Vintage MTB to Gravel Bike Conversion | Restoration with No Experience

Updated: Apr 22, 2021


I found this 1980's mountain bike on craigslist about 3 years ago for 30 bones.

During our van adventures in 2018 I took this mountain bike everywhere. From riding around the monuments in Washington D.C., to trails in Jasper, Alberta, Canada, and all the way up north to Denali in Alaska. We even rode in a downhill bike part in Alyeska, AK. This wasn't the best downhill bike, but it lasted all day and I had a blast!

After upgrading to a Cannondale mountain bike, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my Bridgestone for sometime until I came across the idea of gravel bikes. What are gravel bikes? good question. They are bikes you ride on gravel:) Not only that, but they are essentially road bikes that are built a little stronger and have beefy tires so that you can ride your bike for miles and miles on desolate gravel roads or trails. Most people who bike pack use these bikes to haul all their gear for a multi-day adventure. These bikes are built for endurance and exploring areas that are less traveled without leaving a carbon footprint. Another benefit to this type of exploring is feeling more connected with the world around you as you pedal through nature. This is something I can get into, so I decided to do a gravel bike conversion. Only problem was I couldn't find much information on how to do this so I had to learn on the fly and this is what I learned through this conversion process:


My goal for this bike was to have:

-tubeless tires and tubeless wheels eventually

-drop handlebars

-leather wrap handlebar tape

-1x10 drive train

-38 tooth chain ring

-11-50 tooth cassette

-let's get to work!!

The tubeless tires and tubeless wheels will be a gradual conversion. I just bought some tires for this bike for the mountain bike adventures, so I will continue to use these old ones until I need some new ones. I did get a new rear wheel, but I am still using a tube for the tire as previously stated. The wheels are a little pricey so I am okay with waiting for the front wheel until I absolutely need it. I am also not having any issues with running a tube in a tubeless wheel, so that is a good thing!



The drop handlebars are essential for gravel bikes. Enough said. This was relatively simple to install I had to buy a stem adapter to make this work. The don't makes stems like they used to so this took some time for me to figure out how to make this work. Just follow my parts list posted above to help you out.


The leather wrap handlebar tape is just cool. Any questions? There are plenty of YouTube videos on how to install this properly.




The 1x10 drive train. This is the tricky part because the original bike was a 3x6 drive train. I am switching this because I love the 1x system. It is simple to operate and less weight.





The 38 tooth chain ring. With a 50 tooth being the biggest sprocket on the cassette, this 38 tooth chain ring will have plenty of climbing performance without sacrificing the top speed like most 1x mountain bikes do.















The 11-50 tooth cassette. 11 is standard and 50 is huge. I have never rode a 50 tooth before and now after a 100 miles on my gravel bike, I am glad I went with this option.










To wrap this up I included the parts list above and some pictures of the finished product below. And at the end of all the scrolling I included the video from YouTube that my talented wife put together!! Enjoy:)




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