Garbage To Gravel -ish Bike Conversion Episode 1 | Vintage Bike Upgrade Projects with GCN Tech


– Something I’ve planned
on doing for a while now, is to turn a dormant old bike frame into something with a purpose. Now, this isn’t gonna be a
one-stop-does-all video today. Instead, it is gonna
be a multi-part series. But essentially, I’m gonna turn something which could described as garbage into something suitable for gravel, ish. (whooshing) (clinking) (relaxed music) And this video is all about
the chassis of the bike, the basis of it, which
is of course the frame. Now, I did mention the
g-word, just now, gravel. But really, I think as
a community of cyclists we need to change that
word into something more, well, adventurous maybe,
an adventure bike. I don’t know, when I think gravel, it doesn’t sound particularly
sexy or appealing, really. So, that’s that little bit outta the way. Let’s have a look at exactly
what I’ve chosen for it. Now I’ve actually opted for a
26-inch wheel mountain bike, the simple reason being, it
was what I had laying around in the bottom of the shed. However, things aren’t necessarily going to be all plain sailing. Because I’ve been told by friends on GMBN that well, 26-inch wheel mountain bikes are virtually extinct. But I like to have a bit of
a challenge, here and there. And well, there’s nothing
better than seeing an old bike that’s not been used for a
while back out on the road. And, it’s kinda like recycling
a cycle or bit of kit. So this frame and forks is relatively old. In fact, nearly 30 years old. It comes from 1990, Saracen
Tufftrax Competition. These were an entry-ish level bike, I suppose you could call it, but back then mountain biking
was almost in its infancy. So even, entry level
stuff was pretty good. I’ve gotta say, the frame and forks they aren’t the lightest bits of kit but it is gonna be nice and comfortable when we’re doing the adventure
riding or gravel riding, as some of you may call it. What I’m hoping, I can
actually do on this bike is replicate, which loads of people did. Or sorry, what loads of people
did back in the early 90s. And that, is to put a pair
of drop handlebars on it, and go out and smash those trails. Now I didn’t just decide
on using this bike without consulting a few of my colleagues. And some suggestions I was given were, “Why don’t you just for a hybrid
bike with disc brake mounts therefore it’s gonna be so simple. And it’s gonna make your life a lot easier when it comes to building this bike up.” But well, anyone who’s
seen my videos in the past knows I don’t really like to
do the straightforward thing. I’d rather have a bit of a challenge to try and overcome, despite the stress it can cause at times. But hence this is why I’ve
gone for this one, anyway. So I’m glad I’ve got that outta the way. But also, by converting
it into a essentially, old-school mountain bike
with drop handlebars it is gonna make cycling
quite a bit more challenging. And I quite enjoy that, when
it comes to riding a bike. As lovely as it is, just
going out and enjoying the bike ride, there’s
something great when you have to think and rethink
the whole process again. It’s kind of a learning experience. When it comes to component
choice on the bike. There’s a few things which
I’ve got laying around at home which will go on it. But there’s also a few
things I do need to go out and buy to put on this bike. And this is where I’m need your help. Compatibility, could well
be an absolute nightmare, but I’m gonna put the question to you, the viewers, the people that
absolutely love these things. What shall I be putting on the bike and what shouldn’t I be
putting on this bike? And also, what shall I definitely not do? Please nobody out there
suggest I paint this frame or hydro-dip it. You’ve seen the results
in previous attempts when I’ve done that. So I’m definitely not gonna
be going there for this one. Besides, it’s got a great
bit of heritage behind it, this bike. Let me know in the comment section. Now, please be quick with your comments about what I should be
fitting on this bike because I’ve only got a
week to turn it around before I’m gonna show you exactly what is going to be fitted onto this bike. Compatibility issues, I know full well you’re gonna give me an
absolute headache and nightmare. So, please do be gentle on that one. And also, like and share
this video with your friends. Share it with someone
who’s got something like this hanging around in their shed, that’s just gagging to be upgraded. Also, remember to subscribe to the channel and also, click that little
notification icon, too. And well, for two more great videos, how about clicking just down here and just down here. While I, I’ve gotta
get my thinking hat on.

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100 thoughts on “Garbage To Gravel -ish Bike Conversion Episode 1 | Vintage Bike Upgrade Projects with GCN Tech

  1. SRAM 1*11, seatpost suspension (like Ergon CF3 Pro Carbon Seatpost), perhaps a carbon fork (optional), Ergotec Gravel handlebars (something like that), Brooks C17 Carved All Weather (style), Mavic Crossride UB 26. And give hydro dipping a second chance!

  2. Full sized Triple cranks(You already have shorter gears from the 26" tires)
    Gold chain

    Suspension seat post
    Suspension stem
    Aluminium aero-ish wheels
    "Gravel treaded" tubeless tires
    If you replace the fork, a front disk brake
    Aluminium drop bars
    Extra brake levers on the bar flats
    Fenders,rack mounts, extra bottle cage mounts

  3. 105 for the for the components (gears and breaks).
    Cheap, reliable if they fit on the frame.
    Ben, Neuchâtel Switzerland.

  4. I'd be interested to see what you can build on a extreme budget. I.e. using old parts and very cheap s/hand parts from ebay. Perhaps working to a sub £100 or even sub £50 budget.

    When the original Saracen went out of business in I think something like 2008/9 they approached Merida to see if they would be interested in buying the company as they were the supplier of frames at the time for all but the most budget bikes. They were pretty fantastic high quality Taiwanese frames but just after that time I think much production for many brands was starting to move to mainland China to reduce costs and nowadays we have frames being made in places like Bangladesh which I don't think matches Taiwanese quality. However I see this is a cromoly frame and so perhaps may not be Merida. Although Saracen bikes were assembled in the UK I'm unsure if any of the frames were ever manufactured in the UK. The Saracen brand is now owned by Madison I believe and some of the bikes are made by Insera Sena in Indonesia, same as some other big brands and some shop brands. I think it was the brilliant quality Merida frames and great pricing and spec of Saracen bikes that made them such a bargain in the early 2000s. A far better bike than you deserved for the money you paid. Nowadays I'm more of a Giant fan but I was a serious Saracen fan back then.

    If you want some stupidly cheap tyres for the build I think Planet X have some cruiser Kenda tyres for £2.99 each. Light brown tread with white sidewalls. It will look interesting anyway.

    http://www.retrobike.co.uk/gallery2/d/114190-2/Saracen_1990.pdf

  5. 26×1.5" hybrid. Keep the flat bars and add bar ends. Uncage the head tube bearings. Keep it simple and ride hard. Old hybrids rule.

  6. Jon, as luck would have it, I am contemplating turning my old 531 from Bike Tech on Park St into a cheap soft roader.
    It has caliper brakes but big clearance, so a big rear cassette and wider tyres and off we go.
    Like I used to don my Raleigh Arena, back in the '80s.
    PS drops, cheap group (Sora) and narrow ish tyres

  7. Hey Jon! I love the channel and this project too considering that I'm doing the same. What do you think about seatpost and handle bar suspensions? And why not 16 wide handle bars too. Can't wait for the next video. Have a nice one!

  8. Droppper post, two more bottle cages, 35-40 mm rims, long cage rear derrailleur, big compact rear casette, small front chain ring (for the ground clerance), 28-33 mm tyres, mudguards (that look good), lights and a GoPro. Oh wait – you're keeping the rim brakes. Forget the rim depth thing.

  9. I'm in the middle of doing this with my '87 Bridgestone MB-1, which came stock with dirt drops. As for my build, I'm planning on running a 650B/26" (undecided) 1×10. Nitto dirt drops, DA 10spd bar end shifter, XT/XTR 9spd Long Cage RD, Paul Cantis/Tektro CR720, CK headset, Phil BB, with a 1x SLX crankset (42 or 44t NW chainring) + 11 – 46 cassette.

  10. Having done the same I would use an adaptor for the headset so you can use a modern sized stem and bars, but also watch out for the bars as your reach will change. The MTB reach will essentially be for the reach to the top of the bars, so the hoods or drops will be further away meaning that you'll need to use a shorter stem if the bike fitted you perfectly as an MTB. Also watch out for the pull of the brake levers as the canti brakes normally need a longer pull so you may need touring/canti brake levers.

  11. I think you should Hydrodip it. Practice makes perfect. As for compatibility, some older sram brifters and a mountain bike rear derailleur. Just skip the front one all together and use the front lever for a dropper post.

  12. Flared drops, shorter high rise stem (that top tube will be relatively long), stick with 26" wheels, cheap 8 or 9 Speed brifters, 1x with wide range cassette, either use canti brakes or get disc adapters for cable disc brakes.

    I'm doing the same to an old Proflex for the ultimate comfortable gravel bike 👌😁

  13. I did something similar three years ago. Had an old frame from the 90s, which belonged to my dad, so I had it painted, I then laced two wheels out of first price components, put on 26×2,0" Schwalbe Kojak (it rolls like a dream), and bodged a 1×9 from first price SRAM crankset and Shimano Altus mech and shifters. One year later, I swapped flat bars for a drop bars with Shimano Sora shifters. I absolutely loved the bike like that: It was a quick commuter, it rolled great, and it could be used as a tourer. Main problem were brakes. I used two different sets of cantilever brakes, but the stopping power was poor, probably because of setup. Second problem was gearing. I didn't have much money and Altus mech doesn't have a clutch and I never got around to order a narrow-wide chainring… plus on descends you quickly ran out of gears. But that didn't bother me much.

    Since then, I had to revert back to flat bars, but at least I solved my problems with brakes (threw away the cantis and put on V brakes) and I had a new rear mech with a clutch, so now the chain isn't falling off every five kilometres.

  14. Swap for a new disc brake fork and run a disc brake front and Canti rear brake with road shifters and Zipp service course drop bars

  15. I fixed up a 1986 Rockhopper I found at a thirft store in the spring. I've been using it for long hilly rides into the country with lots of dirt roads and snowmobile trails. I kept the original bars but added bar ends. For wheels I have knobby 1.5ish inch 26" tires from a late 80s huffy mtb. Once those wear out I'll probably switch to 26" bmx tires which are really the only way to get the treadblocks and skininess. Thinking Duro Comp III gumwalls. I love having the super low 24×34 ratio was steep washed out fireroads.

  16. I’m keen to see if you can fit some 700c wheels and how you resolve the brake issue? That would make it a great challenge

  17. See if Doddy has any 8spd xtr kit laying about and use that. Definitely go 1x using Cook bros cranks. Keep it old school with modern set up.

  18. I’ve done this with several 26” mountain bikes. I like to use Shimano bar end shifters, 8 or 9 speed with triple cranksets. I use Velo Orange quill to threadless stem converters so that I can use threadless stems with modern drop handlebars that have a 31.8mm clamp diameter. I also fit Tektro RL721 cyclocross brake levers inline with the drop bar levers so that I can brake from the handlebar flats as well as the hoods.

  19. I've got a 2000-2001 alloy 26" MTB I haven't used in 8-9 years (I bought new back in the day) that I've been wanting to make into a wet weather road/gravel bike. So I'm pretty interested to see how this goes.

  20. Powder coat the frame, upgrade to fork that supports disc brake(kind of like some cars in the 90-00s that had disc front and drum rear brakes), and make it a 1×9 setup.

  21. How about to add a HeadShock at front, combine with a dropbars – looks great. And maybe making E-Gravel? There are kits that can help you convert standard bike to e-bike. Go wild 🙂

  22. Spray paint it shiny purple and put silver wheels on it. Use some big fat old skool mtb tires with gum sidewalls. Search for a short travvel mtb fork and put some mega flair out dropped handlebars on it. Use scram apex 1 for as groupset but stay with the cantileverbrakes.

  23. Thanks for another great video. I was recently thinking to shed some weight of my frame and thought of removing the paint and polishing it to mirror finish (it's an alloy frame). Could you maybe do a video about how to do it properly? Also stripping a paint from a carbon frame and clear-coating it? #askGCNTech

  24. I have 27 yr old Rocky Mountain Hammer that I was thinking of doing the same thing to – drop handle bars, etc…..for gravel rides. Very interested to see what comes of your project 😎😎

  25. How about making it single-speed. Shamefully, I would then plug my innovation in chain tensioners – Chain Sentinel. Youtube: Chain Sentinel.

  26. This should be good, I’ll follow with interest. RJ the bike guy did a similar video a while ago, putting 29er wheels on an old steel frame. That had a 1×10 gear set up. And a disk brake conversion I think. I was thinking about doing the same with an old Raleigh Record Sprint I’ve got. But I’ll watch you first.

  27. I'll be watching closely at what crank and wheels you're able to fit.

    I've got an old 26" clunker from the 90's that im itching to setup 1x with some decent wheels.

  28. Install a more modern BB like hollowtech to it. Then widen the frame stays to accommodate a 11 speed. Muhuhuhahaha. You're welcome!

  29. Drops, 105 components, a fizik saddle, don't paint it keep that frame with the 90 decals, gold chain, pale yellow/blue/pink bar tape make it look like a rad rave machine and some Okaley Razors and be rad

  30. How about a Single speed setup! Leave the frame as it is and the paint. I'm guessing you may need a quil stem adapter so that you can go for a shorter stem. Change the canti to V brakes (you may need to find a drop bar brake lever that is compatible with it). Then lastly 26×2.1 tires like maybe maxxis pace.

  31. Drop handlebar, 105 r7000 components (maybe try some cheap chinese group like the sensah empire), mudgards, 38mm tyres on 700c wheels, fizik saddle. For the paint I would say white with some red touch to match the gcn logo.

  32. Certainly a 1x. I’d do a 10 speed with mtb 11-34 cassette and a 36 or 38 narrow-wide on the front. V-brakes for sure. 26 x 1.5 /1.75 tires. Cowbell handlebars.

  33. My friend have similar frame like that with 26" wheel. when he brought to my place, I try to put road bike wheel, and it was fit. but on rear fork, you must strech it little bit.
    so, maybe if you use road bike wheel, It will be awsome

  34. Please please please put a clutch derailuer on it! Bonus points for NOT using a sram apex kit! Microshift 9 speed perhaps? Its the ultimate clutch adventure derailuer.

  35. Have done the same and even though it's a bit of a frankenstien bike, it rides really well. Donor bike was a Falcon Cycles Xenon 26" which now a 650b x 47c drop bar, 1×10 Tiagra gravel bike with carbon fork. Great fun! Good luck Jon, looking forward to your reveal…

  36. New cranks! Probably 2x is easier to find, salsa cowchipper flared bars, and 26 by 2.0 tires? For some real supple life. I used a surly fork to go 700c x 38mm on mine!

  37. my sugestion are
    use 700c tyres , maybe something like 32mm would enter between the dropouts.
    weld disc brake mounts to the left dropout, reinforce the frame.
    change the fork to a disk comaptible.
    please do not use quill stem to ahead adapter.

  38. I predict Jonny "I won't paint it" Cannings will do one of two things on this build. 1. PlastiDip or 2. Sand and clear coat raw aluminum. Can't wait to see what he comes up with.

  39. Defs 1x drive train, disc brakes if possible

    Also, 26 inch mtbs aren't dead! Especially in this part of the world (Asia) so you may still find a 26 inch wheelset here and there if you're going that route.

  40. I'm so excited to see what you come up with!

    I have a 1991 Schwinn HighPlains ridigid MTB with 26" wheels. 
    I bought the bike new.
    I swapped out the MTB tires for some road friendly tires, the seat and grips about 3 years ago. 
    Everything else is stock.

    It is my FIRST adult bike and I'm very fond of it.
    The idea of breathing new life into it is exciting.
    I'm looking forward to you inspiration Jon!
    Cheers!

  41. I think the term you are looking for for this type of conversion is "Monster Cross". I've recently been converting my old 2001 Specialised Rockhopper. It had previously had a disc brake upgrade and I wanted to use the existing brake levers and shifters, as they are still in good condition. So I fitted a set of Soma Gator handle bars which will take mountain bike controls on the drops. The only problem is this means the controls are very low. So I had to use a steerer tube extension to build up the front end, this does make it look a bit ugly but it is fun to ride on gravel. The wide flair of the bars makes the bike feel very secure and easy to control on rougher surfaces.

  42. Please replicate the original color, decals and decors from the 90's!!! A experienced Signwriter should be able to reconstruct these.

  43. Been there, done that! I have converted a couple of mid 90s mtb bikes into gravel beasts.
    My main bike today is based on a 1996 CAAD3 C-dale frame!
    (However, quill stem is no go for me… I wouldn't like adaptes. Dunno what to do… )
    Ditch square taper bb, ditch old 3x crank. If you don't, you run into a whole chain of incompatibilities, kind of "domino effect". 3x drop down shifters are hard to find, front mech incompatible, chain lines and what not…
    For a drivetrain, I'd use modern 2x wide-range mtb crank, like Alivio FC-M4050-B2
    Drop down STI shifters Claris or Sora, you can get them cheap second hand from people who upgrade.
    For brakes, drop down shifters are NOT compatible with normal V-brakes, but they are compatible with so called mini-v brakes, (I've found them in a BMX department).
    ((However, probably the most common object suitable for conversion would be an old mtb bike with a relatively short travel susp fork (60 mm would be considered short these days, right?) and a-head stem. Chances are, it would have a mount for disc brake in front, right? Or else, you could buy an inexpensive rigid fork with disc mounts, but watch out for A/C height! You CAN put a disc in front with a special road levers compatible caliper and the mini-v, such a combination works really well! ))

  44. Perfect vid, I have an old specialize hardrock from 1994, not much different than what you found. But I'm thinking wheel and fork upgrade along with a new drive train.

  45. If you're running drop bars with drop bar brake levers, run BMX V-Brakes – in my experience, they work better with the road lever cable pull than cantilevers

  46. One of your best videos, congrats! Your comment relating to canti brakes put a smile on my face!
    Keep up your great work!

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