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Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

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Old 09-20-08, 08:57 PM   #1
sunburst
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my new(ish) pseudo-touring bike

Bought an old 1990 Trek Multi-Track 790 a couple of months ago for day-trekking. It hadn't been used, as it was sold to a 5'6" woman, and it fits me (at 5'10") perfectly, and only after replacing the bars with a shorter reach version. Man, she must have been stretched out ... no wonder it didn't get ridden. So basically it was "like-new." Oh yeah, and it has all Deore LX components, with forks drilled for low-rider racks. Stumbled across the racks for $8 in the clearance bin at Perf a couple of weeks later.

It appeared to have the potential to be set up for touring, so I got a little jazzed about the concept and started visiting this forum and getting ideas. When I got it, it had standard road bars with unpadded tape, very narrow saddle, and skinny tires. I wanted to soften up the ride and make it more comfortable. I put on a better rack, saddle, new bars, padded tape, replaced all the cables, raised the stem to the max, fit 700x28 tires (the widest I dared on these 13mm rims), and gave it a good bath.

The ideas I got here that really worked out are the Schwalbe Marathon tires (running about 20 psi lower pressure than the Conti-3000's that were on it) and the On One Midge bars. I used a photo someone posted as an example of how to setup the bars. They are a kick! Short reach and short drop, with dramatically flared drops - amazingly comfortable both from the hoods and the drops, and the brakes are equally accessible from either position. The big surprise is how easy it is to sprint from the drops. They feel quite odd, but in a good way. The tires, padded tape and improved rider position (higher stem, shorter reach) softened up the front end, and the tires and saddle softened the rear - a big overall improvement.

All-in-all, it is a versatile bike, not a dedicated long-distance heavily-loaded touring machine (with only 17" chainstays, not quite low enough gearing, and skinny rims), but I think it will do for some light touring, which is all I will probably subject it to. But it's become my most used (out of 6) bike, suitable for quick jaunts around the bay, as well as trips to the store with my grocery panniers.








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Old 09-20-08, 10:19 PM   #2
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Nice bike! The setup looks professional--- with this kind of skill/knowledge setting up older bikes you could always find a job at a bike shop.

And although the older steel Treks have a big fan base, I like the Multi-track 90's bikes as well.
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Old 09-21-08, 09:49 AM   #3
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What type of handlebar is that? I guess you like it, but how do you use the brake hoods? It looks like it would be difficult...
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Old 09-21-08, 04:28 PM   #4
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What type of handlebar is that? I guess you like it, but how do you use the brake hoods? It looks like it would be difficult...
Just guessing here but perhaps they are on-one midge bars and he finds them very comfortable both on the hoods and the drops.
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Old 09-21-08, 07:27 PM   #5
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Nice bike! The setup looks professional--- with this kind of skill/knowledge setting up older bikes you could always find a job at a bike shop.

And although the older steel Treks have a big fan base, I like the Multi-track 90's bikes as well.
take a closer look at the canti straddle cable... sort it out so that it stops (instead of attempts to slide the canti studs up the fork blades) and go get a shop job
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Old 09-22-08, 02:38 AM   #6
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take a closer look at the canti straddle cable... sort it out so that it stops (instead of attempts to slide the canti studs up the fork blades) and go get a shop job
Don't know what you mean by that. I was not familiar with this setup, so I replaced the brake cable exactly like the old one (I thought), but left the original straddle cable in place. I checked this against my mt. bike -seems the same. But at any rate, I'll ask a real mechanic the next time I'm in the shop.

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What type of handlebar is that? I guess you like it, but how do you use the brake hoods? It looks like it would be difficult...
Yes, it's a On One Midge. The hand position looks odd in the hoods, but took about a nano-second to adjust to - very comfortable. A bit of an ergonomic marvel really.

Last edited by sunburst; 09-22-08 at 02:01 PM.
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Old 09-22-08, 06:03 PM   #7
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Hi sunburst,

Don't worry too much about the straddle cable on your cantilevers. The bike is stopping, isn't it? Are the front and rear brakes equal? Cantilever brakes are hard to set up and adjust. Do some internet research on it-- and PM me if you need help. Keeping the straddle cables long actually can make the brakes more powerful, even if they *feel* a bit mushy. You're doing good on your project!
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Old 09-23-08, 12:56 AM   #8
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Glad you like the midges. I came across a pair of the original dirt drops for a steal, and refreshed a Univega with them and a Brooks. It's BOBish up the wazoo now, but I'm simply not comfortable on it. Not sure whether it's the saddle (it's my first Brooks) or the bars yet, but my hands always fall asleep at the five mile mark, and the handful of 30 mile+ rides I've done on it have not been pleasant. On my touring bike, a similarly converted Trek SINGLEtrack, I use Salsa Bell Lap cyclocross bars which have been thoroughly vetted. They also sprint and climb superbly from the drops. I absolutely love them, and had similar high hopes for the dirt drops.

Hopefully I only need some small positioning tweak to end the pain. I can second sunburst here in that I find the hood position with smallish aero levers (I use broken STI levers on my touring bike because I like meaty hoods) to be far, far more ergonomic than with the same levers on either traditional drops or on horizontal moustache bars. At that 45 degree angle, their fit is just magical. But that won't save them for me; like the Salsas, these bars are intended to be used primarily from the drops.

And your bike could be a fine loaded touring bike with a gear swap and an appropriate, 36 spoke wheelset. My tourified Trek 930 MTB has the same length chainstays and it isn't a problem. I run the front panniers in the rear, the rear panniers in a sturdy rack up front, and my weight balance is better off for it anyway. No heel strike with that setup, but there would be if I reversed the bags. I went with a mountain bike frame because I wanted 26" wheels and oversized tubing for durability and stiffness . The downside is that, versus a supple 700c touring frame which could get by with 28-32mm tires, I need to run slower 1.5" tires to be comfortable, but then my bike is bulletproof and totally off road capable. Don't worry too much about the chainstays; what you've got could be as suited to loaded road touring as a 520, Randonee, etc. etc., with the right wheels and gearing.
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Old 09-23-08, 11:27 AM   #9
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Hi Thasiet,

Too bad about your dirt drop bars--- the're not for everybody. Nothing wrong with sticking with the Salsa Bell Lap bars on all your bike and calling it a day. I think Richey makes simular bars. I think trading those dirt drops would be an option if you do a couple of more tweaks and can't get the fit seattled. Dirt Rag did an article on fitting different styles of bars, BTW. Issue #130 or so I think. I couldn't find it online however.

Personally, I like Modolo style atomical drop bars, 42cm wide. (popular in the 1980s) I've tried a lot of other stuff, but I always come back to these tried and true favorites. Always take comfort over style!
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Old 09-23-08, 04:41 PM   #10
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Tacomee,

Ritchey makes the Biomaxes, which are splayed outwards at about 4 degrees, whereas Salsa Bell Laps are at 12 degrees. The 12 degree splay is quite modest; they're still very much drop bars, and yet it is enough to make the bike very controllable from the drops while sprinting or climbing out of the saddle. The Biomaxes look quite nice, they have a very sharp bend at the drop which could help to set up such that the wrist angle is optimal in both the hoods and the drops (too often a compromise for one or the other). But I doubt that their degree of outward splay is sufficient to allow the same usefulness out of the saddle.

I'm going to keep trying to make the dirt drops work, but if it's never going to happen, they're worth 4-6 times what I paid for them on eBay, so I knows what to dos.
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Old 09-23-08, 05:01 PM   #11
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I have the WTB Dirtdrops also and attempted to use and like them on a couple of different bikes but never worked for me.
I also have the Bell Lap, but have not yet installed on a bike yet. I like the Biomax and am currently using them on my LHT. I had three different drop bar set ups on the LHT, including the Nitto Noodles, but so far I like the Biomax the most.

I had Nitto Moustache bars on another tourer/commuter for a while but I didn't like them for long distance rides. (ran out of hand positions)
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Old 09-25-08, 05:05 AM   #12
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And your bike could be a fine loaded touring bike with a gear swap and an appropriate, 36 spoke wheelset. My tourified Trek 930 MTB has the same length chainstays and it isn't a problem. I run the front panniers in the rear, the rear panniers in a sturdy rack up front, and my weight balance is better off for it anyway. ... Don't worry too much about the chainstays; what you've got could be as suited to loaded road touring as a 520, Randonee, etc. etc., with the right wheels and gearing.
Surprisingly, the 13mm (internal) rims are 36-hole. I initially did a lot of head-scratching trying to figure out how/why Trek came up with that combination. They obviously succumbed to the temptation to make it light. But with the 700x28 Schwalbes, and the other changes, I feel like it will be comfortable enough to tour on. I took it on a trail this week (unloaded) and was really pleased at how good it felt. Can't wait to try more of that!

I actually did some touring on a Fuji Touring IV about 20 years ago, and that bike was shipped with similar sized wheels (27 x 1 1/8"). I used only front panniers back then, with my tent and sleeping bag on the rear rack. With the Trek, I'll probably get a 2nd set of front panniers and use them on the back, packing the heavier items up front. Nashbar makes a set that have a heel cut-out. Looks odd, but seems like a good idea.
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