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Bicycle Refurbishing and Upgrading Tips

This page includes some tips concerning the maintenance, refurbishing and upgrading of vintage bikes. It includes specifications on vintage Treks that can be used to select replacement parts. Included is a list of places where you can get additional information and where to get vintage repair parts. Click on the menu items below to take you to that topic.

Before you start wrenching on a bike that is not new, I strongly suggest you apply a penetrating oil, such as WD-40, Liquid Wrench or Kroil, to anything you want to unscrew without breaking. That little screw may look inexpensive, but replacing it may entail buying a new brake caliper or derailleur. If the part is stuck, applying liberally and waiting overnight can be the best insurance against a sharp snap, followed by anguish and despair.

SOURCES OF GENERAL VINTAGE LIGHTWEIGHT INFORMATION
HOW TO CONTACT TREK TECHNICAL SUPPORT
HOW TO FIND VINTAGE BIKE PARTS
BASIC SPECS FOR VINTAGE TREK STEEL ROAD BIKES
STEEL TUBING SPECS FOR EARLY TREKS
HELICOMATIC HUBS
PAINT
TREK DECALS
PAINT TOUCH UP
INTERNAL RUSTPROOFING OF A FRAME
THREADING THE DERAILLEUR CABLE THROUGH THE CHAINSTAY
CONVERTING FROM A QUILL STEM TO A MODERN THREADLESS STEM
ADDING MORE REAR COGS OR CONVERTING TO INDEX SHIFTING
UPGRADING FROM A DOUBLE TO TRIPLE CRANK

CONVERTING FROM 27" DIAMETER WHEELS TO 700C WHEELS
SPREADING REAR DROPOUTS
IS IT COLUMBUS TUBING?

SOURCES OF GENERAL VINTAGE LIGHTWEIGHT BIKE INFORMATION

Sheldon Brown has placed an extraordinary number of excellent bike articles on his web site. See them at http://www.sheldonbrown.com/articles.html.

Classic Rendezvous Lightweight Vintage Bicycles Mailing List - This list is probably the best source of information on pre 1984 bikes. These folks are the heavyweights of classic lightweight collecting, so to speak ;-). Many famous names, people with hundreds of bikes, at least one with a thousand bikes. Important - Read the rules before posting. The list was moved to Google Groups in February of 2011. To join the new group one must obtain a Google Groups account and then apply for membership into the Classic Rendezvous Lightweight Vintage group. Membership is required to submit postings and also to even view the postings. Dale Brown runs a tight ship, making the C/R list wonderfully informative. Chat about other than vintage lightweights is done elsewhere.

The Classic Rendezvous posts made prior to February 2011 can be searched here: http://search.bikelist.org/.

The oldroads.com Vintage Lightweights Discussion forum is an informal source of information. http://oldroads.com/d_ltw_def.asp?rec_count=1. Few rules there. You can search past posts.

The iBOB discussion list is another good source of information. You will have to join first but it is easy, go to: http://groups.google.com/group/internet-bob. iBOB is Bridgestone Owners Bunch, but they have a kinship with old Treks and their owners. Their vintage interest overlaps with the dates of vintage Treks. Many big names in cycling here taking time to help others. You will get 40 or more emails/day from the list. It is now moderated, making it a much more pleasant way of interacting.

HOW TO CONTACT TREK TECHNICAL SUPPORT

Trek Technical Support web contact interface:
http://www.trekbikes.com/faq/contact.php

NOTE: This address changes fairly frequently, If the above does not work, dive into the trekbikes.com site and track it down.

HOW TO FIND VINTAGE BIKE PARTS

For most people, before the advent of the Internet, it was difficult to find parts for old bikes. Most of us were not fortunate enough to have a nearby shop that specialized in used bikes and parts. Not everyone had the patience for swap meets or garage sales or knew how to find collectors (their spouses know them as hoarders) of parts who were willing to share.

Buying another used bike to get a needed part is an oft-used technique. However, this usually produces a number of nonfunctional bikes in one's garage; requiring more parts to get them running. This downward spiral results in less and less available garage space.

Now, one can search eBay.com for both used and new old stock (NOS) parts. One can also search for parts for sale on various forums or discussion lists (see the Buy/Sell page for a list of some of these). One also can post a wanted notice on the forum or list describing what you want. Most members of these lists get enjoyment out of placing an unneeded part with a good home; the monetary return is secondary.

There also are online bike component stores that handle NOS or used parts. Here are a few of these stores:

THE BICI is one of the world's largest online providers of NOS Road bike parts - http://www.the-bici.com/
Harris Cyclery - http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/
Loose Screws Bicycle Small Parts - http://www.loosescrews.com/
Bicycle Classics - http://www.bicycleclassics.com/
Rivendell Bicycle Works - http://www.rivbike.com

Here are some of the leading online bike and bike component stores selling new modern parts:

Performance Bicycle - http://www.performancebike.com/
Bike Nashbar - http://www.nashbar.com/
Colorado Cyclist - http://www.coloradocyclist.com/
Alfred E. Bike - http://aebike.com/

BASIC SPECS FOR VINTAGE TREK STEEL ROAD BIKES

Seatpost Diameter - Nearly all road Treks prior to the mid 90s have the standard seatpost diameter of 27.2mm. Exceptions are Models TX200 and TX300, which have a diameter of 26.8mm, and the Model 170 at 27.4mm. Additionally, a 1985 Model 2000 (aluminum bonded frame) with a 27.4mm seatpost has been reported. For newer Treks, tandems, and mountain bikes, see the Trek technical manuals on this page: http://www.vintage-trek.com/trek-fisher-klein-lemond.htm. The manuals on that page span the period from 1995 through 2005. Additional information is on Sheldon Brown's Seatpost Size Database.

Seat Tube Outside Diameter - 28.6mm or 1 1/8 inches. (The front derailleur clamps onto this tubing size.)

Stem Diameter - 22.2mm (7/8"). This is the current standard size. Vintage Treks came with quill-type stems, rather than the currently-used threadless stem.

A 1982 730 and a 1983 720 have been reported using a stem size of 0.833" (21.15mm); a 22.2 stem was too big. The owner of the 730, Jack Romaine, found that a 22.2 stem would fit into the bottom end of the steerer tube. (Hmmmmm - the plot thickens.) Upper-level steerer tubes are butted (thicker wall size, smaller internal diameter) at the bottom end of the tube. Apparently, Trek fork builders brazed at least two steerer tubes upside down. Jack sanded the I.D. of the upper end of his steerer to make it larger, enabling him to use a 22.2mm stem.

Stem Clamp Diameter (Handlebar Diameter) - The majority of vintage road Treks (with drop handlebars) have a clamp diameter of 25.4mm. Two exceptions: 1. the Cinelli bars and stems, used on upper level bikes, use a 26.4mm clamp diameter. (Since 1998, Cinelli has used a 26.0mm diameter.) and 2. the French-made Belleri bars, used on some mid-80s models, have a clamp diameter of 26.0mm (our thanks to Richard Kaufman). Mountain or hybrid bikes (with straight or or raised handlebars) take a 25.4mm handlebar.

Headset - 1" dia. (ISO) headset (the most common standard headset). Vintage Treks take threaded headsets in contrast to the more modern threadless headsets. When replacing the headset, remember that stack height (the vertical space taken up by the headset) is important. You should try to match the old height. If the new height is too tall, you won't be able to screw on the lock nut (big problem). If too short, you will need to add a spacer(s) that you can buy at your LBS (local bike shop).

Bottom Bracket - All are the standard (most common) English/Japanese spec of 68mm wide with threads of 1.37" x 24 TPI.

Rear Dropout Spacing - Early Vintage Treks, 1976 to 1982 (or so), have a rear dropout spacing of 120mm. After 82, spacing increased to 126mm to accommodate 6 or 7 speed hubs. Spacing went to 130mm with the advent of 8 speed cassettes, which were phased in on Trek bikes from 1991 - 95. Modern 9- and 10-speed road hubs still use the 130mm spacing.

Frame Size - Trek used two measurements for frame size. As their primary measurement, Trek measured their frames in inches from the center of the bottom bracket shell to the top of the top tube. This is called "center to top" or "c to t" or "c-t". Trek also provided a measurement, in centimeters, from the center of the bottom bracket shell to the center of the top tube. This is called "center to center" or "c to c" or "c-c". It is measurement "A" in this drawing. Both of these measurements are taken along the center of the seat tube, not vertically up to the top tube. (Note: The frame geometry drawings in the 84 catalog incorrectly show measure "A" as to the top of the top tube instead of to the center of the top tube.)

Trek made early production vintage Treks in these sizes: 19.75" (or occasionally 19" instead), 21" 22.5, 24" and 25.5". In the late 80s, Trek added 18" and 19" frames and dropped the 19.75" size for some models. Trek custom frames and some upper level racing frames, were typically measured in cm, (cc) although some drawings show frame sizes in cm and mean center to top. Jeff Paterson noticed in the 1981 catalog that the 25.5" Model 610 and 710 are shown with two different "A" measurements, 62 and 63 cm respectively. Rather than being a typo, this probably shows actual differences in the geometries and suggests 25.5" frames are "nominally" that size.

STEEL TUBING SPECS FOR EARLY TREKS

A common question is: "What is are the differences between the various tubing types used in early Trek bikes." Related to that question is: "How does this affect 'ride quality'?"

In addition to tubing properties, factors such as rider weight and strength, frame size and geometry and frame builder talent affect ride quality. The ride quality experienced by a 150 pound rider on a bike designed for him/her will be quite different from the experience of a 250 pound rider on that same bike.

The flexibility of a tube is described by its Young's modulus (also called the modulus of elasticity). The steel alloys used in the various tubesets provided by manufacturers have the same modulus of elasticity. The yield strength and tensile strength (see Table 2) are important properties of the steel used in bike tubing, but come into play only when the frame is stressed enough to be permanently bent or broken.

Tubing diameter affects frame rigidity, but the vast majority of steel frames, including all vintage Trek frames, have the same outside diameter. So - the tubing wall thickness is the tubing characteristic that most strongly affects frame rigidity. Wall thicknesses are given in the Table 1 below:

Table 1 - TUBING WALL THICKNESSES*

Tubing Name

Wall Thickness, mm

Tubeset
Weight**, gm

top
tube
down
tube
seat
tube
fork
blades
chain
stays
seat
stays

Columbus SL
09/06/0.9
09/0.6/0.9
0.6/0.9
0.9
0.7
0.7
1925
Columbus SP
1.0/0.7/1.0
1.0/0.7/1.0
0.7/1.0
1.05
1
1
2295
Ishiwata 022
0.9/0.6/0.9
0.9/0.6/0.9
0.9/0.6
1
0.8
0.8
2185
Ishiwata Magny-X
0.9/0.6/0.9
0.9/0.6/0.9
0.9/0.6
1
0.8
0.8
2420
Reynolds 501
0.9/0.6/0.9
0.9/0.6/0.9
0.9/0.6
0.9
0.9
0.9
2300
Reynolds 531, 531C
0.8/0.5/0.8
0.9/0.6/0:9
0.8/0.5
1.0/0.5
0.8
0.8
2050
Reynolds 531CS
0.8/0.5/0.8
0.9/0.6/0:9
0.8/0.5
0.9?
0.9
0.9
2150 (est.)
Reynolds 531P
07/05/0.7
0.8/0.5/0.8
0.7/0.5
1.0/0.5
0.6
0.5
1900
Reynolds 531ST
08/05/0.8
1.0/0.7/1.0
0.8/0.5
1.2/0.8
0.8
0.9
2200
Reynolds 753R
0.1/0.5/0.7
0.8/0.5/0.8
0.7/0.5
1.0/0.5
0.6
0.5
1800
Tange 2001
Mangalloy
1.0/0.7/1.0
1.0/0.7/1.0
1.0/0.7/0.85
1
0.9
0.9
2415
True Temper RC2
0.9/0.6/0.9
09/06/0.9
0.9/0.6
N/A
0.8
0.76/0.97
N/A


Table 2 - TUBING TENSILE STRENGTH AND YIELD STRENGTH*

Tubing Name
Tensile strength, psi
Yield Strength, psi
Columbus SP, SL
128,000
107,000
Ishiwata 022
113,790
106,675
Ishiwata Magny-X
106,675
99,560
Reynolds 501
116,500
?
Reynolds 531
116,500
100,800
Reynolds 753
168,000
134,000
Tange 2001 Mangalloy
112,650
?
True Temper RC2
110,000
?

* Most of the information in Tables 1 and 2 was extracted from Jalon Hawk's DesperadoCycles.com web site. Included at his site is Jalon's excellent write up of the geometry and physical properties of the various tubings and what it all means.

**Tubeset weight is not consistent among tubing manufacturers. The length of some of the tubes in a set is different between makers as is the length of butted sections. As a result, the total tubeset weights are not indicative of the relative weight of the resulting bike.

HELICOMATIC HUBS

Trek used Maillard Helicomatic rear hubs on some road bike Models in the mid 80s. They were a clever French innovation using a special cassette (of cogs) that mounts onto a special hub. Great idea, but poorly engineered and tested; they proved to be unreliable. For more information, see Sheldon Brown's comments at http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gloss_ha-i.html#helicomatic and at The Yellow Jersey http://www.yellowjersey.org/helico.html.

What to do if you have one on your Trek and it no longer works, or you want a more reliable setup? People often replace the Helicomatic hub/wheel with a freewheel wheel or freehub wheel. If they are concerned about originality, they keep their original wheel and work to find a replacement for the hub or cassette. They show up occasionally on Ebay.com.

PAINT

Vintage Trek bikes were originally painted with DuPont Imron paint. Imron is a two part paint that is difficult to use by other than professional painters. Imron is still available from DuPont. Some frame painters still use it today. However, some localities have clean air regulations that prohibit its use.

Classic Rendezvous provides a list of expert bike frame painters and refinishers. Desperado Cycles uses Imron as do Joe Bell Bicycle Refinishing, Rad Finishes and Spectrum Cycles. If you know of other painters who do, please let me know.

Many of the Imron colors used by Trek are still available. Trek generally used the same Imron color name as did DuPont, so it often is possible to match the original color. The Joe Bell Bicycle Refinishing web site has a PDF copy of the Imron color chart on its site.

For many years, Trek had a service to repaint an old Trek for an owner or bike shop. It would not reproduce the original colors and graphics, but used the then current year graphics and colors. This way, a bike might have been made in one year but have paint and graphics from a later year. The repaint service was discontinued around 2010.

TREK DECALS

One source of reproduction Trek decals is VeloCals.com. Here are examples of reproduction Trek graphics made by VeloCals. You can contact JR Anderson of VeloCals at wandson1@msn.com.

PAINT TOUCH UP

Because the paint used on Vintage Treks, Imron, is a two-part paint, it is difficult to use for touchup. Many serious bike collectors use Testor's paint. It comes in little bottles and spray cans. It is used for car and airplane models and can be found at hobby shops in lots of colors. If you can't find a match, mix a couple of colors together.

Richard Kaufman writes: "Testor's "Model Master" Enamel Paint in FRENCH BLUE is a virtual match for the Dupont Imron "Race Blue" on my '85 Trek 600. No mixing with other colors required, in my opinion."

Car paint touch up paint also works fine. Get it at a car parts store or car dealer. The bottle comes with its own paintbrush. Color matching can take a bit of work, you may need to mix two or more bottles.

Others have had good luck with fingernail polish, red bikes are especially good for this but, depending on the latest fashion, other colors work as well.

Another option is take the bike to a specialty shop that sells auto paints (not just an auto body shop). They will scan the paint on the bike and mix a perfect match. They can give you the paint in a jar or can put it in a spray bottle. It is a bit pricey; on the order of $60.

THREADING THE DERAILLEUR CABLE THROUGH THE CHAINSTAY

Trek ran the rear derailleur cable through the right chainstay for most of their steel road bikes beginning in 1985 and ending in 1989. A clever idea - that has its supporters and detractors. However, cleverness is also required when replacing the cable. Rich Tong's "Tong Family Blog" lists some helpful methods.

INTERNAL RUSTPROOFING OF A FRAME

Unlike some other frame materials, a steel frame does not degrade through normal use or simply through age. However, if a steel bike is ridden in the rain or is kept outdoors, rust on the inside surfaces of the frame tubing can be a problem. A way to check if your frame has been damaged by rust is to remove the bottom bracket and look at the bottom bracket shell and the tubes. Some rust is normal, but lots of rust or significant pitting can be a problem.

To prevent, or significantly reduce, internal rusting, people spray the inside of the tubes with a rust preventative. Two excellent products are "Frame Saver" by J. Peter Weigle and "Boeshield T-9" developed by Boeing. Frame Saver dries to a wax-like coating. It is available at most pro bike shops and over the web. Boeshield T-9 is a protectant and lubricant; it stays oily. Which to use? Peter Weigle is a custom frame maker (support a fellow bike guy). Boeing makes lots of great things that fly, but I believe bikes are not included . . .

People also use LPS 3, a heavy-duty rust inhibitor, which leaves a transparent waxy film. It is commonly available at hardware stores in spray cans.

A simple solution is to spray the insides with WD-40 penetrating oil. It dries to a thin, varnish-like coating that protects the metal. Not quite as good as the three products above, but much better than nothing at all. (BTW - because of this drying characteristic, WD-40 should not be used as a long-term lubricant.)

The rustproofing products above generally do not require removing the rust inside the frame tubes before applying. However, cleaning the inside of the bottom bracket and the headtube of loose rust is a good idea. To treat, remove the bottom bracket, headset and seat post. Spray into every opening in the frame, including the vent holes in the stays. Then, I like to tape over the openings and rotate the frame slowly a few times in various directions, to be sure that all internal surfaces are soaked. Remove the tape and let the excess run out. For the waxy coating types, and WD-40, it it best to allow a day or two drying time before reassembling.

CONVERTING FROM A QUILL STEM TO A MODERN THREADLESS STEM

Your vintage bike came with a quill stem. Can it be converted to a more modern threadless stem? NO, YES, and YES.

NO - The steerer tube on the original fork is almost certainly not long enough to use a full threadless system.

YES - A new fork which has a sufficiently long steerer tube is required. New forks typically are made for threadless stems, and have no threads on the steerer tube. One can employ a used fork from a (much) larger bike that has a sufficiently long steer tube. However, any threaded upper portion of the used fork must be cut off. In this conversion, a threadless headset will be required.

CAUTION - You should NOT attach the threadless stem to the threaded portion of a fork's steerer tube. The steerer tube may (will) break at the threads. This can result in a dramatic alteration of the rider's appearance.

YES - There is an adapter one can buy that has a quill at one end and a cylinder at the other. The quill is inserted into the steerer tube and tightened. The threadless stem is clamped onto the cylindrical end. These threadless stem adapters are available at most bike shops or on the Internet at places like performancebike.com or nashbar.com. Cost is about $20.

UPGRADING FROM A DOUBLE TO TRIPLE CRANK

This is a common upgrade for people living in hilly areas. It can be done by replacing a double crank with a triple crank or by attaching a triple chainring adapter, a triplizer, to the existing double crank. Information on tripleizers (triple chainring adapters), has been provided here by Don Gillies.

What new/used parts do you need to replace a double crank with a triple?

  • Triple right crank
  • Longer bottom bracket axle or new bottom bracket
  • Wide range rear derailleur (either a road triple or mountain bike triple)
  • Longer chain
  • STI or Ergo triple front shifter or a friction shifter capable of handling a triple (most can).
  • A new front derailleur may be needed if: 1. the existing one doesn't have enough range to shift to the inner and outer rings, or 2. if the chain drags on the tail of the derailleur when in the small ring.

If you want to use a small inner ring, less than 30 teeth or so, (touring over the Rockies, stump pulling or just peace of mind) and a large ring of 50 teeth or more, a new front derailleur with a long tail will probably be required. Here are some suggestions for long-tailed front derailleurs (all no longer made): Huret Duo Par, Huret Pilot, SunTour Cyclone MK II, Simplex SJA 522, Simplex SJA 102, Shimano N-600, SunTour Mountech. A Campagnolo Super Record front will work with inner rings down to about 28 teeth.

Drew Saunders has detailed information on making a double to triple conversion. http://www.stanford.edu/~dru/tripleize.html. This page also describes the use of the "tripleizer" chain ring.

A Campagnolo Nuovo or Super Record double crank arm can be converted to a triple by drilling and tapping the crank arm to accept a 74mm BCD inner chainring. It requires some precision, so don't try it with a hand drill. Various shops can do it for you, including Elliott Bay Bicycles in Seattle.

An alternative to a new bottom bracket is to add a longer axle to the existing cup and cone bottom bracket. It may not be easy to determining the length needed. See Sheldon Brown's Bottom Bracket Size Database for a discussion of this problem: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/bbsize.html. Vintage Trek road bike bottom bracket shells are the English/Japanese standard 68mm wide. Used parts can be found at bicycle swap meets, used bike shops, or on eBay.com

If you are able to find a vintage used road triple crank, you may have a challenge finding a bottom bracket or crank axle of the right length. See Sheldon Brown's site, http://www.sheldonbrown.com/bbsize.html, for guidance.

For a vintage Trek, a common setup is to find a used Sugino AT crankset (triple) and use a Shimano UN52 or UN72 or UN73 sealed bottom bracket with 127.5mm axle. This may require a 2mm spacer on the right bottom bracket end to provide sufficient spacing between the small ring and the chainstay. The spacer is typically available at your local bike shop.

One possible solution to the crank axle length problem is to take the crank and bike to your local bike shop. Ask them to sell you a new bottom bracket and install it for you. It is likely the will have only Shimano sealed bottom brackets to choose from. They may have to do some trial an error fitting, trying a few bottom brackets until they come up with one that works. Let them know that using a 1mm or 2mm spacer on the right side is OK.

ADDING MORE REAR COGS OR CONVERTING TO INDEX SHIFTING

Vintage Treks typically came with 5 or 6 or 7 rear cogs. More modern rear hubs have 8, 9 or 10 cogs. Can an old Trek be modified to have more cogs? Yes, but it does take some money and work.

First, you must decide on the number of rear gears you want. If you want more than 8 gears in the rear, it is likely you will need a new crank. A 9 speed chain will likely fall between the chainwheels. A 10 speed chain is more of a problem.

A modern Shimano road hub with 130mm spacing can take a 8, 9 or 10 speed cassette. With a commercially-available spacer, the hub can be used with a 7 speed cassette. This road hub requires 130mm rear dropout spacing (see the Spreading Rear Dropouts section below).

Campagnolo and Shimano components are generally not compatible with each other if index shifting (click shifting) is your goal. Campy or Shimano rear shifters will not work with the other's rear derailleurs or cassettes. (An exception is that 9 speed hubs/wheels can be used, imperfectly, with the other's equipment.) Cassettes of one manufacturer will not fit on the other's rear hubs. However, Campy and Shimano front shifters and derailleurs are usually compatible.

If you are going to buy new road components of a single manufacturer, the components will be compatible, if a common speed (8, 9 or 10) for the parts is specified. If you are going to use components of different years and models, there are some incompatibilities of which you should be aware. The book "Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance" by Leonard Zinn contains details of these problems.

What is needed to convert from a freewheel hub (5, 6, or 7 speeds) to a cassette hub system with index shifting?

  1. A rear hub capable of carrying a cassette with the targeted number of gears. (This usually entails buying a new wheel.)
  2. A cassette with the desired number of cogs, that matches the new rear hub.
  3. New shifters that are made for the number of cogs on the cassette.
  4. Cable stops to replace the downtube shifters (if you are using integrated brake lever/shifters [AKA brifters] or barcon [bar end] shifters).
  5. New rear derailleur designed for index shifting. A caution - a rear derailleur designed for a lower number of cogs (e.g. 7) will shift cogs with more gears, BUT - there may not be clearance between the derailleur and the spokes.
  6. Front derailleur designed for index shifting. If you want to friction shift, almost any front derailleur will work.
  7. New chain designed for the targeted number of cogs in the cassette. A modern 8 speed chain will also work with 5, 6, or 7 speed cogs. Nine cogs require 9 speed chains; ten cogs require 10 speed chains.

If your bike has brazed-on bosses for downtube shifters, to convert from 5 or 6 speed shifters you probably can find 7 (or rarely, 8) speed Shimano indexed downtube shifters that will fit.

Many conversions use Shimano bar end (also called barcon) indexed shifters. They were available in 7 and 8 speeds (find used or NOS on eBay.com). Nine-speed barcons are still available new. Bar-end shifters avoid the expense of STI integrated brake levers/shifters and allows you to keep your current brake levers. They require replacing your downtube shifters with downtube cable stops.

A caution - some downtube clamp-on shifter bosses made for friction shifting, that may be on your lower to mid-level Trek bike, are not compatible with standard shifters that fit on brazed-on bosses. Downtube cable stops also will not fit on these nonstandard types of clamp-on bosses. Types that do not work are various Shimano ones, including Shimano 600, and many by SunTour. Old Campagnolo Nuovo/Super Record clamp-on bosses work fine as do Shimano clamp-on bosses made for index shifting.

A shifter alternative is to use a brifter for shifting the rear derailleur, but a downtube shifter for the front. A regular brake lever can be used for the front brake. This weight-saving setup was often used by Lance on his climbing bike. Also, with this method you can use your existing non-indexing front derailleur and non-indexing downtube shifter.

Here are three innovative shifter alternatives that can facilitate upgrading or modernizing an old bike:

The Kelly Takeoff is: "A simple, low cost alternative to integrated shifting. Lightweight chromoly. Mounts simply. Uses your conventional shifters & aero/non-aero brake levers. Great for retrofits."

Paul Component Engineering Thumbies thumb shifter mounts: "These are designed to be used with indexed Shimano bar-end (aka barcon) shifters. Both 9-speed and 8-speed indexed shifters are readily available, and these shifters also still have a friction option for everything else."

Bar-end Shifter Mounts from Rivendell Bicycle Works. "If you have regular downtube shifters that you want to convert to bar-enders, you need these. Most shifters work on them. Not all, but most."

CONVERTING FROM 27" DIAMETER WHEELS TO 700C WHEELS

Many older Treks came with 27" diameter wheels/tires. More modern bikes use 700C wheels/tires. A common question is: "Can I simply replace my 27" wheels with 700C"? The answer is yes, if your brake pads can be lowered in their slots by 4mm or more. This is usually the case. A practical test is to borrow a set of 700C wheels and try them. If the pads cannot be lowered that much, the brakes calipers will have to be replaced with others that allow this much reach.

There are plenty of good 27" tires available at road bike shops or on the Internet. Touring, commuting, and training tire availability is not a problem; lots of choices.

Why change from 27" to 700C? Three reasons:

1. You want to use racing clincher tires. The selection and availability of lightweight skinny tires in 700C is huge.

2. You want to use tubular tires (which are not available in 27" diameter).

3. If you think 27" wheels/tires are old fashioned or your riding buddies give you grief.

SPREADING REAR DROPOUTS

Early Vintage Treks, 1976 to 1982 (or so), have a rear dropout spacing of 120mm. After 82, spacing increased to 126mm to accommodate 6 or 7 speed hubs. With a bit of effort (or $) you can bend the stays on your steel Trek to increase the spacing to work with modern hubs. Modern spacing is 130mm for 8, 9 or 10 speed (road hubs). One can even spread to 135mm to employ the extra strength of mountain bike rear hubs. This is common for touring bikes.

CAUTION: Only steel frames can be safely spread. Aluminum and carbon frames should not be spread as they tend to break or be damaged, not bend. Additionally, frames of Reynolds 753 steel tubing (such as the Trek Model 170) should not be spread. The forces required are so high that damage to the frame (or the person bending) is likely.

Unfortunately, there is some (but minor) risk involved in permanently bending a frame; the brake bridge or chainstay bridge can pop, leaving you with junk or an expensive repair job. An experienced bike shop can do the spreading, but usually with the proviso that is is at your risk.

One do-it-yourself method employs an 8" or longer piece of allthread, two nuts, and two washers. Allthread is a continuously-threaded rod available in most hardware stores. Use either 5/16" or 3/8" diameter. The allthread is placed in the dropouts and the nuts are turned outward to spread the dropouts. The washers go between the nuts and the dropouts. Lubricate the allthread to make the process easier.

You must spread well beyond the target width to get the stays to bend. It is an iterative process. Screw the dropouts out a bit, measure the spread, unscrew the allthread, and measure the result. If no permanent spreading is accomplished, spread again, going a bit farther. Repeat this process until the target is reached. Use care, there is little distance between spreading with no permanent bending and spreading with permanent bending. If you do go beyond the target width, use the allthread in reverse to bend the dropouts back together. Columbus tubing is commonly thought to be the most difficult to bend, followed by Ishiwata and then Reynolds 531.

I wrap the bridges with many turns of string and/or strapping tape to help assure they do not pop. However, realize that the tape or string can damage the paint. One can use the string method described by Sheldon Brown (see below) to check alignment after the spreading. Most Trek frames do not have dimpled chainstays, so spreading using the allthread method tends to spread the stays uniformly, and does not significantly affect alignment.

A final test of alignment is whether you can ride the bike with no hands and have the bike go straight with both bike and rider vertical.

More frame spreading information is available at Sheldon Brown's site http://sheldonbrown.com/frame-spacing.html. He suggests an alternative method for spreading, employing a wooden 2 x 4. However, the 2 x 4 method can misalign the entire rear triangle. If this happens, one can use the allthread in reverse to keep the dropouts from spreading apart while using the 2 x 4 to twist the rear triangle back into alignment.

After spreading the dropouts, a good frame shop will align the dropout faces to make them parallel. They will have a tool just for this purpose. For the do-it-yourselfer, this is not normally necessary. Non parallel dropouts are often cited as a cause of axle breakage, at least for freewheel-type hubs. However, with the wide bearing location of modern cassette hubs, the problem is not encountered.

A shortcut, useful for going from 126mm to 130mm, is not to permanently spread the frame. When you install the 130mm hub, just pull apart the dropouts to make it fit. Not very elegant, but works just fine.

IS IT COLUMBUS TUBING?

Is the tubing on your frame Columbus? If so, the steerer tube outer surface would probably have a little Columbus dove stamped on it. Also, if Columbus, the lower portion of inside of the steerer tube will typically have "ridges" or "rifling". (The inner surface of the top of the tube will be smooth to accept the stem.) If either is the case, the fork tubing is almost certainly Columbus. If the fork is original, the rest of the frame is almost certainly Columbus. However, if either the dove or the rifling are missing, it is not proof it is not Columbus, but it likely is not.

On vintage Treks, the Cinelli bottom bracket (with cast in "Cinelli") was more commonly used with Columbus tubing. However, it is not a reliable indicator as it also was used with Reynolds 531 tubing.

 

SOURCES OF GENERAL VINTAGE LIGHTWEIGHT INFORMATION
HOW TO CONTACT TREK TECHNICAL SUPPORT
HOW TO FIND VINTAGE BIKE PARTS
BASIC SPECS FOR VINTAGE TREK STEEL ROAD BIKES
STEEL TUBING SPECS FOR EARLY TREKS
HELICOMATIC HUBS
PAINT
TREK DECALS
PAINT TOUCH UP
INTERNAL RUSTPROOFING OF A FRAME
THREADING THE DERAILLEUR CABLE THROUGH THE CHAINSTAY
CONVERTING FROM A QUILL STEM TO A MODERN THREADLESS STEM
ADDING MORE REAR COGS OR CONVERTING TO INDEX SHIFTING
UPGRADING FROM A DOUBLE TO TRIPLE CRANK

CONVERTING FROM 27" DIAMETER WHEELS TO 700C WHEELS
SPREADING REAR DROPOUTS
IS IT COLUMBUS TUBING?

 

 

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