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1981 Trek 616 in Chestnut - Decals, Secondary Tubes, Country of Origin?

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1981 Trek 616 in Chestnut - Decals, Secondary Tubes, Country of Origin?

Old 10-09-19, 07:26 PM
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Horochar
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1981 Trek 616 in Chestnut - Decals, Secondary Tubes, Country of Origin?

This 1981 Trek 616, serial number N3F5A46, is stock original (except saddle, upgraded from Avocet Condor to Racing 1, and bar tape which is later 1980s vinyl Ciclolinea), full Shimano 600 EX Arabesque, components and color (Chestnut - basically metallic brown) matching catalog description. The vintage Trek website says that only the 7 and 9 series that year had the wrap around decals that were on all models starting in 1982. They are wrong. The main tubes are Reynolds 531. I'd love to know the composition of the other tubes. I'd also love to know where and by whom this frame was welded. In Japan vs. Wisconsin? If Japan, by Tange vs. someone else? If a Japanese made frame, it was likely assembled in the USA. Any information would be appreciated.



Last edited by Horochar; 10-09-19 at 07:31 PM. Reason: larger pix
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Old 10-09-19, 07:59 PM
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I think they only came with the wrap around logo on the seat tube. Someone may have added one on the down tube.

According to the brochure, its 531 double butted main tubes and Ishiwata 0265 high-tensile fork and stays. Thats for the 610 which I believe is the designation for the frameset only - used on all the 600 series complete bikes that year.

I think they were brazed in Wisconsin, but a few years later they started having the rear triangle built in Japan except for 700 series and above.
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Old 10-10-19, 12:08 AM
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From what I've read on these forums, if it's really a 1981, its all Yew-Ess-Ay built.
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Old 10-10-19, 12:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Hobbiano View Post
I think they only came with the wrap around logo on the seat tube. Someone may have added one on the down tube.
.
Thanks! Looking at pix online and 1982 catalog it’s clear downtube decals were used on at least the 7 and 9 series. I bought the bike from the son of original owner who left the bike essentially untouched, except the bar tape and saddle were changed at some point. Bike would have come equipped with cloth tape and an Avocet Condor (I acquired it with a Gel Flex saddle which I pitched). There’s no way the owner would have added the decal himself. If I had to speculate it was a special order or he had the bike shop do it because he liked the look of the higher models in the showroom. I could remove it but my instincts tell me to keep it on.
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Old 10-10-19, 05:30 AM
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The serial number format will tell you if it was made in USA.
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Old 10-10-19, 05:39 AM
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Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
The serial number format will tell you if it was made in USA.
Maybe yes, maybe no. Mine is a 1981, 6xx with serial number beginning with an "N", hence my question. According to the Vintage Trek website:

"The Japanese Connection - Beginning in 1981 or 1982 (and extending through at least 1986), Trek used Tange, a subcontractor in Japan, to build some frames and parts of frames. The 300 and some 400 series were a complete (unpainted) frame and fork from Japan, but painted and assembled in Waterloo. The 500, 600, and 800 (MTB) series had the main triangle built in Waterloo, the pre-assembled rear stays were attached, and the whole works painted and assembled in Waterloo. The 700, 900, and 170 series were completely built, painted, and assembled in Waterloo. Some 600 series were all Reynolds 531 frames. Trek had Reynolds seatstays and chain stays shipped from England to Japan, where they were assembled into the rear triangle assemblies and then shipped to Waterloo to be attached to the main frame." Vintage Trek - Steel Road Bike Timeline, Trek Bicycle Corporation

And more to the point, this: "It is likely these frames, SNs beginning with M or N (Models 41x and 61X), were contracted out or were made in a separate Trek facility, and were given the old serial number form so as not to interfere with the sequential numbers being assigned by Trek in their main shop, which began in late 1980." Vintage Trek Bicycle Frame Serial Numbers, bike
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Old 10-10-19, 06:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Horochar View Post
Maybe yes, maybe no. Mine is a 1981, 6xx with serial number beginning with an "N", hence my question. According to the Vintage Trek website:

"The Japanese Connection - Beginning in 1981 or 1982 (and extending through at least 1986), Trek used Tange, a subcontractor in Japan, to build some frames and parts of frames. The 300 and some 400 series were a complete (unpainted) frame and fork from Japan, but painted and assembled in Waterloo. The 500, 600, and 800 (MTB) series had the main triangle built in Waterloo, the pre-assembled rear stays were attached, and the whole works painted and assembled in Waterloo. The 700, 900, and 170 series were completely built, painted, and assembled in Waterloo. Some 600 series were all Reynolds 531 frames. Trek had Reynolds seatstays and chain stays shipped from England to Japan, where they were assembled into the rear triangle assemblies and then shipped to Waterloo to be attached to the main frame." Vintage Trek - Steel Road Bike Timeline, Trek Bicycle Corporation

And more to the point, this: "It is likely these frames, SNs beginning with M or N (Models 41x and 61X), were contracted out or were made in a separate Trek facility, and were given the old serial number form so as not to interfere with the sequential numbers being assigned by Trek in their main shop, which began in late 1980." Vintage Trek Bicycle Frame Serial Numbers, bike
One person who might be able to clarify the provenance is @JohnDThompson . He was a frame assembler at Trek in the 1980s, though I'm not sure if he was there during this period.
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Old 10-10-19, 09:05 AM
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^^^^ Further down in that section:
For M and N leading serial numbers, if the TREK letters on the seattube have no colorwrap behind, the bike is from 1980 or perhaps 1981. If it has a colorwrap, the bike is probably from 1982.
But as suggested, the livery appears to be an exception to the exception. The only downtube panels I've seen are on the 75x and 95x, as mentioned. Even the color (chestnut) hearkens back to '81 or earlier. But such exceptions may have been part and parcel of the fact that they were, in part, contracted out. Just makes it all that much more a conversation piece, esp. among those of us who like to obsess (just a bit) on such oddities. Congratulations on a quite nice, if slightly mysterious, find, in time-capsule condition to boot.

Edit - oh looky, clips for the rear brake cable. They most definitely gave way to braze-ons for the "main sequence stars" in '82. Curiouser....
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Old 10-10-19, 11:33 AM
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The early 80s 6nn series frames had Reynolds 531 main triangles brazed in Waterloo, which were mated with rear triangle subassemblies and forks brazed in Japan. The tubing used for the forks and subassemblies varied (Ishiwata, Tange, Reynolds) but was always decent quality.

Any frame/fork with domed stay ends (as opposed to radiused stay ends) at the dropouts used the Japan-built subassemblies. All the Waterloo-built rear triangles and forks had radiused ends at the dropouts.

HTH…
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Old 10-11-19, 03:28 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
The early 80s 6nn series frames had Reynolds 531 main triangles brazed in Waterloo, which were mated with rear triangle subassemblies and forks brazed in Japan. The tubing used for the forks and subassemblies varied (Ishiwata, Tange, Reynolds) but was always decent quality.

Any frame/fork with domed stay ends (as opposed to radiused stay ends) at the dropouts used the Japan-built subassemblies. All the Waterloo-built rear triangles and forks had radiused ends at the dropouts.

HTH…
If they (M/N serial numbered bikes) were “contracted out” does that refer to main tube welding as well as the final assembly, and why is the identity of the contract builder not known? It’s not as though this happened in the 15th Century. Also, can you tell based on the pix if this bike is “domed” versus “radiused”? Not familiar with this distinction. Thanks.
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Old 10-11-19, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Horochar View Post
can you tell based on the pix if this bike is “domed” versus “radiused”? Not familiar with this distinction.
I can't tell from the picture, but here is what to look for (the picture shows fork ends, but the same treatments were used on the rear stay ends as well):

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Old 10-11-19, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
I can't tell from the picture, but here is what to look for (the picture shows fork ends, but the same treatments were used on the rear stay ends as well):

Thanks, extremely helpful!! Mine are domed.
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Old 10-11-19, 10:23 PM
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I had this one come and go last spring. Think it was an 81 610 or 613 but the serial number wasn't a perfect match

Last edited by Chris Chicago; 10-11-19 at 10:30 PM.
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Old 10-12-19, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Chris Chicago View Post
had this one come and go last spring. Think it was an 81 610 or 613 but the serial number wasn't a perfect match
screwed on or glued on head badge? can’t tell from pic. also interesting to see lack of wrap around graphics. there seems to be little consistency in these bikes in these years.
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Old 10-12-19, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Horochar View Post
screwed on or glued on head badge? can’t tell from pic. also interesting to see lack of wrap around graphics. there seems to be little consistency in these bikes in these years.
See quoted passage from vintage-trek in post # 8 above. Presence/absence of wraparound panel changes with the year.
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Old 11-04-19, 02:09 PM
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There are NUMEROUS documented examples in which details about build and cosmetics varied from what was "supposed" to be on a bike. I got this from original owner and the decals on the bike are exactly as they were when the bike left the shop. Again, this model bike in this year is not "supposed" to have wrap-around decals. But it does!
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Old 11-05-19, 09:12 AM
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Seems like you've got your answer, but here's a shot of the radius stay treatment on my '81 757:



Your 616 is lovely, what a gorgeous color!!
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