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Which Frame to Upgrade?

obliooblio Posts: 4
edited January 2018 in MTB buying advice
I have recently acquired a pair of older 26" but seemingly decent bikes/frames, one of which I am hoping will be a good candidate for upgrading - a 1997 KHS Alite 4000 (3x8, Deore LX version) and a 2009 Gary Fisher Wahoo (3x8, white/red model, Genesis 2 geometry). The KHS was apparently quite the bike in its day at $2000 MSRP when new and is very light weight (23 pounds). While the Gary Fisher Wahoo was more his $600 MSRP entry-mid level bike with lower end components, it does have the same geometry/frame as some related higher level bikes so is interesting to upgrade. My goal is to renovate one of these as a step up to my 97 GT Talera (Cro-Mo, upgraded to 3x8, some customization). Both bikes are rideable as is with some tuning up but looking to upgrade the drive train and other bits just because....

Would not be my first rebuild project so I get it that I would be better to just buy a new, good quality 700c MTB instead of investing money in an "old" 26" but that said, any advice on which of these two frames would likely give me a better ride when I am done? Does the KHS light weight trump the Gary Fisher cockpit geomtry? Being 12 years apart, did technology change enough that the MSRP differences shoudl be ignored when just looking at the frame quality?

Thanks for any advice on this.


  • veronese68veronese68 Posts: 25,290 Lives Here
    If both are rideable as they are ride them both a bit and see which one you like the feel of the most. Upgrade the one that makes you smile more.
  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,757
    I'd go with the Wahoo, its up to date enough to build as a modern bike, proper suspension and disc brakes etc.

    I have a 2009 GF Cobia as a local XC bike, replaced the cable discs with Hydraulic, gave the fork a good service, straightened the rear wheel and bolted on a few other bibs and bobs I had in the 'Justin' box, rides very well.
  • obliooblio Posts: 4
    Being a 97, the KHS has what was conventional "round" aluminum alloy tubing at the time, albeit high quality Easton that give it exceptional light weight at 23 pounds, and as a 2009 the non disc brake version of the GF Wahoo is what may be called the "modern" angular aluminum alloy tubing but is a bit heavier at 30 pounds plus. Esthetics aside, does this generational shift in tubing geometry make a big difference in how a bike frame should perform?

    Part of my quandary with this is the KHS is clearly an oldie but goodie but I am lacking a reference to how the frame really does compare to current technology. Some of the MSRP difference between the two can be attributed to the value of the components that convert a frame into a working bike but then there is also some factoring that things just get cheaper over time. And then there is the significant weight difference (for me I do think lighter can be better for comparable stiffness). In practical terms then, any idea where the KHS and the GF would fit into current measures of frame performance (given I will upgrade the drive train and other bits to 2018 standards)?

    I will of course try to ride both in their current forms to see what geometry and performance I might like the best (the smile test is a good one) but based on other rebuilds I have done I want to avoid being enticed into putting lipstick on what may really be a pig. Hopefully at least one of these frames is worth the effort and will give me a much better ride than my current 97 GT?
  • cooldadcooldad Posts: 32,599
    Depends what type of riding you want to do. Gentle stuff the old one will be nice. More gnarly stuff, the new one.
    I don't do smileys.

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  • The RookieThe Rookie Posts: 27,757
    The frame is only circa 1400-1900g (lightest aluminium frames are about 1200g, the heaviest of anything decent about 2kg, some cheap and nasty ones are up to about 2.2kg) of the whole bike weight. My humble Carrera Kraken frame (same as used on the cheaper Vulcan) built into a 9.6Kg bike (with disc brakes which are inherently heavier than rim)......its the components that make up the biggest difference I suspect.
  • obliooblio Posts: 4
    I won't be stump jumping or crazy downhilling (too old for that) but do ride some "aggressive" off road and less developed up and down forest/bush trails on my hardtail GT now. The objective for this rebuild is more thrills from the mix of better control and speed I am hoping a better bike will give me and maybe an ability to go more to the edge than currently. I do have a road bike for asphalt and a hybrid for long run mixed road/trail so this one is strictly for shorter, heart racing go fast runs where I get dirty trying not to get thrown off into the mud, hit a tree or fall over an edge.

    Fat Bike season right now so I'll have some time to figure this out before I make Chain Reaction or my LBS rich again. Maybe I'll just have to fix up both - if I do the GF as my MTB maybe the KHS will convert to a good cyclo-cross!

    Thanks for the comments.
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