Monday, November 12, 2012

Trek 400 Restored and Updated - Size Small - Great Women's Road Bike

Trek 400 - 1988

Trek 400 - As Found

I started work on a 1988 Trek 400 this week.  It is a very nice bike, 12 speeds, index shifting, aero brake levers, and nice 700c wheel set.  The bike will receive a total restoration, with new brake cables and housings, new shift cables and housing, new tubes and tires and new cork bar tape.

The bike is small, 19 inches.  This would make a great entry level road bike for a women, a lot nicer then a new aluminum $1000+ entry level bike.

The frame is steel, I am very impressed with the frame and the details of its construction.  If the frame was a 60 cm I would keep it for myself.  Steel frames are now more desired then aluminum frames.  Steel is not much heavier then aluminum, has better ride characteristics then aluminum, aluminum of very poor vibration dampening, so you feel every bump in the road.  Steel absorbs the vibrations a lot better.

Trek 400 - Rear Derailleur & Cassette - Before

Trek 400 - Rear Derailleur - Before

Trek 400 - Crank Set - Before

Trek 400 - Front Wheel Hub - Before

Trek 400 - Front Wheel - Before

Trek 400 - Rear Wheel Hub

Trek 400 - Wheel Rim - Before

Trek 400 - Shift Levers - Before

Trek 400 - Rear Brake - Before

Trek 400 - Brake Levers & Bars - Before

Trek 400 - Bottom Bracket - Before

Trek 400 - Front Brake - Before

I started by completely dismantling the bike down to the frame, I then cleaned and polished the frame.  With the frame polished I matched the frame color the best i could and filled in the few scratches the frame had.  The frame and paint is in fantastic shape, it really polished to a high sheen.

Trek 400 -Frame Stripped - Cleaned & Polished

Trek 400 - Frame Polished - Close Up

The bottom bracket and headset components are in good shape.  Very little wear, just dry, dirty grease.  I placed all of the components in the soapy water crock pot on low.  The grease was completely cleaned off in an hour.  I then gave a the components a quick polish on the bench top buffer.  They did not take much polishing, they are in very good shape.

Trek 400 - Bottom Bracket & Headset - Before

Trek 400 - Bottom Bracket & Headset Cleaned & Polished

I usually start with the bottom bracket before the headset, that way I don't have the fork to bang my head on, but for some reason I started with the headset this time.

I polished the fork, it had a Chromoly tubing sticker on each side of the fork. The stickers where faded to just white.  I removed the stickers with Goo Gone.  The front fork polished just as nice as the frame.

With the fork polished I pressed the headset bearing cups into place with a cups press.  The cups press does a wonderful job setting the cups.  A lot better then a board and hammer, I have seen a lot of damaged caused by a board and hammer.

With the cups in place I greased and packed the bearings into the bearing races.  I then greased the head fork tube to prevent corrosion and installed the bearing races.  Last was the headset spacer and lock nut.

I really like the polished chrome against the bright red.  I really wish this bike would fit me, but a 19 inch frame won't fit this 6' 4" frame.

Trek 400 - Headset Cups Polished

Trek 400 - Pressing Headset Cups

Trek 400 - Headset Cups Installed

Trek 400 - Headset Complete
With the headset complete I moved on to the bottom bracket.  This went easy, I greased and backed the bearings then I installed the drive side fixed cup with a special wrenched photoed below.  With the drive side cup in place s installed the spindle, cup and lock nut.  Everything looks great polished against the red.

Trek 400 - Drive Side Cup & Wrench

Trek 400 - Installing Bottom Bracket Spindle

Trek 400 - Bottom Bracket Complete
The handlebar and stem are in good shape, just dirty and ugly bar tape.  I polished the stem and handlebar, applied a coat of grease to the stem and wedge nut and installed the unit.  I am very happy with the way the stem and bars polished and how nice they look in place.

Trek 400 - Handlebar & Stem - Before

Trek 400 - Handlebar & Stem Polished & Installed

Next came work on the wheels.  I started with the rear wheel.  I removed the freewheel with a freewheel tool and disassembled the wheel hub.  The hub and components are in really nice shape, just a little dried and dirty grease.  Everything cleaned up nice in the crock pot.  At this time I cleaned and polished the wheel hub.  The hub looks great now.  I greased and packed the bearings and assembled the hub.  I really like these wheels.  Can easily take a 700c x 23 tire or less.  With the rear wheel done I did the same to front wheel.  The front wheel is also in good shape, only needed cleaning and new grease.  With hat done I trued the wheels, there where a few loose spokes, but nothing major.

Trek 400 - Rear Wheel Hub - Dirty

Trek 400 - Rear Wheel Components - Before

Trek 400 - Rear Wheel Bearings Packed

Trek 400 - Rear Wheel Complete

Trek 400 - Front Wheel Hub- Dirty

Trek 400 - Rear Wheel - Before

Trek 400 - Front Wheel Bearings Packed

Trek 400 - Front Wheel Complete

Trek 400 - Rear Wheel Installed

Trek 400 - Front Wheel Installed
With the rear wheel hub rebuilt I cleaned and oiled the freewheel.  The free wheel is in very nice condition.  I then greased the hub threads and installed the freewheel.

Trek 400 - Freewheel Cleaned & Oiled

Trek 400 - Freewheel Installed
Next i got to work on cleaning and polishing the crank set and peddles.  I disassembled part of the crank to get it cleaned and polished.  Everything polished beautifully.  The crank is an oval efficient crank.  It is suppose to be more efficient in applying power and smoothing out peddling.  I have ridden a crank like this for a long time now.  I really only notice it helping when you get past a distance of 30 miles.

Trek 400 - Crank Set - Before

Trek 400 - Crank set & Peddles Cleaned & Polished

Trek 400 - Crank Complete - Left side

Trek 400 - Crank Complete - Drive Side

With the crank and freewheel installed it was time to tackle the derailleurs.  They where very dirty, but seemed to work fine.  After cleaning, polishing and oiling they are functioning very smooth.  In a photo below you can see the rear derailleur jockey wheels disassembled and a waiting an overhaul.

Trek 400 - Derailleurs - Before

Trek 400 - Front Derailleur - Before

Trek 400 - Rear Derailleur - Before

Trek 400 - Rear Derailleur - Jockey Wheel Overhaul

Trek 400 - Front Derailleur Installed

Trek 400 - Rear Derailleur Installed
The bike is coming together fast now.  I polished the front and rear brake calipers and cleaned and oiled the brake levers.  These are very nice brakes, the where cutting edge in 1988.

Trek 400 - Brake Levers Cleaned & Polished

Trek 400 - Brake Calipers - Before

Trek 400 - Brake Caliper - Before

Trek 400 - Brake Calipers - Polished

Trek 400 - Rear Brake Caliper - Installed

Trek 400 - Front Brake Caliper Installed.
With the bike almost done I polished the Seat post and installed the seat that came with the bike, not the original, but an upgraded Specialized seat.  It is a very nice seat and does not need to be replaced.  I usually let the new owner replace the seat because a seat is a very personal thing.

Only things left to do is install the chain, run new brake cables and housings, run new shift cables and housings, Install new cork bar tap and the new tires.  The tires are new Michelin 700c x 23mm  red wall tires.  I did not post any photos of the cables, tires and bar tape going on.  I want it to be seen all at once.

Trek 400 - New Parts

Trek 400 - Restored - Side View

Trek 400 - Restored - Angle View

Trek 400 - Restored - Front View

Trek 400 - Restored - Rear View

Trek 400 - Restored - Drive Train View
The bike is beautiful.  I will say it again, if it was a large frame I would keep the bike.  I love the red wall tires.  It is one mean looking bike.  I am going to add a few photos soon of the little frame details that really make the frame nice.

Bike Data

1988 Trek 400 - Total Restoration
12 Speed
Index Shifting
700c x 23 mm Tires
19 inch frame Steel frame - perfect women's size
New Brake Cables
New Brake cable Housing
New Shift Cables
New Shift Cable Housing
Small detail I like - Rear derailleur cable routed through frame.

The price for the Trek 400 is $400.

I see this bike as a wonderful better then toads entry level road bikes.  It would be perfect for a women that is just starting out in Triathlon and doesn't want to put $1200 into an entry level bike.  or for someone who wants to start in road biking and does not want to an aluminum frame and who does not want to pay the high price of carbon fiber and today's steel frames.

Thanks for looking,
John Z.


  1. Hey John, how can I contact you? I live in waukegan and am going to restore an old 79 peugeot road bike and would like to take it to you for some help. Thanks Emmett.

  2. Hi,

    Sorry to bother you, but I have a question about pricing trek 400s and I found this webpage in my google results several times.

    There is a trek 400 with a black frame (not red), 12 gears, in my local bike (LBS) shop for $450 ($500 with tax) and it's in a ready-to-ride condition. I can't find the model number. People online have been telling me that a USED trek bike is worth $50, but you have estimated your used trek 400 to be $400. LBS even replaced the drop handlebars with short reach break levers just for me. I'm inclined to purchase the bike for the frame and handlebars, but not sure if it's overpriced.
    How did you come up with your price of $400?
    How would you approach in deciding whether the trek 400 in my LBS is not overpriced?

    My email is
    If you have the time to give your input, thank you. If not, it's okay.

    1. Hi,

      There is no real science to pricing. I went with $400 accounting for time and parts put in, but after all the interest I got in the bike I should have priced it higher but I also do not work that way so $400 it stayed.

      $50 is not a reasonable answer unless its just a frame. Starting points for prices are always Walmart bikes, they range from $200 - $300 and are total crap!! So from that point you can figure an actual descent used bike in good shape is worth more then the Walmart bike.

      Thanks for asking,
      John Z.

  3. Thanks for blogging this project. I just picked up an 18-inch 1988 Trek 400T, same color and everything, only with a triple chain ring, for $20 (!) at a garage sale. I've got it disassembled and plan to restore it for my fiancee. I expect I'll be referring to your work here frequently.


  4. Hello ! I'm givin'n it up to your major tune up on thIS VERY SWEET TREK .
    I have the crosshairs set on the very same bike ,ah hum wallet , here in
    New Mexico for at least $50.00 !! Work/trade will pay for the rest . The owner wants
    $80.00 . It's in very good shape and has more than half the life on the original
    tires. I'm going to score BIG. She has the same parts list as yours minus the
    red tires , and the biopace cranks and rings . My specimen has a SR triple
    crank set. Which is , for me , fantastic for these mountains and canyons here.
    Well I'm just typing away . Thanks .

    >>>>ovaltech & Michelins are nice , very nice , I just enlarge your photos.
    Thanks again for your slick presentation and job well done on this bike .
    roland .

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  6. Thank you so much for sharing this. I have a 1988 Trek 400 I bought brand new less than an hour before I met the woman I would marry. All three of us are still together, but the bike is in need of an overhaul (I took it in for a tuneup and was told once they got into it, it wasn't worth it and I should buy a new one). I didn't even notice until I got it home that the chain, cables and front brake are all missing. So this is going to help a lot with my restoration project. Thanks!

  7. i really like this article please keep it up. carbon wheelset