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  1. #1
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    I just got a free Trek 520, but it needs some work

    So my bike was stolen outside a friends house a couple weeks ago here in Philly. I was very bummed and not looking forward to building a bike out of spare parts. So I see my friend again a couple days ago and he says that he has a bike sitting in his basement that I can have. Apparently it was left there by someone who moved out months ago. I take the subway to South Philly last night and go to his basement and was pleased to discover that it is a 1988 Trek 520! Way better than I was expecting.

    It is in decent condition with all original parts except for the back wheel. The back wheel has seized bearings and is very cheap. Also it has a 5 speed freewheel and this bike came with a 6-speed. I'm really broke right now so I am trying to get this bike running for as little money as possible. I have a 7 speed freewheel in my parts bin. Does anybody know if I can use this on my bike? It has index shifting shimano deore derailleurs. The front derailleur says "8-speed compatible" any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.





  2. #2
    Senior Member RobbieTunes's Avatar
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    I'd have to see it better.
    That is one wild crankset, and you could probably sell it for a good chunk. Basically, a road double with a serious granny gear.
    The 520 is a very versatile bike. Yes, yours needs work, and some funds to enable that.
    But when done, you could have anything from a very good commuter, to a good cyclocross bike, or a good road bike.
    It's really up to you.

    It'll run about whatever rear wheel you want on there. I doubt the 7-sp freewheel will fit on that rear, but you never know.
    The cheap way out is to run the shifters in friction and put a tire on the back. Everything else will work fine.

    1-Get it clean.
    2-Figure out what it HAS to have to be ridden. That's Plan A.
    3-Get what it needs for Plan A. Adjust it, check for safety issues, and lube it.
    Now, it's a rider.
    4-Figure out what you really want to do with it. That's Plan B.
    5-Accumulate the items for Plan B. Upgrade at will.
    Robbie ♪♫♪...☻
    Perhaps you didn't really hear what you thought I said...

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  3. #3
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Free is usually good, and in your case very good.

    Aaron
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  4. #4
    26 tpi nut. sailorbenjamin's Avatar
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    My Trek (an '83 612) came with a 6 speed. I put a 7 on it without any problem. It doesn't take long to try, you'l have to take the old freewheel off to figure out those bearings anyway.
    On the other hand, my Trek has similar gear ratios in the front (not biopace but 2 really closely spaced ratios and a granny). Mines a 50/45/28. It finally dawned on me that 50/45 is perfect for a wide range half step set up. Perhaps I wrecked the half step thing by going to the 7 speed? Turns out, no. Trek didn't use a half step compatible freewheel. I got out my pocket calculator and figured that a 5 speed, 14/17/21/26/32 is almost perfectly spaced to go with the 45/50. A 6 speed with an 11 small or a 40 big would keep with the ratios, too but I don't think they made those.
    Now, why did Trek go to the trouble of using the close ratio chainrings and then revert to random ratios in the back?
    I have spoken.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Try this: loosen the left locknut slightly and give the cone 1/4 turn to loosen it, see if that frees up the back wheel. What sometimes happens is that when someone removes/installs the wheel, the cone gets turned slightly and it binds up. If that doesn't help, take off the freewheel, get some fresh bearings and refurbish the hub. You can try the 7 speed you have, if it doesn't work then just put the existing one back on, until you can get another one. The only potential problem is that it may be too wide for the existing axle. Bike looks to be in excellent condition though, give it a good cleaning, maybe some fresh rubber and you should be fine once you get the hub figured out.

  6. #6
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    That rear wheel is a tosser once you get a few bucks. In the meantime, do as described above, find a cheap six speed freewheel.

    Another good option is to clean it up really well, put a couple of dollars into it, and sell it. Instant bike fund (as long as your friend doesn't mind). Then look for the next deal. A 1988 Trek 520 will have pretty good value.

  7. #7
    Bianchi Goddess Bianchigirll's Avatar
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    great score! nothing like a free touring bike. I agree with the others. if you can get that rear wheel spinning just use it for a few weeks. those shofters should have both a index and friction setting. so run them friction until you get a new 6sp rear wheel.

    OH Welcome to the forums Garvin. you'll find all us very helpful and good natured. we hope to see this clean and shinny and you pedaling around town soon.

    PS there is a guy in Philly who has knack for finding stuff (like really nice bikes). when Aron checks in maybe he can help you find a used wheel if you really need one to get going.
    Bianchis '87 Sport SX, '90 Proto (2), '91 Boarala 'cross, '93 Project 3, '88 Trofeo, '86 Volpe, '89 Axis, '79 Mixte SOLD, '99 Mega Pro XL Ti, '97 Ti Megatube, , '90 something Vento 603,

    Others but still loved,; '80 RIGI, '80 Batavus Professional, '87 Cornelo, '86 Bertoni (sold), '09 Motobecane SS, '98 Hetchins M.O., '09 K2 Mainframe, '89 Trek 2000, '?? Jane Doe (still on the drawing board), '90ish Haro Escape

  8. #8
    Senior Member cycleheimer's Avatar
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    If it the correct frame size, best to get it working correctly again. That is a decent bike...not a "beater". Good for touring and commuting. If you need parts inexpensively try Niagara Cycle Works or Nashbar (their specials are pretty good...the code "nashluv" will save you 25% through 8/15).
    Bike-A-Holic

  9. #9
    dit
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    Those 520's are real nice riders. If it is the correct size do not sell it. It will be difficult to replace. Get it rideable any cheap way you can and fix it properly when you have the bucks to do so.Be sure to pull the seat post and stem and put a good coating of grease or antiseize where they fit in the frame and reinstall and adjust. In good working order that bike is worth at least $400 so treat it with proper care.

  10. #10
    Senior Member ricohman's Avatar
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    That is the original crankset and RD.
    If your bike has a 531 sticker on the downtube near the BB it's an 88'. If it doesn't then it is an 89'
    I think its an 89' because it has an 89' seatpost and stem. If it is an 89' it had a 7 speed 105. The 88's had a six speed.
    The original Matrix rims are hard to come by. I would build up or buy a nice set of vintage wheels and go riding.

  11. #11
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    Thanks for the info and advice everyone. The rear wheel is definitely trashed, it does spin but i can feel the bearing grinding around. Also the freewheel is rusted and doesn't spin. I tried installing a newer 700c wheel that I have on it but I need a slightly bigger spacing on the frame. The wheel is an alexrims R500 with a 7 speed cassette, so it would be nice if it fit because that's how many speeds this bike is supposed to have (Ricohman: you are right about it being an '89). I'll just have to track down a nice 27" wheel. I wouldn't consider respacing the frame; that would be sacrilege. The frame I wanted to build up before I got the Trek was a beautiful Lotus Excelle frame that I found out was ruined by someone trying to make it in to a single speed. They ruined the stays trying to respace it.

    Dit: Yes it is the right size and I plan on keeping it and I will treat it very well. AND I'm going to get a bomb-proof lock for it for the times where I have no choice but to park outside.

    cyclehiemer: Thanks for the discount code. this bike might inspire me to try touring. only problem is that there is a decapitated screw stuck in one of the rack mounts on the seat stay.

    Bianchigirl: Thanks for the warm welcome, I will post pictures when its clean and ready to go.

  12. #12
    Collector of Useless Info
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    I wouldn't worry about respacing the frame. Bikes are made to be ridden, and the 520 is no exception. It's not rare enough that it should be in a museum, and respacing a frame is not going to kill it; rather it will allow modern cassette-hub touring wheels to be installed, which are a marked improvement over freewheel hubs.

  13. #13
    Senior Member cycleheimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garvin View Post
    only problem is that there is a decapitated screw stuck in one of the rack mounts on the seat stay.
    Probably not that big of a problem. With the correct type of drill bit you can "surgically" drill out that mount for the rear rack. Be careful (firm and steady with a variable speed drill...and the correct type and size drill bit), and make sure the drill bit doesn't "jump" around and chew up the stay. You can then try threading in a new bolt, or retapping it if you you are so inclined. You can always revert back to clamps for the rack if you want to put off the drilling for awhile.
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