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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've recently acquired a 1983 Trek 400 bike for the purpose of short commutes and lunch runs. I wanted a bike that I could ride to meetings (company is spread across many buildings), lock up, and not worry that it's going to get stolen. I am by no means an expert with bikes, hence I have some questions. Please remember that I'm trying to do everything with little money as I don't see the point of spending too much on this bike.

1.) The brakes on this bike seem to be shot. They require a lot of force and yet they provide very little braking power. The current brakes are single pivot caliper brakes. Can I tune these to be better, or should I just be replacing them? If replacing, what should I replace with? Something cheap, of course...

2.) The handlebars are the typical road bike bars. I'd like to possibly replace these with some more comfortable handlebars, maybe giving me a slightly more upright riding position. Would mustache style bars be good for this, and there any cheap ones around?

3.) The ride seems very very firm. I'm not sure if this is because of the frame, the tires, the wheels, or all of the above. The tires seem pretty old and are 27"/630mm. Any recommendations on how to make the ride a bit softer?

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/unixville/161007546/" title="Photo Sharing"><img border="1" src="https://static.flickr.com/77/161007546_0f692a2fe4.jpg" width="500" height="333" alt="trek400final" /></a>

<i>edit: updated photo</i>

-L
 

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Looks like a nice bike!

I like how your bike is configured for commuting, with fenders, rack, etc.

First, your brakes probably need to be tuned. Unless you don't like single pivots, you shouldn't have to replace them. You should check the condition of the brake pads. A lot of people on this forum like DT Swiss pads or Kool Stop pads. Also, check the tension on the brake cables.

You have lots of options for handlebars. I just set up a Traveler with what I thought was moustache bars, but I decided that they were originally for a 3-speed or something. I turned them upside down, and I kinda like them. You can see the thread here:

http://forums.roadbikereview.com/showthread.php?t=61314

I am not done with this bike, though. You also could consider cowhorn bars, which I also like. Outfit those bars with either Tektro TT barend brakes, or standard MTB brakes on the flat part of the bar. As far as where to find the bar you want, you could go to your LBS and browse their old parts selection. You could use a standard MTB handlebar, for that matter. My favorite place is Ebay. I have seen a lot of moustache bars on there recently, but Nitto bars aren't cheap. Syntace bullhorns are common and not expensive. :D I could, and do, spend hours on Ebay......

If you have 27" rims, I would suggest going with 1 1/4 width tires. That is what's on my Schwinn Traveler, and the ride is very cushy. That is also attributable to the steel frame. Is your Trek steel or aluminum? My aluminum Schwinn is lightweight, but rides stiff and informs you of every bump in the road.

You mentioned more upright position. How much can you move the stem up? Looks like you have some room to move as far as your brake cables go.

Oh, and a question. What kind of saddle is that? A Brooks would look sweet on that bike!

Good luck, and continue posting. We like lots of pictures.....I do anyway!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Slowmo, where did you find those handlebars and how much do they usually cost?

I believe the frame is steel+manganese. There is a sticker with some "manganese alloy" stuff written on it. I don't have an opinion on single pivot vs. other brakes, I just want them to work. I'll try tuning the ones I have, but I'm not sure it'll work that great. The hoods on the brake levers are quite old and tattered so they need replacing anyways.

I'll check what size the current tires are. No matter what size they are, I have a feeling they need to be replaced anyways. I know the spokes are galvanized..

As far as a Brooks saddle goes, the saddle would be more expensive than the bike and just make it more tempting for theives. :)

-L
 

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wooglin said:
Chances are good there's nothing really wrong with the brakes. Probably the cables and housing need replacement. New brake shoes would be a good idea too.
yep, that's what I was going to say!

About getting in a more upright position. Get a stem with a lot more rise (or some rise plus a longer quill) so you can get the bars up higher (might be all you need to get more comfy).
nashbar had some of their mustache bars on sale recently, check 'em out.
here they are
http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?...and=&sku=13586&storetype=&estoreid=&pagename=

you could also get some wider tires, those are probably pretty hard after all the years. like if they are 23-25mm wide, go with 28-32... you may want to check how much clearance you've got for bigger tires before going to the wider end of things.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I'll try to adjust the brakes this weekend. The bike needs a thorough cleaning first, it's dirty as all hell.

Another thing I noticed about the handlebars is that they are only 40cm wide. The narrow bars might be the cause of uncomfort more than anything else. I'm going to look into some cheapo 44cm bars once I get the brakes worked out.

After that, a plastic milk cart 'pannier' will be strapped to the rear carrier. :p

-L
 

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lazyrack said:
Slowmo, where did you find those handlebars and how much do they usually cost?

I believe the frame is steel+manganese. There is a sticker with some "manganese alloy" stuff written on it. I don't have an opinion on single pivot vs. other brakes, I just want them to work. I'll try tuning the ones I have, but I'm not sure it'll work that great. The hoods on the brake levers are quite old and tattered so they need replacing anyways.

I'll check what size the current tires are. No matter what size they are, I have a feeling they need to be replaced anyways. I know the spokes are galvanized..

As far as a Brooks saddle goes, the saddle would be more expensive than the bike and just make it more tempting for theives. :)

-L
I got the handlebar on Ebay. Somebody was parting out a bike, and I got the handlebar, index/friction Suntour stem shifter, stem, and Shimano aero brake levers. With shipping, it was a little over $26. The key to Ebay is knowing what stuff can bring, and watching the lists closely. I like to catch the stuff others let slip past, look at vague listings, etc. You might look for Tektro levers. SteveH put some on his Traveler in the same thread that look nice and comfortable.

I realize a Brooks is tempting, and I don't have the theft issue you may be facing. Maybe use the U-lock through the seat rails?:p Oh, and if you're riding a manganese alloy, that might be a Tange steel tubeset, and those are NICE riding frames.

Anyhow, like the bike sits, you have pretty much all you need. I would love to have found a similar setup. New tires, a tuneup from a LBS ($30, maybe), and you can be rolling.
 
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