Wrong colour. I’m not picky but that was really the wrong colour. Wrong size. I could have adjusted it with parts to make it work but it’d never feel ‘right’. I’m not in a rush. My growing stable of bikes and parts is getting used plenty.
I’m always on the lookout for a new bike and I’ve recently taken a fancy to building a gravel/cyclocross bike. On the cheap. I figured I have enough spare parts to build such a bike but I needed the right frame. Ebay and local listings provided some hopefuls but there was always a snag. And so many times I had to rethink my wishes: 26″ or 700c? Aluminium or steel? Nice frame but bright pink? How much for delivery costs? So after passively looking for the right frame or bike to convert I finally found the Trek frame on a local listing. €15 the seller wanted. Just a 20 minute drive away. It was strangely cheap. But I was enthusiastic enough to investigate.
This is how I found her. Spot rusted in parts. The wedge of the quill stem was jammed in the steerer. Bottom bracket was stuck. Headset seized. stripped, naked and neglected. Mmm, this is going to take a lot of work to fix. And man, it was heavy! But even though I’d been adverse to Treks since a famous phoney cyclist that cheated to win the Tour 7 times used to ride one, I saw the potential to make a really nice ride out of this old gal. I had to have it. In the end I cycled over there to pick it up.
Researching the frame on a vintage Trek site I surmised this was a circa 1999 European model Trek 700 Trekking based on the popular Multitrack model. Same hi-tensile steel frame and cro-moly seat tube, hi-tensile steel fork and similar original parts. The only differences I could make out were the brazed-on bosses for a rim dynamo.
Stripping her down was not easy. I was not looking forward to wrestling with the cranks and bottom bracket. After leaving some decent penetrating oil to soak in for a day the bolts came out quite easily. But the threads to hold the crank extractor where encrusted with prehistoric crap. I prayed that they weren’t cross-threaded. After some vigorous cleaning I managed to get the extractor in and the cranks popped off. Same treatment for the bottom bracket. It came off with a little fight and when extracted it looked like the shell had been filled with mud.
The fork was another matter. I kept the old quill and stem bolt just so as I could use it to hammer the wedge free. Hammering, penetrating oil, waiting, more hammering, more oil. No go. A week passed and whenever I had time I had a go. In the meantime I made my own headset cup removers, headset clamp and fork crown press. Did I mention this took a lot of time? When I finished the cup remover I finally got the headset cups off and the frame was now naked and ready for a good clean. Inspecting the fork from all angles I noticed the inner diameter of the steer was narrower towards the bottom. Bingo, I got it. I was hammering from the wrong side. My hammering was causing the wedge to go further into to the narrower bottom part of the steerer. I inverted the fork, screwed in the stem bolt from underneath the fork and with on sharp blow from my hammer the wedge was freed! Success! Finally. Time for a beer and some sleep.
I had ordered a bunch of weirdly sized parts for the frame. A JIS 27mm crown 30mm cup headset, a 26.4mm seatpost (which turned out to be 0.2mm too narrow), new cantilever brakes, a new swan neck brake cable tensioner and QR skewers. €70.
While waiting for the new parts to arrive I was eager to see the bike built up so I stuck the old headset and stem back on and added some old parts I have.
It was actually rideable but only for short distances as the retaining bolt from the rear canti cable was missing so I only had a working front brake. And the headset was totally shot. I packed the crap out of it with grease just for the fitting. I had lots of 9 speed parts lying around gathering dust so I thought, why not? Added an old plastic ATAX(?) seatpost (surprisingly comfortable) and a Selle Italia Turbo saddle.
Just for a laugh
Parts started to arrive and I put on the new JIS headset, the new brakes and the seatpost. Whilst researching for a decent all rounder gravel/cyclocross tyre I discovered that I could put a 29er tyre on the 700c Mavic CXP22 wheels I had planned for the bike. I popped on an old Schwalbe 622-57 on there just for laughs. The tyre fit on surprisingly snugly. I pumped it up to 1.7 bars and popped (or wedged) it onto the forks. The tyre was so wide it could not turn. -10mm clearance! I think I could manage to get a 1.8″ tyre on there but I will either go for a UCI max of 33mm or go for a 38mm/40mm. My research tells me that the frame was originally fitted with 38mm tyres. Mavic and Sheldon say CXP22 rims could accept up to 32mm but my limited experiment show that at least a 57mm tyre will fit!
The swan neck front brake cable tensioner bolt is made for a recessed bolt fork hole and was too short to fix on this fork with a nylok bolt. I had two options. 1/ find a longer 50mm x 6mm bolt or 2/ drill out the fork to 8mm to accept the recessed style allen/hex bolt. In the quest for keeping the cost as low as possible, I went with option 2. It worked perfectly and all is snugly in place. Braking is well adjusted and powerful.
I used an old long cage 9 speed Campagnolo Xenon (rebranded Mirage) that I used only twice. I paired this with vintage plastic Campagnolo Mirage 9 speed ergo shifters and a shimano 5600 9 speed cassette and an old but unused 9 speed KMC chain. With some fine-tuning it all works sweetly. All brake and gear cables are campagnolo specific. Don’t ever use Shimano cables on Campagnolo parts if you want to avoid heartache.
I used gel super glue on the cable ends to avoid crimping, crushing and flaring. Works a treat. The gel version is supposedly shock resistant. Time will tell.
Weird ass 29mm outer diameter seat tube. I fashioned a thin shim from a discarded R3db*ll can. So far it works a treat, and it’s probably the best use of the product.
The rest of the parts I just happened to have around because of upgrades to other bikes. A Triple crank Shimano FC-R553, 50/39/30, 105 Triple 5600 front derailleur (made for 10 speed), A520 SPD pedals, old 25mm Specialized All Rounder tyres (for now), some very nice black rubber Cinelli cork ribbon, Avid Shorty 4 brakes, Specialized saddle, some generic QR skewers make up the rest of the bike. I bought a set of 30mm Schwalbe CX Pros but I’m thinking of returning them to get a set of 33mm Clement BOS tyres. If only I could find a retailer than has them in stock! Anyway, I hope this was interesting or helpful if you’re trying to do a conversion on a budget. I had a lot of trouble but a lot of fun building this project up. She rides great on the flats. It’s just (as I expected) harder to wind up speed on the hiller parts down here, but that’ll pay off next Spring :).
Here are some more pictures…