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Converting old Trek 800 - opinion?

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Converting old Trek 800 - opinion?

Old 01-16-11, 05:28 PM
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Converting old Trek 800 - opinion?

Hey guys, I'm currently shopping around for a dedicated touring bike. Then I figured, why don't I just convert my old commuter MTB? I searched quite a bit and it looks like a few people have used them...

I will be doing a self supported PCH tour this summer, w/panniers, and lots of smaller weekend trips. I have about $500-$600 to spend on a bike all together. So, if it was you, would you hold out for that craigslist find? Or throw a little money into this one?



Also, what is a rule of thumb for chainstay length to prevent heel strike? They seem a little short on this bike. (I'll be getting a better rear rack also, this pic is from the day I picked it up). Any advice would be greatly appreciated, thanks!
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Old 01-16-11, 06:18 PM
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In my opinion you will do better buying a touring bike if you have $5-600 to spend. I purchased my used Trek 520 for under $500 and even my current touring rig - a Cannondale T2000 was not much over $600 although it needed tires and racks. This is the time of year to look for sure. The Trek Mtn bikes can definitely be converted to touring use - I did it with a Trek 970 once - but unless you enjoy flat bars (I don't) it can become fairly involved. And it will still be slower than a road-bike. Also, as I recall the 800 is the bottom of the lineup and fairly heavy - I would keep looking and use your 800 for training and as a city bike. Now if you said you wanted to do the Divide Route or something else that's mostly offroad it would be a different story - that bike could work well.
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Old 01-16-11, 06:23 PM
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Forgot your question on chainstay length - that looks fine although if you have size 14 feet you may be in trouble. Also depends on your pannier length and type of rack. A good bet on a mtn bike is the Jannd Expedition rear rack which is 3" longer than most, allowing you to get the pans far enough back for clearance - worked great on my 970 with Arkel T42's.
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Old 01-16-11, 10:30 PM
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Something else you might consider:
If you plan on converting your Trek, you must be relatively proficient at working on bikes. If this is true, you might consider the Motobacane or Windsor touring bikes from Bikes Direct ( some assembly required). They are in the price range, and some of the folks on this forum have done some pretty serious rides on them. The components on these bike are better than found on the 800.

My personal bias--- I'd rather get a new less expensive bike than a used bike that may be a little higher in the pecking order. Having said this, there are always good deals out there.

I have a 1993 Trek 820 so I know what you have to work with. I would buy a used touring bike or a new bike from BD before I'd try to convert the 800/820.

A little OT-- I got this last year still in its original box for about the same price as used ones were going for around here.


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Old 01-16-11, 10:52 PM
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I have a 1990 Trek 950. All the trek mtbs had a fairly std chainstay length of 425-435mm.

Ideally you need more than this to avoid heel strike with panniers, unless you have small feet. Your workaround is to choose smaller panniers, or at least ones with a triangulated bottom designed expressly for this issue. Also a long rack will let you mount panniers farther back. JandD expedition is the longest I know of with rails nearly 16" long. Pushing the load back will make the bike handle worse, and perhaps cause front-end shimmy. Try not to put heavy stuff on top of the rack, and locate everything as far forwards as possible. Don't forget to use front rack and panniers to mitigate this problem.

With your stated budget, you don't have much choice but to use the bike you already have.

You'll need a trailer or some cheap racks (nasbar,etc) and panniers (axiom, performance bike, etc).

That Trek will roll better on pavement with some smooth tires. I've had good luck with Kenda Kwest 26x1.5 (they come in 2 versions - get the cheaper, lower pressure rated tire).

Don't forget you'll need camping gear, clothing, rainwear, lights, a lock. A bunch of stuff, which frequently costs more than $500. Also bear in mind it costs more to eat on the road, especially if you frequent C-stores. Count on food costs of >$15 per day. Good luck.

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Old 01-17-11, 12:31 AM
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hold out for that craigslist find.
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Old 01-17-11, 01:45 AM
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Thanks for the replies, looks like I'm definitely going to hold out for something else. I saw other people who have converted their old MTB's but they must have started with a much better platform.

Don't forget you'll need camping gear, clothing, rainwear, lights, a lock. A bunch of stuff, which frequently costs more than $500.
Sorry, I should have been more specific. The 500-600 is for the bike + any upgrades it will need. I have all the camping, clothing and other gear already.

Something else you might consider:
If you plan on converting your Trek, you must be relatively proficient at working on bikes. If this is true, you might consider the Motobacane or Windsor touring bikes from Bikes Direct ( some assembly required). They are in the price range, and some of the folks on this forum have done some pretty serious rides on them. The components on these bike are better than found on the 800.
I am definitely going to look into this. While not proficient in bikes, I am an auto tech by trade so at least I know how to turn a wrench!

Again, I really appreciate the kind replies... Noobs are chastised quite a bit more on other forums I frequent
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Old 01-17-11, 02:22 AM
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Originally Posted by James1:17 View Post
hold out for that craigslist find.
+1
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Old 01-17-11, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by tip View Post
Thanks for the replies, looks like I'm definitely going to hold out for something else. I saw other people who have converted their old MTB's but they must have started with a much better platform.



Sorry, I should have been more specific. The 500-600 is for the bike + any upgrades it will need. I have all the camping, clothing and other gear already.



I am definitely going to look into this. While not proficient in bikes, I am an auto tech by trade so at least I know how to turn a wrench!

Again, I really appreciate the kind replies... Noobs are chastised quite a bit more on other forums I frequent
Really depends Chances are if you buy a used touring set up you'll still want to look at having it gone through - by yourself or a shop. I was in the same situation with you but with a large family and limited budget I decided to take the "use what I have approach".

I started with a 800 Antelope similar to yours but a little older. Paid $20 for the bike from a customer as it sat in their garage on flat tires. This past summer I paid $50 for a parts haul from a former bike shop owner. Included in that were the drop bars and Suntour bar end shifters. Brakes were a trade from a member of the C&V forum. Rear derailleur was donated by Chris in Miami. Pedals were $4 from a shop in Seattle. The cables, housing and bar tape were new - approximately $20. Finally the new Sugino 26t chainring was $18.

For panniers and racks, I had one but bought a Blackburn MTB rear rack at a garage for $2. I then located a front rack and set of four panniers off Craigslist for $65 and then added a handlebar bag and second front rack from Craigslist for $35. Tires were $30.

So, I'm into the bike right now a little over $200 and I have myself a good dual purpose bike for on road touring and off road camping trips with my kids on some rough roads.

Is it heavy, heck yeah. But it rolls nicely and is stable.
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1984 Gitane Sprint; 1984 Gitane Tour de France; 1982 Trek 610; 1968 Peugeot PL8; 1982 Nishiki Marina 12; 1972 Peugeot PX-10; 1987 Trek 800 Antelope (touring/commuting set up); 1993 Trek 950 mtb; 1997 Klein Pulse Comp mtb; 1989 Peugeot Limestone hybrid (for touring); 1975 Gitane Olympic; 1983 Vitus 979; 1989 Spectrum Titanium:
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Old 01-17-11, 10:08 AM
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I ended up spending around 600 dollars to do my MTB build/conversion, I don't know if i started off with a better platform though i used an 87' Kuwahara panther main reason for that particular bike is it's crazy long chain stays. But if you do the conversion like i did with the drop bars be ready for headaches, as components do not always match up with each other and part of my 600 dollars was from having to buy multiple parts over and over to find stuff that worked well with each other, of course if i went with bar end shifters from the get go i would have saved my self a bunch of money and time. So basically if you have knowledge of working on bikes and have the time to do it, MTB's make for great tourers(at least for me).
This is what mine turned out like,
When i first got the frame (only paid 12$ for it)

And the final result:

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Old 01-17-11, 10:19 AM
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But it can be done for much cheaper, though i think this one ended up so cheap because i learned from my mistakes with the kuwie build, This one im going to use on my forestry road tours, it started life out as a Giant igauna i went with barend shifters on it this time and it makes the shifter/derailleur combo's a lot easier. I do have pretty small feet so heel strike has never been an issue but ive learned i can't use all of my bags with this rack/bike combo, and will be before the spring putting an axiom journey on this bike too.
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Old 01-17-11, 01:26 PM
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Fizzaly - man, your bikes look great

I'm hoping I will find something soon. What size bike would you guess for a 6'0", 200lb guy? I'm guessing around 60cm? 20inch?

Truth be told I was planning on buying a LHT last Fall but I was laid off... so hence the tight budget thing. At least I will have plenty of time to tour now
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Old 01-17-11, 02:01 PM
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What do you guys think of this Panasonic Touring Deluxe?

http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-Panasoni...item19c1deea14
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Old 01-17-11, 02:27 PM
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It doesn't look like a bad deal but depending on where you live you could probably find something comparable if not cheaper on craigslist and that way you could test ride it before you buy, and sorry im horrible with fitment my kuwie is a 19.5" and the giant is 22" i like the way they both fit and im 5' 9"
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Old 01-17-11, 03:12 PM
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My experience is that you can rebuild bikes and accomplish 2 of 3 objectives.
Built quickly
Built cheaply
Well built (works well)

I'm impatient so don't wait to find the good deals on used parts. Then rebuilding gets expensive.
However, I am fairly patient at looking for good deals in second hand bikes that need little work.
Bought some outstanding bikes for $100 to $150 Never seen a $12 Garage Sale Special I got excited about.
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Old 01-17-11, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by tip View Post
Truth be told I was planning on buying a LHT last Fall but I was laid off... so hence the tight budget thing. At least I will have plenty of time to tour now
The Panasonic is mighty appealing. Loaded up you and the bike would be comfortable and springy. My $.02 is that if money is tight don't spend it and stick with what you've got. If you haven't developed a preference for drop bars then at least put some long bar ends or some kind of multiple position handlebars on there, personally I'd convert it to drop bars.
Put on a front rack like the Blackburn MTF-1. on there. I wouldn't worry about wheel strike, just don't put panniers back there. Get creative with compression sacks/dry bags/tent piled on the rack maybe small dry bags strapped on the sides. Maybe search around for a dirt cheap rear rack with three vertical struts to keep things out of the spokes. Topeak Explorer for $28 is good. The bike already has a rear weight bias so it's not like piling stuff in rear panniers and on the rear rack is ideal. Tent, sleeping bag on rear rack and the rest on front rack/panniers.
re. used bikes. I wouldn't buy one unless I could see it, ride it and ascertain wheel condition.

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Old 01-17-11, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by tip View Post
Sorry, I should have been more specific. The 500-600 is for the bike + any upgrades it will need. I have all the camping, clothing and other gear already.
I understood this was your "bike" budget.

You can easily exceed $500 on front and rear racks and panniers (and even panniers alone). The cheap version is still $200-300.

A used BOB Yak trailer at ~$300 is possibly your least expensive option, since it doesn't require a dedicated touring bike - almost any bike can tow a trailer. Although harder to find and more costly, I recommend the Burley Nomad over the Bob Yak if you start considering trailers seriously, since it's 2-wheel design prevents the trailer from tipping over as you load/unload cargo. It makes a better grocery hauler too, if you decide to keep the trailer after tour. Also, it's much easier to sell used trailers on ebay after a tour than to sell used racks and panniers, particularly inexpensive ones which tend to last only 1-2 trips.

You'll also want a lock, taillight, headlight, helmet, mirror, slick tires, spare tubes, patch kit, some tools, chain lube, fenders, possibly a better saddle, new cables, housing, chain, brake shoes, maybe different pedals and shoes, replace that worn middle chainring, cassette and rear derailleur, have your LBS tuneup your wheel truing/spoke tension, etc. Shazam - 500 bucks gone before you know it just from outfitting and reconditioning a used bike for a PCH tour. That's why I said just fix up your present bike.

Craigslist is worth a look, but you'll be waiting forever for the right deal in your size. It took me years of diligent, miserly shopping to build a bike from parts purchased in this manner. I got my parts from ebay, nashbar, jensonusa, aebike, and others.

Or, just forget my comments and go buy the bike you really want...

Here's an interesting Panasonic, although it has 435mm chainstays (same as your Trek mtb). A LHT would be a better choice, even at higher cost.

http://www.yellowjersey.org/posd7.html

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Old 01-18-11, 12:07 AM
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Originally Posted by tip View Post
What do you guys think of this Panasonic Touring Deluxe?

http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-Panasoni...item19c1deea14
Personally I probably wouldn't buy a vintage bike unless it is super clean - you'll probably end up dumping money into it. At least get something with 700c rims, not 27". I just did a Craigslist search (site:craigslist.org Trek 520) and there are lots of Trek 520's and Novara Randonee's out there in various years, sizes and prices. Both great steel frame touring bikes that are available at a reasonable price.

Many other bikes to search also, but 10 Wheels makes a good point about inspecting it in person before buying. I wouldn't buy any bike off Ebay - I have seen such mismatched crap on there, ie. a Trek 520 with racing wheelset or wrong components or claimed to be 2003 when it was in fact a 1998 (which I had, so I knew).

I see you're up here in the PNW - prices are a bit more here for sure - if I see something I'll let you know. I just did a search on the Seattle CL for "Touring" and there's a 62 cm Surly LHT frame - new I think - for $400. Might come down some. There's also a clean used complete LHT in Phoenix for $699. So they're out there - you just have to look - use your search tools and check frequently.

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Old 04-15-11, 12:20 PM
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I know this was posted 3 months ago but what the heck.. I converted a 1996 Trek 800 to full touring and loaded it with me and all my gear. Total weight including bike was an even 300 pounds. The bike unloaded is 38 pounds, gear was 45 pounds and I made up the rest. On it's maiden voyage from Miraposa to Yosemite and back I logged in 100 miles without a glitch. Here is what I did.

The bike's geometry, chainstay length and tube lengths are VERY similar to the Surly LHT, 26" wheel version. I bought the 800 on Craigslist for 25 dollars, complete but all I wanted was the frame so I took it apart and tossed the cheap components. I then bought a 2001 Fuji mtn bike for its components only and tossed the frame. I transferred the components from the Fuji onto the Trek in a weekend, added racks and lights and better wheels. What I came out with was a very stable bike. It handled well down hills at 40 MPH and up hills fine with the mountain gearing. I used 680mm wide riser bars with Ergon grips and bar ends for hand positions. Ive ridden this bike now for 1000 miles in 60mph wind, pounding rain and the 26" 2.1 tires allow me to hit dirt and gravel roads and stabilize the weight. Longest Ive comfortably ridden in one day was 105 miles. Sure, it's 38 pounds all by itself with racks, but a chro-mo frame isnt 300 dollars worth lighter. (I carry a folding chair when I tour, Im not a weight weenie).

Dont let anyone scare you about building a bike. All you need is the cheaper specialized tools from any bike shop. Knowing how to build a bike inspires confidence on the road, if I to break down at least I would know how to fix/replace. Aside from the color (purple), I love this bike. I may put knobbies on it, remove the fenders and take it off-road and I will never cry if it gets scratched.

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Old 04-18-11, 07:37 PM
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As an ex- auto tech myself, I can tell you, if you can fix cars, you can fix bikes. Without a doubt, they're different, but a mechanical system is a mechanical system. "Bicycling Maintenance and Repair", by Jim Langley is a must-have for doing your own bike work. With that book and a few special tools, you can do about anything on a bike.

As far as your touring bike, I'm with most of the others, find a good used road bike that fits the bill. Don't overlook eBay either. The "deals" are few and far between, these days, but they're still there. Also, don't be afraid of older bikes with 27" wheels and 5 or 7 speed freewheels on them. Not having a 9 or 10 speed cassette on the back just means you have fewer gear choices in between, so long as you have a decent high and low end. There are a couple of real good choices out there on 27" touring tires, and almost every bike shop has at least one cheap 27" tire in stock, if you get in a bind on the road. Make sure you go through all the bearings on whatever bike you choose.

The pic below is of my 1982 miyata 610 after I finished it up a few years ago. I found it on eBay for $200. I swapped out the brake levers for a set of cane creek's, and replaced the shifters with a set of vintage suntour bar-cons that I also found on eBay. I also put a Brooks saddle on it and replaced the bar tape and derailleur and brake cables and housings. Other than that, and some new tires, everything else is original. It's a real sweet ride and is a favorite of mine. The old suntour derailleurs are just about indestructible and the 27" wheels, though uncool, are just as round as the 700c wheels are on my other titanium bike. It only has a 5 speed freewheel on the back, but the half step plus granny crank gears make up for that.

One issue you might have to deal with, for a guy your size, is that you may have some flex issues with the old steel frames in the larger sizes. You can minimize this by putting a good solid rear rack on the bike such as the ones that Tubus makes...kind of expensive, but worth it IMO. Good luck in your search.

Oops, just noticed this was an old post brought back from mothballs...so what happened...did you get a bike yet??
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Old 04-18-11, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Got Lost Again View Post
I know this was posted 3 months ago but what the heck.. I converted a 1996 Trek 800 to full touring and loaded it with me and all my gear. Total weight including bike was an even 300 pounds. The bike unloaded is 38 pounds, gear was 45 pounds and I made up the rest. On it's maiden voyage from Miraposa to Yosemite and back I logged in 100 miles without a glitch. Here is what I did.

The bike's geometry, chainstay length and tube lengths are VERY similar to the Surly LHT, 26" wheel version. I bought the 800 on Craigslist for 25 dollars, complete but all I wanted was the frame so I took it apart and tossed the cheap components. I then bought a 2001 Fuji mtn bike for its components only and tossed the frame. I transferred the components from the Fuji onto the Trek in a weekend, added racks and lights and better wheels. What I came out with was a very stable bike. It handled well down hills at 40 MPH and up hills fine with the mountain gearing. I used 680mm wide riser bars with Ergon grips and bar ends for hand positions. Ive ridden this bike now for 1000 miles in 60mph wind, pounding rain and the 26" 2.1 tires allow me to hit dirt and gravel roads and stabilize the weight. Longest Ive comfortably ridden in one day was 105 miles. Sure, it's 38 pounds all by itself with racks, but a chro-mo frame isnt 300 dollars worth lighter. (I carry a folding chair when I tour, Im not a weight weenie).

Dont let anyone scare you about building a bike. All you need is the cheaper specialized tools from any bike shop. Knowing how to build a bike inspires confidence on the road, if I to break down at least I would know how to fix/replace. Aside from the color (purple), I love this bike. I may put knobbies on it, remove the fenders and take it off-road and I will never cry if it gets scratched.

+1 I rebuilt an MTB commuter five years ago and was just thinking about this. The approach you outlined ( strip parts from a used bike) is what I would use if I did it again and it makes a lot of sense as compared to buying all new parts. Others have done it too. I am starting to think the chain stay issue is over blown on this forum. Not that it can be a problem if you have big feet but I have had two bikes that were shorter than an LHT that I put rear panniers on and it was not a problem. If you cruise over to the Commuter Forum, folks put rear panniers on all types of non touring bikes.
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Old 04-28-11, 10:54 AM
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Im for whatever works for the individual. My take,,, two big plusses with 26" wheels and mountain gearing are a mega-low granny gear (22x34) and wider (more comfortable) tires that have a wider range of inflation and terrain capabilities, stronger and less resistant to puncture. I used to ride a bike with 700c wheels and a 7 spd cassette. I honestly feel no significant difference in rolling resistance and I dont have to cringe when I hit a rock or pot hole. The wider tire absorbs most of the shock. I also dont miss that 50 something tooth front chain ring I had. With mountain gearing (44X11) I can muster 32 MPH before Im spun out (unloaded). The close ratio you get with 27 spds is a nice convenience on rolling hills and in headwinds. Overall, I doubt anyone is really using those higher road gears with a load unless they are rolling downhill in which case,,, whats the rush? Enjoy coasting for a bit. I'd much rather have the low gears to motor up a long hill.
Ya whatever works for the individual. I've built a few bikes for me and some relatives. I'm a bit spoiled now and wouldnt think of buying a new, complete bike because the fit and components are never right. Whats bomb about knowing how to build your own bike (and its very easy) is you can buy a new or used frame and most all components (some exceptions) will transfer right over from the old frame. While you're at it, you can tweak the specs to fit your own needs.
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Old 04-28-11, 11:34 AM
  #23  
Boondock
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Bikes: 1989 Trek 950, Trek 1220

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my 22 year old, Trek 950 (I'm the original owner) has done very well on the long tour I am currently riding. I have upgraded pretty much every component on the bike since I bought it in 1989. So far on this trip, I've experienced no mechanical problems other than expendable stuff like brake pads and chains. I think you could do alot better than an 800 series Trek, but it would work. Before this tour, I had panniers, front and back, and it worked just fine.
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Old 04-28-11, 02:21 PM
  #24  
tip
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Bikes: Novara Randonee, Trek 800

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Original poster here... man that feels like a long time ago.

Shortly after posting I decided on getting a used touring bike. A few weeks later I picked up used Novara Randonee, and have since gone through the whole thing. I'm leaving for my Pacific Coast tour in June, so she's good to go as of now.

I got a lot of help from this forum, and am definitely glad I went the route I did. Although, stripping the parts of a newer bike is a great idea - this just worked out better for me. I learned a lot about bikes, and can't wait to learn more.

when I first bought it (craigslist photo):


crappy pic of current state (waiting for front rack, fenders, etc):


see more by following the link in my sig if you want...
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Old 04-29-11, 04:07 PM
  #25  
MKIV987
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I'm converting an old Trek 800 right now that I picked up for free at the local bike co-op. It's solid as a tank...but heavy as one too. I decided to keep it because I'm on a budget and all the nicer parts that I put on it will transfer over to my next frame when it's time to upgrade.
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