1995 Trek 950


Old School Hero
I have a soft spot for these old Treks for a few reasons. The main one is that my first 26" wheeled bike was a 14.5" framed 850 in Ice Green, and partly because a lot of the guidebooks we had back in the day which covered Scotland, and still have actually, have one of the writers onboard a Trek 970. Unlike most of the bikes in my stable which have been built up to replicate old race bikes, this one was built with the purpose of getting into the hills with tents and climbing kit. Of course my main bike is much, much more competent when I'm actually wanting to go and ride steeper and more technical stuff in the mountains, but for covering ground these old bikes are still pretty good. And engaging. I've tweaked a few bits on this, and I've still got a few things to change before I'll consider it complete, but it's there or thereabouts. Some of the spec has come from old bits I've had lying around in boxes for erm, decades, and other bits have been bought but kept in the theme of the spec we ran on our bikes back in the day.

Frame - It's a 1995 Trek Singletrack 950 I picked up for probably too much (before the Covid spike in everything) in a wonderful blend of Ice Violet and Ice Green, a true classic nineties Trek paint job and in two of my favourites too. One of these days I'll maybe track down a decent rigid fork to get colour matched and fit that but for now that's a future me thing to do. It's 19.5" as I wanted something that had reasonable length for touring-esque type rides as I have other bikes I could use if I wanted to do more technical riding. The other thing this bike has is rack mounts, as carrying a 15kg rucksack of climbing and bivy gear on your back is bloody uncomfortable.


Fork - The first suspension fork my dad had was a Pace RC36 MXCD which he bought from Sandy Wallace Cycles in Fife just after they were launched in 1996. As a result, Pace are high on the list of 'classic' components that for mejust evoke memories of a simple and fun time as a kid where everything seemed so new and special, and we were out riding bikes almost every weekend. This example isn't in the best of shape and I need to put inserts in the bottom of the spring rods as the threads are a little knackered, but for a near 30 year old fork they're pretty good. I've got a pair of RC36 Evo Pro Class to get sorted at Pace with new bushes which I'll swap over but as it's all currently working I'm focusing on other priorities! Of course these forks are mainly for comfort than control, but you can hardly stick a modern fork on something like this, can you? I did originally fit some Z1 BAM's to get it rolling but they always looked a bit wrong, no matter how good they were, hence the Pace. These RC36's came without brake mounts but luckily my dad upgraded his with direct Magura mounts and so had the originals going spare.



First shakedown ride with slightly different spec to as it sits now...


Headset - A mish-mash of a Dia Compe DLC upper, and an unknown lower cartridge thing. I think the lower half of the DLC was nicked years ago when our garage was broken into. I might fit something else but it's vaguely period correct so it gets the nod for now.

Stem/Bars/Grips - Is it an Azonic Shorty when it's 100mm long? By 1995 standards it probably still is short but it's about as long as I'd ever want to fit. When I picked it up it was pretty shabby but some compound and the polishing mops on the Dremel soon sorted that. The bars are Titec Hellbent. Why? They were silver and matched, weren't wide, and had a nice rise to give a comfortable position for all day rides. The grips are ODI Yeti Hardcores. I can't believe how much these go for now as it was only a few years I picked these up for less than a tenner brand new. Normally I'm a big fan of thin Renthal glue ons as they're more comfortable than lock-ons but for all day stuff with crap suspension, low volume & high pressure tyres something thicker was preferable, and I always liked these BITD anyway before I saw the thin grip light.


Saddle/Post - The saddle is an old Club Roost which is proper comfortable compared to my default SDG Ti-Fly on most bikes, another nod to real world, all day use. This will eventually go on another bike and probably see something else age appropriate yet still comfy fitted. Maybe even an SDG Bel Air. The seatpost is an X-Lite Clickon II which again is going on something else, so I've got a from-a-distance-visually-similar Bontrager thing to replace it with. Maybe a nod to modernity would be a 27.2mm dropper but while I think they're the single greatest addition to modern bikes, I like the purity of how this looks in uncomplicated form.


Drivetrain - The Shimano XT M739 STI setup came from my dad's Cannondale which got stuffed into a box when he upgraded to Maguras and M950 XTR shifters, while the XTR M952 V brakes were NOS from the same box and originally intended for my mum's Specialized before things conspired to stopping us getting out as a family. I'll maybe cover these bikes in other threads when I get around to cleaning them up from years sitting in the back of my dad's workshop. The rear brake is running a Zoobits V-Jobby clamp on the top tube to effect a cable stop. We originally bought this for my 850 but it was drilled in a way that the M3 bolt was under significant bend due to the hole having been drilled for the clamp closed, which it couldn't be. I clamped it to the top tube, drilled a new hole, tapped it and fitted an M4 bolt instead. Or at least I did once I'd removed the old broken bit. On the 850 we ended up running a full length of outer but I was keen to avoid that on this build. Anyway, the LH lever needed a little straightening after an incident on the single track up the end of Glen Tilt many, many years ago, but despite that and about 10k miles on them they still felt spot on. The front mech is a spare 28.6mm M737 XT kicking about from my 850, although temptation was to fit the M953 one I had there, and the rear is the classic M952 SGS. Cranks are my personal favourite, the XT M739 four arm setup. Partly that's because I got my first set of these as a Christmas present in 1997 when I was young and impressionable, but also because I think they just look so nicely engineered. On the cassette front that's another M952 item, this time 11-28 and NOS after purchasing it in a CRC clear out years ago for something daft like £30, back when they used to have both interesting and useful stock you'd want to buy, and at cheap prices. A NOS 107mm UN72 BB and similar IG91 chain round out the drivetrain party.



Wheels - this is where things are going to change. Currently there's a non-disc QR Mk1 Hope Big'Un that we ended up with after a Fatso cracked its flange. There's a classic and heavily used Mavic 121 CD Ceramic on there. We ended up with these after breaking so many lighter rims of the day while riding mountain paths and tracks. Modern stuff really is tougher, at the expense of character. And frequently the stuff that has character is as crap as the old stuff was! The rear is a mk1 Hope Bulb in blue, a hub I ended up with after a disc tab snapped off my rear Mk2 Big'Un a few days before a race. I built this back up a few years ago with another, and this time nearly new, 121 CD Ceramic. However, this is earmarked for a rebuild of the Animal 222 it was originally on, and the front is going on my Marin DH FRS/Team DH build. Instead what's going on here will be a pair of pink and now refurbed to polished silver Fatso/Ti Glide combo in non-disc, and they will be built up with a pair of 32h D521 CD Ceramics I picked up dirt cheap a few months ago. The decals are tatty but otherwise they're good - not bad for £25! Tyre wise there's a re-issue 1.95" Panaracer Smoke and a NOS original front Dart to match. These were bought new for the build as all the other tyres I have of appropriate age have definitely done their best to turn to plastic, dry rot and generally do everything they can to destroy confidence in their abilities to stay looking like tyres if I dare use them in anger.



So there you have it, a build that's mostly period, with a few additional tweaks. It might not get many uses a year but does get used and is a hoot to ride. I’ll put another post up with the first proper ride I did on it as it’s very pic heavy.
Apologies for the lengthy post, or rather the massive amount of pictures, but hopefully this is of interest to at least one or two of you. I've not had much of a chance to ride it since this back in 2022 as the weather last year was so crap that I never had call for it, and the days I did have in the mountains didn't involve long estate track slogs. The one exception to that was last winter when I rode in to Ben Alder with the skis strapped to either side of the top tube which was rather uncomfortable. A true multi-sport day of ride in, climb a route and then ski off the summit. Anyway, I digress. Here's the story of a 29 year old bike's first proper ride with me.

Obligatory bike shot as the first pic of the ride, just after leaving the wood above Old Blair with the view up Glen Banvie beyond...

With a few short shakedown rides under its belt I had a grand plan, and 18 months ago put that plan into action. I've mostly lost interest in racing, in both downhill and enduro flavours, and now spend most of my time riding/running/climbing in the hills. Any excuse to get away from people. Some of this is done as daft link ups of many hills, usually culminating in 50km/3000m+ days on foot. As to riding, my introduction to riding bikes was exploring the hills and glens of Scotland with my parents on stalking and estate tracks, linked up with bits of singletrack. And being at the time central belt based, one of the closest areas was Perthshire and its link into the Southern Cairngorms. As a result this is still one of my favourite places to spend time and I have covered a lot of miles both on foot and on bikes there over the years, particularly around Blair Atholl and Glen Tilt. And so a plan was hatched, bringing together a few ideas and mentions of 'oh, you can get through to so and so through that pass' that had been rattling around in my head over the years, both from things my dad said, and reading in various old accounts.

The sadly dead River Bruar thanks to the ecological vandalism that is a micro hydro scheme. These things are a cancer on the landscape and environment...

The hunting residence of Bruar Lodge at the top end of Glen Bruar, just a few km before the climb in earnest starts up the Minigaig...

Pretty, but also man made. Good for the couple of herons wading about though...

The idea was simple. Start near Blair Atholl in Old Blair, ride through Glen Banvie to Glen Bruar and from there up and over the Minigaig to drop down into Glen Tromie, out to the end of the glen near Kingussie and then up, over and into to the famous and fabulous Glen Feshie. What's cool with Minigaig pass is that over the top in the murky and boggy moor land there are lumps of white quartzite dotted along the path, and there's reference to these navigational aids being there for the best part of two hundred years and probably longer. From Feshie it was up to the end of the glen, going past where some more recent landslides have made for an interesting detour, and a deep wade even with the relative lack of rain prior to my ride.

Looking eastwards up the Allt a' Chuil in the atmospheric cloud and mist, seen from the south side of the Minigaig...

And looking back from whence I came while climbing up one of the few hike-a-bike sections with quartzite blocks in the foreground to act as markers in bad weather...

The Minigaig comes through the rightmost notch in the skyline after a few km of high moorland before dropping down the vague, grass covered outline of a track which has been passed on foot and horseback for generations. Wet grass, 1.95" old tyres and V-brakes do very little other than act as a reminder of how much bikes have improved...

More ruined rivers in the name of 'green' energy at the top of Glen Tromie...

It might be wide and smooth but going fast never gets old...


Lower Glen Tromie as I made my way towards the break for another trail which would take me into Glen Feshie...

Carn Ban More looming above Glen Feshie...

The next landmark I was aiming for was the well known Ruighe Ealasaid, the red house, not a million miles away from the Linn of Dee and Braemar. Scotland really isn't a very big place when you go over the hills rather than by road. And most of these hill tracks are in fact old passes from long before the car was thought about - the Minigaig was 'built', and I say the term loosely, so that the General in the barracks at Ruthven brought in to see that the rather lawless Gaels kept in line could easily get supplies of his favourite beer brought over on horseback from the brewer that existed in the vicinity of Atholl Castle. Most of that link from Feshie in the direction of Braemar is a rough but ultimately perfectly rideable estate track but there is a boggy and pathless tract for a few km where it was sensible to push the bike so as not to inflict damage to the sensitive peat environment. Sadly there were numerous tyre tracks from people before me who had no such cares for ecology. Just because you can it doesn't necessarily mean you should. Along the final stretch to the bothy I met a couple of guys who were riding in the opposite direction with big packs and the intention to camp alongside the ruins of Geldie Lodge before climbing the two Munros of Carn an Fhidhleir and Am Sgarsoch the following day. Fairly non-descript hills they might be, but they pack some mighty views from their summits. I had done them a few weeks before this ride from the Glen Tilt side having the night before had a wonderful camp under a clear and starry sky below the north side of Carn a' Chlamain, feasting on cloudberries, a rare and delightfully tasty fruity treat. The two walkers were quite frankly disbelieving of the route I’d so far travelled that day, the bike I was on ('looks like it's from the age of the ark'), nor how far I still had to go.

Glen Feshie really is a stunning place. Last time I rode up here I was on my original Trek and we rode up the east side of the river which had a lot more fords...

I still got my feet wet though...

I spent quite a time watching a pair of Kestrels here that must have been nesting somewhere nearby as they flapped about in front of the crags...

And just like that the landscape changes. Like the weather in Scotland, if you don't like it then you'll only need to wait five minutes. Heading along the wide strath towards the Geldie Burn which runs from the watershed in the opposite direction of the Feshie, and not much further on meets the Dee...

Big skies...


Most of the rock around here is Cairngorm granite which when freshly scratched is a vibrant pink, but so close to Perthshire you start to find Schist in the river beds having been deposited by glacial run off over many years...
IMG_0519 by Al Mac, on Flickr

One of the most recently renovated bothies in the country, there was a work party still hard at it when I rode past late in the early evening....

From the point of Ruighe Ealasaid it was fairly familiar ground of a Land Rover track through some fords to more ruins, this time of Bynack Lodge. Thankfully since the last time I'd visited the hideous tall fence put in place by the estate to prevent access had been removed which allowed me to explore a little before I headed for the gorge of the Allt Garbh Buidhe. This is the burn which flows from Loch Tilt and eventually becomes the mighty River Tilt. As the gorge narrows so does the track, and becomes some lovely technical and rocky singletrack, peppered with some rather slick slabs of Mica Schist. On my bigger trail bike these would have been straightforward with a focus on carrying speed to get over the rockier bits but on the Trek it was old school techniques of trackstands, trials hopping and slow speed picking, while hoping the geriatric Smoke and Dart tyres would keep me upright on the rather un-grippy rock. But it was all rideable, even if it wasn't with much grace. Having had a fashionably late start for such a big day I was by now beginning to think of my dinner and luckily remembered Glen Tilt to be both smooth, and pretty much all downhill. Of course if you're doing this as an out and back you earn this return a bit more noticeably. The upper reaches of the Glen are steeper and more imposing with a more eroded track and an arrow straight length of dark and brooding river, partly caused by the peaty outflow of the Tarf, and partly by the shadows of the steep walls of hill surrounding. The peatiness of the Tarf is particularly noticeable where it joins the almost crystal clear Tilt, and is caused by the miles and miles of boggy hillside that feed it. As you travel further west the glen changes character as it opens out into verdant green pasture with steep but ultimately pleasant slopes above. This track is a lot more fun on a bike than it is with a heavy rucksack and passes a lot more quickly! From the Falls of Tarf the ride was pretty plain sailing and within 45 minutes I'd covered the 20km or so to the car with just enough time left to make it to Pitlochry and finish with the classic, or at least classic for me, dinner in the Prince of India. I rediscovered this place during the Beast from the East winter when we were often late down the road, and as everything in Aviemore shuts at 8pm (aside from the awful Indian restaurant), it was easier to head for Pitlochry and fill our stomachs there. Given the ride had shared many trails I'd covered as a kid it seemed fitting to finish with food in the restaurant that many of our adventures as a family also finished in. And to say I ate my bodyweight would be an understatement.

Finally beginning to head South again with the summit of Carn Nan Gabhar in the distance...

The ruins of Bynack Lodge in the evening sun...


The landscape's beginning to change again...

Almost ready for the home run down Glen Tilt...

Falls of Tarf, a beautiful place in the hills surrounded by steep hillsides, gorges and rivers meeting...


20km of near arrow straight riding to go to the car, and then curry!

While it might seem insignificant to many, the memories that the ride brought back were wonderful, and I'm proud to share the innate love of the hills with my dad, and I'll be forever grateful for him having introduced me to them in the way he did. Of course it's wonderful to climb ice and rock routes on remote faces, ski steep gullies and do massive link ups in fell shoes, but just being there, absorbing the power of nature and appreciating the wildlife and landscapes is by far and away the main thing for me, no matter what the actual 'sport' is that I'm using as a vessel to be there. That rides like this (well, shorter, but same terrain) were described in the books of the time as 'for only the fittest and most skilled riders with solid navigational knowledge', while doing it on a bike ostensibly of that time and indeed very similar to the bike I did do lots of this sort of stuff on, also felt quite poignant. As a ten or twelve year old I certainly wouldn't have comprehended the circuit (despite doing big 80km loops at that age), nor could I at that time know what I would manage to do in the sport. It therefore felt just as much of an achievement in the sense of remembering how I felt reading those books as a kid as almost any race results I've had over the years.

Stick a fork in me, I'm done! Perhaps not the biggest of rides, but still a big day out which took me through some utterly wonderful landscapes and allowed me to make a big link up of previously explored places in an area I've spent a lot of time...
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God was anticipating the mountain bike when he created Scotland.

Early 90s, my idea of summer holiday, train up to to Highlands with camping kit and ride in the mountains 20240329_154719.jpg
Get there early though cause of the midges.
God was anticipating the mountain bike when he created Scotland.

Early 90s, my idea of summer holiday, train up to to Highlands with camping kit and ride in the mountainsView attachment 834444
Get there early though cause of the midges.
That pic's awesome. Proper kit with the woolly jumper too! Is that Glen Affric? It looks familiar but at the same time I can't quite place it.
Full technical gear!

My friend Jamie (on the left) lived in a caravan on the Beauly firth so we must be up in the hills there.

He already had a mountainbike!
I'm riding my carlton corsair.

Truth be told, skintight lycra isn't much cop at 4am in a damp Highlands hollow in sub zero temperatures.
I dont think it is anyway - I never tried😂
Yep, lycra is great when you're exerting yourself, less so when stationary! When we started out it was tracky bottoms to start with, and then we gradually moved over to the likes of lycra, or ronhills along with some of the early Endura stuff.

Looking at that pic again and some googling I'm pretty convinced it is actually Glen Affric, on the track to the south side of Loch Affric with the ridge of An Tudair Beag behind. With your mate's caravan in Beauly it actually wouldn't have been that far down to Cannich and then on into the Glen. It's a wonderful place and my dad and I have ridden down there a lot over the years, starting in the mid nineties. Never managed to stay in the hostel at the end but one of these days I will.

These are somewhere in the vague vicinity of your pic not too many years later, maybe '96 or '97?


Yup, that's still the 'best' MTB to me @bikeworkshop . No nonsense, just freedom in the hills and getting up close to wildlife. Less people back then too, which was nice. I'm in the middle of rebuilding that Cannondale and have pretty much finished restoring the Trek too. Did you manage to explore many of the other Scottish glens further afield on your trips up here?

Strathfarrar is a wonderful place, I've been up there on bikes, foot and ski toured too. Back during beast from the east we managed to have a day of skiing in, climbing an unclimbed winter route, and then skiing back out. Proper wilderness, or at least as much as you're likely to find in Scotland. My hope is in the next year or so to be living around there, having it on my doorstep would be much better than the city!