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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    updating an '83 Trek 520

    I've wanted one of these bikes since I was in college. I always loved the Treks of the early 80's, and there were tons of them around UC Davis, where I went from 1980 to 1985. When they switched to the clunky seat stay lugs, they just weren't the same.

    And, I've wanted a good touring bike for years. But I'm a cheap *******. So I picked up this 520 off craigslist earlier this week. It fits me very nicely, and seemed to be in good condition. What I didn't realize, was that the 1983 Treks had some abomination of a rear cluster called a Helicomatic. So the fact that the chain is fairly worn out on this bike, means that I either have to spend $135 at Yellow Jersey here in Madison for new rear cogs, or make some movement towards the 21st century.

    This bike doesn't seem to warrant upgrading to STI and a 9 speed rear cluster. It's going to be a commuter bike for most of the year, and when I get time, a bike for riding across the country. Or riding down the Oregon/California coast, for starters.

    First thing will be the damned shifters. I hate downtube shifters, so I'm going to try to scare up a pair of Suntour Barcons, which are my favorite shifters bar none (yes, pun is fully intended). People laughed at me at UC Davis when I put them on my nice Campy equipped road bike, but it looks like I had the last laugh, since bar end shifters are quite popular nowadays.

    The wheels...I also see zero reason to upgrade to 9 or 10 speed index shifting, and spread the rear frame for 135 mm wide wheels. I've been riding a bike with a 42-52 front and a six speed cluster in back for over 20 years, and I'm happy with that. Since the 520 has a triple up front, I'm ok with having 7 cogs in the back. And Harris Cycles sells a nice wheelset that takes 7 speed freewheels on the back. For less than $150 I can have a nice pair of wheels plus gearing.

    I wish the Trek still had good decals. I'd post pictures when I'm done, but it isn't going to be much of a looker. Suggestions about my upgrade ideas are most welcome.

  2. #2
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    I have a 1983 520 myself. My plan is to put a pair of 700cm wheels I have off of a donor bike. The donor came with three sets of wheels, so I will use the best set on the 520.

    If you are thrifty/cheap like me, you should look for a donor.


    I've been looking for barcons myself. Good plan. Also plan to install aero levers.

  3. #3
    Seņor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Bar-cons with a 21 speed should be fine for that bike.

    Look around for donor bikes, or for deals on e-bay, and you can probably find what you need for less than $75.00.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  4. #4
    rhm
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    multimodal commuter rhm's Avatar
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    I have an '82 720, and I put a nexus 8-speed hub on it. Very happy with that.

  5. #5
    RFC
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    Actually, I would guess that it will he harder and more expensive to find 7-speed parts than to go 9-speed.

    9-speed components are plentiful and cheap on the bay and CR. Why don't you just go 9 and run 9-speed Shimano bar ends on friction?

  6. #6
    Seņor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    A seven speed freewheel vs a 9 speed cassette set-up? The 7 speed is cheaper, unless you know someone who's willing to give their "old" stuff away after upgrading to 10 or 11 speeds.
    The search for inner peace continues...

  7. #7
    RFC
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    Stand corrected. I read through to fast. Yes, 7 speed freewheels are readily available.

  8. #8
    guy on a bike
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    I borrowed an 84 520 when I was in Chicago a couple weeks back - nothing really helpful to say, but what a sweet bike -- enjoy yours




  9. #9
    Super Course fan redneckwes's Avatar
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    My '83 520 now wears a set of Suntour Bar-cons, I also re-laced the wheel around a period Maillard (Non-Helico) Hub, the standard 80's Maillard hub has the same flange diameter as the Helico.

    Otherwise, it's all a mix of 80's Suntour.




    Makes for a busy cockpit.
    http://bicyclenut.bravehost.com/Bicy...nt%20page.html

    The last two bikes on my list are a 50's Lenton Grand Prix and a '64 Raleigh Record.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Galoot View Post
    ...What I didn't realize, was that the 1983 Treks had some abomination of a rear cluster called a Helicomatic. ..
    An abomination, you say! To each their own, I guess, but the Helicomatic on my '84 520 is still goin' strong--I rather like it...

    "Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, add that which is specifically your own." (Bruce Lee)
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  11. #11
    surly old man jgedwa's Avatar
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    Is that the frame I sent you in trade a year or so ago? Hope so. Looks great. jim

    Quote Originally Posted by redneckwes View Post
    My '83 520 now wears a set of Suntour Bar-cons, I also re-laced the wheel around a period Maillard (Non-Helico) Hub, the standard 80's Maillard hub has the same flange diameter as the Helico.

    Otherwise, it's all a mix of 80's Suntour.




    Makes for a busy cockpit.
    Cross Check Nexus7, IRO Mark V, Trek 620 Nexus7, Karate Monkey half fat, IRO Model 19 fixed, Amp Research B3, Surly 1x1 half fat fixed, and more...
    --------------------------
    SB forever

  12. #12
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    I also have an 83 trek 520 purchased off Craig's List. I started off to ride the bikeas is and only upgrade as needed. So far this is the list: New 120 mm stem from rivendell for fit ( the bike was a little small)
    Brooks saddle. The next round came when I noticed continued front chainring shifting problems. Result new bottom bracket chainrings and front tiagra shifter courtesy LBS. The new chainrings solved the shifting problems as well as the frustration with the old 1/2 step plus granny gearing, I now have realistic steps on the front ring and rarely use the small ring . I then replaced the downtubes with Barcons (silver shifters from Rivendell). I also changed the bars to Nitto Randonneur bars (Yea they really improved the fit of the bike for long rides. Now I really like the bike but the old 27 inch wheels cannot be trued because most of the nipples are frozen. Also the brakes frankly suck even with new pads so when these tires are worn I will probably go to 700 cc wheels and at that point new calipers. However all that being done it is a nice ride and I really enjoy it, Good luck with yours

  13. #13
    Bike Junkie roccobike's Avatar
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    Galoot, One correction. A 8,9 or 10 speed takes a 130mm spread between the drops. 135mm is for 8-9 speed mountain bikes. Still, I would stay with your plan and go for 7 speed.
    Roccobike BF Official Thread Terminator

  14. #14
    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    I'd put a 7 speed cassette hub on it instead of a freewheel.

  15. #15
    Super Course fan redneckwes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgedwa View Post
    Is that the frame I sent you in trade a year or so ago? Hope so. Looks great. jim

    Thats the one! I'm pretty proud of how it came out considering how it looked when you found it!
    http://bicyclenut.bravehost.com/Bicy...nt%20page.html

    The last two bikes on my list are a 50's Lenton Grand Prix and a '64 Raleigh Record.

  16. #16
    Seņor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dirtdrop View Post
    I'd put a 7 speed cassette hub on it instead of a freewheel.
    Not to challenge you, but I'm curious to know the reasoning. Care to share?
    The search for inner peace continues...

  17. #17
    surly old man jgedwa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redneckwes View Post
    Thats the one! I'm pretty proud of how it came out considering how it looked when you found it!
    Fantastic! Always cool to see a former bike. I sort of feel like its uncle.

    jim
    Cross Check Nexus7, IRO Mark V, Trek 620 Nexus7, Karate Monkey half fat, IRO Model 19 fixed, Amp Research B3, Surly 1x1 half fat fixed, and more...
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  18. #18
    Seņor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgedwa View Post
    Fantastic! Always cool to see a former bike. I sort of feel like its uncle.

    jim
    Your avatar looks like it's great-great uncle.
    The search for inner peace continues...

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