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What to do with an older bike when your riding styles have changed? That’s a pretty common question, and one that bike shops see on a regular basis. Whether you no longer race, or you’re riding in completely different terrain, sometimes there are things you can do to extend the life of your bike. Other times, it may be best to move on and pick up something else…
Hello! I don’t ride my 2004 Trek 5200 on the roads anymore (I am older now and the cars are too close!), but since it’s still a good frame, I would like to change a few things to make it more greenway-pothole-bridge-worthy. Since the wheels/tires seem to be an obvious beginning, what would you recommend? – Todd
Bikerumor: Hi Todd, that’s a great question and one that I used to field quite a bit while working in shops. I’m assuming that by “more greenway-pothole-bridge-worthy“, you’re looking for a way to make it more comfortable with bigger tires, and possibly a more upright riding position. While that is possible to achieve, there are some limitations to consider.
First, would probably be the tire clearance of the frame, fork, and brake calipers. I don’t know for certain, but I’m guessing you’ll be able to fit 700c x 28mm tires in it – maybe 700c x 30mm. You want to make sure the tires won’t rub on the chainstays, seat stays, or fork legs, and tires that big will likely make it tough to fit through the brake calipers – you might even need to deflate them a bit to get them through depending on your brake pads, tires, etc. Best option here is to find a bike shop that has the tires in stock and will help you test fit them to see what will be the biggest tire that will clear all of the parts.
It’s probably not worth replacing the wheels unless they are damaged and you really want to keep this bike. A wider rim may improve the tire profile, but it will also make the tires fit a bit wider which could lead to the previously mentioned clearance issues.
Since the 5200 was designed as a racing bike, it has a pretty aggressive geometry with a low front end. A new stem will help to get the bars higher, though you’ll be limited to the positions you can achieve. Steerer tube extenders are generally a bad idea – especially on a carbon steerer (can’t recall if this bike has a carbon steerer or not). If you are really looking for a more upright position, adapting the bike to a flat bar (or more appropriately, a riser bar) might be a good option. You’d need new shifters and brake levers, but with the bike being 9 speed, you should be able to find compatible parts for relatively cheap.
However, realize that even after modifying this bike for bike path use, it still might not be as comfortable as an inexpensive hybrid bike that can run bigger tires and has a more relaxed geometry. Because of that, I’d stick with the biggest tires you can fit, and maybe a more upright stem to tweak the position. If you need more than that, it might be time to look for a new bike. Good luck!
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