There are a few things going on here with my relationship to my free barn-find 1994 Bridgestone MB-5... centered around my height and the interplay between my physical capacity and the geography in the areas I ride.
First off: "It's not worth it to dump money in an entry-level obsolete bike." I understand this. I'm here to find out whether the things that I want to change on this bike are possible, not cost-effective... Assume it's a fun hobby for me instead of the easiest solution, please!
Let me introduce both of us: I'm a short-torsoed 5'2". The Bridgestone is an 18.5" frame, which sports a 24-36-46T 175mm Shimano STX crankset with five-leg (arms?) 94mm BCD spiders, and a 12-28T rear (12, 14, 16, 18, 21, 24, 28). (Also Shimano) The rear derailleur is an STX, the front derailleur I replaced, still a Shimano from a different 3x7 mountain bike. Given my measurements, 18.5" is fine. I've swapped out the handlebars and quill so that my short torso is not reaching quite as far. I'm very happy with the bike up front.
Here are my goals...
1) I want 165mm cranks
2) I want this bike geared lower because the steep hills around here kick my ass. My partner has a lower geared (3x7 mountain) bike and after finally riding mine, understands why I struggle a bit. 22T in front and 34T in back would be awesome.
Here are my problems...
3x7 drive train systems seem so obsolete that you are just out of luck unless you want slim pickins. Yes, I've found 7 speed triple cranksets. But... they are either geared at least as high as mine, or they only come with 175mm cranks. I cannot find any 165mm 94mm BCD crank arms, they all seem to be 110mm BCD, or if it's the correct BCD then they are again 175mm. Whole cranksets? there are a few 22t, 165mm out there, but.... for 9 speed.
I'm getting lots of contradicting info from the internet about whether 9 and 7 speed triple cranksets are compatible due to chain width, spacing... I'm a hands-on person, so this internet-research is super frustrating for me. I did find the Shimano FC-TX801 Tourney TX square crankset with 165mm cranks and a 22-32-42T set, but it's not available anywhere. It's exactly what I want, but that is a moot point, because I can't get it.
Can I use a 9 speed triple crankset? Do I have to buy a 7 speed crankset with the wrong sized gears but right length cranks, then swap out for a granny gear? or would I buy a crankset with the right gears and swap crank arms? What's interchangeable, what's riveted together? (it looks like a lot of the arms are not removable from the whole shebang now) Advice? Wisdom? pleeeeeaaaaaase?
Not worried about the back, I think I've found simple options for back there.
If I've missed anything or been not clear, I apologize. I hate sitting at a computer, and to boot, my computer is broken and as slow as molassas on a chilly day. I'll be happy to specify or clarify anything....