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Back to basics - Can anyone advise please?

Hi all,

So for the past few weeks I’ve cleaned up my old bike and have been riding around the Chilterns footpaths (England) and having a bit of fun really.

My bike is one of these:

My questions really:

What are the limits for this bike?

The footpaths are downhills and uphills, quite steep gradients and massive flints everywhere and some fields etc, but I don’t want to go too hard, neither do I think that my bike has taken a hit at all. It’s working as fine as it was when I first bought it and as well as last year when I first dug it back out again.

2) Upgrades? I know 26 inch wheels aren’t really in fashion any more (going by a Facebook group for mountain bikers), but also it seems like buying forks etc are really expensive for 26 inch wheels?

Are the 80mm forks ‘outdated’ and if I want to get into this seriously, are they worth upgrading? The forks were slightly rusted on the chrome surface, so I treated this (surface only) To get rid of the rust (last year) and now keep them sprayed up with WD-40 before I go riding. but this attracts a lot of dirt.

I’ve also looked into a set of hydraulic brakes to replace my mechanical ones. Is this an upgrade worth doing? I think about £100 would get a relatively decent set for my ability?

3) Gears - the newer bikes now seem to have less gears than what mine has? Why? Is my bike more suited to a road/gravel track use rather than off road down/up hills?

4) Cleaning - I don’t have access to a hose or an outside tap so it’s a bucket of water and a brush for me. Is Muc Off Nano a good enough cleaner and chain degreaser? I have a bottle of Muc Ofd Wet Lube for chain lube.

I think that covers my immediate queries!


  • steve_sordysteve_sordy Posts: 1,982
    edited 6 May
    There is nothing wrong with 26" wheels. They were the only size available for many years and all the professionals used to ride them. The fact that other wheel sizes have overtaken them in popularity in recent years means that 26" forks can be had for massive reductions, at least until all the old stock has been sold.

    Nor are 80mm forks outdated merely because they are 80mm in travel. There may be other reasons to change the fork though, such as if it is not working, or not worth a professional service. Your link took me to a more up to date bike than yours and showed a Suntour XCT fork. This link takes you to a video showing how to service your fork.

    It should be well worth doing. If your fork is not the same one, then Google your fork and you should find a similar video.

    Hydraulic brakes are nearly always loads better than mechanically operated ones. But if your brakes are working OK, why spend the money?

    Your gear train has three front rings, known as 3x and is an 8 speed, therefore you have 24 gears, but not 24 usefully different ones as there will be an overlap. So bike manufacturers went to 2x then 1x, but each time with larger and larger range of gears on the back. So for example, 11-34 on 9-speed, 11-36 on 10 speed, 11-42 on 11 speed and 10-50 on 12-speed! What you need on a bike is range of gears. Typically you may have 12-28 on an 8 speed but with 42-34-24 on the front. The range that gave you was 42 driving the 12 at one end and the 24 driving the 28 at the other. The total range was therefore just over 4 to 1.
    An 11 speed with a 1x configuration would have 11-42 range gears at the back and therefore a total range of 42/11 = 3.8 to 1. The 12 speed had 10-50 on the back and hence a range of 5 to 1. The above ranges are examples, different cassette cluster can be purchased. You are somewhat limited with an 8-speed unless you change the gear cluster and it will depend upon your hub as to what you can do.

    But why do this at all? Several reasons: the result of going to 1x instead of 3x is that it is lighter which is very important to some people. But the main reason is simplicity. Not having to shift two lots of gears to get the ratio you need. The bar is less cluttered and you now have a nice place to put the remote lever for your dropper seatpost!

    Cleaning. I don't use a hosepipe, the last thing you need is water being jetted past seals and into bearings or inside your fork! I too use a bucket of soapy water and a brush. Products to assist bike cleaning are OK, but do not spray it undiluted onto your bike. Sure, you want to degrease the chain and the gears, but degreaser has a habit of getting past seals and diluting the grease, which you absolutely do not want. Follow the instructions!

    DO NOT spray your forks with WD40! It is the devil's juice! Better still throw away the can. If you can't bring yourself to discard it, leave it for unsticking locks and screws in the house or on the car. Use a wet lube (like FinishLine Wet) on the fork stanchions, cycle the forks up and down and then wipe off the excess. Do not use a dry lube on your forks as it has solvents to transport the wax and it will get past your seals.

    Look after the bike, keep it clean and well lubricated, give the forks a service if you can. Ride the bike and enjoy it. But recognise that the bike is ten years old and pretty much worthless if you try to sell it. Don't spend any money on upgrades or professional servicing. You will NOT get your money back, only spend that money for your own personal satisfaction. Instead I recommend that you put that money to one side and save up for a bike that already has the bits on it that you want. Buy a used one 2-3 years old and you will get a bargain.
  • tobiasgarrudtobiasgarrud Posts: 18
    Everything in the post above really.

    You should be fine to go on blue trails with a bike like that. Depending on your skills probably some red trails as well, it's probably not up to taking "big" impacts like modern downhill bikes but if you're gentle and smooth you can probably have a go at quite a lot of stuff before you "need" serious upgrades - upgrades might make things a bit easier, smoother etc but aren't going to transform the bikes overall abilities.

    Even ten years ago (last time I had a MTB...until a toe rag decided otherwise) they were pretty capable machines.

    There's always someone having a worse day than you.
    Usually it's me.
  • JBAJBA Posts: 2,622
    Nothing to add to the above apart from asking if you are aware it is illegal to cycle on a designated footpath?
    Bridleways are fine but you could find yourself in an argument if you come across walkers on a footpath.
    “Life has been unfaithful
    And it all promised so so much”

    Giant Trance 2 27.5 2016 ¦ Bird Zero Mk1 ¦ Giant Revolt Advanced 2 2019 ¦ Giant Anthem 3 2015 ¦ Specialized Myka Comp FSR 2009
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