Sunday, August 29, 2010

What Is It About Vintage Trek?

Over the summer, my BRW co-author somervillain and I both acquired vintage Trek roadbikes. These events were completely unrelated, and the bicycles themselves are of different models and vintage. And yet we had similar reactions to these intriguing creatures.

Initially, somervillain had planned to "flip" his 1988 Trek 560. As an aggressive, racy roadbike, it was not really his style, he thought. But the more he tried riding it, the more surprised he was to discover that it was a comfortable and pleasant ride - despite the aggressive handling.

Fast forward a month and the bicycle became a keeper. Fenders were installed, handlebars wrapped in cork tape and shellacked, a bell was mounted, and a Carradice bag attached. Not your typical Trek 560 set-up, but who needs typical?

My 1982 Trek 610 was a similar experience. I wanted to try this type of roadbike just for fun, but did not expect to keep it. I already had a perfectly good touring bicycle and did not need anything more aggressive. Well, I guess I did need it, because the Trek remains with me and is ridden frequently. Like somervillain, what got me hooked is that (unlike other vintage roadbikes), the Trek feels comfortable despite its racy handling. Riding it is downright addictive.

Vintage Trek collecting is its own microcosm, and if you are interested in exploring it the best place to start is There you can learn the date and model of your Trek by its serial number, and even find the specs of its build in scans of the original catalogues. These bicycles have a mystique and a cult following that I did not understand until I got one myself.


MDI said...

I think the key to why vintage Treks are so successful is that the company used well-engineered geometries that work today as well as they worked in the 80s combined with decent tubing and components that weren't crap (I am looking at you, French bikes of same 80s vintage). And there is the third ingredient to success--coherent standards. Those same Treks don't require unusual components to upgrade today (and I am looking at you again, French bikes...).

But that's just my take on it. I think the same reasoning applies to Grant's Bridgestones, by the way.

James Orton said...

I had a early 1990s trek 370 from new, my first ever racing bike. I raced it, toured on it and commuted on it. It handed each with ease. stolen two years ago in London. I still miss it.

somervillain said...

i think MDI makes some good points. if i recall correctly, up until the early 90s, even the base model treks came with mid-range comps and decent lightweight lugged frames... and they were made in the US.

Velouria said...

I am sorry to hear that, James : (

Anonymous said...

"These bicycles have a mystique and a cult following that I did not understand until I got one myself.".

Another way to say, "you see a lot of them around", I hand it to Trek, I went to a mega-group ride, a Tour and Treks were all over but I once descended down a hill with this guy on a vintage Trek and have got to think they are special bikes. They have all these #s and like you said, it'd be good to go to the website to start exploring the models.

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