Monstercross, dirt drops, whatever you call it, it’s a lot of fun. The basic idea is a road or cyclocross bike with fatter tires. Or, it’s a mountain bike with drop bars. This adds up to a very versatile bike, one that can go from street to gravel to dirt with surprising agility. I’ve had this early ’90’s Trek 950 sitting around waiting for a transformation. Originally I was going to throw on an Xtracycle that I previously had on my commuter bike. That bike, a Trek FX, went to my daughter-in-law, complete with basket for farmer’s market runs. I was disappointed to discover that in the early days (about 10 years ago when I bought the Xtracycle attachment), Xtracycle made two different models, one for 700c wheels and one for 26″ wheels. Mine was for 700c wheels and would not work with the 950. Big disappointment, but also got me thinking about what else I could do with this bike. I already had a nice townie with my Specialized Rockhopper build (see here). Last Spring we had built up an old Stumpjumper with drop bars for my son and he has been loving it (see here). That project turned out well, and his bike is really versatile, and I’ve been thinking that someday I would like to try that. So, that’s what I did with the Trek 950.
I spent a few days at the Provo Bicycle Collective (check it out here) overhauling the bottom bracket, hubs, and headset. I decided on Salsa Cowchipper bars, a nice balance of width and flare, Schwalbe Fat Frank tires that I had for the Xtracycle build, some Fyxation pedals, Tektro cyclocross cantilever brakes, Dia Compe bar end shifters, Cinelli cork bar tape, and a cheap Origin8 saddle. The riser stem brings the bars up where it is comfortable for me. My sons made fun of it for being too matchy-matchy. Whatever, I think it looks pretty nice.
Yesterday my two youngest sons and I went out for a shakedown ride. We headed up Hobble Creek Canyon, Right Fork, to a dirt road that connects Left and Right Forks. We rode up almost 8 miles to the top of the road before it descends down into Left Fork, then turned around and rode back. It was nearly consistent climbing but never that steep, ascending almost 1800′. The road was smooth in some places and quite rocky in others. It was a beautiful day and incredibly green. (Photo quality is not great as I forgot my camera and had to use my phone).
The bike performed beyond my expectations. The Fat Frank tires really smoothed out the ride. I was a bit apprehensive about them because they are heavy, but they turned out to be nice and plush with plenty of traction. I like the bars and though I’m still getting used to bar end shifters, I like them too. They are friction only, but that’s what I grew up with so no big deal. They are really smooth. I’m not crazy about the saddle, but it’s hard to compare a $25 saddle with a Brooks, which is what I am used to riding. As much as I love this bike, I’ll probably end up putting a Brooks saddle on it. You can’t bomb the rocky downhills like you could on a mountain bike; you have to pick your line more carefully, but this is a really fun bike. I could leave from my house, ride a few miles on the road, then easily transition to dirt to access the miles of backroads around here. This bike rounds out my bike stable nicely.