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.
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.
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).