Gear Shed

Q:

How can I upgrade my 1994 mountain bike?

I want to upgrade my 1994 Kona Hei Hei 1994 (Titanium fre). I would like to convert to disc brakes on the front with new suspension forks and upgrade the canti to v-brake on the rear. Is this possible? What make/model would you recommend buying groupset wise, wheels, forks, etc., to keep the bike light but the cost of the upgrade low? Catherine Macclesfield, UK

Indian Fire Trail     Photo: courtesy, Marin

Indian Fire Trail

A:I’d recommend...starting over, Catherine. Ti frames just weren’t a good route for mountain bikes to take. They were light and had some shock-absorbing capabilities, but they also flexed too much, which made front suspension problematic and dualies about impossible. Which is why NOBODY makes a Ti mountain bike these days. Well, there are a few—Titus is one maker—but they’re scarce.

That said, I just don’t think a 15-year-old Ti mountain bike is worth fussing with. You can’t do discs in front and cantis in back. You’ll be ass over handlebars so fast it will make your head swim. You’ve got to have discs front and back. Or cantis alone.

So I’d just take it to a good shop and have it cleaned and tuned. Maybe add a front fork—get a discounted RockShox Reba from PricePoint or someplace ($400). It might not even fit—shock travel is a lot more than it was when you got the Kona.

But for the price of overhauling the Kona, you can get a new bike. Buy a new Marin Indian Fire Trail ($2,300), which boasts an aluminum frame, Fox front fork, great Shimanon components, and disc brakes. A nice bike. Or a Giant XTC ($1,100). Lot of bike for the money—a bike with a stiff aluminum frame that will put a lot more pedaling energy to the trail than the Kona. Disc brakes, a decent SRAM/Shimano component group. You’d have fun with it!

So ditch the old Kona. Not really a good way to spend your money. It's time to start fresh.

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