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Old 07-21-14, 07:05 PM   #1
grizzlyatom
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what are the pros/cons to a 30 year old bike?

so i am in the market for a decent (light) touring bike that i can also use for commuting (about 20 miles/day)
i have seen a few of trek's that are from the early/mid 80s and would like some feed back about how fun/reliable they tend to be
i am also curious as to the worth of these bikes
1984 Trek 620 touring bicycle

they said the wheelset has been upgraded from the original Helicomatic to a set of 700c clincher wheels with Specialized hubs and the rear derailleur is a Shimano XT.
but im not sure if i like where the shifters are located,
i was wondering if anyone has found the shifters being located at that particular area of the frame is at all cumbersome while mashing through the streets?
is this bike really worth $500?

if i can find a cheaper one, is there any notable issues with a 30 year old trek?
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Old 07-21-14, 07:43 PM   #2
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I would go stem shifters(just me though). I have an 82 schwinn traveler - it's a great bike.
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Old 07-21-14, 07:52 PM   #3
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You can get a better idea of value posting in the Classic & Vintage: What's It Worth? discussion.

It's a nice bike with (I believe) a 531 frame. I personally prefer downtube shifters, but it's what I grew I up with. And there are really no additional problems with an older bike if it's in good shape. Without an accident or rust, the frame will outlast you. The bits are really just a matter of maintenance. If well maintained, age isn't really an issue.

Not sure about the price though. Touring bikes do command a premium, but that seems high to me. I'd peg it at $300 - $350 in good shape. Maybe a bit more in excellent shape. However, I'm no expert. The C & V appraisals forum has enough expertise that they can give you a good ballpark. (If it's being sold at a bike shop, prices do tend to be higher and that price might not be out of line.)
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Old 07-21-14, 08:00 PM   #4
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If it's really ready to ride (and your size) I wouldn't blink at that price. OTOH, if it needs rubber/cables/grease I'd knock off a chunk.

It's still a popular touring bike. DT shifters are fine.

You asked about pros/cons. Here are a few:

Pros:
Separate brake/shifters are easier to maintain and field repair
Just about any bike shop in the world can work on about anything on this bike, and probably has parts in stock

Cons:
DT shifters require you move your hand off the bars; can be tricky on a loaded bike in some situations
You won't know the condition of the grease unless you take things apart
Always the chance of a damaged frame or fork
30 years of unknown use/abuse

Last edited by downtube42; 07-21-14 at 08:05 PM.
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Old 07-21-14, 09:40 PM   #5
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I had one of those for 20+ years. Handles great whether with rear only or front and rear panniers. Or unloaded.

Mine was also granny + half-step. It doesn't take long to get the hang of using the front D more. And it is a good way to get a wide range of evenly spaced gear ratios without having 8 -11 rear cogs.

Easy to change to barcons which are nice when loaded.

Maybe an experienced LBS could give it a look over; just to get an idea of any upcoming needed replacement parts.
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Old 07-21-14, 10:20 PM   #6
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I recently purchased a 1983 Trek 620 frame and fork to build up.....

Test ride it and decide.
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Old 07-21-14, 10:38 PM   #7
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I have been riding a 1978 Trek 910 for 30+ years. I have made a few changes - 700 x 32 tires, added fenders, lights and rack to convert it for light touring. The bike still rides and handles great after all these years. I prefer bar end shifters for touring.
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Old 07-21-14, 10:49 PM   #8
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Same era, I Had a Specialized Expedition I rode into eastern Europe in 1991, and back to AMS.
via England and Scandinavia.. a bit heavier touring.

I favor Bar end shifters, myself. Alpine triple 50-40-24t

I'd Over haul it and repack all the bearings, if I were You .

Last edited by fietsbob; 08-13-14 at 12:48 PM.
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Old 07-22-14, 01:27 AM   #9
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If they'd take $450 or less, I personally think it's a better buy than the 730 you posted. I'd offer $400 in cash, in person, and see what they say. You'd still have $150 to throw some bar-end shifters on it and tweak it a little to suit you the way you want it. Companies like Bike Planet have cheap fenders that will do the job well enough(unlike the fenders on the other bike).
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Old 07-22-14, 07:33 AM   #10
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I think that sounds expensive, but perhaps there is something about it that I do not understand.

You said nothing about your skill at working on an older bike. If you really want to ride a 30 year old bike, it is best if you have some skill at fixing it yourself, especially if you depend on it for a commute where your income depends on reliable transportation.

In my community, there is a charity that fixes up donated bikes and sells them. Their goal is to sell them to low income people, hire disadvantaged youth and train them, etc. They do not have any low income requirement to buy a bike, anyone can buy there. They have a lot of nice bikes for about $120 that would work well for a 20 mile round trip commute. If there is a similar charitable bike shop in your community, check them out.

I bought a 20 year old bike that had been stored outside for over a decade for $5 at a garage sale. It took a lot of hours and needed a lot of new stuff to turn it into a good bike, but I am quite happy with that bike for around town errands. But, I worked in a bike shop years ago and can do all my own work.
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Old 07-22-14, 07:54 AM   #11
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My '84 620 is a very nice rider. Bought as a slightly distressed frame and built it up with mid range parts. It is smooth, dependable and fun to ride. Probably put around $400 into it about 10 years ago. Click the pic...then click it again to get it to a decent size.
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Old 07-22-14, 02:10 PM   #12
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I semi retired my 1985 Miayta 1000 when it was becoming increasingly difficult to find replacement parts. A few years later, I spent a few hundred to update it, reasoning that there was no point in keeping an old bike unless I was riding it.

I take the Miyata out a few times a year, and I still enjoy riding it. But the bike I replaced it with is definitely more comfortable and easier to maintain.

The issue of replacement parts, however, never goes away. When one of the components of my new bike broke in 2013, I discovered that its replacement would cost more than I paid for the entire Miyata in 1985! (Fortunately, I managed to repair the damaged part with a few dollars worth of Sugru.)
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Old 07-22-14, 02:34 PM   #13
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Shifter location is a personal preference thing. I like down tube shifters just fine and much prefer them to bar end shifters. I found that with bar ends I would knock them out of gear with my knee. I found that they also got bumped out of gear when the bike is leaned against a wall or whatever. If you buy this bike, I recommend giving the down tube shifters a good chance before thinking about changing to something else.

That said I do prefer modern brifters to either bar ends or down tube shifters.

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Old 07-22-14, 02:44 PM   #14
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There are lots of older bikes that would probably suit your needs that are not dedicated touring models. The vintage touring bikes usually go for more than a sport touring bike would. Take that Trek you linked, you could probably get a sport tourer like the Trek elance 400 for hundreds less. It won't have canti brakes, but has rack and fender mounts and plenty of clearance for wider tires. Some even came with triple cranksets. My point is that if you widen your search to include some different bikes you'll find something more reasonably priced. As for parts not being available for older bikes, I've found that's not the case. Sometimes you just need to be creative. A mountain bike from the 80's can provide you with a complete drivetrain for under $100. Good luck.
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Old 07-22-14, 04:25 PM   #15
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I've got a few old Treks, including the same bike as the OP showed but in a smaller size (one of my wife's spares). IMO, it's worth $500, but I'm a real fan of these bikes. The one downside of some of the early Treks is the seat stay braze to the seat tube tends to crack. There's just not enough metal in that pretty attachment they did up until about '85. Carefully check the middle of the word "TREK" at the top of the seat stay for the beginnings of failure. It's not a big deal to replace the seat stays if you have a frame builder nearby (mine charged me less than $100), and it can be a good excuse to change the spacing if you're inclined to go to a more modern drive train.

One other downside is those canti brakes. Trek put some odd-sized ones on, with a correspondingly odd placement of the braze-ons. That can make replacement a bit of trouble. It's not a big deal, but those brakes are kind of crappy.

Those downsides are more than made up for by the wonderful ride of these steeds. Buy it and enjoy.
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Old 07-22-14, 04:47 PM   #16
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Trek 620's hold their value. The price listed is fair, especially if the wheels and derailleur are updated- which are the first things that I would update on a touring bike (especially Helicomatic!). Add a pair of bar-end shifters and that would be a fine touring bike. Steel frames last a *long* time if taken care of.

Check for rust in the tubes and cracks at the seat stays and dropouts. Also, double-check that the wheels are 622 (700c) and the rear hub is cassette rather than freewheel. Those rims look pretty thin to be touring-specific box-section with eyelets; they look like single-wall, which are kinda flimsy. In which case the wheels aren't really upgraded- more of side-graded, which should require a discount.
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Old 07-22-14, 06:20 PM   #17
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Pro: cheap
Con: 30 y.o. technology
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Old 07-22-14, 06:42 PM   #18
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If you're really contemplating spending $500, why not add $99 more for this? Save Up to 60% Off Touring Bikes | Commuting | Commuter Bikes | Windsor Bikes - Tourist

(Currently out of stock, but they're likely to get more if you have some time before the planned trip).

Just like buying an old one, you still need to know how to work on bikes or be willing to pay someone to do it. However, at least it comes with a warranty and the benefits of a nice modern drivetrain.
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Old 07-22-14, 07:08 PM   #19
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I've had an old TREK since the mid eighties and used it for everything until I could afford a larger stable.
They work for just about anything, enjoy it. I still use mine for club rides.

Marc
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Old 07-22-14, 07:18 PM   #20
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he said "The wheels are a set of mid 1980's low flange Specialized hubs laced to Saturnae 700c clincher rims. There is a six speed freewheel on the rear hub."
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Old 07-23-14, 04:27 AM   #21
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The price isn't outrageous, I would still try an offer in the $400-$450 range, if it fits well and you are comfortable with it. It was an excellent bike in it's day and is still a viable bike today. One nice thing about steel frames is the ability to upgrade to newer drivetrains without too much trouble.

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Old 07-23-14, 01:56 PM   #22
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Is it worth 500? For me it would all about the wheels. "upgraded from the original Helicomatic to a set of 700c." The original wheels used 27in tires with a 126 spaced hub. Was the bike respaced for a 130 hub and what is the quality/condition of the new wheels.

As for old tech, I HATE NON AREO LEVERS.
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Old 07-23-14, 02:09 PM   #23
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Before the tour , completely Overhaul all bearings .. Good Luck Withy the Haggling over the price.



I'm Ok With My Modolo Anatomic Brake levers .. they're on Wide Nitto Noodle Bars , now..

I slide my hands onto the hoods when I want to pull the brake levers.. not live with them there..
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Old 08-01-14, 07:32 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by acantor View Post
I semi retired my 1985 Miayta 1000 when it was becoming increasingly difficult to find replacement parts. A few years later, I spent a few hundred to update it, reasoning that there was no point in keeping an old bike unless I was riding it.

I take the Miyata out a few times a year, and I still enjoy riding it. But the bike I replaced it with is definitely more comfortable and easier to maintain.

The issue of replacement parts, however, never goes away. When one of the components of my new bike broke in 2013, I discovered that its replacement would cost more than I paid for the entire Miyata in 1985! (Fortunately, I managed to repair the damaged part with a few dollars worth of Sugru.)

I'm kinda confused by this. What "replacement parts" on your Miyata were difficult to find? That sounds like something a bike shop who doesn't work on older bikes would tell someone who doesn't know how to wrench on their own bike. Anyhow, short of replacing the frame, there isnt one part on a Miyata 1000 that you couldn't get in 5 minutes on Amazon, eBay, etc. Or of course you could upgrade parts (use modern cranks, shifters, etc).
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Old 08-01-14, 09:32 PM   #25
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I still have some bikes from the 80s, and they run fine. But I don't really think they have any advantages over newer bikes that are almost entirely an uptick. I preferred freewheels, because they were lighter, just so long as they were strong hubs. The main thing is that at times you can get a ride for very little money that will be entirely better components than something from today that cost more. These are still older tech, but they can be really nice, but that would be relatively rare.
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