Benedict’s Trek 970 650b Shred Sled

The 970, one of the last made in the USA, lugged MTB frames ever produced by Trek. In recent years, there has been a resurgence in interest for these bikes. Especially seeing as how a XO-1 can set you back a pretty penny. They’re Wisconsin-made, rugged and actually pretty lightweight, considering. Frames can be found on eBay for around $200.

These bikes are, one of the best options out there for those looking for to convert a 26″ MTB to a full-bore 650b Shred Sled. Which is exactly what Benedict began doing a few years back. After procuring the frame, he immediately stripped it, then acquired new decals and treated it with shellac.

Next up: the fork. He wanted to keep the frameset Wisconsin-made but needed an upgrade to replace the stock unicrown. Clockwork did the job for around $200 – a Pacenti crown, with a nice, classic bend to the blades. From there, it was pretty straight forward: Suntour Cyclone rear derailleur, XT front, XTR cranks, Suntour power thumb shifters, Nitto post, Brooks saddle, Tektro cantis, Bullmoose bars and some older 650b wheels a friend gave him. Oh and a Campy Record 10 speed chain, drizzled with garlic-infused, extra virgin cold press olive oil, because what else do you lube a Campy chain with?

Benedict’s added numerous personal touches to this bike. The Sackville bag carries his stealth camping gear, pipe and tools. Newbaum’s cloth bartape provides ample grip, protection against chain slap and an additional wrap on the brake lever ensures proper skids.

With all those details, most people would scoff at the thought of riding in Austin on it, with its rocky and technical trails, but little do they know, the captain of this shred sled is a master at roosting. Besides, he’s got a lucky penny on the fork crown!

I don’t really know what else to say about this bike, especially since the photos do the talking! See more in the Gallery!

  • Adam Miller

    Sick! That bike has so much character. I am picturing Benedict with a garage full of bikes like that …

    • oh, he doesn’t have a garage. Or a home. He lives out of a pannier.

      • Michael Schiller

        but, he must have bikes stashed all over the US.. I’ve seen him on an old Raleigh, an LHT, a Riv Hillborne, a Krampus etc etc.

  • Kerry Nordstrom

    Yung Retiree’s Roost Club.

  • Guest

    I’ve been waiting for this!

    Benedict wins at bikes. Please tell me you gave him a prize.

    • We both had beer, bud and bourbon. After shredding happened. That’s a prize!

      • Yup that’s pretty much what I had in mind.

  • adamgnewman

    Were the rear canti studs modified to work with the larger wheels?

    • Julius

      Actually I am dying to know exactly that. Does anyone know for sure?

  • Greg Biché

    so dope. i’m jealous

  • Richard Smith

    Yeah so this is pretty fucking rad

  • Noel Smith

    Now that’s my kind of bike..

  • PNT

    love it

  • Evan Wilson

    That’s my kind of bike. Puts my XO-1 to shame …

  • This just topped my list of fave Prolly sets. All time.

  • CM

    all of my bikes will hereafter be referred to as my “shred sleds”

  • Jamie McKeon

    far out

  • shitbike

    so so so awesome. this makes two articles i’ve read praising the 970, i think its time for an ebay/craigslist lurk session.

  • Jamie McKeon

    “Frames can be found on eBay for around $200.” lol not anymore

  • Nigel Blake

    treated it with shellac?!- how do you do that ?

  • redhead322

    Cool to see Benedict and his interesting machine featured on this website. He’s a very down to earth guy, easy to strike up a conversation with. Met him at the Mellow Johnny’s Classic in 2012. He crushed the entire Cat2 field on this same bicycle… wearing the same cut off denim short shorts… winning by a few minutes. After the race I chatted with him and his parents… Cool people. Asked him about his stainless water bottle with the screw on cap. “How do you drink from the bottle during the race?” He replied “I just chug the whole thing down at the start line.” Hahaha Also, his name. Benedict Wheeler. I thought it was a stage name (as he rides for Team Wooly Mammoth), but that’s his actual name. Boss. His stage name is Juan Cool Poolside if I recall correctly…

    Credit to Ingot Imaging at Mellow Johnnys and at Bluff Creek Ranch (he won there too.)

    • Best comment ever.

      • ttalpwehttam

        Agreed. Juan Cool Poolside! haha!

    • Conrad

      Saw this magnificent sled fly by me at both of those races and wanted an up close view ever since, thanks John!

  • itsme

    YESSS! This is what I was waiting for. A bike that is actually meant to be ridden and not some shiny unaffordable boutique bike. Thank you, i’d like to see more like this! regards from germany.

  • Michael Morrissey

    Very nice patina.

  • Rod Munch

    What a rad ride!

  • Phomma


  • Adam Miller

    So did he pick olive oil for sustainability reasons (a la Chris King)? Or was that a joke …

    • He picked it because he had no lube.

      • Adam Miller

        This thread just keeps getting better …

  • MattyB

    So, he got the new fork to fit the 650b, but does that frame have clearance in the rear? or did he have to modify to fit?

    • Frame fit fine. It’s tight, but it works.

      • MattyB

        I think i just found my next project

        • boomforeal

          i’m sure a 650b wheel/tire would fit, but how did he get the canti’s aligned with the rim?

  • thebigkick

    That looks like the most comfortable bike. I love seeing beautiful shots of a bike with lots of miles on them. I’m sure this rig has a lot of stories. Great roll, Prolly.

  • tsmak31

    I would like to know what kind of pedals are mounted

  • awesometown

    I have to ask…what does this guy do for money? What does he do besides ride? Every time I see articles and stuff about this guy he’s got awesome gear and is endlessly out there riding.

    I’m curious purely because I’m jealous of his lifestyle, his time in the saddle and his instagram account. I want to steal his secrets or maybe help him conquer the self-help seminar circuit.

    • Well, he works on a fishing boat in the northeast for 4-6 months a year, doesn’t have a house, just a storage shed in Durango, CO where he keeps his bikes. Dude lives out of a pannier, camps when he can, sofa surfs / watches dogs / house sits.

      He’s an interesting guy. It’s amazing how much we all get tied down to our belongings. Freeing up material possessions opens up a lot of time. It may sound like “homeless” to a lot of people. I just think it’s more of a #BROmadlife.

      • Noel Smith

        a.k.a. Living the Dream

  • Andrew Phillip White

    For some reason I keep coming back to look at this bike, I just love it.

  • Wouter Tas

    Ha! I’m almost ashamed now that I was so concerned about my ’98 Trek 970’s bottom bracket getting too high when replacing the stock fork with a 418mm one. And that was with 26″x2.00 tires. Considering Benedict goes the 650B x 2.40 way, his BB height must be like 2 full floors up from mine. Seriously, that’s at least +2″. He’s up with gods there. Anyway he seems like a man who blasts through rocky off camber curves where lesser man would hit the hydraulic disc brakes, or worse hit the “decor”. He probably has bacon with aluminium suspension corrected frames for breakfast. I can’t wait to finish my lugged ’93 930 (similar to his) and TIG welded ’97 970 (true temper tipple butted heat treated OXIII). And I hope I can get the stuck BB out of my commuter ’98 970. Just absolutely love these old steel Treks. Here in Europe, they’re still sold for 50 – 100€’s. Benedict you are a man that truly does justice to them!

  • PJ

    A very beautiful piece of work – I have a 19 year old Trek 970 (1996) which I have converted to a rigid singly. The clearance is such that it should accept 29″ wheels but I was always concerned about potential handling issues. 650b wheels would be very interesting though.

  • PJM

    Jonny…I saw Andy last week, back from Columbia for a little bit. He told me about you and your adventures. Good on ya…I’m jealous of your lifestyle.

  • Nick

    What rear rack is this? Is a VO Hunter Pass mounted in the rear?