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Old 11-08-07, 09:02 AM   #1
Neil_B
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Retrofiting a Trek Navigator for touring?

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Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
Ex's drivetrain, from the Trek website:

Shifters SRAM MRX Pro, 8 speed
Front Derailleur Shimano C102
Rear Derailleur Shimano Alivio
Crank Shimano M191 48/38/28 w/chainguard
Cassette SRAM PG830 11-32, 8 speed

The wheels are 36 spoke. In a thousand miles of riding they remained perfectly in true. Not even a spoke needed to be tightened. At 1700 miles they still appear to be in true.
I've asked this question before in another thread and received no response, so I'll try again. What would I need to do to retrofit my 2007 Trek Navigator 3.0 for touring purposes? And more specifically, for a cross country tour? For starters I'd want to replace the raised handlebars with flat bars and use index shifters instead of the grip shifters that come on the bike. Also lower the stem. The gearing might need to be changed as well.

The bike is very heavy, but it's mechanically reliable, has wheels that have 1700 miles on them without a broken or even loose spoke, has a rack, rear panniers, lights, and is stable. I've used it to commute, ride metric centuries, and it's even been on some singletrack, although that hasn't been by choice. And while the bike is heavy, no touring bike is going to be light when loaded.

While I could go out and buy a "touring bike", I'm curious to find out if the Navigator would serve this purpose. Also, like many cyclists, I'm cheap. I already own this bike.
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Old 11-08-07, 09:16 AM   #2
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You can tour on any bicycle, I have ran into people riding cross country on $100 bicycles. Your gears are low enough for most casual touring , The wheels have a good spoke count .
If you can fit a rack and bags or pull a trailer what else do you need to hear?
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Old 11-08-07, 09:21 AM   #3
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I would check the seat tube/head tube angles to see if it is same or close as a Trek 520. Some comfort bikes have exceeding lax seat tube angles to give the riders the ability to put both feet down comfortably when stopped. If the angles have been tweaked in such a way you probably do not want to use this bike as a cross-country touring machine.
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Old 11-08-07, 09:22 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by velonomad View Post
You can tour on any bicycle, I have ran into people riding cross country on $100 bicycles. Your gears are low enough for most casual touring , The wheels have a good spoke count .
If you can fit a rack and bags or pull a trailer what else do you need to hear?
I want to ride it from Philadelphia to Orange County, CA. There's the small matter of the Rockies and a few other mountains that need to be crossed. Or am I worrying too much about them? I've only done one overnight tour, and that was on a different bike, on flat terrain, with a very light load.
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Old 11-08-07, 09:34 AM   #5
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First you need to do some weekend tours to assess whether the bike is going to work ok for you. two 50 mile days back to back with a few of those famous PA hills thrown in will tell you what you need to do. Very likely you will end up changing your 28 tooth chainring for a 22 ( if your rear dérailleur will handle it) or the whole crankset. As for the bike breaking down along the way, a phone, a credit card, and Fedex will replace anything you might break along the way.
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Old 11-08-07, 10:48 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by MrPolak View Post
I would check the seat tube/head tube angles to see if it is same or close as a Trek 520. Some comfort bikes have exceeding lax seat tube angles to give the riders the ability to put both feet down comfortably when stopped. If the angles have been tweaked in such a way you probably do not want to use this bike as a cross-country touring machine.
Seat tube angle:

Trek 520, 2008 model - 74
Trek Navigator 3.0 - 68

Head angle:
520 - 71
Navigator - 69

Comments, suggestions?
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Old 11-08-07, 10:50 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by velonomad View Post
First you need to do some weekend tours to assess whether the bike is going to work ok for you. two 50 mile days back to back with a few of those famous PA hills thrown in will tell you what you need to do. Very likely you will end up changing your 28 tooth chainring for a 22 ( if your rear dérailleur will handle it) or the whole crankset. As for the bike breaking down along the way, a phone, a credit card, and Fedex will replace anything you might break along the way.
I have an overnight tour planned next weekend, although it's not camping, and the hills will be gentle. I'll post about it, and the bike.
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Old 11-09-07, 12:58 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
I have an overnight tour planned next weekend, although it's not camping, and the hills will be gentle. I'll post about it, and the bike.
It's best to do a true "test run" tour. Load the bike up not like you are doing an overnight tour, and not like you aren't going to do any camping. Load the bike like your are going to be gone for at least a week, and at least half of that week you are going to camp(tent, sleeping bag, change of clothes, etc). Pick an out and back route of at least 50 miles total, through the roughest terrain that you can find doing such a distance. This will give you an idea of what it is really like to do a loaded tour. My guess is that you'll find the trek navigator to be both slow and very uncomfortable, especially on your knees.
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Old 11-09-07, 08:33 AM   #9
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Very do-able.

I have a Navigator 200 (2004 model?) that I've tweaked over the years similar to what you're thinking.

I've added the trigger shifters ($80-ish USD at the LBS), 'folded' the stem forward, but kept the original handlebars. Trek rack and pack on the back. I will run 1.5" tires, or the original 1.95" comfort tires depending on the ride.

Longest ride was a 70-mile gravel path (rail trail) one day. I"ve done other 40-50 milers/day.

Heavy, slow, dependable.
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Old 11-09-07, 08:42 AM   #10
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Very do-able.

I have a Navigator 200 (2004 model?) that I've tweaked over the years similar to what you're thinking.

I've added the trigger shifters ($80-ish USD at the LBS), 'folded' the stem forward, but kept the original handlebars. Trek rack and pack on the back. I will run 1.5" tires, or the original 1.95" comfort tires depending on the ride.

Longest ride was a 70-mile gravel path (rail trail) one day. I"ve done other 40-50 milers/day.

Heavy, slow, dependable.
Thanks for the information. I've ridden my Navigator 1700 miles from March to August, when I got my 7.5 fx. Longest rides have been metric centuries, and I've ridden it on some hilly courses. And to commute as well - 35 miles round trip over rolling hills with full panniers.
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Old 11-09-07, 08:56 AM   #11
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It's best to do a true "test run" tour. Load the bike up not like you are doing an overnight tour, and not like you aren't going to do any camping. Load the bike like your are going to be gone for at least a week, and at least half of that week you are going to camp(tent, sleeping bag, change of clothes, etc). Pick an out and back route of at least 50 miles total, through the roughest terrain that you can find doing such a distance. This will give you an idea of what it is really like to do a loaded tour. My guess is that you'll find the trek navigator to be both slow and very uncomfortable, especially on your knees.
I don't understand why the Navigator would allegedly hurt my knees more than any other bike for touring. I'm riding it with the proper degree of leg extension. While I have had knee problems from time to time, that's because I've stupidly tried to squeeze my knocked and crooked legs into SPD pedals without float. You very well may be right, of course, but I'd like a fuller explanation, if you or another poster would be so kind as to provide one.
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Old 11-09-07, 10:01 AM   #12
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Maybe I've got it wrong, but the position on the navigator looks like it puts the knees well in front of the rider. That's got to put some strain on the knees, especially going up hills. IMHO, a comfort bike is a bad choice for long distance riding or touring. They are good for shorter distances, but pack on the miles, and the difficulties with those bikes becomes more apparent. You're better off with an old school mtb as a base platform, IMHO.
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Old 11-09-07, 11:47 AM   #13
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Don't listen to the nay-sayers, the bike will work fine. If you're going to swap out anyway, consider using trekking handlebars instead of a flat bar. The extra hand positions can be a lifesaver.

I doubt you'll be able to fit multi-day camping gear in panniers, though, due to the bike's geometry. Try a full-test tour and then decide whether to go the trailer route.
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Old 11-09-07, 12:31 PM   #14
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If you're comfortable enough on the bike to do a metric century and it's durable enough to handle the loads of touring -- just go! Sounds like it's working fine for you. If you're riding consistently and not having knee problems now I think it unlikely this bike is going to cause them. Just give yourself enough time go the distance on some reasonable schedule.

All this with the caveat that I have no touring experience whatsoever. I commute daily on an old Trek 800 which I fully intend to tour on.
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Old 11-19-07, 11:34 PM   #15
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Maybe I've got it wrong, but the position on the navigator looks like it puts the knees well in front of the rider. That's got to put some strain on the knees, especially going up hills. IMHO, a comfort bike is a bad choice for long distance riding or touring. They are good for shorter distances, but pack on the miles, and the difficulties with those bikes becomes more apparent. You're better off with an old school mtb as a base platform, IMHO.
You were correct about the Navigator. I rode it on an overnight tour this weekend - Kmberton PA to Cherry Hill, NJ. The hills were mild, and still struggled to climb them. There's no way I could handle 2800 miles on this tank.

By "old school MTB", you mean an older model with a longer wheelbase?
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Old 11-20-07, 03:18 PM   #16
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First of all, for full disclosure, I don't own a Trek Navigator, so I could be wrong, but:

1. how fit are you? Is it the bike that's slow or you?
2. are there ways to improve this bike -e.g. higher pressure tyres, different stem to achieve better speed and aerodynamics?
3. Are there ways to reduce the weight? e.g. has it got a large heavy saddle? Could you swap out the crank for another to make it lighter? Another wheelset?

Personally, from what I've seen of the bike, I see no reason why you couldn't tour on it, assuming it's well kept and you have the right size bike and no pannier/heel interference. Sure it will be slower than a more expensive touring bike, but are you in a race anyway?

Being honest, I can't say if I had the money I wouldn't go for a purpose built touring bike over this, but put it this way, this bike wouldn't stop me either.


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Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
You were correct about the Navigator. I rode it on an overnight tour this weekend - Kmberton PA to Cherry Hill, NJ. The hills were mild, and still struggled to climb them. There's no way I could handle 2800 miles on this tank.
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Old 11-20-07, 06:34 PM   #17
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Maybe I'm missing something but why not tour on your 7.5 FX? That's basically a flat bar road bike with a long enough wheel base and chain stays more than long enough for rear panniers. It will accept 700 x 35 tires If you're afraid of the carbon front fork, you can pick up a steel one cheap. I might suggest picking up a beefed up rear wheel but that's it. My wife used hers 7.5 WSD this year and it worked out fine.
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Old 11-20-07, 07:39 PM   #18
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Neil, he's got a point.....

You could slap a set of Deep V's on it, 36 spoke and you'd be golden for the wheels on your 7.5

A good hand built and hand tensioned set would only set you back about $350.00. Use a trailer then instead of panniers and frankly, I think you'd be pretty happy
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Old 11-20-07, 07:54 PM   #19
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You wouldn't have to pull a trailer, since it has the threaded stays but that's up to you. If you pull a trailer, I doubt that even new wheels would be needed. Hey, but that's what neat about all this, there are so many ways you can go. Just have fun and send back pics.
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Old 11-21-07, 02:20 AM   #20
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Swap the suspension seatpost and fork for rigid models to save some complexity and weight. If you don't get a trekking bar, at least get barends for more hand positions. I'd still be concerned about the rear wheel so you should carry some spare spokes and the tools necessary to install them (as well as the knowledge to do it).

The 7.5 would make a much better touring bike by swapping out the wheels and maybe some gears
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Old 11-21-07, 08:04 AM   #21
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Fitting a Trek 7.5 fx for Touring

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Maybe I'm missing something but why not tour on your 7.5 FX? That's basically a flat bar road bike with a long enough wheel base and chain stays more than long enough for rear panniers. It will accept 700 x 35 tires If you're afraid of the carbon front fork, you can pick up a steel one cheap. I might suggest picking up a beefed up rear wheel but that's it. My wife used hers 7.5 WSD this year and it worked out fine.
I'm persuaded. Unless I stumble across one of Tom's "garage queens" or a Craigslist deal I'll refit the 7.5. The wheels need to be upgraded - they are 24 spoke now, and I've had a broken spoke already. Any comments on the drivetrain? I suppose these need to be upgraded too:

Shifters Shimano Deore, 9 speed
Front Derailleur Shimano Deore
Rear Derailleur Shimano Tiagra
Crank Shimano M443 Octalink 48/36/26
Cassette SRAM PG950 11-26, 9 speed
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Old 11-21-07, 11:42 AM   #22
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Your crank is fine, almost ideal in my opinion but if your rear deraileur will let you, you might consider a 12-32 or 34 Cassette. I can't remember what the limit is on that one but 26 X 26 is pretty low.
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Old 11-21-07, 11:38 PM   #23
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Neil, he's got a point.....

You could slap a set of Deep V's on it, 36 spoke and you'd be golden for the wheels on your 7.5

A good hand built and hand tensioned set would only set you back about $350.00. Use a trailer then instead of panniers and frankly, I think you'd be pretty happy
Deal. Now to get to plotting the route. Could you recommend a way to get through Indiana? :-)
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Old 11-23-07, 08:08 AM   #24
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Your crank is fine, almost ideal in my opinion but if your rear deraileur will let you, you might consider a 12-32 or 34 Cassette. I can't remember what the limit is on that one but 26 X 26 is pretty low.
It looks like I'll need to install a mountain bike cassette.
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