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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:18 am 
Dirt Disciple

Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2012 7:43 pm
Posts: 11
Hello, I've been lurking here for a few weeks researching late 80s/early 90s mtbs for a touring conversion. I'm planning an overland bike trip to China via Central Asia, & I've concluded that a vintage mtb would be both much cheaper and better suited for that kind of trip than most modern touring bikes.

At the moment I'm after a 1990 Koga Miyata Terrarunner. It looks perfect; my only concern is the weight. By all accounts it's a heavy beast, & considering how much it costs to save 1 kg on a tent or sleeping bag, it would make sense to get a lighter bike.

Unfortunately I'm still a noob when it comes to retro mtb frames. Looking for a reputable, high-quality frame that's stiff enough not to wobble when fully loaded, but compliant enough for all-day riding. Eyelets for a lowrider rack on the fork would be nice. Or is it overly optimistic to assume that a bike that comes with those would actually be designed for front loads?

Are the Trek 970 & Cannondale M800 lighter than the Terrarunner, & would they hold up to months of fully-loaded touring? Are there any alu rigid mtbs that fit the bill?

This forum's been an amazing resource for my search so far, thanks in advance for any suggestions you can give.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:56 am 
King of the Skip Monkeys
King of the Skip Monkeys
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Joined: Wed Nov 07, 2007 4:34 pm
Posts: 26184
Location: Moomin Valley
Hello and welcome!

I would look at older quality steel lugged frames from Trek, maybe Orange (other brands escape me). The earlier frames have geometry that is more suited to being fully loaded.

I would also look at simplicity - if your chain brakes, are you going to source a 9spd? I would go 7 or 8spd as 6spd chains will still work and are easily available.

Simple thumb shifters too, no complicated pawl and ratchets to get gummed up and leave you stranded with only two gear ratios.

Going back to the frames, some older frames come with spoke holders on the the rear stays. This can be found on some Diamond Back models. I had two Dawes Sardar 26" tourers with this feature and quality lugged steel frames.I havent seen one available for a while though.

Moving up a wheel size you have the obvious Dawes Galaxy followed by the Claud Butler Dalesman and some new Ridgeback models.

There will be lots of ideas thrown up so good luck with the bike and journey.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:17 am 
Dirt Disciple

Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2012 7:43 pm
Posts: 11
Thanks for the reaction! Yes, the Terrarunner is a lugged steel frame. Unfortunately the only other steel frames I can find at the moment are tig-welded. But if the frame is sufficiently high quality this doesn't seem like a deal-breaker to me.

I agree 7 speed, square-taper bb, friction shifters, loose-bearing headset, etc. are more serviceable in remote places, & I'm definitely planning on getting them, but don't all bikes from this era have those?

26 inch wheels is a must: apparently 700c parts are impossible to find east of Istanbul.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:48 am 
Old School Hero

Joined: Mon Dec 26, 2011 4:41 am
Posts: 193
Location: Michigan, USA
By all that I have read (not actually ridden for this type of ride), stay with a lugged, steel framed bike. If you have not already done so, consider joining Adventure Cyclist. That site is all about exactly the ride you are planning. Decent information on that site, especially about sourcing accurate travel info and maps. It also has decent info on reliable, long use gear.

As LGF noted, simplicity, reliability, and easy serviceability are critical. Emphasis on simplicity!!!!!!! You'll come to appreciate same in a yert mending a broken spoke over a open, dried yak dung fire on the ChangTang. If nothing else, have a look at a couple year old Surly Long Haul Trucker, if you can find one. Its designed for touring, got several features that you might find useful to look for in the bike you do settle on.

Take a decent camera, and keep a journal. Enjoy it, the ride, and the adventure. Good luck.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:43 pm 
Retro Guru
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Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 8:21 pm
Posts: 434
How about the good old Raleigh Montage?


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:25 pm 
Retro Guru

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 12:38 pm
Posts: 341
Location: antwerp, belgium
i would recommend a very rugged alloy gt (zaskar, backwoods or other frame), light and virtualy indestructable, if you can cope with the geometry. the zaskar has no upper rack mounts, but there are solid solutions available. i've used this setup on some fully loaded off road bike trips trough the alps.


a steel frame would look the easy repair solution on the road, but not every diy welder in the outback can weld a steel frame back together.
it would take a more or less skilled welder (imho) to weld a steel frame, and that same man can probably weld an alloy fram also (if he has got the equipment)


as a headset i would recommend a stronglight headset (simular to the mavic) you set it up once, and you can forget about it for the rest of the trip. it uses needles instead of balls, so virtualy indestructable to.
i've got a unit for threaded forks if you are looking for one.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:26 pm 
Retro Guru

Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2011 12:38 pm
Posts: 341
Location: antwerp, belgium
i would recommend a very rugged alloy gt (zaskar, backwoods or other frame), light and virtualy indestructable, if you can cope with the geometry. the zaskar has no upper rack mounts, but there are solid solutions available. i've used this setup on some fully loaded off road bike trips trough the alps.


a steel frame would look the easy repair solution on the road, but not every diy welder in the outback can weld a steel frame back together.
it would take a more or less skilled welder (imho) to weld a steel frame, and that same man can probably weld an alloy fram also (if he has got the equipment)


as a headset i would recommend a stronglight headset (simular to the mavic) you set it up once, and you can forget about it for the rest of the trip. it uses needles instead of balls, so virtualy indestructable to.
i've got a unit for threaded forks if you are looking for one.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:55 pm 
Retro Guru
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Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:02 am
Posts: 1487
Location: Steel Country
eejoor wrote:

a steel frame would look the easy repair solution on the road, but not every diy welder in the outback can weld a steel frame back together.
it would take a more or less skilled welder (imho) to weld a steel frame, and that same man can probably weld an alloy fram also (if he has got the equipment)


Maybe so, but if the repair requires bending part of the frame back into place, you're pretty much screwed with an alloy frame.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:02 pm 
Old School Grand Master
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Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 12:21 pm
Posts: 5785
Location: Lost in Translation
My choice would be a late nineties steel Specialized Rockhopper. They're very well built, tough as old boots, fairly easy to find, have rack braze-ons (though no lowrider mounts on the fork), and the geometry suits adaptation to a touring position. The frame is welded, but I haven't seen a broken one.

There are plenty of suitable alternatives. Most of the big brands had a rugged, rigid frame in their range at some point. The important thing is to find one that fits you well. Late nineties bikes have the advantage that the front end tends to be higher (with suspension-corrected geometry) which suits the more relaxed positions that tourists tend to favour.

I wouldn't worry too much about saving weight on the frame. Heavier frames are often stronger and stiffer, and an extra pound or two won't be noticed when the bike is loaded up with luggage and water. Save weight by packing sensibly.

The Surly Trucker and Dawes Sardar mentioned above are both excellent bikes. Good used Truckers don't come cheap, but by the time you've adapted an old MTB to your needs you might find that you've spent as much as you would have by buying something more touring-specific initially.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 3:22 pm 
Dirt Disciple

Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2012 7:43 pm
Posts: 11
Thanks for all the replies. I'm in the Netherlands, where Surly LHTs (used or new) are rare. But good condition, classic steel Koga Miyata mtbs can be had for around 200 euros.

Santos is another local builder with an excellent reputation & lots of good-condition frames available. The SCC 02 is also around 200 euros, & looks almost identical to their renowned Travel Master 2.6 (one of the most popular adventure bikes in the world). But it's alu, & has modern sloping geometry (I think I'd prefer a more classic style).

I will keep an eye out for rigid Zaskar & Backwoods. At the moment, only hardtails are available.

The most easily available bikes are, not surprisingly, mid-range models from the big names: Trek 900 series, Cannondale (S)M 800s, & the previously mentioned Rockhopper.

From the 5-arm cranks & quill stems these appear to be a little earlier than the late 90s, but are these the model Rockhoppers you had in mind?

Image

Image


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