Readers’ Rides: Daniel’s Trek 830 Monster Track Double Converted ATB


Readers’ Rides: Daniel’s Trek 830 Monster Track Double Converted ATB

The internet can be a valuable tool for problem-solving vintage conversions. Its users have often figured out compatibility issues or clever hacks to get you to your desired goal. That’s the case with Daniel and his vintage Trek 830, that he converted to a drop bar gravel bike. Let’s check it out!

The Beginnings

You know that feeling when something seems weird at first, but then it grows on you over time and you end up loving it? That’s basically how I got into converting old MTBs to drop bars.

First time I came across this was when looking for inspiration to convert a flat-bar hybrid on 28″ wheels. That’s when I found two epic threads on the good old internet forums – luckily they existed before FB groups took over info exchange. Here are the links: and Fair warning, some of the stuff there is straight up wild. I was shocked myself, had no idea why people were taking long-reach-low-stack frames and like maniacs erecting all sorts of road cockpits on them, creating visually insane yet I’ll admit often aesthetically interesting effects (Function Specific Design? Hey, that’s a Trek slogan). Converting some sporty 700c hybrid seemed the more natural option – just swap bars and your regular hybrid immediately resembled a CX. Or a gravel bike?

Studying materials about the original dirt drop MTBs by Charlie CunninghamSteve Potts , and the later, more mass-produced models like the Bridgestone MB-1(link to PDF file) and Specialized Rock Combo helped me with understanding the logic behind the whole cockpit concept. Those high-erec..raised handlebars weren’t a coincidence but a deliberate design making it easier to operate from the drops and control the bike on rough, mountainous terrain.

Still make sense in 2024? If you want a nice fat tire ATB built your way, with superb ergonomics but don’t want to pay a lot for some fancy brand or full custom bike, this could work for you. You can pick from a few different styles (those threads cover tons of options): classic rando, commuter, neo-retro, or whatever-you-can-dig-out-of-the-garage. Or blend your own mix. And if you don’t need a serious race bike that looks like an aggressive carbon monster ready for UCI gravel races, this is a good path. They made millions of those old rigid mtb frames in the 90s –  lots of them are perfect candidates to convert.

The Bars

There are basically two routes when converting a vintage MTB to drop bars: the more traditional one using a quill stem with 25.4/26.0mm clamp diameter bars, or a more modern approach with a threadless adapter and a 31.8mm stem (there are also 31.8mm quill stems but poor selection/availability). The second solution gives you access to many great currently produced offroad bars, but I preferred the aesthetic of the old quill stem option, more classic style.

The challenge was sourcing original 25.4/26.0mm dirt drop bars – finding vintage models like WTB/Specialized BB-1/RM-2, 3ttt WB-1 or the currently made Nitto RM-3 (available in 2 clamp diameters) ain’t easy. I was about to start fishing on eBay overseas when a miracle happened – real OG early 90s 3ttt WB-1 dirt drop bars made in Italy surfaced locally at a good price. And they even had an interesting backstory – previous owner bought them at the shop of famous Polish cyclist Tadeusz Mytnik, who directly imported them from Italy back in the 90s. Too weird for most customers, the bars collected dust in various shop corners for over a decade. Until the previous guy gave them a shot, but I guess didn’t fall for ’em, so they ended up with me.

The Bike (frame)

Always been a fan of older Treks, especially those pre-1990. Sure, the later mass-produced lower-tier ones had pretty stiff tubing and heavy frames, but the manufacturing quality was decent, the paint tough, and their consistent minimalist aesthetics always appealed to me. An added bonus with Treks is good availability of larger sizes (like 22.5″), which for a tall person and a dirt drop cockpit is a big plus. Besides, I already had a 1990 Trek Antelope 800 which was a nice commuter bike. Worth mentioning Trek has a huge database at (thanks Skip Echert for that!) with a lot of valuable info to help identify frames/bikes, plus dealer spec sheets that are a treasure trove of model-specific details.
Finding a pre-90” Trek in my area is next to impossible. Not much easier with a slightly less old 22.5″ Singletrack 990. So I had to take what was available – soon after scoring the bars, a 1995 Mountain Track 830 popped up locally. Like many 30yo bikes from the original owners this Trek was pretty beat up, but I knew I would likely just keep the frame.

Did you know the has an equally epic thread on 650b conversions ? Hard to miss if you’re into conversions. As it turns out, Treks from the Mountain Track series have generous clearances and a chainstay bridge close to the BB shell, making them ideal frames for 650b. So I needed some 650b rim brake wheels (LBS built them) and pretty much everything else, since all I was using from the original bike was the frame. I went with tried-and-true available stuff (I like building bikes around what finds me rather than the other way) – XT rear/STX front derailleurs, SLX cassette, Dura-Ace barcons, Sachs N(e)OS micro compact cranks, golden Kalloy seatpost&stem, my fav Fabric Scoop race saddle, some Accent bar tape and Ritchey grips. And of course, fast, high volume tubeless tires – as wide as would fit. Initially Continental Race King 27.5×2.2, now running Schwalbe Thunder Burt 27.5×2.25 which I really dig.
As for brakes, in this frame, the low-profile Tektro CR710’s work better for me than the often recommended for conversions CR720 model. The vertical range for the pad adjustment is just as big as with the CR720’s, but in my experience with the proper setup the braking power is stronger on the CR710’s.

The 830’s geometry is actually quite similar to many modern gravels (72° STA/70.5° HTA). The longish trail is offset by the short stem and high bottom bracket. Yeah, the BB ends up really high after the 650b conversion but it doesn’t bother me on flat terrain. This thing rips dirt roads! The drops position is quite elevated – as it should be on a true dirt drop setup – but that just encourages me to spend more time in that moderately aggressive riding position without any discomfort even after many miles.

And the whole bike with its fat tires, exposed stem and seatpost is just so darn comfy. Especially the front end – the quill stem and 25.4mm clamp diameter bars are far from the harsh rigidity of many more performance-oriented gravel bikes, working together as a ‘super supple system’ to smooth out bumpy roads.

I really appreciate the ergonomics of shift lever access from the drops. Running the front mech with a friction barcon is surprisingly intuitive, and the “trim function” across the range means you never have to worry about annoying chainrub.

Looking at the pics you’re probably wondering about tire/mud clearance. Well, I tend to stick to dry conditions and have added frame/fork protection just in case (some oracal film). The tires at ~20 psi measure about 55mm wide, 52mm tall (tubeless, on a 19mm internal rim) with maybe 2.5-3mm clearance per side. Tight! No issues so far including some damp (but not muddy) rides. I’d say 650×50/52mm is a totally safe choice for this frame, but I’ll leave that to individual consideration.

The Bag

One of the main uses for this bike is one-day photo trips to medium-sized Polish cities. These are some of my favorite types of micro-adventures, because these cities are often like a snapshot of my whole country, so a single-day ride kinda reminds me of a mini-journey across the entire state. If you ride around the outskirts – in addition to the aesthetic experiences that will satisfy any fan of documentary photography in the style of say Robert Adams or Mark Power – you often have access to a perfect mix of dirt roads: suburban double tracks, singletracks on abandoned industrial lands, wild trails crisscrossing housing estates from when public space was was actually public good.

I needed a bag that could smartly pack some layers, food for the day, tools, and also my photo gear – a medium format folder and a 35mm film SLR with a 35-105 lens. It would also be good if the bag prevented a mess of its contents on fast dirty descents.

I used a second-hand Lowepro photography bag (I like the idea of giving already produced stuff a new life). I know, dedicated bike bags are prettier, easier to mount, made of lighter materials. But they’re also often very bikepacking-focused with minimal organization and harder access. In this regard, the Stealth Reporter line from Lowepro really shines. There were 6 different sized models available (maybe differed in other ways too, IDK): D100, D200, D300, D400, D550, D650. Probably all aimed at pro photographers, so – designed for pros, they’re really well-made with tough fabrics, loads of subdivided compartments/pockets, and a removable camera insert that helps maintain structure. From the perspective of using them on a bike, they share a key feature – a nice boxy, rando-like shape. A big advantage is also the ability to insert stiffeners at the back and bottom.

I opted for the D400 which has enough room that I can even pack it ultra-light for a summer overnighter and its shape fits just right across the width of the front end too. With some basic modding you can end up with a highly functional bag with a decent volume-to-weight ratio. My bag without inserts and D-rings weighs 944g (~2.1lbs) at 18.5L capacity, around 51g (1.8oz) per liter. Not too bad, IMO.

As a platform for the bag I used corrugated plastic (went all out and had it laser-cut to perfectly match the bag bottom outline, and also laser-cut holes for zip ties), but other plastics or plywood could work just as well. The important thing with this type of mounting is to add an extra layer inside the bag – this will be the support for the zip ties, so they don’t dig into the bag’s bottom fabric. For this you can use the removable bottom (made from HDPE)  that comes with the bag. This creates a solid sandwich mount: internal stiffener + bag bottom + platform on the rack.

I used the same plastic material to stiffen the back, which I attached to the rack using plastic screws. In case of heavier loads the bag can be further stabilized by attaching it with some straps to the handlebars.

My experience is that a camera carried in the padded insert and additionally secured with some soft material handles bike vibrations just fine, although YMMV. Still, when it comes to the camera I use most often I like to keep it in a hip pack. An advantage of the photo insert is also maintaining the bag’s empty shape, and the velcro dividers allow you to separate snacks from a spare tube and tools. I also really like the ease of access through the zipper in the top flap.

All in all, I’d say this is quite the utilitarian build with the cockpit being the main highlight, and not much in terms of fancy components or original custom technical solutions beyond that. However, it performed its role so well that it became an important base (in terms of geo and drivetrain) for building my other monster gravel bike, the Crowbar from True Love Cycles. But that’s a whole other story, though.

Lastly, I’d like to give a big shoutout to all the bike folks on the internet (especially those who contributed to the threads I mentioned) for expanding my bike-building horizons and teaching me how to build bikes that the mainstream commercial market would never offer.


Full build spec: 

  • Frame & fork: Trek Mountain Track 830 22,5” 1995
  • Headset: silver
  • Stem: Kalloy 1” 90mm/30°
  • Handlebar: 3ttt WB-1
  • Brake Levers: Shimano BL-R400
  • Shifters: Shimano Dura-Ace SL-BS77
  • Front Derailleur: Shimano STX FD-MC30
  • Rear Derailleur: Shimano Deore XT RD-M739
  • Cables: Jagwire KEB-SL & Shimano SP41
  • Chain: Shimano Deore XT CN-HG93
  • Cogs: Shimano SLX CS-HG80 11-32t
  • Crankset: Sachs Neos 42/32/22
  • Brakes: Tektro CR710
  • Bottom Bracket: Stronglight JP400
  • Pedals: Wheel Up
  • Hubs & QR: Shimano Deore LX T670
  • Rims: Weinmann 519 584x19c 32h
  • Tires: Schwalbe Thunder Burt 27.5×2.25 EVO TLE
  • Seatpost: Kalloy
  • Saddle: Scoop Race Shallow
  • Bar Tape: Accent Furious Camo
  • Grips: Ritchey Comp Trail 125mm
    Front rack: JHT alu
  • Weight: 12kg (26.5lbs, w/ pedals, w/o bottle cages, rack bag)

Scans credits:

  • 001-3ttt-wb1_posted-by-manuelschafer-on-mtb-news-de.jpg
  • posted by user ‘manuelschafer’ on
  • 002-bridgestone-mb-1_posted-by-tductape-on-mtbr.jpg
  • posted by user ‘tductape’ on
  • 003-bridgestone-mb-1_posted-by-speedoflite-on-bikeforums_net.jpg
    posted by user ‘SpeedofLite’ on
  • 004-bridgestone-1987-12-sheldon-brown.jpg
  • from
  • 005-trek-830-1995-cat_vintage-trek-com.jpg
  • from
  • 006-trek-830-1995-spec_vintage-trek-com.jpg
  • from



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