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Old 07-04-12, 10:06 AM   #1
Mark Stone
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Trade my Trek 520?

I have an old Trek 520 1985 model, which I rode to death in the 80s and 90s and then moved on to new bikes going into the 2000s. I still have it, and have thought about restoring it and starting to ride it again but just haven't had the time. I was in a LBS yesterday and was small-talking with the owner and we started talking about the bike. Suddenly he offered any Giant brand bicycle of $500 or less on the floor in his shop in a direct trade for my old 520! I told him I'd have to think about it - I went home and went on line and there's quite a lot of quality bikes from Giant that fall under the $500 figure. So what do I want to do? Restore the 520 Trek (which would have to include a sand and paint because of rust) or go for the new bike? I think if I restored the Trek it would be higher quality than the Giant(s), but it has sat for 14? 15? years and I may never actually do the restore . . . Decisions, Decisions! New bikes are always tasty!
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Old 07-04-12, 10:25 AM   #2
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Any need to have a second bike? Maybe a "winter bike"? One for a friend to ride with? If so, I'd get the newer bike, unless you have sentimental value in the Trek and want to restore it. Or, if you don't have a need, I'd trade the Trek for other equipment. A nice headlight, a second set of wheels, whatever.
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Old 07-04-12, 11:12 AM   #3
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$500 would go a long way to restoring the old 520. Actually, you'd probably have some left over...
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Old 07-04-12, 11:45 AM   #4
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If you could add $50 and get a Giant Escape City ... what the heck? Just gets down to how sentimental you are.
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Old 07-04-12, 12:12 PM   #5
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If you could add $50 and get a Giant Escape City ... what the heck? Just gets down to how sentimental you are.
Actually the Escape has been the model I've been looking at. But I like gerv's comment. The 520 is a great bike and nothing from Giant under $500 will match it for quality, so the smarter thing would be to restore. But then again - a new bike? How can a person resist a new bike? I'll let my wife decide for me . . .
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Old 07-04-12, 09:43 PM   #6
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I'm going for it! I've decided to trade for the Giant Escape 2 which looks very bare-bones (the way I like bikes). Aluminum frame, 3 by 8 train, steel straight fork, 700c, flat bars. I rode it around a little bit in the shop's parking lot. Retail is $420. They are trying to talk me into a more expensive version, but all the extra carp that is bolted on the the higher zoot models I already have (racks, bags, fenders, lights etc. My garage is full of extra bolt-ons) Nothing like a new bike!
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Old 07-04-12, 10:43 PM   #7
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If it's worth $500 to them for a trade, then it certainly worth much more if they should re-sell it.

I say restore it.
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Old 07-04-12, 10:53 PM   #8
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If it's worth $500 to them for a trade, then it certainly worth much more if they should re-sell it.

I say restore it.
I would bet that someone at the shop wants or knows someone who wants a vintage 520 which is a really nice bicycle no matter how old it is and mid eighties bikes are really gorgeous when it comes to their build quality... replacing that would cost a lot more than the current tig welded 520 frame and fork runs at.

The Giant that is selling for $420.00 probably has a cost of $300.00 - 350.00 to the shop depending on their markup which is not much on new bicycles... the money to be made in the bike business is found in parts and service.
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Old 07-04-12, 11:59 PM   #9
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If it's worth $500 to them for a trade, then it certainly worth much more if they should re-sell it.

I say restore it.
The LBS owner wants the 520 for himself. It will only cost him about $300, maybe $350 as Sixty Fiver said. Good deal for the LBS owner. OK deal for OP.
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Old 07-05-12, 01:01 AM   #10
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The main thing about steel, is that you can sandblast it and paint it over and over again. Each time is quite capable of looking better than the last time. You can upgrade to better components after each paint job. The bike will both look and feel like a new bike. You could go on and on like that for decades.

You simply can't do that with aluminum....

In ten years or less, that Escape will be on its way out, while the Trek 520, will just be getting its second breath!

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Old 07-05-12, 01:29 AM   #11
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I'd involke the formula n+1. You won't get the same quality of that 520 in a bike today without shelling out the big bucks. Your 520 frame is paid for so why not do the green thing and reinvest in it as long as it still fits?
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Old 07-05-12, 02:19 AM   #12
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The main thing about steel, is that you can sandblast it and paint it over and over again. Each time is quite capable of looking better than the last time. You can upgrade to better components after each paint job. The bike will both look and feel like a new bike. You could go on and on like that for decades.

You simply can't do that with aluminum....

In ten years or less, that Escape will be on its way out, while the Trek 520, will just be getting its second breath!
You could do that with aluminium but you'd be investing in a Giant Escape and not a Trek 520 that is already a classic and will retain far more value as a collectible bicycle and may very well appreciate in value... in '85 the 520 was really a Sport Tourer with shorter stays than the current 520 and was equipped with side pull brakes instead of cantis as the current Trek 520 has. This type of bicycle has great appeal as it is still tour worthy but is a little quicker and more responsive which suits rides where it is just you and the bicycle.

These were still partially hand built machines as Trek started to add robotic manufacturing processes to meet demand for their bicycles... getting a modern bike of this quality with a lugged frame is the realm of custom builders and we build frames like this... for $1600.00.
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Old 07-05-12, 04:37 AM   #13
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I would bet that someone at the shop wants or knows someone who wants a vintage 520 which is a really nice bicycle no matter how old it is and mid eighties bikes are really gorgeous when it comes to their build quality... replacing that would cost a lot more than the current tig welded 520 frame and fork runs at.

The Giant that is selling for $420.00 probably has a cost of $300.00 - 350.00 to the shop depending on their markup which is not much on new bicycles... the money to be made in the bike business is found in parts and service.
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You could do that with aluminium but you'd be investing in a Giant Escape and not a Trek 520 that is already a classic and will retain far more value as a collectible bicycle and may very well appreciate in value... in '85 the 520 was really a Sport Tourer with shorter stays than the current 520 and was equipped with side pull brakes instead of cantis as the current Trek 520 has. This type of bicycle has great appeal as it is still tour worthy but is a little quicker and more responsive which suits rides where it is just you and the bicycle.

These were still partially hand built machines as Trek started to add robotic manufacturing processes to meet demand for their bicycles... getting a modern bike of this quality with a lugged frame is the realm of custom builders and we build frames like this... for $1600.00.
WOW!!!

Now practically all of THAT was truly enlightening and an absolute pleasure to read, Sixty!

PS.

....However, I still do contend that steel framed bicycles will most likely outlast aluminum ones by decades!

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Old 07-05-12, 05:05 AM   #14
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Has the LBS owner seen the 520 in person yet? Hopefully not, but I suspect the deal may adjust a little once the 520 is seen in person nased upon the op's description of it.

Time will tell.

As to what to do, the 520 is sitting there needing a bunch of work and a fair amount of dollars, the new bike will be ready to ride, so for functionally zero cost the op will go from a marginally rideable bike to one ready to go. Kind of depends on what the op really wants or needs.
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Old 07-05-12, 05:06 AM   #15
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personally, anyone can walk into a bike store and by an Escape 2.

seems like an easy decision to me.
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Old 07-05-12, 06:42 AM   #16
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I'm going for it! I've decided to trade for the Giant Escape 2 which looks very bare-bones (the way I like bikes). Aluminum frame, 3 by 8 train, steel straight fork, 700c, flat bars. I rode it around a little bit in the shop's parking lot.
Around the parking lot? A little bit?

Take a longer test ride, and give serious thought to how you would use the bike. It's not uncommon for folks who migrate from multi-position (drop) bars to straight bars to feel some remorse the first time they take a longer ride, face a headwind, etc. Simple, straight-bar bikes are like racing motorcycles -- great fun for the intended use, but with significant limitations.If the Giant suits you better, this might be a good deal. You might do better financially selling the Trek on CL, but maybe you don't want to deal with that hassle.
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Old 07-05-12, 07:31 AM   #17
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I have an old Trek 520 1985 model, which I rode to death in the 80s and 90s and then moved on to new bikes going into the 2000s. I still have it, and have thought about restoring it and starting to ride it again but just haven't had the time. I was in a LBS yesterday and was small-talking with the owner and we started talking about the bike. Suddenly he offered any Giant brand bicycle of $500 or less on the floor in his shop in a direct trade for my old 520! I told him I'd have to think about it - I went home and went on line and there's quite a lot of quality bikes from Giant that fall under the $500 figure. So what do I want to do? Restore the 520 Trek (which would have to include a sand and paint because of rust) or go for the new bike? I think if I restored the Trek it would be higher quality than the Giant(s), but it has sat for 14? 15? years and I may never actually do the restore . . . Decisions, Decisions! New bikes are always tasty!
I know you've already decide to proceed with the trade, but here's my two cents. The Bike shop owner is giving you a fantastic deal because it sounds like he wants to restore this for himself & it also sounds like this bike would not be ridden by you unless you poured some money into it. I say just do it since it would not be worth your effort unless you were willing to invest money and time in the bike which you haven't done for a long time. Let it go to someone who will and get something for it.
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Old 07-05-12, 12:29 PM   #18
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I'm with the "keep the 520" crowd. We didn't see a photo of the rust, which may be only cosmetic. The paint on the Treks in the mid-1980s was very nice. Yours, with a complete stripdown and oxalic acid bath, might only require some touch up.

Save the 520 for a winter project, and refurb it. It'll ride nicer than anything that Giant can deliver at $500 retail. You'll only have to invest in consumables, grease, and maybe a component or two. Way, way less than the value the LBS is offering, and you'll result with a better bike.

Rethink your purpose for the second ride, as others have suggested.
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Old 07-05-12, 01:29 PM   #19
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Original owner ? Trek frames do have the lifetime warrantee, going for them .
[ok its a mfg flaw coverage, not covering wear&tear.]
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Old 07-05-12, 03:09 PM   #20
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Does your Trek still have the original Helicomatic wheels?

If it does, I'd say it would be worth a trade. The 1985 Trek has now obsolete hubs that would probably need a new wheelset with restoration. Plus, the frame is Reynolds 501 (as opposed to 531 in other models, years).
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Old 07-05-12, 03:14 PM   #21
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Does your Trek still have the original Helicomatic wheels?

If it does, I'd say it would be worth a trade. The 1985 Trek has now obsolete hubs that would probably need a new wheelset with restoration. Plus, the frame is Reynolds 501 (as opposed to 531 in other models, years).
I'm with Scheherezade on this; if this is one of the lower end 520s (in the years when Trek made a 600 and a 700 series), it was a nice bike but not as special as the 520 which eventually became Trek's stock touring bike. The OP rode the bike to "death" (his words) in the 80s and 90s and it can be expensive to replace a lot of parts. I've seen more than a few people pay (or ask) big money for an 80s 520 thinking it was one of Trek's top of the line touring bikes when it wasn't.
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Old 07-05-12, 09:27 PM   #22
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I'm with Scheherezade on this; if this is one of the lower end 520s (in the years when Trek made a 600 and a 700 series), it was a nice bike but not as special as the 520 which eventually became Trek's stock touring bike. The OP rode the bike to "death" (his words) in the 80s and 90s and it can be expensive to replace a lot of parts. I've seen more than a few people pay (or ask) big money for an 80s 520 thinking it was one of Trek's top of the line touring bikes when it wasn't.
In '85 when I bought it new it certainly wasn't Trek's top of the line model. They had the 720, the 620 and I think I remember a 420 also. Mine is 501 Reynolds. I lost the Helicomatic setup (which was a "new" way for the rear cog to attach) with its first wheel change at about 2000 miles.

Restoring this bike to me would be just too much time and trouble. Although I do most of my own wrenching on my bikes, I don't think I'm that talented at it and besides my two jobs would get in the way lol . . .

Most of my attachment to it is sentimental, my estimate is 30 or 40 thousand miles on it from 1985 thru the late 90s. There's just a lot of memories. But even though there's lots of memories, and I'm a sentimental old feller, it is after all just a bicycle. If I keep it it is likely to never get fixed up. So I'm pretty sure I'll do the trade . . .
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Old 07-05-12, 09:36 PM   #23
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Around the parking lot? A little bit?

Take a longer test ride, and give serious thought to how you would use the bike. It's not uncommon for folks who migrate from multi-position (drop) bars to straight bars to feel some remorse the first time they take a longer ride, face a headwind, etc. Simple, straight-bar bikes are like racing motorcycles -- great fun for the intended use, but with significant limitations.If the Giant suits you better, this might be a good deal. You might do better financially selling the Trek on CL, but maybe you don't want to deal with that hassle.
I've ridden using straight handlebars for over a decade now. I test rode the machine long enough to find out what I needed to find out.
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Old 07-05-12, 10:20 PM   #24
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Possibly too late to chime in, but I say forget the Escape and go with a Via 2 instead.
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Old 07-05-12, 10:33 PM   #25
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Keep the Trek 520 or get a Via1 or 2, instead!
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