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1989 Trek 420 - 25.5" - School Bus Yellow and Nearly As Large!

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1989 Trek 420 - 25.5" - School Bus Yellow and Nearly As Large!

Old 10-18-21, 01:48 AM
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RiddleOfSteel
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1989 Trek 420 - 25.5" - School Bus Yellow and Nearly As Large!

When I'm not building Grail Bikes, which is often, I look for opportunities to build something fun with components I've had in mind for a while. In this case, a sweet yellow 1989 Trek 420 popped up at Bike Works (catalog photo was black/grey with yellow as the alternate color) and I saw it during one of the nights I volunteer there. Free from the Bike Works Curse (as I label it), which usually means it's dented in some unfortunate way, I saw a diamond in the rough. Considerable paint chipping and marks marred the exterior, with tired-but-present Shimano Exage Sport componentry providing some function. This was no beauty queen, but the potential had me excited, along with the 25.5" size. Because of course it did.

So, what sort of plan would I have for this considering the two older Trek touring luminaries in my stable? Enthusiasm and love for frames that fit my tall self know no bounds! Even myself, as a self-avowed not-a-yellow-paint kinda guy, was just drawn to this beautiful yellow with contrasting deep blue graphics. Maybe I'm just a particular yellow paint kind of guy. Anyway, I like Shimano's R2000 and R3000 (current) generations of Claris and Sora. Claris is painted in a dark gloss grey metallic, not too unlike their venerable, girl-next-door-pretty 6400-era 600/Ultegra. The modern Shimano STI hood/lever body design is wonderfully ergonomic. It's essentially a very little sister (Claris here) to Dura-Ace 9000. This is a very good thing, even in 8-speed form, IMO. Claris or Sora components would be my aim for this bike. Modest yet capable modernization.

The following photos will be of it in its as-bought state (for a very modest price, which is good considering the work I am doing to it), though I am nearly done with paint touching up (after extensive cleaning, compounding, and waxing of the paint). The bike was a runner, but in a considerable state of woe.

Rotation of handlebars makes for compact storage of many bikes in a small space. They also accentuate how dire their situation is.


"Have some respect, man" stem/bar positioning.


Blue bar tape would be nice to find again, but this is your typical rode-hard-and-not-cared-about donated bike. Tons of electrical tape for the bar wrap, super grubby brake levers (with a QR function!), and a stock reflector. Swan status is far away.


Cheap stem and headset materials/finishes combined with unsurprisingly similar owners and "storage" situations means the tale of (visual, at the very least) woe is off to a strong start.


Yup, not any better at the bottom headset cup. Component resale value? Working on it...


The distressed logo look is so very much The Current Year, and manages alright here, but it needs to be touched up. And the adhesive foam tape fastening it to the head tube replaced.


People make really weird choices, and I don't know why I still try to understand many people's poor or non-existent logic, but here we are. What in the blue blazes is this random piece of tape doing here? The blue graphics look ace, though, right???


Ah, a bit of provenance or history: It's been a (local) Greggs's Cycles bike. Fun to know, but that tired sticker is coming off ASAP.


Oh-so-typical donated bike roasted saddle, at least visually. In practice, it wasn't actually an arse hatchet!

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Old 10-18-21, 01:58 AM
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More as-is woe!

Paint cracking on the seat cluster lug (confirmed upon inspection).


Still like that blue!


Mountain LX eh??? This baby rolled in at about 25 lbs, no thanks to healthy components such as this!


These painted derailleurs should clean up quite well and allow for decent (and very modest) resale--good to be of (matching) service for someone else.


Love the brake track wear. Calipers are single-pivot side pulls of the standard reach variety as after all, this is an x20 and thus a tourer of some persuasion.


Shifter design isn't so bad. Shifter condition is marginal, unfortunately. That sucks, but abuse and neglect take down even the best of components, and these lesser ones have had their share of a rough life. Random tape alert as well.


Great rims! Still need to clean these and check for any cracks around the eyelets. I wish the brake tracks weren't as worn as they were, but these wheels will clean up well, and certainly well for a great deal on another 7-speed bike.


Unless obvious, I don't doubt even these hubs. Looking forward to an overhaul.


We even get a nice tubing label on the fork blades. Fancy, just like my 720.
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Old 10-18-21, 02:09 AM
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"Ok, Riddle, did you actually ride it?"

Yes, I did. And it did alright! Brake pads were hard, so despite the easier lever effort, stopping power was casual. The stem and narrow, 38cm, long-reach bars make for such a lovely "guiding" of the bike when steering. In the saddle. Out of the saddle, that beautiful handling and steering relationship is destroyed. Shifting was recalcitrant in front and ok-enough in the rear. The Biopace rings were of the second generation type (aka less extreme of a squircle) and actually felt alright to ride. Small diameter tires were rougher on crummy pavement, but that was to be expected. 28s will fit underneath these calipers, if not 32s, though the front has noticeably less clearance (ugh, Trek...). It's a bike, and it's a vintage Trek, so it know how to be a decent ride. It would have been a great Klunker Challenge bike, and certainly for the under-the-budget-limit price, but that's water under the bridge. I'm here to give it a new lease on life and hopefully not lose money on it (it's going to be tight, I think) when I go to sell it, as has been my plan for it this whole time. I'd like to ride it, of course, and just enjoy what a late-'80s "low end" Trek feels like.

At 64.3cm tall, it bests the catalog stats by 0.3cm, making it all the closer to my 64.8cm 620 and 65cm 720. At 3440g for the frame, fork, and headset, it is on the heavier end of the sport touring scale (at this size), which is not surprising.


It's a handsome looking bike, I think. Very well-mannered rider, and I can't wait to see what my restorative efforts (with new-to-it componentry) bring about!
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Old 10-18-21, 08:42 AM
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Sport tourer for sure. I had one in my size around the same time frame in red, I think 30c tires fit well. Rode nicely. Fastback stays always a plus. I like the blue and yellow too. It's be a decent 650b conversion too.
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Old 10-18-21, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by RiddleOfSteel View Post
Love the brake track wear. Calipers are single-pivot side pulls of the standard reach variety as after all, this is an x20 and thus a tourer of some persuasion.
Looks like a fun project. One aesthetic that bugs me in the pic above is how crazy long the brake bolt is. I see that the front is recessed, so they made the rear extra long to make up for it?!
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Old 10-18-21, 11:11 AM
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Big, yellow, steel... Jobst Brandt approved.
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Old 10-18-21, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
Looks like a fun project. One aesthetic that bugs me in the pic above is how crazy long the brake bolt is. I see that the front is recessed, so they made the rear extra long to make up for it?!
The brake bolt may be longer to allow for a reflector bracket, which the previous owner may have removed. So, now it just looks too long.

It is a good looking frame. Yellow looks good when it is clean. Yellow is not my favorite color for frame either, but some of the yellow bikes do look good. This is one of them.

Keep the pictures RiddleOfSteel .
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Old 10-18-21, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by mechanicmatt View Post
Sport tourer for sure. I had one in my size around the same time frame in red, I think 30c tires fit well. Rode nicely. Fastback stays always a plus. I like the blue and yellow too. It's be a decent 650b conversion too.
A 650B conversion would be really nice, especially for tire size. The ride with the old "28s" (more like 25s) wasn't harsh over most pavement, but the rougher stuff wasn't fun. It could have been worse, thus some good 30-32mm rubber would be a welcome feature without losing any speed.
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Old 10-18-21, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
Looks like a fun project. One aesthetic that bugs me in the pic above is how crazy long the brake bolt is. I see that the front is recessed, so they made the rear extra long to make up for it?!
Originally Posted by Velo Mule View Post
The brake bolt may be longer to allow for a reflector bracket, which the previous owner may have removed. So, now it just looks too long.

It is a good looking frame. Yellow looks good when it is clean. Yellow is not my favorite color for frame either, but some of the yellow bikes do look good. This is one of them.

Keep the pictures RiddleOfSteel .
By 1989, I would have thought we'd be "past this", but apparently the full adoption of recessed nut brake caliper mounting had not spread to the lowest ranks for Trek. Here we have a hybrid setup, Shimano OEM even, that employs recessed nut in front and nutted mounting in the back. There is room to drill for recessed nut mounting, which I will likely do just to keep things simple. Plenty of metal to do it, so I'm not worried. Indeed that length of bolt/threading front or rear was, in the past, for allowing a reflector to mount there, and likely also in this case, fenders (as there are eyelets).

The Mr. Clean magic eraser sponge has been instrumental in the removal of smudges and stains in the paint. The touch-up paint has also greatly helped the 'unified front' of presenting the bike as Very and Totally Yellow.

I have a black Tange Passage headset on the way, so the frameset will lie fallow for a bit here until that comes to join the frame and fork together in new life. I'll take some photos when I'm done with all the touching up and cleaning, which should be today.
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Old 10-18-21, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Big, yellow, steel... Jobst Brandt approved.
Well, these are all the photos I need to persuade me to pick up a 27"/68.5cm frame and ride it, low saddle-over-the-top-tube be darned. He fits them the same way I do (or have done so in the past)!


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Old 10-18-21, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by RiddleOfSteel View Post
A 650B conversion would be really nice, especially for tire size. The ride with the old "28s" (more like 25s) wasn't harsh over most pavement, but the rougher stuff wasn't fun. It could have been worse, thus some good 30-32mm rubber would be a welcome feature without losing any speed.
You may want to measure clearances under the fork before you become too enamored with the idea of a 650b conversion. I have a 1990 Trek 420 that is my main commuting, shopping, trailer-towing, load carrying bike. Mine is rolling on 650b x 42mm tires, and has been pretty heavily modified in a number of ways. The original fork was too narrow and didn't have adequate axle-to-crown height for 650b x 42mm with fenders, so I found another fork that worked better for my purposes. Of course, I'm assuming your 1989 and my 1990 had the same clearances which may or may not be true. The good news is that the clearances in the rear worked out pretty well for 650b x 42mm and fenders, once I dimpled the stays a bit.

I love my 420, but it definitely is not the most spritely bike I own. It's pretty stout compared to my '82 614 (aka Frek) and my '82 710, which is why the 420 is the bike I use when I'm hauling stuff. The school bus analogy might work for the color as well as it's hauling capacity.

Have fun with it!

Steve
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Old 10-18-21, 05:39 PM
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Pretty much the same frame as this, great riding bike, the one that gets ridden the most, in my fleet.
Tim


1988 Trek 400t
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Old 10-18-21, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by lonesomesteve View Post
You may want to measure clearances under the fork before you become too enamored with the idea of a 650b conversion. I have a 1990 Trek 420 that is my main commuting, shopping, trailer-towing, load carrying bike. Mine is rolling on 650b x 42mm tires, and has been pretty heavily modified in a number of ways. The original fork was too narrow and didn't have adequate axle-to-crown height for 650b x 42mm with fenders, so I found another fork that worked better for my purposes. Of course, I'm assuming your 1989 and my 1990 had the same clearances which may or may not be true. The good news is that the clearances in the rear worked out pretty well for 650b x 42mm and fenders, once I dimpled the stays a bit.

I love my 420, but it definitely is not the most spritely bike I own. It's pretty stout compared to my '82 614 (aka Frek) and my '82 710, which is why the 420 is the bike I use when I'm hauling stuff. The school bus analogy might work for the color as well as it's hauling capacity.

Have fun with it!

Steve
Looks like the 1990 420 is the same thing just with different colors and decals. I was/am coming at the 650B angle from the point of view of simply having much larger tire diameter for the roads around here. As this bike is meant solely as a fun turnaround and renovate/upgrade project, a 650B conversion is nowhere near being in the cards. My enthusiasm for 650B is greatly tempered by the wheel availability, price, tire availability and price, and brake caliper swap (with less power). Conversion conversations are often dead before they start.

At 3,440g for the frame/fork/headset, this is indeed a stout frameset for its size, though thankfully not too far off my 100g-heavier longer tourers I've had ('74 Paramount 64cm, '83 Expedition 63.5cm, '81 Fuji S12-S LTD 63.5cm, '85 620 65cm), so perhaps it's not out of line at all. My '82 720 is 3,160g and it's taller and a lot longer in the stays. I think it will have character more akin to my 620, Paramount, and Fuji: punchier frames due to weight yet still with good manners. My '85 620 runs 700x42 tires and that has been a game-changer. I'm looking forward to the 420's feel as built by me. The stem and narrow, long reach bars felt great 'guiding' the bike around in the saddle--a really lovely thing. I want to get out of the saddle for climbing and accelerations and see how it does with my preferred bar width etc as it will make a considerable difference.
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Old 10-20-21, 03:42 PM
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Barring any "Oops! Forgot that--should get that part," sections of touching up to do, I am completely done with my paint work. Cleaned, compounded, magic eraser-ed, waxed, touched up (plus a clear coat brushing on). There was a LOT to do, and it took me a bit longer than I had planned, but it looks immensely better than it did to begin with. A "unified front" of color. The yellow paint brings me joy to see it. The 620 and 720 are awesome, beautiful looking bikes, but this 420 is just plain cheerful and enthusiastic.

And what makes me even more excited about this is the Shimano R2000 Claris groupset that is as close to complete as it'll get for this bike (thanks to standard reach caliper needs). I had picked up a gloss black Shimano non-groupset crankset for a great price after bemoaning the $80+ prices for R2000 cranksets, and was all set to use it, reluctantly, due to black on yellow looking "basic," but an essentially new R2000 crankset (and BB!) popped up on CL (thanks, ctak) in Portland, and after staring at it for a few days, I decided to reach out and ask if the owner would be open to shipping as I was well north of him. Turns out he was going to south of Seattle the next morning (so, today) and that he'd bring the crankset along if I wanted. I said I'd meet anywhere he'd want and thank you so much. I suppose I have never been more excited for a near 1,100g crankset for a low-end groupset, let alone a low-end groupset, but here I am, chopping my way through an hour and a half of rain-riddled commuter traffic and crashed semi trucks on the return drive home (the out drive was a scant 35 minutes or so--great time) with my bounty for a better deal than I could have hoped for given things. And the dark grey looks so good next to the yellow paint. The headset's arrival and a wheelset purchase will kick the rebuilding off in ernest.

For now, some head badge work. I think I want to hold off on full frameset photos until I have the headset installed. We'll see.

Head tube is 211mm long, and the pieces of blue tape bracket the 50.5mm tall head badge's bounds. These head badges are stamped (thin) metal, and use foam with adhesive on both sides to mount the badge to the head tube. The old stuff was peeling. Some door sealer tape does the trick, lining the thin strips next to each other and trimming the excess. The foam takes up any "slack" or gap in the stamping, which is why it is used, at least as far as I could see. The new tape is about 2x thicker than the old, but 1) I was given it to use 2) who knows if there is thinner tape easily available, so 3) this was a very fast method as well as repeatable.


Some dedicated Sharpie marker use cleaned up the 'distressed' look logo nicely.
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Old 10-20-21, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by RiddleOfSteel View Post
(plus a clear coat brushing on).
Curious what your preferred brush-on clear is...

It looks great so far!
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Old 10-20-21, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by noobinsf View Post
Curious what your preferred brush-on clear is...

It looks great so far!
I prefer the kind that comes with the paint itself. This is the exact product I have been using. Nearly out of the paint!

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Old 10-22-21, 05:44 PM
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The Tange Passage headset arrived last night (late in the evening) while I was out, so today's task was to install it. Seating the crown race was a little trouble, but the rest went in easily. This is obviously a budget (yet proven) headset and could benefit from more bearing balls or a cartridge type setup. At $11 or so, I'm not expecting that, and it will serve its purpose well. A nice satin black finish (Levins et al are glossy), which should play well with the dark greys and matte blacks this bike will have attached to it. Also of note: the stack height is just 30.2mm, hence my need for additional keyed washers.

I re-weighed the frameset, with seat post binder bolt and under-BB cable guides, and we actually dropped weight. 3,405g which is over 30g less than with the old headset! It's still a healthy frameset weight, but it, to me, further solidifies in my mind that it's on par with the 620's frameset weight (if you were to stretch this 420 out in the rear, etc). Good stuff.

Super grey outside, so not as cheery a light source. Still, the enthusiasm of the yellow shines through.


Close up to see the satin of the headset finish and more importantly, the honesty of my touch-up efforts. Time and disregard (poor storage and weird ownership) left their marks on this frameset; but patience, cleaning, polishing, and yellow touch-up paint have brought forth a vastly-improved look--united indeed.


A little visual bumble bee coloring here. It's a lower end frame with lower end components to be put on it, but I like this thing and we're gonna church it up even more than we already have. I'll be picking up some wheels for it tomorrow (good price), and that will really help things move along.
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Old 10-24-21, 01:30 AM
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Last night's motivation. Literally the installation of just the black seatpost was enough to tell me This is gonna look good.



Picked up a set of Fulcrum Racing T wheels off of a Cervelo S2. ~1900g apparently. Perfect for this application, as was the price. Here is the front wheel with its graphics (via sticker/decal).


And here it is with them removed. Much cleaner!


Add wheels, add brake calipers, and my enthusiasm only gains steam. Will black wall tires be the move (these are the 23s that came with it, which won't be used)? Or will tan walls of the 32mm persuasion be employed? That question is hard to answer unless...


...one gets everything together onto the bike! I am blown away by (a good) yellow's ability to hold its own against a legion of black and near-black components. Other colors wilt and beg for an accent to break it up. This yellow isn't fazed. The gloss dark grey metallic of this Claris groupset is just lovely. The gloss black Tektro R539 calipers look super sharp as well. Slowly I gather more pieces, so my next step will be to install my tan wall Vittoria tires (25mm) to get an idea of how that would affect the overall composition. I'll get a photo tomorrow as well--I've already flipped the stem to the "angled up" position for reasons of comfort and aesthetics, a first for me. As pictured, the bike weighs 21.4 lbs (9.7 kg), which is still well under my guess of 24-25 lbs. It'd be nice to duck 24 lbs for the fun of it, but I will be using no special components. Actually, the only fancy component is the Zipp allow bars which are incredibly light--but I got them for a very nice (used) price locally, so they go on here.

For being a sport touring or touring bike of some variation, this thing sure looks fast. Tire-to-frame-tube gaps are still on the tidier side, and will get tidier still with some larger rubber. Still excited about this bike!
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Old 10-24-21, 03:29 AM
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Might I suggest dark blue cable housing, maybe?
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Old 10-24-21, 06:08 AM
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Actually surprised you ditched the crankset. I have the LX on a turquoise Raleigh USA Supercourse and really like it. I search the auctions every once in a while because I wouldn't mind building another triple with it. I would have enjoyed seeing how you would have modernized a groupset using the LX. Hard to argue the direction you went though

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Old 10-24-21, 11:54 PM
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Originally Posted by merziac View Post
Might I suggest dark blue cable housing, maybe?
That is what I would like to do. The trick is where to find it. Jagwire has blue available in a few of their DIY kits, but it is firmly a medium blue and not anything resembling dark blue. Porkchop BMX has blue cable housing that's darker and would have a better chance at matching the graphics' blue. The problem I run into, then is the lack of shift cable housing in that blue. Some Shimano blue cable housing (in DIY kits) also exists, but like the Jagwire, its blue is fairer. I may be "stuck" choosing black for shift and brake housings and going with a darker blue bar tape, which I've checked out in person already. I have some rough Photoshopping to do...
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Old 10-25-21, 12:12 AM
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Originally Posted by sdn40 View Post
Actually surprised you ditched the crankset. I have the LX on a turquoise Raleigh USA Supercourse and really like it. I search the auctions every once in a while because I wouldn't mind building another triple with it. I would have enjoyed seeing how you would have modernized a groupset using the LX. Hard to argue the direction you went though
With my intentions of (employing) Claris in as complete a groupset as possible, as well as my penchant for modern componentry and pretty thing in general, it ends up being fairly predictable. The Exage groupset on this bike was in rougher condition, but my optimism concerning my ability to rehab the paint to a satisfactory level proved true, thus, nothing less than that condition of componentry would be installed on the bike. The shifters have scratches, as does the rear derailleur, but they "match" the new-to-it condition of the frameset. I do remove the 74mm BCD small ring's ability to run a small tooth count, even as good as a 34T small ring is on the new crankset, but beauty, unity of aesthetic, and a specific vision are not easily discarded. Especially when, at the end of this, a sale is expected. To command an asking price that doesn't have me losing money (let alone losing my shirt), just breaking even, it has to look sharp. Not "This would look best with a Dura-Ace 9000 crankset" sharp, because it's not component rank being the issue here, it's component matching.

The Exage group is a nice looking group though, so I'll clean it up as best as I can and see what I can do with it. The shift levers aren't doing well though, which bums me out. I like indexed downtube shifters, and keeping groups together if they come on a bike The only thing I'd modernize with regard to that groupset is upgrading brake pads and changing the chainrings to a 52/39/28 combo or something. All the colors and finishes match, and I still like downtube shifters. If modernizing with STI shifters, I'd probably go with 8- or 9-speed Sora units from years ago. Similar coloring on the lever blades, and just really nice lever action. R451 standard reach brakes to get the stopping better, but that's probably it. The group is pretty much good to go apart from any shifting convenience and braking power desires.
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Old 10-25-21, 12:14 AM
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Originally Posted by RiddleOfSteel View Post
That is what I would like to do. The trick is where to find it. Jagwire has blue available in a few of their DIY kits, but it is firmly a medium blue and not anything resembling dark blue. Porkchop BMX has blue cable housing that's darker and would have a better chance at matching the graphics' blue. The problem I run into, then is the lack of shift cable housing in that blue. Some Shimano blue cable housing (in DIY kits) also exists, but like the Jagwire, its blue is fairer. I may be "stuck" choosing black for shift and brake housings and going with a darker blue bar tape, which I've checked out in person already. I have some rough Photoshopping to do...
Maybe consider black and blue housing then mix and match bar tape for the right affect?

I assume you checked scamazon, I know fairly often somebody says they found what they were looking for there, not sure about the quality though.....
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Old 10-25-21, 12:23 AM
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Originally Posted by merziac View Post
Maybe consider black and blue housing then mix and match bar tape for the right affect?

I assume you checked scamazon, I know fairly often somebody says they found what they were looking for there, not sure about the quality though.....
That is certainly a possibility. Much thinking ahead!
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Old 10-25-21, 07:18 AM
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I'm super into the blue and yellow colorway. Kinda wish my '85 came in that color.
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