Hey everyone. I'm posting this specifically for people with experience with the Trek 520. I went to my LBS today and found a new 2004 17" Trek 520 on sale for $800. That's a great deal. I'm a short (5'5.75") male with broad shoulders and shorter arms. The bike geometry was great for me, except I was stretching a drop to reach the brakes on the handlebars. Still, this is the smallest size Trek 520 available, and I can't find any touring bikes (except customs) that are substantially less than 17". The top tube on the bike is 540mm, which is a little longer than the top tube on the 17" touring models of some other brands. I really like the feel of this bike overall, and I think that $800 is a great deal. I was wondering if there are any relatively short people out there who own a Trek 520. If so, have you found yourself to be stretching to reach the handlebars? How comfortable do you find the bike to be overall? Perhaps in time I'll adjust to the horizontal dimensions of the bike. After all, I can't imagine that Trek only intended to make tourers for people 5'7" or greater. Can you recommend any adjustments of customizations to bring the handlebars a bit closer to me?
I'm 5'2", I have a 17" 520. I replaced the stock stem with a 60mm one, and did a near-zero-cost modification to the brake levers (see this post) to help me reach them more easily (I have small hands). Your bike shop should work with you on the stem, but even if they don't, stems are cheap (<$40). You can get one with some rise, as well, if they already chopped the steer tube too short.
I've ridden my 520 about 8000 miles, and I'm happy with it.
Other mods I did: lower gearing (swapped out to mountain bike cranks), different rear rack (tubus front and rear), saddle, and pedals.
I will ask the dealer about the mods you suggested. He is giving me a really cheap price ($800 for a brand new 2004 Trek 800), so I'm not sure if he'll do them for free.
Hmm...I wonder if I'm too tall for the 17" bike. It certainly felt comfortable today, in terms of its vertical specs. But I'm nearly 5'6", and you are 5'2" and ride the 17". The Cannondale dealer today insisted that a 17" was too small for me, even though the 19" felt big and unwieldy when I mounted it.
Anyway, knowing that someone who is 5'2" comfortably rides the Trek makes me much more at ease about purchasing it.
I'm probably going to buy it tomorrow, and I'll post a full report on the forum.
I am 5'9" and have short legs (29.75 inseam on dress slacks) with a relatively long body and shorter than average arm length. I think my 520 is a 19". I have about 6" of seat post showing. I had to put a fairly short stem on the rig. I purchased the bike in December and am riding it at least twice a week. The bike fits me so well I had to change out the stem on my road bike..
Hopefully my experience will help you figure out if the bike will fit you. There is absolutely no substitute to trying it out in person!
Should you purchase the 520, have the lbs exchange the existing front crankset to the Shimano trekking set. I didn't and regretted it. I commute at least twice a week and with all the gear on board the bike weighs in about 45 lbs. With that weight, even minor hills turned out to need the granny or I'd be pushing harder than I wanted. I expect to install my new trekking crank on this weekend.
I'm 5-6' and ride a 19 inch 520. It all depends on how long your torso is. I put a Ritchey adjustable stem on mine and it helped out alot with reach.. Think comfort because nothing is worse than a bad fitting bike and riding it for hours at a time.
The bike shop should have a collection of shorter stems for you to try. Sometimes raising the bars can help as well. Let the pros dial you in. Might take a hour and few test rides.
Crane Creek/Tektro make a smaller set of brake levers that I love. Crane Creek model---The BLR28 (SCR-5C) Compact. There is a Tektro branded model that's not as highly finished and is cheaper, but it's basicly the same. These levers are made for samller hands.
You can use the shim method-- it works great, but I like the smaller levers for a better all around fit.
I'm 5' 6-1/2" with short legs. With a 90mm +6 degree stem the cockpit length of the 17" Trek 520 would come in just a few mm shorter than my cross bike with a 0 degree stem and my race bike with a -6 degree stem. I love the fit of both of these bikes. Personally, if I were buying today I'd choose the 17" with a 90mm stem over the 19" with an 80mm stem. I think the nominally quicker handling would suit my riding style a little better.