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Wife found a 1985 Trek 500 in great shape. How do I get her to ride it?

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Wife found a 1985 Trek 500 in great shape. How do I get her to ride it?

Old 07-06-24, 11:43 AM
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Wife found a 1985 Trek 500 in great shape. How do I get her to ride it?

Someone in the neighborhood was pitching an old trek in excellent condition so my wife brought it home. It's a 21.5" and she is 5'6" so I think it's a reasonable size.

She's not had a road bike before and thus it's a little older than I'm used to so I'm not sure if some of the characteristics of the fit need adjusting or if that's how things were in 1985.

Mostly she doesn't like the brakes and handle bar, she says they are a bit hard to use. The hoods are a bit narrow compared to modern sti shifters and the leverage you get from the top is much worse.

Does it appear that I could move then around a bit to make then more comfortable or should I pick up a new set of levers.


On the new set of levers... that opens up a new can of worms. I'm pondering an upgrade of my road bike from 9 to 11 speed. I could move the brifters and wheelset over, then she doesn't have to use the downriver shifters anymore, which she dislikes but can deal with.

One other question, the front reflector is a bit dorky. I pulled it off but it appears it is also a spacer on the front fork that's needed. Can I get a space for this or would I have to build it myself.

Thanks!
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Old 07-06-24, 12:01 PM
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Get her a Terry saddle
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Old 07-06-24, 12:14 PM
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I’d try upright bars, new brake levers, and thumb shifters.
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Old 07-06-24, 12:47 PM
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What is she riding now? Did she bring it home with the intention of riding it herself? Ask her what she'd change to mek it more comfortable.

THos dark anodized wheels sometimes didn't stop so well until they wore a little. I'd definitely take a bastard file to the pads and clean them up and whater your favorite cleaner is to make sure the rims are free of dirt and oil.

If it's flat where you live I wouldn't be too much of a hurry to switch to thumb shifters unless she wants them. A stem with a little rise and maybe some Compact or shortreach aero brake levers and "interupter" lever may be a good idea if she likes the dropbars in general. The interupters will certainly stop her if she's in the top part of the bars and the compact levers will give her smaller hands better leverare elsewhere.

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Old 07-06-24, 02:06 PM
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I'll repeat BG's question: What is she riding now? For a beginner, put most of those bits in a box for later and build it back up with Northroads, new levers, and a sprung Brooks. For drivetrain: 1X6(7) with indexed thumb shifter or IGH. If the shifting is not easy and one button, she will be mostly in the wrong gear and not having fun.
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Old 07-06-24, 04:53 PM
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Go with her to pick out a bike that she likes.
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Old 07-06-24, 05:17 PM
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Good on your wife for the save. I can't believe someone was tossing that bike in the trash.
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Old 07-06-24, 05:30 PM
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If she is ok with the downtube shifters you could put some sparrow type bars on and still use those brake levers. You should be able to find a notched spacer for the headset.
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Old 07-06-24, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Mista Sparkle
Someone in the neighborhood was pitching an old trek in excellent condition so my wife brought it home. It's a 21.5" and she is 5'6" so I think it's a reasonable size.

She's not had a road bike before and thus it's a little older than I'm used to so I'm not sure if some of the characteristics of the fit need adjusting or if that's how things were in 1985.

Mostly she doesn't like the brakes and handle bar, she says they are a bit hard to use. The hoods are a bit narrow compared to modern sti shifters and the leverage you get from the top is much worse.

Does it appear that I could move then around a bit to make then more comfortable or should I pick up a new set of levers.


On the new set of levers... that opens up a new can of worms. I'm pondering an upgrade of my road bike from 9 to 11 speed. I could move the brifters and wheelset over, then she doesn't have to use the downriver shifters anymore, which she dislikes but can deal with.

One other question, the front reflector is a bit dorky. I pulled it off but it appears it is also a spacer on the front fork that's needed. Can I get a space for this or would I have to build it myself.

Thanks!
First off, it were my wife I'd be super stoked she brought a bike home because that's the whole story right there. More importantly I'd ask her what she wants rather than random dudes on bf.

Having said that, move your 9 speed stuff over, get her some appropriately sized modern bars, add some padded bar tape, and most importantly a modern women's specific saddle.

Edit: yes you can get a spacer to replace the reflector mount, but it might be a pain finding one. An old LBS or a co-op is your friend.

Last edited by downtube42; 07-06-24 at 05:38 PM.
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Old 07-06-24, 05:46 PM
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That's a nice bike. My thoughts - 1) Fit. Is it too long a reach for her? Would she do better with a shorter stem? If yes, throw calipers on the bars and see if they are 25.4mm or 26.0. Then go online for stems. (The quill will be 22.2mm, very, very common. Thousands of those stems made. You can probably find one for $15 plus postage. If the shorter stem will make things better, do it now! For two reasons. Good fit early on so she can fall in love with the ride which won't happen 'till then. And the bars need tape, she needs levers that work. So all the stuff that has to come off to swap out a stem? Well it's all gotta come off anyway. Do it now and the stem swap labor is 10 minutes. Wait and it's 90.

2) Consult her on the brake levers. Is she riding brifters now? Is that what she wants for this bike? She can shift DTs. So she could shift bar ends also. And you could just go with her to a store/coop and try out say the Tektro or Cane Creek levers, looking for ones she likes her hands on. Now, modern levers, nice grips, more power, brake releases (2 sets of releases never hurt anybody and the second release can be used for a parking brake; ie ridden "off" and set to park).

3) Saddle - Terry is probably a big step up BUT let her ride it and others and be the final say!

With a shorter stem (I am guessing here as I've never seen her but that is a rather common need) and hoods her hands really like, set up carefully to be right for her, she might come to really like this bike. And if her #1 is a fenderless road bike, this would look stunning in yellow fenders and be a super spring/fall bike.

Last edited by 79pmooney; 07-06-24 at 07:41 PM. Reason: Out to lunch typing
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Old 07-06-24, 06:35 PM
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Wow, beautiful bike and great save!!! Flat bar and trigger shifters, or stem converter and modern compact ergo drop bar with STIs or bar end shifters and your in business!
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Old 07-06-24, 06:41 PM
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I suspect that your wife brought the bike home because she thought you would like it.
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Old 07-06-24, 07:22 PM
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Tektro RL340 levers. They're 'fat' (meaning comfortable on the hoods) like STIs and the ergonomics of the lever overall are much better than 'vintage' levers. And they're pretty cheap. I was loathe to give up classic/original/vintage levers, but alas, now all my drop-bar bikes have the Tektro levers. A shorter stem and bars with less reach/more parallel drops, maybe, but try the levers first.
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Old 07-06-24, 07:38 PM
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She currently rides a trek fx 7.1 stage, and mostly loves it. There are some gripes that the standard frame would have solved, but nothing major.

I think the idea of drop bars was a bit intimidating but we took it out in a short ride this evening and she started getting comfortable with it.

The brakes are weak I tried riding it around the block at full power with the brakes on to wear the pads which was a lot of work and didn't help much. I'll take a file to then a suggested. Otherwise some Kool stops.

I have new yellow bar tape for it, I think while I'm doing the bar we will add some modern brake levers because these are just uncomfortable, and possibly a new bar. The interrupter levers look like they may work. We will probably put a few dozen miles on the bike before deciding there.

At some point she probably would have ended up with a road bike, we have done several 40ish bike rides together with the kids in tow and she seems pretty excited to do some of the casual group rides in the area.
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Old 07-06-24, 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Mista Sparkle
The brakes are weak I tried riding it around the block at full power with the brakes on to wear the pads which was a lot of work and didn't help much. I'll take a file to then a suggested. Otherwise some Kool stops.
Beautiful bike. I hope you can make it work for your S.O.. With that old a bike, the pads are going to be hardened with age. Forget about filing them...get some new Kool Stops. Also, the second most common cause of poor braking (after hardened pads) is corroded cables and/or worn out cable housings, which result in a huge amount of friction in the cables thereby reducing the transmission of power from the lever to the caliper. Make sure that the cables slide very smoothly and if they don't, replace the cables and the housings.

Now that said, single pivot calipers like that have less mechanical advantage than the dual pivot brakes that are common today. That means that they will always require more hand effort per unit of braking power than dual pivots. For me, that doesn't matter a whole lot, but for folks with lower grip strength or who are used to dual pivot brakes the increased effort needed for maximum braking may be concerning.

Last edited by davester; 07-06-24 at 09:25 PM.
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Old 07-07-24, 04:29 AM
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If you want the bike to stay close to original, and she can live with drop bars, I'd suggest mounting a pair of Shimano's DEL-80 levers. Much less flex than other safety levers I've tried, and the plastic covers feel nicer to grab as well.

Mrs non-fixie has them on several of her bikes.


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Old 07-07-24, 05:34 AM
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When I got my wife into biking several years ago I mounted short-reach brake levers, strong dual pivots, barcons, compact crank and a woman-specific saddle. I also bought her some cool cycling clothes and helmet. A great success!

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Old 07-07-24, 07:29 AM
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40 mile rides are significant.
I put dual pivots on my wife’s IM and my daughter’s Trek 710. They were fine with single pivots but I feel better now.
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Old 07-07-24, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by sced
When I got my wife into biking several years ago I mounted short-reach brake levers, strong dual pivots, barcons, compact crank and a woman-specific saddle. I also bought her some cool cycling clothes and helmet. A great success!

I did the same except she likes the down tube shifters so I just did tektro dual pivots and short reach levers, and a better fitting set of vintage bars.




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Old 07-07-24, 11:36 AM
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Any shop should have 1 inch headset spacers
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Old 07-07-24, 01:15 PM
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1) Ditch the DT shifters. Sorry, but for folks who don't specifically like them, they're a problem. If you have something with Gen 2 Ergopower levers, those are nice. But I don't know what else you might need to get for compatibility.
2) Ditch the old-style drop bars. They're not designed to be comfortable with brifters. I like Soma Highway Ones.
3) Make sure it's actually her size. If her hands don't naturally fall to the hoods, determine whether you could get them within range with a stem longer than maybe 70 mm. Honestly, at the moment the position of the seatpost screams "This bike is too big!"
4) there are lots of saddles that work for women. Also lots that don't. And you can't tell without trying. Find an LBS that lets you test before dropping >100 bucks.
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Old 07-07-24, 01:42 PM
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Unless your wife has unusually long legs by proportion, a 21.5" (54.6cm) frame seems very large for a good fit. Note that I am a guy, but my legs are a tad longer than typical. I'm 175cm tall and measure 83cm from groin to floor; the bikes I typically ride are 54cm and 55cm C-C with a 55cm C-C top tube and a 11cm stem.
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Old 07-08-24, 09:49 PM
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OK, another update, ordered new brake pads for this bike, and mine as well ($90 on a pile of Kool-Stops?!?!)

Went back and checked the size, looks like it's probably the 21" model, or I guess "medium"? I'll admit it is perhaps a touch large but maybe workable. It doesn't look like a terrible stretch...

I'm also ordering a slightly shorter stem.

If that doesn't work, we'll cut our losses and sell it off, with a new Domane in her future.
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Old 07-10-24, 05:58 PM
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Don’t do it. It’s a waste of time and money to make something into something it isn’t.

I’d be like trying to convert her heels into boots. Even if you did it they’re still heels.

Lifes to short to ride #*%^ that doesn’t fit.
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Old 07-10-24, 07:18 PM
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I’d agree with it being a reasonable size, just without drop bars. going upright wouldn’t even require a shorter stem, tho it would be simpler to just swap the whole cockpit out.
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