Since several of my favourite blog people are doing articles in several parts and I am nothing if not a sheep-like follower and imitator, I'm jumping on the bandwagon. There may be months between the parts of this documentation of my Light Loaded Tourer build, since the restrictions of time and money will make it a very slow process. To see all posts relating to this build, use the "Post Series" link near the top of the sidebar on the right.
On previous builds, I have been asked by people, "so how much did it cost to do?" I could ballpark it, but in all honesty I didn't have any good answer. This time, I'm going to keep track of everything in these posts, right down to the bar tape. I've got a bad feeling the total amount will be more than I ever guessed, but I know I do that to myself by needing to upgrade lots of stuff that probably would have been fine. As such, please don't treat these posts as a "how to build a good bike for cheap", but rather as a "how Rantwick builds a bike he'll love". Also please know that this is not a restoration project. Lots of new bits and pieces that have nothing to do with the original 520 will go into it.
Of course the first step in building up a bike from scratch is getting your paws on an appropriate frame. In my case I found a local classified ad for a "90s Trek 520". The back wheel was trashed and the frame would require a complete re-paint to look nice again. When I got the bike home, a little online research at Vintage Trek revealed that my bike was actually an 1988 or 89. The serial number puts it in 1989, but the 27" wheels make it a 1988! Anyway, here it is, just as I brought it home:
Double-butted made in the USA lugged steel goodness. Long chainstays. Braze-ons and eyelets for racks and fenders, including eyelets midway on the front fork, two water bottle cages and mounts for the downtube shifters (which you can switch between friction and indexed for the rear).
Like I said, the rear wheel was trashed, and the 6 Speed freewheel cogs showed the signs of a long life spent with the same chain, so I couldn't use it either. The front wheel was OK, but the spokes were grungy with oxidation. I needed some decent 27" wheels if I didn't want to replace the perfectly good cantilever brakes or get into moving the braze-ons. Once again, the local online classified gods smiled on my project: I picked up a pair of Mavic G40s (double eyelet, 36 spoke) laced to sealed cartridge Specialized hubs. They even had nice silver skewers without a mark on them.
Brass nipples, DT Swiss stainless spokes, and 6 Speed freewheel (the original was a 6 speed too) in excellent condition. I didn't measure, but the rear spacing of the bike is a perfect match. It's gear range (12-19) is higher than that of a typical touring bike, and I'm debating with myself about how to proceed. I was intending on replacing the Deore/BioPace crankset (which was also really worn) anyway, so I've been playing with gear calculators to see if I can get touring-style gear ratios by choosing the right crankset. I'm thinking the smaller chainrings of a MTB crankset might do the trick. I know some bike people who would gasp in horror at the notion of using MTB components on a road frame, but I'm way more interested in function than convention. That said, I'm a sucker for a nice Ultegra crankset... obviously I'm still percolating on the matter. Maybe a road triple crankset with no rings off ebay? Buying rings one a time can be expensive. Gaah! Ack! I love this, and I hate this!
Sorry you got dragged into my tortured thought process there. So: A frame and wheels that I really like. What an excellent start!
Build $ Tally:
Used Frame + some parts I will re-use: $80.00
Used Wheelset: $100.00
TOTAL to date: $180.00
This was Part One.
If you were expecting something funny or interesting to normal people, I apologize. Like I said, it will likely be quite a while before I post on this build again, so come back soon for something more entertaining.