Converting MTB to Full-On Expedition Tourer

Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by hubbike, 13 May 2008.

  1. hubbike

    hubbike Senior Member

    Want to get an old 1990's steel framed no-suspension MTB. Stip it down, and then build it up with the best quality components, racks and a pair of good quality handbuilt wheels. I am hoping to end up with a bomb-proof tourer suitable for spending a year-or-so touring south america.

    If anyone can suggest a wheel builder, a good source of old MTB's (which to look for.)
    trek cannondale specialized rockhoppers
    dawes giant marin

    are all supposed to be pretty reputable, so I am looking out for something. Also seen a few Claud Butler Silver Ridge are they any good? I'm trawling ebay but is there anywhere else good to look?

    Please offer advice and tips on any aspect of my plan, but especially what old bike would be good and what I should do to it once I have it.
  2. Tim Bennet.

    Tim Bennet. Entirely Average Member

    S of Kendal
    Don't dismiss steel mountainbikes with suspension forks (100mm or less). These can be converted to rigid forks for well under 100 pounds. I got a pair of Surley(?) steel rigid forks for my Marin Bear Valley which have proved to be perfect.

    There are quite a few decent wheel builders. My only personal recommendation would be Paul Hewitt in Leyland. We have been using his wheels on everything from heavy touring, to lightweight racing (including Paris Roubaix) plus all sorts of mtb wheels (including exotic Tune hub based race wheels), none of which have ever been less than 100 percent reliable.
  3. vernon

    vernon Harder than Ronnie Pickering

    Meanwood, Leeds

    Are you sure that you really want to use a frame that's up to 18 years old for the project? How can you be sure that there's not significant internal corrosion?

    Do make sure that there are braze ons to accommodate a rack on the frame and that there's braze ons on the forks for low loaders.

    For handbuilt wheels, Pete Matthews is a self proclaimed 'best wheel builder' but I've not heard anyone else praise his wheels. On the otherhand I've heard nothing but prraise from satisfied customers about the wheels built by Paul Hewitt.

    A brand that you've not mentioned is Orange. Never were cheap but they appear to be bombproof. A friend of mine has converted his Orange MTB into an expedition tourer and it appears to be very robust. It's seen action in Iceland some of the nordic countries and performed well by all accounts.
  4. campagman

    campagman Über Member

    at home
    I use an old Raleigh MTB that a bloke at work gave me. I have replaced everything but the frame and H/bar stem and am very pleased with it. It is made from 531 plain gauge tubing too. It does not have a front low rider boss on the forks, you will struggle to find these on the standard factory fitted forks.
  5. DaveyDave

    DaveyDave Active Member

    I 'converted' my 10 year old Kona Lava Dome by adding Halfords pannier racks and panniers for my touring trips to Scotland and Ireland.
    Here's a piccy of the bike on the Isle of Mull:

    Have recently had to replace the cartridge and the headset bearings but it still seems to tick over OK. However, I do wonder how much better a decent touring bike (Dawes or similar) would be in terms of weight and rolling resistance. Never had any problems with the wheels though.

  6. Lee Matthews

    Lee Matthews Active Member

    I can confirm that the custom handbuilt wheels I bought from are truly wonderful and would reccommend ths website to anybody wishig to buy a new set of wheels or upgrading.I do think that Pete Matthews is the worlds best wheel builder.
  7. subaqua

    subaqua Guru

    well of course you would. ;)
  8. Lee Matthews

    Lee Matthews Active Member

  9. Nigeyy

    Nigeyy Veteran

    Massachusetts, USA
    Well look, I really don't mean to rain on your parade, but.... my advice is don't do it, unless you really want to. Certainly don't do it based on cost!

    The cost of components, the tools required, time taken (admittedly if it's a hobby that doesn't count) means that usually you'll end up spending about as much money as buying the bike you really want new. If you have the tools, the know how, a place to build, and some components already as well as a super cheap frame, then yes, it's cost effective.

    Don't ask how I know this -let's just say I have a converted mtb as a tourer -it's an old steel Specialized Hardrock, and that my wife didn't know about the budget.


  10. willem

    willem Über Member

    Converting an old steel mtb is an excellent route to get a budget tourer. However, using an old frame with top notch modern components for a full blown expedition tourer, is not such a good plan. It will be at least as expensive as a completely new bike, and not as good. I sugggest you look at a Thorn Sherpa or Raven instead.
  11. Ticktockmy

    Ticktockmy Veteran

    I made one up for dual use, whilst I currently have Rock shox suspension on at the moment, Surly sell The Instigator rigid fork which replaces 100mm travel suspension forks which I am currently thinking of purchasing.
    Here is the spec I ended up with.
    I made my Mountain bike up to so suit my own requirements for pottering around on the trails and byways and also for touring:
    Charge Duster 2010 frame, (has bigger diamenter tubes than the Duster 2011 frame)
    RockShox Recon Silver TK Solo Air 100mm Suspension Fork
    Hope Tech X2 Disc Brake front and rear.
    Truvativ Noir XC 3.3 Team Triple Chainset.( got it for £90 so could not miss such a good bargain)
    Shimano XT M770 Derailleur and levers front and rear..
    Race Face Evolve MTB Handlebar
    Charge Spoon saddle
    Mavic Crossride XC717 front wheeL
    Halo SAS Pro 26 Inch Rear Mtb Wheel (bloody heavy wheel but great for when I am touring off road fully laden)
    Old man mountain Sherpa racks on the front and rear.
    Current tires are Schwalbe Marathon XR's for touring otherwise when not set up for touring: I use Panaracer Fire XC Pro's
  12. psmiffy

    psmiffy -

    Ditto - I started off using a 1990s Steel Marin for touring -bought brand new - was a good bike - bit flexible under load - but did the job- 1999 came off the bike bus after a tour in France and was putting the bike on my car rack when I noticed that both chain stays had rusted through to the point of there being holes - chain side one was cracked over 50% of the diameter - was not apparent when I had given the bike a thorough pre-tour service.
  13. Iainj837

    Iainj837 Über Member

    Street, Somerset
    I wouldn't even consider converting a MTB to a touring bike imho
    I have a Dawes Kare-Kum 2009 model.
    Which is ready to go, the racks are already there in my case front and rear racks
  14. Iainj837

    Iainj837 Über Member

    Street, Somerset
  15. Crackle

    Crackle Pah

    A 4 year old thread resurrection, not bad.

    You don't need to do much to it though do you. If you have a rigid mtn bike, it's a change of tyres and a change of bars, plus some racks & mudguards. It can be quite a cheap way to get a tourer.

    Last year on Arran, I looked across at a bike next to mine, I was on my mtn bike and with a shock realized it was the same bike fitted with drops and guards and racks and things and fully laden as a tourer.
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