Budget Cross Conversion
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  1. #1

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    Budget Cross Conversion

    OK guys, I really wanna give this CX thing a try. There are 4 races this fall within 30 minutes of me. My problem? I'm on a very small budget. I am hoping to find a vintage road bike locally on the cheap and convert it into a cross bike. I'm not too concerned with competing up front at the moment, so top of the line stuff is not necassary. I'm looking at this more from a fitness standpoint. So what type(or brand) of bike should I be looking for and what would be the minimum changes needed? I know these are super newb questions, but any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Bill

  2. #2
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    any bike with cantilever brakes (as opposed to caliper brakes) will probably get you where you want to go. they were called touring bikes 25 years ago.

  3. #3
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    Long-reach calipers or centerpulls can work as well, and are a lot more common on vintage road bikes than cantilevers.

    Another way to go is a rigid mountain bike.

  4. #4
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    Older Trek, Specialized or Bridgestone touring bikes can convert pretty well. If they are in good working order, you really only need to put CX tires on them and ride. Some have down-tube shifters and some have bar-ends.

    80's road race bikes generally won't have the clearance for knobbies, but many 70's road race bikes have clearance. Of course, finding a decent 70's road race bike will probably cost more than you want to spend unless you get really lucky. If you can go single-speed, you can get a decent newer SS for $500 or less (Bianchi San Jose, Redline 925, among others).

    I've seen plenty of people show up and race with mountain bikes, so check out older rigid mtb's too. Put on some drop bars and some 1.75 tires.

  5. #5
    raging results nerd
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    I think the key thing you left out is what your definition of "very small budget" is. $100? $500?

  6. #6

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    oops, I did forget to mention that. I am looking to stay around $300 for bike and what ever changes it might need. It seems like that might be hard to do though.

  7. #7
    Number 2 on the course.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bhhad25
    oops, I did forget to mention that. I am looking to stay around $300 for bike and what ever changes it might need. It seems like that might be hard to do though.
    I have a late 70s Univega that was built for 27" wheels. It has ample clearance for 700Cs with knobbies and the the long-drop centerpulls can still put the pads (upgraded to Koolstop Thinlines) on the rim.

    Its the kind of bike you could find at a thift store for next to nothing, leaving you enough for wheels and tires.

    Go singlespeed and you will also save a lot of money and hassle trying to get old parts working or replaced.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by fiddlr40
    I've seen plenty of people show up and race with mountain bikes, so check out older rigid mtb's too. Put on some drop bars and some 1.75 tires.
    No need for drop bars. Converting to road drops is actually a pain in the arse.

    Skinnier tires, on the other hand, is a relatively inexpensive way to get faster rolling wheels and shed rotating weight.

  9. #9

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    Here are some of the local bikes I"ve found so far. Would any of these convert easily and are they the right price? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

    https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3252...4ab7bd.jpg?v=0

    https://farm4.static.flickr.com/3018...8b5412.jpg?v=0

    One in the middle looks like a Specialized Crossroads?, others are Giants. the price is $100 each.


    https://detroit.craigslist.org/bik/728193128.html


    https://annarbor.craigslist.org/bik/728095516.html

  10. #10

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    Its an odd suggerstion but find a cheap garyfisher hardtail mountain bike they were like $380 new in 05 so they should be dirtycheap on ebay by now. just grab that and throw some 35c tires on it. perhaps a rigid fork as well. do you have alot of parts lying around?? if so the surly crosscheck frame/fork can be had online for $390

  11. #11
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    from all the bikes pictured, this seems like a bad deal and you will end up wasting $300 on a bike that doesn't work for crap. You would be better off with an older mountain bike of decent quality that you could just ride as is. Every one of he bikes you indicated had some real issues that would render them useless for cross racing. You could do very well on a $300 used MTB, on the other hand.

    Converting old road bikes is great on paper but lousy in practice and tends to be a waste of time and money unless you can find an old touring bike, which can be tough and opens other cans of worms.

  12. #12

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    I appreciate your honesty and straight-forwardness, but can you elaborate on the problems with the specialized? I just thought it would be the easiest to convert. It already has 700 wheels with plenty of room for knobbies and canti brakes. It seems like all it's missing is drop bars. Again, I am not planning on winning races, I just want to try it and use it more as fitness.

    I understand the ease of using a MTB, but I was really wanting to go with bigger than 26" wheels.


    Again, thanks for the answers and responses.

  13. #13
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    If you have access to a bunch of parts lying around, I guess you could swap out some parts and get it to work OK for $100, at least you would have some mud clearance. The top tube length on those is confusing, they list 60 on the "large" size which is quite long.

    I think you could have fun on that bike, the one cannondale you pictured would not be a good chouce, there is no mud clearance and you can't have anything welded on the aluminium frame. For a hundred bucks, the specialized will be a fun choice.

  14. #14
    d2p
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    $100 on the Specialized. Take off the reflectors, the kickstand, and anything else nonessential.

    Ride it alot, jump off, jump on, and go race. After the 4 races decide if you want to do more.

    If yes, post here and stop shopping for a new bike. Keep the old bike for commuting or sell it.

    Suffer, suffer, fun.

  15. #15

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    one more bike I'm considering. I sent a guy a message about his bike and this was his response.

    "It's not a true 'cross bike. I took my old Centurion road bike (Tange #1 chromoly lugged frame, 21.5") and built a second set of wheels with 38mm knobbies. It has a shock post and a Girvin flex stem, so it's more like a soft-riding hybrid with drop bars and bar-end shifters. It can handle CX terrain, but delivers a smoother ride. It's an old drive train, 7spd FW 13-28 with 42/52T in front. SPD pedals, Concor turbo saddle.
    It's a sweet riding bike, with the road wheels and a rack it would make a great commuter/errand bike.
    Both sets of wheels are included. If you're interested, I'd throw in a set of touring fenders.
    I'd like to get $120 for it. I suggest a test ride to see if it fits. You're welcome to make an offer. "



    It's either this or the Specialized posted above. Which do you think I would be better off with.

    Help me out here cause I'm gonna buy 1 of them (if they fit properly), just need some help deciding.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bhhad25
    one more bike I'm considering. I sent a guy a message about his bike and this was his response.

    "It's not a true 'cross bike. I took my old Centurion road bike (Tange #1 chromoly lugged frame, 21.5") and built a second set of wheels with 38mm knobbies. It has a shock post and a Girvin flex stem, so it's more like a soft-riding hybrid with drop bars and bar-end shifters. It can handle CX terrain, but delivers a smoother ride. It's an old drive train, 7spd FW 13-28 with 42/52T in front. SPD pedals, Concor turbo saddle.
    It's a sweet riding bike, with the road wheels and a rack it would make a great commuter/errand bike.
    Both sets of wheels are included. If you're interested, I'd throw in a set of touring fenders.
    I'd like to get $120 for it. I suggest a test ride to see if it fits. You're welcome to make an offer. "



    It's either this or the Specialized posted above. Which do you think I would be better off with.

    Help me out here cause I'm gonna buy 1 of them (if they fit properly), just need some help deciding.
    you're not going to win any sprints on either one so go with the one that's already closest to what you're looking for and appears to have some goofball style points-the Centurion.

  17. #17
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    If you expect to ride in a lot of muddy conditions, get the specialized as it will have more mud clearance. I tried a converted road bike like the centurian my first season and in the mud the wheel would actually grind to a halt, which took 100% of the fun out of it for me.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by bhhad25
    OK guys, I really wanna give this CX thing a try. There are 4 races this fall within 30 minutes of me. My problem? I'm on a very small budget.
    I'm in a similar boat as you and also have a small budget. I'm currently in the process of converting a late 90's hybrid, which I think is a great basis for creating such a beast. Keep in mind that I haven't finished this bike yet, so I don't know how well or poorly it'll ride. These aluminum frame hybrids can be had for relatively cheaply (they vary a great deal in the secondary market), and have decent components. You should be able to swap out the suspension stem and seatpost, add some knobbies and be good to go.

    I don't live in your area, but I think something like this Giant Cypress would be a good starting point:

    http://annarbor.craigslist.org/bik/728476442.html

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by jroden
    I tried a converted road bike like the centurian my first season and in the mud the wheel would actually grind to a halt, which took 100% of the fun out of it for me.

    enough said

    I"m picking up the Specialized tomorrow, if it fits well.

  20. #20

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    I guess I should give an update. I didn't get any of the bikes I was looking at (unanswered calls, already sold, etc.). But I did find a bike tonight. Just went and picked this one up. It wasn't exactly what I wanted (alum), but with my budget I think I did alright. I've never seen a headtube this big, it originally had a head shock?

    I don't have any pics but this was the craigslist ad.

    http://detroit.craigslist.org/bik/745909553.html

    The pictures don't do it justice for how clean it is. And the guy was nice enough to drop the price(quite abit) since it isn't shifting quite right.

    Thanks for everyones help and suggestions. This site is very educational.

  21. #21
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    IMO you scored big. That bike rawks! Especially for the price you got it.

  22. #22
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    DANG!! you lucked uot by the other bikes not working for you. with very little work, that bike will still be a top performer

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