2000 Trek Hilo 1000 = "Plan 9 Taking Up Garage Space"
|Frame as purchased|
I didn't come up with a theme to the build until the frame was stripped down to raw aluminum. It occurred to me the frame, and especially the Spinergy Rev-X wheels, were once regarded as the pinnacle of futuristic high-tech. Nonetheless, items falling in this category always maintain an aura of nostalgic coolness, like Flash Gordon's spaceship, or the famous novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs describing the barbarous splendour of a still-living and still-thriving Mars. I decided to carry the black & white science fiction theme forward, sticking to a monochromatic colour scheme of silver and black only. My mission was to convert this purpose-specific machine into a more practical everyday rider.
Anyone remember the black-and-white sci-fi/horror movie Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) by Ed Wood? Infamously labelled at one time as "the worst film ever made", it incorporated all sorts of wildly diverse elements (aliens, zombies, UFOs, vampires, government conspiracies), but nevertheless became a cult classic. I, too, ended up using a rather eclectic mix of parts. With minimal or subtle branding or logos, the components will hopefully still have a cohesive look as a groupset. Nothing was left stock from the original bike except the Kinesis Aero carbon fork and the Cane Creek headset (which looked too much like a flying saucer to not use). The tubing sticker (the only deliberate spot of colour on the bike) states the frame is made of Solaronite, a fictional element in the movie which has the potential to "destroy the entire universe". Oddly enough, it rides identically to aluminum.
PROBLEMS & SOLUTIONS: For me, the primary issue is the steep seat tube angle. I've seen other builds converting triathlon-specific bikes into everyday riders, but they seem to ignore the frame geometry problem; you often cannot get the seat position adjusted back into a more standard road cycling position in relation to the bottom bracket, although you can get close using set back seatposts like the older Easton units. While not everyone is a believer of the K.O.P.S. method of bike fit, it is at very least a ballpark indicator. The Hilo frame was designed around a forward riding positioning using an aerobar cockpit. So how can we compensate? The original Profile Design Fast Forward seatpost was meant to convert a standard(-ish) road bike's 73° seat tube angle into an 78°. Would turning it around do the reverse here? It turns out the answer is both yes and no: it has the setback required, but the seat angle adjustment is limited in the wrong direction. In order to run the saddle +/- from neutral flat, I machined a piece of aluminum into a pivot stack to create increased pitch angle. Problem solved. If you are less picky about your fore-aft positioning, any set back seatpost will do.
|Adapter to change the clamp angle|
A second issue was the front derailleur. I had planned to use the matching Sensah MX8 front derailleur, but couldn't mount it because the Hilo's retro-aero shift cable routing had a unique cable stop brazed onto the backside of seat tube above the BB. So no front derailleur with a MTB-style lowered clamp style could be mounted. It was designed in any case for road front derailleurs, so I installed a Sora road derailleur. Here the steep seat tube again created a minor issue, as the angular difference in the mounting point moved the front derailleur both more frontwards and pitched forward in relation to the crankset; not a lot, but enough so that in a low-low (or low-2nd low) gear, the chain is rubbing (or very close to rubbing) the lower connection flange between the cage plates. I never ride in the extreme low-low gearing anyway, but I still had to adjust the derailleur slightly lower than optimal in order to gain additional clearance. If I had done a 1X conversion, I would not have noticed this peculiarity.
|Retro-aero cable stop, seat tube angle required slight adjustment for chain clearance|
The third issue was minor; a stripped rivnut on one of water bottle mounts. I carefully drilled out the centre and removed the rivnut fragments, then had a shop install a new one as I didn't have the specific tool. I think that was the first time in decades I paid for any kind of shop work, but they charged a very minimal fee and were kind enough to do it on the spot when I called ahead.
|Damaged rivnut removed|
NOTE ON THE WHEELS: You can find an awful lot on the internet about Spinergy Rev-X wheels; from catastrophic carbon failures, to the Ginsu-like edge of the spokes loping off body parts, to a European UCI conspiracy to ban the wheels - very dramatic stuff! I won't go into it, but there is always an inherent risk to using any vintage carbon, and it's always wise to regularly inspect older carbon parts prior to use. But...it's hard to beat the Spinergy Rev-X wheels for pure retro-cool, and they still go for a pretty penny if you check online. I have a pair of Rolf Vector 650c wheels as a really solid alternative in case I wanted to ride the bike harder. Back to 650c: the available tire widths are fine for road use, but as a utilitarian build, I could wish for something meatier for the mean urban streets. One option is to adapt 26" MTB wheels; they are only slightly smaller in diameter than 650c wheels. It's an easy fix to change out the axle spacing to make it fit in the rear dropouts. The slightly longer brake reach required can be handled by using road brakes like Tektro R539's, or even by using aftermarket brake shoe extenders. Surprisingly, the Hilo can accommodate a pretty fat tire, so fitting 26'ers was entirely viable. For now, though, I'll stick to the 650c's.
The final result after a bit of polishing: