Category Archives: Trek

Bikes to Like: Rick R.’s Trek Elance 300 (650B Conversion!)

It’s all about bikes this week, and today features a guest post from Rick R. about his Trek Elance 300.

A North Carolina rider, Rick completed a full Super Randonneur series with the D.C. Randonneurs. Felkerino and I rode many miles with Rick (and Christian) on this spring’s Warrenton 300K. Felkerino and I joked that we were under attack by the 650B brigade, as both Rick’s Trek and Christian’s Terraferma are set up with 650B Grand Bois Hetre tires.

Riding similar paces allowed me to thoroughly admire Rick’s bike, and I’m so glad he agreed to be a guest contributor for Bikes to Like.

1. What kind of bike do you ride?

My bike is a 1986 Trek Elance 300. I purchased it over the internet, complete & original for $125. Then I converted it to 650B.

Rick’s Trek Elance 300

2. Where do you ride it?

I live in Wilmington, North Carolina, and do a lot of riding locally. I also do training rides in the Raleigh-Durham area to get in some hills.

My main purpose in building this bike was to ride brevets in comfort.

3. What do you like about your bike?

I like the comfort level I have on long rides. With the steel frame, wide tires, fenders, and Brooks saddle, I’m living the good life. Plus, I have a place to put my stuff with the two bags.

4. If you had to describe your bike in one word, what would it be?


5. Fenders or no fenders?

Definitely fenders. In 2010 I rode for four days in the rain with no fenders. That experience made me realize fenders are good!

Riding some wet roads on the Warrenton 300K

6. What is one of your favorite memories with this bicycle?

My first “hill ride” on the bike was at Morrow Mountain State Park. Ride 30 miles of rollers, climb Morrow, then ride 30 miles of bigger rollers back to the start.

At the top of Morrow, a young guy pointed at me and said to his friends, “This guy is my hero for riding that heavy bike up this climb.” He and his friends were all riding lightweight carbon bikes.

7. Does your bike have a name? If so, what is it?

Yes, his name is KERT.

Editor’s note: It took me a minute, but I get it.

8. What is one of your favorite accessories with this bicycle?

I like all of my accessories but the one that gets you the biggest bang for your buck is definitely the Velo Orange front bag. Everthing you need while your rolling is at your fingertips and it holds the cue sheet.

The bell gets a lot of attention, and it’s really useful.

Storing the essentials in the front bag. The bell just peeks out below the handlebars.

9. If your bike could talk, what is one thing it would say to you?

Why did we stop?

10. What did I forget to ask you that you want to tell me about your bike?

“If you had it to do over, would you build the same bike?” The answer is, yes I would.

Thank you so much for being part of Bikes to Like, Rick. Your Trek is a great bike and you have definitely put it to the test this year with all the brevets you have ridden. Well done!

Bikes to Like: Dan’s 1987 Trek 330 Elance

I recently met Dan during a lunch stop on a 200K permanent that Felkerino and I were doing. Dan was riding a populaire with some friends out of Frederick, Maryland, and his group had stopped for lunch at the same establishment.

Everyone had placed their bikes wherever space allowed alongside the restaurant. Amid the menagerie of bikes, Dan’s Trek caught my eye. Subtle and elegant, with a thoughtful build. I asked Dan to be a Bikes to Like guest contributor and, as you can see from what follows, he was up for it. Thank you, Dan, for sharing the story of your bike!

Dan and his Trek

1. What kind of bike do you have?

I have a 1987 Trek 330 frame with a whole bunch of non-original parts. In fact, NO original parts. It’s one of the ‘Elance’ series, which I believe were some of the first Taiwanese manufactured Treks.

Originally, it was a decent, middle of the road, steel sport bike, and the most basic in Trek’s stable for the year with things like SR cranks and basic Suntour components. It’s made of Reynolds 531, as all of the Trek sport frames were that year.

Actually, all of the sport frames of that year- top to bottom of the line- also had the exact same geometry and materials as well. The only differences seem to be the parts they put on them and the paint colors and the decals.

2. How did you come to own this bike?

I occasionally work with the fine folks at The Bike Doctor in Frederick, Maryland, and came to know the local Trek representative, who is a collector of old Trek frames and bikes in his service area. If any old ones come available, he usually picks them up for not a whole lot of money, or sometimes free.

This one came to him on one of his missions abroad, and he’d converted it into a fixie long before I knew him. I had a modern steel Masi I’d been riding that really didn’t fit the bill for me super well, and when I saw it in his basement, it being a 55.5cm (close enough to my size), I asked him if he’d ever consider selling it.

I’d set up a couple of guitars, recorded some music, and done a favor here and there for him and friends so he decided to give it to me (!). It’s my musical good-karma bike.

I’d been dreaming of a custom Mercian or a Weigle or Waterford (or a Singer or Herse)- pure unobtainium. But when I looked up the specs of this Trek frame, it wasn’t so far off from what I was looking for, especially for the price! So I dove in.

3. Where do you ride it?

I ride this bike wherever I can, within reason! It’s certainly seen it’s share of non-paved roads, as the folks I typically ride with up here in Frederick tend to ride stretches of substandard-to-modernity road at least as often as they ride on blacktop.

It’s more my sport rider than anything else. I have a couple of others for townie purposes and commuting but the Trek has done duty for those as well.

Trek 330 Elance

4. What do you like about your bike?

I’m pretty fond of the familiar ride of the Trek. It reminds me a LOT of a used and ragged old 531 Alpine road bike that I scavenged back in the mid 80′s, which I really really loved, as it was my first ‘real’ road bike.

I like the fast, but stable handling. I love that the frame climbs well and has a comfortable amount of flex, both up and down AND side to side. I love that it had all the necessary bosses for fenders. I love the color. I like that it’s paid for without having needed to win the Lotto.

I’m also very partial to the fact that my friend/neighbor James and I had prolonged discussions/arguments/beer drinking sessions/one-sided ride “discussions”/ book and catalog swaps/ internet link-o-metry/ email battles/repair stand circumspections about it for over a year.

In a way, it’s a monument to research, discourse, cussing, patience for overdiscussion, and male bonding idiocy, as well as a bicycle.

5. If you had to describe your bike in one word, what would it be?


6. Fenders or no fenders?

Fenders absolutely, yes, indeed.

Another look at the Trek 330

7. What is one of your favorite memories with this bicycle?

The first half-mile ride around my block after getting all my parts put on it. I didn’t even have brakes on it yet! I just remember going from a stiff modern steel bike to this and feeling like I was riding something that was very much more alive and spring-ish and, for lack of better words, proper.

I remember feeling like I’d come home again in a lot of ways and having a full-on Frankenstein “IT’S ALIVE” moment.

8. Does your bike have a name? If so, what is it?

Sadly, I’ve never given it a proper name. I do refer to it as “Bea” more often than not. A Mazda truck and an old cat of mine, both of which are the same color as the bike, are also called by the same name.

9. What is your favorite accessory on your bike and why?

I’m pretty fond of the Brooks handlebar tape, which was recycled from a Bianchi whose owner had shellacked it, hated the look, and was throwing it away (!). I soaked it in denatured alcohol for a couple of days, which at first looked as if it had TOTALLY ruined it.

I then oiled it repeatedly with proofide until it resembled something not made of beef jerky again. Somehow it has survived two years of use with me, and seems like it’s got quite a few more to go.

10. What did I forget to ask that you want to tell me about your bike?

“How much did Velo Orange have to do with [said bike]?”

A whole bunch. Thanks Velo Orange!

Another one might be “How many coats of automotive wax did it take to make your bike shiny again?”

A number that might make me seem as if I have OCD were it to be disclosed.

Or maybe “How many ounces of simichrome did it take to make your front derailleur not look like it was dragged behind a truck?”

See answer to previous question.

I think, in general, though, this bike has been a project of finding lots of practical solutions to the “problems” of riding and it’s gone through a few iterations.

The parts selection was one of figuring out what I needed versus what I could afford and also, what was available, pretty much like everyone else doing a custom build.

My particular needs were keeping a narrow stance (which I prefer over wide-set modern cranks), wide gearing without a triple crankset, a lively ride with durable parts, and having a front bag.

Oh, and as little black anodized stuff as I could get away with, mostly because I grew up with silver metals on bikes and prefer it. Beyond that, I just wanted it to be a classy ride with a classic randonneuse sorta look to it.

A final look at Dan’s Trek

11. If your bike could talk, what is one thing it would say to you?

Pardon me sir, do you have any Grey Poupon? Kidding…

It might ask me why I don’t convert it to a 650B so I stop denting my front fenders with my feet.

Bikes to Like: Bill B.’s Trek Madone SSLx

That’s right, people. It’s a double feature of Bikes to Like this week on Chasing Mailboxes. Today, I highlight Bill B.’s Trek Madone. Bill, the excellent RBA for the D.C. Randonneurs and our head photographer, has completed many MANY brevets on his Trek Madone.

I was curious how he managed to make a randonneuring bike out of what I would consider a more “racy” bicycle. Read on and find out how he did it!

Bill’s Trek Madone on a Fall Ride

1. What kind of bike do you have?

It started life as a 2003 Trek 5200 with the Project One “Andromeda” paint job. But after the bottom bracket shell came loose from the carbon frame in 2007, Trek replaced the frame with a 2006 Madone SSLx. To adapt it for randonneuring, I switched to a Brooks B-17 saddle, mounted an Ortlieb handlebar bag and a Carradice Nelson Long-Flap saddlebag with a quick-release bagman support, switched the 30-tooth granny chainring to a 26, and changed the stock 12-27 cassette to an 11-34 with a mountain bike derailleur. I also usually use more rugged 32- or 36-spoke wheels and a SON generator hub. The guy at the store where I bought the bike and where they replaced the frame was very excited that the replacement was the super high end SSLx model. But he agreed that it was probably the only SSLx sporting a mountain bike derailleur.

2. Where do you ride it?

I have used it on every brevet since I started randonneuring in 2006, including Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) in 2007 and the Endless Mountains 1240K in PA in 2009. On weekends when we don’t have a brevet, I usually ride it to Gettysburg. It is still inspiring to me to ride through that battlefield.

3. What do you like about your bike?

It climbs really well. (At least as well as it can with the engine I provide.) I still remember how much better it felt than my old bike the first time I rode it up a hill. The carbon frame is also good at soaking up road vibration from chip seal surfaces. And it doesn’t rust.

Although you didn’t ask, what I don’t like is that the front end is a little unstable with a loaded handlebar bag. It doesn’t feel stable when I change my line on downhill curves, and I’ve even had some very scary shimmies on fast descents. (Although that’s not the bike’s fault. It was designed as a racing bike.)

Bill on a brevet

4. If you had to describe your bike in one word, what would it be?

I still think of it as a “sleek” racing machine, even though it doesn’t look that way with all of the rando luggage on it.

5. Fenders or no fenders?

The bike doesn’t have clearance for full fenders, so I use Race Blade clip-on fenders. They do a pretty good job of protecting me, but since there is no front section to the rear fender they don’t do much to protect the bike.

Bill, king of the randopaparazzi (c) Felkerino

6. Does your bike have name? If so, what is it?

I have a hard enough time thinking up names for pets. I don’t name machines.

7. What is your favorite accessory on your bike and why?

That would probably be my Ortlieb handlebar bag. I keep my camera and food in it, as well as my brevet card, phone, and money. The lid overlaps the body enough that everything stays dry even in pouring rain. But it’s very easy to slip my hand in to retrieve things. It has a nifty quick release so I can carry the whole thing right into stores or controls.

8. What is your favorite photo of your bike/your bike and you?

I guess my favorite is this one right after I finished Paris Brest Paris. What a nice feeling at that moment!

Bill, after finishing 2007 PBP

9. What did I forget to ask that you want to tell me about your bike?

If I finally buy a new randonneuring bike, I will take the luggage off the Trek and maybe even try some aerobars on it. I think it will be much happier set up as a fast bike again.

Thanks for letting me feature your bike, Bill. Note: chasing mailboxes does not endorse aerobars, but we do endorse buying more bikes!