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"It's Not Just A Bike, It's An Old Trek*"

Introduction

Trek craftsmen Mike Appel (left) and Dick Nolan. This photo (©Trek) appeared in Trek brochures from 1976 through 1981. (Click to enlarge.)

Welcome to the unofficial Vintage-Trek* bicycle web site. This is a noncommercial, just-for-fun, hobbyist site.

The primary purpose of this site is to gather and disseminate information about early lugged, steel-framed road bikes made by the Trek Bicycle Corporation, Waterloo, Wisconsin. In response to popular demand, the site has expanded to include not-so-vintage Trek bikes of all kinds as new as 2012.

Mountain bikers, and carbon and aluminum aficionados do not despair - the brochure extracts on the site contain a list of specs for all of the bikes Trek produced in that year. Additionally, the table of Trek models by year includes all Trek bikes through 2005.

Other Resources - Specs for all Treks 93 and newer are on the BikePedia.com site. Additionally, specifications and pictures for 2003 and newer Treks are available on the Trekbikes.com web site archives.)

Before this site began, in various bicycle-related Internet discussion forums there were posted questions like:

  • How old is my Trek?
  • How was it equipped when new?
  • What was the original selling price?
  • Where was it in the price/quality hierarchy?

The query usually went unanswered. This site is an attempt to provide the information that answers questions such as these.

What Is on This Page?

Introduction | On This Site | Is it a Trek?
Determining Year and Model | Collectability | Contributors
Comments Appreciated | Contact | About this Site | My Treks

Trek 1978 TX900 headbadge. Photo courtesy Chas. Porter

What Is on This Site?

On this site are Trek brochures or catalogs covering the period 1976 to 2012. There also are four early price lists from bike shops in Santa Barbara, CA. The price list and values page also has a list of bike prices when new. This information was provided mostly by visitors to this site. This page also includes suggestions for estimating the current value of a Vintage Trek.

There is a timeline for steel Trek road bikes that often can be used to identify or date a frame. A table of Trek models by year and color includes virtually all Trek bikes from 1976 through 2005.

Serial number information can be found on the serial number page.

Methods of determining the date of manufacture of bicycle components (and often the bikes they are on) are described here.

NOTICE: We are trying to sort out NITTO manufacturer's date codes. See here for details.

Suggestions for buying or selling a vintage Trek are given on the site as well as tips for refurbishing or upgrading your bike. Included is a section on general specifications for vintage Treks.

There also are catalogs from Gary Fisher (1988-2010); Klein (1989-2008), and LeMond (1996-2008) on the site.

Is It a Trek?

It usually is easy to identify a bike frame as a Trek, even if it has been repainted, as virtually all of them have "TREK" conveniently stamped or cast into one or more places on the frame. Possible locations are the top of the seat stays, the seat lug, the bottom bracket, and the top of the fork crown. An exception is the TX900 which has no cast-in "TREK".

Determining the Year and Model of Your Steel Trek

One often has to be a bit of a detective to sort this out.

For Year:

  • If you know the model number, compare the colors of your bike against the Models/Years/Color listing. This works only for Treks from about 1982 onward. The earlier bikes models were available in numerous colors.
  • Check the serial number of the frame. If a 7 character alphanumeric, see the results of the Serial Number Decoding Project. If it is 6 digit numeric, in the range 000000 to 270975, go to the serial number page to get the year and model number. If it is 6 digit numeric higher than 270975, the year may be able to be determined from the Table II on the serial number page. Other serial number formats are described on the serial number page.
  • Check the description of graphics by year in the timeline to match up your bike. Go to the brochures, the BikePedia.com web site (for 1993 and newer), the Trekbikes.com web site archives (for 2003 and newer) and perhaps the gallery for more detail. For most years, (generally 1981 and newer) color is telling. For many models, two or more colors were available, but only one color is pictured. The other is listed on the model description page or in the separate specifications table. Complicating bike identification by color, Trek occasionally added a bike color after the brochure for that year was made. As they are identified, these additional colors are included in the Models/Year/Colors page. If your frame has been repainted, you may be able to find the original paint inside the bottom bracket shell, seat tube, or head tube. Occasionally, a frame was returned to Trek for repainting. Trek would use the then current colors and graphics, not the original ones. This means that color and graphics can (rarely) be misleading as to year.
  • If your bike has a model name or model number, look it up on the Models/Year/Colors table to find the years your bike was sold.
  • Compare the components on the bike with those described in the brochures, if you think they may be original. (BTW - This is tedious.) Cranks and brakes (and often seatposts), are more likely to be original than other components.
    (Note: Trek occasionally changed the components from what were described in the brochures. Improved parts became available during the year or specified parts became unavailable. In the case of unavailable parts, Trek invariably substituted better parts.)
  • Date the components on the bike (if you think they are original), guided by the component dates page. Dated components most likely to be original are brakes, handlebars, cranks and seatposts.

For Model:

  • For some years, the model number (in the form xxx) appears on the bike. Easy - even I often get this right.
  • If the serial number is a 7 character alphanumeric, see the results of the Serial Number Decoding Project. If the number is a 6 digit numeral, check to see if your serial number is listed on one of the serial number years.
  • Racing? Touring? Sport? Measure the chainstay length, from the center of the crank to the center of the rear dropout. A length of 43.5, 44, 44.5, up to 47 cm (the Model 720 and 85 620) typically is a touring model, racing models are shorter at 41 to 41.5 cm or so. Sport versions are somewhere in between, at 43 cm or so.
  • Compare the components on the bike (and frame colors on 81 and newer) with those described in the brochures. or in the descriptions on the BikePedia.com (93 and newer) or the Trekbikes.com web site archives (for 2003 and newer) web sites.
  • For many models, two colors were available, but only one color is pictured. The other is listed on the model description page or in the separate specifications table.
  • Eyelets on dropouts? (for fenders or racks) - typically none on racing models (except for the first 4 or so years), yes on touring models, yes on most sport models.
  • Rear derailleur cable routed above or below bottom bracket? See 1982 Timeline page entry.
  • Rear derailleur cable routed through right chainstay? See 1985, 86, 87 Timeline page entries.
  • Cantilever Brakes? = Touring model. Centerpull Brakes = Touring (early 1982 720/728). Sidepull brakes? Very common. These only rule out models with cantilever and centerpull brakes.
  • Fastback seatstays with no TREK stamped on seat lug =TX900. (See Chas. Porter's bike in the gallery.) Also, the TX900 has three holes, of increasing size, in the top of the seat lugs and head lugs.
  • A seatpost diameter of 27.4mm indicates a Model 170. The Model TX300 is 26.8mm. All other vintage Treks are 27.2mm.
  • See Is it Columbus Tubing?

Collectability of Steel Treks

People often ask about the collectability of old Treks. Here are some general comments from my own observations and from the collected experience of others.

  • Lots of steel Trek bikes were made; most are not rare. However, virtually all steel Treks are quality riders and are valued as such. Vintage Treks with upgraded components are more valuable as riders, but this can decrease the value as a collector's item.
  • Top level Treks are considerably more collectable than lower level bikes. However, keep in mind that an entry-level Trek is at a mid-level price/value in comparison to the offerings of most other manufacturers.
  • Earlier Treks are more valuable as they generally are more rare. Now that the serial numbers are generally understood, one can verify the age of the frame.
  • Condition is all important to collectability. A bike with original paint is more desirable (to a collector) than a repainted bike. Additionally, bikes with components as provided by the factory are more desirable to the collector. In the case of bikes originally bought as bare frames, the components should be period correct.
  • The early bikes were built with traditional frame building methods and therefore are more desirable to the collector (in my view). This change from traditional methods to more automated methods was fairly gradual from 1976 to 1980, but then increased. Cast one-piece head tube/head lug assemblies appeared on some bikes in 1980 or 81. This began with lower level bikes but extended to mid level bikes later. (A small picture of this headtube/lug device is on page 2 of the 89 catalog.) Cast seat lugs, with sockets for the stays, appeared in about 1984. Artisan frame builders were generally replaced with frame technicians in the early 80s as more automated techniques were developed and employed. These changes did not necessarily reduce the quality of the frames, but did move Trek farther from traditional methods. This did achieve the goal of reducing production costs and helped keep Trek cost competitive (and solvent) in a highly competitive environment.
  • Vintage Trek bikes do not (yet) have the cachet of some English or European bikes, which generally have a much longer history. However, during the Vintage-Trek period, the quality of the frame materials, construction methods, and finish are certainly equal or superior to the vast majority of English and European top-level production bikes, and exceed many custom bikes as well.
  • The early Trek bikes, up to about 1983, have fender clearance. (The touring bikes beyond 83 all have fender clearance.) If people want a proper wide-tired touring bike, winter bike, or rain bike, all with fender clearance, they must typically buy a modern cyclocross bike or a custom bike. Most other modern road bikes don’t have the clearance (and don't have lugs). This helps keep vintage Treks popular as riders.
  • The early bikes, 1976 to about 82, were built using sliver solder, a more costly and desirable method. Many later models were built, at least partially, with sliver as well.
  • Ishiwata 022 steel frames were less expensive than Reynolds- or Columbus-tubed frames, but the steel quality was equal to the others. They are often described as “best value”.

Some vintage frame or bike models have special significance; these include the TX900, 720/728, 170, and 520.

The TX900 was the early top-of-the-line frameset, dating from 1976 to mid 1978. The Columbus tubing, racing geometry, and fastback seat stays were characteristic of this model (not to be confused with the later bikes from the mid-80s having cast socketed seat lugs in fastback form). Another special feature is the three holes, of increasing size, in the top of the seat lugs and head lugs. The unique and distinctive design, and relative rarity, adds to the value of these frames.

The 720/728 touring bikes, dating from 82-85 were (and still are) highly-rated bikes for serious touring. The long chainstays, 47cm, provide heel clearance for the rear panniers, and contribute to a comfortable ride. These frames and bikes are still highly sought after by knowledgeable tourists. A similar steel lugged frame is not currently available except from a custom framemaker. In my opinion, these framesets and bikes will only increase in value over time. The steel racing Treks will never again be used by top racers for racing. However, the 720 will be used (and coveted) by experienced tourists well into the future. Trek made a total of 7929 720 and 728 bikes and frames (number calculated by Mitch Hawker).

(Note: Trek ran out of model numbers; don't confuse these touring 720s with the 1990-1999 Model 720 MultiTrack bikes.)

The Model 170, arguably Trek’s best steel racing frame, was available during the period 1983 to 1985. They were made with Reynolds 753 tubing. Among their users was the 7-11 Team. Many were made by master framebuilder Tim Issac. These bikes are highly sought after in spite of the use of the nontraditional socketed cast seat lug.

The 520 touring bike first appeared in 1983 and probably has made more trans-America crossings than any other bike model. It still is offered by Trek in steel (although not lugged), which has helped maintain significant model recognition among bicyclists. This longevity and popularity has raised the value of this bike over similarly-priced vintage Treks of the period.

Two parameters are specially important to the 520 over the years: chainstay length (as pointed out by Robert Cooke) and the type of brakes used. Long chainstays are used on touring bikes to provide a more stable, cushioned ride and to provide more room for panniers (saddle bags). Serious touring bikes in the 80s and 90s were equipped with cantilever brakes (the classic center-pull cantilevers). These were considered powerful enough to stop a heavily loaded bike going downhill. The sidepull brakes of the time were considered less capable for such extreme duty. It wasn't until Shimano developed their "V-brake" (known generically as the side-pull cantilever or the direct pull brake) that a viable alternative to the traditional cantilever was available. This new brake was used on the 520 after 1999. The table below shows these two 520 characteristics through time. These data should be of use to people who plan to buy a vintage 520.

Table I - Brake Type and Chainstay Length for Trek Model 520 from 1983 through 2012

Year

Designation
Used by Trek

Brake Type
Chainstay
Length, cm
1983
Touring
Sidepull
43
1984
Touring
Cantilever
45.5
1985
Sport Touring
Sidepull
42.5
1986
Sport Touring
Sidepull
42.5
1987
Touring
Cantilever
45.5
1988
Touring
Cantilever
45.5
1989
Touring
Cantilever
43
1990
Touring
Cantilever
43
1991
Touring
Cantilever
43
1992
Touring
Cantilever
43
1993
Touring
Cantilever
43
1994
Touring
Cantilever
45
1995
Touring
Cantilever
45
1996
Touring
Cantilever
45
1997
Touring
Cantilever
45
1998
Touring
Cantilever
45
1999
Touring
V-brake
45
2000 - 2012
Touring
V-brake
45

 

The 620 touring bike was offered in 1983, 84, and 85. It was a level above the 520, but because it was short lived and no longer in production, it is not as familiar to potential purchasers. On the used market, this often means less money for an even better bike. Only the 85 model had the extra-long 47cm chainstays, matching those of the 720.

Some Trek models shared the same frame. For example, if you want a 1983 frame with 620 geometry and materials, you can look for a 1983 600, 630, or 640, all of which have the same characteristics as the 620. The geometry and frame materials are normally given in the brochure for that year.

Contributors

1984 Model 770 with custom paint.
Picture provided by Wayne Bingham.

Many thanks to the people who have contributed significant information to the site. They are: Tom Adams, Mark Agree, Peter Berger, Wayne Bingham, Alan Burnett, Larry Black, Dave Breitlow, Ed Brown, Colin Campbell, Dan Carlsson, Mark Carter, Andrew Chadwick, Chris Clement, Bill Clements, Chris Cleveland, John Colt, Nels Cone, Robert Cooke, Mark Crabtree, Julia DeGrace, Kris Echert, Taryn Echert, Anita Edens, Dave Evans, David Feldman, Ivan Feldman, Erik Frey, Tim Fricker, Cory Fry, Rich Ferguson, Marsha Gill, Don Gillies, Dickey Greer, John Hallows, Lyle Hanson, D. Hansen, Keith Hatfull, Mitch Hawker, Sean Hickey, George Hoechst, Bill Howard, Jim Jack, Jennings Kilgore, Michael Johnson, John Keller, Steve Kurt, Jeff Kwapil, JP Lacy, Kevin Maher, Dave Mann, Steve Mann, Tom Marshall (T-mar), Tom Meara, Michael McCullough, Marty Meison, Lou Miranda, Dale Mizer, Greg Mooncalf, Mike Marro, Kirt Murray, George Nenni, Larry Osborn, Dennis Pieper, Andy Poplawski, Chas. Porter, Tim Rangitsch, Jack Romaine, Michael A. Roberts, Brandon Rouse, Roger Sacilotto, John Satory, Paul Schleck, Travis Sherwood, Dan Shindelar, Bruce Squires, Dave Staublin, Jay St. John, Scott Stulken, Tom Sustarich, Mike Swantak, David Temple, Elisabeth Thomas-Matej, Kevin Tita, Craig Tornga, Kevin Truelove, Mark Wade, Martin Walsh, Leighton Walter, Ben Weiner, Luker White, and Brad Ziegler.

This site would not have been possible without their help and support. I know there will be more to thank in the future.

The list above does not include the many hundreds of other people who have provided a serial number or other smaller contribution to the site. Our hearfelt thanks to these folks as well.

Comments and Information Appreciated

Please send your comments, corrections, and materials! If you have additional information about steel Treks; old brochures, price sheets, or other information, please pass them along. Easiest digital form is probably as .gif files (for graphics) or .jpg files (for photographs) scanned at 150 dpi or more. If you send printed information, it will be scanned and returned to you.

Currently, I am not adding more photos to the Gallery. Now that we have all (or virtually all) of the brochures/catalogs for each year, the Gallery is not as important as it was earlier. My current task is to sort out the many other forms of serial numbers used on Trek bikes throughout the years.

How to Contact Me

Skip Echert - E-mail: skip@skipechert.com

About This Site

At a bicycle shop in Santa Barbara, in about 1978, I picked up a Trek brochure which described the "pre owned" frame/bike that I had just purchased. In 2001, I found that brochure in my old papers and was surprised to find two other Trek brochures and four price lists that I had salted away as well. These materials were the genesis of this site, which went online in 2001. The amount of material on the site has grown steadily over time, much of it from the information and documents generously provided by site visitors.

As the site expanded, and visitors could find information to answer their questions, the nature of the questions has evolved. For example, I now get few questions about the early serial numbers (as they now are well documented) but more about the many later ones used by Trek.

The site currently gets 12,000 to 20,000 unique visitors per month. We have received and replied to over 2400 emails. Many of the questions asked and then researched have been the basis for information added to the site.

My Treks

I have a Trek TX900, originally sold new (frame only) in 1977 to a very accomplished teenager who raced it in and around Santa Barbara, CA. He had equipped it mostly with Campagnolo Nuovo Record parts from 1973 and earlier, a Zeus front hub, a Super Olimpic rear hub, and Cinelli bars and stem. He, or the previous owner, had replaced many of the steel bolts in the components with titanium or aluminum after-market items. I purchased it from him in 1978 for the sum of $375. He was 16 when he sold it, after discovering girls and cars.

A few years ago, I replaced the sew-up rims with clinchers, carefully spread the rear triangle to 126mm and replaced the (then) splitting rear hub with a 6 speed Campagnolo model. At the urging of Don Altman, a bike-savvy friend, I replaced the the Teledyne titanium crank axle (by the way - beautifully crafted) with a stock Campagnolo model. Don knew that many of these aftermarket axles had failed - with painful consequences for the rider. (I was probably perfectly safe, as my horsepower output could never be described as "gear busting"). After making this substitution, I realized the axle had been the cause of wobble in the chainrings. With these changes, the bike now is even a greater joy to ride. Perhaps one day the TX900 will have matching rims, tires, hubs, and brake pads. (Or would that just indicate a lack of imagination on my part?)

In 2002, I bought a 1981 Model 613, in almost new condition, at Recycled Cycles in Seattle. I decided this would be my (almost) modern bike. It is now a 24-speed index shifter, assembled from used and new parts. See this gallery page for details.

In June of 09, John Keller, a major contributor to the site, gave me a 1980 Model 710 frame in excellent condition. Wow! The results of the buildup can be seen on a page in the gallery.

I received the fabulous gift of a 1985 Model 720 frameset in April of 2014. It was from numerous members of the BikeForums.net Classic and Vintage forum. It was offered as a thank you for the Vintage-Trek website. What generous people! Earlier, in corresponding with Dave Vegafria about his 720s, I casually mentioned my long-term hope of getting a 720 one day. Without mentioning anything to me, Dave thought the time could be sooner. He posed the question on the forum and got dozens of offers of support. Since it arrived, I have gathered almost all of the needed components. When finished, it will be in the gallery.

My son has a 1993 Model 8700 Trek carbon-tubed mountain bike. He bought it at a local pawn shop for $100 in 2004. It had been updated with an early suspension fork.

 

Introduction | On This Site | Identify as a Trek | Determining Year and Model | Collectability
Contributors | Comments Appreciated | Contact | About this Site | My Treks

 

Brochures | Price Lists and Values | Trek History | Trek Timeline | Serial Numbers
Component Dates | Gallery | Contact | Buy/Sell Suggestions
Refurbish/Upgrade | Bike Resources | Home

*Trek is a trademark of Trek Bicycle Corporation, Waterloo, WI

All copyrights in the TREK brochures, pricelists, owner's manuals and photographs displayed on this website are the sole property of Trek Bicycle Corporation, Waterloo, Wisconsin.

All materials in this site not copyrighted by others are Copyright © 2001-2014 Skip Echert Web Associates, All rights reserved.

 

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