93EXCivic
93EXCivic SuperDork
11/13/11 2:12 p.m.

Ok so I have this Mongoose mountain bike which admittedly isn't great. But I have had it for so long and it has been so many places I just don't want to part with it. So I was wondering how I could improve it just enough for some light mountain biking.

The bike in question. I know I need to replace the brake and shifter cables but the front forks seem to soft and they bottom out really easily. Also the seat sucks. Can I do anything to improve the bike? Aka what should I look on Craigslist for? What is a decent seat which doesn't cost a lot of money? And what are good mountain bike pedals?

Grtechguy
Grtechguy SuperDork
11/13/11 2:36 p.m.

Clip pedals will change your riding style dramatically..downside is you then need shoes.

asterisk
asterisk New Reader
11/17/11 12:18 a.m.

Honestly, cheap department store grade mountain bikes are like Harbor Freight tools... and not the decent ones. You can't do much about the suspension, they aren't made to tune or swap out internals. If the seat is uncomfortable swap it out for something cheap at your local bike shop and just ride it like it is.

If you decide you really enjoy mountain biking, pick up a 3~5 year old hard-tail on your local craigslist. Preferably something like a Specialized/Giant/Trek/Fisher that comes with solid components. A lot of folks buy mountain bikes on a whim then let them sit in their garage for a few years only to sell them after only riding a few times.

4cylndrfury
4cylndrfury SuperDork
11/17/11 9:24 a.m.
Grtechguy wrote: Clip pedals will change your riding style dramatically..downside is you then need shoes.

Works as well as clipless (for the most part) and can be used with your regular shoes.

Anyway, to the OPs question - how can you make it better for real offroading? Install the front wheel and just go ride it - You may be surprised.

Having said this, that bike honestly is pretty bottom of the barrel.Im not trying to be rude or a hater, but its got bargain basement everything on it. By the time you do enough to it that it can realistically perform like a slightly more competent bike, youd have spent enough to buy a very competent bike.

Looks like youve got a decent-ish drivetrain, but your suspension components are far from the best, and you have a bunch of sub par subcomponents like your steel bars, welded steel stem, plastic pedals and basic rims/hubs Replacing those bits with better quality stuff will add up very quickly.

For $300, you could maybe replace your suspension and component group...by then youre left with pretty good stuff on a cheap frame with questionable geometry. Spend that $300 on a nice used upscale hardtail mtb from craigslist, and youll get a LOT more bike for that same cash. Spend $400 at a real bike shop and get an even better bike with a warranty and likely a service plan for the first year. Added points that the shop will probably be friendlier to you down the road as you need maintenance etc, and you have really made that money go further than upgrading what you already have.

As a GRMer, I rarely suggest abandoning what you already own by replacing it with something new, but having worked in a shop for years, and being a cycling enthusiast for even longer, I must say this is one time where new > what you already have...

IMHO, Diamond Back/Raleigh offer more bike for the buck - they are the Chevy Cruze to the Buick Regal (Trek and Specialized) - Basically a pretty great bike with a less well known name. Most complete bikes come with the same stuff OEM...but you pay for Lance Armstrong riding a "Trek" in the Tour...Lances bike is no more a Trek than Bryces N600 Challenger is still a early Honda...it just looks like one.

Another good name to look for on C-lis is Cannondale - most of these were Merkun made until the last several years, so thats kind of a cool bit too. Univega is a good name if you can find it, too.

Good luck, I hate to be discouraging, but I also dont wan to be misleading.

ransom
ransom Dork
11/17/11 9:28 a.m.

I consigned my '99 Klein Attitude Comp (Deore LX/XT/XTR mix, Marzocchi fork) through a local shop in the summer. IIRC, it sold for about $475.

Like the folks above have said, you can get a lot of bike for what it would take to make some improvements to this one.

93EXCivic
93EXCivic SuperDork
11/18/11 12:21 p.m.

Ok sounds good. I will probably just replace the brake and shifter cables and say berkeley it. I may get a better bike at some point. I knew this bike is bottom of the barrel but we have been thru a lot together so I don't want to get rid of it.

Is there any way cheap way to keep the front forks from bottoming out over anything I hit? Are they just springs in tubes I can pull apart and replace with a stiffer spring?

ransom
ransom Dork
11/18/11 12:33 p.m.

In reply to 93EXCivic:

Hrm... That's probably pretty much what those are. If you've got a friendly bike shop, you might disassemble the forks and take the springs in and see what else they've got. If they're just coils with no damping, I might see whether they have some old elastomer bumpers of similar dimentions kicking around. It's totally and utterly outdated, but I always liked the old elastomer-bumper type forks. (Think Manitou in the '90s).

I suppose you'd have to luck into being near a shop that never managed to sell off an outdated bumper package.

Maybe these guys have something? http://www.suspensionforkparts.net/

4cylndrfury
4cylndrfury SuperDork
11/18/11 2:04 p.m.

ask a shop about suspension correcting rigid forks. Youre not going to have much luck modifying the OEMs. You might be able to get away with drilling a hole in the side of each chamber and fill it half full of RTV or urethane or something, essentially just making a huge bumpstop, but that sounds messy and silly

93EXCivic
93EXCivic SuperDork
11/18/11 2:48 p.m.
4cylndrfury wrote: ask a shop about suspension correcting rigid forks. Youre not going to have much luck modifying the OEMs. You might be able to get away with drilling a hole in the side of each chamber and fill it half full of RTV or urethane or something, essentially just making a huge bumpstop, but that sounds messy and silly

Why would they be difficult to modify?

Cone_Junky
Cone_Junky HalfDork
11/18/11 3:12 p.m.

You could pick up some nice BMX platform pedals for around $30 at a bike shop. That's what I run, I can't get over the idea of locking myself onto a bike travelling at high rates of speed down rocky hills. Someday I'll convert, I know it's way more effecient climbing with clipless.

I doubt there are any upgrades available for your forks. Your best bet is to find some decent used forks, but you need to know the head tube size and style to get the correct ones.

93EXCivic
93EXCivic SuperDork
11/18/11 3:26 p.m.
Cone_Junky wrote: I doubt there are any upgrades available for your forks. Your best bet is to find some decent used forks, but you need to know the head tube size and style to get the correct ones.

Style?

Cone_Junky
Cone_Junky HalfDork
11/18/11 3:29 p.m.

Some have screw on collars, others use spacers and the neck locks them in (threadless). Almost all name brand/serious bikes have the threadless style. Older and cheaper ones use the same threaded fork tube design that has been used on bikes since the dawn of time.

ransom
ransom Dork
11/18/11 3:43 p.m.
Cone_Junky wrote: ...I can't get over the idea of locking myself onto a bike travelling at high rates of speed down rocky hills. Someday I'll convert, I know it's way more effecient climbing with clipless.

Having ridden through both the clips-and-straps and clipless eras, I can't fathom just having my shoes resting on top of pedals on a descent, with nothing to keep them coming off...

Cone_Junky
Cone_Junky HalfDork
11/18/11 3:51 p.m.

Sometimes it's best if you and your bike can part ways in a pinch...

njansenv
njansenv HalfDork
11/18/11 5:11 p.m.

It's actually pretty easy to unclip once you're used to clipless. Sometimes there are painful lessons. :)

Check for used bikes on craigslist - I picked up a Cannondale Prophet for $300. It was advertised as "aluminum mountain bike, Cannondale". I went expecting a 10 year old hardtail...and tried to hide my excitement as I loaded it in the car.

02Pilot
02Pilot Reader
11/19/11 8:20 a.m.

I had one of those for a little while; I was just trying out cycling to decide if it was something I'd do regularly, and wanted minimum initial investment.

Aside from the fact that it weighs 900lbs., the biggest failing of that frame is the suspension. The fork is bad enough, but that rear "shock" (it's just a spring in a collar; no damping) allows all kinds of unnecessary and undesirable movement.

I can understand wanting to keep it and ride it; mine lasted two seasons before I moved on, but I still felt a bit bad about letting it go. The best possible upgrade, as has already been mentioned, is to grab something better off CL. Now is a good time of year, and rigid MTBs are often found for stupid cheap. Hell, I got an admittedly ate-up 90s Giant ATX 760 a few months ago for free.

Luke
Luke SuperDork
11/19/11 10:44 a.m.

What's the engine in the background? I spy some sexy header pipes.

You could look out for a set of Rock Shox Judy forks (or similar) on ebay or CL. Ransom mentioned Manitou - that could work, too. Basically any '90s "high end" 80mm 1 1/8" suspension fork with V-brake mounts that hasn't been snapped up by the Retro MTB crowd. Most of those use elastomers, and while thoroughly outdated now, ought to be an improvement over the no-name spring-in-a-tube on there now.

Eg - http://www.ebay.com/itm/Rock-Shox-Judy-SL-suspension-forks-/330641258583?pt=AU_Sport_Cycling_Parts&hash=item4cfbc13857

I had Judy SLs on my Klein Adriot, and they were actually pretty damn good.

donalson
donalson SuperDork
11/19/11 11:54 a.m.

i'm a bit of a bike snob (and at 300# I have a reason to be worried about a bike not folding on me when I land lol)... the most offroad I would consider riding a wal-goose would be in my front yard... and NO WAY would I ever attach myself to one (and i've got 15+ years of riding clipless)... thats not to say I wouldn't ride it... new cables make things much nicer and its ok to run around the block on :)...

but anyway if you've got a MTB club around (check with your LBS) you can usually find a great deal on an older but high end rig... buddy of mine got a 5 or 6 y/o high end FS for $250... was just a matter of putting word out that he was looking for a decent ride... MTB guys tend to be a good group (less snobbery then most roadie groups)...

love riding... miss it... can't wait for income tax... best of luck :) mark

93EXCivic
93EXCivic SuperDork
11/21/11 7:43 a.m.
Luke wrote: What's the engine in the background? I spy some sexy header pipes.

Triumph 1500.

4cylndrfury
4cylndrfury SuperDork
11/21/11 10:41 a.m.
93EXCivic wrote:
4cylndrfury wrote: ask a shop about suspension correcting rigid forks. Youre not going to have much luck modifying the OEMs. You might be able to get away with drilling a hole in the side of each chamber and fill it half full of RTV or urethane or something, essentially just making a huge bumpstop, but that sounds messy and silly
Why would they be difficult to modify?

Some OEM forks cannot be dis-assembled because the caps on the ends were pressed or welded in. If yours were bolted closed however, you probably could insert a block of wood in the bottom to keep the spring compressed. Try popping out the plastic caps at the top to look for hardware - if its there, it will likely be an allen bolt

4cylndrfury
4cylndrfury SuperDork
11/22/11 7:41 a.m.

In Soviet Russia Canoe paddles you!

93EXCivic
93EXCivic SuperDork
11/22/11 12:33 p.m.
4cylndrfury wrote:
93EXCivic wrote:
4cylndrfury wrote: ask a shop about suspension correcting rigid forks. Youre not going to have much luck modifying the OEMs. You might be able to get away with drilling a hole in the side of each chamber and fill it half full of RTV or urethane or something, essentially just making a huge bumpstop, but that sounds messy and silly
Why would they be difficult to modify?
Some OEM forks cannot be dis-assembled because the caps on the ends were pressed or welded in. If yours were bolted closed however, you probably could insert a block of wood in the bottom to keep the spring compressed. Try popping out the plastic caps at the top to look for hardware - if its there, it will likely be an allen bolt

Well I can always bust out the plasma cutter.

4cylndrfury
4cylndrfury SuperDork
11/22/11 1:23 p.m.
93EXCivic wrote:
4cylndrfury wrote:
93EXCivic wrote:
4cylndrfury wrote: ask a shop about suspension correcting rigid forks. Youre not going to have much luck modifying the OEMs. You might be able to get away with drilling a hole in the side of each chamber and fill it half full of RTV or urethane or something, essentially just making a huge bumpstop, but that sounds messy and silly
Why would they be difficult to modify?
Some OEM forks cannot be dis-assembled because the caps on the ends were pressed or welded in. If yours were bolted closed however, you probably could insert a block of wood in the bottom to keep the spring compressed. Try popping out the plastic caps at the top to look for hardware - if its there, it will likely be an allen bolt
Well I can always bust out the plasma cutter.

pics (of said plasma device being used on forks) or ban

paul
paul Reader
11/30/11 8:12 p.m.

Increase grip & decrease rotating weight: high quality tires & rims. It'll absolutely transform the bike.

mtbreview.com ... search for the component you want, sort by "number of reviews", and pick the item(s) with numerous high ratings.

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