In my quest to make my classic 1999 Trek 5200 everything it can be with modern parts and tech, I may have gone one step too far…
For only the second time (the first was fleeting and gone too quickly), my Trek is just a shade more comfortable than my 14-year-newer aero race bike. The Trek is so good, I’m actually picking it for windy rides and active recovery rides just so it can have its day in the sun… and I can put some enjoyable outdoor miles on it.
I’ve been trying to get the Trek close to the Venge in terms of comfort for so long I can’t believe I’m actually here. And that I’ve gone too far!
Thankfully for the Venge, it’s a paragon of aerodynamic awesomeness, seductive speed and svelte weight wienieness. Its Ultegra drivetrain also shifts a lot better than my 5200’s 105 drivetrain. If not for those four formidable points… well, not much would change. Because that Venge is supremely fun to ride.
The main changes that brought the Trek up a few notches centered around the 17° flipped stem that helped to get the setup a little closer to my Specialized. The “best find” piece of the puzzle was the Bontrager Montrose Team Issue carbon fiber saddle. On a fluke I found the saddle on Trek’s website for just $120 and jumped on it. I should have bought two. That is one amazing saddle. The final piece of the puzzle was the upgrade to carbon fiber Ican 38 mm wheels shod with 25 mm tires. Dropping the alloy wheels and the 23/24 mm tires improved the Trek’s ride characteristics immensely. Interestingly, because of a clearance issue at the rear chainstays, I couldn’t use 25 mm tires with 19.5 mm wide wheels (alloy wheels are typically 19.5 mm wide – or they were). With the light bulb effect, the tires would rub the chainstays just behind the bottom bracket when I would climb a hill out of the saddle. The Ican carbon fiber wheels are 23 mm wide so the 25 mm tires now fit perfectly, no rubbing.
Anyway, point being, it’s a good day for the 5200.
I keep telling everyone that old stuff is better, but do they listen? Not sure. My hearing is going lately… 🙂
Well, in this case you’re hypothesis has a reasonable explanation that negates it… See, the Venge is Specialized’s true race bike, along with the Tarmac. The frame is meant to stand up to pro sprinters… it’s supposed to be astoundingly stiff. And it is. It’s also unquestionably faster due to that characteristic. All things being fair.
nice fix-up. my wife is looking at getting a Trek Emonda; she fell in love with one the other day.
That’s a really nice bike, man. I hope she enjoys it.