Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => Gear Talk => Topic started by: DoverFPV on April 22, 2020, 10:49:29 pm

 
Title: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: DoverFPV on April 22, 2020, 10:49:29 pm
Newbie alert!

I'm planning to get into bicycle touring once the times allow and I am curious what peoples thoughts are early 2000's bikes. I'm planning to get a 2003 Trek 520 for 400$ which after doing a decent amount of research seems to be a pretty solid bike for commuting and touring. However after talking with a friend he thinks I should avoid it as bicycle standards have changed since then and parts may be hard to find. At this price point should I be concerned?

I appreciate any feedback!
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: John Nettles on April 22, 2020, 11:20:26 pm
I don't know what the part specs are on the bike but you should be OK.  Should you need to replace something like a derailleur, it may need to be upgraded a little.  A lot of the more "modern" stuff applies to racing bikes, i.e. electronic shifting.  However, for touring, a 520 should be fine.  I would also suggest you ask the bike mechanics subgroup over at BikeForums as they should be pretty knowledgeable about what, if any, issues you may run into.  I would say go for it though.

As a point of reference, I have bikes from every decade from the 60s to the teens (still looking for this decade).  I have not had an issue yet but at times I may have to look on eBay for an old part. 

Another option is to see if you can get an older Surly Long Haul Trucker. 

Tailwinds, John
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: John Nelson on April 23, 2020, 12:16:47 am
If in good shape and it fits you well, the 2003 Trek 520 is a fine touring bike. Its specs aren't that far off modern touring bikes. Parts for 9-speed bikes are readily available. In fact, the modern Trek 520s are still 9-speed. One difference is that many modern bikes have disk brakes, and the 2003 has rim brakes. But that's not a big deal, especially if the rims on the bike you're looking at aren't all concave. Another significant difference is that in 2003, Trek was still using a 52/42/30 crankset, whereas they have been using 48/36/26 since 2010. So you won't get as low of gearing. That's a bigger issue the older you are, the more gear you tour with, and how hilly your tour will be. Hint: all tours are hilly. If you find the 52/42/30 too high, you can swap it out.
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: Pat Lamb on April 23, 2020, 09:00:56 am
John Nettles is right; 9 speed parts are still available.  OK, maybe your local bike shop doesn't have them sitting on the shelf, but they're also unlikely to have spare Di2 derailers.  Today's 9 speed Sora is virtually the same as 2003 Tiagra.  Your shop can change out the crank for lower gears (after the part comes in next week), adjust the front derailer, and have you out the door within an hour.

Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: DaveB on April 23, 2020, 09:34:16 am
If in good shape and it fits you well, the 2003 Trek 520 is a fine touring bike. Its specs aren't that far off modern touring bikes. Parts for 9-speed bikes are readily available. In fact, the modern Trek 520s are still 9-speed. One difference is that many modern bikes have disk brakes, and the 2003 has rim brakes. But that's not a big deal, especially if the rims on the bike you're looking at aren't all concave. Another significant difference is that in 2003, Trek was still using a 52/42/30 crankset, whereas they have been using 48/36/26 since 2010. So you won't get as low of gearing. That's a bigger issue the older you are, the more gear you tour with, and how hilly your tour will be. Hint: all tours are hilly. If you find the 52/42/30 too high, you can swap it out.
The 2003 520 has a 1-1/18" threadless steerer and headset so you are good in that regard as older 1" forks and headsets, particularly threaded headsets, are getting hard to find.

As to the gearing, it's likely the OEM crank has either 130/74 or 110/74 mm bolt circles.  If it is 130/74 you can go down to a 39T middle chainring and a 24T granny.  If it's 110/74 your choices are even wider as you can go down to a 34T middle and 24T granny so you have the potential of matching Treks current 520 gearing and still keep the original crank and bottom bracket.

That $400 price seems a bit high as the "Bicycle Bluebook" lists private party sales at around $200 so you might want to negotiate a bit unless the bike you are looking at is in pristine shape.

BE CERTAIN the frame is your correct size and fits you well. 
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: DoverFPV on April 23, 2020, 10:39:34 am
Thanks for the input everyone! The frame size is a 23in and I am 6’. From what I can tell, this should be the right size for me as a touring bike. It looks like roadbikes are sized a bit larger whereas touring bikes are sized down a bit for comfort. I plan to take whatever bike I get to the local shop to get fitted properly, but the frame size seems to be fine. Should I size up?
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: dkoloko on April 23, 2020, 11:05:09 am
Not to argue, but I have seen the opposite recommendation, larger frame for touring, smaller for performance riding. My bike shop says easier to make a slightly smaller frame fit than a bit larger one.

As to touring with an older bike, I crossed the country with a 30-year-old bike. I stopped in a bike shop for spare chain links. The young man asked, "Eight-speed or nine?". I said, "Five".
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: John Nettles on April 23, 2020, 11:16:50 am
The young man asked, "Eight-speed or nine?". I said, "Five".
Did the guy even know what you were talking about  :) ?
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: driftlessregion on April 23, 2020, 02:02:51 pm
Five speed: good thing IRC still makes a five speed freewheel.
1" headsets are in fact easily found: e.g., IRC, Richey, Velo Orange, Chris King. I just put one on my new Waterford Rando.
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: DoverFPV on April 23, 2020, 05:06:48 pm
Well I purchased the bike! I ended up taking it for 375. I've never owned a road bike that is actually my size and boy is it comfy. I appreciate all of the input from you guys. hardly any signs of wear and very well maintained from what I can see. He even swapped the chainrings and put in a new surly fork with a taller steer tube. very comfy ride! 
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: staehpj1 on April 24, 2020, 06:40:50 am
Not to argue, but I have seen the opposite recommendation, larger frame for touring, smaller for performance riding. My bike shop says easier to make a slightly smaller frame fit than a bit larger one.
I agree with all of that.  My bikes are a bit of an exception since I personally tend to fit my touring bikes exactly like my performance bikes or as close as I can get.
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: DaveB on April 24, 2020, 10:03:31 am
1" headsets are in fact easily found: e.g., IRC, Richey, Velo Orange, Chris King. I just put one on my new Waterford Rando.
Oh yeah, 1" threaded headsets are easily found but 1" threadless headsets are less common.  A couple of years ago I converted a '96 Litespeed from 1" threaded to 1" threadless when I replaced the fork.  The only reasonably priced 1" threadless headset I could find was a Cane Creek 40.

As to frame size, performance/racing bikes are usually sized a bit small to make a low, aero riding position easier to achieve and to save a bit of weight.  Those aren't major considerations for a touring bike.
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: staehpj1 on April 24, 2020, 10:22:21 am
As to frame size, performance/racing bikes are usually sized a bit small to make a low, aero riding position easier to achieve and to save a bit of weight.  Those aren't major considerations for a touring bike.
Probably the majority care less about weight and aero advantages on a touring bike, but there are a few of us who do and even a few who find a low more aero position more comfortable than a more upright one.  My rationale is that on tour, I am spending all day in the saddle for weeks or months at a time and am about as acclimated to the bike as I ever get, so the low position which is already pretty comfortable for me becomes even more so.  Also riding alone with days of head winds the benefits are real.  I'd advise folks to experiment and see what works best for them, maybe even trying to ease into a lower posture slowly over time just to see how it works for them.  Doing it all at once probably guarantees failure for most.

I agree that not all that many tourists feel that way and the majority set their bikes up with a more upright posture, but I am sure I am not completely alone either.  Maybe as I get older I will change my tune but I am coming up on my 69th birthday and haven't done so yet.
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: DaveB on April 24, 2020, 10:44:19 am
Probably the majority care less about weight and aero advantages on a touring bike, but there are a few of us who do and even a few who find a low more aero position more comfortable than a more upright one.  My rationale is that on tour, I am spending all day in the saddle for weeks or months at a time and am about as acclimated to the bike as I ever get, so the low position which is already pretty comfortable for me becomes even more so.  Also riding alone with days of head winds the benefits are real.  I'd advise folks to experiment and see what works best for them, maybe even trying to ease into a lower posture slowly over time just to see how it works for them.  Doing it all at once probably guarantees failure for most.

I agree that not all that many tourists feel that way and the majority set their bikes up with a more upright posture, but I am sure I am not completely alone either.  Maybe as I get older I will change my tune but I am coming up on my 69th birthday and haven't done so yet.
Well, you are a bit of an outlier among tourists in that you practice ultralight packing and performance is a real consideration.  For most riders not coming from a performance background an upright position is more comfortable and they pay the price on a windy day. 
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: staehpj1 on April 24, 2020, 10:58:55 am
Well, you are a bit of an outlier among tourists in that you practice ultralight packing and performance is a real consideration.  For most riders not coming from a performance background an upright position is more comfortable and they pay the price on a windy day. 
I agree completely.  I just don't think folks should dismiss the notion of using a little more aggressive posture out of hand.  They just might find that if they experiment and allow themselves to slowly acclimate to a little more aggressive posture that it might even be more comfortable.  Too upright means road shock goes right up the spine, so there just may be a comfort advantage for a bit less upright posture.  There is a continuum between bolt upright and the most aero position.  My suggestion is that folks be open to the notion that just maybe they might find joy somewhere else in the continuum if they experiment slowly in small increments.

In my case, even when I started out heavy touring, having found my performance bike very comfortable, I initially set my touring bike up pretty close to the same.  I experimented with the position and didn't find that I wanted to change from that much.
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: froze on April 26, 2020, 12:41:31 am
So what is your current gear range on the rear cluster and the front chain rings?

How much weight will you be carrying?

Will you be climbing mountain grades?

If you answer the last question as yes, and the 2nd to last as around 40 pounds of gear, than the answer to the first question ideally should be the rear gears with a range of 11-36, and a chainrings should be 44/32/24.  Those gear ranges are suited for carrying a load on a bike up mountain roads while maintaining a high cadence, they're not that great for top speed, but while touring you won't be concerned about that anyways.
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: DaveB on April 27, 2020, 09:41:51 am
rear gears with a range of 11-36, and a chainrings should be 44/32/24.  Those gear ranges are suited for carrying a load on a bike up mountain roads while maintaining a high cadence, they're not that great for top speed, but while touring you won't be concerned about that anyways.
That gearing does indeed give a very low low gear (24x36 assuming a 700c wheel) of 18 gear-inches.   The high gear isn't all that bad (44x11) at 108 gear-inches, which is the same as the high gear of 52x13 which Steven Roche used when he won the Tour de France in 1987. 

The disadvantages of these very wide gearing sets is the big gaps between the intermediate gears.  An 11x36 cassette, even 10 or 11-speed, has big difference between the cogs so finding a comfortable cadence can be difficult.   The current fashion of 2X or even 1X gearing makes this even worse.
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: staehpj1 on April 27, 2020, 10:27:33 am
That gearing does indeed give a very low low gear (24x36 assuming a 700c wheel) of 18 gear-inches.   The high gear isn't all that bad (44x11) at 108 gear-inches, which is the same as the high gear of 52x13 which Steven Roche used when he won the Tour de France in 1987. 

The disadvantages of these very wide gearing sets is the big gaps between the intermediate gears.  An 11x36 cassette, even 10 or 11-speed, has big difference between the cogs so finding a comfortable cadence can be difficult.   The current fashion of 2X or even 1X gearing makes this even worse.
All of that is very subject to personal preferences and tolerances as well as load carried, terrain traversed and so on.  Some folks find 108" much higher than they need and 18" much lower than they need.  Their may be folks that want higher and lower than that, but i have a hard time imagining it myself.  Also some folks don't mine a bit of spacing in their gears.

It used to be standard practice to tour with much less range and bigger gaps and some folks still do.  Personally when I did the TA with a heavy load I found a 46/34/26 and a 12-32 pretty much okay.  I wouldn't have minded a 24t in the Appalachians, but I managed.  These days with a very light load I have gone with a range of 25-88 gear inches (39/26 12-28 on an old 1990 road bike with a improvised ulrtra compact double) and been pretty happy with the set up for the Southern Tier.  I as a geezer managed to keep up with a fit young rider on the flat sections, actually descended faster, and was faster on the rolling stuff most days.  He was a much better climber than me, but that wasn't the bike, the gearing, the load, other than the fact that he just climbs WAY better than me.   Sometimes I needed to spin faster than is my typical habit, but the 88" wasn't really a handicap.  Climbing I never wished for a lower gear, the 25" was just fine and probably would have been fine with a heavier load as well.
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: DoverFPV on April 27, 2020, 12:08:26 pm
I tore the drive train apart and cleaned everything up. It has 46/39/24 and 11-32. The only thing showing signs of wear is the 39t chainring. I think im going to drop it down to get better mid range. Do you think just a tooth to 38 or should I go lower? and will any ring with a 130BCD work or do I need specific rings to keep shifting working well. Also what brands should I be looking at for durability? I'm glad I decided to join these forums.
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: DaveB on April 27, 2020, 05:48:43 pm
Do you think just a tooth to 38 or should I go lower? and will any ring with a 130BCD work or do I need specific rings......
With a 130 mm BCD, a 38T chainring is the absolute smallest you can go and these are not common.  The 39 is almost universal so you are probably stuck just getting a direct replacement.  If possible, the new middle ring should be matched to your big ring but I  don't know of a 46/39 OEM ring set. 
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: DoverFPV on April 28, 2020, 11:18:42 pm
I was digging through my parts bin and found a set of deore cranks that have a 110 BCD. model FC-MT60. I'm not sure if these are worth putting on once my current chainrings wear out (or if they'd even fit).

here's links that I found on my current set: http://velobase.com/ViewComponent.aspx?ID=CEDB66E4-5515-4248-B333-A6CB33366801&Enum=115&AbsPos=22 (http://velobase.com/ViewComponent.aspx?ID=CEDB66E4-5515-4248-B333-A6CB33366801&Enum=115&AbsPos=22)

Deore set: http://velobase.com/ViewComponent.aspx?ID=dadd7d79-0fd8-4a5b-a578-4f76495ec375 (http://velobase.com/ViewComponent.aspx?ID=dadd7d79-0fd8-4a5b-a578-4f76495ec375)

I see they are heavier, and have a different spindle shape. Is this a silly idea?
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: DoverFPV on April 29, 2020, 11:34:39 am
Upon further research this morning it looks like the deore cranks have a 110mm spindle length whereas the 105s have a 118.5 length. Am I able to just order a new BB and spindle for those cranks? I found this info on https://www.sheldonbrown.com/bbsize.html (https://www.sheldonbrown.com/bbsize.html). What are peoples opinions on square taper vs octolink V1? My long term goal is distance touring and easy service/parts.
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: staehpj1 on April 29, 2020, 12:25:27 pm
Am I able to just order a new BB and spindle for those cranks?
Yes

Quote
What are peoples opinions on square taper vs octolink V1? My long term goal is distance touring and easy service/parts.
Square taper is an old standby.  It works fine.  It wouldn't be my very first choice if building up a new bike, but I have it on several older bikes and would not hesitate to tour with them.  Now that I think about it, I think all of my tours have been with square taper cranks.  I don't have square taper on my new road bike and MTB and I'd also go with something else if building up pretty much any new bike, but am unlikely to swap out what is on the older bikes and still will tour on at least one of them.
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: DaveB on April 30, 2020, 09:25:01 am
What are peoples opinions on square taper vs octolink V1? My long term goal is distance touring and easy service/parts.
Square taper bottom brackets and cranks were the standard for decades and decades until Octalink and ISIS appeared in the mid-1990's and external bearing designs in the early 2000's but are still available even now.  However, good quality cartridges are hard to find and Shimano only makes their lower lines now.  Loose bearing square taper bottom brackets are pretty much an NOS or used item.

Both square taper and Octalink (aka Hollowtech I) are now "obsolete" and external bearing designs dominate the market.  Octalink had an undeserved reputation for poor durability and, as noted it wasn't on the market for long before HTII replaced it so, again, they are available only as NOS or used.

Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: Pat Lamb on May 01, 2020, 11:10:05 am
I don't even know how many "standard" bottom brackets have come and gone since the "obsolete" square taper fell out of favor.  I can still order those old square taper BBs, and the last one I put in is now nine years old and they're going strong.  (Next time I change a crank I'm going to put in a Problem Solver metal cup instead of the plastic one, even though, as noted, the plastic cup is 9 years old.)

There's an interesting discussion on standards, including bottom brackets at:
http://rodbikes.com/articles/derailleur-hangers/replaceable-derailleur-hangers.html
and at some of the linked articles there.
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: wildtoad on May 05, 2020, 12:49:13 pm
I run square taper bb/cranks on most of my bikes, including some modern builds. Nothing wrong with them at all, easy to work on and have been 100% reliable for my 40 years or so of riding.   

There are some good quality cartridge bottom brackets on the market, but not through "mainstream" brands. At the high end are the SKF units, but they are really pricey. I think the most compelling product is the IRD Defiant bottom bracket...still not cheap but more reasonable than the SKF, 10 year warranty, beautifully finished. I picked one up last fall and installed as part of a changeover to a sub-compact crank on one of my road bikes that I use for riding in the Sierras (i.e., lots of climbing at higher elevations). 

John

Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: canalligators on May 07, 2020, 04:33:41 pm
Square taper isn't obsolete, neither is cottered.  IMHO.  I have several perfectly functional bikes in service with cottered cranks.

I recently retrofitted a youth bike from cottered to square taper.  The objective wasn't to modernize, it was to replace a 130mm crank.  I found a 152mm crank with the desired 34t sprocket.  The big challenge was it being a French BB with 55mm bearing width.  I kept the French cups, and eventually found a suitable spindle.  $45 solution.
Title: Re: Opinions on first budget touring bike
Post by: Lindap on June 01, 2020, 07:18:55 pm
I realize you've purchased your bike - congratulations!  I just want to put in a plug for the Fuji touring bike.  My husband and I each bought one last year and road a Northern Tier variant - started in washington DC to ride the C &O trail/GAP then picked up the NT route - and the bikes were flawless, even on the mostly-mud C&O trail.  We opted for caliper brakes but disc brakes are available.  We bought them new at about half the price of a Trek 520 (which I had been shopping for) - and it was geared properly so no alterations were needed. Except for the seat, which I changed - but that's a whole 'nother story.  I toured the Pacific Coat trail with a Fuji 30 years ago and had no problems - except that the bike was eventually stolen.  Trek and Surley have the brand panache, but the Fuji is every bit as good and is very reasonably priced.
 
Every day is a good day to ride!