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I'm GOING to do this! Any help???(18 posts)

I'm GOING to do this! Any help???BDS
May 17, 2001 4:00 PM
I bought an old Fuji steel bike for $75 and am going to upgrade against the advice of all bike shop people I've talked to. The frame's just old, it's still in good shape. Everyone says just save up and buy a new bike, but that won't happen for several years.

I've put on profile aerobars and will be moving some DA downtube shifters (since I can use them friction) up to the tip of the bars soon. I'd like to upgrade to index shifting though, and what the hell, while I'm at it I might as well go with a triple. I can use all the help I can get while climbing.

My question is this: What specific things (incompatibilities) do I need to be aware of when selecting parts? I know I'll need a whole new/used drivetrain, but I don't want to buy the wrong kind. Have bottom brackets been at a standard size for several years now? What about the thread? English or Italian? Also, the rear deraileur I've got now is attached to the frame with a hanger that's not integral to the frame. The deraileur hanger hangs on the axle and is screwed into the frame. The bike shope guy said that means I need a new frame, but I know a modern deraileur will fit (My wife's Shimano 600 fit perfectly). I already put lighter velocity aerohead wheels on it. I've got two different 8 speed freewheels, but I'm using a 7 speed right now because it works better with my old deraileur. If I buy 105 or Ultegra 9 speed deraileurs, will they work with an 8 speed freewheel? Can you even get 9 speed freewheels?

So, knowing I need a new BB, Crankset, and front and rear derailures, what would you guys recommend?

Sorry, I know I'm asking alot.

Thanks in advance,
Since nobody's answered, I'll try, but don't trust meRetro
May 17, 2001 5:09 PM
Been awhile since I owned a bike this old, but here's some stuff just from memory:
--the rear dropouts are probably 126mm, and won't precisely fit modern 130- or 135mm hubs. Don't worry about it. Just spread the dropouts and put the wheels in the way you apparently did.
--Bottom bracket is probably English threaded, and there are zillions of them around. Converting to a triple shouldn't be a problem; you may be able to do it with just a spindle change. If you can find a bike shop that was in business before about 1993, they may have the parts lying around.
--You can sometimes get find low-line triple mountain bike cranks on sale from places like Nashbar for $40-$75. Depends on what they're dumping. Don't be afraid of, say, 46-36-26 gearing. That's what I have on my Atlantis with an 11-28 cassette, and it's a good, useful setup.
--No nine-speed freewheels that I know of, but don't worry about it. A lot of us aren't even convinced eight was an improvement over seven.
--I've put a lot of newer derailleurs on older bikes and never had a problem. Don't see why you should, either (if you MUST index, it will be trickier).
--Since you already have good downtube shifters, check with Rivendell ( They have "shifter pods" for $22 that to into the ends of the bars. You put your own dt shifters on the pods, and zap, bar-end shifters. Way cheaper and easier than STI.
--For what it's worth, I agree with the bike shop guys. It's one thing to tune, lube and adjust an old ride to make it into a usable bike. Spending a lot to upgrade it doesn't make much sense...which you already knew, so never mind.
Well, You Asked......grz mnky
May 17, 2001 5:33 PM
There's a reason why every one advises you against doing this. Compatiblity can cause some major headaches. This would be the reason.

Basically, the answer to *all* of you questions is maybe and otherwise no. You can't begin to imagine all of the different ways that things have been done and how small cahnges in specifications renders some things useless.

Not to rain on you parade, well ok, I'm going to rain on your parade, if you want to be niave and do things the hard way - knock yourself out - just remember you were warned. It would be even more niave to advise you with any sort of authority as to exactly what will and will not work. You're going to have to find out - the hard way. The other "easy" way out is to order an *entire* build kit, including wheels (27"??), for your beloved Fuji relic - you're either going to end up doing this over time or abandon the project halfway through and either sell everything at a loss or let it sit in a box. I tell you this not to be a mean nasty @ssh0le, but rather to give you a reality check - I've been messing with bikes for almost 30 years and cut my teeth on old French Motobecanes (which I still have) - talk about size and threading problems. The old stuff requires you to either go with low end junk or extremely high end. The old bike sports a Phil Wood bottom bracket with _Swiss_ threads, the headset is Campy Record b/c it was the only one offered in that size. The stem has a non-standard diameter as does the seat post. Add to that a frame sized for 27" wheels and the old narrow hub width (can be widened) and you begin to get the picture.

You don't know enough to know what you're attempting. This isn't an insult - it's just an observation. If you're determined and hard headed enough you can cob something together for not a lot of money that may sort of work, but it will never work well. You can cruise the electronic classifieds for vintage stuff or you can try and buy used modern stuff, but if you're thinking STI 9 sp. shifters you're going to have to bite the bullet.

The (professional) mechanic at the bike shop knows a thing or two and he's absolutely right - you will be money ahead buying a new complete bike. Think of the money you'll save in asprin alone.

You might as well buy an old Citroen (spelling?) and try and rebuild it with Ford parts. At the end of the day you're still going to have an older funky car.
re: What Grz Mnky said,andBig Johnson
May 17, 2001 7:08 PM paid too mush for that Fuji to begin with and now you are throwing more money away. FYI, if the DA shifters are pre 9 speed,they only index with pre 9 speed DA rear derailers,due to a unique cable pull/ dreailer throw ratio.But, will work with any RD in friction mode.Sometimes when one doesn't know the answere,it's best to listen to them that do.
Lets have a bake sale to raise moneyAndy
May 17, 2001 10:51 PM
OK... how much money do you need to get a new bike and skip this upgrade thing? $1,800?
Voice of dissent - Do it.dog727
May 18, 2001 5:30 AM
Hey, I don't think anything is wrong with what you are doing. Sure your frame sucks if you are going to try to race. Duh. My 15 year old BMW still drives fine but I can't even catch the little Japanese roadsters, so am I going to just throw it out? There's a guy I know who has a 25 year old Guerciotti and rides it all the time. What I wouldn't give for that bike and its "outdated" components...

This year I upgraded to used Ultegra components and wheels. Next year, if all goes well, I'll upgrade the frame from my old early 90's Tange frame (under 4 lbs).

Here is one issue you will have: the length of the caliper arms will be different. The old arms were called "Normal" throw and stamped 57-47 mm, while current "Normal" throw calipers (almost everything in the last few years) are shorter, 49-39 mm throw arms. You'll either need a drop bolt or to find an old style caliper from a dustbin. Also, be careful about seat posts. Funny old sizes prevail.

I picked up a full Ultegra (both derailers, brakes, cartridge BB, new Cranks, STIs, Cassette, Wheelset, and EVERYTHING) grouppo for under $300. Add a carbon threadless fork for 150$ (look around incl. stem and new headset), and I have a great component set. Let's say I decide to ride like mad, I can pick up a good new frame easily enough, and just transfer parts.

It's your ride, do with it what you will.
I agree with everybody!Spoke Wrench
May 18, 2001 8:22 AM
A few weeks ago I posted a response about when upgrades make sense. One of my points was that upgrades for some people is a hobby in itself. There is a sense of personal satisfaction to be had from taking a collection of diverse parts and putting together your own rideable bike. Just don't expect it to be cheaper than finding a used bike that already works.

My advice:

Read over all of the other posts again. They all make valid points.

Figure out the brakes first. That way you won't have a lot of time and money invested in drive train parts that you can't ride on because you don't have brakes that work. Never throw away brake parts. If you start messing with old bikes, you never know what you will need. Guys talk about drop brake mounting bolts like that's a simple solution. It's not. You still have to find the right dropped bolt and make it work with the frame, brakes and wheels you have. Drive trains are easy to make work. Brakes can be real frustrating.

After you are positive you can make the brakes work, detail the frame. I think that it's well worth the money to get a professional to do the final painting using one of the new two part enamels. It's hard to get really styling results using spray cans.

Worry about the drive train last. Lightly used cranksets and derailleurs are easy to find and cheap to buy so don't pay too much. If you get this far, you are going to be surprised at how easy the drive train will be to make functional.

Good luck. Let me know how it turns out.
I agree with everybody!BDS
May 18, 2001 8:58 AM
How do I know if I need new brakes? The dia compes that are already on the bike stop me just fine, even with my new thin 700c wheels. The brake calipers were the one thing I wasn't going to screw with. Now I wonder if that's a smart thing?
re: I'm GOING to do this! Any help???BDS
May 18, 2001 7:17 AM
Thanks for the helpful comments. FYI, the LBS installed my new wheelset and said they didn't have to bend the dropouts. Oh and replacing the stem was the first thing I did to the bike. No problems here either. Maybe my bike's just old, not ancient?

Any tips for finding out exactly how old this frame is, or what kind of BB I've got without disassembling it? One responder has said it's swiss thread, another guesses it's english... I think once I get a BB, and as long as I buy compatible parts I'll probably be alright.

Thanks again.

P.S. Some of you may want to reread my topic. :)
re: BB threads....Wessley
May 18, 2001 7:39 AM
I have yet to see a Fuji or other Japanees bike that was not english threaded.Pulling the crank arms should reveal the threading notation on the fixed cup....1.37X24 is English.
re: BB threads....BDS
May 18, 2001 8:20 AM
I didn't say that.....grz mnky
May 18, 2001 11:37 AM
I didn't say that you had Swiss threads. I said that I had Swiss threads and was making the point that there are several different types of BB threads. You just have to be aware that there are some strange things out there from time to time and one is never sure until they tear into something. You can get lucky and pull it off with out a hitch, but you also need to realize that there are potential problems.

It does sound like your bike is old, but not ancient. This is good.

I'll also be the first to admitt that working on bikes can be a hobby and a form of therapy. This has to be the only logical reason that I willingly work on my buds bikes for free (they buy the parts if needed). Either that or....... Well, I don't want to think about that right now. ;-)

It's import to ask yourself where you want to end up and how you want to get there. If you replace *everything* over time then you ultimately wind up with a new bike, but most likely an expensive new bike that took a while to obtain. If money is the limiting factor and you're willing to tinker then you can learn a lot along the way.

There really isn't a right or wrong answer it depends on what you want to accomplish. It's just that you should try and understand what you're getting into.
OK, gotcha...BDS
May 18, 2001 12:08 PM
Sorry, I must've misread you there...

See, I do like tinkering and learning the details of something new (in this case, bikes) is always fun for me. Do I think it will be easy? No. Do I think it can be done? Yes. That's why I'm asking you experts for some help. You've all been here/done it before.

I realize that upgrading isn't the most efficient, or cheapest way to get a good bike. But I can only spend a little bit at a time and think I'll enjoy the challenge.

The tangible reason is this: When I had the LBS put on the wheels, they also put on an 8 speed chain. Fair enough. But the chain was too thin to make the hop from the big to little chainrings. It kept getting stuck and eventually bent the rings apart from each other a teeny bit. Now I've switched back to the 7 speed freewheel and thicker chain, but it still gets stuck between the chainrings, meaning I still can only use the big or the small. So in order to use this bike for a few years and save for a top-end new setup, I've got to either be happy with one chainring or replace the crankset, which basically means the whole drivetrain.

I really do appreciate everyone's feedback!
Sounds Reasonable.grz mnky
May 18, 2001 1:49 PM
Just as long as you have both of your eyes wide open. Tinkering with bikes is fun, but you have to be patient.
re: I'm GOING to do this! Any help???AD14
May 19, 2001 7:25 AM
Why not calculate the total cost and spend that money on agood used bike with abetter frame and components?
re: I'm GOING to do this! Any help???LC
May 19, 2001 5:31 PM
I say go for it! The knowledge you will gain will be worth it and will put you a head of the average Joe that only knows how to turn the pedals, but not the wrench. You would not believe how much that extra knowledge will help you when you, or that busty blond on the side of the road.

You will probally need some tools, but its always handy to have these around anyway. First thing I would do is pull out that bottom bracket (there is your 1st tool needed) its probally shot anyway, and check the size out. The rest of the parts, with the exception of the headset, go on fairly easy. Watch out for those top/bottom pull and brase on/clamp on front derailluers as this is the one part that seems to give people problems with all those different combinations.
re: I'm GOING to do this! Any help???Kurt H
May 19, 2001 7:33 PM
Hi Blake,
Having just cobbled together Frankenstein's monster to commute on from an OLD frame and fork, I can relate. Therefore, I'll toss my 2 cents into the ring. Take them for what they're worth.
Cent #1) If you haven't spent a lot of time working on bikes, the first $20 I would spend would be on Lennard Zinn's "Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maint." Zinn gives a lot of practical fixes, straightforward advice, and some commentary on compatability. Since I was building up the monster as a way of learning more about fixing bikes and to have a "don't cry if it gets stolen 'cuz it's cheap" commuter, this book helped enormously on both goals. Buy it!
Cent #2) Make a choice up-front: buy a package of stuff from someone that upgraded, or buy it one piece at a time. I built up one piece at a time and, although I found some good deals on stuff individually, I nickel-and-dimed myself to death. I did it as money came available, but I probably paid more in the long run AND had to deal with some compatability issues I hadn't foreseen. If you choose to go this route, shop E-Bay and rec.bicycles.marketplace, and/or find a local shop that recycles old parts. I did a little of both. If I had it to do over again, I'd probably just buy a package deal and be done with it. Keep your eyes open, deals are out there!
Finally, I may not be the best person to ask, but feel free to e-mail me. I'll give you the best answers I can.
Best of luck!
P.S. If you want to start picking stuff up before you tear the bike apart, you can probably read the thread stamp on the side of the bottom bracket without removing the cranks. Just wipe the faces of the BB clean the best you can and slowly rotate the cranks while trying to peek in behind them. As someone else said, if it's 1.37" X 24, it's English. If it's 36 X 24 it's Italian. If it's anything else, I'd probably ditch the frame and start over or ride it as is, 'cause you've stepped into the realm of oddball stuff and finding parts may become much more difficult AND expensive.
Good news.BDS
May 22, 2001 7:42 AM
I did exactly as Kurt H said, and lo and behold, 1.37 x 24! So something's standard here. That removes a huge mental hurdle. Now I'll just start looking for compatible drivetrain components.

Thanks to everyone.