Setting up a road bike, the right way doesn’t necessarily have to cost an arm and a leg. A good budget doesn’t hurt, but we can work around it.
First things first, pick a color scheme. I was all over the map. For a while, I really liked red, white and blue…
The bike above wrecked my infatuation with that color scheme, so I went traditional…. Then I bought my Specialized and everything went red on black.
The Venge was easy, and I went the high-end budget with that bike. $110 for the water bottle cages, $450 crankarms, $165 stem, $300 handlebar, etc.. When you spend that kind of cheese, it’ll look good.
The Rockhopper is all stock. Simple.
The Trek 5200 took some work though. The paint had been through the wringer and was even scratched off in several places on the frame. The original 1999 5200 is…. well, gaudy. I had to decide, go original (gaudy) with a bunch of stickers, or do I go old school understated. I obviously chose the latter.
The white brake cable housings went in the recycling bin ($10). Almost more important than looks, the real reason for switching cable housings is little known… I went with Jagwire 5mm cable housing. Standard back in the day was 4mm, the extra millimeter gives a lighter feel at the shift lever and a smoother shift.
The next little “attention to detail” piece, another bargain ($12), was the seat post collar. The original collar was a standard aluminum piece with no coating or color. It simply didn’t look right on all of that beautiful black.
There were two places I didn’t skimp on price when I rebuilt the Trek. The first was the seat post. I went from aluminum alloy to carbon fiber, but not for vanity…. The original seat attachment device had teeth that meant the saddle had settings. My comfort spot was literally between teeth. One click down and I was pushed to the front of the saddle. One click up and I was getting some gnarly nether region pressure. The Easton post was the only one I could find that gave me unlimited adjustability.
The second was the headset. I went big with a Chris King headset. The old headset was smoked. Dead. It was so bad, once it was removed from the bike to paint the frame, it couldn’t be reinstalled. King components are known for their longevity and I plan on keeping the bike for a long time. The best one word description is butter.
A couple of years ago, the front wheel blew out at the brake track. Luckily, I’d upgraded the Venge wheels and the original wheels fit perfectly on the Trek’s new paint scheme ($0).
Finally, other than adding a couple of black, plastic Bontrager bottle cages, I had been searching for a saddle to fit this bike. It hasn’t been easy because the Trek is a bit of a harsh ride. On a fluke I tried a mountain bike saddle that Matt had laying around his shop. That saddle transformed the bike entirely. For $30, and it even matched the red of the Trek stickers.
Rounding out the changes to the Trek, one of my shifters gave out after 18 years of hard life. If I had an unlimited budget, and I don’t, I’d have upgraded to a 10 Speed drivetrain. That would have run, maybe $600 – $800 after it was all done. Instead, I went with MicroSHIFT shifters, 9 Speed, for $75 and left the original drivetrain alone. Perfect
My final budgetary concern for the Trek was doing all of the work myself. I saved hundreds of dollars (if not a cool grand), including stripping the bike down and putting it back together for the new paint job. The knowledge gained was priceless.
To put a bow on this post, one can blow a small fortune fixing up a bike, but it doesn’t have to be that way, with a little forethought and some planning.
Either way, ride it hard… and ride that ride with a smile.