3,047
    Can you lock out the front fork or crank up the pressure so you're not wasting loads of effort bouncing on the front fork with every stroke?

    Consider swapping to a rigid fork if you wont be taking the bike free riding or down black runs.

    I use an old rigid MTB converted as follows:

    Cranks: 48/36/26
    Tyres: Schwalbe Durano 26x1.1
    Guards: SKS Velo Mountain 65
    Bar ends: Ergon Grips GC2
    Pedals: M520 and MT42 shoes

    For Winter I use Schwalbe Snow Studs and spend more time on trails and less time on roads.
    I used to just ride my bike to work but now I find myself going out looking for bigger and bigger hills.
  • u33dbu33db Posts: 68
    I've converted my MTB for road use too.

    Slicks will make a good improvement and I also agree with swapping to a rigid fork.

    I would also suggest looking at the components on the bike and upgrade to better items, specifically bearings as they'll improve the bikes ability to "roll"...i found swapping to a cartidge BB and sealed hubs made a fantastic difference.

    Beyond those how deep are your pockets?

    I keep an eye on ebay/shops and upgrade to lighter parts as i can afford them as less weight makes a faster bike.

    Heres mine;
    - Continental Gatorskin 1.1 tyres.
    - Kona P2 fork.
    - Cartidge BB.
    - Deore brakes/transmission/hubs except crank and shifters (shimano copies).
    - Specialized Riva road saddle
    - Alloy stem/bar/seat post

    Probably lost 3 kg over the standard £180 bike i picked up from Halfords :)

    My girlfriend has the same model of bike but unmodified and i was out with her at the weekend...i probably did half the pedaling she did as a result of being lighter/easier to roll etc...its really flies for a Halfords "BSO".

    20130202_145848_zps92c6b8ae.jpg
  • simon_esimon_e Posts: 1,685
    @u33db - your bike looks great!

    City Jets are great tyres.

    Wear padded shorts under your longs (e.g. Altura Cruiser tights).

    Decent lights (Lezyne Mini / Power Drive front and Cateye TL600 rear for me) are invaluable for dusk and dark. Bright lights give drivers one less excuse.

    Some folks like bar ends but I find standard grips are fine.

    Essential tools: allen keys/multitool, a reliable pump (you'd be surprised how many people carry a censored pump), tyre levers, tube and a patch kit.

    If you could be riding in the wet then get as much mudguard/spray protection as you can.

    Don't forget maintenance. Chain will need regular cleaning & relube (I use an old t-shirt & WD40 to clean and Green Oil lube applied w/toothbrush). Road salt is every component's worst enemy.
    Aspire not to have more, but to be more.
  • mrkev83mrkev83 Posts: 184
    Cheers for the advice guys...got the tyres fitted but the hand pump just isn't working so ordered a better pump off Amazon

    Some of what you guys are saying sounds like a foreign language to me but sure I'll pick it up as I progress

    Looked on a few shops for rigid forks and they seem half the price of what I paid for the bike...think I'll try finding someone who's breaking an old mountain bike maybe?

    What size mudguards should I be looking for? It's got a rear mountain bike style one fitted but is there anywhere that just the long fitted ones that go about a third round the tyre?
    http://www.strava.com/athletes/mrkev83

    Built for comfort... Not for speed
  • InitialisedInitialised Posts: 3,047
    SKS velocity Mountain 65 they look a bit too big on skinny tyres but they'll accommodate up to 2.1 and are easy to take off for the dry days when you don't want the extra drag. They have a tendency of popping out if you get to enthusiastic on the trails.
    I used to just ride my bike to work but now I find myself going out looking for bigger and bigger hills.
  • simon_esimon_e Posts: 1,685
    You could check ebay and the MTB For Sale forum on here (or post a 'wanted'). You'll need to be sure the steerer - the bit from the fork crown up to the top - is long enough for your bike so measure your existing one before you buy. But don't fret about the forks, you can get out and ride just fine with what you have.

    As long as you have some decent clothing and some essential tools you should be sorted. And you don't need to spend £50 on bibshorts, cheap Lusso waist shorts from ebay are fine.
    Aspire not to have more, but to be more.
  • mrkev83mrkev83 Posts: 184
    Cheers for the advice guys

    I'll keep my eyes on ebay for a rigid fork (unsure what type I'm looking for though)

    Think my order will be with chainreactioncycles for what I need and then it's just clothing so probably a trip to sportsdirect or something similar
    http://www.strava.com/athletes/mrkev83

    Built for comfort... Not for speed
  • Mudguards are essential

    SKS Chromoplastic MTB mudguards from Wiggle (Narrow) around £25

    http://www.wiggle.co.uk/sks-chromoplast ... guard-set/

    Here are mine

    MTB_bike_pic016.jpg


    You can use P-clips if you don't have mudguard mounts

    MTB_bike_pic014.jpg


    A rack and pannier is also useful if you have to carry lots of weight (laptop, clothes , food etc)
    Total for both around £70

    MTB_bike_pic004.jpg
  • u33dbu33db Posts: 68
    I bought mudguards and one of those top peak beam racks initially but quickly got shot of them.

    From taking the bike on a train and i found stuff like that tended to get damaged when other people stacked their bikes on top or they rattled like hell once you're out and about...now gone the opposite - no attachments on the bike and find it a lot better. You've also got to think if you are changing at work does it really matter if you get muddy from no mudguards?

    Of course if you're not in that environment then I'd agree with the above poster.
  • u33dbu33db Posts: 68
    mrkev83 wrote:
    Cheers for the advice guys

    I'll keep my eyes on ebay for a rigid fork (unsure what type I'm looking for though)

    Think my order will be with chainreactioncycles for what I need and then it's just clothing so probably a trip to sportsdirect or something similar

    Search for "Kona P2" or "Kona Project 2" fork as thats what i have.

    I managed to get mine new 2 years ago for around £80 but i think they're NLA now (though do pop up on ebay). Its a robust steel fork and pretty light (and if you're lucky enough to find a really old one they're lighter still apparently!) Be careful though as they come in 26"/700c and disc/v brake variants...

    Another option would be a carbon fibre fork from here -> http://www.carboncycles.cc/?p=197 but might be outwith your budget.

    Carbon fibre will give a nicer ride as they flex but they're not massively lighter than the P2 and my worry was if they get chipped they can fracture/shatter whereas steel won't.

    http://www.sjscycles.co.uk is another good supplier...cheap and quick postage!
  • mrkev83mrkev83 Posts: 184
    Cheers for that link. Going to see if I can stiffen up the suspension first as money's a bit tight

    Got the mudguards and spare inner tube. Already got tyre levers and a bike multi tool. Pump arrived so tyres are at a solid 80psi ...now all I need is to set up the rear brake. Think the front disc brake is now set up but probably needs adjustment as I go

    Thanks for all the advice so far guys
    http://www.strava.com/athletes/mrkev83

    Built for comfort... Not for speed
  • jimmocratesjimmocrates Posts: 122
    After commuting for a year or so on my road bike, I've gone back to using my mtb due to the terrible conditions of the city roads. 3 things I've found very helpful:

    1) SLICK, PUNCTURE RESISTANT TYRES. I've used specialized armadillos and schwalbe marathan plus's. Both have been great, specialized rolled a bit quicker but didn't last as well. Schwalbe have a reflective strip which is a nice touch.

    2) I share the thinking of keeping the weight off the bike to try and keep it as nimble as possible. I bought one of these rucksacks from Ed Co-op about 5 years ago. I've used it pretty much every day and it is so unbelievably well designed, its probably the best value i've got out of all my cycling gear.
    http://www.edinburghbicycle.com/comms/s ... rt-new.htm

    3) Not really to do with the bike, but I got an Altura Evo Nightvision Jacket this winter. It offers great visibility and gives you confidence that you can be seen (along with a couple of sets of lights). I love a jacket with pockets too. Many now don't seem to have them.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,014
    Can you lock out the front fork or crank up the pressure so you're not wasting loads of effort bouncing on the front fork with every stroke?

    Consider swapping to a rigid fork if you wont be taking the bike free riding or down black runs.

    Not necessary really. The fork will only bounce significantly if standing out of the pedals. Seated it isn't worth losing any sleep over if there isn't a lock out. But if the bike is permanently for commuting, then lugging a lot of complicated weight around that needs occasional servicing isn't that good an idea compared with getting a rigid fork.
    u33db wrote:
    You've also got to think if you are changing at work does it really matter if you get muddy from no mudguards?

    Mud isn't that important - frozen feet from snow and rain is. Mudguards make a huge difference there.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • InitialisedInitialised Posts: 3,047
    Rolf F wrote:
    Can you lock out the front fork or crank up the pressure so you're not wasting loads of effort bouncing on the front fork with every stroke?

    Consider swapping to a rigid fork if you wont be taking the bike free riding or down black runs.

    Not necessary really. The fork will only bounce significantly if standing out of the pedals. Seated it isn't worth losing any sleep over if there isn't a lock out. But if the bike is permanently for commuting, then lugging a lot of complicated weight around that needs occasional servicing isn't that good an idea compared with getting a rigid fork.

    I say that as I've seen people (OK usually big blokes) commuting on full suspension bikes and you can see the bike (not just the rider) bobbing up and down with every crank, especially up hills. It looks really funny as well as obviously being inefficient (IMHO). So if you can lock out you probably should, if not does it have any adjustment?

    It's a Zoom fork right? So no adjustments. If my experience with Zoom forks is anything to go by it's censored anyway and in hindsight I should have spent more for a bike with an entry level RST or Suntour fork. So consider replacing it with either a better fork with a lockout if you plan on off-roading or a rigid if you don't.
    I used to just ride my bike to work but now I find myself going out looking for bigger and bigger hills.
  • mrkev83mrkev83 Posts: 184
    Can't see me using it off road. Maybe a gravel track in local park but that'll be rare

    The fork has two knobs on the top that twist, not sure what they actually do.

    I've still not been out on it, really need a kick up the censored

    My thinking is, is that if I can get the miles up and keep with it, I can justify buying a hybrid or road bike at a later point
    http://www.strava.com/athletes/mrkev83

    Built for comfort... Not for speed
  • u33dbu33db Posts: 68
    Rolf F wrote:
    u33db wrote:
    You've also got to think if you are changing at work does it really matter if you get muddy from no mudguards?

    Mud isn't that important - frozen feet from snow and rain is. Mudguards make a huge difference there.

    Yes but mudguards don't do anything for the asthetics of the bike IMO. :wink:

    Asda are doing water resistant trainers for £18 atm...
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,748
    mrkev83 wrote:
    The fork has two knobs on the top that twist, not sure what they actually do.
    They change the spring preload, winding them all the way to maximum will help a little bit.

    My commuter uses mostly MTB finishing kit although it's a Carrera Hybrid frame (Boot fair - £4!)
    temporary-1.jpg
    26x1.5" slicks, lightweight cable disc brakes, rack and panniers, front guard and a small rear guard as the rack has a deck, I don't do backpacks as I sweat far too much!
  • I converted my Rockhopper Pro by just swapping the fat knobbly tyres for some Schwalbe Marathon slicks. The bike will look a bit 'skeletal' with them but will go much faster. MTB tyres produce a lot of rolling resistance so slicks are better for fast moving through traffic. They also run at about 100psi pressure and glass shards practically bounce off 'em :D . So there you have it, just some new tyres :). However, they are a bit tight and can be fiddly to remove.

    Put the knobblies back on for snow & ice though.
  • mrkev83mrkev83 Posts: 184
    Thought I'd keep my questions in the same thread and resurrect this one

    Next question, my axle to crown measurement is 465mm with no weight on the bike at all. The cheap zoom forks have about 45-50mm travel but probably go half that when I'm sat on the bike. I'm wondering what size rigid fork I need axle to crown length as I'm confused :cry: :?:

    Next question, I'm finding that when out on the road I'm in 18th or 21st gear a lot. Is it possible to change to bigger cogs so I'm not in as high a gear?

    Final question (for now) ...I hate my handbar built in twist gears...is it possible to fit a straight commuter style handlebar to my, once, MTB so I can fit gear levers?

    All this is done on a budget or sourcing second hand and all advice is and has been greatly appreciated. I did get told I'd be better off just saving up and getting a hybrid (such as a Raleigh Urban) but that's a completely different box of frogs to open and it's fun tinkering with the bike

    Thanks in advance :wink:
    http://www.strava.com/athletes/mrkev83

    Built for comfort... Not for speed
  • Hi MrKev.

    What bike is it?

    Not sure on the forks, probably not a priority with that little travel. I'd say don't worry too much as the change in geometry (dropping the front end) should sharpen handling up a bit for the road and along with a flat bar would give a more aggressive riding position.

    Changing to bigger cranks will work. I rarely span out on a 48T big ring. To do the change just get a 'commuter' 26-36-48 or 28-38-48 crankset. You'll have to move the front mech up a little to accommodate and may need a longer chain.
    You can often just replace the outer ring. But... if there's to big a difference between the big and little ring the chain may drag on the front mech on small cogs on the little ring.

    What type of twist gears are they, SRAM GripShift are pretty good but hard to work with wet gloves/hands, I prefer Shimano RevoShift and both types are removable. If you change to a flat bar you just need to check it'll fit your stem. I'd hold off changing shifters until you want to add more gears if you're on a 7/8 speed bike.
    I used to just ride my bike to work but now I find myself going out looking for bigger and bigger hills.
  • mrkev83mrkev83 Posts: 184
    It's a diamondback m05 MTB

    The gears are Shimano revoshift

    Cheers for your advice

    I did find a fork that's 420mm for 20 quid off an old carerra subway
    http://www.strava.com/athletes/mrkev83

    Built for comfort... Not for speed
  • If you change the cranks it's probably worth replacing the bottom bracket at the same time. Experience with upgrading a similar priced and specced bike.

    When you change the forks get a proper stem it'll make choosing and fitting bars easier.
    I used to just ride my bike to work but now I find myself going out looking for bigger and bigger hills.
  • mrkev83mrkev83 Posts: 184
    Cheers but I don't know the difference in what a ten pound to what a 30 pound bottom bracket would get me

    Any chance of some examples of what to buy?

    I found a crank on chain reaction cycles for 53 quid, Shimano deore I think

    I'm not knowledgeable on brands. I just buy what does the job
    http://www.strava.com/athletes/mrkev83

    Built for comfort... Not for speed
  • simon_esimon_e Posts: 1,685
    MrKev, I don't know what gearing you have but you may want a cassette with bigger cogs and/or a chainset with smaller ones. An MTB should have plenty of low gears, a typical triple will have 42, 32 and 22 teeth at the front. 42 is not big compared to most road bikes.

    The cheaper chainsets usually use a square taper bottom bracket, this is a sealed cartridge item that screws into the BB shell with tapered square stubs each side onto which you slide the crankarms. The external ones are more expensive but not really any better. Deore is middle-ground with external bearings, these are cheap and excellent:
    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/shim ... -prod46021
    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/shim ... -prod46025
    I have recently had my old chainset replaced with the second, the first is dirt cheap on there because they only have 175mm crankarm options, that's generally more appropriate for taller people. If you're nearer 6' than 5' that would be fine.

    A cheap & perfectly adequate bottom bracket:
    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/shim ... -prod34652

    Handlebar shape shouldn't be a factor with gear shifters, you can get thumbshifters (Shimano call theirs Rapidfire) for 7 speed and upwards. If you do change your handlebar the main thing to check is the diameter at the stem, as most are either 26mm or 31mm (the latter is known as Oversize or O/S).
    Aspire not to have more, but to be more.
  • mrkev83mrkev83 Posts: 184
    Simon E wrote:
    MrKev, I don't know what gearing you have but you may want a cassette with bigger cogs and/or a chainset with smaller ones. An MTB should have plenty of low gears, a typical triple will have 42, 32 and 22 teeth at the front. 42 is not big compared to most road bikes.

    The cheaper chainsets usually use a square taper bottom bracket, this is a sealed cartridge item that screws into the BB shell with tapered square stubs each side onto which you slide the crankarms. The external ones are more expensive but not really any better. Deore is middle-ground with external bearings, these are cheap and excellent:
    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/shim ... -prod46021
    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/shim ... -prod46025
    I have recently had my old chainset replaced with the second, the first is dirt cheap on there because they only have 175mm crankarm options, that's generally more appropriate for taller people. If you're nearer 6' than 5' that would be fine.

    A cheap & perfectly adequate bottom bracket:
    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/shim ... -prod34652

    Handlebar shape shouldn't be a factor with gear shifters, you can get thumbshifters (Shimano call theirs Rapidfire) for 7 speed and upwards. If you do change your handlebar the main thing to check is the diameter at the stem, as most are either 26mm or 31mm (the latter is known as Oversize or O/S).

    How do I know what size bottom bracket to get?

    I will get the longer chainset as I'm 6ft
    http://www.strava.com/athletes/mrkev83

    Built for comfort... Not for speed
  • mrkev83 wrote:
    Cheers but I don't know the difference in what a ten pound to what a 30 pound bottom bracket would get me

    Any chance of some examples of what to buy?

    I found a crank on chain reaction cycles for 53 quid, Shimano deore I think

    I'm not knowledgeable on brands. I just buy what does the job

    A £10 BB will do just fine and probably be better than what's in there.

    AFIK only Alivio (and below) supports 7 speed. I got mine from ROSE

    BB: http://www.rosebikes.co.uk/article/shim ... aid:515142
    Crank: http://www.rosebikes.co.uk/article/shim ... aid:287945

    You'll also need:

    Crank Puller: http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/park ... -prod34314
    BB Removal Tool: http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/x-to ... -prod55937

    To do the job.

    For the BB width check with Halford's as they used to sell it and are most likely to be able to give you an answer of the suppliers I can see.
    I used to just ride my bike to work but now I find myself going out looking for bigger and bigger hills.
  • mrkev83mrkev83 Posts: 184
    Thanks for all your replies so far. Have another question:

    My axle to crown length is 446mm on the zoom forks with no weight on the bike, they travel about 30mm so am I right in thinking that I need rigid forks with a axle to crown length of about 416mm??

    If so, where do I get them from as most on ebay are 390-400mm

    Thanks again
    http://www.strava.com/athletes/mrkev83

    Built for comfort... Not for speed
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