The Trek 830 Antelope MTB was my way back into cycling after more than 20-years but since going back on the road a few years afterwards, it has now become my second bike, which I ride only when conditions are unsuitable for the Audax road bike. It’s fair to say that this bike has seen some very rough treatment but has dealt with it well and remains in good condition. After a few years off-roading I replaced the knobbly tyres with something more road friendly and recently have made further changes to make the bike something closer to an expedition tourer. Notwithstanding, it’s a heavy bike and I only use it for touring if the route is likely to be too rough for the Dawes Audax.
With the benefit of hindsight, it is now clear to me that this bike represented something of a cycling revolution that at the time was emerging from the USA i.e. the so called Mountain Bike. I would argue that my old track bike could do the same as an MTB but of course there had been technological developments in the interim and the branding guys were able to put a new spin on off-roading (no pun intended). There are good off-road possibilities where I live in East Surrey, notably Leith Hill, the North Downs and the Greensand Ridge. Once I had ridden all of these a few times, it then became necessary to transport the bike by car to new pastures, which was mainly various locations along the South Downs – once I’d ridden those I went back on the road. The continued evolution of mountain bikes since then has been nothing less than incredible, due mainly to innovation and new designs which have only been possible by using new materials. Somewhat like road bikes, it also has to be said that increased wealth has provided great impetus to these developments. My future son-in-law is a very keen mountain biker and rides something that resembles a tractor, which can literally go anywhere!
Purchased in about 1994, the Trek 830 bike is a classic MTB of that time i.e. horizontal top tube, 135mm drop outs, a steel frame and 26” wheels – no suspension. It is nothing special but is well-built and had decent equipment. The original bike did have one unusual feature, a Biospace chainset, which is elliptical in shape and something still favoured by some road racers today. I believe the concept is to distribute the applied forces more evenly as each leg turns round. I can’t say I ever felt any benefits myself and have since changed it to a conventional round chainset but I have seen Bradley Wiggins using them for time trialing and he seems to know a thing or two about cycling!
Apart from build strength, the other main characteristic of mountain bikes is their very low gearing, in part to help climb hills but equally importantly to provide better control over rocks or through mud. It works well and is good fun. In the case of the Trek the gear inches range from 21.8” to 99.5”, providing plenty of scope to get up most inclines or along very rocky paths, slowly.
The one thing I do not like about the Trek 830 is the v-brakes; they always seem to have a bias pull to one side, the blocks are hard and noisy, and they do not particularly brake well.
Modifications and additions
Modifications to the Trek have been entirely for one reason, better road use and particularly touring. The first and easiest change therefore was to replace the off-road MTB tyres with road tyres – the riding difference was immediately noticeable, though the bike still has a sluggish quality. As the de facto most sturdy bike tyres, it had to be Schwalbe Marathons. This was my first experience of Marathons and everything I had read about their difficulty fitting was true but it’s worth it, they are literally bomb proof and despite their 1.5” size still roll quite well on tarmac!
After an experience touring in France when I ended up very cold and uncomfortably wet, I have also added mudguards. This type of bike doesn’t really lend itself to mudguards but at least I’m now dry when it rains.
Of course, for touring I have also added a cheap rack.
I initially added bar ends to improve hill climbing and increase hand positions but, like many others, I found long distance cycling with straight handlebars quite uncomfortable, often leading to numb hands and / or pins-and-needles. I have therefore now added Ergon grips, which provide a flatter area on which to rest the palms. Whilst the bar ends and Ergon grips have definitely improved riding comfort, my hands can I still occasionally get pins-and needles.
|Make & Model||TREK 830 MTB|
|Frame||Cro-Moly Double Butted Steel|
|Rear Derailleur||Shimano Alvio x7 speed|
|Chainset||Stronglite Impact 48/38/28 + 175mm cranks|
|Bottom Bracket||Shimano sealed Octalink|
|Chain||SRAM x7 speed|
|Freewheel||Shimano x7 speed32 – 12 = 21.8” to 99.5” gear inches|
|Brakes||Shimano V-brakes + Kool Stop blocks|
|Rims||Araya 26” x 150HE VP-20|
|Tyres||Marathon 34 spoke 26” x 1.50”|
|Inner tubes||Continental + yellow caps|
|Pedals||Shimano M324 clip on|