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Discussion Starter #1
Hi. I've been lurking on these forums for a log time now soaking in all the pics and builds.

I'm trying to put together a bike out of VRC-era components (actually just older stuff I can get for dirt cheap). Not trying to restore one of the more collectible brands, or ruin a classic by modding it too much.

I want to build a bike for gravel touring, taking dirt shortcuts while commuting, lots of road miles in between.

I saw a few pics of old CX bikes and I've also come across a few CL ads for for Trek bikes that had 700c wheels but were basically mountain bikes, basically old early 90's hybrids with knobbies.

I'm not looking for a modern rigid 29er, I want the horizontal top tube type frame, steel, rack mounts. But I do want t fit some fat rubber on it. (as well as higher pressure commuter tires/slicks)

I plan on repainting it and totally piecing it together. Does NOT have to be VRC-correct, Though I plan on using mostly all old parts.

So I'm wondering if anybody knows any model numbers/names for durable bikes that had 700c's but a lot of clearance for tires (not actual road bikes). I read on a vintage Trek site that the old Treks could fit fenders and 40's while other bikes of the era couldn't. I figure Trek is less collectible and wouldn't be such a travesty to repaint and totally de-original-ize it. Mainly I just need to find a frame, the rest of the components I keep running into. I'll probably harvest from thrift store donor bikes.

Most of the bargain deals are posted by people who just see their item as a rusting old bike and they only know the brand and model from the decals. I'm trying to figure out what brands and models might fit the specs.
 

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Diamondback Overdrive (the old one, not the cheap re-release)
Bianchi Project 3, 5, or 7

But good luck finding either. There are also some 26" frames that easily convert to 700c, like many of the old Bridgestones.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'll start compiling a list of models to look for. Thanks. Yeah I saw a Bridgestone over in the trail pic threads rollin on big hoops. Gotta remember to take a measuring device with me to swap meets and garage sales...
 

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Stokeless Asshat
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Don't discount 70's touring and sports touring bikes. Long, stable, room for fenders and 40's, durable and plentiful. Damn near any thing made in Japan from the mid 70's to the mid 80's will do.
 

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Harmonius Wrench
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Here in the Mid-West there are a lot of Trek 520 touring bikes around. Many lugged, and some came with full DX groups, (besides the bar end shifters), and were really decent rigs. I happen to have one in bits I am going to put back together for gravel riding. It will take 40's easily, and should prove to be pretty nice. We'll see.

But that's another good one to look for.
 

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Trying to grow a mustache
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Weren't those late 8o's Trek Mountain bikes designed to run 26 knobbies or 700c road wheels with calipers? Those would be abundant and cheap. Or did I hallucinate this?...
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yeah, I'm kinda thinking the Trek is the way to go unless I luck my way across something considered to be better at a yard sale, because I'm looking for bargains, to completely rebuild/paint. The 520's seem to be the one Trek model people kind of see as "valuable", and they usually know what they're selling. I've seen a few "Multi Track" treks that have the bigger rims.
 

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I'm running 700x40c WTB All Terrainasaurus tires on my '94 Trek 520. Great setup for a mix of gravel, roads, and even some occasional singletrack.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
There's something about pure road bikes that don't quite instill off road confidence in me. And it could be just appearance and I'm being prejudiced. Touring bikes may be a bit workable, and would have the mounting points. I'm with Tom on the simplicity thing, and that's kinda how I wanna build up this bike. I used to be a full sus/remote lockout type guy. But now I feel that simplicity trend in my self. I love feelin' myself. Don't we all.

Also in that TR interview in a previous paragraph to the gravel bikes/road bikes thing, he was talking about carbon frame failures. Granted, there's not much carbon in the 80's road bikes that are available at the Goodwill. But the race-oriented, faster-at-the-cost-of-being-less-burly aspect of true road bikes kinda keeps me away from them.

In that thread Frog mentioned (thanks for that) there was something about "true big wheeled mountain bikes", as opposed to marketing mistakes, comfort hybrids, etc. I guess I see myself riding this bike on rougher terrain, loaded with camping gear, etc. All the vintage road bikes I see for sale look as spindly-legged as the tall alien at the end of Close Encounters, like they're just gonna snap. Maybe they won't, but riding over ruts and bumps with loaded bags, it would mess me up seeing a twig of a frame under me. Seeing that alien messed me up too when I was a kid, BTW.

Specifically, I want to build up something to ride from Flagstaff to Sedona on the fire roads, and from San Diego out to the Anza Borrego desert (down banner grade). So it's lots of road, and then deserty, scraggy, pebbles and bumps. Basically I pretty much ride to deserts, then ride AROUND IN the desert. It's usually very flat, no drop offs, but very choppy/washboard fire roads, loose sand patches, etc. And to get there I'm on the asphalt for many miles.

I could swap tires once I get out to the whhhilderness. But I guess the (totes currently popular) term "Gravel" isn't exactly right. "Distance Expedition" is probably what I'm doing.

I really like the Bianchi Project (3,5,7) mentioned. Never actually ridden one, but I just searched'em and checked out pics and specs and those seem great. The optimist in me thought there might be a similar type of bike made by a less-collectible classic/retro era company that I would actually be able to find. But it seems more likely that I could just find a frame menat for 26" tires that happens to fit the 700c's.

I'm currently commuting on a rigid/slicked 26er, (100 psi kenda kwests) it rolls smooth but just doesn't feel right for more than 20 miles or so on the pavement. Even on some of the crappier roads around San Diego county it hits those bumps pretty hard. But it's a modern geometry XC MTB...Perhaps with the oldschool geometry, a classic 26" frame would be comfy for 60 miles of asphalt.

I don't wanna get too OT, the reason I posted in this forum was because I always see MTBs from the 80's and 90's for CHEAP. And treasure hunting is part of the fun. I wanna paint it up with a period-style paint job...ok maybe not period style..bad choice of words..."era-appropriate". And I wanna get all nostalgic lookin at the stem and brakes and thinkin about how bikes used to look like that when I got my first mountain bike. But I want to actually ride it, something I can use all the time.

Before I get ultra-flamed, I bow to all of you, who have desirable classics and know more than I do. I'm here because I'm curious (famous last words).
 

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Here in the Mid-West there are a lot of Trek 520 touring bikes around. Many lugged, and some came with full DX groups, (besides the bar end shifters), and were really decent rigs. I happen to have one in bits I am going to put back together for gravel riding. It will take 40's easily, and should prove to be pretty nice. We'll see.

But that's another good one to look for.
The lugged Trek 520 and 750 from the early '90s is perfect. I had a 750 that I used for 'cross racing and as a trail bike in the summer. Could fit 45mm tires. Was the bike that sold me on big wheels off road.
 

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gobsmacked
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You've mentioned cheap at every post, we get it already. There's a difference between cheap and inexpensive. At the distance you want to do and the location you want to do it in, just don't go too cheap or you're going to be stuck somewhere with no spare parts in sight. There are deals out there. Keep your eye out for those hidden gems.

Everybody have mentioned some great candidates. Stay patient. I have faith that it'll happen.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Haha, cool, I gotcha, it's not cheap if you want it now, off ebay, from a collector, the idea is to find one of those good ones as a gem at a garage sale, etc.

Yeah I don't wanna get picked by buzzards next to a shitty bike.

Gonna add that 750 to the list. I'm liking some of the builds I see. nice to know what tires fit which frames, something you can't easily tell from ebay pics.

Thanks all.
 

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Well, he says cheap in every post and everyone is mentioning expensive Trek touring frames. So, no, people aren't getting it.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Yeah, I was thinking there might be something with similar geometry to the above-mentioned classics/semi classics that was cheaper only because it was a less collectible brand. But the deals are out there I suppose. Nobody is going to put "cheap old retro 700c mountain bike for you yo rebuild as expedition tourer - $40" in their CL title... so that's why I was curious about model names. Finding something good for cheap is even better. It's probably not gonna be on ebay or CL though.

Videos will be taken of all upcoming trips.
 
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