The X.9 Twist Shifters
The X.9 Twist Shifters

How can I save my old Cannondale mountain bike?

I have an old Cannondale mountain bike that I purchased in 1996 or '97. The F500 is an aluminum fre that I think would make a great bike if I overhaul all of the components, including an upgrade to nine-speed. Where do I start in choosing my drivetrain, other components, and re-outfitting my fre? Gary Austin, TX

The X.9 Twist Shifters

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Normally I’d suggest you start over. Bike design has progressed a long way since 1997. But the F500 (new, $1,000 or so) is a fairly well-regarded bike. Good frame, solid construction, a little on the stiff side but a capable cross-country bike.

The X.9 Twist Shifters The X.9 Twist Shifters

So, probably worth upgrading. But I wouldn’t go overboard. I think it would be entertaining to go mostly SRAM, just to break from the ordinary. A nice start point would be SRAM X.9 Twist Shifters ($85), designed for nine-speed. I think you’ll like grip-shifting. I find it intuitive and it works well. Add a SRAM X.7 rear derailleur ($65), SRAM X.7 front derailleur ($35), and SRAM PG-90 rear cassette ($70), and a SRAM crank XX Crank ($429). Nice setup. Tekro M530s are nice brake calipers ($90 a set). And, wheels…maybe Rhyno Lites on Shimano XT hubs, $275 or so.

You can find all this stuff online from a number of sellers. Performance, Nashbar, and others. Check Pricepoint for deals on things. And talk to your local bike shop. They have all this stuff, too.

The big question is: Are you going to do this yourself? It’s not hard, and likely entertaining. But it also takes some tools and a little bike know-how. If you haven’t got a good tool set, I’d suggest just going to your local bike shop, tell them what you want to do, and let them take over.