07 September 2012

What To Do With A Rescued Frame

About a week ago, I mentioned that I "rescued" a rather nice old frame.

Turns out, I have most of the parts I'd need to build it.  So now the question is:  Into what kind of a bike should I build it?

As best as I can tell, this frame is a 1983 Trek 560.  That year, it was sold as a complete bike with SunTour Blue Line derailleurs along with a mixture of other Japanese components, most of which were reliable if not fancy.  However, in that component mix was a Helicomatic freewheel.  It was a good idea, and, had it been better-executed,  we might be riding it, or other hubs based on its design, instead of Campangnolo- and Shimano-style cassette hubs.

The frame itself was made from Reynolds 501 tubing.  Apparently, Reynolds made it for only a few years during the 1980's.  It's butted, but heavier than 531, 631 or 853.  Also, it differs from those higher-quality Reynolds tube sets in that it has a seam.   It's actually much like the tubing used to make the Bridgestone RB-2 I rode briefly, until it was stolen.  

A number of entry-level racing bikes (or relaxed road bikes) were constructed of 501 during the mid-1980's.  In addition to Trek, Peugeot, Gitane and a few other European bike manufacturers made bikes from this tubing.

The paint on this Trek is in pretty rough shape.  It's better on the seat tube because there had been a "panel" decal there, which was removed.   I suppose I could paint it and build a pretty bike from it.  But I'm thinking of turning the bike into a "beater" or winter bike.  If I do that, I will probably use a single speed (perhaps a "flip-flop" hub) on the rear and a single chainring.  And I have a scratched-up pair of Velo Orange Porteur bars (which have become my favorite upright bar).  

If I turn it into a "beater" or winter bike, the parts are going to be functional but not fancy.  On the other hand, if I take more care and make it prettier, I might end up selling it.  Whatever I do, this is going to be an interesting project, I think.


  1. Are you going to get artsy on us and paint imitation bird droppings in strategic locations?

  2. Steve--Now, why didn't I think of that? ;-)

  3. Very nice find Justine. Interesting about the Reynolds 501 manufactured with a seam. I though all chromoly tubing was formed seamless, and only the hi-tensile stuff had seams. I too really like and use the Porteur handlebar, although I just installed a Velo Belleville bar on my beater two speed. I cut 1" off the ends and run inverse brake levers. The bar is narrow, but surprisingly comfortable.

  4. Chris--Most of the major bicycle tubing manufacturers made a "second-line" or "entry-level" seamed chrome-moly tube set. Sometimes the companies didn't sell them under their own names. Examples include--in addition to Reynolds 501-- "Aellle," which Columbus made in Italy, and "Durifort" tubing, made in France by the same company that fabricated Vitus 888. When you look at those tubes, you can't see the seam.

    Those tubesets are usually as strong as their higher-end counterparts because they're thicker--which, of course, is the reason why bikes built from those tubes are heavier than ones built from Reynolds 531/631, Columbus SL/SP, Ishiwata 022, Vitus 888 or Tange Professional.

    I'd be interested to hear about the differences (in ride and hand positions), if any, between the Porteur and Belleville.

  5. Have you considered fitting a Sturmey Archer three speed hub gear on your winter bike? If you chose suitable gearing right it offer an alternative to using a flip-flop hub.

  6. Grubb--I'm thinking about that. If I do, I'd want a vintage SA hub: According to some of the reviews, current-production SA hubs aren't nearly as durable.