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  1. #1
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Need some opinions from Trek 520 owners..

    Let me preface this..

    I bike commute.. 25 miles one way, 5 days a week. Basically we're looking at 250 miles a week. At the moment I have a stable of bikes, most of which are various flavors of MTB. While it's a comfortable platform for me, it's obviously not "efficient". I'm looking to thin the herd a bit ( I own 11 bikes at the moment) and in doing so am looking to buy a bike that does dedicated commuter duty and the occasional tour.

    If I look at the touring bikes, bike of choice is the 520, which I can get one of even though they're a bit hard to find. Concern here is that I'm not going to gain much efficiency or speed versus a cyclocross bike which is my other option. At current I average 14-15mph on the slowest of MTB's I own, and can do the same run on a road bike averaging 17-18mph or a bit higher with some exertional level increase. Should I expect a 520 to fall somewhere in the middle, or more toward a MTB or a road bike?. I also own an FX series Trek and that bike is pretty much right in the middle.

    Paramount is durability. Secondary is speed. That said, the investment to get speed I have to call into question if the $1300 outlay is gaining me 1mph on an average since an equivalent in speed to a MTB isn't necessarily worth that $ since the comfort and durability are pretty much addressed by the MTB's.

    Opinions appreciated.. or you can tell me just to STFU and keep pedaling

    -R

  2. #2
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    Um... not sure what you are asking. I have a road bike, a 520 and a mountain bike. The 520 falls in between the other 2 in speed when riding on pavement. I bet if I put slicks on my MTB it would be similar to the 520, since my MTB weighs 10 pounds less than the 520. and they have the same gearing.

    I really like the 520, and use it for a grocery-getter, bar-hopper, loaded tour bike, and rain bike. If I commuted, I would use it for that (but I work at home).

    I bet a 'cross bike would have a similar riding position (hence wind resistance), might be lighter (never shopped for one so I don't know), could use the same sort of tires (700c fat slicks) and therefore would be a similar commute experience. But it wouldn't be a nice of a tour bike.
    ...

  3. #3
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    But it wouldn't be a nice of a tour bike.
    Ahh, see there's the catch for me. "Touring" in the sense of the word for many here isn't going to be what it's used for, although the 250 miles a week I put on commuting is probably more than a lot here use theirs for. I'm over 1k miles for the month already. What does matter is can I exceed the speed of a MTB with an equivalent effort, and is the comfort factor better my an exponential amount. Can I rival a more agressive road bike in speed or will it always be slower.

    More than anything else I'm wondering if I should suck it up and not do it as it's a $1300 outlay for not a discernable gain. Ultimate success were I to pull the trigger would be can I cover the same ground in less time, with more comfort. If that's the case it's actually very easy for me to extend my commute from the distance standpoint.

  4. #4
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    I have a road bike and a 520 and commute about the same distance as you do. Unless I need to carry a lot of stuff, I commute on my road bike. So I might bring a whole week's worth of clothes in on the 520 on Monday and then commute the rest of the week on my road bike.

  5. #5
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    Seems that a question like this has been coming up every month or so on this board.

    And, in the end, my impression is that the OP doesn't get a satisfactory answer. It's the wrong board.

    Asking a touring board which bike to buy for speed is like asking a birdwatcher's group which species has the best drumsticks. Yeh, of course birdwatchers have to eat, but their minds aren't wired that way. Tourers commute and sometimes go fast... (?) ... but it just seems you're coming at it from the completely wrong direction.

    If speed is that important to you, why aren't you looking at road bikes? Or maybe it isn't that important -- in which case, just keep riding.

    No diss-ing intended, I just can't see how the 520 comes up in such a hair-splitting justification.

    -- Mark

  6. #6
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    If you dont plan on carrying a big load for your occasional tours get a Cross bike, with smooth 28 or 32 mm tires. If the commute is not hilly put a close ratio cassette on it.

  7. #7
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EmmCeeBee View Post
    Seems that a question like this has been coming up every month or so on this board.

    And, in the end, my impression is that the OP doesn't get a satisfactory answer. It's the wrong board.

    Asking a touring board which bike to buy for speed is like asking a birdwatcher's group which species has the best drumsticks. Yeh, of course birdwatchers have to eat, but their minds aren't wired that way. Tourers commute and sometimes go fast... (?) ... but it just seems you're coming at it from the completely wrong direction.

    If speed is that important to you, why aren't you looking at road bikes? Or maybe it isn't that important -- in which case, just keep riding.

    No diss-ing intended, I just can't see how the 520 comes up in such a hair-splitting justification.

    -- Mark
    +1


    and OP......... you don't ride that many miles
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  8. #8
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EmmCeeBee View Post

    If speed is that important to you, why aren't you looking at road bikes? Or maybe it isn't that important -- in which case, just keep riding.

    No diss-ing intended, I just can't see how the 520 comes up in such a hair-splitting justification.
    Because a road bike isn't designed for mileage nor extended durability. It's not designed to be "simplistic" and fixable on the road in the middle of nowhere. It's not designed to carry loads should I want to thow my panniers or my BOB trailer on it.

    Want me to keep going? I know that a touring specific bike has many of the qualities I'm looking for. That said I've not ridden one extended distances to be able to judge the differences. That's why I asked the opinion of existing 520 owners. Do you own one and have constructive answers that you're willing to share, or you just want to take swipes from across the internet?

  9. #9
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyakdiver View Post
    +1


    and OP......... you don't ride that many miles
    I'll bet I ride more than many here. Thanks for your constructive response. I appreciate it.

  10. #10
    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    I think is a really good question; I have used touring bikes for commuting (including a Trek 520) and am looking for something lighter. yet to me a "road" bike rarely seems to work - typically not enough brazeon's for fenders and racks, not enough clearance for larger tires w/fenders; etc.

    A bike I would recommend you consider instead of the Trek 520 is the Jamis Aurora Elite or Salsa Casserroll. The Aurora Elite is marketed as a touring bike but the build is not quite as rugged as the Trek 520 (or Surly LHT), and it weighs about 23 pounds. The Salsa Casserroll is more of an all-rounder road bike, and maybe a pound less, with fenders inlcuded.

    I think both bikes end up being several pounds lighter than the 520, which for a regular commuter is noticeable, IMHO.

    I am personally considering both, have not pulled the trigger....I have a couple of other bikes on my radar that are a bit more $ as well (e.g., Gunnar Sport).

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by EmmCeeBee View Post
    Asking a touring board which bike to buy for speed is like asking a birdwatcher's group which species has the best drumsticks.

    Thank you! You made my day!

  12. #12
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
    I'll bet I ride more than many here. Thanks for your constructive response. I appreciate it.


    Good for you.
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  13. #13
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    IMHO- 11 bikes is the problem, cannot figure out which to ride= so you need another ?
    I commuted with a CrossCheck for a while= nice ride. Then I got a 520 for touring but use it mostly for commuting=nice ride. Now I have a custom steel frame bike for commuting= great ride. The CrossCheck is a slightly softer ride than unloaded 520- perhaps that makes it a more comfortable
    commuter. However loaded the 520 is more comfortable. Biggest difference in speed between
    these two is set up & fit of bike and effectiveness of the engine.

  14. #14
    Senior Member mijome07's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    ...bar-hopper...

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    Quote Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
    Because a road bike isn't designed for mileage nor extended durability. It's not designed to be "simplistic" and fixable on the road in the middle of nowhere. It's not designed to carry loads should I want to thow my panniers or my BOB trailer on it.
    In my opinion, a road bike fits all your criteria except the ability to haul loads. Road bikes are not fragile, and they are as easy to fix as anything else. It's rare that anything more than a flat tire will go wrong. And you're never more than 25 miles from home on your commute, so everything else is fixable with a cell phone.

    Having said that, there is no touring bike that will be as fast as a road bike. But if you can afford to sacrifice a few MPH (about 2 in my experience), the 520 will be fine for your needs.

    A bit of unsolicited advice: just ignore the answers you don't like--no reason in the world to waste words rebutting them. That will just get you more.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
    ...I know that a touring specific bike has many of the qualities I'm looking for. That said I've not ridden one extended distances to be able to judge the differences. That's why I asked the opinion of existing 520 owners. Do you own one and have constructive answers that you're willing to share, or you just want to take swipes from across the internet?
    Wasn't my intention, sorry. I agree with the posts here (and your observation, too) that touring bikes make great commuting bikes. And if that's all your question was about, you'd get 99% agreement.

    But I see a question agonizing over where you'd place a touring bike in a 2 or 3 mph range. That's the "hair-splitting" (which I apologize if it sounded like a swipe, I shoulda put in a smiley ): you choose a touring bike for reasons other than speed. If 3 mph is that important, don't choose a touring bike. If ruggedness and purpose-of-design are more important than speed, it'll be an easy decision. Especially, as you say, if you intend to use it for loaded touring.

    No, I don't own a 520, so I'm not your expert. But I commuted for years on a different touring bike (it's all I had). Put on high pressure slicks, pedal a little harder, and I never got to work late.

    -- Mark

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    You ride about 50 miles a day, which is about the same distance I ride in a day when I tour on my '83 520. I have heard of many doing mtb conversions into tourers. You could buy the racks and bags that you would need anyway and load up one of your 11 bikes. Take it to work and see how it feels.

    my two cents

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    When I commuted I used my LHT touring bike to transport clothing once per week (or when it was raining) and the rest of the time used my road bike. Touring bikes are great for carrying panniers because of the heel clearance their long chainstays give. On the average they can be close to as fast as a road bike. However, they do have some drawbacks...mainly they are slower to accelerate which will slow you up if there are a lot of lights and stopsigns on your commute. Also, they tend to weigh more and be slightly slower if there are a lot of hills on your route. Still, touring bikes have an exceptionally good ride.

    I also (like Benge Boy) think you maybe should consider something like the Salsa Casseroll (my wife's 49cm weighs 20.5 lb with fenders) or a Gunnar Sport which are both smooth bikes with longish chainstays and fixtures for adding fenders and panniers.

  19. #19
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Thanks guys. Bought a cross bike. Went back and forth, for the $ I would spend on a 520 and get Deore LX and Bontrager rims I spent $250 less and got full ultegra and Mavics.

    http://www.fujibikes.com/Specialty/C.../CrossPro.aspx

    Lists at $2060, selling for $1699 but beat the local Performance Bike down with the rebate deal they were running this weekend and got them to stack the 10% anniversary discount on top of that and walked out the door for $1049.

    We put it on the scale, in 54cm it's just under 21lbs.
    Last edited by CCrew; 06-27-09 at 08:40 PM.

  20. #20
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    Congratulations!! Post some pictures when you get a chance and share.
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