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.