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Converting a Trek 830 for touring - advice?

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Converting a Trek 830 for touring - advice?

Old 06-28-08, 03:08 PM
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Converting a Trek 830 for touring - advice?

I've got an older (10+ years) trek 830 I've used to get around town for several years now and I'm finally going on my first real bike trip (nyc to boston) so I'm giving it a bit of an overhaul. I've read a lot of advice on how to convert mountain bikes into commuters or usable touring bikes, but after finding this forum figured I would join / post and see if anyone had any other advice.

So far at the advice of friends / my local bike shop I've replaced the rear gear cassette with something more roadbike-ish, picked up some bar ends for switching up hand positions, dropped some $ on safety lights (2x planet bike superflash + sport light + 1W blaze head), replaced the stock saddle with something with minimal cushioning, and gotten a general tune-up. I already have hybrid tires (michelin transworld city) I picked up last year, a rear fender, rack, and panniers I primarily use for lugging stuff to the post office / groceries.

Some other suggestions I've found online:

(1) Fork - people don't seem to like the fork on the trek 830 and say it's worth replacing - not really sure why - could someone explain this to me? Would a different fork make a big difference for touring? What kind of fork?

(2) Narrower tires / Slicks - I've already got hybrids and am unsure if this would make much of a difference. Would moving to full slicks (26 x 1.6) like the continental contact sport tire (rei) with my current setup make a noticeable difference? Should I look at thinner tires? How thin of a tire would it be safe to use with this bike?

(3) Lighter wheels - having never ridden a bike with lighter wheels I'm not sure how much effect this would have, but people rave about the difference lighter wheels can make. Is this something I should look into? Is this stupidly expensive compared to other changes I could make?

I don't want to break the bank here, but I am getting more into cycling and would rather tweak this bike a part or two at a time as I can afford it than try to save up for a whole new bike. If you think that several different upgrades would be helpful try to prioritize them so I can get an idea of what (if anything at all) I should be looking at first. Any advice you can give me will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 06-28-08, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by loren
So far at the advice of friends / my local bike shop I've replaced the rear gear cassette with something more roadbike-ish
Not sure why this was suggested. Normally tourers want a cassette that offers easy pedaling for uphills with loads, say a 32 or 34 low cassette cog. If you face any steep, long inclines, those low gears will prove useful.

(1) Fork - people don't seem to like the fork on the trek 830 and say it's worth replacing - not really sure why - could someone explain this to me? Would a different fork make a big difference for touring? What kind of fork?
I don't see any advantage changing forks unless your current fork is problematic.

(2) Narrower tires / Slicks - I've already got hybrids and am unsure if this would make much of a difference. Would moving to full slicks (26 x 1.6) like the continental contact sport tire (rei) with my current setup make a noticeable difference? Should I look at thinner tires? How thin of a tire would it be safe to use with this bike?
Often with 26" rims wider tires fit better and therefore are safer. The Michelin's seem to be 1.5 and I doubt you will perceive much, if any, difference going to full slicks. If the current tires are performing well, I recommend keeping them.

(3) Lighter wheels - having never ridden a bike with lighter wheels I'm not sure how much effect this would have, but people rave about the difference lighter wheels can make. Is this something I should look into? Is this stupidly expensive compared to other changes I could make?
If your goal is to ride as fast as possible, this may help although once you load your bike with touring gear (tent, food, clothes, etc.) it is unlikely lighter wheels will help with speed. In fact, lighter wheels may mean a lower spoke count which is not a good idea. If the current wheel set is performing well, stay with them.
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Old 06-28-08, 03:45 PM
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Does the fork have tip and mid eyelets for a front rack? If not, that could be why you've gotten a suggestion to replace it. (If you have tip and not mid eyelets, you'll be fine with a rack mounting adapter.)
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Old 06-28-08, 04:30 PM
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It sounds like you have most things sorted. To convert an older mtb, I reckon on the following:

-change tyres to touring tyres (seems like you've done this)
-personally I'd keep the gearing (you've already changed this, but probably will not be a problem; you are usually better to run out of gears at the top end rather than at the low end when you need to go up a steep hill)
-swap a comfy saddle on (you've done this)
-put fenders on (you've done this)
-put a decent rear rack on (you've done this)
-change handlebars or gear shifting mechanism (not absolutely necessary, but personally I wouldn't want to tour for a long time on just a straight bar and you mention you have bar ends -I'd still consider the nashbar trekking bars though)

I don't know why you've been advised to change the front fork -perhaps because you might need front eyelets, but then again a pair or rear panniers and a front bag should be adequate. Other than that it may be for some other reason I've not heard of.

I tour on 1.25 slicks -some people think these are too harsh (can't say I notice in all honesty) but I'm not sure if thinner tyres will buy you that much more. I wouldn't think lighter wheels are going to be that much of a wise investment either -touring is about the journey, not getting to the destination asap -besides, generally speaking lighter can mean weaker, something that is a big no-no for touring.

The only thing from what you've said I'd place emphasis on is probably making sure you are comfortable; invest in a new stem/quill if you have to, change the bars to trekking or road if you really find those comfortable, put a saddle on you know you'll find comfortable.

if you're satisfied, then start looking past the bike to camping equipment and cycling equipment such as good gloves or helmet, etc.
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Old 06-28-08, 06:49 PM
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If you look at touring bikes, you will find the gearing very similar to the stock gearing on your Trek 830. Go to: https://www.bikepedia.com and look at the specs for a Trek 520, or a Novara Randonee or similar. I put 26 x 1.25 slicks on my Trek 950. I would put your old cassette back on immediately, unless you are going to be touring in a very flat area.

+1 I would not waste money on new wheels. If you are going that route, you are better off flipping your bike and picking up another one used with the components you desire.

+1 Trekking bars, I have a set of Dirt Research bars on my Trek 950, the Nashbar trekking bars are better and when on sale, they are cheap. Ditch the flat bars, as they limit you to basically one hand position. The Nashbars give you three or four (or even more) positions.

I don't see a problem with the stock bars.

I have added front and rear racks since I took these pics.
Attached Images
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trek 950 comp 01.JPG (57.6 KB, 91 views)
File Type: jpg
trek 950 comp 02.JPG (34.6 KB, 69 views)
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trek 950 comp 03.JPG (39.0 KB, 61 views)
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Old 06-28-08, 08:12 PM
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Assuming stock wheels, I wouldn't go any narrower than 1.5-1.6. Your rims are going to be wider than most newer 26" rims (~1.5" vs ~"1).

Those tires seem just fine, what is the max PSI on them? If it's about 80, keep them, If it's 60-65, find some others in the 80 range.

I assume the crank/chain rings are in good shape?
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Old 06-29-08, 08:20 AM
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I'd honestly not listen to the suggestions about a new fork and lighter wheels. Not everybody really understands utility cycling-- the non-racing riding around town you do.

For a tour, get a Nashbar frount rack, frount panniers, maybe trekking bars.....and just do it!
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Old 06-29-08, 10:20 AM
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Wow, is this one of those occasions where pretty much the advice is the same? The moons have aligned! I never thought I'd see it on the touring forum ;-)

I think you have the answer......
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Old 07-01-08, 01:37 AM
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Thanks to everyone for the advice - I'll skip fork, wheels, tires, etc. and pickup a handlebar bag if I can come up with the $ - probably won't be able to afford front panniers though. I don't know the psi of the tires. Yes, the crank is in good shape.

I'm going to try to take / upload a photo of my bike in the next few days.
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