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Rebuilding An Old Mountain Bike (Trek 4300)

06 Apr

Ten years ago when I started cycling the first bike I bought was a Trek 4300, an entry-level mountain bike. That bike served me well for a few years, but as my cycling skills improved I bought more expensive bikes and the Trek 4300 became my winter bike—since it was an inexpensive bike I didn’t care that road salt would eventually destroy all the components. This past winter the local bike shop custom-built one bike for me and entirely rebuilt two of my other bikes. After spending so much time in the bike shop I finally decided I would try to rebuild the Trek 4300 myself.

Trek 4300 Mountain Bike Before the Rebuild

My Trek 4300 Mountain Bike After The Parts Were Stripped

With the help of the guys at the bike shop I bought all new parts for the rebuild. The only items that did not need replacing were the wheels. I have two sets of wheels for this bike anyway—one with snow tires and the other with aggressive knobby tires. Since the Trek 4300 was an entry-level bike it came with fairly inexpensive parts, but the aluminum frame has a lifetime warranty. When I did the rebuild I decided to move a few levels up the Shimano product line for most of the parts so I would end up with a better bike than I had to begin with.

Before you can start rebuilding a bike you have to remove all the old parts first. Since this bike had suffered through ten Chicago winters it is not surprising that all the parts were highly corroded. When I took the old parts off the bike I kept the cable housings so I could cut new housings to the same size. The hardest thing to get off the bike was the city sticker—the town I live in requires all bikes to have a sticker to help the police find the owner in case of theft. I am not sure what the sticker was made of, but it took me over an hour to get it off the bike! Once all the old parts were off I used Turtle Wax Premium Grade Rubbing Compound on the frame to remove scratches in the paint and Brasso metal polish to clean the chrome. After everything was clean I applied a good coat of Turtle Wax Super Hard Shell Paste Wax and the frame looked like new!

One item that I was not able to get off the bike was the bottom bracket—ten years of road salt made it very difficult to remove, so I had the guys at the bike shop replace it for me. The bike shop has a bottom bracket tool that can apply a lot more leverage than I was able to apply. They put on a maintenance free Shimano BB-UN55 Bottom Bracket with sealed bearings and a high quality spindle that should last for many years.

The first thing I put on the bike was a new Shimano 9 Speed Alivio Mountain Bicycle Crankset (175mm 44/32/22T). This crankset came with a chain guard and is much lighter than the set I had on before. The next items installed were a pair of Shimano Acera V-Brakes—the mud guard on these brakes was another nice improvement from the original brake set. The drivetrain was upgraded with a Shimano FD-M412 Alivio Dual Front Derailleur and a Shimano Alivio M410-SGS Rear Derailleur. I hooked the derailleurs up to a pair of Shimano Alivio 3×8 Brake/Shift Levers and put on a new SRAM PC-850 P-Link Bicycle Chain. The total cost for all the parts to this point was a little under $300.

There were three other items I added that were not absolutely necessary, but I thought were nice finishing touches. Even though the shifters came with a new set of cables, I decided to swap out the Shimano derailleur cables for a pair of Gore Ride-On Sealed Low Friction Derailleur Cables—these cables were the most expensive part of the rebuild, but since this bike is used for bad weather I think it is a good investment. Since this bike is used a lot in the winter I replaced to stem cap with a StemCAPtain Stem Cap Thermometer. The last item was a Lizard Skins Jumbo Chainstay Guard—a neoprene cover that fits over the chainstay to keep the paint from chipping and stop the noise caused by chain slaps. These last three items added around $100 to the cost of the rebuild.

Trek 4300 Alpha after the rebuild

Trek 4300 after the rebuild (on the shores of Lake Michigan)

Like most cyclists I enjoy riding and believe that bike repair is best done by trained professionals. One of the reasons I wanted to do this rebuild myself was for my education. Rebuilding a bike will teach you a lot about basic bicycle mechanics and once you do it you will feel a lot more confident about making a roadside repair when your bike breaks down 40 miles away from home.

I purchased all the parts for this rebuild from the local bike shop. I could have saved a few dollars by buying the parts online, but the local bike shop was very helpful in making sure I had the right parts. If you are one of those people who finds the parts you want at a local store and then buys them online to save money, well, I think you are lower than pond scum. The bike shop was even kind enough to give my rebuilt bike “the once over” to ensure that everything was installed properly (it was).

 
 

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71 responses to “Rebuilding An Old Mountain Bike (Trek 4300)

  1. Chatter Master

    April 6, 2012 at 8:08 AM

    A thing of beauty!

     
  2. RichardB1001

    April 6, 2012 at 8:15 AM

    Great project description. This is a keeper.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 6, 2012 at 5:26 PM

      I am already wanting do rebuild another bike, but all of mine are now in perfect condition. Maybe I need to go to the bike auction our local Police Dept. has every year and pick up a couple of “winter projects.”

       
  3. billgncs

    April 6, 2012 at 9:05 AM

    always wanted to do that, maybe I will now.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 6, 2012 at 5:26 PM

      It’s really not that hard is you take your time and read the directions on ow to install the parts.

       
    • MikeandJordanAdventure

      April 26, 2012 at 9:18 PM

      Me Too! Gratefully my bike is almost brand new, but after I put a couple thousand miles on it I’d love to learn how to break it down and rebuild it!

       
  4. bgddyjim

    April 6, 2012 at 9:11 AM

    Youre being too cruel to pond scum in your description of cheap b******s who take advantage of a shop.

    I buy everything from my shop.

    Other than that it was an awesome post.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 6, 2012 at 5:27 PM

      bgddyjim, since this is a “family friendly” site I decided to exercise some restraint!

       
  5. Cherry

    April 6, 2012 at 9:30 AM

    Great job! Now you are an expert. You are very lucky to have found such a helpful and knowledgeable bike shop!! There doesn’t seem to be one in my city.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 6, 2012 at 5:29 PM

      Cherry, every time I travel to a new town I like to visit the local bike shop — most of them are rather depressing. I am very fortunate to live about five minutes away from a great shop.

       
  6. hughonabike

    April 6, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    I did the same with my old Univega. Stripped the paint off and sanded and polished the frame Converted it to run Magura disc brakes and upped to 9 speed lx/slx stuff. Sourced the bits from LBSs and Web shops around the globe. I found the project strangely therapeutic! I don’t know how much the spend was…….best not to go there, but I’m very pleased with the end result………..Now I’m looking for another project…….!

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 6, 2012 at 5:30 PM

      I think the word “therapeutic” pretty much describes the whole process — I actually enjoyed it a lot.

       
  7. tuckamoredew

    April 6, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Nice job! I felt guilty when I retired my trusty first commuting bike and later rebuilt it as a winter bike.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 6, 2012 at 5:31 PM

      tuckamoredew, now that the bike looks and rides so nice I almost don’t want to take it back out in the snow (but I will).

       
  8. scorpioscott

    April 6, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    I today picked up a Kona Nunu for £20.00 that I spotted advertised for sale out front a house I was riding by. It’s a little unloved but all the wear is cosmetic, I plan to rebuild it, just as you have done here to give a bike for leisure.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 6, 2012 at 5:32 PM

      scorpioscott, you never can have too many bikes!

       
      • scorpioscott

        April 7, 2012 at 1:58 AM

        Try telling my wife that. Between our whole family, we now have 10!

         
  9. matthewkeay

    April 9, 2012 at 4:54 AM

    Nice :) I have a trek 4300 as my current mountain bike and its probably well overdue some love like this. Will definitely give this a try when I get round to upgrading it.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 9, 2012 at 12:00 PM

      It’s really not that hard to do and I actually enjoyed the whole process.

       
      • Matt

        January 19, 2013 at 10:42 PM

        What size bb was that? 68x ?

         
        • All Seasons Cyclist

          January 20, 2013 at 12:08 AM

          Matt, to the best of my memory, the bottom bracket shell measures 73mm and is square tapered fit.

           
  10. Jay Chindananta

    February 17, 2013 at 7:03 PM

    thank you so much for doing this blog as I have picked up the same bike and am going to rebuild it with many of the same parts you used. The part numbers were a great help! Would you make a recommendation for a tire and wheel upgrade?

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      February 18, 2013 at 1:57 PM

      I use Bontrager H4 Hard-Case tires on this bike (reviewed at: http://wp.me/p1sFbY-1d6 )

      I bought an extra set of rims for this bike for my snow tires (it is a lot easier to just slip on a a new wheelset than to just change the tires since I might have to swap them out several times each season).

       
  11. KleinRider

    March 23, 2013 at 1:51 AM

    You mention that the frame has a lifetime warranty. I also have the same frame and I am planning on a rebuild on her as well. I would like to know how to verify or validate the warranty as I picked the frame up from a friend.

     
  12. Mark Roberts

    March 24, 2013 at 6:40 AM

    Hi, I am in a similar position where my Trek 4300, purchased new in and about 1998, is in need of a rebuild. I am a novice and looking at purchasing the spares – your list is a great help but there is a few items in mind that I wondered whether you could help me with.
    1. My Trek has an 8 gear cassette but I notice that you installed a 9 speed crankset. Was the original an 8 speed but changed it to 9 speed?
    2. Can you please advise whether the gear shifters were included (as a set) together with the new Shimano Acera V Brakes.
    3. Did the crankset include the “bottom bracket” or did you purchase these separately.
    4. I agree and appreciate that the parts were purchased from your local bike shop but it is difficult to acquire these parts from my local bike shop here in Australia so just wondered if you could help out with the websites.
    5. Lastly, I notice that the front forks to your bike does not have a rubber boot covering the forks like my bike. Did you remove these or did you upgrade these too?

    Thanks again in advance of your reply.

    Mark

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      March 24, 2013 at 4:47 PM

      Mark, my 4300 came with an 8 gear cassette and I just upgraded to a 9. The gear shifters did NOT come with the brakes (but the did come with cables). The bottom bracket was a separate purchase from the crankset. As for the rubber boots on the front fork — I took mine off because the were cracked — but they are just decorative anyway, so they are really not needed on this bike. As for buying the bike parts, since I am not sure about shipping to Oz, I would try Amazon.com or ebay.com first. By the way, if you will send me your email address I can send you a list of the original parts for this bike (use the “Contact” form at the top of this page).

       
  13. kruzmeister

    April 8, 2013 at 8:53 AM

    Wow it looks absolutely amazing!! Congrats on a job well done that was obviously very rewarding! I would love to have my mountain bike upgraded one day, it would be such an achievement to do it myself, but I would need a lot of help from my LBS.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      April 8, 2013 at 11:00 AM

      Surprisingly, it really didn’t take all that long to perform the overhaul — and it really wasn’t that difficult . Of course, reading the directions really helped (something I don’t always do). You don’t have to make all the upgrades at the same time so you could spread the work over several weeks or months.

       
      • kruzmeister

        April 15, 2013 at 7:34 AM

        Would you recommend a book for rebuilding a mountain bike? I’ve decided that once I’ve paid for my Ironman entry in May I’ll be able to upgrade my Giant Rincon, bit by bit. As with your trek, the frame has a life warranty and I’d rather add gradual upgrades to make it more suitable to my type of riding than fork out for a new bike which would probably have less quality parts for what I could afford anyway..

         
        • KendrA

          May 6, 2013 at 12:48 AM

          I would be very interested in hearing if anyone has a recommendation of a book of this sort as well! I’m a noob to all things bike related but want to teach myself by rebuilding a dilapidated Giant Sedona I came across. Just don’t really know where to begin. But this post will be helpful down the road and the bike looks great!

           
  14. Tony Stark

    April 9, 2013 at 10:23 AM

    Hey that’s great! The bike looks fantastic, as good as showroom new again!

    I noticed you’d stopped by my blog so wanted to check yours out too as cycling is a huge passion of mine. You might have seen that I’m taking part in a 100km cycle ride for charity and the bike I’m using for this is an old but much loved (and oft abused) mountain bike. I haven’t published my post about “The Bike” yet but I’ll give you the sneak preview…

    The bike I will be using for the London Nightrider event is an Orange 02 steel framed cross-country mountain bike, the successor to the popular and almost famous “Clockwork Orange”. It has been used for off-roading, work commuting and cycle-touring holidays amongst other things, so it has surely racked up some miles on it. Now that it has been handed to me, and after suffering from some neglect through harsh UK winters, I feel somewhat honoured to attempt to restore it to (at least some of) it’s former glory, as well as adapting more for road touring use.

    I am looking forward to doing the work myself as much as possible, and with the ever helpful guidance of my dad and my brother, so that I can learn how to properly service and maintain this and my other bikes in good working order. :)

    All the best!!

     
  15. All Seasons Cyclist

    April 12, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    A 100km ride nighttime through the streets of London sounds like fun! I hope you can get your bike in great shape before the event (and make sure you carry a tyre patch kit with you — I’ve seen the streets of London before).

     
  16. rantsrulesandrecipes

    May 9, 2013 at 8:59 PM

    I’m so impressed! The hub has an old Gary fisher mtn bike older than the sport maybe he should take a lesson from you!

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      May 9, 2013 at 9:57 PM

      One of the best things about rebuilding an old bike is the learning process itself. Later, when a bike breaks down on the road you will know exactly how to fix it.

       
  17. kvjinc

    June 2, 2013 at 6:17 PM

    That’s recycling at its best. (Pun sort of intended.)

     
  18. MikeW

    June 17, 2013 at 11:45 PM

    No one knows Velo-ese as well for all seasons! Cheers to a Great Post!

     
  19. ssmtber

    July 10, 2013 at 11:02 PM

    Hi All Season. Love it. Living it. And it is motivating to see you tackling the rebuild yourself. keep up the posts and the pictures bro!

     
  20. christrez

    July 11, 2013 at 12:34 AM

    Been wanting to get a bike for sometime, just recently picked up a Giant Boulder SE on Craigslist for $150. It works fine for now but needs a good clean and has rust on a lot of the components. I had been wanting to rip it apart and rebuild it but didn’t know how wise that was. After reading this I see it’s definitely possible. I’m pretty good with tools and fixing things and I’ve already got a trip planned to my local shop (Gateway Cycle in Oakdale, MN) to get parts and some advise. Thanks for the motivation! (P.S. bike looks great!)

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      July 11, 2013 at 7:05 PM

      Thanks for the note! It really is not that difficult if you have the right tools and a good repair manual (if you don’t have a manual there are hundreds of videos on YouTube that will explain each step of the way).

       
  21. onehundredhands

    July 14, 2013 at 6:39 AM

    Great post. I just did something similar with an old Kona Fire Mountain I bought. I needed a “roadbike” and had a total blast stripping it, having it powdercoated and re-spec-ing it for that duty.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      July 14, 2013 at 8:18 AM

      There is a paint shop in my town that will strip the frame and powder coat it for $120 — then you can “create” a new bike just the way you want!

       
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      July 15, 2013 at 9:53 PM

      It’s funny, but I was thinking about stripping one of my bikes and having it powder coated (then clear coated). I enjoy getting my bikes dirty, but I like them to look like new when they are in my garage!

       
  22. Norton Geddie

    July 26, 2013 at 8:17 PM

    I found this page because a buddy of mine sent me a message today offering a Trek 4300 that was trashed. The frame is scratched but otherwise I think it’s fine. I’ve liked walking on bikes since I was a kid, but I’m a little intimidated by my road bike, so this is perfect! I will message you about getting the parts list you mentioned. Great Blog!

     
  23. Norton Geddie

    July 27, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    Thanks for the reply, did you change out the rear cassette? The shifter and chain you list are for 8 speed but you mentioned 9 speed. Did you put a 9 speed cassette onto it? Mine appears badly worn (based on the condition of the chain I’m not surprised). I was just wondering.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      July 27, 2013 at 8:32 PM

      Yes, I did put a new 9-speed cassette on — and it looks like I forgot to mention it in the article! If you cassette is already worn you really need to change it anyway (or shifting is going to be a problem real soon).

       
      • Norton Geddie

        July 28, 2013 at 7:41 AM

        So 3×9 shifters and chain then. Got it. I may source all if it through amazon for convenience. I’m looking into getting it painted since there are some sizable spots where the paint is rubbed off down to metal and I live in an area with salt air.

        Norton

         
        • All Seasons Cyclist

          July 28, 2013 at 8:40 AM

          In my area of the world we pay about $120 to have a bike powder coated and about $150 for a real paint job (at the auto body repair shop).

           
  24. newolder

    August 9, 2013 at 6:51 AM

    Brilliant work. :) I guess it rides better than when it was new? :thumb up: :) If you are ever in the UK drop me a line ….

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      September 15, 2013 at 8:43 PM

      It really does ride better than new. I’ve not been to the UK in several years — but I LOVE the British Museum (the main reason I went there).

       
  25. kevinmayne

    August 16, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    I am a compulsive rebuilder even if it sometimes means frustrations (a recent rebuild has been a real struggle as I put in a post a couple of weeks ago). I find it a great way to recycle old parts and it means I have a city bikes for myself and the family that we can hack around all year and have less fear of theft.

    I may have to plead guilty to pond scum behaviour. Back in the UK i was a good customer to my LBS but here in french speaking Belgium I am already fed up with the fact that they seem to regard opening as a an occasional courtesy and are mainly interested in high end sales to people with more money than sense.

    Probably better in Flanders where they understand daily cycling.

    Next purchase a fourty euro MTB on ebay to act as a daily commuter when I have moved parts off its predecessor.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      August 16, 2013 at 4:51 PM

      I died laughing at your comment about the LBS in French speaking Belgium! They are not exactly know for their work ethic! The only problem with being a “compulsive rebuilder” is that you are never really finished with a job — it just rolls over into the next rebuild!

       
  26. Ruzzel Gutierrez Agbayani

    September 13, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    Hi guys, I also have this kind of frame (TREK 4300 ALPHA) same with the picture but I bought it in second hand and lots of scratches in the frame. I just want to ask for help if you could give me all angles of picture so that I can restore the beauty of the frame. May I also know if what is the meaning of the 3 line serial numbers at the bottom of the Frame..

    PLease help me. I want to make my bike beautiful and attractive to others.
    I bought the old b
    ike for $250 but I know it is not the real cost of the bike. It is just I wanted to have the bike and I like the brand “TREK”

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      September 13, 2013 at 8:50 PM

      I am very sorry, but I sold this bike a few months ago when I bought a new Felt F65X Cyclocross bike — therefore I can’t send you the photos. As far as the serial numbers, I’d just ask the folks at your local Trek dealer — I imagine it has to do with either the location or date of manufacture.

       
  27. Ruzzel Gutierrez Agbayani

    September 14, 2013 at 8:34 AM

    the seller told me that it was a japan made trek. I’ve been searching how to check these three lines of serials. The first 2 lines are serial number and model but the last line I cannot find any forum that could help me.

    I also can’t find any all angle pictures of the frame. I just want to restore its beauty.

    Here in the philipines, we do not have a local trek dealer.

    Thanks

     
  28. Ruzzel Gutierrez Agbayani

    September 14, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    Here is one of the photo of my bike, you probably can notice that there is a design missing infront of the frame, maybe it was been removed from the previous owner.

     
    • All Seasons Cyclist

      September 14, 2013 at 9:45 PM

      While your frame looks the same as the one I had, the front fork is definitely different — it looks like it is an after-market fork.

       
  29. Ruzzel Gutierrez Agbayani

    September 15, 2013 at 7:07 AM

    I changed the fork to rigid because I prefer to feel the stress infront of my bike ^_^

     
  30. Norton Geddie

    September 15, 2013 at 7:10 AM

    He’s right, that’s not the original fork, but that’s not a bad thing. The original fork is a pretty basic spring job. This looks like the fork you may have.

    http://forums.mtbr.com/singlespeed/mosso-aluminium-rigid-fork-anyone-568061.html

    It’s a rigid fork, so no shock absorption, but it’s probably lighter (I took the original fork off my 4300 and re-greased it, that sucker is heavy). The real question is the terrain you are riding on. If it’s rough then you will miss the travel and dampening of a shock loaded fork. If it’s fairly smooth, I would think the lighter weight would be a plus over what was only a mediocre shock to begin with.

    I took my Trek 4300 in a different direction. There were several spots where the paint was completely rubbed off down to the metal. For protection against salt air I chose to paint it. I intentionally did not mimic the factory paint job because, when I’m done with the rebuild it will not have a lot in common with a factory bike. Just a matter of choice.

    Have fun with your restoration!

    Norton

     
  31. Ruzzel Gutierrez Agbayani

    September 20, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    Hi Norton, thanks for the picture, maybe with the help of these sites i’ll be able to restore the beauty of my frame. I was looking for the front design of my frame but I only saw a picture with the “T”. I can now choose from these three pictures whenever I decided to restore it ^_^.

    I prefer a rigid fork for my trailing and long ride ^_^

     
  32. Andrew Bain

    March 26, 2014 at 11:08 PM

    The bike looks great. Well played.

     

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