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Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

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Old 01-18-07, 02:49 PM   #1
craig_smith
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old trek 520's

Hi All,

I have found a reasonably priced trek 520 (built in '83) for sale. I am concerned that all the wonderful things that I have heard about this bike do not apply to very old models. I have no objections to changing the gears etc, but am concerned about things like length of chainstays (space for panniers) and weight of the frame etc. I have not done much touring before. Are there other issues as well that might not make this old bike a good investment for a cross country unsupported tour? Thanks for your comments,

Craig
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Old 01-18-07, 03:23 PM   #2
GTcommuter
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I've got a '91 520 that I picked up used for $100 last summer. I'm not as familiar with the specs of current 520s, but my older one is not an ideal loaded/expedition touring bike. Like you said, a bit heavy and not long chain stays. I personally would put it in a light/sport touringish niche. However it has become my daily and light-load touring bikes -- I've been super happy with it, especially after updating it with a few of my favorite components (Technomic stem, Noodle bars, Power Grips, etc, etc).
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Old 01-18-07, 03:42 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTcommuter
I've got a '91 520 that I picked up used for $100 last summer. I'm not as familiar with the specs of current 520s, but my older one is not an ideal loaded/expedition touring bike. Like you said, a bit heavy and not long chain stays. I personally would put it in a light/sport touringish niche. However it has become my daily and light-load touring bikes -- I've been super happy with it, especially after updating it with a few of my favorite components (Technomic stem, Noodle bars, Power Grips, etc, etc).
Maybe a C/V post, but I've been thinking about a vintage 520 as well. My experience is that the early-mid 80's Trek 600 series were comparable and often superior to the 520 (the 620 being, IMO, the perfect tourer , not the 720). The 520 has 501 tubing while the 6's have 531. The 501 gets my vote for touring over 531 steel. But the 520 geometry seems pretty much similar if not more "roadie" than the 6's. All that said, I've scratched teh 520 off my dream list.
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Old 01-18-07, 03:59 PM   #4
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I really like the old touring bikes from the late 70's to the mid 80's! I have an early 80's Raleigh Kodiak and Cannondale ST500. I also have a newish Fuji Touring to compare with.

My experience with updating vintage touring bikes :

--27" wheels *might* be a concern. If the current wheelset is still strong, great. But if they are tired, you might want to consider switching to 700c instead. You get a wider selection of touring tires and you might as well switch out the 6-speed freewheel to a 7-speed cassette at the same time. You'll need a spacer to do this. Check to make sure the brake shoes will move down by 4mm. You will have to spread the chainstays from 126mm to 130, but on my Raleigh, the wider hub slips into the frame without problem.

--You might want to replace the BB with a more modern sealed unit.

--I always convert the non-aero brake levers to aero style. Much more comfortable and increases stopping power. I REALLY like the Canecreek/Tekro Campy knockoffs. Replace pads with KoolStops.

Let's say you buy a vintage 80's touring bike in decent condition for $100-200. You probably will need to buy:

--chain
--freewheel
--cables
--brake pads
--tires/tubes
--bar tape

Optional items:

--updated brake levers
--sealed BB
--700c wheelset

You're looking at spending anywhere from $100 all the way up to $300+ for the updated parts.
(You may need to buy a seat/pedals as well.)

So, theoretically, you could have a great classic touring bike for $200! (but it usually doesn't work out that way)
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Old 01-18-07, 04:11 PM   #5
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Here is a link to the 1983 brochure with the 520
http://www.vintage-trek.com/images/t...churePart1.pdf
it is marketed as a touring bike so I imagine it has 43-44cm chainstays. Weight is a non-issue for touring frame, you want chromoly but they are going to be heavy because they have to be strong, expect your vintage touring machine to weigh in at 30lbs with accessories. The downside of the '83 520 is it has caliper brakes, and only one set of eyelets on the DOs (common and sucky aspect of early 80s touring machines). Dual pivots should fix the problem and there are alternate methods of mounting the fenders. If the price and size are right I think it would make a good touring bike, if you have all the time in the world and a reasonable budget you could keep looking. As long as the frame is in good condition and there is very little rust it will be as reliable as a new frame. in 1985 trek switched to robots doing some of the work. Till 1984 they were all hand done and excellent machines. A vintage lugged trek made from reynolds is more of an "investment" than a newer TIG welded true temper frame.
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Old 01-19-07, 10:17 AM   #6
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I tour on an '83 nishiki cresta and firmly believe that touring is mostly mental and that the differences between a 200 dollar bike and a 2000 dollar bike won't make or break a tour. (so take what i have to say with a grain of salt,) but I think that almost any older touring bike will work just fine. Like an earlier poster said the biggest issues is the selection and availability of 27'' tires. It took me forever to find a good set of thickish knobby 27'' tires, so when I found some I bought up a lot. When my friend and I take off to tour Patagonia for three months (leaving on Sunday) we will be carrying three extra tires between the two of us, just since I know the knobby 27''ers are so hard to find.
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Old 02-08-07, 10:11 PM   #7
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Reynolds Tubing

Actually Reynolds 531 would be imo,(and many others), the superior tubing as it's butted, seamless tubing made of Manganese Molybdenum,which is superior to standard Cro-Mo.
The 501 is generally strait gauge drawn and is seamed. As the 501 is thicker walled it, was heavier than 531 as well. It was used as the cheaper alternative to 531 on some Budget bikes and the Trek 520 as a cost saving measure between 1983 and 85. IMHO, nothing rides like 531.
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Old 02-08-07, 11:21 PM   #8
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I have a 1982 Trek 613 with Reynolds 531 tubing that I used to tour on. It was a very stable and smooth ride with about the 50 lb load that I would carry. At some point I put a 26/38/52 Deore LX crank on it and that gave me a pretty good gear range matched with the 14-30 Suntour six speed freewheel. However, about 10 years ago when I was shipping it to the start of a tour via UPS, the rear seat stays got severely bent in UPS tansit. Ever since then, it has been relegated to a mag trainer.

Now I am looking in to resurrecting this bike for some more loaded touring. I took it to a local frame builder/repairer last week, and he wants $225 to straighten the seat stays and reattach them with tig welding ( not original lug welding), and then to repaint the bike in a solid color of my choice. I would lose the original 1982 Trek decal. Does this sound like a reasonable deal to repair the seat stays and to repaint the frame in one color? I have never had any work done on a frame before so I don't know what is a reasonable expense. Of course he says the paint job is necessary because he has to reweld the seat stays on and the heat ruins all the existing paint. That is the only reason I would have it repainted.
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Old 02-09-07, 12:03 AM   #9
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Ok, I am dialed in to the search function now and found the threads regarding expense to get a frame painted. Sorry for geting off topic. Regardless, I still wanted to get my two cents in that I thought the old Trek 613 with the Reynolds 531 tubing worked well as touring bike.
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Old 02-09-07, 12:14 AM   #10
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Skewer,

Welcome to the forums. You'll find a lot of good info here, and figuring out the search function (like you have) will save you some flaming and make your experience more pleasant.

RE: the 520--$225 for the framework plus $100 for powdercoating makes it less than ideal IMHO. For that kind of money, you could almost buy a Surly LHT frame, transfer the components from your 520 that work and call it good. Seriously, though, I wouldn't put $325 into that frame if it were me. There are serious limitations to consider--no canti brakes, 27" tires, probably 126mm spacing in the rear, probably running a freewheel instead of cassette, etc. I'd just bump up to a new frame. YMMV.
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