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Thoughts on Project - 1990 Trek 400 ChroMo

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Thoughts on Project - 1990 Trek 400 ChroMo

Old 08-02-14, 08:02 PM
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pvillemasher
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Thoughts on Project - 1990 Trek 400 ChroMo

I have a 1990 Trek 400, a Chromoly frame with down tube shifters, fairly cheap brakes, Suntour derailleurs. 7-speed cassette and the original rear wheel.

It's been a backup bike collecting dust for years, and I'm thinking it deserves better. I've never restored a bike, although I did replace the BB, cranks/chainrings, rear cassette on this bike myself so I'm not completely clueless but not knowledgeable enough to dig in. I'd like to throw my thoughts at y'all and see what sticks.
Goes without saying, any suggestions are welcome.

My goal would be to have a solid bike that can be ridden with pride. I plan to get the parts and do the work myself, including taking it down to bare frame and reusing what makes sense and replacing the rest. Probably clean up and not repaint.
I'm thinking a Shimano 105-level bike: 105 derailleurs, 10-speed cassette, 105 brakes, original downtube shifters, new cranks/chainrings, new wheels.

First off - Does this make sense to do? If so, any suggestions? I'm not necessarily looking for specifics on what parts to buy or stuff like that just yet, just general info that may help.

TIA
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Old 08-02-14, 08:31 PM
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My personal take is that putting new Shimano 105 stuff on a 25 year old bottom of the line Trek is not a good use of resources. I'd leave it with good period components and enjoy it as is. If it was a higher grade frame with Reynolds or Columbus tubing and better original parts I might consider it worthwhile. This site Vintage Trek Bikes- Information on Steel Road Bicycles made by the Trek Bicycle Corporation, bike is a good launch pad for values and minor tech stuff like re-spacing the rear to 130mm and so on. Ultimately it's about what makes you happy so if you really want to do it, go for it. Personally, if I wanted a good steel bike with 105 I would look for a good used modern steel bike like a LeMond, Jamis or Bianchi since they would already have 10 speed cassettes and at the Shimano 105 price point would be more likely to be Reynolds 631 or equivalent True Temper or Columbus rather than generic 4130.
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Old 08-02-14, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by SlowJoeCrow View Post
. . . I'd leave it with good period components and enjoy it as is. . .
+1
Why not give it a thorough clean & tune then ride and enjoy without caring what others may think? I guess only the OP can value his "pride."

Considering the energy, material, emissions, time, effort, and money already invested in the existing components, discarding them with useful life remaining would be such a waste.

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Old 08-02-14, 08:59 PM
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I agree with both the previous posters. At some effort and expense, you can certainly update your old Trek to be more modern, but it is not cost effective. Unless you have some special attachment and money is no object, I'd invest in a newer bike which is already setup with a 10-speed drivetrain. I'd fix up the Trek, but leave it basically as is.

- Mark
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Old 08-02-14, 09:07 PM
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Good stuff guys, thanks for your thoughts.
The bike was a graduation gift from my wife, so it has that going for it.
Originally Posted by SlowJoeCrow View Post
This site Vintage Trek Bikes- Information on Steel Road Bicycles made by the Trek Bicycle Corporation, bike is a good launch pad for values and minor tech stuff like re-spacing the rear to 130mm and so on.

Personally, if I wanted a good steel bike with 105 I would look for a good used modern steel bike like a LeMond, Jamis or Bianchi since they would already have 10 speed cassettes and at the Shimano 105 price point would be more likely to be Reynolds 631 or equivalent True Temper or Columbus rather than generic 4130.
Great link, that'll take me a while to get through. Thanks.
I also have a Lemond with Reynolds 853 and 105, off with my son at college (fingers crossed...).


After reading your posts, I'm starting to think that replacing the rear wheel and just cleaning it really well may be the way to go.

Last edited by pvillemasher; 08-02-14 at 09:13 PM.
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Old 08-03-14, 08:41 AM
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If you do go ahead with updating the Trek, be aware that it most likely has 126 mm (7-speed) rear dropout spacing while 8-speed and above require 130 mm spacing. If you get a 10-speed group you will either have to force fit the new hub into the dropouts (not that difficult but a bit of a nuisance) or have the frame cold set (read bent) to the correct spacing.

I had an even older 1983 Trek 400 that I did update to 8-speed and cold set the frame to make wheel installation easier. Not a big deal but then I used leftover and spare parts so my update was quite cheap.
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Old 08-03-14, 09:06 AM
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If it was mine (and it fit me and had sentimental value) and I had access to used parts, I'd upgrade the rear wheel to 8 or 9 speed hyperglide.
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Old 08-03-14, 09:13 AM
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pvillemasher, I'm all for updating. I would buy 10S indexed DT shifters if you do decide to update.

Brad
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Old 08-03-14, 09:24 AM
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Try putting a 10sp wheel on it with a compatible chain. You'll have to spread the dropouts to make it fit, but it isn't hard. You'll be surprised at how well it works with friction shifting. I run 2 bikes that way, but both are higher end bikes.
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Old 08-03-14, 09:29 AM
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I checked the vintage Trek website for 1990 and didn't see a 400 model, so I looked at 1989 and found it was the last year of the 400. If your bike is a 1989, you might be in luck. If you look at the specs for 1989, you'll see that it has a 7 speed Suntour Alpha listed. For every other bike, they specify if it is a cassette. If they don't specify, I would assume it is a freewheel. If that's the case, you can replace it with a shimano 7 speed freewheel and just about any shimano derailleurs (Claris, sora, etc). Then get some Shimano Tourney 7 speed brifters and you've got a sensible and cheaply upgraded bike. The 7 speed suntour freewheel would be worth some decent money as anyone running 7 speed suntour has to use their freewheels in order to get it to index, and they aint making them anymore.
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Old 08-03-14, 11:22 AM
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I've done both an '87 and currently a '91 400. Piece of cake. Late model stuff goes right on with some minor issues. I believe I had to drill for recessed brakes on the 87 maybe the bridge on the 91. I also had to file the slots on the 6600 Ultegra brake arms to drop the pads down a bit further. 400's are actually nice bikes the 87 was 531 and the 91 is Tru Temper RC2. It makes a great commuter as it has all the brazes ons for racks and fenders and the longer chain stays for heel clearance on bags. I never had to cold set either bike, a 130mm wheel fit in with minimal effort. I also feel that the value to upgrade is OK if you can pick up stuff reasonably. I'm riding a full 6600 10s Ultegra bike for under $1000 including the bike and accessories, while having parts to throw on other old bikes. I say go for it. I built mine with a lightly used group from Ebay and a new wheelset.

http://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vi...i-s-ergos.html
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Old 08-03-14, 01:05 PM
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It was bought in March of 1991, so I assumed it was a '90 but apparently it's an '89 according to SlowJoe's Vintage Trek link.
The frame is True Temper RC / 4130 Chromoly per the sticker on the frame.

I was thinking Shimano 105 because I seem to remember the guy at the LBS saying I could no longer buy a wheel compatible with a 7-speed cassette (or freewheel, I need to learn the difference). Maybe he was referring to what HillRider posted about the size of the dropouts.

I mentioned riding with pride not meaning to imply that stock it wasn't pride worthy, but that in it's present condition (wobbly back wheel, aftermarket front wheel that doesn't match the bike, dirty, dusty, etc.) it needed work.

I think my first move is to address the back wheel, either get a wheel that will accommodate the cassette/freewheel I have, or get a new wheel and a cassette/freewheel that will work with the new wheel and the rest of the bike (derailleurs, chain, dropouts). After that, a lot of it is cleaning, adjusting, lubing, new brake pads, new tires, new front wheel, new handlebar tape, etc.

FWIW - I've been on a few organized rides lately, most recently in Colorado. There have been a lot of really nice classic bikes; Colnago, De Rosa, Bianchi, and others I don't remember. Got me thinking that although I do realize my Trek frame is not in the same league as many of those bikes, it would be fun to give it a face lift and ride something a little more interesting than a run of the mill bicycle. As much as I like my new 2013 road bike, it seemed to lack a little bit of the soul that those older bikes had, seemed a little cookie-cutter in comparison.

All the responses are greatly appreciated, thanks!
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Old 08-04-14, 01:20 PM
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Even the rear wheel may be salvageable if it's wobbly because the bearings need adjustment or the wheel just needs truing. You'd be surprised how nicely some of those old Treks, which IMHO had nice quality parts, clean up.
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Old 08-26-14, 11:07 AM
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Just wanted to thank everyone for the responses and follow up.

The back wheel may have been saved but the last time I had it in the shop the guy said he had a hard time truing it and that some of the nipples were getting stripped.

So I got a new back wheel, a fairly generic wheel that accepts the 7-speed freewheel. I moved the freewheel over to the new wheel (surprise surprise, I had the right tool), got new tubes and tires, replaced the bar tape, cleaned her up and away she went. Not a bad ride at all. I've been using it for my 10 or 15-mile lunchtime rides around the 'hood (I work from home) and it does that quite nicely. I have an organized ride coming in September, I plan to ride the metric century and I plan to ride the Trek just for fun.

In hindsight I agree with the "Don't throw lots of money at that bike" posts, especially considering I have a couple of newer and better frames/bikes. But I'm glad I got her going again.
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Old 08-26-14, 11:19 AM
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Good move. It amazes me to no end that so many of us managed to get by on bikes that had only 10 speeds (total). Moving to more speeds can put the gears closer together to some degree, but on an older bike with typically a 52 tooth front it adds one to two pretty much useless gear combos. Yes, I think it's great that more speeds are available, and I'm riding 8 in the back, but my observation is that many who want to "upgrade" to a higher count cassette just don't want to feel out of date.
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Old 08-26-14, 11:11 PM
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If it's a graduation present from your wife, then it's certainly worth updating. Take it to a frame builder and have the rear spacing spread to 130mm. I've picked up a second hand 105 crankset from an upgrader in the past, and I'm sure you can do the same. Don't forget about picking up external bearing cups too. A last generation 105 RD, new old stock, can be had for pretty cheap. Get a ten speed wheel built. I recommend you use bar end shifters. It keeps some classic flavour on the bike and since the front shifting is friction, you can use any FD without worrying about compatibility. I use bar ends on my touring bike and find them both convenient to reach and easy to use. You should change the bars to something with a better geometry, maybe the Nitto Noodle bar or the Velo Orange copy. Pick up some modern levers, such as the offering from Tektro. Get some clips on those pedals, and change the saddle to something like the Selle Anatomica leather. There you go: a classy looking, modern drive trained, general purpose road bike that you can be proud of.

Edit: I see from the post above that you'd decided to stick to the original drivetrain. That's a great choice as well. You might still consider my recommendatioin about bar end shifters, as these make a dramatic difference from down tube. Obviously the toe clip, saddle, etc advice still applies should you feel like updating the bike a bit in the future.
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