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  1. #1
    Retro. Grouchy.
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    YAWSIBT -- Yet Another Which Should I Buy Thread!

    After searching for several weeks and missing out on a couple of bikes, I've been offered two models of Trek tourers.
    One is the Trek 720, not made anymore, vintage 1985. The other is a Trek 520, vintage 1995.

    The prices are similar, and of course the 520 has the more modern components, more gearing choices, etc.
    But the 720 is calling to me, with its lugged frame and certain cachet. Neither one of these bikes has more than 100 miles on it.
    Both are in almost new condition.

    So, which should I buy? What are the special considerations I should keep in mind re: owning a 20 year old bike?
    What would you pay for a 1995 520?

    Thanks - sorry for the YAWSIBT.
    Last edited by Infodiva; 06-21-05 at 04:29 PM.

  2. #2
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    Buy both, ride both for a while, and then sell one or the other. :-)
    Visit my blog! The Leadership Almanac
    2012 Masi Evoluzione
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    Proud member of the original Club Tombay

  3. #3
    Forum Admin lotek's Avatar
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    Buy the 720. No question about it.
    (I have an 85 670, nothing special about 20 yo bike other
    than the fact they ride like the multi thousand custom steel bikes
    currently offered by the likes of Serotta, IF, etc.)
    You can get the brochure from www.vintage-trek.com

    Marty
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  4. #4
    Retro. Grouchy.
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    Gary, I like the way you think!

    Marty - you've got a good point, it's a wonderful steel bike that would cost much more if made today.

    Making more room in the bike stable...

  5. #5
    Calamari to go cc_rider's Avatar
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    I used to have a 720. Good ride.
    After it was stolen, I bought a 750. Better ride.
    Never tried the 520.

    Only 100 miles???
    That's less than a good week.
    By all means, buy both.

  6. #6
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Hi,
    can you afford both? Like dating twins, two is better
    If you can't, the choice is tough. The 520 is a decade newer, and practical.
    You can throw some junk on it and ride across the country.
    The old Trek road bikes were nice (haven't ridden one in years).
    As I remember, it's a sporty bike for fast riding.

    I'd go for the 520, but I commute and tour. If you don't want
    to do that sort of thing.... then the old Trek could be your new ride.
    (Get both)

    As far as the cost goes, that depends a lot on the condition.
    I'd say about half what it was new, if it's in really sweet shape. So $200-400
    depending on it's condition, but $200-300 at the most IMHO.

  7. #7
    Forum Admin lotek's Avatar
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    The 520 and 720 were both full tourers. I think the early 520s
    were Reynolds 501 and the 720 was full 531 frame.
    I can't get the brochure to open on Vintage-Trek so I can't
    double check.
    The 720 was top of the line back in 85 (of the touring bikes).
    the 700 series was always Trek's upper range bikes.
    (I own 2 old treks so I'm kind of biased!)
    Marty
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  8. #8
    Retro. Grouchy.
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    Thanks for the discussion! I'm definitely getting the 720, and y'all confirmed my decision. I think it's going to be an excellent tourer, even if I never fully load it down. It'll also make a nice commuter.

    The model number actually places its manufacture date as August 1984. I was able to open the brochure on the Vintage Trek site, and it appears that all of their tourers that year were made from Reynolds 531. Touring models available in 1984 were the 420, 420L, 520, and 720. I wish that Trek hadn't reused the 720 model number - it makes for some confusion in discussions.

    I'm going to keep an eye out for a cheaper 520, probably. I think the seller wants a bit too much for it, and he decided to list it on eBay. I'll see what it goes for; maybe I'll jump in and get it after all!
    Last edited by Infodiva; 06-21-05 at 09:49 PM.

  9. #9
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    While some may disagree I'd wait on the 520 to find an older
    lugged model. The 1995 520 is a bit "to" new for my taste as
    they give up some ride quality compared to the older 520's.

  10. #10
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    To get a 2005 "loaded tourer" of the same quality as the 720, you would need to go to a custom maker, and would be spending $2,000 and up. A "like new" 720 is a tremendous find...a great bike that can last your lifetime.

  11. #11
    Retro. Grouchy.
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    Woohoo, I'm definitely excited. Going to pick up the bike on Saturday, about 9 hours away. I was going to have the guy ship it, but I think this calls for a road trip (by truck, alas).

    In the meantime, Tightwad (love the handle) has good advice re: just waiting on the 520. An older lugged model would be sweet. Hmm, I feel a new collecting hobby coming on...

    For the 720, one thing I know I'm going to want to do is update the drivetrain a bit (add some gearing options, mainly). I have no plans to swap out the barcons, though. How easy is it to go from 5 or 6 gears in the back to 7 or 8? I'm assuming I'll need to spread the rear dropouts to accommodate, etc.
    Last edited by Infodiva; 06-22-05 at 08:39 AM.

  12. #12
    Forum Admin lotek's Avatar
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    you can go with a narrow 7 or 8 speed freewheel with spreading
    the dropouts with no problem. The only problem you may have is
    the heliocomatic hub which came standard with the bike (I'm assuming
    it still has original components). What I would do is look for a good
    wheelset on ebay (or elsewhere), The heliocomatic, while a good hub
    and a great design (in theory), is the limiting factor as I don't recall them
    in anything other than 6 speed. The rest of the drivetrain is perfect
    touring setup. Its a great find.
    The newer 520 isn't in the same league as the old lugged 520.
    I'm curious as to your statement about the 720 and reusing the model
    designation, care to elaborate?
    Marty
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  13. #13
    Retro. Grouchy.
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    Interestingly, the owner replaced the Helicomatic fairly early on, since it was causing unspecified issues. The "new" hub is a Suzue sealed hub, apparently a really good one. Would this change things?

    Re: the 720 designation; Trek stopped making the 720 tourer in 1986, and the number (I'm not sure when) went to a new hybrid model, maybe in the early 90s? When I was searching for info about the bike, I found a LOT of discussions about the hybrid, along with discussions about the tourer. Seemed that often someone posting about the tourer would get replies regarding the hybrid. Anyway, I wonder why Trek decided to recycle the number for a completely different kind of bike (and a low-end one, at that).

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Infodiva
    ...For the 720, one thing I know I'm going to want to do is update the drivetrain a bit (add some gearing options, mainly). I have no plans to swap out the barcons, though. How easy is it to go from 5 or 6 gears in the back to 7 or 8? I'm assuming I'll need to spread the rear dropouts to accommodate, etc.
    You may be quite happy with the gearing already on the bike. In that era, gears were selected for REAL humans, not for Lance and five other guys. So, of the 18 gear choices on the 720, at least twelve will likely be very usable.

    In contrast, I have seen some 2005 bikes with "20 speeds" that have maybe eight that are in the range the average person uses and that are not exact duplicates of each other. In 2005, bike gearing is about marketing, not about providing real riders with real gearing options.

  15. #15
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alanbikehouston
    You may be quite happy with the gearing already on the bike. In that era, gears were selected for REAL humans, not for Lance and five other guys. So, of the 18 gear choices on the 720, at least twelve will likely be very usable.

    In contrast, I have seen some 2005 bikes with "20 speeds" that have maybe eight that are in the range the average person uses and that are not exact duplicates of each other. In 2005, bike gearing is about marketing, not about providing real riders with real gearing options.
    PLEASE!! Make this post a sticky for all the newbys to read. No truer words were ever spoken so well.

  16. #16
    Retro. Grouchy.
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    Living in a mostly flat area, I never do use my highest or lowest gear. I guess I'd consider changing the range for touring, if need be, but not right away. It won't be going up steep hills in the near future anyway.

    But what will I do with all the money that's been piling up in the corners of my house??!!

    Thanks for the enlightening discussion!
    Last edited by Infodiva; 06-22-05 at 03:24 PM.

  17. #17
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    Is this the maroon 720 or the grey one? The color change does mean something--the maroon frames were built with a better lug set; there were cracking problems at the top of the seatstays with the oldest Treks. The 1985 (maroon) 720 is maybe not as good for extremely heavily loaded riding as the 520 but the 720 is better for almost any non-competitive road use than 90% of the bikes currently offered by dealers.

  18. #18
    Retro. Grouchy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feldman
    Is this the maroon 720 or the grey one? The color change does mean something--the maroon frames were built with a better lug set; there were cracking problems at the top of the seatstays with the oldest Treks. The 1985 (maroon) 720 is maybe not as good for extremely heavily loaded riding as the 520 but the 720 is better for almost any non-competitive road use than 90% of the bikes currently offered by dealers.
    Thanks for the info re: the frame. I'm looking for another 720 or a 520, and this will help me know which one to look out for.

    The one I bought this weekend is the maroon/burgundy frameset. According to the Trek brochures, the 720 was the top-of-the-line touring bike Trek sold in 1985 (83 and 84, too, IIRC). Stock were the 'heavy touring' front low-rider racks and the rear rack. It's *meant* for heavy, fully loaded touring, as the brochure explains. I think the 520 would be close to that, and the only difference might have been the stock saddle (Brooks on the 720) and the inclusion of the front racks.

    We did get the bike on Saturday, and it's in amazing shape. All the racks etc. were included, but not the Brooks saddle. We took it to a local bike shop to be looked over, tuned up, etc. Now, to get the Brooks and ride the heck out of this puppy!

  19. #19
    Banned.
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    Most definitely the 720 is superior to the 520. The frame is better using Reynolds 531 vs the lower grade 501 and the 531 was the touring frame which made it even stronger then normal 531...though there is a slight weight penalty for this strength. Set all the above aside you have the beauty of a handmade lugged frame vs a Chinese robot welded frame.

    I also agree with the gear situation that Alanbikehouston said, but the gearing on the 520 is also very good because they used mtb gears.

    But also important is that the older friction stuff is far more reliable then the modern ERGO and STI which can be important when your out in no-mans land!

  20. #20
    Retro. Grouchy.
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    The 1985 brochure states that the 520 is also made of 531 tubing - I think all of the touring frames that year were.

  21. #21
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    I was thinking of the NEW 520 touring bike Trek has had out for about 5 years or so. If the 520 your talking about was made in 1985, your right, it would have been made of 531. If you can find out which 531 tubing it is and I can tell you the difference between the two. More then likely the 720 probably has butted main tubes as well as forks and stays, whereas the 520 is probably just the main tubes. But there is different 531 tubesets with various degrees of wall thickness. I do know that the old 520 had a sport frame geometry (which means the wheel base is a bit longer then a racing bike but shorter then a touring bike) vs the 720 being a touring frame. It's likely the 520 has Ishiwata 022 tubing to hold the price down, whereas the 720 is Reynolds 531st (Special Tourist) since that was Treks top of the line touring bike. Again the 720 is still the better bike.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Mhendricks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Infodiva
    The 1985 brochure states that the 520 is also made of 531 tubing - I think all of the touring frames that year were.

    I have a 1986 520 that's 531 frame with Tange forks. Rides like a jewel but I'm still looking for my 620 or 720. Nice catch.

    "Steel is Real"

  23. #23
    Retro. Grouchy.
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    Ah, I'll keep an eye out for the tubing then on the 520. I'm looking also for a 720 in my size (the one I just bought goes to the husband), or even a 620. So if you run across a 19" frame, and can't use it yourself, let me know!

    Thanks for all the great info - it's been a real education!

  24. #24
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    re:720

    Hi,I rode a 720 for 10+ years commuting in colorado. I finally wrecked it descending the Cache La Poudre Canyon in Northern Colorado...Life hasn't been the same since.Now that you presumably have one, Do you have any leads for me to get my old one replaced...thanks.Chris

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnree
    Hi,I rode a 720 for 10+ years commuting in colorado. I finally wrecked it descending the Cache La Poudre Canyon in Northern Colorado...Life hasn't been the same since.Now that you presumably have one, Do you have any leads for me to get my old one replaced...thanks.Chris
    One a 720 on E-Bay right now, it's a 24 inch not sure if your size; but it's an 81, and appears to be in good shape but I didn't read the details.

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