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  1. #1
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    Trek 520 (2009) & LHT Complete

    Hi all - newbie tourer here looking to get my first touring bike. Until now, the only bikes I've owned are hybrid/city/comfort bikes. I want to move into distance rides and ultimately touring. For the next year or so the bike will be used for long road rides, day rides, over night tours or short tours (one week max) with rear pannies only, all on roads. I've combed this forum and have read the lengthy and helpful posts comparing and contrasting the 520 and LHT, most dating from 2008 (I've considered other bikes and narrowed it down to these two and maybe the Cannondale T2). Since then, Trek has fixed the 520 gearing issue, the primary knock against the bike it seemed. The bikes seem pretty equivalent on most issues I care about - shifters, wheel size, brakes, etc. (I've been sized to a 60 cm frame for the 520, so tire size will be the same for both bikes). My main issue is bike/frame weight - in many posts there are comments about the LHT being a "tank" and such; is the long haul trucker much/meaningfully heavier than the 520? I'm curious to hear from owners of both or owners of the LHT -- how is the LHT on un-loaded or minimally-loaded long rides? Is weight an issue? Is it better or worse than the 520 for unloaded biking? Unfortunately I haven't been able to test-ride either bike. One LBS has the 520 in my size, but I have to buy it to ride it on pavement (rode it in the store on rollers and like the fit at least). Another LBS can order the LHT and customize with greater flexibility and cost savings than the Trek LBS. I've seen the LHT in the flesh, just not my size. Both LBSs have (they say) no-questions-asked return policies (ranging from 7 to 30 days), but I'd like to avoid going through the hassel of customizing a bike only to return it or risk an issue upon return. Cost isn't an issue, through I suspect when all is said and done, the LHT will be slightly cheaper (the 520 is on sale and with no customization/changes the 520 is about $100 more than the trucker). I like both bikes. Despite the 520's pedigree, I'm leaning toward the LHT - I like the Surly LBS as they are more flexible on swapping out the seat, giving a deal on racks/pannies/shoes etc., and over time I think the LHT will suit my needs for serious touring - but I don't want to end up with a bike that is not enjoyable to ride unloaded or can't be effectively used for day rides and the like which, frankly, is where it will see most of its use. Thanks for any input.

  2. #2
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    Take each bike on a test ride for like an hour, see if one speaks to you more than the other (or hurts you)

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by HardyWeinberg View Post
    Take each bike on a test ride for like an hour, see if one speaks to you more than the other (or hurts you)
    I would, but as I noted, I'd have to buy each bike to test ride it. And, in the case of the LHT, it would have to be specially ordered for me. I ultimately may have to purchase each, but for now I'm just trying to find out if the LHT is appreciably heaiver than the 520.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by slm409 View Post
    One LBS has the 520 in my size, but I have to buy it to ride it on pavement (rode it in the store on rollers and like the fit at least).
    whatever you do, do not buy from this LBS, that's a ridiculous policy. In fact, tell them that you'll never buy a bike without a real test ride. Like, on pavement, outside, with hills and wind and gravel and turns and stuff. Shoot, Ive test ridden bikes worth 5X the trek 520, no questions asked...

    The weight of both bikes will be similar. I like the LHT better personally, but have never spent much time on either bike.

  5. #5
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    I agree that the bike shop policy is silly.

    The decision is about to be taken out of your hands. There are no more 520s available from Trek, so as soon as your LBS sells that one you looked at, you will have no more options unless you want to wait for the 2010 model.

  6. #6
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    I'm a minimalist when it comes to bicycles (meaning, I only own five ). I've never owned or ridden a racing bike, which I'm sure would be pure speed and pleasure. My daily rider is a 1994 mtn bike. My two tourers are a semi-retired 1988-vintage Nishiki, and an LHT.

    Just tellin' you where I'm coming from.

    If one of my bikes weighs 2 lbs more than the others (I really don't know...), I wouldn't give it a second thought. Riding a bike is for exercise, so the more the better. The LHT isn't a "tank", in that you feel like you're pedalling uphill through molasses. Compared to the road racers, sure. But if it takes me an extra 47 seconds to ride to the grocery store, no big deal. If it is, just pedal harder. Both of my touring bikes are fine for day rides.

    The LHT will ride different from a titanium racer, and you might lag a few seconds behind your buddy on a 520 (or maybe not...) If those are important, then weight is a significant factor. When I'm on a day ride (or commuting, or touring), I have nothing to race or compare effort against. Just the way I like it -- my LHT is never "not enjoyable". But that's me.

    I say, ignore the weight specs and choose between the two bikes based on other factors.

    -- Mark

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by positron View Post
    The weight of both bikes will be similar. I like the LHT better personally, but have never spent much time on either bike.
    Thanks for the comment on the weight - that's what I'm trying to determine.

  8. #8
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    Well, I have an LHT, a light steel, and a carbon fiber (CF). You can certainly feel the difference in acceleration with the unloaded LHT. But, the LHT is sooooo smoooooth.

    Obviously, the LHT is a bit slower, eh? Well, you'd think so, wouldn't you? But, I have a Garmin 305 GPS which I put on all three bikes. I do a regular unloaded solo forty mile round trip (to visit friends) on varied terrain (about 1800 ft climbing) and, tracking the average speed, so with a lot of data averaged over varying conditions the three bikes are within about +/-0.5 mph of each other. This has really surprised me.

    So much for observation...In practice, unloaded riding with the LHT has a different feel than the other two (light steel and carbon). If I hammer the LHT at every intersection the same way as with the CF then it will eventually hurt my knees because it will not accelerate as fast and relieve the pressure the way a lighter bike does. This slower acceleration--you apply force more evenly and for a longer period of time--makes it harder to fit into agressive pacelines which are stopping and going. However, once you can tuck in to one then there is really no problem keeping up...much to some roadies' surprise.

    Coming down hill with an LHT is where it's at...Very smooth and stable at high speeds.

    I have never ridden on or with the 520 but they have been the standard by which all others were judged long before the LHT even existed.

    You can't go wrong with either bike...And the weight difference will mean little in everyday riding and nothing on tour.

  9. #9
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    My 17" (size XS) 520 with Tubus racks (steel), fenders (plastic), bracket for handlebar bag (plastic) & 3 waterbottle cages weighs 33 pounds, it is stock other than swapping an LX crank instead of the stock 105. Tankalicious.

    Hope that adds a data point.
    ...

  10. #10
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    I've ridden both- thought I wanted the LHT [had a CrossCheck].
    When I went to purchase one, I was able to take a LHT and 520 for a test ride [same day, different shops]- as someone else suggested - I connected with one bike. The 520. Still very satisfied with
    my choice.

  11. #11
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    Thanks for all the input. I went looking again tonight and was able to compare the weight of the LHT with other tourers (still couldn't test ride) and it seemed broadly comparable, i.e., it wasn't as heavy as I was expecting, which removed the one issue I was concerned about. I really like both bikes, but each is a gamble due to the test ride situation. I decided to go with the LHT, as much for the bike shop as anything else, which is more personal than the shop selling the Trek. The LHT seller was able to give me the bike, rack, pannaliers, shoes, clips, lights, and a brooks saddle/bar wrap for the price of the 520; there is no way I would have gotten a comparable deal on the 520. The shop is great, and if I don't gel with the bike, I can always have them take it back.

  12. #12
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    Have your dealer call and ask the rep if they can bring one by. I've had good luck with this approach with smaller shops. Your size makes it hard for a shop to order. Not like ordering a 54 or 56. I'm pretty sure that trek would step up to the plate if they can. Don't know enough about how qbp works to know if they would.

    Call the dealer and ask them if they would try this approach.

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  13. #13
    Senior Member exile's Avatar
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    I'd test ride more bikes if I were you slm409 if possible. I test rode the 520, LHT, Cannondale t2, and Jamis Aurora. I settled on the LHT but this was after many months and many test rides on different bikes with notes on how I felt on each one. I went to more than one bike shop and some of them I wouldn't consider local.

    You might luck out and find that perfect ride for you without going through the process I went through; but considering the amount of time you will spend in the saddle it might take some time.

  14. #14
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    sounds like you got what you wanted. I've only ridden a 520 once and own a LHT and have ridden a couple other long chainstay bikes. For rear pannier only I think the LHT will be better balanced than the 520 with rear panneirs only.

  15. #15
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    I was able to test ride both the Aurora and Aurora Elite and I liked the Aurora better, actually, which is substantially heavier than the Elite. I agree in an ideal world it would have been great to test ride both bikes/all bikes, if not back-to-back, then within a short time of each other. But, between work and other obligations, it was going to be difficult to drive around all the places I'd need to to test ride every bike and I've already invested a fair amount of time researching. I'm fairly convinced after reading this and other forums for several weeks, reading every review I could find, and speaking with several bike shops, that the 520 and LHT are pretty comparable and there probably isn't a "wrong" choice. As my original post indicated, the potential weight differential was my primary concern, but that is resolved. I really trust and like the LBS I'm getting the LHT from and, as I said, I think having a good LBS is nearly as important as the bike. At this shop, the owner takes personal care of you and was 100% more passionate and engaged than any of the 3 other shops I went to and was willing to "build" the bike (in terms of fenders, rack, pedals, sandals, etc.) in a way that no other shop touched. All of that counts for something. If I don't like or gel with the LHT, as awkward as it would be, I know the shop would take it back. I really just want to get riding. I get the bike next week and I'll update the thread. I really appreciate the advice and feedback. This whole forum is terrific.

  16. #16
    Senior Member exile's Avatar
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    I definetely agree Slm409 that a LBS could be invaluable in purchasing a bike and accessories. Especially a shop where the owner knows something about touring or the type of riding you plan on doing. Of the LBS's in my area I know of only one shop where the employees are all riders of some sort (Trail, Mountain biking, commuting, etc...). They also tend to be the friendliest.

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