Thanks to Charles, I have a special Christmas Eve Twofer for you all. Â The first is his 1985 Trek 400 with 26 inch wheels.Â The second is a NOS 1983 Free Spirit Brittany.
This is a circa-1985 Trek 400 I acquired in August in exchange for dinner at a cheap restaurant. Originally the bike came equipped with 27″ wheels and Maillard Helicomatic hubs. However, the hub transformed itself over time into the opposite of a fixie–pedal as much as you want; it’s not going to move. So, the bike was only good for downhill coasting. I took pictures and set it aside while I tried to figure out what to do with it. I had considered putting on 700C wheels and new brakes, making it a single-speed, or maybe just reselling it.
Then, I found a wonderful Free Spirit Brittany on craigslist. Owners told me that they had purchased it at auction, and had to put on the seat & hand grips. They said it looked like it had never been ridden, and after inspecting the pedals, brake shoes, and chain, I concluded the same thing. I bought it. I promised myself that if I bought this NOS Brittany, I’d get rid of something else.
I started eyeballing two project bikes–my blue Brittany with confounded cottered cranks that NEVER stayed in place, and the Trek. “Hmmm…” I thought. I pulled the 26″ wheels off the Free Spirit, and found that they bolted into the Trek without a problem. I took the cheap caliper brakes from the Free Spirit and replaced the Trek’s Weinmann calipers with them. Everything was starting to come together. On one hand, I was possibly offending some purists by combining a Trek with a Free Spirit. But I did take two nonfunctional bikes and make one good one out of the two. I replaced the toe-strap pedals with a cheap set from a junk Omega mountain bike. The Trek Spirit, as I now call it, sports cheap calipers (which are due for replacement again very soon), a new chain, a front fender from the Free Spirit, an Avocet saddle, Shimano shifters and derailleur, and a very strange look. But it’s fun.
Plans for the Trek Spirit include the rear fender and a really nice set of Pletcher folding baskets/rack for the rear.
The NOS Brittany is a replacement for a blue Brittany, which was the donor for the Trek Spirit. The sticker shows a build date of July 1983, and there’s very little wear on the bike. The only exception is the front fender, which seems to have suffered a bit in storage. I spent some time with a can of Nevr Dull to clean up the wheels and some of the rest of the chrome, and it does look fabulous. I need to put a new tube in the front, as it seems to have a slow leak, but come springtime, I’ll be riding this vintage bike to work as well.