My projects, hobbies, interests, whatever.

Mountain Bike Conversion

Bicycles are amazingly efficient means of transportation. They are also relatively easy to modify and adapt to an individual’s preferences. I was looking for a touring type of bicycle in order to have something that could negotiate the local mountain fire roads as well as normal roads but not necessarily full off road use. My road bike just wasn’t going to make it off road at all. Touring bikes are difficult to obtain. They’re expensive and relatively rare since there isn’t a very big market for them. So I looked at mountain bikes.

I went through a bicycle frame design book to help figure out exactly what the frame dimensions that fit me the best are and then poured through hundreds of bicycle specs to find the right frame. i.e. a custom bike for no extra charge. The two most promising candidates were a LeMond and a Cannondale frame. The Cannondale M400 (or several other versions) could be bought very inexpensively (about $300) and came in a color I liked and is an incredible light weight frame.

From that starting point I begain to modify it to be more like a road bike but still retain some degree of off road capability. I added dropped handlebars which forces several other changes as well. Like brakes and shifters. The bars are Nitto Radenour bars which due to there shape work a little better when riding off road. The bike now needed new shifters because the mountain bike shifters no longer fit. Because of the oversized downtube of the cannondale neither would downtube shifters so I went to Shimano Barcon shifters. The brakes were V-brakes and (at the time) normal dropped handlebar brake levers would’nt work with them. I found some Diacompe levers that would and upgraded the brakes as well.

After getting all that sorted out I picked up some narrower tires with road tread and put fenders on the bike. Why fenders? Even in SoCal it seems that you’re always riding through water mostly from irrigation of some sort and I hate that stripe down my back. A rear rack, shopping bag panniers and a bag or two and I’m done. Oh, I did change the rear cogs as well to give me some really low gears for the hills around here and to compensate for a leg injury. I have also upgraded the wheels (Mavic rims) and added a Cannondale kickstand.

Latest version

After the morning ride

Modified M400

My road bike just for comparison and whatever…
My Bicycles


3 responses

  1. Michael

    Thanks! I have an M400 that I rode across WI
    A couple times with stock parts. Looking to do more commuting and solo tours and was thinking about a whole new bike. Hard for me to replace my first love, though. You’ve given me hope. Bike looks great. Any thoughts after your years riding since you published?

    January 30, 2012 at 3:34 pm

  2. Michael

    Just a quick comment with the notify button checked so I can see if other comments come in.

    January 30, 2012 at 3:35 pm

  3. jondelorey

    Unfortunately I am unable to ride due to spinal surgery so will be selling the bike. This bike worked really well thorought the Santa Monica mountains where there are lots of fire roads and nice trails. No real need for an all out mountain bike under those circumstances. This bike still looks brand new and has had no issues with breakages, etc. If I where to do this again today I would probably do pretty much the same thing. I built this up in 2000 and had to stop riding in 2008.

    January 30, 2012 at 8:35 pm

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