GT Karakoram
An old-school GT Karakoram
Gear Guy

Is my mountain bike too old to repair?

My GT Karakor mountain bike needs some serious TLC. But I’ve been told that the bike is so old that replacement parts for the thumb quick-shift levers don’t exist. These parts must be out there somewhere. Can you help? Al Loomis, California

GT Karakoram

For exclusive access to all of our fitness, gear, adventure, and travel stories, plus discounts on trips, events, and gear, sign up for Outside+ today and save 20 percent.

Well, I’m all for old bikes. But it can become difficult to find parts for some of them. Heck, it’s difficult to find parts for eight-speed Campagnolo road gear, and that was state of the art only eight or nine years ago.

GT Karakoram

GT Karakoram An old-school GT Karakoram

Three avenues to pursue. Loomis, California, is a little bit out in the sticks, but not too bad. You can troll some different bike shops in Sacramento and see what they have. Lots of shops will have an old parts bin or three out in the back, and if the mechanic has time he or she might have a look for you. That’s one.

Second is to check with Loose Screws/The Third Hand, an Internet-based bike-parts shop ( They have all sorts of old, miscellaneous bike parts. They also have generic thumb shifters that might work just fine—there’s no magic to the ones you have now—and cost only $12. So that’s a very promising avenue.

Your third option is to look on eBay ( You don’t always find what you want there, but I’ve learned that in nine times out of ten, somebody somewhere is selling what I’m looking for on eBay. Right now, for instance, there are a variety of Shimano thumb shifters for sale now with buy-now prices of $10 or so. These are thorough people with shops on eBay—you might e-mail them with specific models of what you’re after.

I’m sure we can get your Karakoram up and running cheaply, and that it will give you many more years of service. Provided the frame isn’t about to rust out, or crack. But we’ll think positive thoughts!

The votes are in: Check out the winners of Outside‘s 2006 Gear of the Year awards, including the year’s hottest mountain bike.