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Old 10-30-09, 05:01 PM   #1
stan623
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value of a 20 year old trek 520

Ive been looking for a touring bike, and I came across a 1988/89 trek 520 going for $500. the frame, drivetrain, and brakes seem to be in pretty good condition. I love the way it looks, and also rides very nicely.

my question is whether a bike thats more than 20 years old worth 500 bucks?

If I purchase it, Im going to put on tons of miles doing fully loaded tours, so my major concern is the integrity and durability of a frame thats so old. Would I be better off spending an extra 600-700 dollars for a brand new touring bike?
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Old 10-30-09, 05:27 PM   #2
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You will probably pay more for that bike than the seller originally paid for the bike. I would expect the bike to depreciate a little.
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Old 10-30-09, 05:33 PM   #3
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It just seems a bit steep. Maybe pictures or through other ways if one were to justify the price, as much as 3 to 4 depending.... The frame could have plenty of life. I myself am not a tourer but am cautious of those that have many,many miles.
I can tell mostly up close. Scratches, scuffs aren't as important if I expected to use it for the long run as my sole bike as you plan to. Parts be changed . For that price I would expect it to be lightly ridden and functionally perfect. There are bikes to be had inbetween your listed prices. Let's see what comes up. perhaps you care to state where you are; it could help det. the market or be used to CK CL
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Old 10-30-09, 05:43 PM   #4
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Im in san diego, if that helps.

as a sidenote, Ive seen the 520s, regardless of their age, go for 500-600 on ebay. are these reasonable prices?? or is there something about the 520 that gives it such a high resell value?
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Old 10-30-09, 05:48 PM   #5
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or is there something about the 520 that gives it such a high resell value?
Supply: there aren't that many in terrific condition.

Demand: the model has been around forever; it's been "Trek's touring model" forever; people are looking to find a reliable touring bike for less $ than new ones. It's a good, safe bet for a used touring bike.

My sense is that the same is true for Surly LHT's. They haven't been around as long, but ones that are two-three years old sell for a higher percentage of their original price than new bikes do.

As to whether it's "worth" $500 -- by time you maintain, overhaul, freshen up or upgrade everything that needs it on a 20-year-old bike, you may be close to the cost of a new bike. So the question is whether you have greater satisfaction/pride of ownership owning a minty 20-year-old bike that's been restored to fighting condition, or something fresh off the rack that is potentially more worry free.
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Old 10-30-09, 05:51 PM   #6
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Ive been looking for a touring bike, and I came across a 1988/89 trek 520 going for $500. the frame, drivetrain, and brakes seem to be in pretty good condition. I love the way it looks, and also rides very nicely.

my question is whether a bike thats more than 20 years old worth 500 bucks?

If I purchase it, Im going to put on tons of miles doing fully loaded tours, so my major concern is the integrity and durability of a frame thats so old. Would I be better off spending an extra 600-700 dollars for a brand new touring bike?
Contrary to popular belief frames don't really change over time, unless they were subjected to a damp environment and have rusted. If inspecting, look for paint bubbles, then pull the seat post and shine a small flashlight inside the frame, your looking for rust, if you see rust inside, then to properly inspect it you would pull the cranks and BB and look for rust in the BB shell. If you don't see rust inside and the outside looks sound with no chips and scratches that have rusted, the frame is probably solid. There are bicycle frames that are 100 years old that are still solid.

Having said that, consider that you will probably need to replace some or all of the "soft" parts, brake pads, tires, tubes, bar tape, cables, cable housings, chain, if the bicycle hasn't been ridden regularly. You could be looking at $100 or more in parts alone. Is a bicycle that is 20 years old worth $500, well no, probably closer to $200, if in very good to excellent condition.
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Old 10-30-09, 06:06 PM   #7
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Ive been looking for a touring bike, and I came across a 1988/89 trek 520 going for $500. the frame, drivetrain, and brakes seem to be in pretty good condition. I love the way it looks, and also rides very nicely.

my question is whether a bike thats more than 20 years old worth 500 bucks?

If I purchase it, Im going to put on tons of miles doing fully loaded tours, so my major concern is the integrity and durability of a frame thats so old. Would I be better off spending an extra 600-700 dollars for a brand new touring bike?
The bike may need new bearings and other parts before long. This can be expensive.

If the bike were in absolutely mint condition, or close to it, then yes, maybe.

Otherwise, I would be inclined to look elsewhere.

Also, even if the frames don't change much (unless you go to the more exotic materials), the components do. Bearings from that era are not as well sealed, for example.

It also depends on what components are on the bike. If they are top of the line and in excellent condition, then that is another factor to consider. Did the past owner replace or upgrade them? Was it just kept in a garage all this time?

Also, you don't really know whether or not water has gotten into the bearings. If so, their lifespan may be short.

Another factor is what extras come with it. If there are some high-end steel racks on the bike, for example, that would change the picture.

Have a look at that Mercier Galaxy at bikesdirect.com. It's not a dedicated touring bike, but it is pretty close. People have gone around the world on lesser bikes. You get a lot for your money with that one, and I wouldn't mind touring on it at all.

If the 520 really is in excellent condition inside and out, and you love the way it rides, and it is ready to go -- then that is another angle to consider. Setting up a new touring bike from scratch can be a bit of a project. Buying one that is all set up, and set up well, simplifies the job quite a bit. You're ready to roll, or at least closer to it. Whether or not that is an important consideration, and how important it is, depends on the person.

Last edited by Niles H.; 10-30-09 at 06:33 PM.
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Old 10-30-09, 06:13 PM   #8
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As far as the durability of that frame goes, it depends on how much it has been ridden, and how hard, and with what kinds of loads.

Heavy loads, many miles, rough roads, hard riding, etc., and it could already have some serious fatigue, or even some cracks that are starting.

Or if it has been in an accident, there could be problems.

It could be fine, though; and most older bikes in good condition that have low mileage (and have been reasonably well treated) still have frames that are good for a lot more riding.

Last edited by Niles H.; 10-30-09 at 06:31 PM.
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Old 10-30-09, 06:23 PM   #9
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Im in san diego, if that helps.

as a sidenote, Ive seen the 520s, regardless of their age, go for 500-600 on ebay. are these reasonable prices?? or is there something about the 520 that gives it such a high resell value?
It helps. I've nothing to say other than to say that I agree with you. I CK'd e-bay both past and current. Nothing of interset in your size. @54 your in a very popular range.
Jenson has it for 1,095 with perhaps a frt. deal, you probably saw that.

The man selling in chula is it ? States mint. What does that meen ? It's an unknown factor.
It could be the deciding factor. The wheels are OK, not the first thing that pops into my mind though. Should be fine. That's all I 've got. Irrespective of region, LHTs are scarce.
I would be reluctant to pull another choice out of my ..... just because. THIS post will attract input from fellow members.
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Old 10-30-09, 06:29 PM   #10
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I'm seeing more Nile's way
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Old 10-30-09, 06:41 PM   #11
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you guys are awesome, thanks for all the great advice.

I think Im more inclined to take the worry-free route and go for the new. I really wanted to get a used bike because repairing and upgrading it would be a great opportunity to learn the mechanics of the bike.

but...in the long run a brand new frame might be a wiser investment, I guess Ill learn as my bike begins to have problems.
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Old 10-30-09, 06:56 PM   #12
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by the way, old and new, I think the rims are mavic (good quality?) and are big enough for touring tires, but it uses flat spokes, which I hear are uncommon. If its true, this could be a problem if I need replacement spokes out in the open country, do you agree? and replacing the rims would cost me 200+ right? not to mention the other components that probably need to be replaced.

I think Ive convinced myself to go new. haha
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Old 10-30-09, 07:16 PM   #13
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I looked at a 1983 or 84 Trek 520 on craigslist not too long ago. In the process of learning about the bikes from those years, I came across a website that had brochures of the old models. I think this was it:

http://www.vintage-trek.com/

One thing I learned was that the 520 used to be accompanied by the 620 and 720 models, which were both above the 520 in the lineup; so at one point, the 520 was the "light" model, and in the years when Trek had the other models, the 520 wasn't necessarily the best touring bike in Trek's stable. For example, the one I was looking at didn't have rack mount points halfway up the fork, but the 720 did. So you can't just assume that an old 520 is the same as what they have today, only older and more classic. For any particular bike, it's probably worth checking to see where it fit into the lineup the year it was made.

Neil
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Old 10-30-09, 07:32 PM   #14
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by the way, old and new, I think the rims are mavic (good quality?) and are big enough for touring tires, but it uses flat spokes, which I hear are uncommon. If its true, this could be a problem if I need replacement spokes out in the open country, do you agree? and replacing the rims would cost me 200+ right? not to mention the other components that probably need to be replaced.

I think Ive convinced myself to go new. haha
JUST CAUGHT THAT.. what you say here... My thoughts exactly. Mavics a major Co.
Those particular hoops are what i'm familiar with being a NON- tourer. Blades were a fad, not nec. inferior but unlikely as a "choice" for being H/D. new rims or excellant used YES @ 2
other components are worth investigating. Re-doing a bike much past that takes on a whole new endeavor.

DO READ what Niel wrote, the model line-up got by me. Trek now has the 520 and ONLY the 520. Others were out back then as per my memory and NIEL. A new bike is a good choice. Even goin' head to head in dozens of posts pertainig to Old and New (sorry) have resulted in the concensus leaning in favor of LHTs. Miyata 1000s, Spec. Univega etc. Lord knows that I'm an Old Softy for old bikes but.....
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Old 10-30-09, 08:00 PM   #15
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I bought one in '85, which was a little different, "sports geometry" with 501 tubing. I've ridden it 2-3K miles a year ever since, recreation,commuting and touring. I upgraded a few things over the years but wouldn't trade it for anything, certainly no measly $500. But that's just my opinion after 25 years with it.
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Old 10-31-09, 03:19 PM   #16
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i bought an 88/89 trek 520 for $500 a few years back

well worth it

when i first got it i couldn't even tell it was used except for the fact that it had bar end shifters and gatorskins

i rode that bike rain/snow or shine before it was stolen.

if you like how it rides and it is in good condition then it might as well be new. i know when i buy items used that they'll be more beat up by my doing within a month than they have been their whole previous existence
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Old 10-31-09, 09:11 PM   #17
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I would love to get a hold of an older 720,620, or 520 frame to build up. I recently built up a 2004 520 frame set and it is a great bike. I test rode a new LHT and did not really care for it. It was too sluggish for my liking and I was also not enthusiastic about 26" wheels, which is what you will be stuck with for 54cm frames and smaller.
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Old 10-31-09, 10:10 PM   #18
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hey dubois,

Sorry to hear about the theft, which brings up another reason for me to steer away from the used bike - the bike could be stolen, and the thought of buying someone else's baby makes me queasy.
Not that im accusing the seller for theft, but its just something that'll always hang over my head.

and kaliayev, since you brought up the ol' 520 vs LHT debate, I was thinking maybe I can ditch both the 520 and the LHT and go for a crosscheck. !!!!! (I know, I know, I've read the LHT vs crosscheck threads)
I wish I had money for both... :/
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Old 10-31-09, 10:18 PM   #19
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84 520 that I got only a few months ago. I didn't pay $500 for it but that was only because the guys selling it thought it would make a "nice fixie"

Now that I have it and have a bunch of miles under me. I would have been happy to pay $500 for a complete bike. I would have double and triple checked it though and if anything was out of sort, asked for a break.

That being said I suppose the crosscheck would work also.
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Old 10-31-09, 11:05 PM   #20
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Sorry, not really trying to start a debate, just trying to throw some balance to old and new's "consensus" statement regarding LHTs. I am sure the LHT is a fine tourer.

Regarding the vintage 620 and the 520. If my memory serves me right did not the 520 actually have a longer chain stay length?
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Old 11-01-09, 06:10 AM   #21
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I had a 1983 Trek 520 that I bought new (it cost $365 in the fall of 1983). As Neil said, this was the low end of Trek's touring line. Reynolds 501 tubing, low end parts, limited braze-ons, rode like the tank it was...

In 2005, I ended up giving the bike away. Now that I see what people are willing to pay for these "vintage" bikes, I wish I had held on to it.
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Old 11-01-09, 09:48 AM   #22
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hey dubois,

Sorry to hear about the theft, which brings up another reason for me to steer away from the used bike - the bike could be stolen, and the thought of buying someone else's baby makes me queasy.
Not that im accusing the seller for theft, but its just something that'll always hang over my head.

and kaliayev, since you brought up the ol' 520 vs LHT debate, I was thinking maybe I can ditch both the 520 and the LHT and go for a crosscheck. !!!!! (I know, I know, I've read the LHT vs crosscheck threads)
I wish I had money for both... :/
I would want you to buy it! What pains me the most about it being stolen is the thought of it rotting away in someone's yard. Knowing that you would be riding it many miles on fully loaded tours would make me content.
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Old 11-02-09, 10:48 AM   #23
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whoever mentioned fatigue and 'cracks' on the frame is absolutely wrong. A steel frame will never fail from fatigue.

Rust maybe, but not fatigue.

If you want new, buy the bruce gordon BLT, but I would buy the used bike, personally. Add a nice set of racks and panniers, and schwalbe marathon supreme tires and you are sitting pretty.
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Old 11-02-09, 04:29 PM   #24
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whoever mentioned fatigue and 'cracks' on the frame is absolutely wrong. A steel frame will never fail from fatigue.

Rust maybe, but not fatigue.

If you want new, buy the bruce gordon BLT, but I would buy the used bike, personally. Add a nice set of racks and panniers, and schwalbe marathon supreme tires and you are sitting pretty.
sorry for my ignorance, but is rust going to affect the integrity of the frame?

and lets say i buy the bike, take it apart and examine the inside of the frame and i see rust, is there a way to get rid of it?
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Old 11-02-09, 04:36 PM   #25
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i also want to reiterate, comes with mavic MA-40 rims with bladed spokes. good or bad?
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