Thursday, December 12, 2013

Good used commuter bike under $150 : Trek 930

"You are better off buying a slightly used, good quality bike shop bike off of craigslist, than buying a new Wal-Mart bike."

What bike to look for on craigslist?  CL is full of bikes, some good, some crappy.  Some good deals, some terrible.

One of the best types of bike for a <5 mile commuter bike, is a simple mountain bike.
Mountain bikes were a huge fad during the 90's, and millions were sold. Many have lived in garages collecting dust. You can find them on Craigslist for $50-150 all the time.

They make for good commuter bikes, when set up with smooth rolling, flat resistant tires, and fenders to keep you dry and clean.

Strong, stable, comfortable to ride.They don't get flat tires easily. Replacement parts are readily available and inexpensive. fatter tires are good on gravel, potholes, train tracks. Not as fast as a road bike with bigger diameter wheels and skinnier tires. Good bike for rides under 5 miles. Wide range gearing is good for steep hills.
This MTB is set up with swept back "northroad" handlebars, for a more comfortable, upright riding position.  Handlebars, $20-35, can really transform the fit and style of a bike.
VO Milan Handlebar 22.2 dia $25 is a popular choice.

The 930 sold for $450-500, and was one of Trek's most popular models from 1992-1999.  Trek was and is the most popular "bike shop" brand out.  "Entry level" bike shop bikes sell for $300.  The 930 was a bit higher quality.  If a $300 bike is a metro or civic, the 930 is a honda accord.  There are a lot of 930's out there.  The 950 & 970 were slightly higher end model, and are worth searching for.  They will have a bit higher grade parts.  The parts on the 930 are good quality, and the bike is more commonly found. 

The frame is the heart of the bike, and the Trek has a very nice frame.  It is made from butted, chromoly 4130 steel.  It uses top quality true temper tubing.  The frames were made in the USA, in Waterloo, WI.  The 930, 950, 970 all use the same frame.

Bike shop bikes have better quality parts.  More aluminum, less plastic and stamped steel.

Bike shop bike come in many sizes, to fit small people, and large.  Big box bikes have only one size, generally around 18" to fit average height people.
Small= 15-16"
Medium= 17-18"
Large= 19-20"

There are five 930's under $175 on seattle craiglist right now (edit, 4 of these sold in the time it took me to write this post)

Trek - Shoreline $150
This is a 1995 930.
It looks like it is an  19.5" People 5'9"-5'11" might fit this bike.
It has True Temper chromoly, triple-butted frame.  It has Chromoly uni crown fork.  Light, strong, durable, nice ride.
The wheels have shimano alivio cassette hubs and double wall aluminum rims, light, servicable, durable.
It uses shimano alivio cantilever brakes.  These are a little tricky to adjust, but are strong, well made, fit fenders easily, and the brake pads last a long time.  They are good brakes for a commuter.

The drivetrain is 7 speed Shimano STX.  Good quality, and replacement chains, cassettes, and cranks are inexpensive.
Gripshift 7 speed.  Easy to use, work ok, made of plastic.  These shifters are prone to breaking if the plastic has gotten brittle from sun exposure.
Shimano rapidfire shifters are a good replacement, under $30 for the pair with cables.

The handlebar stem, or gooseneck, is 1 1/8" threaded.  Not the most common stem size.  You can modify the fit of a bike by changing the length of the handle bar stem.  Or by  putting different bars on.
This stem is pretty long, and many people might want a shorter one, to sit more upright.

There are a few things that don't age well on bikes.  Rubber & shifters.  Tires, seats and grips get dry rotted. Good commuter tires make a huge difference.  Not getting flats.  Rolling smooth and fast.  Continental, Michelin, Schwalbe, Rubena all make nice commuter tires, generally $20-30 per tire.
Continental 26X1.75" City Ride - $18

Trek 930 Singletrack - $175 (South end)
This is a 1992 930.
It's an 18", good for people 5'6-5'10".
Good quality shimano drivetrain and cantilever brakes.  This bike uses a freewheel rear hub, instead of the newer cassette hubs.  It is a bit easier to bend an axle with freewheel hubs, but if you are not jumping, or weigh over 200lbs, you should be fine.  Freewheel drivetrains have cheaper replacement parts (rear wheel, rear cogs) than cassette drivetrains.
This bike has very early Shimano "push-push" shifters.  These are finicky and prone to failing.
Shimano rapidfire shifters are a good replacement, under $30 for the pair with cables.
7 speed right $13
3 speed left $14
Cantilever brake levers

This bike also has a threaded stem, but the more common 1" size.  The stem is shorter and more upright.  It has steel riser bars.
I think this seller is asking a bit too much for this bike.
This is a 1995 or 96 930 SHX.  The SHX stands for shocks.  It's a size 16" for people about 5'5"-5'8".

This is pretty good buy for $100.
Nice USA made chromoly frame.
It has early rockshox forks that don't work that well.  15 year old, entry level shocks use rubber bumpers for springs, that harden with age.  The moving parts get sloppy over time.  It is hard to mount fenders to a front shock.  You are better off with a rigid fork.

The good news is that this bike uses a 1 1/8" threadless fork, headset and stem.  This is the most common size.  Threadless is stronger, lighter, and easier to adjust than threaded is.  To adjusted a threaded headset, you need a thin 32mm or 36mm specialty wrench.  Threadless, you just need an allen key.
Threadless vs. threaded

Rigid chromoly fork - $42.50
Stems are readily available in all sizes.  1 1/8" threadless, 25.4mm handlebar clamp.  Many people like shorter length, to get them more upright.
shorter or higher rise stem <$20, or different bars.

Shimano STX 3X7 drivetrain and cantilever brakes are durable and good quality. Aluminum rims and shimanos hubs make for strong and light wheels.

This bike has commuter tires already.  It also has a decent leather saddle already.  These are common parts that need to be replaced on used bikes.

This bike would be a great commuter with the addition of some fenders, $14.

Losing the old heavy fork, for a rigid fork would be a good upgrade for $40.
You can customize the riding position to be more upright with
shorter or higher rise stem <$20, or different bars.

The last two are the same exact bike, a 1999 930, size 19.5" good for someone 5'9-6'0"

 Men's Trek 6061 T6 EXCELLENT X-MAS - $150 (Edmonds)
MEN'S TREK 930 SINGLE TRACK - $150 (Enumclaw)

Both of these bikes look like they have very little use.  They look stock, down to the tires.  The Enumclaw bike has a gel seat. The Edmonds has a rack.
The '99 gets Shimano Linear pull brakes, or "V-brakes" instead of cantilever brakes.  They are a bit more powerful, and easier to adjust.
The suspension fork on this is a Rockshox Indy, which is not too bad.  A rigid cromoly fork would be a good longterm upgrade for a commuter.  Lighter and simpler.
This bike has a threadless 1 1/8" fork and stem, the most common size.  Forks and stems are readily available.
These bikes would be an excellent commuter with some smooth rolling tires and fenders.
The handlebar stem is quite long on this bike.  Most people would be more comfortable with a shorter, more upright stem.

These are few examples of good quality used bikes, that would make excellent commuter bikes, with the addition of durable city tires and fenders.


  1. Very good article. I am looking for a Trek Bike for my 11 year old daughter and one for me. As she likes biking i need to do so for accompanying her, who is 5'5" tall, tall as me. Will you help me thru cragilist to find a Bike in Milwaukee-wi area for a Well fixed Bike as well a deal for us. Bike around $100 to use in nebhhiourhood as well on trails. Please help.

  2. Like this post. I bought a very small Trek 930 for my then 9-year-old daughter, on Craigslist, for $100. She outgrew it and now her younger brother rides it. So much better than any $100 garbage bike you could buy at Walmart or Target. These old steel MTBs make good kids bikes. A few weeks ago I bought a big Trek 930 myself on Craigslist for $100 and I use it as a commuter bike for myself. These are awesome, underrated bikes.

  3. Thanks for sharing this great article! That is very interesting I love reading and I am always searching for informative information like this.carbon fiber bike rims

  4. How nice, you have a comment from "Allison SMITH" too - she makes comments on my blog trying to drive traffic to some tires sales outlet in the same way.

    I bought a 95 930 for 60 dollars from a place here in the DC area that refurbishes old bikes to sell but they had too many, so they were selling some that were not yet fixed up cheap. All I had to do was replace the missing seat and seatpost and pedals and clean it (a lot) to have what is an unbelievably nice bike to ride. I bought some 1.4 inch Michelin slick tires (there are other similar ones available I guess) to replace the much wider knobby tires for riding mostly on roads; very nice.

    My version of this bike weighs only 27 pounds, which is excellent for a full size adult bike made of steel.

    So to confirm your advice - for very little work a 20 year old Trek is a far better deal than a box store bike.

  5. Excellent tips. Really useful stuff .Never had an idea about this, will look for more of such informative posts from your side... Good job...Keep it uptrack bike wheel

  6. Your post wriiten in 2013 is still relevant has the information I needed. Thank you!

  7. The design of the model, with its huge spoiler and hulking side panels, Cheap Tyres Milperra

  8. I bought my 930 in 1995 for about $450.00. I have been riding it ever since. Alot. Roads, the trail system around Boulder Co., everywhere. I have never had to true the wheels. They are still perfect. 1 rear brake cable changed. A few years back i replaced the chain, sprockets, cassette, as it started to skip. Hope to get another 20 years out of those. These bikes are great, incredibly well built, and fun to ride. If you're looking, don't let the age throw you,buy it.

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  12. I just bought a Trek 930 out of some cobwebs in a garage in Anchorage, Alaska. I've learned that you can replace the rear wheel with an 8 or 9 speed casette hub. When you install the 7 speed casette you need to use a 4.5mm spacer. A great tidbit if you want to upgrade your wheelset. I'm having a lot of fun pulling it apart, cleaning it up, replacing what needs to be replaced, and getting it working again. New Shimano parts are very reasonably priced. I'm amazed at how much I have learned by cruising around YouTube (e.g., using a digital caliper to measure the size of sealed bottom bracket I need and how to change out the bottom bracket). The frame has great geometry and is solid as... well, cro-moly steel. Thankfully, mine came with a steel fork. I don't like mushy front fork shocks. Great info in this blog. Thank you.