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Old 05-20-07, 06:57 PM   #1
tourbiker
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Touring bikes: new higher-end Trek model?

Hi all,

I have a 1983 Trek 620 touring bike and would like to upgrade. The Trek 520 and its competitors don't offer the features I'm looking for fully-loaded, long-distance touring and the custom bikes (Bruce Gordon, Sakkit) are too expensive and have long wait-times.

My local bike shop's owner is encouraging me to write to Trek's CEO and encourage them to bring out a higher end touring bike, like the classic Trek 720 Touring bike that was produced from 1983 to 1985. I believe that there are many baby-boomers with the interest, time and bucks to finally upgrade our 20+ year-old touring bikes. Plus, a true touring bike is the ideal commuting bike. Time for a Trek 720 25-year anniversary model?

I'll be suggesting features such as: a classic steel touring frame, ultra-low hill-climbing gears, disk brakes (if no rear rack problem), higher-end components than 520, Dupont Imron paint finish, and a WSD women's model.

I'd appreciate comments from fellow touring and commuting cyclists, particularly those who would be interested in seeing Trek bring out a higher-end touring bike than the 520.

Linda
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Old 05-20-07, 07:38 PM   #2
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I sort of disagree. I'm a boomer, and I don't believe in spending money if it's not necessary. I think what is missing on the market now is a cheap, lower-end touring bike. I paid $635 for my Trek 1000 road bike. I love it. I would like to buy the equivalent in a road bike. To me, "high end" is anything over $700.

Your post inspired me to send an e-mail to Trek requesting a nice cheap touring bike.

I strongly agree with the ultra-low gears.

I hate the shifters on the 520. They should be on the brake levers.

I would like to see a choice of handlebars: dropped, hybrid, and trekking. Factory-installed full fenders with mud flaps and rear rack. Excellent seat---I prefer the Specialized Body Geometry. Decent colors---no black, brown, or gray. I like bar-top brake levers. Tires 700 x 28, no more than 30.

My main point is that if Trek can make a decent bike like the 1000 for $635, they should be able to do the same in a touring bike.
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Old 05-20-07, 07:42 PM   #3
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Who needs Trek when you can build a Surly LHT to your specs for a decent price?
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Old 05-20-07, 08:20 PM   #4
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Who needs Trek when you can build a Surly LHT to your specs for a decent price?
bbut...my (choke) Trek 520...so..great. Uhhh, (sputter)
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Old 05-20-07, 08:23 PM   #5
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I'm not sure that you can directly compare the vintage 520, 620 and 720 with the modern crop of 520s. I have a 2000 Trek 520 (last year of the traditional headset), and my suggested improvements are:

1. lower gearing ;
2. more tire clearance around the fork;
3. better racks ;
4. a Schmidt dynohub with E-6 headlight.

Points 3 and 4 are probably best taken care of by the end user, although it's frustrating to discard a cheap rack and LX front hub.

I think lower gearing shoud be offered... and could easily be offered with an LX or XT crankset (i.e. they keep their Shimano stock). It would make a much better touring bike, but I guess that their current gearing and rear rack actually suits more commuters and therefore attracts a larger market. With the current bike, one might always ask the LBS to swap gearing at time of purchase, but there may be some fees, and more importantly, the customer needs to really know what he/she wants and be ready to deal with the shop owner who feels that low gearing is not good for the "real cyclist" (TM).

Finally, I think the fork lacks a bit clearance. 700x32 tires fit quite well, but 700x35 are a tight fit and typical 700x37 tires don't fit inside a fender. A few extra millimetres and Nokians 700x37 Hakkappeliittas (road studded tires) and many knobbies would fit under the fenders. That would make the 520 a good bike for tours that include long off-road sections.

Other improvements?
Finally, I have long legs and therefore use a 25" frame. But for short-legged users, I think small frames would be better if they were built around 26" wheels.

As for disc brakes, I'm not a fan yet, at least not on a touring bike. On the rear wheel, I would like the brazings if they were installed on the chain stay, like on the DeVinci bicycles. Attaching the disc brake on the chain stay doesn't limit your choice of rear racks. On the front wheel, installing a disc brake implies two penalties. Increased weight is not that much of a problem on a touring bike. But the major penalty, I think, is that the fork needs to be more rigid because of the different braking forces. I prefer a more compliant fork because it makes for a more comfortable ride.
So because of that, I think that disc brakes are not at their best on a touring bike where one rides a lot and doesn't brake a lot (proportionnally). Quite a different story in commuting, where one brakes a lot, to the point of wearing out brake pads and rims...
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Old 05-20-07, 08:39 PM   #6
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the new 520s do have the shifters on the brakes.. you have to special request them if you want otherwise. and if you want the front chain rings changed out your bike shop will be able to do that and probably not charge you anything make it a direct change as for the wheels they are 28s now with everything i have read most tourers and bikes shoudl have at least 35s or larger or an inch and a half..
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Old 05-20-07, 08:42 PM   #7
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Any good Trek dealership can fix a 520 to your personal needs....lower gears? It's not hard to switch cranksets. STI shifting? That's not hard either. Neither of these upgrades would cost a whole bunch of money. If I was buying a 520, I'd get stronger custom wheels. Whatever you need...a good shop can help get it done.

Disc brakes might be a really bad idea on a loaded touring bike. Because the braking is so close to hubs, it puts a lot of stress on the spokes. Discs could cause wheel troubles. Plus it makes fitting racks and bags harder.
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Old 05-20-07, 08:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tourbiker
Hi all,

I have a 1983 Trek 620 touring bike and would like to upgrade. The Trek 520 and its competitors don't offer the features I'm looking for fully-loaded, long-distance touring and the custom bikes (Bruce Gordon, Sakkit) are too expensive and have long wait-times.

My local bike shop's owner is encouraging me to write to Trek's CEO and encourage them to bring out a higher end touring bike, like the classic Trek 720 Touring bike that was produced from 1983 to 1985. I believe that there are many baby-boomers with the interest, time and bucks to finally upgrade our 20+ year-old touring bikes. Plus, a true touring bike is the ideal commuting bike. Time for a Trek 720 25-year anniversary model?

I'll be suggesting features such as: a classic steel touring frame, ultra-low hill-climbing gears, disk brakes (if no rear rack problem), higher-end components than 520, Dupont Imron paint finish, and a WSD women's model.

I'd appreciate comments from fellow touring and commuting cyclists, particularly those who would be interested in seeing Trek bring out a higher-end touring bike than the 520.

Linda
You don't make much sense. A new trek 520 is msrp USD $1240.

By the time you've changed the bike to your favorite parts (pedals, shifters, tires, seat, bars, etc) and added racks, possibly changed gearing, you are in the 1400 range easily. That is very close to the price of a custom, or true "purpose" built tourer. And to supercede the 520, the "new 720" or whatever you propose would likely have something like a 1600 msrp, even closer to a custom full touring bike..
Besides, with custom, you can get exactly what you want.
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Old 05-20-07, 08:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuffwolf
the new 520s do have the shifters on the brakes.. you have to special request them if you want otherwise.
Every 2007 model Trek 520 I've ever seen has bar-end shifters, not STI's....
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Old 05-20-07, 09:04 PM   #10
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I real *custom* built touring bike for $1400? Where!?! I want my Bruce Gordon!
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Old 05-20-07, 09:25 PM   #11
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Maybe I'm just a fuddy-duddy-old school type, but I find no efficacy in STI shifters on a tour bike. The bar-ends work flawlessly and are very reliable. The 520 has a world class frame and there is little to be gained by going back to lugs, just for the bling effect, although I like lugs. As for the price - you walk in just about any bike shop with $995, start talkiing about an LHT or a Cannondale across town, you'll ride out with a new Trek 520.

Gearing? ok, I'll go with that. But, I believe that Trek knows that most people don't tour. Even those that do, only do it a couple weeks a year - maybe more but not much. Trek has the marketing down. 520's make fabulous fast general purpose, very comfortable bikes. Now, if some boomer wants to pay more because he can, just start changing things.

As for tire clearance, well, I suppose if you want an MTB, just buy a Trek 930 or 970 from the early 90's. Put some 1.5" tires on it, some bars you like, load it up and go. Seriously, a tour machine with lower gears and tires like an MTB really is an MTB, which can make excellent longhaul machines.
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Old 05-21-07, 07:57 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuffwolf
the new 520s do have the shifters on the brakes.. you have to special request them if you want otherwise.
somebody else already said this, but all of the 520s come with bar end shifters, not brifters.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tuffwolf
as for the wheels they are 28s now with everything i have read most tourers and bikes shoudl have at least 35s or larger or an inch and a half..
the 520s don't come with 28s. They come with 700x32...which is fine for any non-off-road surface and even gravel & hardpacked dirt roads, IME. You can definitely fit 35s on the 520 if you wanted, but then you might not be able to fit full fenders, so I would stick with 32s.
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Old 05-21-07, 09:20 AM   #13
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+1 for the all-around beauty of the 520. For people who tour only occasionally (raising hand), this bike does triple duty as commuter and family ride bike. I swapped out the stock front rings for lower gears, mostly because I'm a Clydesdale rider, but otherwise would have missed the higher gearing for club rides and commuting. This bike can get me up any hill in my region in comfort (central NC) and can also keep me in a paceline at 18-20 mph unloaded, even with the stock 32c tires on it. The more I ride it, the more I marvel at its versatility.

I even have to admit that I've stopped hating the bar-end shifters. We've reached an amicable understanding for the time being, although I still miss riding with STI's.

But that does not completely answer the dedicated touring question raised by the OP. I think it would be useful to ask Trek how close can they get to being a custom house for touring bikes (ie, pre-order gearing, shifters, bars, paint). It's hard to imagine they can justify the cost due to the lower volume of touring bikes vs. their other models, but I don't know the sales figures nor their manufacturing capabilities. These are certainly excellent questions to ask them, however!

Good luck with your efforts.
Ken
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Old 05-21-07, 11:26 AM   #14
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A higher end touring bike than the 520??

a) I'm surprised they even maintain the 520 line as it is
b) If you left it up to Trek to make what you call a 'hgh end' touring bike, I think that the only change they'd make is to put on an Ultegra group and maybe racing wheels with 8 spokes a piece....
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Old 05-21-07, 12:16 PM   #15
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In another thread someone recommended Marinoni - a Canadian company: http://www.marinoni.qc.ca/EN/Bikes/Touring/Turismo.htm
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Old 05-21-07, 01:47 PM   #16
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Go chat with Bill. Dunbar cycles. 4219 Dunbar. Good guy, quite knowledgeable. They have Devinci tourers there if you're interested.
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Old 05-21-07, 08:15 PM   #17
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Any touring bike with a higher price then the 520 you would be way better to go custom. You would get what you want sized to fit. There are many great custom builders around.

Quote:
I real *custom* built touring bike for $1400? Where!?! I want my Bruce Gordon!
I think a custom frame will cost about this amount.
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