Author Topic: Trek 520  (Read 10116 times)

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Offline Spcshiznit

Trek 520
« on: June 07, 2010, 10:40:46 pm »
So I've gotten hooked reading about touring. I've a pretty avid hiker, and this appeals to me in so many ways. Well, my question is this...

I've been doing tons of research, and it seems that I'm leaning toward buying a Trek 520 for my first touring bike. I want to know why some of you think I "shouldn't" buy this bike. I keep reading great reviews, but I need the opinion of some vets to reassure me that I'm making the right decision.

Thanks in advance!
SPC

Offline John Nelson

Re: Trek 520
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2010, 11:04:50 pm »
Thousands of miles, zero problems. It's not the only bike that will work, but it is certainly one of them.

Offline CastAStone

Re: Trek 520
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2010, 11:15:48 pm »
The only similar bike is the Surly LHT; everything else is either cheaper, pricier, or meant for a slightly different purpose.

So why should you buy the LHT instead? The componentry is better. The XT/Tiagra derailer combo shifts better than the LX/LX combo, and quite frankly 48 teeth on a MTB front derailer - although very common - isn't a great idea. The LHT's XT hubs are better than the 520's LX hubs, and the LHT's rims are generally held in higher regard than the 520's. The 520's cassette is of lower quality than the LHT and you can get (marginally) lower gear ratios with the LHT. The 520 uses V-pull brakes while the LHT uses Cantilevers (one isn't necessarily better, but some prefer one or the other).

BUT

The 520 is a great choice and looks about 10,000 times better than the LHT. Why do you want to talked out of purchasing a fantastic bike? If you like the bike, if it looks good, if it feels right, if it does what you want, and if you can afford it, BUY IT!

Offline biased bohemian

Re: Trek 520
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2010, 06:57:19 am »
I agree with CastAStone that the Trek is a sharp looking bike.  I just recently went through the process of selecting a touring bike and you can read my review here if interested: http://biasedbohemian.com/biker_bohemian/day-44-the-bike/ .  Like you I am new to touring.  I ended up going with the Surly Long Haul Trucker in a Truckaccino color.  In reading reviews online I found that the LHT seemed to have a higher ratio of positive reviews and a large cult following.  The Trek cost about $250 more for a very similar bike.  Though the components may differ, select the bike for the frame and wheels, as the rest can be replaced.  In the end the bike will be loaded with baggage and covered in dirt, so the paint job won't really matter.
___________________________________
www.biasedbohemian.com - an unabashedly biased look at the world from one small unapologetic man

Offline Spcshiznit

Re: Trek 520
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2010, 08:25:37 am »
The only similar bike is the Surly LHT; everything else is either cheaper, pricier, or meant for a slightly different purpose.

So why should you buy the LHT instead? The componentry is better. The XT/Tiagra derailer combo shifts better than the LX/LX combo, and quite frankly 48 teeth on a MTB front derailer - although very common - isn't a great idea. The LHT's XT hubs are better than the 520's LX hubs, and the LHT's rims are generally held in higher regard than the 520's. The 520's cassette is of lower quality than the LHT and you can get (marginally) lower gear ratios with the LHT. The 520 uses V-pull brakes while the LHT uses Cantilevers (one isn't necessarily better, but some prefer one or the other).

BUT

The 520 is a great choice and looks about 10,000 times better than the LHT. Why do you want to talked out of purchasing a fantastic bike? If you like the bike, if it looks good, if it feels right, if it does what you want, and if you can afford it, BUY IT!


It's not that I want to be talked out of buying the bike, it's that I want to make sure I'm getting the right bike.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Trek 520
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2010, 11:27:48 am »
I feel more comfortable with bar end shifters.  I had them on my '98 Cannondale T700, and I have them on my LHT.  The ability to change to friction shifting can be a lifesaver.

Offline ericb

Re: Trek 520
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2010, 12:42:29 am »
I think the best thing you can do is test ride them both back-to-back. The geometry of the frames is quite different and the LHT is available in more sizes. Ideally, take them for a long test ride, preferably with a load.

I've owned a Trek 520 since 2004. I got it mostly as a kind of sport touring bike, but frankly I don't like it! I only road an LHT once, and it was a couple sizes too small for me. But I still had a very positive impression of the frame and ride. The LHT has a longer wheelbase and slacker angles. And out of the box it's set up to give a more upright position. Even with a stem and handlebar swap, I've just never been that comfy on my Trek. And it's always felt far too twitchy in the front  -- in fact I've never much liked the handling... it's not a stable bike for long rides. To be honest, I think Trek is riding on the reputation of the bike while having changed out most of the good qualities to have broader appeal.

I actually would have probably bought an LHT to replace the Trek if I hadn't gone with the Salsa Fargo, which scratches the mixed road/trail itch. 

Offline jimbo

Re: Trek 520
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2010, 10:18:09 pm »
I was new to touring after 15 years of using a Trek 7000 mtb mostly as a road bike. Bought the 520 4 years ago and went coast to coast in 08. For me the bike is perfect. I am 6'2 and 210. I had to replace the rear wheel due to rim cracks at the spoke heads but the other components have been fine. It has been ridden just 8K so far so still a young bike. Ideally you could test drive both popular bikes for a week, but the reality is you will be lucky to get a 2-4 hour test ride.  Buy from an experienced shop where the staff ride to work daily.
They should mount the bike and you on their "fit" station and check you and it out for proper fit.
There is no one "best" bike out there. The 520 is among the "best" group.
Have fun with the decision.....and all the miles.

Offline valygrl

Re: Trek 520
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2010, 01:35:18 am »
I'm happy with mine.  I swapped the crank out for a MTB crank, right-sized the stem, put my own saddle & pedal choices on it, and upgraded to Tubus racks.

Can you not test ride it?  That would be best.  I knew it was the right one for me after the first couple of miles.  Stable, easy to ride, carries gear well, utilitarian.

Only other tour bike I've ridden is a 26" wheeled Rivendell Atlantis, which fit me perfectly (belonged to my twin sister), but handled weird, and felt low, long & heavy. 

Offline awuwi

Re: Trek 520
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2010, 12:18:46 pm »
Bought 2 2009 Trek 520 last year (one for and one for my wife) and so far so good.  We have done short fully loaded rides in preparing for RAA in 2011.  In 2009 Trek reduced the gearing so no need to retrofit.  The challenging part is building out the 520 for touring.  What racks, panniers, fenders, seat, etc.  Selecting the bicycle is the easy part! 

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Trek 520
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2010, 09:03:44 pm »
Why not a 520?  Only a few reasons:

(3) You'll have to get used to the barcon shifters.  It's a new way of shifting.  You'll adapt, but changing from another bike to barcons will force you to think for 5 minutes each ride.

(2) It's overgeared for loads in the mountains.  Minor annoyance, but you'll probably want to change out the small chain ring for something smaller.

(1) You can't find one to buy.  Most places, the few that carry them, sell out by the middle of June.  If you want one, you may have to wait until next March when they come off the truck.

Offline cycletwerp

Re: Trek 520
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2010, 12:54:49 pm »


(3) You'll have to get used to the barcon shifters.  It's a new way of shifting.  You'll adapt, but changing from another bike to barcons will force you to think for 5 minutes each ride.


It's really not that big of a deal going from my 520 to any other bike.....more like half a second if that---5 minutes---Yikes. :o

I love my 520. It is the smoothest riding bike I have ever owned :)

Offline digimarket

Re: Trek 520
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2010, 09:07:30 pm »
So I've gotten hooked reading about touring. I've a pretty avid hiker, and this appeals to me in so many ways. Well, my question is this...

You describe yourself as an avid hiker, and don't mention your experience with cycling.  If cycling is new to you - then some of the comments about "getting used" to certain components won't really apply to you.  You will be getting used to the whole thing - at once. Most bikes these days come with expensive combined brake levers and shifters.  I prefer bar end shifters and have put them on ALL of my bikes except the ones with flat bars.  They have the advantage of being used in friction shifting mode if something in your indexed shifting goes wrong.  I've used them for 40 years and have no interest in "getting used to" brifters.

If hiking is your thing - you might want to get a bicycle that can handle dirt roads and trails where bikes are allowed.  I don't think the 520 would be ideal for that use - it is really a pavement machine.  If you want to ride mostly pavement and do cycle camp full loaded touring the 520 might be your bike, but the LHT, the Jamis Aurora, the Bianchi Volpe, or the Novara Randonnee(REI) are also worth a look.  I have riden samples of all of these (except the LHT) and I own a Jamis Aurora.  I believe that the LHT has the best geometry of these for heavy loaded pavement touring.  I'm very pleased with my Jamis for all kinds of riding and touring short of full camping.  I am currently converting a 1985 Schwinn Cimarron to a full loaded touring bike capable of dirt riding.

Some things to consider - what ever you buy can be changed by the bikestore to what you want before you buy it.  (If they say no - find another store.)  After you have ridden it a while, you can change things (like gearing) to what you find you prefer.  For heavy loaded touring anywhere near mountains you will want the absolute lowest gears you can get (forget about the high ones - you will be happy to coast down hill on tour).  For riding with light loads, commuting or general riding you can switch the rear cassette to one that tops out at 27 or 28 and have closer spaced gears.  Remember: a wide range derailleur can handle a narrower range, but not the other way around.

Many, many people have successfully toured with 520's.  Something to keep in mind is that the frame geometry and specifications of the 520 have changed back and forth from credit card touring to heavy touring over the years.  I believe the current offering is somewhere in the middle.  If someone says how great their 520 is - try to find out how long the chainstay is and how it is equipped.

For heavy touring, chainstay length is the number one criteria - the longer the better.  Then look for a front end geometry that is neither too fast or too slow.  A 72 degree head angle and 45mm fork offset is ideal for road touring of all kinds.  This is where a single centimeter makes a huge difference.  I've seen highly touted sports touring bikes with 73 degrees and a 55mm fork that handled like pigs - supposedly for "stable" steering.  For dirt roads an even slacker angle is better.  Generally for touring - a low bottom bracket is a good thing.

Having found a frameset that actually is made for touring (some are advertised as but don't deliver) then ride it and see if it fits and feels right to you.  A bike that will work well for loaded touring is going to feel a bit stiff with no weight.  The last things to look at are the specific components, because they can always be changed.

Good luck and enjoy your new interest.
Bertoni Corsa Montadale, Bob Jackson, Viscount all rounder, Styre, Bianchi Boardwalk, Jamis Aurora, Schwinn Cimmaron, Schwinn High Sierra, Humber 3-speed.

Offline DaveB

Re: Trek 520
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2010, 09:28:21 pm »
  I've seen highly touted sports touring bikes with 73 degrees and a 55mm fork that handled like pigs - supposedly for "stable" steering.  For dirt roads an even slacker angle is better. 
You have the rake figure backwards.  A 73° headtube angle with 55 mm of rake would have very little trail and would be very darty and excessively responsive, the exact opposite of stable and slow responding. 

Remember more rake= less trail and trail is the major parameter in determining steering response.

Offline digimarket

Re: Trek 520
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2010, 10:21:19 pm »
You are half correct - 73/55 is a very low trail design, but low trail means that the handlebars have to turn a lot to make the bike turn - not good handling.  You can have the bars "twitch" all over the place and nothing happens.

With a high trail design, the bike steers significantly with every "twitch" of the bars.

If you look at a criterium racing bicycle it will have very little fork offset, because the trail is already diminished by the steep angle.  By cutting down on the offset - the designer is actually adding some trail back in to keep the steering quick.  

Take a look at a frame design book if you don't believe me.  I have changed a nasty slow steering "pig" of a sports tourer into a responsive enjoyable ride that carves turns great by replacing the 55mm fork with a 38mm.  (Truth is, I would have prefered a 42, but I still haven't found an affordable one.)

Road touring is great at 72/45.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2010, 10:29:46 pm by digimarket »
Bertoni Corsa Montadale, Bob Jackson, Viscount all rounder, Styre, Bianchi Boardwalk, Jamis Aurora, Schwinn Cimmaron, Schwinn High Sierra, Humber 3-speed.