I've got a 1997 Trek 1220 that I picked up relatively cheaply. When purchased, it was freshly tuned with new cables brake pads, chain, cassette, and also with a new wheelset. The cassette had been upgraded to an 8spd (11-27) from the original 7. The STI shifters were gone ... replaced with (ick) stem shifters ... the one thing I really don't like.

Since then, I've ridden it about 2k miles, replaced the cassette and chain once, and went to some larger chainrings. The front triple was 26/36/46 stock. I found I was often riding on "the bottom of the cassette" so went to 26/38/52 and am very happy with those ratios.

So my question is this ... do I continue upgrading this bike? It's a pretty good fit and the frame seems to be in great shape. I'd like to add a set of "brifters" (seems I can find some sora or claris ones for < $50-$60), and possibly upgrade the wheelset (there's some reasonably priced aero-style weinmans out there). Also thinking about a carbon fork ... Nashbar has a 1" carbon fork also for around $100 when on sale.

For just a little more money, I think I'll have all the componentry I'd like to have. But would it be better to just buy a new bike? My price range for a new ride would ideally be < $1000. What would I "gain" going to a new bike that I don't get by continuing to upgrade this one?

I have a ~28-mile round-trip commute that I ride 2-4x per week ... averaging around 17mph. I take longer weekend rides (40-60 miles is typical) and occasionally participate in longer charity rides.

  • 2
    I would not put much money in an 18 year old aluminum bike. Frames do wear out. With another bike you still have this as a spare.
    – paparazzo
    Jun 11, 2015 at 16:34
  • I agree with @Blam. Aluminum frames don't last long.
    – azer89
    Jun 11, 2015 at 19:13
  • 1
    How do you know if you as person have 5 years or 100 years left? 18 years is old for an aluminum frame. You really expect this site to tell you have many years you have left on that frame.
    – paparazzo
    Jun 11, 2015 at 21:31
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    @jeffluckett: No matter what you spend on the bike, In a couple of years its will still be a 20 year old bike. You may be better to ride it as i for another year or two and save for a better bike, or sell it use the money from sale and upgrade costs to buy a better (used) bike.
    – mattnz
    Jun 12, 2015 at 1:32
  • 1
    Frame life is a whole new question. I hold with "I would not put much money in an 18 year old aluminum bike." That is practical advice.
    – paparazzo
    Jun 12, 2015 at 17:43

3 Answers 3

  1. I am worried that "brifters" for $50-$60 is low and that you'd be getting some garbage for that price. ($200 for decent brifters seems the norm)
  2. A new wheelset adds $300 - $400?
  3. $100 for the fork
  4. $100 more for incidentals

brings us to ~$800 for a bike you'd be happy with (plus what you spent on the bike already). I tend to vote for keeping nice frames going, but if you need brifters and new wheels... I'd keep and love the 1220 but put the money into a new one.

  • I can get used Shimano Claris brifters from a local shop that deals in used products for $50-$60. They stand behind their sales and will swap them out if they turn out to be lemons. The wheels I'm looking at are $200 (but really don't NEED to do this upgrade) They're Weinmann DP18 Aero Road Wheels. $100 for the fork. Which incidentals are going to cost me $100? I do my own work. By my calculations that's $360. Jun 11, 2015 at 20:03
  • I also know of a place I can get brand new Sora brifters for $69.99. Sure, these aren't Dura Ace, but I'm not racing either. Just about anybody will tell you that Shimano is solid from the bottom of their line on up ... you just get lighter components ... maybe a feature or two as you go up the line with their derailleurs and shifters. I'll grant you the cranksets are much better though. Jun 11, 2015 at 20:11
  • I can't argue. It sounds great. Incidentals I guess only happen to me: They are things I didn't plan on needing.
    – mcgyver5
    Jun 11, 2015 at 20:44
  • I was actually wondering what incidentals you might refer to. $100 is a lot of "oops I forgot something". The new brifters come with cables, and the LBS said they'd throw in a set if I buy their used ones. Fork swap ... yeah, maybe I'll replace the headset too if it doesn't look good ...$20-$30? Wheels (which I may skip anyway) ... maybe I'll need to get them trued, but if they're pretty good out of the box, it's just swap the cassette and go ... the ones I'm looking at even come with 25mm Continentals so I don't even need to swap rubber. Jun 11, 2015 at 20:58

Don't let them con you into spending more money that you need to. You already have a good bike that fits you, just upgrade the shifters and you'll be all set.


For < $1000 you could get an a much newer bike (< 5 years old) full carbon with brifters and nice wheels. As @mcgyver5 stated, your upgrades on the 1220 will amount to the same money anyway.

  • 1
    Where could I get a decent full carbon for less than $1500, let alone <$1000? I can get into decent aluminum for <$1000 ... but I've already got a decent aluminum frame. My upgrades will cost <$400. And what is better about "newer" is what I'm trying to grapple with. Jun 11, 2015 at 20:05
  • @jeffluckett vancouver.craigslist.ca/rds/bik/5045910545.html is just a single example. I'm not talking about a brand new bike. You are right that would be difficult to achieve.
    – Cory Roy
    Jun 11, 2015 at 20:11
  • Yeah, if I replace this bike it'd be with "very recent used" or new. I probably don't really want full-carbon ... just too easy to destroy a carbon bike, I don't want to have to baby my ride. I think aluminum with a carbon fork will serve my needs just fine. Seems most bikes on the used market I'd consider are probably $800 - $900, but that's twice the outlay. The only concern I have I guess is frame longevity. Anecdotally, people say that aluminum has a limited service life, but I can't get anyone to put a number on that ... and very few stories of aluminum frames actually failing. Jun 11, 2015 at 20:32
  • 1
    @jeffluckett My personal roadbike is a Giant TCR 2 from 2000 that fits your description. I'm about 145lbs and the frame is quite small, but the Al shows no signs of wear. It's probably seen less than 2000 kms in it's life though.
    – Cory Roy
    Jun 11, 2015 at 22:20

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