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Building up a bonded aluminum frame... (worth it?)

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Building up a bonded aluminum frame... (worth it?)

Old 03-19-16, 04:23 PM
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Building up a bonded aluminum frame... (worth it?)

Hey there,

So first some backstory...

I've ridden road off and on for the last few years and never really stuck with it. Liked my Giant Defy, but sold it (absurdly) and didn't really care for any bike I bought since then.

Bought a used '91 Trek 1400 as a cheap weekend bike to ride when I felt like it, and my plan back fired on me. I fell hard for the bike and have been commuting on it about 50% of the time and doing some weekend rides. I absolutely love the bike.

As much as I love the bike, it's got a couple of quirks. One of the DT shifter bosses is broken off, and a problem solvers clamp on unit has been installed. Plenty functional, but ugly as sin.

Also, the hubs are Dura-Ace. Great! Except for the rear has a uniglide freehub that makes cassette swaps less than ideal (but doable).

I got to thinking...

Since I'm smitten with the bike, would it be a bad idea to try and find a similar frame to build up? Like another 1400 frame? Or does the fact that these are inexpensive bikes with bonded frames, make it so it wouldn't really be worth it?

Thanks.
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Old 03-19-16, 04:26 PM
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Just buy another bike you like and Ride.
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Old 03-19-16, 04:29 PM
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^^ Agree. If YOU think it's worth it, do it. But realize that it is often cheaper to buy a new complete bike from BikesDirect etc. rather than the DIY project. So economically it may not make sense. Still, if that's what you like, do it.
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Old 03-19-16, 04:45 PM
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That is such obsolete techonology. What is the rear dropout spacing? If not 130 mm, run away as fast as you can. I would just let it go.
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Old 03-19-16, 05:47 PM
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Spacing is 126mm...

The tech is old, but I like it better than what I've ridden in the past. My last bike was a 10 speed full 105 bike with brifters. I vastly prefer the indexed down shifters and (though I'll get lambasted for saying this) I think the 7 speed shifting feels better to me. Clunkier, but better.
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Old 03-19-16, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Shinkers View Post
Spacing is 126mm...

The tech is old, but I like it better than what I've ridden in the past. My last bike was a 10 speed full 105 bike with brifters. I vastly prefer the indexed down shifters and (though I'll get lambasted for saying this) I think the 7 speed shifting feels better to me. Clunkier, but better.
Agree to some extent. Up until a few years ago, I was riding 6 speed indexed DT shifters. NEVER dropped a chain. Front and rear shifting was always flawless. Chain would last 10K miles. Shifter cables lasted for years. No surprises.

That said, I appreciate and prefer my current setup (Ultegra 10 speed) even though I occasionally get a dropped chain and have to replace the chain and RD cable every few thousand miles. It's a tradeoff and what you choose is very personal.

However, if you want to build up an old frame you are going to have to scour ebay for NOS parts. As I implied above, it is not the most cost-effective option but if it's meaningful to you go ahead. You will probably get more help in the C&V forum if you decide to go in that direction.
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Old 03-19-16, 06:35 PM
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So (thinking out loud) if I like how this bike feels, but it's not exactly sensible to buy up a similar old frame and build it up, that leaves me basically buying a new frame and building up. That's not a problem (but expensive for what I'd like in a build).

My question is, to get a similar feeling bike, should a person search for a similar geometry, material + geometry, or try ride something around the parking lot and hope that on a longer ride you like the feel.
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Old 03-19-16, 06:38 PM
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Similar geometry and size (go by stack and reach, not "frame size") and do some test rides. Don't get fixated on material. You will likely be pleased with the modern frames, but if you really love the older frame go for it.
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Old 03-19-16, 07:11 PM
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This bike has fans and detractors, the bonded frame had some issues that turned people off to it. You should post your question in the Classic & Vintage Forum where it has been discussed previously. The folks that know both sides of owning one are usually helpful to anyone with questions, several owners and past owners of them are in that forum.

Personally, I'd go the finding a frame that has no issues like the boss that is broken off, and transfer all the components that you have. If you like the ride, go for that, otherwise you can just use the components on whatever frame you like. Best of luck with your decision.

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Old 03-19-16, 07:24 PM
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Will do. Thanks!
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Old 03-20-16, 06:34 AM
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I enjoyed riding my early-adopted Trek 2000, the top-of-the-line embodiment of their bonded aluminum technology. Bought it in 1986 when it was first introduced, and I loved it. But I like to keep my bikes up to date component-wise. When rear spacing changed to 130 mm with the advent of 8 speeds in the rear, that became impractical. I was strongly advised not to cold set that type of aluminum by LBSs, the manufacturer and other folks I respect. I also adhere to the idea that spreading the rear triangle without yielding it and leaving it always under tension affects the ride of a bike to some degree. I suspect that can also contribute to early fatigue of the rear triangle. Hence I sold mine.

What's funny is that after several years of suffering through two stupid ugly paint schemes (the original and a robin's egg blue replacement frame), I finally was able to get the blue one repainted by the OEM to candy-apple red. Oh man, that frame was good looking. And fast! And then I sold it. C'est la vie!

If I were you, OP, I would look for a used or discounted titanium frame. Preferably look for one you can test ride without being committed to buying or at least not to buying irrevocably. IMO that would be your best bet for approximating the ride of the Trek 1400. I know that is how I compare my 2000 and my Merlin Ti bike. I think you should look for new titanium on Bikes Direct. Good pricing, good deals, good bikes, and a satisfaction guarantee if I am not mistaken.
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Old 03-20-16, 06:47 AM
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I had a '93 Trek 8000 MTB with the bonded frame. They're great. If that's what you like find another and build it up. If you do want a modern setup you can slip a 130mm in there no problem, many people here do it with no issues.

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Old 03-20-16, 07:07 AM
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A 1400 served as my winter beater last year. The downtube shifter issue did it in (and overall it was in rough shape, not worth continuing to try to save). I loved that old 105 group. Really shifted nice. As luck would have it, I picked up an 1100 this winter for beater duty. My J-B Weld skills having improved greatly (it's all about the prep, really), this one (which had the same fd dowtube boss failure) has held up well. And being in much better condition overall than the 1400, I'm starting to think it's a keeper. They are very nice-riding bikes, IMO. I even think I like the 1100 better because it has a cro-mo fork, while the 1400 was all-aluminum. Consensus seems to lean slightly toward not risking squeezing a 130mm hub in the back, but I don't doubt people have dine it with no problems.
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Old 03-21-16, 02:57 AM
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I have a 56mm 1990 1100 and a 56cm 1997 1400. I haven't figured out why, but I feel slightly more comfortable on the 1100. The difference may be the tires, since the 1100 is on 28s and the the 1400 is on 25s.

I've been building on a 54cm 93 1400 the past few month when I get the time, and I look forward being able to compare the differences.

While the 1000, 1100, 1200, 1400, 1500 all share basic dimensions there are differences from year to year on the seat fastback fittings, the aluminum tubing 6061 vs 7075 alcoa vs Easton, wheels tires, etc...

If you enjoy the ride of the 91 1400, I think you'll enjoy the ride of any of the Easton 7075 frames. The later Easton 7075 frames are slightly lighter than the earlier Alcoa and Easton frames. Just find a Trek bond aluminum frame the size you like, made of the same alloy as the bike you like riding. I think yours is Easton 7075, and probably has the early seatpost clamp that's in the seatstays and not a collar around the seatpost. A feature change that takes place on the 1993 and newer bonded frame bikes (earlier change on the bonded composite bikes).

1000, 1100, 1200, and 1220 have steel forks, and the 1400. 1420. and 1500 have aluminum forks.

I converted my 1990 1100 to 8-speed in the rear from 7-speed in the rear when I removed the Suntour Component Group. The 130mm 8-speed rear wheels slips right in with little effort.
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Old 03-21-16, 11:53 AM
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If you like older bikes & tinkering, have fun, but if you stick with riding this time, you probably want to upgrade anyway.

I was off & on away from road biking for a long time, and when I came back to it, vintage made sense. I was familiar with the technology, could do my own wrenching, and it seemed cheaper. But eventually, faster, lighter, more comfortable upgrade-itis set in, and I ran into the usual compatibility issues.

I still love vintage bikes, but I bought a modern one, and it's much better in every way, except perhaps style. Before you good ahead with a project, go try a bunch of bikes.
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Old 03-21-16, 01:27 PM
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If you like the down tube I don't see a reason to upgrade.

If you don't want to spread the frame but want a modern style drive train. You can get 7 speed brifters. Shimano tourney which looks like the old sora and micro shift. I just ordered a set of the tourney for a bike for my12 year old. (I wanted the micro shift but they do not have ajustable reach, they make a short reach version but I could not find them for sale. While the tourney have adjustable reach. $61 with cables out the door).
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Old 03-21-16, 02:03 PM
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There is nothing wrong with being smitten with your backup/beater bike. In fact, it's a nice problem to have and buys you all kinds of time to get the next purchase right.
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Old 03-21-16, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Shinkers View Post
Or does the fact that these are inexpensive bikes with bonded frames, make it so it wouldn't really be worth it?
As an investment, it's dumb. Put $400 into a $200 bike, it's still a $200 bike.

If the purpose is to use the bike, it's a question that only you can answer of whether it's worth it to you.

I'm not sure I understand the people who are claiming that parts are expensive. Early 90s? The used market is flooded with decent seven-speed components in great shape, and while not very fancy, some new budget replacement parts are plenty serviceable. Going down the NOS route could be pricey, but otherwise you should be able to find reasonable deals.

And, even if you stick with a seven-speed rear, the drivetrain components don't have to all be "seven speed"; as long as you do your research, you can usually get away with plenty of compatibility shenanigans.
My recent '84 stumpjumper drop bar conversion has a rear mech and shifters that would happily index an eight-speed setup, but they can also index the seven-speed cassette I'm using. (But I'm using them in friction mode, the lever feels lighter that way.)
Maybe relevant: 6-speed, 7-speed, 8-speed, 9-speed, 10-speed, 11-speed?

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Old 03-21-16, 06:14 PM
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Man, thanks for all of the advice guys! You really are great. Here's what I've decided to do...

I'm going to pick up another frame with both bosses intact and in decent condition. Not exactly a 1400 but any of the Trek bonded aluminum frames in a 58 from that era. Dtrain has a good point, I have plenty of time because I like the bike I'm on right now!

If I get a new frame I get a hyperglide rear freehub body, and that will open up some build options that I didn't want to do right off the bat with the 1400. Once I pick up a frame I'll surf here and the auction site for NOS and lightly used 105 SC parts like I currently have (reusing some of what's on my bike as well).

I love wrenching on bikes so this will be fun and very meaningful as I'll end up with my perfect ride.

If anyone has a 58 frame, let me know...

Thanks!
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Old 03-22-16, 04:58 AM
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Without even test riding a modern frame at the LBS to learn what has happened in 25 years? Do you have any idea how you would feel about the aluminum or CF frames that are being produced now? I understand liking what you have, but isn't that a little ostrich-like?
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Old 03-22-16, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
Without even test riding a modern frame at the LBS to learn what has happened in 25 years? Do you have any idea how you would feel about the aluminum or CF frames that are being produced now? I understand liking what you have, but isn't that a little ostrich-like?
+1. This strikes me as a little odd as well. The OP has got the time, so why not shop a bit and test ride some modern bikes. He can certainly keep it modest. Maybe catch a sale on a CAAD8 or something?
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Old 03-22-16, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
Without even test riding a modern frame at the LBS to learn what has happened in 25 years? Do you have any idea how you would feel about the aluminum or CF frames that are being produced now? I understand liking what you have, but isn't that a little ostrich-like?
Originally Posted by dtrain View Post
+1. This strikes me as a little odd as well. The OP has got the time, so why not shop a bit and test ride some modern bikes. He can certainly keep it modest. Maybe catch a sale on a CAAD8 or something?
???

Originally Posted by Shinkers View Post
I've ridden road off and on for the last few years and never really stuck with it. Liked my Giant Defy, but sold it (absurdly) and didn't really care for any bike I bought since then.
Originally Posted by rpenmanparker View Post
That is such obsolete techonology. What is the rear dropout spacing? If not 130 mm, run away as fast as you can. I would just let it go.
Originally Posted by Shinkers View Post
The tech is old, but I like it better than what I've ridden in the past. My last bike was a 10 speed full 105 bike with brifters.
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Old 03-22-16, 11:58 AM
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^ - okay, fair enough. What else has the OP tried besides the 10sp, 105 Defy? If he liked that one...why not go there again? There are many similar frames now. What else has he bought (and not liked) since then? Is the Trek really 'the one'? - if so, great...but there are just so many choices to consider/try.
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Old 03-22-16, 12:50 PM
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Okay, so I know it sounds weird and maybe I'm mixed up in my thinking...

The Giant Defy was my first road bike, and I liked it. At the time I was not where I'm at now mechanically and was concerned with the up keep of a multi-speed bike with a high end drive train on it.

So I sold the bike, and went and bought a single speed Raleigh Furley from the bike shop. It was cool for a while, but I grew tired of the lack of gearing, and of the press fit bottom bracket it had.

So I sold that and bought a 1982 Schwinn Voyageur that I rebuilt and rode quite a bit. I really liked that bike, but it was way to big for me so I sold it.

After that I bought a Motobecane Cafe Century carbon flat bar bike and I liked that too, but I was paranoid about carbon, and sold it. I still will not ride a carbon bike (personal preference)

So then bought a brand new Gravity Comp 22 from Bikes Direct. It's a Giant Defy copy, with full 105 like my Defy had. However after riding the bike a few times, I just didn't care for the feel of the bike (how lame is that?) and it ended up collecting dust.

So I sold that and bought my Trek and so far I'm really enjoying the bike. It's my favorite of all that I've ridden so far, but it has it's imperfections (hence, why I was hunting for a new frame).

My shifter preference goes indexed down tube shifters, Shimano rapid fire triggers, STI, and friction down tube. If I walk into a bike shop to try some bikes on, I'm going to be pointed towards STI and carbon. Two things that I'm pretty sure I don't want. Not to mention in the past when I've gone shopping, many of the shops around here told me to look used rather than spend only a thousand bucks on a new bike.

And lastly, I ride in baggy shorts and cut off t-shirts with my 510 shoes. Not exactly the apparel that will get me taken seriously in a shop around here. I'm happy with my trek so figured that's where I'd stay...

But like I said, I could be thinking backwards...

FWIW a modern frame that appeals to me would be a Surly Pacer.

Thanks for the advice.

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Old 03-28-16, 05:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Shinkers View Post
I was hunting for a new frame.
Saw this, thought of your thread. Might work? TREK 1200 | ROAD BIKE | 56 CM.| 14 SPEED | LIGHTWEIGHT ALUMINUM FRAME
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