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How do 1980s Trek bicycles compare?

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How do 1980s Trek bicycles compare?

Old 08-19-20, 09:02 AM
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robertj298
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How do 1980s Trek bicycles compare?

I'm wondering how the Trek bicycles of the 1980s compare to the Miyata, Fuji ,Panasonic
and other Japanese bikes of that era?
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Old 08-19-20, 09:14 AM
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I have only owned one Trek. It was a 1984 Trek 600 and it was a very nice bike. It was given to me and if it would have been my size , I would have kept it. It was too small so I went to the trek store and got an extra long seat post and rode the bike for a while . I ended up giving it to my son-in-law and he loves it. They are great bikes. One word of caution is that mine had the rear derailleur cable fed through the chain stay and inside where you can't see the cable tends to rust. I put stainless steel cables on the bike and the original cable was bad where it runs through the stay.
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Old 08-19-20, 09:17 AM
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I have ridden Trek, Miyata. Specialized and Nishiki's of the 80s and like them all. For any manufacturer you will have entry level to high end so without knowing what you are comparing its hard to know if its apples to apples but I have ridden Trek 420 and 520 of that era and still have the 520 and really like it. Ride them all and compare!


87 Trek 520

1985 Trek 420

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Old 08-19-20, 09:18 AM
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My son-in-law with his Trek 600. It is a really nice bike!
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Old 08-19-20, 09:20 AM
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Having been lucky enough to compare many vintage bikes from the seventies, eighties and and, I can honestly say the Trek road bikes, the ones that have come my way, seemed to be a cut above most others. The workmanship was excellent and the ride quality nothing to sneer at. All in all, I would grab another one if one I could afford were to come my way.
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Old 08-19-20, 09:26 AM
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Had the c.'81 or so Trek 620 I had been a couple of centimeters taller I would never have parted with it. Really lovely ride, nice workmanship, just too danged small. Sigh. They're nice bikes with a committed following.
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Old 08-19-20, 09:29 AM
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I worked in a shop in the 80s that sold Miyatas and Treks. I like Treks and own and ride a few. I raced on a team miyata which was a terrific bike.

Both Trek and Miyata were excellent manufacturers and I think they were a cut above the rest.

I'd give the nod to Trek when it came to sports touring bikes (that was not just Miyata's thing), both made excellent racing bikes so I'll call that almost even, and give Miyata the nod when it comes to their top end touring bike.

If I were looking for an 80s era mountain bike, I'd look for a specialized stumpjumper.

But if I were looking for a Trek, I'd focus on the late 70s bikes. I just rebuilt this 1979 Trek 510. The bike rides great. It has a full ishiwata 022 tubing set and it was low temperature silver brazed (which was how many if not most of their bikes were built at that time). It is a terrific "sports touring" bike.


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Old 08-19-20, 10:53 AM
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From what I can tell these have a cult following because the quality is definitely on par with the best 80’s Japanese bicycles. A good indicator of them being a quality company in the 80s also is that they did not offer entry level models. Their lines started with mid level, and now some of their mid levels are considered closer to upper level. This is more true the further into the 80s you get.

Also worth noting that it’s hard to have a discussion about touring bicycles that involves the Miyata 1000 and Specialized Expedition without also mentioning the Trek 720. These are considered by many to be the holy grails of production touring bicycles.

Lastly, have you ever seen the imron paint they used up close? Nothing compares.

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Old 08-19-20, 11:01 AM
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My 1984 Trek 760 is a great rider.


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Old 08-19-20, 11:08 AM
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Frame geometry is nice, with 73 degree seat and head tube angles. Add a little rake to the fork and you've got "handling by René Herse".

The downtubes are thicker-walled than some other "sport tourers" but it only increases the stiffness of the frame to be on par with using an oversized downtube, as on Jan Heine's "Mule".

They are thus justifiably popular for 650b conversions. I will ride next PBP on mine if I can't tandem qualify with my younger brother.
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Old 08-19-20, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
I worked in a shop in the 80s that sold Miyatas and Treks. I like Treks and own and ride a few. I raced on a team miyata which was a terrific bike.

Both Trek and Miyata were excellent manufacturers and I think they were a cut above the rest.

I'd give the nod to Trek when it came to sports touring bikes (that was not just Miyata's thing), both made excellent racing bikes so I'll call that almost even, and give Miyata the nod when it comes to their top end touring bike.

If I were looking for an 80s era mountain bike, I'd look for a specialized stumpjumper.

But if I were looking for a Trek, I'd focus on the late 70s bikes. I just rebuilt this 1979 Trek 510. The bike rides great. It has a full ishiwata 022 tubing set and it was low temperature silver brazed (which was how many if not most of their bikes were built at that time). It is a terrific "sports touring" bike.

One caution on any Trek with the seatstay caps of this bike. (My 400-something '83 Trek had those caps - they are likely to crack across the deep TREK lettering.) Dave Levy of TiCycles has repaired enough of them that when I called him after seeing the crack across the right "R" he said "look at the other side. You will see a crack there too." He was right. Said that without even seeing the bike.

He repaired mine with just lots of braze, both sides. He filled in the "R" so now it's just a T EK. Better than new now but between that and powdercoat, a $500 crack. I've put another 10,000 miles since and the bike is a keeper, so I'm not complaining.

Ben
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Old 08-19-20, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
One caution on any Trek with the seatstay caps of this bike. (My 400-something '83 Trek had those caps - they are likely to crack across the deep TREK lettering.) Dave Levy of TiCycles has repaired enough of them that when I called him after seeing the crack across the right "R" he said "look at the other side. You will see a crack there too." He was right. Said that without even seeing the bike.

He repaired mine with just lots of braze, both sides. He filled in the "R" so now it's just a T EK. Better than new now but between that and powdercoat, a $500 crack. I've put another 10,000 miles since and the bike is a keeper, so I'm not complaining.

Ben
There was also the problem with the Ishiwata fork. My 82 412 has a Tange fork instead of the Ishi one. Must of been a production thing.
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Old 08-19-20, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
There was also the problem with the Ishiwata fork. My 82 412 has a Tange fork instead of the Ishi one. Must of been a production thing.
And that depends on WHICH Ishiwata fork. Some were made with investment cast crowns, and they're safe.
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Old 08-19-20, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
There was also the problem with the Ishiwata fork. My 82 412 has a Tange fork instead of the Ishi one. Must of been a production thing.
Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
And that depends on WHICH Ishiwata fork. Some were made with investment cast crowns, and they're safe.
Yeah the Ishiwata fork on my '79 510 has an investment cast fork crown. That fork crown is fine (and it looks very different than the ones that may fail) and it has reinforcement tabs.

The problem was with the forks with the Ishiwata CCL fork crown which showed up on the 400 series bikes as well as some of the 600 series Treks. But that problem cropped up after the bikes had been in long use and only on some of these bikes. There are a lot of people riding these bikes on BF who have no problem with that fork crown. My guess is that this was only a handful of that particular fork crown failed. But old bikes can fail which is why you need to inspect them.
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Old 08-19-20, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Vintage_Cyclist View Post
My 1984 Trek 760 is a great rider.


That saddle looks amazing on that bike!
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Old 08-19-20, 12:14 PM
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As I do not own a Trek nor a Japanese road bike, perhaps I'm an impartial voice.

So let's see....
Some Treks are good, some Japanese bikes are good.
In the 80's, the quality of workmanship lay with the brazer's technique, regardless of his employer.
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Old 08-19-20, 12:21 PM
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In the early to mid 80's the 400 range were Taiwan made frames which were shipped to Wisconsin and aligned and finished. On the 500 range at that time had main triangles made of 501 and were made in Wisconsin but the rear triangles were imported and brazed to the main frame in Wisconsin. The forks for both the 400 and 500 ranges were imported raw with alignment and finishing happening in Wisconsin. During that time TREK was best know for their expertise in building touring bikes and were building their reputation for racing bike. Those bikes were build more in line with long distance riding as the had lower bottom brackets and a little less upright seat and head tubes. Most racing bikes of that era were geared toward criteriums, with higher bottom brackets and steeper angles. My 1983 957 was one of my favorite century bikes that I've ever owned.
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Old 08-19-20, 12:43 PM
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Hmmm..... I had a 1987 Trek 560 Pro series that never really grew on me. Seemed plenty fast on the first rides but it was a bit twitchy for me and felt harsh on the roads most of the time compared to several of my other bikes. And yet it was certainly flexy around the bottom bracket area as I always had trouble with the FD when I stood and got on it. The lugs were love/hate, very thick and industrial looking. Not the beautifully graceful, thinned lugs you get from so many of the master builders. Wound up passing it on locally. It just didn't do anything for me really and I kept passing it over and grabbing another bike.



This is how it looked when I sold it. I got bored one night and lined the lugs with a white paint pen.
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Old 08-19-20, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by jamesdak View Post
Hmmm..... I had a 1987 Trek 560 Pro series that never really grew on me. Seemed plenty fast on the first rides but it was a bit twitchy for me and felt harsh on the roads most of the time compared to several of my other bikes. And yet it was certainly flexy around the bottom bracket area as I always had trouble with the FD when I stood and got on it. The lugs were love/hate, very thick and industrial looking. Not the beautifully graceful, thinned lugs you get from so many of the master builders. Wound up passing it on locally. It just didn't do anything for me really and I kept passing it over and grabbing another bike.
My experience with a mid-80's Trek 600.

edit: "...never really grew on me."

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Old 08-19-20, 01:00 PM
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it's a little hard to generalize. The Treks before 1984 were more of an almost boutique maker, like Bob Jackson or something. They were sort of unique in that they were an American factory making top shelf frames and bikes at a reasonable price. In 1984 they ramped up and reorganized production and became a more typical bike shop range with wider availability, and IIRC, a lower entry point. At that point they were competing against Miyata etc, and sure, they were comparable.

They were all pretty nice bikes, but I prefer the earlier ones generally speaking.
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Old 08-19-20, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by robertj298 View Post
I'm wondering how the Trek bicycles of the 1980s compare to the Miyata, Fuji ,Panasonic
and other Japanese bikes of that era?
Which came in your favorite color(s)?

All the brands mentioned are known for excellent quality production bikes. Seems like the question would be better phrased by selecting comparable models of each line -comparable in design intent as well as tubing and geometry specs. Then you could dive into the mouse hole of original components, or update capability, where the better Treks seem to have the edge for 650B conversions.

I enjoyed a long ride on RiddleOfSteel ’s beautiful champagne/burgundy early 80’s Trek 710 (Reynolds 531) while he rode my Columbus SLX metallic red Marinoni, both nicely lugged and assembled with modern components. The two were amazingly similar in their original sport touring design intent and every aspect of quality in the result. But I prefer the red color!

I appreciated bikemig ’s comment about sport touring not being Miyata’s thing, but have enjoyed that versatility of my ‘79 Miyata 912 (not as true of later years) throughout 41 years and four major updates, as well as how adaptable my daughter’s 1985 312 has been, and their original paint quality is fantastic! But a shallower seat tube angle on the 912 would have facilitated my long-legged comfort prior to discovering how much better a long setback seatpost works for me. Also surprisingly useful was the original spec for 27” wheels - more room for fenders over decently wide tires after a switch to 700C.

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Old 08-19-20, 02:56 PM
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Miyata’s I’ve owned (or still do)...
‘84 310
’84 610
’85 710
’86 710
’91 1000LT

Treks...

’78 706
’79 510
’83 720
’84 520
’84 610
’84 620
’86 560

Thoughts...

Treks generally get worse the newer they are, with a few exceptions here and there.

Miyata’s get better the newer they are...

I’m a tourer at heart, not a racer. The Trek touring bikes

/in my size of 24” and at my weight of 200lbs/

are noticeably more flexible than the Miyata tourers, when fully loaded. But that can be mitigated by front loading the trek tourer with low riders. They are just as capable, but more sensitive to load placement.

The Miyata touring bikes are more rigid, and feel more like a newer tourer. They compare well with the Cannondale ST series, (which I am a HUGE fan of).

I like the Trek tourers for gravel travel, and what is a little flexy while fully loaded, translates to a beautiful ride when lightly loaded.

If I were crossing the continent, I’d take a Miyata, anything less than that, I’d take a Trek.

That translates into what I thing Trek did better than any other manufacturer, Sport-touring. The late 70’s 5 and 7 hundred series sports bikes are my favorite things to ride around on. Miyata made excellent racing bikes, and touring bikes, but as was noted, they didn’t do sports bikes.

Trek just got it right with parallel 73* angles, 44.5cm chain stays, and low trail forks. The steering is responsive and fun, while the longer wheelbase soaks bumps and just rides real smooth. They’re a bit of magic for my (again, in my frame size and at my weight).

Trek gets the nod for frame tubing, until about ‘86/‘87 when Miyata started using STB tubes. Miyata makes a sturdier bike, and I think the finish quality is a little better, but for me, Treks ride nicer, and I’m a huge sucker for the radiused drop outs on the domestic built frames.

But remember that it’s more about comparing specific models, from specific years, AND in specific sizes, THEN factor in rider preference, riding style, riders weight. Shoot... Tires make a big difference in bike feel, and wheels certainly do...

I’m selling off my Miyata’s to keep the Treks, but if another 1000 comes my way, and in my size, I’m snapping it up.
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Old 08-19-20, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
I worked in a shop in the 80s that sold Miyatas and Treks. I like Treks and own and ride a few. I raced on a team miyata which was a terrific bike.

Both Trek and Miyata were excellent manufacturers and I think they were a cut above the rest.

I'd give the nod to Trek when it came to sports touring bikes (that was not just Miyata's thing), both made excellent racing bikes so I'll call that almost even, and give Miyata the nod when it comes to their top end touring bike.

If I were looking for an 80s era mountain bike, I'd look for a specialized stumpjumper.

But if I were looking for a Trek, I'd focus on the late 70s bikes. I just rebuilt this 1979 Trek 510. The bike rides great. It has a full ishiwata 022 tubing set and it was low temperature silver brazed (which was how many if not most of their bikes were built at that time). It is a terrific "sports touring" bike.

This has been my experience too, having owned quite a few Treks and Miyatas.
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Old 08-19-20, 04:50 PM
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I like the Trek road racing line over the Japanese bikes of that era. Currently I have 2 Trek MTB’s but it’s the roadies that really grab me. Years ago there was the ‘85 460 that thrilled me to ride it but not so twitchy to ride my first Century on. Then came the 86 Trek 760 Pro Series that took me 2 years to obtain from the seller that wouldn’t let it go. Except for one nick it could be mistaken for brand new. Full 531c tubing and forks, Campagnolo drivetrain, Modolo Equipe’ brakeset, later I added Mavic red label tubular wheelset with Normandy hubs bring the weight to 20 lbs.


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Old 08-19-20, 05:42 PM
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When they started using their own, ugly cast lugs and super heavy Matrix rims is about the time they lose me.

I had a '79 900 series. It was beautiful. And my one Trek keeper ... for a while.

I also really liked the '80 412 I had, made of Ishiwata.

My only Japanese keeper right now is an '82 Miyata 912. With the way it's built up (with a chromoly fork), it's one of the best bikes I've ever ridden. It also looks totally badass.

A nicer Fuji, like the Opus, has never crossed my path.
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