My goal is to simplify Swift's component set, preferably without adding a ton of weight (since I have the upper-body strength of an anemic 8-year-old, and 'cross involves — ZOMG — CARRYING TEH BIKE!!1 OH NOES!!!11!1). Since the idea is to take some stuff off (including two whole chainrings and a derailleur that I never really use), I don't think that's going to be a big problem.
I'm still debating whether I'm feeling bold enough to try working on my beloved Swiftie myself, especially when I live in a town with several very good LBSs that I like to support. I'll probably wind up sketching out what I'm looking for here, then taking Swift over to Parkside to see what we can accomplish.
It's possible (even probably) that slapping a bunch of upgrades on Swift will cost me as much as or more than a decent used 'cross bike — but I don't really want to add another bike to the stable right now. Or, rather, I want to, but I am trying to curb my impulse to own things I don't really need. A solid winter bike (that doesn't technically belong to my roomie) is a must-have, but if I can build one out of a bike I already own and love, I think it's a good practice to do so, especially if I can support the local economy whether I buy or build.
So here's what I'm thinking about doing. Please tell me if I'm insane:
- Remove front derailleur.
- Replace current triple crankset (170mm) with single 48t, 50t, or 52t ring on new crankset.
- Add chainguard or bash guard, as situation warrants.
- Add clipless combo pedals (the kind that let you ride clipless or not, as the occasion warrants)
- Swap out 7-speed 12-28 cluster with 7-speed 11-30 or 11-32. OR
- If feasible (both cost- and physics-wise), switch to 8-speed 11-32 cluster.
- Possibly swap out rear derailleur*, as the existing one is pretty old and not that great to begin with, and could probably stand to be replaced.
- Front end:
- Swap out flat bars for drops, if financially feasible.
- Add 'cross levers if drops are added.
- Remove front shifter, as it won't be needed.
- Wheels, tires, and miscellany:
- Swap out wheelset with Traveller's (alloy rims = better stopping power in wet conditions)
- Replace 700x40s with 700x32 'cross tires
The possible down side here is that my planned updates might make Swift a bit too much bike for friends to ride, unless I opt for the 48t ring up front.
Swift already has appropriate brakes for 'cross, as well as a set of clip-on fenders (maybe I'll invest in some not-so-clip-on ones?). Right now, he tips the scales at about 22 pounds, which isn't bad at all.
I haven't nailed down details like make/model of replacement bits — my plan is to get the best stuff I can afford (used is fine, as long as it's in good shape) so durability won't be a problem.
If I thought I had the chops, I'd say, 'Screw it, let's go singlespeed!' but I don't. Maybe next near :D To be honest, though, I like having the option of using gears, especially when commuting. It means I don't do stupid stuff and kill myself. Plus, I don't need to over-stress the tendons around my left knee before they're back to 100% capacity. I'm crazy, yes — but not that crazy :D
*I'm guessing that with the range I'm looking at, a mountain RD is probably going to be the way to go. That's what Swift has now, anyway.