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Gear Guy

How can I convert an old mountain bike into a urban ride?

I have a 2003 Cannondale Mountain Bike which I would love to convert into a "City Slicker" to ride around town on errands. It's got Ritchey rims, Shimano shifters, brakes, Crank, and front and rear derailleur. In addition, I have some old Continental fat slick tires on it, and a super-old Rock Shock fork. It weighs a ton. What's you best advice to put it on a "diet" to reduce some weight?
— Robert
Charleston, WV


Robert, there are a MILLION things you can do. Here's the short list:

EA70 Zero seat post

EA70 Zero seat post

1. Get rid of the shock fork, and replace it with a nice rigid Manitou aluminum fork for around $170.

2. Get rid of those heavy Ritchey wheels and buy a pair of Rhyno Lite XL wheels—$50 per rim, plus having your old hubs re-built with them (another $200).

3. Get an Easton EA70 Zero seat post ($90).

4. AND get a Shimano XTR crankset—very light, and only $675.

5. Finally, swap out that heavy frame for a nice, light Santa Cruz Blur LT frame—only $1,400.

See where I am going? Really, there is hardly a thing you can do. The fork and wheels, maybe. After that, you are much better off buying a new bike. You can't take a pig and make it a greyhound without a lot of very expensive modifications.

So just bite the bullet and buy a city bike. REI's Novara Big Buzz ($800) is a great city bike, with an  aluminum frame, straight alloy fork, grip shifters, and 18 speeds. Fast, but tough enough for the brutal potholes of West Virginia roads. Or try a Giant Escape City ($540). It's based on a Giant mountain frame, but has the specs for city riding. Great price, light and tough. Or try a Marin San Anselmo ($645), another bike with an aluminum frame and plenty of street-smarts.

So you see, for less than it would cost to lighten up your Cannondale, you have a lovely city bike. So go forth, and ride.

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Lead Photo: courtesy, Easton