Last Updated: 04/24/2010
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In 1978, I was in high school in central Ohio. Chuck Harris, the owner of the local bike store in our town, took me in and gave me a job. He remains one of the most genuinely kind people I have ever known. Chuck's passion was for bike touring and we sold mostly Fujis, with the occasional Miyata. One day Chuck returned from an event with a frame from a new company in Wisconson. It was Chestnut Brown and made with Ishawata 022 tubing. He hung it in the front window for display and it was the most beautiful frame I had ever seen.
By 1983, I was going to college in the Boston area and I finally saved up enough money to trade in my old Fuji Royale II for a Trek 600, which I rode until 1995 when I drove it under a car port while it was on the roof rack. Yes, I cried. I had been commuting on the bike daily, went on regular training rides with it and had ridden it cross-country.
I replaced the totalled 600 with an aluminum Trek 1220. It had a triple crank and eyelets but, it was a racing style bike in every other way - certainly not a sport touring design like I was used to. Mountain bikes were all the rage at that time and the sport touring bike had effectively disappeared from the market it seemed. The 1220 was loads of fun on short rides. But, I found that its race bike design left me feeling tired and beat up on longer rides. I really, really missed the stable ride of my old 600. I wanted another sports tourer. Thankfully, I found the Vintage Trek site and was able to research what frames to look for. My hunt finally payed off in 2006 and I was able to purchase this frame.
I consider myself extremely lucky to have been able to find this specific frame. The paint is still original. There are spots of touch up paint here and there but the metal flake Imron paint is still holding up. I really wanted to find an 022 frame, and not another 531 frame. Partly, this is because of the big impression that brown Trek had made on me nearly 30 years ago. More importantly though, I wanted to get a slightly stiffer frame than the thinner walled 531 tubing provided. The first step in getting the bike on the road was to take it to Peter Mooney , the frame builder in residence at the Wheelworks , to have the frame aligned and to have the rear triangle spread to 130mm to accept a modern drive train.
People who love lugged bikes often have preferences and I have mine. I've always loved the long point lugs that Trek used on their early bikes. They just look right to me - simple and stark. I've also always loved the font of the Trek old logo that is stamped on the top of the seat stay.
In 1978, you could still order optional braze-ons on Trek frames. Luckily, the first owner choose down tube cable stops as I prefer bar end shifters. Other nice upgrades include: water bottle bosses on the down tube, brake cable bosses on the top tube, cable guides on the bottom bracket (I think these are Campagnolo but I'm not 100% sure of that) and Campagnolo drop outs, which were upgrades on the stock Suntour or Trek drop outs originally specified for the 510. And of course, in 1978 they still attached the headbadge with screws, which just tickles me to no end.
One thing I love about the sport touring design is it's versatility. I've set this bike up as a go-fast, day tripping bike. I'm using Nitto Noodle bars and the Cane Creek levers. The combination is, by far, the most comfortable I've ever used. The same can be said for the B-17 Narrow saddle. The bag set-up works wonderfully for day trips. The front bag might recall memories for those of you who remember the late '70s. It's an Eclipse bag that has been on pretty much every bike I've ridden since 1984. A few years ago, it was a nasty sun faded red after spending over 25 years in the sun. My wife begged me to let her buy me a new bag. Instead, I dropped it into a hot pot of Ritt dye and it came out looking almost like new. The rear bag on the other hand is new. It's a Jandd Mountain Wedge III. It expands large enough to hold my XL fleece jackets. It's a really wonderful seat bag.
The drive train is mostly an 8-speed Shimano indexing system with RSX hubs, 105 rear derailleur and Shimano barcon shifters. The front crank is a Sugino AT, which is the same style of crank that I used to have on my old 600. The front derailleur is an old SunTour of some sort - the label is long gone.
The current brakes on the bike are a pair of DiaCompe Royal Compe II's, which I've shamelessly delogofied. They provide adequate room for fenders and 32mm tires and plenty of room for 28s. I think its a fine looking caliper.
By far, the most compelling thing about this bike is the ride. The long wheelbase, the long rake and low bottom bracket all give this bike a kind of stability that has to be ridden to be believed. The place I most notice it is on sections of rough road and torn up pavement. On my race style bike, the bike would pitch to one side or the other in the rough stuff. In contrast, this bike just hunkers down and rides straight and true.
Copyright 2004 - 2008 by David Mann