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My 23 year old love interest…

After reading fellow slow is ok rider Will’s article How to turn an old MTB into a gravel bike, it made me realise I’d never shared the conversion of my GT.

Backstory

A little background on this bike. It’s a 1998 GT Tequesta in the delightfully named “Atomic Grape” — a rather pleasant metallic blue/purple paint. As a kid I was obsessed with GT’s and the GT race team. Steve Peat was (and still is) a hero for me. I have a really vivd memories of going to NASS (Think it was called Nation Adventure Sports Weekend back then) at the Bath & West Showground and got to watch the display team in the mid/late 90’s.

I used to read through the brochures and ad pages in the magazine dreaming of having one. Then, for my birthday in 98 I was lucky enough to get one! I remember at the time it was available in yellow which I wanted, but it was sold out in my size so I had to get it the grape. My friend Chris had the exact same bike and I wanted mine to be different, but we ended up twinning! This was my first proper MTB. I had always had second hand or cheap bikes before. It was initially rigid but for my next birthday I upgraded it with some RockShox forks.

This bike was a pillar bike for me. I learnt to dirt jump on it and also rode the furtherest I’d ever been, did my first river crossing on it and even ended up in hospital because of it… the bike has dents, chips and scars and so do I! It was a memory maker.

The seat post clamp snapped one day after a bad jump and so it got neglected as new bikes replaced it and it ending up going to the back of my parents garage collecting dust and cobwebs. Unlike the bikes after though, it wasn’t stolen or sold it just stayed there.

Project Bivvy Bike Resto

Fast forward to 2020 — we all know what happened and I had more time on my hands and needed a little focus project, something to look forward too. I’d been talking about restoring it for years, but as with many things in life never got round to it. But now I had some real motive. I had been prompted by my friend Dan who had just made a bivvy bike resto which got me thinking, that it would be the perfect steady as fuck overnight camping rig and mellow shredder. My wife was keen to start cycling again too and having another bike with easy gearing and a smaller size would also be ideal for her.

Dan’s rad “Bivvy Bike”. Repping Araf in the fork!

After chatting to Dan and working out which parts I wanted to make the conversion, I got to work collecting bits.

The first thing I wanted to do, since the bike hadn’t been ridden for over 15 years, was take it for a spin and work out what needed upgrading. First on the list was a new seat post so I could actually ride it, along with a much more modern stem – damn they liked them longbois back in the day!

Phase 1 — Making it ridable again.

It’s funny how simple things can totally transform a bike. Whilst I could of actually kept a lot I felt it was a good time to modernise it a bit, for easier maintenance and also to make it ride better. The shocks were long dead and since they were entry level and not anything special it didn’t seem worth investing in restoring them. I also didn’t want to invest too much in new suspension so decided to opt for some rigid forks. After seeing Dans the One One 26er’s looked perfect.

This also presented another opportunity to upgrade — brakes… or more specifically brake! Since the front brake is the most important one I decided to upgrade this to a disc. The V-Brakes are Avid and again, thanks to Dan, I managed to find mechanical Avid one that paired straight up with the existing levers. I’d love to get a frame builder to braise a rear mounted one, but for the time being running a mullet set up is better than before!

As is the way, this leads into another upgrade, discs won’t mount to the original wheels! Finding 26" wheels that are both disc & rim compatible is not easy. Luckily I found a wheel builder that put together a cheap set for £100. This bike isn’t going to be ridden super hard and its something that will go on the “nice to upgrade” at a later date. I imagine that being, getting a rear disc done and a new set of wheels.

Coming together!

The keen eyed among you might have noticed some things in the last photo… Firstly the larger cassette. Secondly the dangling crank arm! The next item on the list was the drivetrain. Whilst the original drivetrain was still in great condition (considering how hard it got beat on) I wanted to upgrade to 1 by for simplicity and future maintenance.

I don’t think the bike has been serviced in this century and for the life of me I couldn’t get it that last arm off and I didn’t want to cause any damage. I was hoping I could do this whole conversion myself, but this was a blessing in disguise. It was an opportunity to get it built up properly and riding better than it has ever been in its life.

I hit up my buddy Tim of Forever Pedalling and not only was he up for helping out, but he was also stoked to be involved! So big shout out for him for getting me over that final hurdle and finishing this project to serve me hopefully for the next 20 odd years, if not longer!

The Final Thing

To say I’m stoked on it an understatement. Getting to continue riding on something that has already created some many fond memories is hard to explain. But I am absolutely loving riding it! If you have an old bike collecting dust I couldn’t recommend it more highly and even if you don’t and this has inspired you to may be track down that dream bike you could never get and turn it into a modern gravel basher or bivvy bike, GO AND DO IT!

The final steed.

I’ll finish up with the spec of upgrades along with some nice photos. Whilst this could have been done a lot cheaper, a good service and set of new tyres is all you really need, it was a nice opportunity to give this bike some new life and well worth the investment.

The Upgrades

Fork: On One 26er
Drive: Shimano Deore M6000 1x10 w/10–42 Cassette
Cranks: Hankun iXF w/ 34t Chain Ring
Wheels: Non-Brand Custom Built
Stem: XLC Comp
Tyres: Schwalbe Billy Bonkers

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Sharing steady as fuck adventures. #slowisok

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