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Guidance re: getting my old Trek 820 streetworthy

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Guidance re: getting my old Trek 820 streetworthy

Old 09-28-14, 09:00 AM
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Guidance re: getting my old Trek 820 streetworthy

Hi all, this is my first post after about a month of searching the internet and reading. I am looking to service my old Trek 820 circa 2000 to get it ride ready. And what i mean by ride ready is paved trails, and light dirt trails at the worst.

Here is the back story: I bought this trek 820 brand new back in 2000 for $200 on sale at a LBS and took it out on some trails intermittently for several months. Then school came up and I used it as a daily commuter (10 minute commute because i lived very close) for a few years. Then it spent the rest of its life neglected in storage. Since that time, i had gotten married, had a kid, moved to Georgia (Atlanta) from the midwest and the bike has sat in a screened in porch for the past 5 years in the somewhat humid air.

Well recently one of my friends got me back into mountain biking, and have decided to pursue that (totally different bike, not this one!) which will sink a lot of $$$ into. Since i started getting excited about this, my wife took note and thought it might be fun to go on some light trails. So since i am sinking the majority of my $$$ into a mountain bike, and my wife wants to do some mild paved trail riding (likely with one of those child trailers), I figured, maybe i can get this bike serviceable to ride on some light roads and get her a new bike. I searched on the topic and found great resources on old mountain bike conversions for commuters, touring, and cruising. I thought, hey maybe i can just get this serviceable enough to ride around on.

So i did some research and found some parts and thought I could do this relatively inexpensively but since this is my first foray into this, i thought I would check with the experts since i want to make sure this is safe to ride as well. I also thought this would be a fun way for me to get my whet my appetite for tinkering and modifications.

Here are the specs of the current bike (it is bone stock):
From Bikepedia: Trek 820 circa 2000

Frame & Fork
Frame Construction TIG-welded
Frame Tubing Material Chromoly, butted
Fork Brand & Model Sync 288, 2.5" travel
Fork Material Triple-clamp
Rear Shock Not applicable

Component Group Mountain Mix
Brakeset Aluminum linear-pull brakes, aluminum linear-pull levers
Shift Levers Shimano Acera EZ Fire Plus
Front Derailleur Shimano Altus C90 top-swing
Rear Derailleur Shimano Acera
Crankset Shimano Altus C90, 24/34/42 teeth
Pedals Resin
Bottom Bracket Unspecified
BB Shell Width Unspecified
Rear Cogs 7-speed, 11 - 28 teeth
Chain 1/2 x 3/32"
Seatpost Alloy
Saddle Oasis supersoft
Handlebar Alloy
Handlebar Extensions Not included
Handlebar Stem Alloy
Headset Aheadset SE-1

Hubs Alloy
Rims Alloy, 36-hole
Tires 26 x 1.95" multi-terrain
Spoke Brand Stainless steel, 2.0mm
Spoke Nipples Unspecified

My thoughts were to swap the tires out for slicks, change the chain, as it has become somewhat rusty, and swap the front fork as the squishy suspension is not needed nor wanted.

here are the parts list that I have assembled:

Here are the other questions I have that need guidance from you fine mechanically inclined folks. What tools will I need to perform these adjustments. I know I will need a chain tool for the chain, but aside from hex wrenches do i need anything else for the remainder of my restoration project? Also, and most importantly, this bike has sat around for a while in the humidity of georgia although it was under a roof, it was certainly exposed to the humidity. There is some minor rust, but all the parts move, nothing is seized. It certainly needs lubrication and cleaning, but do i need to replace the brakes, cables, or cassette or other things at this point? Or should they be good to go? How would i check to see if they need to be replaced?

Here are some current photos if they help:

Thank you in advance for all of your advice and help!
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Old 09-28-14, 09:49 AM
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squee, Welcome to the forum.

I'd perform an overhaul of the bike which is a great learning experience. Wheel hubs cleaned and repacked with fresh grease, headset cleaned and repacked, bottom bracket is likely a cartridge unit, but clean and repack if not. Cable and cable housing replacement if any shifting or braking is sluggish. Shimano uses/used a grease that hardens with age and can cause problems if the shifters haven't been used for awhile.

Anything not working as it should presently?

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Old 09-28-14, 10:06 AM
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Brad, thanks for the reply! I took it out of the screened in area earlier this year and inflated the tires and rode it around the block. The shifting is pretty stiff (likely from lack of maintenance), but everything moves/works as expected, although i report i did not shift through all of the gears. I suppose that means i should replace the cables. I can add that to the budget! After some more reading, it is probably safest if i replace the brake pads as well.
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Old 09-28-14, 10:08 AM
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It pretty much depends on your level of ambition. New cables, chain, brake pads etc are always nice, but if everything is moving freely already, not actually required. Brake pads can be given a new lease of life by sanding the surface down a bit. I don't think I'd even replace the chain. Wire brush the surface rust, then lube.
But unless the intended rider is taller than you, consider a shorter stem and/or a bar with backswept ends.
And have a shop fit the new fork. Maybe order it too. Fork swap/install takes either some special tools or some skill and ingenuity.
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Old 09-28-14, 10:12 AM
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There are tires that will roll OK on pavement, being un Knobby down the center.. But have a edge row of Knobbies ,
For when the pavement ends..

Continental (examples) , a Trekking-Adventure tire Continental Bicycle -Travel CONTACT
a pair came on a bike I bought it is Great for purposes like gravel roads and well groomed single track (I'd keep my speed down in Loose corners)
And the Police bike favorite Continental Bicycle -Town & Country

If you want a new chain , buy a new freewheel too . [it will suck running a new chain on a used freeweel]

Consider whether you need a new suspension fork, or just get a rigid fork Made to replace a Sus fork.

Last edited by fietsbob; 09-28-14 at 10:17 AM.
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Old 09-28-14, 10:47 AM
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Wow, ok thanks for the advice. i will try sanding down the brake pads and forgoing more drastic changes save for the tires and the fork.
Re: the chain, seriously? Just a little brushing and lube for a 14 year old chain? If this is true, this will save me some decent time.
Re: the tires, thanks for the recs. They look like good tires.
Re: the fork, is it really too much trouble for me to attempt on my own? If so, I can certainly find a LBS to do the work.
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Old 09-28-14, 10:56 AM
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Replacing the fork depends on how mechanical you are. In my view, it's not that terribly complicated, but I have a lot of experience as a bike mechanic, so my view is skewed.

I recommend slick tires or tires with inverted tread if you're going to be riding on pavement. That's what I put on my wife's bike. She'll never go back to knobby tires.

My wife has the same model from the same year, give or take. It has served her well, as it is quite reliable and durable. It is heavy, though. Eventually, she decided to get a light bike for when she's not carrying stuff or when she wants to go a little faster.
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Old 09-28-14, 11:30 AM
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Rather than sink dough in to this, I'd do only what is ABSOLUTELY necessary to get it rolling and suited to the purpose. That means budget tires with either a center ridge, or smooth center with some tread to the side, so it rolls easily in pavement, and hardpack, but has some bite for turning on softer stuff. Then I'd oil up the chain (all it needs), and run some light lube into the cables and work it in and see how it goes.

Then basic tune up adjustments, and some test riding. If the oil saved your cables you're that far ahead, though if the old shoes provide poor braking you might replace those (especially since your wife probably has less hand strength than you do)

Then ride the bike. That experience will tell you whether to continue to make upgrades on this, or designate it the "B" bike, and buy her something nicer. Spending as little as possible now, leaves your options open. If you spend too much on this you get caught with a bike not as nice as she wants or needs, yet with too much into it to start fresh.
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Old 09-28-14, 11:39 AM
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Thanks for the reply, will definitely do this and appreciate it. I am pretty set on the new rigid fork as the slop from the existing is pretty annoying. I will definitely do the tires and the fork then. And just so we are clear, My wife gets a brand new bike, this is the beater that I will convert to ride alongside with her. I am putting the majority of the funds into a new mountain bike for myself.
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Old 09-28-14, 01:21 PM
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Unless you rode the bike a lot previously, I'd not bother changing the freewheel.

I'd do the following:
Clean everything
True wheels
Repack wheel hubs with fresh grease
Repack headset with fresh grease
Replace cables and housing
New brake pads if they need it
New chain
New tires if the old ones are worn/dried out
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Old 09-28-14, 01:53 PM
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I can vouch for those Conti T&C's. They roll well even in a large size and are weirdly effective in slush.
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Old 09-28-14, 03:00 PM
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If you want to save buying a fork, you might be able to immobilize the suspension fork, perhaps by replacing the springs and/or elastomer with rigid spacers.

If you end up changing out the fork/bars I'd recommend that you get a new stem with a 4-bolt face plate; those 2-bolt ones have no redundancy against a bolt failure.
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Old 09-28-14, 09:52 PM
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Interesting, can you point me to any resources on how to immobilize a fork like that?
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Old 09-29-14, 03:51 AM
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get a cable lube device and pressure lube the cables. i am running nashbar streetwise city tires on the dirt roads at one job and pavement on another, hard to beat for $11.
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Old 09-30-14, 10:21 AM
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Thanks everyone, i ordered my parts!
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Old 10-01-14, 03:18 AM
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Check out Bontrager H2 tires. They work great as a commuter tire for mixed surfaces and aren't very expensive.

+1 on not sinking a bunch of money into this bike to start with. Make sure your wife likes the bike and riding then make changes as needed. Clean, lube and adjust everything. Repack all the bearings. If the chain only has light surface rust, I'd lube it up and ride it for a while. I wouldn't replace the fork right away unless it it shot or your wife really hates it. Fog a bit of WD40 or Liquid Wrench Penetrating Lubricant (blue can, different from the Liquid Wrench in the yellow can which is used to break parts free) into the shifters and work them through all the gears a few times. Cables can be lubricated by loosening them enough that the housings can be freed from the stops, wipe the cable with lube and slide the housing back and forth along it a few times adding a drop of lube to the cable at each end of the housing until it slides smoothly and freely. Place the housings back in the stops and readjust the cable. New brake pads and cleaning the braking surface is a good idea, old pads get stiff over time.

My wife rides an old 820 as a commuter, here are some of the changes I made for her:

- Profile design stem that is shorter and has a more upward angle than the original stem
- Handlebar with a bit of rise and sweep
- Ergon GR2 bar end grips
- Bontrager H2 tires in 1.5" width
- She insisted on a "comfort" seat but I'm trying to talk her back into something more like an endurance/touring saddle

You may or may not need/want to make some of these changes, this is just a list of what worked for my wife.
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