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Hard tail 29er vs Trek 750 conversion

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Hard tail 29er vs Trek 750 conversion

Old 01-30-24, 09:16 PM
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Hard tail 29er vs Trek 750 conversion

So I have a good bit of gravel forest roads nearby and have considered getting a gravel bike. I used to do some mtb but moved a couple times, got more into road riding, and where Iím at now there are nothing but rocky, root bound trails that I donít really enjoy. So Iím pretty much a roadie at this point.

I have a 2008 Cannondale hardtail 29er with hydraulic discs and lower end shimano 3x9 (store I think?). I also have a chance to buy what looks like a good shape Ď91 Trek multiitrack 750 for cheap. Iím considering doing a drop bar gravel conversion preferably to 1x on one of them but Iím not sure which would be best/easier.

29er
pros:
-I already have it and donít use it
-hydraulic discs
-right sized wheels
-maybe could just stick with current drivetrain

cons:
-geometry might be less than ideal
-I canít seem to find any solution to 9sp hydraulic brifters (do they even exist?)
-new 1x drivetrain that would have hydraulic brifters look pretty pricey was hoping to do something like Microshift sword

Trek 750
pros:
-right sized wheels
-from what Iíve read looks like geometry is pretty good
-could probably do microshift sword easily

cons:
-wheel might be right size but its freewheel so can use sword after all without new wheels or putting freehub in existing wheels and re-lacing
-will forever be stuck with rim brakes

Any advice, preferably not ďgo buy a real gravel bikeĒ because I donít feel like dropping a couple grand on something I may only do occasionally?
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Old 01-31-24, 12:59 PM
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The Cannondale likely has a much longer top-tube, which may make it difficult to get the fit right with a drop bar conversion. If you go for it, you want a short stem and short reach handlebars. If you go with bar end shifters, they will work perfect with the 3x9 drivetrain. Swapping to mechanical brakes would be the easiest way to get something working.

Otherwise, ditch your current drivetrain, grab a set of hydraulic drop bar levers, and get a drivetrain to match the levers. You may have to get creative to find a working solution for getting something that plays nicely if it involves front shifting.

If the roots you are riding on are gnarly enough, the increased tire clearance of the Cannondale might make it worth it to pick it over the Trek.

The Trek will be simpler to figure out a good combo of parts. If you don't want an aggressive fit, grab a stem that has a good amount of height, like a Technomic or Dirt Drop.
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Old 01-31-24, 01:52 PM
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The Trek 750 Multitrack is a great bike on many levels. There's more tire clearance than people expect and they handle/ride great. 700C is another plus. Downside is rim brakes. I'd look for a disc brake fork and explore options to adapt discs to the rear...

Check this out for more of what's being done with them: Show your Trek Multitrack!
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Old 01-31-24, 06:51 PM
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I would consider buying the Trek 750 regardless

I prefer disc - but rim brakes should be fine for gravel and dirt roads, crushed limestone, etc

can you just use the Cannondale on the gravel and dirt roads etc as is - without handlebar and drivetrain changes ? maybe just tire change ?

prob prefer drop bars ? if so I can understand - I ride both flat bar and drop bar on gravel etc - I prefer drop bars for the longer rides

maybe keep your eyes open for a good deal on a used gravel bike ?
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Old 01-31-24, 08:52 PM
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Yeah thereís no real reason I couldnít just keep the flat bars on the 29er but I just prefer the drops. I also just feel like Iím so much slower on the 29er. I rode it 330 miles from Pittsburgh to DC on the rail trail and the whole time I was just thinking how much more Iíd prefer to have my road bike. It does seem like trying to convert it will be too much of a headache though.
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Old 01-31-24, 10:19 PM
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no doubt you were slower on that 29er than you would be on your road bike - but I would not want to ride a road bike on the GAP

how wide can you go (tires) on your road bike ?

if you have ridden the GAP - plan to ride gravel forest roads etc - that might indicate more than ‘ occasionally ‘ … ? … if so you might be a good candidate for a gravel bike ?

Last edited by t2p; 01-31-24 at 10:35 PM.
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Old 02-02-24, 07:49 AM
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Yeah it could get to that. There are a lot of gravel trails and forest roads very close to me. Iím thinking long term likely is going to be to sell the 29er and get a gravel bike eventually but right now it looks like the multitrack is going to happen so I think Iím going to try and get some drop bars on that and use it for a bit. If itís in good shape I might just leave the original drivetrain although I have it in mind to maybe throw on the microshift sword drivetrain if I can find it on sale somewhere.
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Old 02-02-24, 08:31 AM
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I'd leave the flat bars on the Trek 750 and just throw on a set of aero bars for the weeks where I'd be mostly on paved roads. Under 50 bucks for decent aero bars, no need to swap any parts, and at least as fast on paved roads as drop bars would be.

Re rim brakes: riding in a near-downpour a few days ago, I realized that all I have to do is apply the rim brakes very gently for a short distance to get rid of the water layer that prevented quick stopping. Approaching an intersection, for example, I started applying the brakes (gently) with about 15 yards to go and had plenty of braking power with plenty of room to spare.

Discs are better for worst-case scenarios, of course. Still, I've survived this long. (Disc brakes wouldn't have made a difference in yesterday's near-death encounter. Car came barreling along at 40-plus mph, driver unaware that the car was in a turn lane with an abrupt sharp turn coming up. Car smashed into and over two narrow traffic lane separator islands and then into a tree. Literally one second earlier, I was in the flight path.)
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Old 02-02-24, 08:34 AM
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The Multitrack is a solid choice in spite of the rim brakes and thread I shared will definitely give you ideas what people do with them. I'm rebuilding my curb find 730 Multitrack (FSA crank, Microshift Centos/5700 derailleurs, 11-34 cassette, 105 5501 hubs/Mavic MA3 hoops/Alivio brakes) that you might appreciate. Trek 730 MultiTrack Curb find- Operation WetTrek
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Old 02-02-24, 06:48 PM
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Yeah Iím figuring the multitrack is a solid acquisition to have either for gravel or maybe to turn into a touring bike someday. Iím jealous of your free hub though, the one Iím after is older and has a freewheel so going with the microshift sword like I was think will require a new wheel. I have a wide range shimano freewheel I might put on if I can find some cheap 7 sp briftersÖ.weíll see have to get the bike first.
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Old 02-02-24, 07:40 PM
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A Trek Multitrack was my first adult bicycle, so I will always hold them in high regard, but modern bikes are exponentially better, in my opinion.

For me, the biggest drawback of the 750 is the tire clearance, which will max out around 40mm. That's probably fine for many people, but I prefer fatter tires, across the board. I might change my mind if I ever get into long distance pavement rides, but that is highly unlikely.

My current all-rounder is a 2023 Trek Roscoe and I can't imagine getting another bike that doesn't have all the modern standards: hydraulic disks, a modern 1x12 drivetrain, high engagement (preferably instant engagement) rear hubs, boost spacing, modern geometry, etc....

It pains me somewhat to be riding a stock Trek, having been a major bike nerd for going on 14 years now, and someone who is really into the "cool factor" of unique bicycles, but the Trek just works. If I decide to go the "cool" route, I'll probably get a Stooge Mk6, which is basically a rigid version of my Roscoe.


The final iteration of my Multitrack:

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Old 02-02-24, 11:56 PM
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One thing to note about the multi tracks, at least the early ones, is the geometry. They feel like your on top of the bike vs in it like some modern bikes. This got to me on multi hour rides as I still felt like I was in the bike when I was done (like the feeling of waves when on a boat). This got me to sell mine off in favor of a new bike.

It was a nice riding bike, just wasn't for me.
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Old 02-06-24, 01:02 PM
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I thought about a Trek 750 for a long time - I loved the lugs and the level top tube. I never ended up buying one, but I did see that someone on instagram had posted that they fit 700 x 47mm with 5mm clearance in their Trek 750, which looked like a 1991 model based on the lugs and paint job. Of course it all depends on rim width too. I mention this as a data point about tire clearance - that post was a strong point in favor of the 750's tire clearance capabilities.
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Old 02-06-24, 03:35 PM
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I mostly ride road, but have been using my 29er hardtail for road/gravel rides in the fall/winter (and also pulling a trailer sometimes in the summer). If it's messy outside, I often ride the same routes I would take on my road bike (for shorter 45-60 min rides). After an hour of riding, I'm missing the drop bars from my other bikes. On my cross bike, I miss the hydraulic brakes.

If you're already wanting more speed like your road bike, I wouldn't spend money on half-measures. Buy some gravel tires for the 29er, you can transfer those over to a gravel bike later. You'll always have compromised geometry. Unless you're going to get rid of the suspension fork and replace the MTB wheels with something lighter (and less overbuilt for road/gravel), you'll always have a big weight penalty (for my small/49cm bikes, it's roughly 10 pounds over the road bike and 7 pounds over the cross bike). Save your money and wait for a deal on a gravel bike or maybe a cyclocross bike with a more relaxed geometry.

As a temporary solution, maybe there is a weird handlebar that supports your existing drivetrain and gives you some different hand positions?
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Old 02-06-24, 05:35 PM
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Well I went ahead and got the Trek 750. From vintage trek I think itís a Ď91 with the lugged frame. Seemed like a decent deal even though the lady selling it was a pain and then changed the price at the last minute because some other guy was hounding her. I think she thought she had something much rarer than she did. For $100 I figured itís worth it and couple probably unload it for the same if need be.

Itís pretty grungy and thereís no tube on the front but the bontrager tires seem pretty new. Thereís a small dent on the top tube but otherwise I think itíll clean up pretty good. I think the plan is gonna be swap wheels with an old set of shimano I have that have a freehub and then try to find a deal on the microshift sword group set.
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Old 02-25-24, 01:52 PM
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I mostly ride old roadie conversion-to-x bikes in rocky rooty dirt trails, but I also have a couple 26ers I take out occasionally when the joy of needle threading a narrow tire through is less appealing than just blasting through like a moron.

The top thing I hate about mountain bikes is they only have climbing gears and have no gearing for smooth flats or mild descents. Puncture resistant tires only make it worse by making it feel like you’re going uphill while descending- just great on a flat rail trail.

If you sometimes like doing fast moron riding in the trails, keep the 29er, and maybe try it out with some used high end <1,800g wheels & nice tires (Conti Kings, RH, etc), and maybe larger touring triple style middle & outer chainrings if they’ll clear the chain stays.
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Old 02-28-24, 09:31 AM
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I have a 750 that I converted. I did just rebuild the rear wheel but the rim was in excellent shape. I reused the same spokes to a fairly standard spec Shimano Deore MTB hub (135 width). Just used new nipples. Make the bars wide! I think it works better as an alt bar or wide bar flat or drop setup.



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Old 03-02-24, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by ClydeRoad
Well I went ahead and got the Trek 750. From vintage trek I think itís a Ď91 with the lugged frame. Seemed like a decent deal even though the lady selling it was a pain and then changed the price at the last minute because some other guy was hounding her. I think she thought she had something much rarer than she did. For $100 I figured itís worth it and couple probably unload it for the same if need be.

Itís pretty grungy and thereís no tube on the front but the bontrager tires seem pretty new. Thereís a small dent on the top tube but otherwise I think itíll clean up pretty good. I think the plan is gonna be swap wheels with an old set of shimano I have that have a freehub and then try to find a deal on the microshift sword group set.
Good deal. I would however get it rideable as inexpensively as possible with the tires you want on it and try it out on your particular dirt roads before changing the drive train and bars.
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