Jake’s Pacific Northwest Do-All Trek 970 – Morgan Taylor

Jake’s Pacific Northwest Do-All Trek 970
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

While we can easily find ourselves lost in things shiny and new, there’s no denying the allure of a carefully curated classic being put to good use. Jake’s Trek 970 is just one of those bikes, with a build that takes advantage of classic mountain bike practicality to create a versatile and stylish bike for days long and short.

Jake’s no stranger to well-thought-out steel bikes, already having a number of sweet builds in the quiver before his 970 came together. He leans toward time-tested components, durability over flashiness, and comfort over outright speed. The 970 is Jake’s Pacific Northwest do-all bike, with wide tires, loads of carrying capacity, and inspiration taken from its home in Seattle.

There is a distinction between Jake’s home, and this bike’s home. You see, Jake hails from the central coast of California, where he tends to his family’s expansive apple orchards, while his girlfriend Leah works as an ocean scientist in Seattle. They split their time between the two places, and it just makes sense for them to have bikes in both.

Having spent plenty of time with Leah and the crew at Swift Industries, Jake had a good idea of what he wanted in his Seattle bike: it would have to have everyday practicality for short trips around town, but be capable of longer adventures off the beaten path. So, Jake’s 970 was inspired by the kinds of riding he found himself doing with the crew in the Pacific Northwest.

The early ’90s True Temper frame and fork were a Craigslist find. The previous owner added the mid-fork and fender eyelets to the original fork before powdercoating the frameset in a thick vermillion. The XTR wheelset also came from CL, and Jake notes he had to replace the corroded spoke nipples which had sat in a garage near the ocean for years.

On the drive side, you’ll find a Deore crankset with 42/28 rings driving an 8-speed XTR cassette, with shifting duties taken care of by Shimano bar ends in friction mode. Soma Portola bars and a Nitto dirt drop stem bring the classic mountain bike geo into a more touring-friendly position, and early Shimano 600 levers pull Tektro 720 cantis.

The Swift Industries Jr. Ranger panniers are a one-off MultiCam set and are hung from a Tubus Tara rack. A Wald 137 basket sits on a Nitto M12 rack and holds a Rivendell Sackville basket bag. Making a bit more room behind the bars, Jake mounted the Randi Jo Fab Bartender bag directly to the basket – smart. Rounding out the hand-picked traveling kit are a frame bag and seat pack from Oveja Negra.

We had the pleasure of traveling with Jake and Leah this summer, spending a week toodling Washington’s Olympic Peninsula and the Southern Gulf Islands of British Columbia. Obviously, Jake’s 970 was right at home on the Cascadian coastlines. The mode you see the bike in here is summer touring; it usually goes without the lowrider rack and hosts more city-friendly with 26×2.3″ Compass Rat Trap Pass tires under VO fenders.

The thing about bikes like Jake’s 970 is they get you thinking about what you might be able to cobble together from your own imagination on a budget. Jake’s 970 is practical, unpretentious, and utterly stylish – just like its owner.


Follow Morgan on Instagram, and Jake on Instagram

  • Jesse

    That is beauty. I like this end of the spectrum of bikes. Keep up the good work.

  • Riley Webb

    This is a real beautiful and well thought out ride! Would love to keep seeing more features like this that showcase the older and the tried and true. It’s nice to see fantastic bikes that aren’t decked out in the latest/shiniest/expensivest kit.

  • Owen P

    Really cool bike, but I can’t imagine riding around the nw without fenders. Maybe this is just “summer mode”
    The triple->wide range double is something I’ve long thought about doing

    • Harry Major

      ” The mode you see the bike in here is summer touring; it usually goes without the lowrider rack and hosts more city-friendly with 26×2.3″ Compass Rat Trap Pass tires under VO fenders.” – 2nd to last paragraph

      • Owen P

        ouch. haha guess i need to read instead of looking at the pretty pictures

        • Jonny B

          And what tires are pictured? I’ve got a 1996 Breezer, trying to see how wide I can squeeze in there.

          • The front is a Specialized Fast Trak 2.2 and the rear is a WTB Vulpine 2.1. Not sure if either of these tires are available any more.

    • I’m looking to get some longer gears out of my 38/24 mountain crank and was considering a combo just like this. 42 or 44 would be lots!

  • Harry Major

    Yes! Lovely bike Jake, lovely photos Morgan.

  • Sebastian Burnell

    YES,YES,YES….so good.

  • Brian Richard Walbergh

    What a great spot for a spare tube!

  • nothingfuture

    Love love love this. Those older 900-series frames were lovely things. They don’t get some of the acclaim Bridgestones of the same era get, but I’d say they’re easily their equal.
    My kind of build, too.

  • kasual

    Great set of images. Really captured all the small details (top tube bag placement, cable routing, the use of the gino) that you know this crowd will love.

  • boomforeal

    i need a cigarette

  • JR

    Nice to see this type of build mixed in with the onslaught of new “purpose built” bikepacking/gravel bikes! I did a similar build on an 85 Kuwahara and it was great fun to ride and tour with. It is getting harder to find these bikes it seems. People either have sent them to the landfill or try to sell them as a vintage collector item.

    • I think there are still plenty of steel mountain bikes out there waiting to have a #COOL $1000 dumped into them. Even as collectors’ items they’re still not worth that much if you consider the overall outlay to build a bike to the point you can truly trust it to head off into the unknown.

      • JR

        Very true Morgan. It’s surprising how versatile these older bikes are. Many steel sport road bikes with long reach brakes are great candidates for 650b conversation as well. It’s funny how everything comes full circle.

        • One of the local randos has an old Norco converted to 650×38, looks super classy yet was definitely done with very little outlay.

  • meaty_urologist

    what’s being used to secure the hooks on the bottom of the swift panniers to the tara? i see something underneath, but it doesn’t look like the part that tubus sells for “hook” panniers…..

    • Rod Kimble

      My guess would be a metal hook attached to some thick shock cord – Axiom panniers (and others) use this system instead of the Rixen Kaul style plastic hooks, works pretty well!

    • It’s the Arkel Cam-Lock system.

      • meaty_urologist

        thanks, homie.

  • Peter Chesworth

    As good as it gets. All in the details. Sad about Suntour. A Panaracer Smoke and Dart would make it perfect 🚴🏻

    • boomforeal

      in nostalgia terms perhaps, but those tires rode like ass

      • Peter Chesworth

        Hell yes. There’s a lot of nostalgia on this bike 🚴🏻

        • Peter Chesworth

          I am assuming “ass” means not very well.

          • Good assumption

          • Peter Chesworth

            Well it is so difficult to ascertain these days. Someone could just as easily say “Those tyres are ass!!” and I’d be none the wiser. There is also the cultural divide, as that word is I think drawn from a word more common in my parlance – “arse”. Which is definitely not very good.

  • Big Jänet Romance

    I like this bike for obvious reasons, though it actually even makes a boner bag look OK. hmm. impressed

  • Superpilot

    Making something work for purpose is more endearing to me than buying it all new for some reason. Especially seeing a 26 incher. If I could see the fork maybe I’d say it was that new Surly?? ;)

    • I agree with you. It’s very endearing, I think because it shows a number I things: experience, careful thought, understanding, etc. About not just what makes a good working machine, but what makes a good machine work for your needs and desires. Even if your starting point wasnt necessarily ‘purpose’. It shows a human touch. A touch we instantly recognise as devoid, and often recoil from with some big companies corporate idea of ‘purpose’.

  • Austin Taylor

    Probably 2/3 the weight of my similar do-everything bike: 1985 Stumpjumper. Rat Trap Pass tires do well enough on dry trails for me. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fdfc19b66349ab6ed3ebd0e303dccec9e4373b2f88e655957e93a9704196dda7.jpg

    • Yes! That’s be super sweet with a Swift Zeitgeist and your choice of front load. What’s the deal with the huge racks?

      • Austin Taylor

        I often carry huge boxes or drums, so I need them.

    • Julius

      Nice build! Which rims are those?

      • Austin Taylor

        Sun Big Mammoth Fat.

  • Max G.

    I really appreciate the fact that sensible folks “recycle” these amazingly well-built old frames, re-purpose them and give them another life. It is very easy to get lost in today’s sea of technologically advanced but rather expensive new bikes. Much can be done with a good old steel MTB and for far less money, indeed.

  • Sam Scavo

    Absolutely love this bike. Very thoughtful, functional and affordable to maintain. Good work!

  • Winston

    I love my 950…
    It’s a little less beat up so far, but I’m working on it.
    From the last year they made lugged 900 series. Yes, that’s a custom fork with 65mm of rake- surprisingly it works with the 71 degree head tube angle pretty well. Probably unnecessary… But damn, it descends bad roads scarily well.


    • The slacker the head angle, the more trail is inherent in the geometry. So that 65 fork probably does just fine!

  • Leroy

    I don’t know what Trek was thinking, opting for rim brakes on this bike.

    • Nick Meulemans

      Surely this is tongue-in-cheek, the latest the 970 was available was ’96…

      • DaymanDaryl

        Dude. It’s a Trek…not a Surly!

        • Nick Meulemans

          Surely it isn’t a Surly, I know it’s a Trek!

          • DaymanDaryl

            Tongue in cheek

    • Jared Jerome

      It was quite hazardous as the lightest drizzle would cause riders to go flying out of control and smash into things without discs.

    • Sam Scavo

      I think they were stuck in the 90’s… literally

  • Person Dude

    Nice! I’ve always loved vintage MTB drop bar conversions. My ’93 Stumpy can only hope to be as stylish as Jake’s 970 though: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/951d4ab04b28a6921b77ca2085c8c3bc8b421d7140d2277a9792ac7316aab237.jpg

  • adanpinto

    I like this bike. Nice taste!

  • adanpinto

    Nice bike.

  • Bend Velo

    Reminds me of our latest build, Trek 800 Series turned rad touring rig, money

  • Bend Velo
    • InvictusVerus

      That is an awesome build. Is there anyway you can upload more closeup shots somewhere? Thanks.

      • Bend Velo

        There are a few more on our mechanics instagram account. @t.sox

  • JP Coates

    LOVE IT!! I scored a Specialized RockCombo on craigslist for $75 and did nearly the exact same thing. Mine is more relegated to Dad Bike though so i went with the Maxxis DTH dirt jump tires for mild trail duty with the boys and beer runs.


  • meaty_urologist
  • Andy

    Hi Morgan, ace bike in this feature! Really enjoyed the write up and pics. Interesting front lamp there? Do you know what that is toggled onto the Nitto style cylindrical lamp mount. Cheers Andy

  • nicely put together, dig the stem bag on the wald. working on an mb-6 build myself for winter..

  • JEFoust

    That fork is not original. I refurbished a ’92 970 for a friend, and am currently modernizing a ’93 930. Both frames have this lug style and both had the same Tange tapered fork that is not what this 970 has. It’s a sweet build nonetheless. It’s something I look forward to emulate.

    • -flisnissen Flisnissen

      A google search will show you loads of 900 series treks with nontapered forks…

      • JEFoust

        Apologies, the Big Fork is indeed non-tapered.

    • Sebastian Burnell

      It is the original standard Tange triple butted Cro-Moly Big Fork (since 1990).

      • JEFoust

        Apologies, I stand corrected. Turns out my friend’s 970 also has the Big Fork.

    • Sebastian Burnell

      Trek 950, 1992

  • Nice! I restored and modified this frame and sold it to Jake… I never imagined it would be getting so much love. So glad to see it’s living its best life.