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Old 09-24-06, 07:15 PM   #1
abenaud
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If you could change a Trek 520...

After a bit of research, I (we) have (most likely) decided to purchase 2 Trek 520's. Problem is, in our area, there are no shops that stock them, or any touring bikes for that matter. But after talking with a LBS, we have recieved a good quote to purchase 2 of them. My question is what swap out/upgrades would you make on the 520? They list a 11-32 cassette and 52/42/30 crank in the 2007 model, not sure what the 2006 model had, but it seems to be a big factor in previous posts. What else would you change? Just looking for opinions, and there seems to be alot of them here! Thanks. Anyone out there have a Rocky Mountain Sherpa to weigh in on?
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Old 09-24-06, 10:03 PM   #2
valygrl
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On my 520, I changed to a mountain crank, that's about the only thing that's really important to do at the time the bike shop builds it. It's fine with the stock cassette. Ditch the stock rack, it's too flimsy. I replaced the saddle and the stem - the shop I worked with let me try a couple of stems before settling on the right length. Add fenders and racks.

That's it!

I love my 520... wish I was out riding it right now!
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Old 09-24-06, 10:57 PM   #3
jcm
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This is my '98 that I bought for $550. It came fully loaded with racks, fenders, a B17 saddle and classic touring style drop bars with Cane Creek levers. The condition was mint. It didn't even look like it had been in the rain.

I changed to North Road bars and a B67 saddle due to physical issues. It now also has clipless peds. The rear rack is the Trek Interchange and I don't see any weaknesses at all. I'm sure there are better out there, though. The front racks are now sometimes on my Trek 830, an old mtb outfitted for touring, camping trips or general use on hard surfaces. I don't think I'll be changing the gearing unless I load it up heavy and go long. Using it as a general purpose bike, I like it fast - and it is.

It's a very good bike and rides like a limo.

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Old 09-25-06, 07:11 AM   #4
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Except for the color, the 2005, 2006, and 2007 model Trek 520's have identical specs. I just picked up a closeout 2005 model myself at a good price.

Hard to say what components to swap without knowing what you'll be using the bike for, so I'll answer more generally. If you plan on doing loaded touring, you may want to bump up the cassette to an 11-34 and *maybe* also swap out the front chainring to give you lower gearing. This is probably only necessary if you plan on going up long, steep climbs with a fully-loaded bike. Otherwise, the stock gearing gives a low gear of about 27 or 28 gear-inches, which should get you up most inclines (if you're not too weighted down).

My LBS swapped out the stem for something longer to give me a better fit. Your shop ought to do this as well as they tweak the bikes for proper fit.

Comments vary on the standard Trek rear rack. Mine appears to be very sturdy, but the reports are that it doesn't hold up well over time, even if it's not fully loaded (I guess time will tell with mine). Anyways, if you want a strong rack for touring (or peace of mind), I'd suggest looking at (in no particular order) Old Man Mountain, Bruce Gordon, Tubus, or Axiom racks, as these seem to have the best reputation.

Next, you might not like the standard pedals, especially if you don't ride clipless (which I don't). The non-SPD side is a flexible (flimsy?) plastic platform; I put a spare set of cages on that I had lying around so that I have a stiffer platform (I might add toe straps but haven't decided yet). I can't comment on how well the SPD side of the standard pedal works.

Finally, you'll want to change the stock brake pads. I am a firm believer in the Kool-Stop Salmon pads for all-weather braking, but there are other manufacturers that make all-weather brake pads as well. If you're touring, you can't always pick the weather you'll be riding in, so all-weather pads are a must.
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Old 09-25-06, 11:16 PM   #5
Bill Abbey
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I too have a new 520. i paid about 1100 for it, basically stock with a few add ons, and I have changed a few things. I had front racks, fenders and a computer with a cadence counter. I had the longer front stem (as was suggested) because I am getting a little long in the tooth and it feels better over the long haul. I have had a larger cluster put on the cassette. i would have liked to have a smaller chainring but it was explained to me that when they tried it, the chain would frequently get caught between the small and middle rings. Too wide of a drop, too much seperation. The chains are thinner/ narrower with more rear gears. I frequently run a BOB on any rides over two weeks or so, so the rack (while important) is not critical to me. I agree with the Kool stop brake pads. My pads were history after my last little tour . All we did was go around the Olympic penninsula and down the Oregon coast. Sheeesh! Plus, it appeared as if the cable stretch was prematurly caused by my having to really reef on significant and wet downhills. Get the good brake pads. While I thought about changing out the standard for a mountain crank, I've toured with mountain cranks before. Great if you are climbing a lot or are not anticipating getting your rig down the road with momentum for longer periods of time. But it can be disappointing to run out of pedal when you are in "that zone", or be doing rollers and not have the positive feel of speed available when you are tracking perfectly and getting set up to work the gears up the next climb. Anyway, the standard front gearing is OK by me for our hills here in the Pacific NW. I have the original tires on it and no flats. My bike shop said that they sell it with the kevlars as standard equipment because so many people here commute into and through Seattle, and their roads are in poor repair. I had the brake hoods moved up because I spend so much time in that hand position and it feels comfortable with them "up". I had cork and gel tape- not squishy- just a bit padded. seat is fine, i could probably sit on a concrete lock by now. I had a third cage put on to handle stove fuel, and I usually have a camelback anyway. I ride with Shimano sandals and Sealskin socks when the raingear comes out so the clips are just fine. Anyway, i've only had it a couple of months and it works for me.
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Old 09-26-06, 02:51 AM   #6
hoogie
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i bought my trek 520 in august 1998, and think i have it finally sorted so it is really comfy and suits my style of riding ...

my trek 520 webpage


upgrades:
105SC crankset replaced with LX giving much lower gearing
drop handlebars replaced with flat handlebars
barend shifters replaced with LX mtb style
stock tyres replaced with stronger touring tyres
stock rear rack replaced with touring style rack

march 2006 ...
swapped conti top touring 2000 700Cx32 tyres for schwalbe marathon 700Cx38 tyres
swapped canti brakes for v-brakes
swapped rapid fire plus shifter/brake set for lx v-brake levers and bar con levers on paul components thumbies.
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Old 09-26-06, 08:38 PM   #7
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thanks for all the input...I should have mentioned that we do plan to do an extensive tour next spring(desination unknown for now), and also use them as our road bikes as we have both been riding mountain bikes exclusively for the last 15 years. Thanks again.
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Old 09-27-06, 08:05 PM   #8
Michel Gagnon
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Since you plan an extensive tour, I would definitely aim towards a mountain crankset with 44-34-22 rings. Although the 11-32 cassette is good and totally suitable, you may prefer to fine-tune the gearing by using a tight cassette (ex.: 11-25) for more sporty rides, or configure your own cassette for the touring ratios you prefer.

Apart from the LX or XT drivetrain issue, one other item to watch is fork length. I have heard more than once that unless the bikes are ordered, they arrive at the shop with the fork cut rather low. It may be a problem if you need to get the bars rather high. It's easier to cut a fork than to stretch it.

One issue left is tire size. If you have fenders, the 520 accepts a 700x37 or 42 tire on the rear wheel, but only a 700x32 to 35 tire on the fron wheel. To me that's perfect for touring in North America or Europe, but not ideal if you tour on mud roads, South America, Africa...

Depending on your size, why not check the Bruce Gordon bikes too? The starting price is higher, but it is configured with adequate gearing for touring, and Bruce Gordon's racks are hard to beat. Apart from gearing, the BLT allows wider tires (both the 700 and 26" versions). One tip: depending on how tall you and your wife are, get the same tire size for both bikes. Less parts to carry on tour!
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