Michael Fioritto's Archived Blog

Latest bicycle project: Trek 500 Tri Series

My latest bicycle restoration project was this Trek 500 Tri Series built up for my son Aaron Fioritto. Last year he rode the Bike the Drive ride on his mountain bike and was jealous of the roadies flying by on his left. So I picked up this Trek 500 Tri Series from Craigslist. The bike has a Reynolds 531 frame, Shimano 600 components, SR cranks and Mavic wheels. The bike was in pretty good condition, but it would not shift and it had cyclocross tires on it.

I stripped the bike down to its frame and then rebuilt it back up. I overhauled the headseat, bottom bracket and hubs. I had my local bike shop true the wheels (I have not gained that skill yet!). Everything went back together fairly smoothly until I got to the derailleurs. This Trek model routes the rear derailleur cable through the right chainstay. You have to route the cable through a plastic guide under the bottom bracket, then into a hole in the chainstay and out the other end.

I started out with a new cable, but was unable to get it threaded successfully. It seemed to be hitting something at the end and fraying. I tipped the bike up vertically in the repair stand and tried again. I made a fresh cut on the cable and gently worked it through until I was sucessfully able to get it routed. I was pretty pleased with my patience and success, until I noticed that the cable was not routed through the plastic guide under the bottom bracket. It must have come out when I flipped the bike in the repair stand. So, with a fresh cut on the cable I had to repeat the process all over again. I did some research after the fact and found that others have had similar problems getting this task accomplished.

Next time, I think I’ll solder the end of the cable to keep it from fraying before starting the process.

This was also my first attempt at adjusting a rear derailleur. This model came with a Shimano 600 SIS setup. I found some great overall instructions on the Park Tool site. The H/L limit settings were ok, but I had to spend some time getting it to shift properly. Here are the steps I went through to get it done:

* Loosened the rear cable
* Screwed the adjusting barrel all the way in (clockwise)
* Shifted the bike to the large chain ring in the front and the smallest gear in the back (12)
* Removed slack in the cable and tightened
* Without moving the cranks, I shifted the rear derailleur up to the next cog then pedaled. It would not shift up to the next cog so…
* I shifted back, turned the adjusting barrel 1 turn counterclockwise and repeated the process over and over until it would shift up successfully
* I did this through the range of gears and kept adjusting the wire tension until it shifted smoothly
* I then shifted to the smallest chainring in the front and worked my way down through the gears in the back

Its not perfect, but for the most part it shifts smoothly. I expect I’ll have to make adjustments as he puts some mileage on the bike.

I put two new Continental tires on it and some flashy marbled yellow tape and he’s ready to ride.

Some pics: 1, 2, 3

Another lugged steel, vintage Trek back on the road.

*** I think this is a 500 Tri series based on the serial number and frame options, but I’m not entirely sure. If someone knows for certain, I would like the feedback.


Yes this is definetly a Trek 500 tri series. It was only made in 1986 and is fairly hard to find as a result. Nice looking rebuild. It will gain in value every year both because it is fully made in the USA and because this model was only made in 1986, Never before never since.

Posted by Chris on 11 November 2009 @ 8am

Unfortunately this bike was stolen right after we moved to Chicago. It was a beautiful, steel framed bike.

Posted by fioritto on 11 November 2009 @ 9am

That totally sucks. What size was your bike? I just picked one up in the red and white fade – not as pretty as the gray black, but I would be willing to part with it if it fits you.

Posted by Will on 19 November 2009 @ 10pm

Thanks for the offer. It was a smaller frame that fit my son. He’s since moved on to aluminum and carbon for racing. Now, if it was a 520 around 58cm I would be sorely tempted…

Posted by fioritto on 20 November 2009 @ 6am

I have the same bike, also in silver/pewter. It’s a little small for me, but I enjoy it just the same. I’m considering upgrading it from 6 to 7 speed. It’s a great bike!

Posted by Mark on 2 March 2010 @ 8am

Ahhhhh I miss that bike. I might trade my madone for it if given the chance

Posted by Aaron on 12 April 2010 @ 9pm

I have the red/white fade also. It has just been sitting around. I don’t know whether to part with it or not. Maybe it’ll be my next project. But I think Michael is wrong. The bike is pre-SIS. It’s index shifting only.

Posted by Mel on 17 October 2010 @ 7am

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