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Old 05-13-09, 09:17 PM   #1
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Trek 520 vs. Surley Long Haul Trucker?

Howdy folks,
Dad asked me what I thought. I like the sound of the Trek (being a C+V kind of guy) but I don't know anything about the LHT. Here's what he says (he lives in the mountains, by the way);
"I'm trying to decide between the 88 520 Trek in Town or going hog wild and getting a new Surly Long Haul Trucker. The 520 has Reynolds 531 tubing, is in real good condition, and rides real well. The Surly would be brand new, 9 speeds (a little more gear range), down tube shifters. The Surly is supposed to be a really good bike, but of course, it doesn't have the Reynold's 531 and lugs. Any thoughts? - Love Dad"
Thanks for your oppinions.
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Old 05-13-09, 09:28 PM   #2
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...a brand new LHT has down tube shifters? Seems odd.

How much is the 520? If it's cheap, he should try it...if he doesn't like it, he can sell it for what he paid for it, and buy the LHT.
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Old 05-13-09, 09:29 PM   #3
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The main tubes are 531 the rest is basic chromoly, not that the 520 isn't a nice bike. By that point I don't think that you could consider it a handbuilt bike anymore but neither is the surly so what the hey. I'd day if he is planning on doing some actual touring and loading up the bike he should buy the LHT, if he want's to commute, ride around town, maybe haul some groceries and do the odd camping trip go with the Trek. Be sure he incorporate the initial "bringing it up to snuff" cost (both monetary and time wise depending on how you look at it) into his decision.

Edit: Also note the 520 has 27" rims, a conversion to 700c is never ideal, sure it can be done but I still think it is not ideal
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Old 05-13-09, 09:30 PM   #4
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...a brand new LHT has down tube shifters? Seems odd.

How much is the 520? If it's cheap, he should try it...if he doesn't like it, he can sell it for what he paid for it, and buy the LHT.
I think that is just a little mis-print on his Dad's part. I think what he means is the 520 has DT shifters while the surly has bar end.
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Old 05-13-09, 09:31 PM   #5
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what cyclotoine said, except I'd still consider the Trek for loaded touring
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Old 05-13-09, 09:33 PM   #6
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what cyclotoine said, except I'd still consider the Trek for loaded touring
I'm not saying the 520 is not good for it, just saying the LHT is better.
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Old 05-13-09, 10:44 PM   #7
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I'm not saying the 520 is not good for it, just saying the LHT is better.
I would whole heartedly disagree. The '88 520 is superior to the LHT for touring. Depending on the size of the frame, it can be vastly superior. The only thing the LHT has over the 520 is the braze-ons for a third water bottle and the extra spokes.

The 520 has a slacker seat tube angle for all bikes until the 58cm and taller bikes. The LHT's head tube angle is too slack for all bikes under 56cm.

I'd rather have a frame with 531 main tubes and chromoly stays and forks than a bike that is all chromoly. I don't think the LHT is a good touring bike in my size. It is a good touring bike if it is 56 cm or bigger.
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Old 05-13-09, 10:50 PM   #8
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I would whole heartedly disagree. The '88 520 is superior to the LHT for touring. Depending on the size of the frame, it can be vastly superior. The only thing the LHT has over the 520 is the braze-ons for a third water bottle and the extra spokes.

The 520 has a slacker seat tube angle for all bikes until the 58cm and taller bikes. The LHT's head tube angle is too slack for all bikes under 56cm.

I'd rather have a frame with 531 main tubes and chromoly stays and forks than a bike that is all chromoly. I don't think the LHT is a good touring bike in my size. It is a good touring bike if it is 56 cm or bigger.
I don't know what you mean by too slack. too slack for what?

The LHT also haze more tire clearance, a more common tire size (26" or 700c), is built for wide and stronger rear hub, and has a 1 -1/8" stear tube all superior features for loaded touring.
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Old 05-13-09, 11:23 PM   #9
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Isn't this all sort of pointless speculation without knowing the prices? I'm guessing the 520 is substantially cheaper which, considering that they are both totally appropriate for the job at hand, would leave more money available for racks, panniers, supplies, etc. etc.
All else being equal, I would recommend the 520 just because it would be a little different out on the road. Seems like everybody has a LHT these days...
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Old 05-14-09, 01:12 AM   #10
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I don't know what you mean by too slack. too slack for what?

The LHT also haze more tire clearance, a more common tire size (26" or 700c), is built for wide and stronger rear hub, and has a 1 -1/8" stear tube all superior features for loaded touring.
Too slack causing the smaller frames to be too sluggish. Don't care about tire clearance or the uncommon 27" size. There are plenty of 27" tires that I like for touring. I don't consider any of your arguments make the LHT superior as you said, except for the stronger axles of a cassette over a freewheel. Well, the axles aren't stronger, the placement of the bearings in a freehub give better support so there is less of a chance to bend or break an axle.

I don't know about the 1 1/8" steerer tube better for touring. Can you explain this? I've never had a problem with a 1" threaded steerer.

For me, the 520 is a far superior frame. The LHT is too uncomfortable for long trips. Any shortcomings of the components can be changed, whereas the frame cannot. If you want a 9 speed, no problem. Just put one in.

If you want 700c wheels, you can do that also. You say it is not ideal, but the change to 700c wheels will have less effect than the bad angles of the smaller LHT.

Edit: I just did the math. The '88 Trek in my size has a trail of 67.2mm with 27" 40mm tires and with 700c 40mm tires it is 62.4mm. The bad angles of the LHT in my size has a trail of 75.5mm. In the 56cm LHT the trail is 63.5mm.

As you can see, the '88 Trek is closer in geometry to the 56cm LHT than the LHT in my size. Changing the tires from 27" to 700c effects the trail by 4.8mm. If I changed the geometry of the LHT the affect on the trail would be 5.1mm. Changing from 27" to 700c has less effect on trail than the head tube angle.

The LHT in 56cm and above is good. It is not good in smaller frames, older Treks like the 620 and 720 are much better. The Miyata 1000 has great geometry in the smaller frames. If you like the ride of 56cm and above LHT, then you should like the '88 Trek in smaller sizes better than the smaller LHT.

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Old 05-14-09, 05:51 AM   #11
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I'm not saying the 520 is not good for it, just saying the LHT is better.
As the owner of a LHT, I have to say it is stable, but rides like "meh". It's not what I would describe as fun to ride. Can't speak to the Trek, but I'd want to at least test ride each of them.
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Old 05-14-09, 05:56 AM   #12
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Was the 520 still made of 531 in 1988? When did they start making them out of True Temper tubing?
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Old 05-14-09, 07:35 AM   #13
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Was the 520 still made of 531 in 1988? When did they start making them out of True Temper tubing?
I had to go check this out myself... because I know that my '84 Trek 520 is made with 501 tubing. You had to go up to a 620 or 720 to get a 531 tubeset. I couldn't find the specs for the '85 model year 520, but I found that Trek used 531 tubes in the 520 for the 1986 model... so the 520 began to use 531 in either 1985 or 1986... and went through 1988.

The 1989 is listed as using TruTemper TR tubes... so it looks like the 520 was made with 531 for only 3 or 4 years.
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Old 05-14-09, 07:38 AM   #14
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Isn't this all sort of pointless speculation without knowing the prices? I'm guessing the 520 is substantially cheaper which, considering that they are both totally appropriate for the job at hand, would leave more money available for racks, panniers, supplies, etc. etc.
All else being equal, I would recommend the 520 just because it would be a little different out on the road. Seems like everybody has a LHT these days...
+1 Pointless without prices. Whichever one is the better deal (assuming they both fit) would be my target.

Old 531 Treks hold their value well, so if it is a bargain, I would be all over it.
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Old 05-14-09, 07:43 AM   #15
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I had to go check this out myself... because I know that my '84 Trek 520 is made with 501 tubing. You had to go up to a 620 or 720 to get a 531 tubeset. I couldn't find the specs for the '85 model year 520, but I found that Trek used 531 tubes in the 520 for the 1986 model... so the 520 began to use 531 in either 1985 or 1986... and went through 1988.

The 1989 is listed as using TruTemper TR tubes... so it looks like the 520 was made with 531 for only 3 or 4 years.
Thanks! That being the case, would we be right in thinking those years are the best ones for Trek 520's?
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Old 05-14-09, 07:22 PM   #16
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Thanks for all the input, folks. It's a 57cm and it is 531 in the main triangle (like my Supercourse, which I'm very fond of). The price has yet to be determined.
Dad's been watching but he's the quiet type. Here's what he has to say;
"I just looked at the forum. Pretty interesting. I probably won't do much
real touring with it. I like touring bikes mainly for the comfort on two
hour rides. The other thing is that for my rides I am on hills almost all
the time making shifting important. The 520 has index shifters but on the
down tube. The Surly has index shifters on the bar ends and lots of gears.

I probably could switch the 520 to bar end shifters. The 520 rode great,
but the shifting wasn't as precise as my mountain bike."

Thanks again folks!
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Old 05-15-09, 04:43 AM   #17
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Edit: Also note the 520 has 27" rims, a conversion to 700c is never ideal, sure it can be done but I still think it is not ideal
As long as the brakes reach, I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be ideal. In fact, it would give greater tire clearance. I would go the other way and say that conversion to 700c (as long as the brakes reach, which is rarely a problem) is very often ideal. The main reason not to do it is if you want to keep the bike original, or if you have some great old 27" rims, like the Phil Wood low flanges laced to dark anno wolbers I have on my '90 Schwinn Voyageur.

Picked those up on a complete bike (an '82 Le Tour with stamped drops that the owner had modified for full touring, with a brazed on derailleur hanger, aftermarket bb cable guide braze ons, and two extra sets of bottle cage bosses . The mods were done well, but still! ), nice sugino triple and a Phil Wood bb. $100.

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Old 05-15-09, 05:00 AM   #18
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The other thing is that for my rides I am on hills almost all
the time making shifting important. The 520 has index shifters but on the
down tube. The Surly has index shifters on the bar ends and lots of gears.

I probably could switch the 520 to bar end shifters. The 520 rode great,
but the shifting wasn't as precise as my mountain bike."
You can switch the 520 to bar ends pretty easily. Bar end sets typically go on ebay in the $40-60 range. If you're using friction shifting on an older drivetrain, it won't be as smooth or thoughtless as newer index systems, but I think it works well. An easy way to go indexed is to find an old pair of 7 speed suntour accushift indexing bar ends (good luck!), and a matching suntour accushift freewheel and compatible rear derailleur. Mine seem to work ok with a shimano 600 freewheel. I'm not sure if shimano ever made 7 speed indexing bar ends for freewheel spacing. Anyone know about that?

With a new rear wheel and rear derailleur, you'll be able to go up to 9-speed index no problem, with shimano bar ends.
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Old 05-15-09, 07:43 PM   #19
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Hm. I've got a 7 speed Accu-shift MTB in the basement that I've been thinking of parting out. No bar ends though.
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Old 05-15-09, 09:38 PM   #20
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As long as the brakes reach, I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be ideal. In fact, it would give greater tire clearance. I would go the other way and say that conversion to 700c (as long as the brakes reach, which is rarely a problem) is very often ideal.
27" to 700c conversions can be tricky when cantilever brakes are involved (if this 520 has them and not side pulls). On some older bikes it works fine with stocks, sometimes with changing out the cantis, and sometimes not at all with any cantis.

Shimano did make 7 speed indexing bar cons. You can also use 8 speed Shimano Bar end shifters as well since the spacing is very close to the same (.2mm difference in spacing between 7/8 speed) so it should work just fine. The other option would be mounting the down tube shifters to a set of these.
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Old 05-16-09, 12:45 AM   #21
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I love threads like this. You know what Benjamin and dad... either one would be fine.

The only significant advantage I truly see of the 520 is that he has ridden it and most likely the LHT would be bought unseen/not ridden.

With that in mind, if dad like's the 520 and ridden it, get it.
I love my LHT, I liken it to a Buick; a nice cushy and comfortable ride. I had a bit of anxiety pulling the trigger on it as I wasn't able to get a fit by standing over it or test riding it. That seems to be common amongst people looking to buy a LHT.

For dad's intended use, does which tubing make a difference? No, I do not believe it does. The LHT will last a bazillion years as will the 520, if they're taken care of.

You are not going to find either 27 or 700 tires or tubes at Kmart, Target, or Bob's General Store.

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Old 05-17-09, 08:58 AM   #22
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:

You are not going to find either 27 or 700 tires or tubes at Kmart, Target, or Bob's General Store.

You can, however find them at Walmart. Maybe not what you'd prefer, but in a pinch...

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Old 05-17-09, 09:08 AM   #23
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So, dad bought the 520 and he's pretty happy with it;
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...ayphotohosting
Thanks again folks. Can't wait to go visit dad so I can borrow it.
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