I’ve mentioned here a few times that I have an early 1990's Trek 8000 frame - I believe it is a 1992 - that I bought on eBay and built up as a beater in 2006 when I was in grad school at Penn State. I always loved these US-made bonded Easton aluminum frames so when one showed up for auction in size XL, I grabbed it even though I couldn’t really afford to properly build it out at the time. I put it together with a hodgepodge of take-0ff parts from a Raligh M50 that I was upgrading, sale items from Nashbar (way back in the pre-bankruptcy days when buying bike parts online was way cheaper than any local bike store could compete with), and random things from eBay. I used it to commute from my off-campus apartment to the lab and hoped the absurd color would help prevent theft. I still came out to a 50% cut through lock one day in early 2008.
Geometrically the thing was a bit of a mess. As purchased, the frame came with just the original bottom bracket, seatpost/collar, and threaded headset. I had a spare threadless headset that I had picked up on clearance so I went to eBay to find a cheap CroMo fork. I wanted something with a disc mount and ended up with a take-off from a Redline Mogocog 29er from someone who likely upgraded to a suspension fork. The steer tube only came out of the head tube about an inch so I stuck a cheap dimension steer tube extender on it then put some random stem from the local bike shop parts bucket on it and capped it off with the old alloy handlebar from my M50. And then instead of putting a 29" wheel in it I found a cheap 26" front wheel with a Centerlock hub and stuffed that in. It rode as sketchy as it sounds. But with some negative tread tires (first Continental Town & Countrys, later Serfas Drifters) it worked as a commuter.
After graduating, I moved to San Antonio and the Trek tagged along. I worked for a company that had a 1200 acre campus with a 6-mile mixed pavement/gravel/grass/dirt loop. I stored the bike in a shed there and rode the loop twice a week. Along the way I maintained the wearable items but never got around to making any big changes. The thing was simple and worked - one gear, one brake - just get on and ride. It also helped that it was very lightweight with the thin tubing and no extra faff of a multispeed drivetrain. It was still a mess but good enough for the loop so I my motivation to change things was low.
Then, in 2018, I moved to the mountains outside of Santa Fe, NM. Here, the front-only brake was terrifying, the gearing was too high, and the wobbliness was scary. The rear hub bearings were also starting to go. I rode it around the campus where I work now a little bit but ever since the first ride here I’ve been planning to finally sort it out. The coronavirus lockdown finally gave me the chance to order parts, put it together, and sort it out once and (maybe) for all.
My goal was to make this thing more appropriate for mixed road and light trail use here without going crazy or spending a fortune. I didn’t have a set budget, but was figuring around $500. I would be keeping the parts that worked OK and replacing the things that didn’t with new parts that are maybe a level above the cheapest without getting too fancy. Basically spending as much as needed to get dependable parts without spending extra for lower weight or added features. The fork was going to stay, so that meant actually putting a 29" wheel in to make a 26/29" bike or 69er or “Mullet” ride. At the same time I was throwing a carbon handlebar on my full squisher, so the “Trek” (it’s officially a Ship of Theseus at this point I think) got the OEM specialized handlebar. It is much wider than what was on there and an instant win for stability. I zip-tied it in place to start the process while other things were in the mail.
Finally finished a few weeks ago too late to go for a ride. I break out complete build details below along with what was new and the money sunk into this. Some highlights:
- The wheels are Sunringle (formerly SunRims) rhyno lite rims with DT Swiss spokes and Shimano Deore hubs. I’ve run these on other bikes in the past - they are a little heavy but basically the cheapest thing you can buy that will stay true through some tough riding without much tending too. Also the old 8/9-speed Shimano freehubs on the Deore rear is delightfully silent.
- Tires are Bontrager Connection Trail 2.0" wide. I wanted something that came in both 26" and 29" and had an essentially unbroken piece of rubber down the center for roads. These fit the bill and as a bonus they seem pretty puncture resistant as well (but they are a bit heavy)
- No rear disc mount on a Trek MTB of this vintage so I went with a Shimano Deore T610 V-Brake which comes out of the box with nicer pads than cheaper V-Brakes. It’s about as fancy as V-Brakes get these days short of way more expensive boutique ones from companies like Paul Components. I thought about trying to find an old dual-pivot XT or XTR on eBay but didn’t have the patience. An Avid BB5 mechanical disc replaced the old fussy Hayes MX-1 up front. The levers are new Avid Speed Dial 7s (SRAM hasn’t changed the branding on these yet - probably because they actually have Avid cast into the body.) Some Jagwire Sport housing I had laying around finished up the brakes.
- The seat post is a bit of an indulgence - it’a a Race Face Evolve that REI had on clearance. Probably didn’t need it but I donated the OEM post to my daughter’s build.
- Crappy no-name tensioner replaced with a Shimano Alfine two-pulley tensioner.
- Rear cog increased from 15T to 20T. Just a cheap Dimension cog. It works. Definitely better for the hills here.
- Saddle is a WTB Speed that was on sale cheap (not that they are that expensive to begin with - solid, durable entry-level saddle... WTB doesn’t make junk).
- Got rid of the steer tube extender because the 29" wheel raised the front up on its own. Threw on a Promax DA-1 stem. In gold because why not.
- And of course since the whole thing is so absurd a green chain.
Everything else is left from the previous build.
Next day I took it down a dirt road near my house. Immediately felt way more stable than ever. My initial guess for the seat height was a little low though. Having a rear brake was also great and I got it set correctly pretty much right out of the box.
The old quick-release seat post binder needs to be basically be hammered closed to get enough grip on the post to keep it from slipping so I left it for a little while and went on a longer ride down a trail a few days later. Obviously it can’t get over the same things my 130mm travel full suspension can, but it is does surprisingly well. The 29" wheel up front helps get over things and the whole thing is pretty nimble. It should be fine for the loops I want to take it on which are a mix of roads and dirt/gravel with the occasional tree root.
Of course I had to pose it with the rest of the fleet.
I raised the seat last weekend and it was immediately more comfortable. The geometry is still a little weird, but it works well for what I want it to do. I got it out to the end of one of the local mesas getting funny looks from other riders on their 1x12 full suspension bikes. I had to walk over one rocky hill I can get climb fine on the full squisher and was slower, but it made it and was a ton of fun. Not comfortable, but not as bad as I thought it might be for an hour or so ride. It’s refreshing to just hop on an go as well without having to worry about air in the shocks, air in the dropper post, air in the tubeless tires. Despite gaining some weight in this build (though not much because that tube extender and beefy stem were rather heavy), it still feels very light and lively.
Then this weekend I adjusted the front brake that had started rubbing after initial cable stretching and moved the seat back as far as I could on the rails. Headed out on the mesa again and it did great. So I’m calling the build complete. I do have a roll of silicone tape to put on those poor chainstays that I hope to get on there this week. And it might get the pedals from my full suspension if I upgrade those soon. But for now the “Mullet” is complete and I’m going to have a blast riding it around town getting funny looks from the locals. It’s absurd and I love it. Even better it doesn’t suck to ride anymore.
Frame: Bonded Easton E9 aluminum alloy, Size XL
Seat Binder: OEM Trek quick-release
Fork: Redline Monocog 29"
Headset: FSA Pig
Stem: Promax DA-1, 7 degree, 110 mm ($20 Nashbar)
Handlebar: Specialized alloy, 25 mm riser, 750 mm wide (Takeoff from 2018 Camber that I was upgrading to carbon so I’m calling it a freebie.)
Grips: Specializes Sip Grips, locking (Also from the Camber - as far as I can tell ODI makes these for Specialized)
Saddle: WTB Speed Comp ($16, Jenson USA)
Seatpost: Race Face Evolve ($42 REI)
Front Wheel: Sunringle Rhyno Lite 29" with Shimano Deore FH-M525 hub, 14 ga. stainless spokes (REI, $100)
Rear Wheel: Sunringle Rhyno Lite 26" with Shmino Deore RH-M252 hub, 14 ga. stainless spokes (This was actually currently on my M50 but I replaced that one with a new wheel so let’s call this $100 as well - that one came from an eBay seller.)
Rim Tape: Ritchey snap-on for the 29" ($5/pair Jenson USA), Forte snap-on for the 26" ($4/pair Nashbar)
Tires: Bontrager Connection Hard-Case Trail, 26/29x2.0 ($30 each REI)
Inner Tubes: Slime ($10 each, Walmart)
Tensioner: Shimano Alfine CT-S500 ($21 Jenson USA)
Rear Cog: Dimension 20T ($7 Jenson USA)
Chain: KMC Z410 ($11 Nashbar)
Chainring: Salsa 7075 alloy, 32T
Crankset:Shimano Nexave FC-T410
Bottom Bracket: OEM Trek 8000 bottom bracket, square taper
Front Brake: Avid BB5 with 160 mm disc ($27 without disc - I had the disc laying around from another project)
Rear Brake: Shimano BR-T610 ($26 Nashbar)
Brake Levers: Avid Speed Dial 7 ($24 for the pair Jenson USA)
Brake Housing and Cables: Jagwire Sport housing with new basic Alligator cables (had the housing/ferrules/tips, cables $3 each Jenson USA)
Pedals: No-name aluminum cage-style flats probably from Nashbar around 2006
Bottle Cage: Profile Designs Kage