Renovating an ATB

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DavidS
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Renovating an ATB

Postby DavidS » 18 Apr 2009, 11:24pm

I have a Raleigh Activator bike, which I bought new. I can't actually remember when, but it was probably in the mid-1990s. I have 3 other bikes of various types; this is the one I use for going along canal towpaths and suchlike. I don't do any serious off-roading or mountaineering!

I am very tempted to completely dismantle it, tart it up a bit, replace the bits that need to be replaced, and give it a new lease of life. But I dare say a lot of people would say that that is a waste of time and money, and that I'd be better off buying a more up to date machine. I'd be very grateful for opinions.

The bike has cantilever brakes: these definitely need to be replaced, because the present ones have a plastic part which is either split or missing altogether. That makes centering the brakes very tricky and unreliable. Replacing them seems a relatively trivial job, though - I think even I should be able to do it without too many problems.

I would almost certainly want to change the chainset and gears, too. For a start, they are undoubtedly very worn. But also, the ratios are not to my liking. The chainset is 28/38/48 and the sprockets go from 14 to 28, which gives a gear range of about 86" down to 25". I don't want anything higher, but lower would be great. I reckon a 22/34/44 chainset with sprockets going from 13 up to a megadrive would be just the job.

But here is the first question: the bike at present only has 6 rear sprockets, so I imagine it is a block rather than a cassette (although I don't know how to tell just by looking). I would probably need to replace this with a cassette with, say, 7 or 8 sprockets. Am I correct in assuming that, because of the freewheel and because of the width of the cassette, I will need to get a new wheel?

That's enough to be going on with. But if I do go ahead, I'll undoubtedly have a lot more questions along the way.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

David

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Swizz69
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Re: Renovating an ATB

Postby Swizz69 » 19 Apr 2009, 7:50pm

If you like the bike enough, go ahead and fill yer boots :D

Rebuilt my '95 Saracen Tufftrax last year & used it for all sorts ever since whatever the weather. I upgraded both derailleurs to Deore spec, and replaced the canti's with new old stock Shimano STX items, all courtesy of Ebay...

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Shimano-STX-Mount ... 240%3A1318

The brake/gear levers were in perfect nick which is why I stuck with cantis', and since buying another bike with Deore V brakes, i'm glad I kept the canti's & prefer their feel.

Another plus of rebuilding your Raleigh is that it will remain less attractive to tealeaves than a shiny new atb with suss' & disk brakes!

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gaz
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Re: Renovating an ATB

Postby gaz » 19 Apr 2009, 8:46pm

DavidS wrote:The bike has cantilever brakes: these definitely need to be replaced, because the present ones have a plastic part which is either split or missing altogether.


First thing to consider is whether you want to stick with cantilevers or upgrade to V brakes. To upgrade to V's you'd need to change both the brake levers and the cantis. IMO if the levers are fine and you've been happy with your braking power then stick with cantis, it'll be cheaper.

Before considering e-bay don't forget the For Sale, Wanted, Free and Swaps boards on here. Many of us have old kit in the shed waiting for a new home.

DavidS wrote:But here is the first question: the bike at present only has 6 rear sprockets, so I imagine it is a block rather than a cassette (although I don't know how to tell just by looking). I would probably need to replace this with a cassette with, say, 7 or 8 sprockets. Am I correct in assuming that, because of the freewheel and because of the width of the cassette, I will need to get a new wheel?


This could get even more complicated than you think. The biggest question is the spacing of the rear dropouts. Take the wheel out and measure the gap in between. 126mm was the original standard for 6 speed, 130mm was common on MTBs of the period, 135mm is the modern ATB standard. There are solutions whatever your's measures up at but you need to know before you start buying replacement kit.

BTW freewheels ae still available in 6 and 7 speed, including 14-34 megarange.

hamster
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Re: Renovating an ATB

Postby hamster » 20 Apr 2009, 10:38am

The Activator had lookalike suspension forks - they had springs inside but no damping so were very bouncy. They also were rather bendy, leading to vague steering.
The bike had a hi-tensile steel frame, which is heavy compared to cro-mo steel frames.

Personally, I would spend the £150 (give or take) for the new bits on a replacement. There are fabulous secondhand old MTBs available here and on www.retrobike.co.uk got that kind of money that cost several hundred quid when new.

The most unfashionable bikes at present are aluminium hardtails fron around 1998-2002. These are merely old and haven't achieved any cult status. A Kona, Marin, Trek or similar from these years will ride better than upgrading the running gear on the Activator.

I ride a singlespeed 1999 Kona Cindercone built up with vanilla secondhand parts - no exotica . The bike weighs 23lb and is a joy to ride. Total cost was £140.

DavidS
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Re: Renovating an ATB

Postby DavidS » 1 May 2009, 1:24pm

gaz wrote:The biggest question is the spacing of the rear dropouts. Take the wheel out and measure the gap in between. 126mm was the original standard for 6 speed, 130mm was common on MTBs of the period, 135mm is the modern ATB standard. There are solutions whatever your's measures up at but you need to know before you start buying replacement kit.


The spacing on mine is 130mm.

BTW freewheels ae still available in 6 and 7 speed, including 14-34 megarange.


Good - 14-34 would be good with the current 28/38/48 chainset - or maybe 22/34/44, which gives a much better bottom gear without reducing the top too much.

hamster wrote:The Activator had lookalike suspension forks - they had springs inside but no damping so were very bouncy. They also were rather bendy, leading to vague steering.


I haven't noticed a problem with either poor damping or dodgy steering. For the type of terrain I want the bike for (basically canal towpaths, cycle tracks and roads where necessary) I don't think it's a problem.

Personally, I would spend the £150 (give or take) for the new bits on a replacement. There are fabulous secondhand old MTBs available here and on http://www.retrobike.co.uk got that kind of money that cost several hundred quid when new.

The most unfashionable bikes at present are aluminium hardtails fron around 1998-2002. These are merely old and haven't achieved any cult status. A Kona, Marin, Trek or similar from these years will ride better than upgrading the running gear on the Activator.


I can see the sense in this suggestion. But, having thought a lot about it, I think the rebuild makes better sense for me. If I buy second-hand, I won't really know what I'm buying in any case - I'm just not knowledgeable enough about different makes of bike etc. And also if I renovate the Raleigh, there's the satisfaction of doing the job itself!

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gaz
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Re: Renovating an ATB

Postby gaz » 1 May 2009, 2:48pm

Good luck with the renovation.

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Si
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Re: Renovating an ATB

Postby Si » 1 May 2009, 3:13pm

I once nearly put my back out lifting an activator into the back of my van. they were a tad heavy to say the least. despite that, the lad that was riding it managed to do serious off roading on it (all over the Long Mynd), Fair enough: he was a fit chap, but AFAIR it didn't fall apart under him.

It wouldn't be my choice - you can get nicer second hand for what it'll cost to do up. But if it's a choice between it and nothing then just for riding along tow paths it'll keep you going fine once updated.

glueman
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Re: Renovating an ATB

Postby glueman » 1 May 2009, 4:01pm

Rigid forked MTBs are a better bet as a hack. Less to go wrong.

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Si
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Re: Renovating an ATB

Postby Si » 1 May 2009, 4:11pm

My impression of the acivator was that despite visual appearances to the contrary it was a rigid forked MTB agfter the first couple of big hits :twisted:

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meic
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Re: Renovating an ATB

Postby meic » 1 May 2009, 4:27pm

There is a fair chance that your chainrings are made of steel.
I dont know the bike but my old Raleigh ATBhad the same ratio gears and steel front rings.
If so I doubt that they will need replacing.

Secondly My Raleigh is fitted with a 6 speed CASSETTE. Raleigh did use the not so common Shimano Uniglide 6 speed on my ATB.
It is removed by using a second chain whip to unscrew the smallest cog anti-clockwise.
If so all you need to do is reverse the individual sprockets and you can use it again, IF it is worn.
However you may never find another new Uniglide casstte so consider a new wheel when that one is worn out.
Yma o Hyd

random37
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Re: Renovating an ATB

Postby random37 » 1 May 2009, 4:29pm

Was it the silver and greeny blue one?
I was very fond of mine.They can't be that bad, because there's still at least one at every big train station in the country that takes someone to work every morning. But I honestly believe if you had a go on my bike (which was £95 secondhand), you'd think twice about whether or not you wanted to keep yours.
I have a few secondhand bits you can have for the price of postage that will keep it going, though; there's nothing wrong with that.

DavidS
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Re: Renovating an ATB

Postby DavidS » 12 Aug 2009, 6:01pm

OK, I know it's a long time since my original posts, but I've come back from my Lands-End to John o'Groats ride now (that was on a recumbent trike), and I'm starting taking the Raleigh to bits in odd moments.

The brakes need replacing, and I quite fancy V-brakes instead of cantilevers - yes, I know that means new levers as well. One book I was looking at says the bosses must be 8cm apart if you're going to use V-brakes. Is this actually true for all makes? The bosses on my bike are 9 cm apart, so does that mean I'll have to get new cantis instead?

Any advice gratefully received!

David

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Si
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Re: Renovating an ATB

Postby Si » 12 Aug 2009, 7:36pm

I had a similar problem with widely spaced mounts when trying to fit V brakes. I found that Vs that used pads that had a threaded bit coming out the back sat too far from the rim (although I think my mounts were spaced further out than yours). However, you can get Vs that take pads that clamp in place - these allow you to set them up further out and still get the right angle and good braking.

djnotts
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Re: Renovating an ATB

Postby djnotts » 12 Aug 2009, 9:44pm

The problem of old spaced bosses and cantis c.f. Vs was a common one in the mid-90s - I only recalled this when I tried fitting Vs to an early '90s Technium that I rebuilt a few weeks ago. Easiest solution was ....NOS STX RC cantis off th' 'bay!

I guess whether or not the effort and cost is worthwhile is down to the quality of the frame (and sentiment!). My current favourite bike, not the most expensive in the garage, but definitely not cheap, is based on an early '90s Kili Comp. The frame is simply lovely - and the bike is I reckon the second best I've had (at least 50) in last c.8 years.

But none of the components are anything like original!

Nor on reflection is/was it an ATB - more of an XC race bike. So no braze ons for 'grds, rack etc hence the expensive Nitto racks front and rear!

Image

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quiksilver
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Re: Renovating an ATB

Postby quiksilver » 13 Aug 2009, 5:10am

I would most definetly keep it and renovate it. If you are mostly riding towpaths and low hills had you considered converting it to singlespeed? It would save weight, cost and there is much less to go wrong. Just an idea, good luck with doing it up.