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Not All Bikes are Created Equal… Some Parts Just Won’t Work on Older Steeds


May 2019

I had some lofty plans for my Trek…  My wife is sending me on a road camping trip with my boys up north for three days of cycling fun.  Because my Trek is so easy to fix, it’s geared for hills, and it’s exceptionally comfortable over long hauls, I generally leave the Specialized home for road trips (The Horsey Hundred being the exception to the rule – I ride the Trek on Northwest and DALMAC).

This year, I wanted to take the good wheels off the Venge and put them on the Trek.  Both bikes are Shimano 10 speed (Ultegra on the Venge, 105 on the 5200), so I went after it the other day.

I took the wheels off both bikes, swapped the brake pads (you never use the same brake pads for aluminum and carbon fiber wheels – if you get a flake of metal from the brake track of an aluminum rim stuck in the pad (a common occurrence) and then use that pad on a carbon wheel… oh, dear, that’s bad.

Then I took the wheels off the Venge and put the front on the Trek.  The 25mm rim width was too wide for the 1999 Ultegra rim brakes.  Everything was skinny back then.  Even with the brake cable loose, the calipers wouldn’t spread wide enough to accept the wheel… worse, when I let out air to get the wheel on, the pads, barely cleared the brake track.  In other words, unless I swapped brake calipers too, there’s just no way this was going to work.

I fitted both bikes with their original parts.

My friends, sometimes you just gotta leave well enough alone.  The Trek is definitely good enough with the alloy wheels that I don’t have to mess around with swapping wheels that won’t work anyway.  Worse, I only had about a millimeter each side of clearance at the chainstays to boot.  Had I forced it and used the good wheels on the Trek anyway, the tire could have rubbed the chainstays every time I got out of the saddle.

In this case, my older 5200 was simply made for skinnier tires and wheels.  While I would be able to partially rectify the problem with some modern brake calipers, in the end I’d still have a clearance issue – I’d need 23 mm rims in lieu of the 25’s on the Venge.

This provides a good lesson for those cyclists out there who don’t quite pay too much attention to all of the little details; not all bikes are created equal.  Retrofitting an older steed with newer parts is fraught with issues that are often difficult to grasp or anticipate.

If you’re going to keep from damaging your old bike, you’ve gotta be able to address any issues before you ride.  And, as in this case for me, accept that sometimes it’s best to leave well enough alone.

I’ll just have to take both bikes up north for our trip.


  1. Dorothea says:

    as long as there’s room for both bikes in/on the vehicle and a way to lock them up safe, no issue with taking both! It’s a good thing you had a chance to at least try the wheel swap though. If you hadn’t you would have wondered about that for a while.

  2. Disc wheel set and brakes for the Trek?

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