Trek 520 vs Bruce Gordon BLT
Some comments in another thread led me to investigate these two bikes. Wow! what a difference.
The Trek 520 was a great bike just a few years ago but is now just a poor imitation of a touring bike. The gearing is wrong (way too high) and some moron installed a threadless fork/headset - now the handlebar is WAY lower than the saddle. Would you want to ride this thing cross country? Not me!
Fixing this bike would require changing the crankset, fork, stem, and headset.
A crankset costs about $100, headset about $25. A real touring fork made for expeditions and loaded panniers will cost $300 (from Bruce Gordon - there are cheaper forks available but a properly built expedition fork won't be much cheaper than this). A chromoly stem for touring will cost $50 or more. By the time you are finished making all these improvements it will have been cheaper just to buy the Bruce Gordon BLT.
Note the Trek520 photo below and compare it with the photos at http://www.bgcycles.com/ - you'll see what I mean.