I recently did an article on how to do a cheap bike restoration and this Trek 800 was featured. In this article I’m going to dive into this Trek 800 mountain bike restoration and discuss why I feel it’s still special enough to be worthy of my time fixing it up.
The bike is meant for my daughter, who wants to ride a mountain bike because I do. And it had to be blue, and preferably be meant for women, because she’s used to getting off the bike by moving her foot over the downtube rather than over the back wheel.
I believe this is her fifth bike and its her first adult bike as well, although a very small frame. What’s interesting is that her fourth bike was a new Walmart-type mountain bike, which cost 189 euros.
The reason why we bought the Muddy Fox was that a 26″ bike turned out to be too big and I was unable to find a 24″ vintage mountain bike. We also thought that because she had 3 second-hand bikes I literally pulled out of the trash she deserved to have a new one for once.
The Trek 800 was 50 euros, but was 30 years old and had been left out in the rain. I was a woman in her sixties. It worked, but could definitely do with a good clean and some new cables.
The bike has a steel frame with quite a bit of rust, but in too good a shape to be spray-painted. The same didn’t apply for the handlebars and stem which were faded and rusted.
Disassembling, cleaning, polishing and restoring
The reason why I feel that vintage mountain bikes make for such great restoration projects is because of their simplicity and the fact that a good cleaning of what’s usually Shimano parts will make them work again like new.
And the first thing I wanted to do after I had completely disassembled the bike was polishing the frame. I’m using Meguiar’s ultimate compound to really bring back to life that nice deep shine of the paint. I use it on my car, but it’s just as good for bicycle frames.
I also hand-sanded and spray-painted the handlebars and stem, which is one of my least favorite parts of a bike restoration, because it’s so time-consuming.
The hubs from both wheels were cleaned and re-greased.
I was positively surprised by the Shimano Altus groupset. For such an old, well-used entry-level groupset they worked exceptionally well after I cleaned all the necessary parts, and installed new cables and housing.
The shifters are classic 90s style SRAM MRX-100 Grip Shifts. I actually thought at first that the right shifter was missing the adjuster knob, until I saw on the video I made earlier, that it’s not supposed to have one.
That’s an odd design choice. Because it means that after you’ve installed the derailleur cable you can only adjust the rear derailleur using the adjustment on the derailleur. It works, but it’s just a little more cumbersome to finetune the bike.
A quick cable installation tip is to not remove the housing when reinstalling the cable, but remove the steel ring instead to insert the cable. The reason for this is that it took me 30 minutes with the help of an official video tutorial to get the thing back together again. It’s probably me, but it was very frustrating nonetheless.
I don’t know if it’s because I want these older bikes to be better than similar products from today. I might be biased here. But I have a really hard time imagining a new drivetrain bought today still working 30 years from now, let alone all of those electronic parts.
Bicycle products today are so heavily performance-oriented, and I don’t hear a lot of brands or people promoting longevity or sustainability or your wallet.
I also re-greased the head tube bearings. Fortunately they were fine and not rusted or pitted.
The brake arms and crankset received a quick polishing with the polishing wheel. The polishing wheel is one of the best investments from a bike restoration perspective. With this tool it’s relatively easy to make old aluminum parts look like new.
With all those parts cleaned and restored, there was nothing left to do for me except to put the bike back together again. I was so happy with the result that I actually started to buy an old Trek mountain bike for myself. But you know, I still have 3 more projects waiting for me so that would add to my restoration backlog.
So I hope you like the article. Let me know if you feel the bicycle industry has taken a turn for the worst in terms of bicycle and bicycle component quality by joining the Facebook group. Really interested to learn what you feel about this subject.
Trek 800 mountain bike costs
cables and housing
ring lock holder
Trek 800 mountain bike specifications
Shimano Altus FC-CT92
Shimano Altus SIS FD-CT92 E-type
Shimano Altus SIS RD-CT92
SRAM Grip Shift MRX-100
Shimano Altus BR-CT91
Johan van Seijen
Johan van Seijen is the founder of restoration.bike. His passion for cycling in general, and restoring older bikes turned into a website to share his knowledge with a broader audience. Starting out on his father’s road bike and riding classics as the Amstel Gold Race and Liege Bastogne Liege he has shifted his attention to trail, XC, and gravel riding since. No matter how much he loves writing about everything related to cycling, nothing beats actually using his ever-expanding bicycle collection.
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