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Vintage Trek questions

Old 05-09-17, 02:21 PM
  #1  
dandak
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Vintage Trek questions

Hello all. I am looking at buying a vintage Trek Elance 400 but would wish to put the 'brifters' on it. I just found out the 400 series came with 126mm rear dropout spacing, which I have been told is not wide enough to put the rear hub/cassette I would need to do this. Is this true? What width on the rear dropouts do I need to have to accomplish this? Any other considerations involved? I've been riding since the 1970's but due to life generally getting in the way have ridden only small rides the last 15-20 years. Hoping to change that now that I retired. My current bike is a Trek 414 I bought new in 1980 back before anyone ever heard of them. I remember riding my new Trek onto campus and a friend who was into bikes looked at it, misread the down tube sticker, and said "Threat?"...he had never heard of Trek. Kind of amusing now. Anyway, any help would be appreciated. Other than these new fangled shifters I definitely want a vintage steel bike.
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Old 05-09-17, 04:09 PM
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philbob57
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There's a Classic & Vintage forum with a thread on conversions. You can get info on conversions by searching the web.

The 400 rear dropout width can be reset to 131 mm fairly easily by any framebuilder or retailer who imports frames. Rumor has it that any competent LBS can also reset the the rear dropouts to 131 mm. I had my bike cold-set from 121 to 126 last year for $50 at a high end shop.
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Old 05-09-17, 04:14 PM
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Agreed that you will want to post this in the C and V forum but the conversion is easy peasy. There are 7 speed brifters

https://www.amazon.com/Shimano-ST-A0.../dp/B007Q4MM1I

So you can stay at 126 in rear and get a 7 speed shimano indexing compatible freewheel

Or you can spread the rear to 130 and go 8-9-10-11 in the back
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Old 05-09-17, 04:15 PM
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+1) Probably Either Spread the rear of the frame to 130 or 135, or drop the brifter dream

126 is too narrow to use modern wheels and there was no brifter in the 6 speed era..

Gevenalle shifter/brake setups with a friction shift lever will be your only hope otherwise..

Shift lever goes on the front of the specially made brake lever, both are simple and reliable that way..




...
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Old 05-09-17, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
+1) Probably Either Spread the rear of the frame to 130 or 135, or drop the brifter dream

126 is too narrow to use modern wheels and there was no brifter in the 6 speed era..

Gevenalle shifter/brake setups with a friction shift lever will be your only hope otherwise..

Shift lever goes on the front of the specially made brake lever, both are simple and reliable that way..




...
7 speed brifters are out there and the OP can stay with the original wheels.
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Old 05-09-17, 05:33 PM
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I had an '83 Trek 400 that came space 126 mm. I used a 7-speed freewheel wheel on it for a while with Shimano 7-speed barend shifters. Later I cold-set it to take a 130 mm wheel and used an 8-speed cassette hub with "Kelly Take-offs" (anyone else remember these?) on the brake levers with 8-speed dt shift levers.

The cold setting was easy but, for a while I left it 126mm and just forced the 130 mm wheel in place which wasn't that hard.
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Old 05-09-17, 05:43 PM
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Thanks guys. 7 speed is fine for me. Fairly flat here in NE Ohio and I wasn't ever a speed demon. I can spread the frame myself to 130mm if I have too...that doesnt concern me. I just wondered if 126 could work as it is, and if components (cassettes, wheels, etc) are out there for this.
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Old 05-09-17, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by dandak View Post
Thanks guys. 7 speed is fine for me. Fairly flat here in NE Ohio and I wasn't ever a speed demon. I can spread the frame myself to 130mm if I have too...that doesnt concern me. I just wondered if 126 could work as it is, and if components (cassettes, wheels, etc) are out there for this.
126 spaced wheels are still available as are 7-speed cassettes and even brifters if you look around a bit. Any Shimano rear derailleur from the 7,8,9 or 10-speed road and 7, 8 and 9-speed MTB groups will work with 7-speed cassettes and shifters.
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Old 05-09-17, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by HillRider View Post
Later I cold-set it to take a 130 mm wheel and used an 8-speed cassette hub with "Kelly Take-offs" (anyone else remember these?) on the brake levers with 8-speed dt shift levers.
I still have a set in a parts bin. Great concept, but I found the shifters were a little to far from the handlebar so it was tough for me to just use a thumb or forefinger to shift. More times than not I ended up moving my hand off the handlebars to shift. They didn't last long for me.

John
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Old 05-09-17, 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
I still have a set in a parts bin. Great concept, but I found the shifters were a little to far from the handlebar so it was tough for me to just use a thumb or forefinger to shift. More times than not I ended up moving my hand off the handlebars to shift. They didn't last long for me.

John
I found them a bit awkward too but they were far better than downtube or barend shifters. Once I discovered Gevelalle (then known as Retroshift) shifters the Kellys were immediately replaced.
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Old 05-10-17, 04:10 AM
  #11  
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Yes, you can fit a 130mm hub in 126mm dropouts. You only have to spread each side 2 millimeters when you install the wheel.
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Old 05-10-17, 05:02 AM
  #12  
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What year is it? You'll often find frames of the 126-130mm transition era spaces at 128 to accommodate various drivetrains in the same frame. The '87 Elance I converted to 10s was spaced at 128 and I needed to do nothing to put a 130 hub in it. My '91 also needed no modification
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Old 05-10-17, 09:32 AM
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I have an '86 Trek 300 Elance -- one model below your 400. It originally came with a 126 mm wheel, but I've had no problem putting a 130 mm hub in it. I'm running an 8-speed drivetrain with brifters on that bike.

I went 8-speed because I had a donor wheelset and drivetrain from a bike with a cracked frame. Otherwise, I probably would've went the route bikemig suggests above. Just pick up a set of 7-speed brifters, put a 7-speed freewheel on your original 126 mm hub, and replace your downtube shifters with cable stops. Cable it up and away you go.

Despite being near the bottom of Trek's road bike lineup, the 400 Elance has a pretty nice frame. The frame's main tubes are even made with Reynolds 531 tubing -- stuff you'd normally find on higher-end bikes. Enjoy it!
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Old 05-10-17, 01:14 PM
  #14  
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MicroSHIFT Shifters 2X7 Speed SB-R472 or MicroSHIFT Shifters 3X7 Speed SB-R473; with Shimano or compatible derailleurs - note front must be a road derailleur, rear can be 7/8/9 road or mountain; with a 7 speed freewheel on your original hub.

You may have to shift the hub 1mm or so towards the NDS; I just put in a 1mm spacer in next to the spacer already there. Ideally, I would have removed the same amount from the NDS, but was lazy.....
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Old 05-10-17, 07:22 PM
  #15  
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I have an this same bike...and '86 Trek Elance 400 and have been using it for about 7 years and haven't had any problem using 130 mm wheels (and I didn't have it formally reset). I built my wheels for it using new 105 hubs and running a 9-speed cassette - paired to some 65XX Ultegra 9-speed brifters. It all works quite nicely. My wife runs a similar-ish bike (1984) Trek 610 which is a nice frame but the wheels were in bad shape when I got it... so, also built wheels for that bike (with ultegra hubs..wife got the upgrade). She wanted it at 7 speeds and with downtube shifters (for the classic look). So, I have the 130 mm Ultegra hubs with a 7-speed cassette (and a spacer). Again, my wife wanted to keep a classic look so this is all hooked up to 105, 7 speed, indexed Shimano downtube shifters...don't ask me how I found those. In any case, it is all possible. The 130mm wheels can fit these bikes....and you can run brifters if you want. I do.
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Old 05-10-17, 10:59 PM
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While 7 sp parts are available, I'd really recommend just getting the rear triangle spread and aligned. You'll have much higher quality parts to pick from, and a lot easier time finding replacement components down the line. Almost all frame builders would be comfortable with this, shops may vary a bit. Many bicycle cooperatives will also help you with this. Basically you need to yank on the dropouts until they measure 130mm between the dropouts using a frame alignment gauge to check that they are evenly spaced from the centerline of the bike, then realign the dropouts using a dropout alignment tool.
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Old 05-11-17, 05:32 AM
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Since the OP was looking at buying this bike, I would suggest that it would be far more cost effective to pay more for a bike already equipped with brifters than to spend money on converting an older bike
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Old 05-11-17, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by alcjphil View Post
Since the OP was looking at buying this bike, I would suggest that it would be far more cost effective to pay more for a bike already equipped with brifters than to spend money on converting an older bike

There is a point to this. I built up my 400 as a hobby over a few years...For the time and searching out the components, it would probably be cheaper to go new. Building new wheels, getting brifters, new tires, chains, derailleurs, etc...it adds up. At the time, I justified it by being my hobby and that there weren't many new options I liked at the time. There are a lot more new options today.


A new bike wouldn't feel as special to me as my Trek Elance. This said, I have two kids under 5, a lot less time, and my tinkering projects have expanded from bikes to fixing things in my 90 year old house and building stuff for my kids. If my bike were stolen today, I'd want a comparable replacement but wouldn't have the same amount of time as before. I'm pretty sure I'd end up with something from the LBS or bikes direct...or a much newer, used, All City bike or Salsa or something. It'd feel a bit more cold, so maybe I'd remove the decals...or plan to remove the decals and never get around to it.
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Old 05-12-17, 03:54 AM
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[QUOTE]What year is it? You'll often find frames of the 126-130mm transition era spaces at 128 to accommodate various drivetrains in the same frame. The '87 Elance I converted to 10s was spaced at 128 and I needed to do nothing to put a 130 hub in it. My '91 also needed no modification/QUOTE]

This. Did conversion on a pristine 400 for my wife years ago. No mods needed. rides & shifts great.
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Old 05-12-17, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by alcjphil View Post
Since the OP was looking at buying this bike, I would suggest that it would be far more cost effective to pay more for a bike already equipped with brifters than to spend money on converting an older bike
I don't disagree in a general sense, but it really depends on how much he can buy the 400 for. If he can get it cheap, then the cost of the bike plus brifters might be less than a comparable bike with brifters.
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Old 05-14-17, 08:50 PM
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dandak
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Originally Posted by alcjphil View Post
Since the OP was looking at buying this bike, I would suggest that it would be far more cost effective to pay more for a bike already equipped with brifters than to spend money on converting an older bike
Not an option....cant find any decent steel framed bike with brifters that I like. Besides, I want a vintage Trek. If Im retiring my 1980 purchased Trek 414 its definitely going to be for another Trek.
I can spread the frame myself if needed, that isnt an issue, and all work would be done myself so there would be no labor fees (other than a professional paint job in deep metal flake blue). With all the answers I got here I am sure my idea is feasible, now its just finding the right frame or complete bike in my size. I passed a frame up on ebay but notice another is on there right now.
Thank you everybody who answered here. I am on several forums (gun, telescope, spaceflight, etc.), sometimes I ask a question and get 20 replies without anyone actually answering the question. This forum came thru with the info I needed! I have lurked here quite long before I joined.....should have joined sooner. What a great forum and a great bunch of people.
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