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Bought my carbon bike 18 years ago now, time for new? or how to refresh it?

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Bought my carbon bike 18 years ago now, time for new? or how to refresh it?

Old 07-08-20, 01:40 AM
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supernova87a
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Bought my carbon bike 18 years ago now, time for new? or how to refresh it?

Hi all -- how time flies. Nearly 18 years ago, I was here on this forum asking advice about road bikes, and I bought my first nice Trek carbon model (used 1997? Trek 5500). Btw, it was a hoot to come back here and find that my old login still works after all these years.

Well, after riding spottily (once every few weeks/monthly) since then, now with lockdown I've been riding almost every other day on the nice roads here in northern CA. Maybe 17-20 miles each time, casual. I realized that my butt was killing me during the rides, so I got a new seat. And time for new tires.

But I found myself lingering in the store and drooling over those new carbon models, with their incredible light weight and slick finishes. Then I stopped myself (and so did the >$2500 price tags, how expensive things have gotten since I last looked!) and said, "wait, objectively my bike is not that bad. And it's not a few pounds that'll make the difference, to be honest, for my level of fitness". But still I lust for something new.

I weighed my bike -- it's only 19.5 pounds actually. What could I do to spruce it up? New lighter wheels? Fork? I'm not actually unhappy with the gearing -- I'm not huffing and puffing and desiring a 2x11 speed in the back. It's working fine.

What do you all think? Thanks for any suggestions!

Here's some photos and my rough summary of what I've got:
1997 Trek OCLV 5500 carbon
Ultegra components
2x9 gearing
Mavic Open Pro (?) aluminum wheels














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Old 07-08-20, 05:21 AM
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Looks like you got new tires.

You could get new wheels, possibly slightly wider tires if frame has clearance.

That said, I don’t think you would notice a drastic difference in a new bike. Best advice is try some test rides. Also depends on budget, if you have $3000 lying around get a new bike and relegate this one to foul weather or trainer.
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Old 07-08-20, 06:11 AM
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Cool bike, those are becoming sort of classic. You are18 years older, how is your gearing? If you would enjoy easier, a compact crank and/or a mtb rear derailleur and cassette would be easy and inexpensive.
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Old 07-08-20, 06:16 AM
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A test ride on a modern Carbon rig will likely give you the nudge that is needed to get a new bike. (if your budget allows).
The ultimate question is how much do you want to spend. It will still be cheaper to upgrade you current ride to a modern 11 speed group.
A light set of wheels ($?? 200 - sky is the limit) will make the most difference. An one inch threadless fork ($? 75-150) set up will make you front end stiffer. An 11 speed group can be put together for under 500.00.
You can always sell off your old 9spd group and classic mavic lace ups to re-coup some cost.
Vintage ride are cool, but my Tarmac SL4 "feels" livelier then my Kestrel 200sci. You will have to ride one to see if it is worth it to you.
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Old 07-08-20, 06:23 AM
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Frame is great, wheels are great, and Ultegra 9-speed is a solid group; all that stuff will last a long time and serve you well. I'd keep all that.

The fork looks like a 1" threaded fork with a plug for a threadless stem, which is not particularly light, and not particularly well matched aesthetically to the frame, in my opinion, even though the fork is original.

There are 1" threadless forks with carbon steerers that will be lighter and nicer riding. Columbus Minimal is available new for about $250 and is a great fork. If you hunt eBay, you might find a Reynolds Ouzo in 1" or an Easton EC90 in 1", but they're rare and expensive.

If you upgrade the fork, you'll need a threadless headset. Say $100 for a nice shiny King headset.

Upgrading the handlebars to a shallow drop would make the bike look more modern and probably feel better. And while you're at it, you could get a better stem -- that looks like a chunk of black metal that came out of the Nashbar drawer.

Then I'd get a carbon seatpost and replace the pedals, which are two little boat anchors. You could probably take a half a pound off the bike by swapping out lighter pedals.

So, here's the bill:
fork 250
headset 100
handlebars 75
stem 25
seatpost 75
pedals 125
bar tape 20

Total 650, bike will probably be 2 pounds lighter or so.
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Old 07-08-20, 06:33 AM
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Life is too short to not to ride a shiny new bike.
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Old 07-08-20, 06:52 AM
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I agree that the stem and threadless conversion kind of let down the aesthetic. Another alternative would be to embrace the retro and use a nice Nitto quill.
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Old 07-08-20, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
I agree that the stem and threadless conversion kind of let down the aesthetic. Another alternative would be to embrace the retro and use a nice Nitto quill.
this bike would be a good candidate for that threadless conversion headsets someone here makes.
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Old 07-08-20, 07:02 AM
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I wouldn't get a new bike - you have a classic right there. A good clean would lose some weight , some new bar tape to spruce it up, there are plenty of 1" threadless forks on eBay - some full carbon, some with Al steerers, you could get some blingier wheels for $350-400. Is that an American Classic seat post? If so, it's light but stiff IMO. I had one and swapped it for an identical AC titanium post - the first ride, I thought my rear tire was soft. I imagine any CF post will be more forgiving. Pay some attention to aesthetics and that would be a good-looking and unusual (nowadays) classic ride
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Old 07-08-20, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
Cool bike, those are becoming sort of classic. You are18 years older, how is your gearing? If you would enjoy easier, a compact crank and/or a mtb rear derailleur and cassette would be easy and inexpensive.
Agreed. More relaxed gearing is the norm now.
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Old 07-08-20, 07:51 AM
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Clean it, overhaul all the bearings, put some new cables on it (maybe a new chain if necessary) and ride it. Maybe a new saddle if your replacement isn't perfect. Coming back after a long time away is going to require a somewhat uncomfortable re-breaking in of your behind no matter what saddle you have.
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Old 07-08-20, 09:28 AM
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Personally, I’d go for a new bike. CF frames have improved dramatically with frame builders learning to dial in ride quality, designing stiffness where you want it, and compliance where you want that. All at a lighter weight.

For example, I thought my 2005 Giant TCR team, a top of the line bike at the time rode great. However my 2013 Willier Zero 7, surpasses it in every dimension. It handles more confidently because the front end is stiffer; the Bottom bracket flexes less, and yet the ride is more comfortable. By comparison the Giant rides like a brick.

Your Trek is a generation behind my Giant. I test rode your bike before buying my current Merlin. At that time CF builders were focused on stiffness, and strength. That lead to a ride that imho, feels both dead, and comparatively uncomfortable.

Current CF bikes, 7 years newer than mine have continued to improve. And there are numerous options to get exactly the qualities you want in a ride.

If it’s in your budget, I would definitely go new rather than spend a lot on a very early CF bike, which is now about 4 generations behind in the development of CF frames.
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Old 07-08-20, 09:36 AM
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And as for cost, you likely can get $300 or so for your bike. If youíre really going to update, upgrade your bike with new wheels or a new Grouppo you can easily find yourself $1500 into this bike.

if you donít do your own work, thorough overall of new tires, new tape, new cables and housings, new bearings, truing wheels, New chain new cassette, adjusting shifting, is still likely to be a few hundred.

So the delta between updating this bike, and a brand new may not be as big you thought.
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Old 07-08-20, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
if you donít do your own work, thorough overhaul of new tires, new tape, new cables and housings, new bearings, truing wheels, New chain new cassette, adjusting shifting, is still likely to be a few hundred.

So the delta between updating this bike, and a brand new may not be as big you thought.
Yeah, sorry, I forget not everyone has a closet with tubes, tape, housing, tires, patches, grease, and the tools to break things down, clean them, and reassemble/replace just sitting around.
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Old 07-08-20, 09:53 AM
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That bike is awesome and I hope my newly purchased bike is equally as cool 20+ years from now. Obviously you can just ride it as-is with minimal changes, but if it were mine I'd definitely be considering upgrading to a more modern groupset and a new wheelset. This frame with 11sp Ultegra and some deep carbon wheels would be awesome and a fun project.

The big factor for me would be the max tire size that the frame/brakes can accommodate. Anything less than 28s and I'd probably be shopping for a new ride.
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Old 07-08-20, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
Personally, Iíd go for a new bike. CF frames have improved dramatically with frame builders learning to dial in ride quality, designing stiffness where you want it, and compliance where you want that. All at a lighter weight.

For example, I thought my 2005 Giant TCR team, a top of the line bike at the time rode great. However my 2013 Willier Zero 7, surpasses it in every dimension. It handles more confidently because the front end is stiffer; the Bottom bracket flexes less, and yet the ride is more comfortable. By comparison the Giant rides like a brick.

Your Trek is a generation behind my Giant. I test rode your bike before buying my current Merlin. At that time CF builders were focused on stiffness, and strength. That lead to a ride that imho, feels both dead, and comparatively uncomfortable.

Current CF bikes, 7 years newer than mine have continued to improve. And there are numerous options to get exactly the qualities you want in a ride.

If itís in your budget, I would definitely go new rather than spend a lot on a very early CF bike, which is now about 4 generations behind in the development of CF frames.
I guess it depends on the goal.

For me, a bike like this has a high cool/nostalgia factor to it, even if it's not up to current standards in terms of weight and ride quality.
I'd be willing to spend $1000-$1500 on a new groupset, wheels, and some other parts to keep it current, but acknowledge it would be a project bike that I'd do for fun.I have other bikes.

A new $2000(ish) carbon road bike with an 11sp 105 drivetrain is tough to beat. It'll likely be lighter and ride better and the OP should totally buy one of those as well. lol
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Old 07-08-20, 10:45 AM
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Originally Posted by SSRI View Post
A test ride on a modern Carbon rig will likely give you the nudge that is needed to get a new bike. (if your budget allows). The ultimate question is how much do you want to spend. It will still be cheaper to upgrade you current ride to a modern 11 speed group.
A light set of wheels ($?? 200 - sky is the limit) will make the most difference. An one inch threadless fork ($? 75-150) set up will make you front end stiffer. An 11 speed group can be put together for under 500.00.
You can always sell off your old 9spd group and classic mavic lace ups to re-coup some cost.
Vintage ride are cool, but my Tarmac SL4 "feels" livelier then my Kestrel 200sci. You will have to ride one to see if it is worth it to you.
Originally Posted by ljsense View Post
Frame is great, wheels are great, and Ultegra 9-speed is a solid group; all that stuff will last a long time and serve you well. I'd keep all that.
The fork looks like a 1" threaded fork with a plug for a threadless stem, which is not particularly light, and not particularly well matched aesthetically to the frame, in my opinion, even though the fork is original.
There are 1" threadless forks with carbon steerers that will be lighter and nicer riding. Columbus Minimal is available new for about $250 and is a great fork. If you hunt eBay, you might find a Reynolds Ouzo in 1" or an Easton EC90 in 1", but they're rare and expensive.
If you upgrade the fork, you'll need a threadless headset. Say $100 for a nice shiny King headset.
Upgrading the handlebars to a shallow drop would make the bike look more modern and probably feel better. And while you're at it, you could get a better stem -- that looks like a chunk of black metal that came out of the Nashbar drawer. Then I'd get a carbon seatpost and replace the pedals, which are two little boat anchors. You could probably take a half a pound off the bike by swapping out lighter pedals.

So, here's the bill:
fork 250, headset 100, handlebars 75, stem 25, seatpost 75, pedals 125, bar tape 20
Total 650, bike will probably be 2 pounds lighter or so.
Thanks for all these ideas! I think I would be willing to upgrade to the tune of $500-700. More than that, and yes I see how it would be basically making the jump to get a new bike almost!
The fork and headset seem like the most straightforward things.


Originally Posted by noodle soup View Post
this bike would be a good candidate for that threadless conversion headsets someone here makes.
Does anyone have a link or reference to that by chance?

Originally Posted by Litespud View Post
I wouldn't get a new bike - you have a classic right there. A good clean would lose some weight , some new bar tape to spruce it up, there are plenty of 1" threadless forks on eBay - some full carbon, some with Al steerers, you could get some blingier wheels for $350-400. Is that an American Classic seat post? If so, it's light but stiff IMO. I had one and swapped it for an identical AC titanium post - the first ride, I thought my rear tire was soft. I imagine any CF post will be more forgiving. Pay some attention to aesthetics and that would be a good-looking and unusual (nowadays) classic ride
Yes definitely need a good cleaning... I'll definitely look into the fork, and seat post.

-----

Overall, yes I've been pretty happy with my bike. The gearing isn't a big complaint -- while I do the hills around home once in a while, I don't suffer too much on the lowest settings that I feel the need to get even lower rings. I'll see how it continues to go!

You know, the biggest differences/developments I noticed in looking at new bikes were:
  • Carbon tube fabrication advances -- everything (tubes) is so wide and angular while being light now. I guess they learned how to make curved shapes while I was away, and forms that pleased the eye and were stiffer that were not just cylindrical!
  • Some new shifting technology (auto/electronic shifting?). That's probably too rich for my blood.
  • Disc brakes. I saw that over the years while riding along other people. I guess it just provides more gripping force, an a certain brake surface that doesn't tend to get dirty at the rim? Although part of me can't get over the idea of how much more force must be required to brake in the middle versus at the rim of a wheel.
Anyway, so glad to get all your suggestions, thanks!
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Old 07-08-20, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by supernova87a View Post
Thanks for all these ideas! I think I would be willing to upgrade to the tune of $500-700. More than that, and yes I see how it would be basically making the jump to get a new bike almost!
The fork and headset seem like the most straightforward things.




Does anyone have a link or reference to that by chance?
https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-vintage/1143824-threadless-conversion-headset.html



https://youtu.be/DOlHzF64kmg
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Old 07-08-20, 11:24 AM
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If you're already thinking about it then get a new one. So much has changed in component technology and frame design.
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Old 07-08-20, 12:28 PM
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You own a classic bike. I have been looking for this model with Postal team colors for 10 years, and would be willing to sell my soul for it. Actually, I already sold my soul to a certain young woman in 1983 ... but that is another story.


When you were bike shopping, did you have a chance to lift the newest Uber-bikes to check for weight? I have - they are porky beasts. Top-end bikes have been getting heavier and not lighter. Reasons:
  • Disc brakes adding 1-2 pounds of useless weight. I suppose if you are loaded down with camping gear while descending in the rain, you'd need discs on a road bike, but not for actual road riding.
  • Deep-section wheels, plus fat tires plus rotors. Man, the current wheels are heavy! At the worst possible place on a bike - rotating mass. The current wheelsets with absurd 32mm tires make even the lightest bike ride like a farm tractor. If you are chubby and ride over gravel, I suppose you need these, but 23mm tires pumped to 100+ psi are simply faster; don't let the fad-slaves and marketers tell you otherwise.
  • Aero tube shapes on current road frames. Circular cross-section profiles on frame tubes are the optimum in terms of strength to weight. Aero shapes are heavier. I suppose if you are travelling 20+ mph all the time (on your fat-tire gravel endurance bike) the aero gains will offset the extra weight.
  • Electronic: this will add a few hundred grams of weight, but this is one area where real progress has been made.

Other negatives of the current bikes:
  • Internal gear cable routing, a major PITA, especially if routed through the stem or even worse, the stem and bars. I assume this development is designed to make you a slave to your shop, if God-help you, you ever break a derailleur cable. 3-week service turnaround and a $100 bill.
  • Shimano shifters with the under-the wrap routing. Hold on to your shifters, they are smoother than the current shifters ever can be, and they don't eat cables every 2,000 miles.
  • Proliferation of useless cogs - we are now at 12 in the cassette... why?? We were past diminishing returns at 9. Planned obsolescence, designed to mask the lack of real innovation in the sorry bike industry. Have you priced out 12-speed cassettes and chains?
  • Through-axles and the proliferation of new wheel 'standards'. No advantage to riders except it renders incompatible all of your inventory of good wheels, and translates a 15-second wheel change into a frustrating trial. Don't ever lose that custom, hub-specific axle, or you'll be waiting weeks for a mail-order replacement.
  • Rear wheels with >130mm stay spacing. Again, no advantage except it serves the industry purpose of making 'obsolete' all previous generations of wheelsets. And it makes heel-strike more likely, increases Q-factor at the crankset, and allows a further (pointless) proliferation of cogs in the cassette.
  • 1 x road systems. I won't even dignify this stupidity with more text. Front shifting is SOOO hard!
  • Tubeless road. Unless you are riding in goat-head country, or are getting pinch flats because you persistently under-inflate your tires, no point to this.

Recommendation: get some carbon road bars and a carbon post. A huge upgrade would be low-profile carbon tubular wheels. You would shave at least a pound of rotating mass, and transform you bike (or any bike) into the next level. A major quantum level change in ride performance. But brace yourself for the learning curve of gluing and rim-prep.
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Old 07-08-20, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
You own a classic bike. I have been looking for this model with Postal team colors for 10 years, and would be willing to sell my soul for it. Actually, I already sold my soul to a certain young woman in 1983 ... but that is another story.
When you were bike shopping, did you have a chance to lift the newest Uber-bikes to check for weight? I have - they are porky beasts. Top-end bikes have been getting heavier and not lighter.

Reasons: ...
...

Recommendation: get some carbon road bars and a carbon post. A huge upgrade would be low-profile carbon tubular wheels. You would shave at least a pound of rotating mass, and transform you bike (or any bike) into the next level. A major quantum level change in ride performance. But brace yourself for the learning curve of gluing and rim-prep.
Thanks for all those thoughts -- good to know that some things are not leaving me behind in the dust! I agree about the new fat tires -- seems everyone gained size in old age (lol). And I too remember loving the Trek USPS white/blue/red design in the stores at the time I bought mine. Or the yellow/blue/red design too.

A question for all on the topic of pedals -- as mentioned above mine are the pretty old heavy Look pedals, and the clips are screwed to the bottom of my Nike road shoes. Have had to replace the clips once in my lifetime.

I was always wondering whether I should move to the flat disc pedal type (SPD?) or one of the kinds that don't cause you to clip/clop awkwardly when trying to walk around off the bike. (Although I suppose that requires new shoes too?)

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Old 07-08-20, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by supernova87a View Post
Thanks for all those thoughts -- good to know that some things are not leaving me behind in the dust! I agree about the new fat tires -- seems everyone gained size in old age (lol). And I too remember loving the Trek USPS white/blue/red design in the stores at the time I bought mine. Or the yellow/blue/red design too.


A question for all on the topic of pedals -- as mentioned above mine are the pretty old heavy Look pedals, and the clips are screwed to the bottom of my Nike road shoes. Have had to replace the clips once in my lifetime.


I was always wondering whether I should move to the flat disc pedal type (SPD?) or one of the kinds that don't cause you to clip/clop awkwardly when trying to walk around off the bike. (Although I suppose that requires new shoes too?)

U.R. welcome. I don't have to sell anything in the bike industry; I've always had to generate more income than the sorry bike biz could afford. But I assume my post will spawn squeals of protest among those who do depend on bike turnover, or consumers who are too new and gullible to recognize fads and just roll past them. 10 years from now you won't be able to give away a: 'gravel endurance bike with discs.'


Pedals: in 1984, LOOK got road clipless perfect right out of the gate. In terms of performance, stiffness, retention, there is nothing new out there that is better, except some of the more current pedals are lighter or have better bearings (Shimano).


But I would recommend MTB clipless pedals for all but road racing. The Shimano M520 is one of the great bargains in cycling: they have great retention/release, and are easy to service. Then you can walk around in MTB-like shoes. High-end MTB shoes (carbon soles) are just as efficient at power transfer as the road shoes, with only slightly higher weight. Shimano shoes are outstanding.


More advice: check Youtube for Hambini and Durianrider. Foul-mouthed and often juvenile, but they fundamentally have their heads screwed-on straight. The legacy of Sheldon Brown and Jobst Brandt?
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Old 07-08-20, 01:44 PM
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I'm of the opinion that if it was a good bike in 1997, it's a good bike now. My favorite bike is a 1995 Ritchey, which was still running 7410 8 speed Dura Ace till last fall - I upgraded the brifters and rear derailleur and cogs to 10 speed, because 39 x 25 was getting to be too big. But I kept that beautiful 7410 crankset! Adding more speeds, especially smaller gears, has me back on this bike more and appreciating it all over again, because Tom Ritchey knows how to build bikes. Your Trek looks like a good bike, so unless you're suffering on the hills, I'd keep it as it is. (I might CLEAN it before showing it off here, but otherwise, I'd leave it alone) .

On the other hand, I was bitten by the "Need A New Bike!" bug, and I had the funds and the time to indulge a bit. So I bought a new bike, with carbon frame, disc brakes, semi-compact crank, and 11-34 rear cassette. And I love it!
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Old 07-08-20, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post
You own a classic bike. I have been looking for this model with Postal team colors for 10 years, and would be willing to sell my soul for it
  • Disc brakes adding 1-2 pounds of useless weight.
  • Electronic: this will add a few hundred grams of weight,.
    .
Both of these statements are simply false
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Old 07-08-20, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave Mayer View Post


Pedals: in 1984, LOOK got road clipless perfect right out of the gate. In terms of performance, stiffness, retention, there is nothing new out there that is better, except some of the more current pedals are lighter or have better bearings (Shimano).
Wrong again. Most newer pedals lower the foot (have a shorter stack height) and also have better cornering clearance.

Look Delta pedals were great(I still have an original white/black pair in use), but newer designs are much better.
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