Last Updated: 07/04/2010
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Sport touring bikes are versatile. They can be set up for very different purposes and excel at each of them - something that is harder to achieve with more specialized bike designs.
This one is set up as my townie/commuting/beater/cyclocross/rough-stuff bike. The frame is a cheap sport touring frame from the early 80s and I treat this bike pretty roughly. This is the bike I take camping with the kids and it gets ridden both off road and on dirt roads a lot. I've added lights front and rear and a front rack with bags for carrying stuff. This bike gets ridden nearly every day at this point.
This bike is lighter than most full touring bikes and still pleasurable to ride on the open road. This bike has a 73 head angle and 5.5 cm of rake, which is typical for classic sport tourers. The extra rake make the bike stable and predictable on dirt roads and foot paths. The front end geometry also handles carrying front loads, which can range from small commuting loads most days to loads of fire wood and block ice when camping.
The rack on this bike is a Blackburn Mountain II rack that has been slightly modified. In the stock configuration, this rack has 4 attachment points: 2 at the eyelets and 2 at the mid fork position. I've drilled a couple of holes in the top deck and added a strut from the underside of the deck to the brake bolt. This 5th attachment point makes the rack really, really stable. Compared with lowriders, I've grown to prefer the high mounting position for rough stuff riding and commuting, as it keeps the bags up off of things like rocks, ruts and curbs.
The front light is an inexpensive LED light with an aluminum housing and it's held in place by a simple hardware store u-bolt. I drilled out 2 holes side by each at the front of the rack and positioned the light so that the strut that runs across the front underside of the rack ends up angling the light downward just a bit. After the light is installed, I cut the tops of the u-bolts flush with the nuts. This leaves the light tucked away out of harms way and gives a nice centered beam. NOTE: this is a "to be seen" type of set up and definitely not a "to see the road" type of set up. But, it's enough for short errands and twilight.
The front shifter is a very old, simple Huret friction shifter. It's the old type that was made for 5 speed gearing systems, so it has much less cable pull than modern shifters,so it's easier to trim the shifts. The simple friction shifter means I can change wheels and gearing almost at whim and it pretty much zeros out maintenance. There's just no need to fiddle with it ever.
I've simplified the gearing down to 1x6 or 1x7 gearing (depending on the wheels that week) and have come to really love it. While the bike has no front derailler, I still use a 110/74 triple crank, as I do on all 3 of my bikes. In the outer position, I have a modified large chainring that has been converted to a chainguard. In the middle position, I have a 42t ring, which is what I use 99% of the time. In the inner position I have a 28t granny ring. If I need really low gearing I can move the chain over by hand. It's sort of like having a dual range bike.
I love the BMX pedals for this type of bike. Infinitely better than toe clips and straps. Not quite as efficient for me as retention pedals but it's just great to be able to wear sneakers or Crocs or whatever to ride.
A big part of the versatility of a sport touring bike is the extra clearance for tires. Like many sport tourers of its era, this bike uses 47-61mm reach centerpull brakes, which allows it to handle up to 700x32mm tires. Most of the pictures on this page show the bike with street tires but it will also handle cyclocross tires in the 32mm range just fine.
The frame is a sad story on it's own. From what I can tell, this was the first fully machine made bike sold by Trek. The main tubes are made of seamed Ishawata Mangy-X, the mangalloy type tubing used to withstand the hotter temperatures associated with robot brazing from that time period. The forks and stays are hi-tensile steel. In this light, I think this frame marks the beginning of the end of the hand-built steel Treks. Regardless, the geometry is great and the bikes handles as well as my nicer bikes.
In one of the incarnations, I had Moustache bars on this bike. I found they were just great for light off road use and were fantastic feeling when climbing out of the saddle. But no matter what I did (and I tried hard for nearly 2 years), I just couldn't keep them from hurting my hands on rides that lasted more than 30 minutes.
Copyright 2004 - 2010 by David Mann