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Old 03-12-14, 06:44 AM   #1
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1985 Trek 720 Overhaul

A couple of months ago I was lucky and fortunate enough to find and acquire a 1985 Trek 720.

A few years ago I was also fortunate to meet John Zeni- he bought a beater Continental from me- and we talked bikes for a good long while. Before I met him I had seen his website/blog, and since I've peeked in at his stuff and a few of the cool things he gets to work on. On his home page he says: "My name is John and bicycles are my passion. I live, eat, drink bicycles. I usually can't sleep because I am think about riding or a bike I am working on." He means that.

When his website was brought up here, I thought of asking John to overhaul my Trek 720. He was kind enough to accept- and I'm humbled by the attention he's lavishing on my bike.

John is posting a step by step pictorial of his overhaul of my bike.

John's Bicycle Restorations: Dave V's 1985 Trek 720 Overhaul - A Holey Grail Touring Bicycle


Just seeing the bike like this makes me so exited for spring and being able to ride this





Thank you so much John.
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Old 03-12-14, 10:37 AM   #2
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I never get tired of seeing dirty, gunked up parts being made clean. It's looking great.
This comment in particular was interesting to me, "Bottom bracket was put into the crock pot for cleaning..." I've never heard of that approach but it seems that a crock put + antifreeze can do wonders.
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Old 03-12-14, 10:56 AM   #3
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Your bike is a Holey Grail? Oh, dear. I hope this doesn't mean he's gone crazy with the drillium on it.
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Old 03-12-14, 12:34 PM   #4
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AWESOME! I love it!
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Old 03-12-14, 12:38 PM   #5
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Is it wrong that seeing that clamp on the top tube makes me a bit uncomfortable?
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Old 03-12-14, 01:27 PM   #6
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Very nice!

It seems he is taking extra care to prevent the bars from swinging around and dinging the top tube, so I expect he has taken due care when clamping.

I personally like the fact he is re-packing the rear Helicomatic hub… and I expect a touring bike will get some significant mileage.
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Old 03-12-14, 08:47 PM   #7
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Is it wrong that seeing that clamp on the top tube makes me a bit uncomfortable?
I generally clamp my bikes there...
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Old 03-12-14, 09:44 PM   #8
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I generally clamp my bikes there...
It's better to pull out the seat post and clamp the bike there. Why? It guarantees that you won't damage the top tube when you clamp the frame. If you do damage the seat post, you're out around $20. If you damage the frame, you might be out a nice bike that you've wanted for a while.

Nice job on the resto, btw.
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Old 03-13-14, 06:01 AM   #9
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Looks really nice. A rebuild like that usually takes me many days (between disassembly, breakdown, cleaning, inspection, new bits, repack, reassembly, proper torque, re-set of seat/controls, retape, coffee, beer, etc...) This guy is very on task.
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Old 03-13-14, 07:17 AM   #10
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Looks really nice. A rebuild like that usually takes me many days (between disassembly, breakdown, cleaning, inspection, new bits, repack, reassembly, proper torque, re-set of seat/controls, retape, coffee, beer, etc...) This guy is very on task.
Same here. Disassembly/reassembly is generally pretty quick, but cleaning all the bits and pieces is very time consuming. That's why the crock pot thing was interesting (I don't have an ultra-sonic cleaner). But I'm still curious about his method for getting in all the nooks and crannies, especially in places like the hubs around the spokes, between all the chain ring teeth, etc.
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Old 03-13-14, 08:16 AM   #11
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That's the way to do it!
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Old 03-13-14, 08:49 AM   #12
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Beautiful bike, and awesome overhaul/resto!

I have plans to strip down my Trek once my road bike is ready to roll, just waiting for the weather to warm up so the ice is off the bike paths.
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Old 03-13-14, 10:19 AM   #13
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Very nice!
I expect a touring bike will get some significant mileage.
Thank you!


I really hope that I'm able to get in WAY more miles than I was able to get in last year. We've hired more people at work, so I haven't been putting in the stupid crazy hours (which allowed me to buy these really sweet bikes) and that should translate into riding time.
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Old 03-13-14, 10:23 AM   #14
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Same here. Disassembly/reassembly is generally pretty quick, but cleaning all the bits and pieces is very time consuming. That's why the crock pot thing was interesting (I don't have an ultra-sonic cleaner). But I'm still curious about his method for getting in all the nooks and crannies, especially in places like the hubs around the spokes, between all the chain ring teeth, etc.
Shoot John a PM here- his forum name is ZeniCycles.

Otherwise shoot him an email from his website. I can't speak for him, but I'm pretty sure he'll share his methods!
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Old 03-13-14, 02:36 PM   #15
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It's better to pull out the seat post and clamp the bike there. Why? It guarantees that you won't damage the top tube when you clamp the frame. If you do damage the seat post, you're out around $20. If you damage the frame, you might be out a nice bike that you've wanted for a while.

Nice job on the resto, btw.
+1. Your average seatpost should be able to support a 200 lb rider. I don't think there is much I am going to do to a bike clamped by the seatpost versus someone riding on it.
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Old 03-13-14, 02:43 PM   #16
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I generally clamp my bikes there...
Me too. For about the last 40 years.
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Old 03-13-14, 04:47 PM   #17
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Looks really nice. A rebuild like that usually takes me many days (between disassembly, breakdown, cleaning, inspection, new bits, repack, reassembly, proper torque, re-set of seat/controls, retape, coffee, beer, etc...) This guy is very on task.
It helps to have a dedicated bicycle work area. On average it takes me anywhere from six to thirty, give or take, man hours to complete a project, dismissing the time waiting for parts. The beater bike was my quickest build simply because there was no appearance detailing. The distance bike was thirty plus hours because of the detailing and polishing. My SR project already has about twenty hours of polishing up the bits and bobs it'll have and I really haven't started the meat of the build.

TGB's restorer is way more experienced than many of us amateurs, the final outcome should be outstanding.

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Old 03-17-14, 07:39 AM   #18
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John finished my bike the other day- I picked it up from him last night.

Again- Check out the blog link:

John's Bicycle Restorations: Dave V's 1985 Trek 720 Overhaul - A Holey Grail Touring Bicycle



I'm absolutely THRILLED with the level of work John did on this- I was really only able to ride 100 M or so- it was cold and dark. And cold.

There's a few things I still need to work out and address a few preference things- John was having problems getting the Simplex badge stick on the FD (so THAT'S why you see so many without badges), need to get the fancy Dura Ace/Ultegra cable stops, pannier hooks on the drop outs, probably cross over the brake cables, bring the saddle nose up a touch. Do a few paint chip touch ups and I'll probably outline the lugs too- using gold paint.

Overall- it's a beautiful bike and John did a BEAUTIFUL job of cleaning it up and putting it together.







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Old 03-17-14, 08:40 AM   #19
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@ The Golden Boy - your Trek bike rehab turned out gorgeously! Inspires me on many levels. Quick question about the use of NOS Accushift shifter cable housing. I don't want to get off topic, so quick answer or refer me elsewhere please. I have a bike which how has Accushift friendly rear derailleur & freewheel, and am toying with the idea of getting some Accushift 6 speed shifters. What are the benefits of using "Accushift" cables or housing vs modern? Thanks. I love his website and have spent hours looking over his rehabs.
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Old 03-17-14, 08:48 AM   #20
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@ The Golden Boy - your Trek bike rehab turned out gorgeously! Inspires me on many levels. Quick question about the use of NOS Accushift shifter cable housing. I don't want to get off topic, so quick answer or refer me elsewhere please. I have a bike which how has Accushift friendly rear derailleur & freewheel, and am toying with the idea of getting some Accushift 6 speed shifters. What are the benefits of using "Accushift" cables or housing vs modern? Thanks. I love his website and have spent hours looking over his rehabs.
Hi Velocivixen-

Thanks! The only reason I'm using Accushift housing is because I'm using friction shifting. It's really only for the cache of the "SunTour Accushift" writing on the housing.
(which is another thing I want to do- try to rotate the housing so the writing shows- yes, I'm going full on dork with this)


SIS or better yet any new shift housing is LEAGUES better than the old Accushift housing. I currently have two bikes set up with Accushift 6sp shifters, Accushift derailleurs and Shimano 6sp freewheels. They work magically- both of those are using modern Jagwire cables and housing.
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Old 03-17-14, 09:37 AM   #21
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@ The Golden Boy. Thanks for the quick reply. No I get your "need" to rotate the housing for aesthetics. I totally get it. If you don't mind, what 6-speed shifters do you like? I love friction, but it's nice at times to have indexed. I have a mid-'80's Fuji ATB so I'm looking at thumb type shifters OR perhaps bar end shifters.

Anyway, your bike is absolutely gorgeous and I look forward to reading more about how it rides in your ride report!
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Old 03-17-14, 10:12 AM   #22
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yes, I'm going full on dork with this)
Georgeous specimin Dave! I would like to know how how John got that crankset to have the lustre of a new one - great job. What brand of bar tape do you have on it? I've used Salsa brown on several bikes but this looks a little different.

On the going full dork comment - I understand and would comment that I would also consider having the front rack and bottle cages powder coated to match the rear rack :-) I don't have a problem with the combo but I always wondered how Trek came up with the blue rack and cages for the maroon color on this model. Perhaps they were just saving inventory by using the same ones from the blue 620.
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Old 03-17-14, 10:46 AM   #23
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@ The Golden Boy. Thanks for the quick reply. No I get your "need" to rotate the housing for aesthetics. I totally get it. If you don't mind, what 6-speed shifters do you like? I love friction, but it's nice at times to have indexed. I have a mid-'80's Fuji ATB so I'm looking at thumb type shifters OR perhaps bar end shifters.

Anyway, your bike is absolutely gorgeous and I look forward to reading more about how it rides in your ride report!
I use the Command Shifters- the butterfly shifters that mount inboard of the brake levers. When you're on the hoods, it's just a flick of the thumb or finger to shift. Since I'm usually always on the ramps or on the hoods, it's perfect for me. For people that ride in the drops... The big drawback to them is they're really only indexed. They have a "friction" setting on them, but they're still indexed- it's not like ratcheting- it's actually indexed- just the click isn't as hard.

The Accushift Thumbshifters are very nice- I had a set of those, but I opted for Shimano SIS levers.

To be clear- SIS is a better system and SIS stuff is just much more available. I love the Command Shifters- I accept that they're Accushift, so to use them, I have to use Accushift. If I could figure out a way to make them work with a smooth ratcheting mechanism or SIS indexing... I'd be rich. Well, I'd probably have like 100 people buy them from me.

I would not search out Accushift stuff if there were other options.

If you've got the 6sp shifters, Accushift derailleur and and a SIS or Accushift freewheel- you should be golden. Beyond that, your options for "mix-n-match" go down. I've heard that you can use 6sp shifters with an SIS derailleur and a SIS 7sp FW, but I haven't tried that.

Thumb shifters on a flat bar type bike rule. If you have the opportunity, check out the Suntour Power Shifter ratcheting friction thumbshifters. I like the old MTB style ones-






Otherwise my favorite indexed thumbshifters are the XT ones:






Good luck with your project!
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Old 03-17-14, 11:13 AM   #24
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Georgeous specimin Dave! I would like to know how how John got that crankset to have the lustre of a new one - great job. What brand of bar tape do you have on it? I've used Salsa brown on several bikes but this looks a little different.

On the going full dork comment - I understand and would comment that I would also consider having the front rack and bottle cages powder coated to match the rear rack :-) I don't have a problem with the combo but I always wondered how Trek came up with the blue rack and cages for the maroon color on this model. Perhaps they were just saving inventory by using the same ones from the blue 620.
Hey B!

The majority of the gunk on the lower part of the bicycle was from some thick grease or oil that a previous owner had lubed the chain with. I don't think there was a lot of wear on the bike- so once that gunk was dissolved and cleaned off, it just left clean, pretty chainrings. I also think there was a fair amount of elbow grease used.

The tape is the Bontrager gel cushion stuff. If you're coming to Milwaukee next month- the Wheel and Sprocket bike expo is at State Fair Park- they usually have that tape on sale, I try to get a few of the colors that I like (brown and white). Otherwise they're like $19 a pop. They changed the imprint on the tape a few years ago- and I really like this tape.






A couple of months ago I actually started a thread asking about either stripping or powder coating the racks.

As far as the cross-inventory- I think it worked out fortuitously about the 620 and 720 color schemes- (IE the blue lettering on the 720). I would have guessed that the 720, being the "flagship" bike, would have been more of the primary concern. But the Blue/Burgundy color match seems like more of a stretch, to me. It works, but it's an interesting combination.

As an aside- I think there was something done to the decals at some point over the bike's life. The lower letter of the TREK logo on the downtube is different than the rest of the letters. The "700 Series" decal on the top tube doesn't have the gold/tan shading.
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Old 03-17-14, 01:01 PM   #25
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Glad you kept the original titanium RD. @JimboMartin has some touch up paint I sent him that is a decent match. Maybe he can give you the particulars.

The bike looks great!
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