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Trek has produced the 520 for years. Comments have been weak rear rack and not low enough gearing.Old information never dies. Prior to 2009, the Trek 520 had road-bike components and was not ideally suited for touring despite being a touring bike. Starting with 2009, however, the Trek 520 has mountain-bike components and has as low gearing as any other touring bike.
The panniers are so easy to unhook. They're worth 160 and the stuff inside (tent and sleeping bag) are another 300-400 easily.Much more of a theoretical problem than a real one, especially in rural America.