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Thread: 1984 Trek 520

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    Senior Member awfulwaffle's Avatar
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    1984 Trek 520

    Hiya folks,

    So, I've been on the lookout for a decent vintage steel bike for some time now, as my road bike has no rack mounts and I'm sick of commuting with a 20-30 lb pack on my back (mostly due to the large backpack shaped sweat/salt stain on my back that results). That, and my chief riding buddy and I have been discussing on doing a little 4-5 day tour this summer. I keep seeing bikes that I like, but sizing a traditional frame is a little difficult for me given that I have a 29 inch standover and a 24.5 inch reach.

    With that in mind, I put out a feeler on CL and a fella responded with an all original 48cm 1984 Trek 520 for $250. I've been reading up on the bike and I'm generally liking what I see, though I do anticipate some potential problems with the Helicomatic hub at my 225lbs.

    So, my questions for you are twofold:

    1. Do you think the bike is worth the asking price?

    2. Do you happen to know the top tube and stem length for the 48cm (19"?) frame Trek used on these bikes? The brochure found here: http://www.vintage-trek.com/images/trek/84Trek_23.jpg doesn't contain any info for the small frame, but I anticipate the top tube length will be in the neighborhood of 50cm so I'll have to settle for a more upright riding position (which isn't necessarily a terrible thing imo given what I'll be using the bike for), a way longer stem, or a combination of the two.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    Small bikes back then tended to have short stems, but who knows it that 30 year old bike has original stem? Pretty common owner change. They are sometimes changed at the time of purchase to better fit rider.

    Asking price is wrong, it is too low. Seller should be asking more.

    I would go look at it NOW, with tape measure in hand, before owner decides to list it for sale publicly. It will not last long.

    Vintage bikes that small are hard to find, touring bikes that small more so. Realize you have started the process with the owner. He has decided it is time to let it go. If you hesitate at all, he may just put it up on the local C/L and it will be gone in an hour or two.
    Last edited by wrk101; 03-27-14 at 03:49 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member zukahn1's Avatar
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    +1 a 520 in decent original condition in this size would sell for $150-200 more than the asking price in most markets. Condering th price definetly worth a look and investing $50 in a diferent set off bars and stem if everything else is good.

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    Still learning oddjob2's Avatar
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    The Helicomatic Hub is more durable than you think. While I have not done multi day touring, I'd say almost 1/3 of my bikes have a Helicomatic, being mostly 80's Treks and French bikes. My weight or torque applied have not been an issue.
    Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. Albert Einstein
    2014 Additions: 1985 Trek 560, 1992 Trek Multitrack 700 (my 2nd), 1994 Trek Carbon 2200, Peugeot PX-10, 1981 Schwinn Voyager, 1989 Bridgestone RB-1

  5. #5
    Senior Member awfulwaffle's Avatar
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    Well, I think that's a good enough response for me! Email sent, last I heard from the seller was this morning so hopefully he hasn't sold it or changed his mind since then. Thanks everyone!

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    It sounds to me that the bike is smaller than what you normally ride? I have tried to make smaller bikes work for me in the past because they were nice and priced well. In the end, I was never happy with the fit. As long as you can sell it for what you paid or more, it's worth trying it out. Lots of guys here talk about a big premium for touring bikes, but in my area, it's just not the case. I recently saw 2 Trek 520's on Boston CL for $150 (they're long gone), a Miyata is languishing on Hartford CL for $210, and there was another Miyata 210 in my backyard forever at $160. Touring bikes do get a premium here if properly described, but it is more modest than others have described. $250 for the Trek up here is a fair price and depending on condition/fit I would pay up to $300. YMMV.

  7. #7
    Senior Member awfulwaffle's Avatar
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    likebike23: Actually it's essentially the same size, though my road bike is a modern sloped top tube style. I actually had to go the same route when sizing it: buy the only frame size I could stand over without crushing the family jewels, and buy a longer stem to make it a more comfortable ride. Cornering feel changed (presumably due to the forwards shift of the center of gravity), but I got used to that soon enough. Like you said though, I can always sell the bike if I don't like it (though I highly doubt that'll be the case).

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    Senior Member zukahn1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oddjob2 View Post
    The Helicomatic Hub is more durable than you think. While I have not done multi day touring, I'd say almost 1/3 of my bikes have a Helicomatic, being mostly 80's Treks and French bikes. My weight or torque applied have not been an issue.
    +1 I haven't had any issues with the stock 27inch Matrix/Helicomatic touring wheels that came on early 80's Treks many a rider has riden coast to coast on a stock 520 with these.

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    I would definitely grab it then. You might not find another one for a while. Me, I see quite a few of them, but I look at CL for all of New England several times a day. It's a sickness

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    Still learning oddjob2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by likebike23 View Post
    I would definitely grab it then. You might not find another one for a while. Me, I see quite a few of them, but I look at CL for all of New England several times a day. It's a sickness
    There is an easy cure for it Buy a 520 and add it to your prodigious fleet.
    Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. Albert Einstein
    2014 Additions: 1985 Trek 560, 1992 Trek Multitrack 700 (my 2nd), 1994 Trek Carbon 2200, Peugeot PX-10, 1981 Schwinn Voyager, 1989 Bridgestone RB-1

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    Quote Originally Posted by oddjob2 View Post
    There is an easy cure for it Buy a 520 and add it to your prodigious fleet.
    Great idea. I pretty sure my wife wouldn't notice, I could camouflage it with the 20 others in my basement/garage.

  12. #12
    Senior Member awfulwaffle's Avatar
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    Oh man, an interesting alternative has appeared. Just got offered a 1990 C-Dale ST400, with a rack and fenders, for $150. Granted it's aluminum, but I think I have some thinking to do.

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    Well the Canondale ST400 is also great with rack and fenders actually pretty assume. I only thing I can say agianst this is they are kinda stiff and compact for touring. With late 80's and early 90's C-dales you can often times feel every peeple on the road with a solid build.

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    That Cannondale might be just the ticket. Aluminum can be harsh, but if it has frame/fork clearance for wider tires (~32mm), you can soften the ride running wider tires at lower pressure.

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    Cannondale ST series bikes have something of a cult following. Wish I'd bought one when I was selling Cannondale bikes in the mid-'80s to mid-'90s. The Cannondale touring bikes arguably ride as smoothly as any steel bike of equivalent geometry, and the handling is said to be better under load thanks to the reduced torsional flexibility of the larger-diameter aluminum tubes.

  16. #16
    Still learning oddjob2's Avatar
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    Get both, they're both priced at less than half of FMV.
    Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. Albert Einstein
    2014 Additions: 1985 Trek 560, 1992 Trek Multitrack 700 (my 2nd), 1994 Trek Carbon 2200, Peugeot PX-10, 1981 Schwinn Voyager, 1989 Bridgestone RB-1

  17. #17
    Senior Member awfulwaffle's Avatar
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    I think I accidentally made my own thread go OT <.< >.>

    To everyone raising the concerns about the harsh ride of the aluminum frame on the Cannondale, is it really noticeably worse than any other? I've been riding an aluminum road bike and commuting on an aluminum frame MTB (w/ 1.5" slicks) before that, so I'm hoping it's fairly similar.

    Oddjob, don't tempt me, I have bills to pay and a woman to not get smothered in my sleep by. You know, there was a time in my life when I told myself I wouldn't ever have use for more than 1 bike, and here I am considering buying 2 at once. Sickness indeed.

    Since I haven't heard back from the fella with the 520 (or perhaps regardless of that fact), I'll be picking up the ST400 after work tomorrow and starting going over everything. Expect more threads

    I feel like I'm a little kid again!
    Last edited by awfulwaffle; 03-27-14 at 10:32 PM.

  18. #18
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    Great deal on the Cannondale, and its $100 cheaper, so no brainer. Both are good deals, but if the budget only allows for one, the Cannondale wins (pretty equivalent bike for $100 less…). And it even has fenders and a rack!

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    Senior Member TugaDude's Avatar
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    "Oddjob, don't tempt me, I have bills to pay and a woman to not get smothered in my sleep by. You know, there was a time in my life when I told myself I wouldn't ever have use for more than 1 bike, and here I am considering buying 2 at once. Sickness indeed."

    Nobody said anything about keeping them both...

  20. #20
    Senior Member zukahn1's Avatar
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    +1 The C-dale is basically a better bike for $100 less both are still worth 2x the asking price.

  21. #21
    Senior Member awfulwaffle's Avatar
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    ..
    Last edited by awfulwaffle; 03-28-14 at 12:58 AM.

  22. #22
    Still learning oddjob2's Avatar
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    As many here practice, the flip bikes are the cash generating source for the bike fund, if you have the time. I picked up a Miyata Grand Touring and a Trek 1200, for $100 total. Bonus too, two blocks away! With some work and parts investment, they will generate $600.

    Last year I bought a grail bike that was wall hanger condition, two sizes too big, but it was well below FMV, as an investment hedge for the same bike in my size. Guess what I picked earlier this month? The sale of Grail #1 should more than pay for the same bike in my size.

    Basically for boys toys, in my case bikes, a few firearms, some tools, and electronics, I try to make it all self funding.
    Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. Albert Einstein
    2014 Additions: 1985 Trek 560, 1992 Trek Multitrack 700 (my 2nd), 1994 Trek Carbon 2200, Peugeot PX-10, 1981 Schwinn Voyager, 1989 Bridgestone RB-1

  23. #23
    Senior Member awfulwaffle's Avatar
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    Ya know, the thought has crossed my mind now and again, but I'm still not sure how I feel about it. On one hand, it would be great to kake some extra cash, especially if it helped subsidize a bike I was going to keep. On the other, I may feel kind of bad that I took a bike that would have cost $250 for someone who really wanted it to ride and jacked up the price just to make myself a quick buck. I dunno, but the seller hasn't written back yet so I can ruminate on the topic some more.

  24. #24
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    Part of the increase in value is due to your efforts. Those efforts can include better marketing of the bike itself, cleanup, tuneup, and any repairs. Sometimes what you offer the original seller is convenience. You take on the addition work and risk, original owner moves on painlessly. Not every flip goes well either. Part of the "profit" on a flip goes to cover mistakes.

    Its not just "jacking up the price". To be successful, you have to add value to the bike, by addressing any shortcomings. I picked up a 1984 Trek 520 last year for $40. Deal, right? Not so fast. Former owner had turned it into a single speed. Original derailleurs, wheels, shift levers, etc., were all gone. Then the seat post was stuck. Bad bottom bracket, bad headset, etc. In the end, the only thing I used from that bike was the frame set, stem, and handlebars.

    Did I sell it for a lot more? Sure. But the buyer got a nice touring bike, ready to ride. Its only because I have a hefty stash of replacement parts that this "flip" made any sense.

    Rather than being a price jacker-upper, I acted as a rescuer of a neglected bike, bringing it back to life, and preparing it for its next adventure. Had I paid retail for the parts I used on that bike, I would have lost a bundle: saddle, seat post, pedals, chain, wheel set, tires, tubes, shift levers, brake pads, bar tape, brake levers, cables, housings, etc…. As it was, this was a questionable flip financially. And that was starting with a $40 bike….
    Last edited by wrk101; 03-28-14 at 08:04 AM.

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    What would have happened to that $40 Trek 520 that Bill talked about? I have a feeling if someone else bought it, that it would have ended up in the trash after the shop gave them the bad news.
    Last edited by likebike23; 03-28-14 at 11:34 AM.

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