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Home » Cycling » A Makeover… For Your Old Road Bike? Yes, Please! Part Two – What To Change, Saddle, Wheels and Seat Post

A Makeover… For Your Old Road Bike? Yes, Please! Part Two – What To Change, Saddle, Wheels and Seat Post

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A blog friend from Texas, Jeff, asked for this series. My friend, here you are…

So, the other day I posted all of the photos linked to changes in my Trek 5200 over the years that took it from a 21-ish-pound behemoth to a svelte 18-1/2 pound speedster. That was Part One of what will become a series, and I’m about to share those changes with you… and some of the deeply technical aspects of those changes so, if you decide to undertake updating an old-school steed, maybe you’ll be able to avoid a few pitfalls.

First things first when I brought the 5200 home, I put a new saddle on the Trek. The old saddle was, thankfully, way too wide. I currently ride a 138mm Montrose comfortably. The saddle that came on the bike was a 155 and hurt me massively, especially in the hamstrings as the pain radiated down over the miles. I had a 143 mm Specialized Romin on the Trek for years but switched to the Bontrager Montrose carbon saddle a couple of years ago because it was much more… erm… Bontrager (Trek) is phenomenally comfortable (and is also very light, ahem). I’d be willing to bet, from the original saddle to the svelte carbon beauty that’s on there now, I’d dropped at least a half-pound, possibly more.

I also upgraded the seatpost from the alloy one that came on the bike (left) to a wonderful Easton carbon model (right). The reason for the change was that the seatpost’s leveling mechanism on the left was “notched” so that you were limited to the nose up and nose down positioning of the saddle. One notch meant the saddle nose was either too high or too low for me and I hated the feel. The Easton post was infinitely adjustable so I could put it exactly where I wanted it. That, and “carbon fiber”. It has been written that, when the option for alloy or carbon fiber exists, one should always opt for the carbon fiber (unless the cost of said component exceeds one’s reasonable cashflow). Joking aside, there’s an interesting footnote here that made the carbon fiber post a wise choice over another alloy model. It is well known that alloy to carbon fiber creates a funky reaction that will, over time and without proper lubing of the parts, fuse the two parts together (seat post and seat tube). I wanted nothing to do with having to worry about this, so, again, carbon fiber.

Next, I blew out the original Rolf rear wheel at the brake track. Too many years of braking wore the alloy rim thin and it eventually blew out, so the rear wheel was toast – and good luck finding a replacement! I took the wheels from my Specialized Venge and put them on the Trek after buying a new set for the Venge. Later, when I bought my first set of carbon wheels for the Venge, I put the better, lighter alloy wheels on the Trek (Velocity). Then I bought a set of carbon 50s for the Venge and put the carbon 38s from the Venge on the Trek – that’s where the wheels sit today. The Ican 38s are special and well suited to the Trek because they’re 23 mm wide (old alloy wheelsets are 19.5 mm wide at the brake track). The wider rim means you can use a wider tire (up to a 25 mm, though I prefer 24 mm) in betwixt the skinnier chainstays of an older bike like my Trek. A tire wider than a 25 (even a 26) will rub the chainstays when I climb, though, even with the 23mm-wide rims. Now, the interesting thing is, even a 25 would rub when using a 19.5 mm standard alloy wheel. Using the 23mm carbon wheel eased the “lightbulb” effect of the tire which meant the tire would fit with the wider rim. Food for thought, anyway. I dropped well over a pound upgrading the wheels, upwards of a pound-and-a-half (almost 1kg). Sadly, there once were photos of the damage, but I seem to have lost them and deleted the last two from the blog…

Now, in case you’re wondering, the Ican 50s on my Venge absolutely will not not fit on the Trek. The 25mm-wide rims are simply too wide to fit between the chainstays. The point is, you have to watch the chainstay width when upgrading wheels. Go too wide on an old bike and you’ll be sending the wheels back because they won’t fit.

I think that’ll do for this post as it’s getting a little on the long side. Part three will be coming up soon.


2 Comments

  1. jwintx14 says:

    Full weekend so I’m seeing this a day late, but WOW! Thank you, Jim! I’m following along with great interest here 🙂

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