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Bontrager Road Lite

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Bontrager Road Lite

Old 12-24-09, 01:01 AM
  #1  
eternalcycle
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Bontrager Road Lite

Hello all,

I'm going to keep this short and sweet since I just made an attempt to post and failed for some reason. I went to the LBS tonight to look for a vintage steel frame to fool with/build up. I ended up walking out with a not so vintage (97?) Bontrager Road Lite. Honestly, I know almost nothing about this bike except that its fairly rare (possibly why I haven't seen much on them). Does anyone have any info on this bike?
Also, the 105 brifters don't seem to want to play nice... I was thinking of just putting downtube shifters on her for the time being. Does anyone know why the existing braze-ons wouldn't work before I go find some to throw on?
Any info is appreciated. Thanks
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Old 12-24-09, 01:32 AM
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sounds interesting, got any pictures?

what's going on with the brifters? should be no reason that downtube shifters wouldn't work though.
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Old 12-24-09, 11:31 AM
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I think the Bontrager Road Lite was a dealer promotional item, if a (Trek) dealer played ball well enough, he got one. I believe there was a goal involved as far as buying Bontrager parts for sale. This is why you see some LBS stocked up on what seems like Bontrager and nothing else, there are many incentives for them to do so. I wouldn't be surprised if Trek made the frame, but don't know.

The 105 shifters should be 9-sp for that year, but you didn't say if they were 8, 9, or 10, all of which are pretty different. Don't attempt to take them apart until you have the diagrams and photos that are available here. Send me your email address and I can help a bit with photos and a diagram or two. There is a guy in SC who often sells brifters on eBay that takes them in for repair, and he's probably the best in the business, if not the only one. I'm working on a set of 9-sp Ultegras right now, so I can't claim any success whatsoever, yet.

If you've got the braze-ons for them, about any 1985 or later DT shifters would work. If you've got 10-sp, the DA 10-sp DT shifters go both 2x10 and 3x10 and are on sale for $59 somewhere almost all the time. I use them and like them. 8-sp or 9-sp DT shifters, you'll have to look, but figure under $50.

KtotheF, how's the Ti build?
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Old 12-24-09, 01:09 PM
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Pre-Trek, Keith Bontrager was a respected frame builder in the 70s-90s. He really made a name for himself when he took some Mavic MA-2 40 hole 700c rims and cut them down to 32 hole 26" size and put them for sale. These were the first light *and* strong mountain rims. He also made some uber stiff off-road forks, the Switchblade, the crown of which was used on the early Rock-Shox's.

He also made some pretty nice and quite innovative frames, mostly mountain, mostly steel, and mostly tig welded. The Road Lite was the road racing frame. IIRC, it was tig welded steel, with riveted aluminum cable stops. It was a very cool frame. Sometime in the mid 90s, he was bought out or absorbed by Trek. His ealry business partner went on to found Santa Cruz Cycles and sold his share to Trek, I think.
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Old 12-24-09, 01:19 PM
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Great info. When I saw the date on the frame, I assumed Trek. If it's a Bontrager-made frame, he may have quite a rarity on his hands, no matter what shifters he uses.

Anyone know when Trek stopped with the Icon stuff and went Bontrager?
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Old 12-24-09, 03:58 PM
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The RoadLite is great stuff by old Bontrager, when it was not only a component label, but distinctive functional stuff designed according Keith's own basic principles. One of them was "Light, strong, cheap - pick two". His frames were tig'ed TrueTemper and used many gussets throughout the whole frame: multiple at headtube, multiple at bracket... Here an ca 1995 catalogue, including the RoadLite >>

https://www.retrobike.co.uk/gallery2/...1d481a44694a68
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Old 12-24-09, 05:30 PM
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Man, that Road Lite was nice, and note the 600 STI group.
If that frame fits, it's a keeper, no doubt.
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Old 12-28-09, 04:20 PM
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Thanks for all of the helpful info. I'll try to post some pics of this work in progress asap. I gave the bike a quick cleaning the other night and was pleasantly surprised at how well it cleaned up. With the exception of a few expected scratches on the frame and decals, this bike is in pretty good condition. This Road Lite very much resembles the one in the picture within the catalogue provided by Elev12k (thanks). The color and decals are the same. The forks look like the carbon Kestrel EMS option, but they don't have any decals (K logo) to identify them, so I'm not positive...

I pulled the 105 (8spd) brifters off and plan on trying to spray them out to un-gunk them. I think this should work. I just threw on some 105 DT shifters so I could ride the bike... I actually think I like the idea of the DT's on it. She's shifting great on the rollers. I can't wait to get home tonight and take her on the road (where she belongs)!

I believe this is likely a 96 or 97 since it has the slotted cable stops rather than the "step-down" ferrules (stopped being used after the 95's). I'm debating on whether I want to try to rebuild her with more original components or just throw on some more modern equipment. For the time being the 105 derailleurs, dura-ace crank, and 105 DT's should buy me some time to think this over.

Does anyone know when Bontrager was absorbed by Trek? Any reviews on others' experiences riding the Road Lite? And, although I don't have any plans of selling, does anybody have a rough estimate of what this bike is worth?

Thanks again.
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Old 12-28-09, 05:17 PM
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Does anyone know when Bontrager was absorbed by Trek?
Mombat mentions March 1995

There also a comparison between Chris Chance, Yeti RoadProject ....and the RoadLite

Among certain vintage MTB purists sure appreciated. Would expect a decent value, but I lack the information to give an exact valuation. Feeling tends towards 400 euro for a decent frameset, but I could be totally wrong on this.
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Old 12-28-09, 05:29 PM
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I have never had one of these brifters that could not be made to work by thoroughly flushing it out with solvent, blowing it dry, and lubing with TriFlow.
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Old 01-03-10, 12:47 PM
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So I have yet to get around to cleaning out these brifters. It will happen, but the DT shifters are working fine and the holidays have taken up plenty of my time. I appreciate the replies and anticipate that they will be fine when I do get to them.

A new question has come up though. I was thinking about turning this old lady back into the gem I think she deserves to be. I'm considering stripping and re-powder coating the frame (was thinking of going with a color that wasn't an original option). Good idea? Does anybody feel that this may take away from the value of this somewhat rare frame? I would put new Road Lite decals on her again if this were to happen... I'm open to ideas here.
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Old 01-04-10, 01:35 PM
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When considering a repaint it is wise to take a few things into account: You can always opt to go for a repaint, but you have no option of going back. Authenticity is gone. When you think the current finish looks poor, it annoys you and you decide for a repaint, I would keep in mind Bontrager carried a quite specific palette of colours. They did offer about 10 colour options. I do not recall all colours exactly, but I do know none of them was flashy. No metallics, no pearls, no high gloss. Often natural solids like olive, brown or BRG, plus silver, black, white. I think orange was the most expressive. I remember I really lusted after an orange Bonty Race with silver lettering on white panels back in the day.

Personally I would never opt for a colour, not to mention paintscheme, that doesn't follow this philosophy. So no pink, babyblue, teal, celeste, cosmic dust, pearl, fades or whatsoever.

I've seen many Races and Race Lites being restored in the past, so you won't face real difficulties sourcing decals. You could ask the people on MTBR VRC or ask 'gil m' on Retrobike.co.uk.
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