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1983 Trek 520 Gunmetal Blue

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1983 Trek 520 Gunmetal Blue

Old 08-22-18, 08:26 PM
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1983 Trek 520 Gunmetal Blue

So I sold my 61cm Schwinn Tempo and decided to pick something smaller and capable of using wider tires and fenders. A few days after selling it I found this Trek, and picked it up for $105, after some haggling. It seems all original, except for the saddle and seat post. Besides that the front derailleur is a Suntour Cyclone M-II not the original Ar, and the fork has either been replaced or polished. Does anyone know if those are the original downtube shifters?

Cosmetically it is in nice shape for its age, it has some chips here and there, none of which are very apparent, and some scratches around bottom bracket.

Now on a side note I'd like to point out that according to the Vintage Trek online serial number data base, this bike should be a 500 model, however, its clearly not. And it should be a 21in frame; I have yet to measure it, but it does seem like it.

Whether I underpaid or overpaid is irrelevant, as I am content with the transaction.

My immediate plans are to do a full tune up, new handlebar wrap, brake hoods, chain, a set of 700x 28 Panaracer Gravel King tires as the offer relatively good on road performance and modest off-road performance. Moreover, I am considering replacing the rims with some 700c rims as I'm unsure how well these old hubs will roll, what would anyone recommend? Eventually I'd like to add a rear rack and some fenders, what are suitable candidates for this bike?

I'll post some photos of my previous bike and said Trek.
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Old 08-22-18, 09:13 PM
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Iím not a Trek guy, but itís doubtful the shifters (French) are original, especially with that many Japanese components.

One interesting part of vintage bike acquisition is, often some of the original parts have been replaced over the years. Itís not necessarily a bad thing. If itís to be a rider, original isnít always the best route. Personally, I would look for some Suntour shifters to match the derailleurs, but itís certainly not necessary.

If you are thinking of keeping the wheels, repacking the bearings in the hubs with fresh grease is a good idea.
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Old 08-22-18, 09:40 PM
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The Simplex Retrofrictions are not original, but they're a very nice upgrade. Also, Trek was quite fond of using Huret parts in the early/mid eighties.
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Old 08-23-18, 04:40 AM
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I think you got a really good deal.

According to the catalog, the 500 and 520 shared the same frame and only differed in components- the frame looks to be a really nice "sport touring" geometry- Yours looks to be what Trek referred to as the 21" frame- It looks like several of your components have been swapped out- but you came out way, way ahead. The Cyclone FD is an upgrade to the AR or ARX. The Simplex Retrofriction shifters are THE singularly best friction shifters ever. Go ahead- google it.

As far as the stock components go- everything is on the "very nice" side of things- not *quite* to the same level as the Cyclone and Retrofrictions. The crank is the super cool SR "Custom" 86 BCD crank- the same as the Stronglight 99 and some of the SR Apex cranks- those give you a lot of chainring options. Everything else is "good stuff." One of the things I think people always dismiss is the Mirrycle Mirror- I think the non-aero Mirrycle Mirror is the best mirror solution. It's positioned so you just barely have to glance over. You know EXACTLY where the mirror will be, and you know EXACTLY where the mirror will be pointed- they don't move unless you move or bump it. You don't need to waste time looking for the mirror, you don't need to think about where the mirror is pointing and have to adjust your bars or your head, you don't need to tilt your head down as you would with a bar end mirror- I wish someone could come up with as good of a solution for modern brake levers as that Mirrycle...

The one thing I would look at closer is the fork. Trek didn't chrome their forks, generally speaking. That looks to be an aftermarket fork. Generally, people don't replace forks for the fun of it- The 500 series frame came with either Ishiwata Mangalight or Tange Mangalloy forks- really nice for on a tour/sport touring bike. If it's like the FD and shifters, the previous owner may have just swapped out a CrMo or 531 or Columbus fork... Just in case- take a good look at the top tube and the down tube right behind the head tube lug- see if you see any evidence of frame damage- ripple in the tubing or paint. it doesn't look to be bent or anything- but just check.

The only other thing... some people don't like the rear hubs. Maillard/Atom made some really nice hubs (I think my Maillard 700 hub is my smoothest spinning hub I own) - and the Helicomatic was a really forward thinking piece of engineering. But it had drawbacks. To me- I don't want to play ****-**** games- replace the wheels- go with 700C and that allows you a much, much wider selection of tires.

All in all- a really nice bike- totally worthy of putting time and money into.

Congratulations!
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Old 08-23-18, 08:29 AM
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That Schwinn Tempo looks really nice and fast.

I hope the Trek fits better. I'd rather have the Schwinn.

The Trek seems to be an '83 and the Tempo an '88.
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Old 08-23-18, 11:49 AM
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Seat post looks bent. I'd replace it with a stronger one with built-in clamp. The Heliocomatic rear hub is not the most durable, but if clean and greased and adjusted, could last as long as you need it. If the rims are in good shape why not just use the wheels that are there, and that fit?

Seat post. Tires. Handlebar tape and new rubber hoods. Under $100. Ride and enjoy!
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Old 08-23-18, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by specialmonkey
That Schwinn Tempo looks really nice and fast.

I hope the Trek fits better. I'd rather have the Schwinn.

The Trek seems to be an '83 and the Tempo an '88.
Yea it does seem to fit better, I felt as if I was stretching my self a little too much on the Schwinn. Thank you, I was glad how it came out but ultimately the size didn't allow me to enjoy it to well. But yes, boy was it fast.
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Old 08-23-18, 10:05 PM
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Congrats on what definitely seems a great find for a sweet price!

Iím in a similar boat in that I recently sold my daily rider, a UO-8, that was too big for me. If all goes well I should be picking up a Ď84 Trek 510 this weekend. It appears gently used, well stored, and all original save for the pedals. As it happens, I have a pair of SR made SP-150 pedals to bring it back to specs.

But once again, congrats on a nice bike! May it fit you well, and bring you many pleasant miles!
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Old 08-23-18, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by altenwrencher
Seat post looks bent. I'd replace it with a stronger one with built-in clamp. The Heliocomatic rear hub is not the most durable, but if clean and greased and adjusted, could last as long as you need it. If the rims are in good shape why not just use the wheels that are there, and that fit?

Seat post. Tires. Handlebar tape and new rubber hoods. Under $100. Ride and enjoy!
Thanks for the recommendations.

I have a SR post that originally on the Schwinn that I plan on using. I was planning on putting 700c wheels, however after thinking things through, I decided to not replace anything that isn't broken. I think just replacing the worn parts and doing a tune up will suffice for now. I'll give it some time before throwing money at it.

Do the brakes deteriorate with age? Should I replace them? Where can I find correct-fitting replacement shifter cables? I know that the ends of the cables often are different, and I suspect they may be harder to source. Any tips are welcome.
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Old 08-23-18, 10:38 PM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy
I think you got a really good deal.

According to the catalog, the 500 and 520 shared the same frame and only differed in components- the frame looks to be a really nice "sport touring" geometry- Yours looks to be what Trek referred to as the 21" frame- It looks like several of your components have been swapped out- but you came out way, way ahead. The Cyclone FD is an upgrade to the AR or ARX. The Simplex Retrofriction shifters are THE singularly best friction shifters ever. Go ahead- google it.

As far as the stock components go- everything is on the "very nice" side of things- not *quite* to the same level as the Cyclone and Retrofrictions. The crank is the super cool SR "Custom" 86 BCD crank- the same as the Stronglight 99 and some of the SR Apex cranks- those give you a lot of chainring options. Everything else is "good stuff." One of the things I think people always dismiss is the Mirrycle Mirror- I think the non-aero Mirrycle Mirror is the best mirror solution. It's positioned so you just barely have to glance over. You know EXACTLY where the mirror will be, and you know EXACTLY where the mirror will be pointed- they don't move unless you move or bump it. You don't need to waste time looking for the mirror, you don't need to think about where the mirror is pointing and have to adjust your bars or your head, you don't need to tilt your head down as you would with a bar end mirror- I wish someone could come up with as good of a solution for modern brake levers as that Mirrycle...

The one thing I would look at closer is the fork. Trek didn't chrome their forks, generally speaking. That looks to be an aftermarket fork. Generally, people don't replace forks for the fun of it- The 500 series frame came with either Ishiwata Mangalight or Tange Mangalloy forks- really nice for on a tour/sport touring bike. If it's like the FD and shifters, the previous owner may have just swapped out a CrMo or 531 or Columbus fork... Just in case- take a good look at the top tube and the down tube right behind the head tube lug- see if you see any evidence of frame damage- ripple in the tubing or paint. it doesn't look to be bent or anything- but just check.

The only other thing... some people don't like the rear hubs. Maillard/Atom made some really nice hubs (I think my Maillard 700 hub is my smoothest spinning hub I own) - and the Helicomatic was a really forward thinking piece of engineering. But it had drawbacks. To me- I don't want to play ****-**** games- replace the wheels- go with 700C and that allows you a much, much wider selection of tires.

All in all- a really nice bike- totally worthy of putting time and money into.

Congratulations!
Thanks for your insights, I'm still quite the novice when it comes to bikes so it means a lot that you share your knowledge and provide useful advice.

I'm glad to hear these components are functional upgrades. I was worried that they merely replaced a broken component with the least expensive component with an equally lesser quality.
I too find the mirror as a useful and practical component, however, the mirror is cracked. I'll be on the lookout for one on ebay.

I'll inspect the paint and frame, it never occurred to me that that could have been a possibility. If anything, I thought it was either an aesthetic or functional upgrade. I sure hope it was the latter.

I was considering the 700c upgrade, put I think I'll wait it out and see how these rims perform with a good overhaul and new tires.

Thanks, I can't say I regret the decision, but I'll miss the Tempo, it was a sharp bike. However, I look forward to getting this thing back on the road after being neglected for so long.
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Old 08-23-18, 11:11 PM
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Originally Posted by deux jambes
Congrats on what definitely seems a great find for a sweet price!

I’m in a similar boat in that I recently sold my daily rider, a UO-8, that was too big for me. If all goes well I should be picking up a ‘84 Trek 510 this weekend. It appears gently used, well stored, and all original save for the pedals. As it happens, I have a pair of SR made SP-150 pedals to bring it back to specs.

But once again, congrats on a nice bike! May it fit you well, and bring you many pleasant miles!

Thank you, I was willing to pay the asking price, but I figured any amount I saved off the original price could go directly back to the bike. Ultimately the seller and I were satisfied with the transaction.

That was a wise choice. I was actually quite hesitant at first because I was so enamored with the Schwinn. I got it for a steal, it came out looking sharp after putting some elbow grease and replacing a few worn items, and it was explosively fast. However I could not escape the fact that it wasn't the best fit for me. Now this bike seems just right.

If you do get the bike, definitely share some photos. Once I finish getting this bike road ready, I'll be posting up some photos. Because, if your at all like me, you appreciate the fact others take the time and effort to keep something on the road that is a classic. Not many people have the inclination to take on such an endeavor, but to each his own.

Last edited by misctrader; 08-23-18 at 11:22 PM.
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Old 08-24-18, 03:44 AM
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I agree the fork is likely a replacement, this often happens after a frontal crash that damages the factory fork. I would look closely where the TT and DT meet the head tube to look for impact damage. Also, there's a huge size disparity between the two bikes, hopefully this size is correct?
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Old 08-28-18, 05:02 PM
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The bike is in great shape, there is absolutely no evidence of frame damage. I suspect it was an upgrade. Its a Tange 2 fork, which after a quick search I found that it is somewhat similar in quality to 531 tubing, with the exception that it is thicker because it is used on touring bikes. However don't quote me on that.
It must have been installed along with the Tange headset which wasn't originally on the bike I believe.

So I've completely disassembled the bike and cleaned every component, repacked ball bearings in the hubs, bottom bracket and headset. I've put a new seat post, along with some Brooks bar tape and added new brake hoods. I ordered a clean original Avocet saddle that was installed on the 1983 Trek 620s, along with some toe clips and leather toe straps. I'm also waiting for a new set of tires. I'm quite eager to get it on the road and start riding.


I'll post some pictures when I finish putting everything together.
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Old 08-28-18, 06:20 PM
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I recently purchased a 1980 Trek 412 that didnít have a single original part. What I really was buying were the parts that had been swapped over from a 1984 Trek 720. This 412 was also missing itís original fork that had been replaced by a unknown chrome fork. After removing all the components, the fork ended up being an Ishiwata chrome fork upgrade. However the frame down tube was ever so slightly bent. Very hard to see by the naked eye but after running a straight edge against the down tube revealed to be bent near the down tube shift levers. The top tube was straight and level. Again, it was really difficult to see and no stress cracks were noticed at any brazing joints. The only reason I inspected this frame for damage was due to it not having its original fork. I was just curious. Hopefully this isnít the case on your 520. It does look good with a shiny fork.
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Old 08-28-18, 08:17 PM
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That 520 is looking nice. But in the first picture of the Tempo, was the saddle set at the right height for you? If it was, I think the Trek's going to be too small. You'd need an extra long seat post to get at least a couple inches of insertion to be safe and you might find the handlebars too low. How tall are you?
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Old 09-01-18, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Hobbiano
That 520 is looking nice. But in the first picture of the Tempo, was the saddle set at the right height for you? If it was, I think the Trek's going to be too small. You'd need an extra long seat post to get at least a couple inches of insertion to be safe and you might find the handlebars too low. How tall are you?

The saddle height of the Tempo was adjusted for the buyer. I took the photo before I sold it.
I'm 5'9". I bought a long seat post for the Trek as I felt the original would not offer enough height. I have it put together and it seems comfortable and like a proper fitting bike.
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Old 09-01-18, 07:19 PM
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Thats good news. I had a Trek mountain bike, an '84 850 I think, that was that same color. Wish I still had it.
For what its worth, I'm about 5'-7 1/2", and thats a perfect fit for me too, although a slghtly taller stem like a Nitto Deluxe, helps get the bars up to near saddle height.
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Old 09-01-18, 07:24 PM
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Here is the finished product. I decided to put on a saddle from a 1983 Trek 620 to keep it period correct. I was going for a cyclocoss themed touring bike. Given this bike is more of a sport-tourer as opposed to a full fledged tourer, I thought it wouldn't hurt to try.
The tires are Club Roost Cross Terra. They are 27x 1 3/8. They have an aggressive side wall that poses clearance issues with the chainstays. There is no rubbing, however if I lower the PSI there may be some rubbing. If the wheel were to go slightly out of true it would also rub. So I think I may have to return them and get something smaller.

I rode the bike with another set of tires and it felt great, I felt the frame fit me well. However, I do feel this is woefully slow relative to my previous Schwinn, which felt like a rocket relative to this.
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Old 09-01-18, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Hobbiano
Thats good news. I had a Trek mountain bike, an '84 850 I think, that was that same color. Wish I still had it.
For what its worth, I'm about 5'-7 1/2", and thats a perfect fit for me too, although a slghtly taller stem like a Nitto Deluxe, helps get the bars up to near saddle height.
I haven't felt the need to raise the stem, since at the moment I don't intend on doing any touring. By having it lower it allows me to ride lower as if in a racing bike, albeit this is anything but that. I guess I guess my previous bikes rubbed off on this build a little bit.
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Old 09-01-18, 08:58 PM
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I used to ride with the bars fairly low, almost all the way down, but over the years they've been inching upward, but are still anywhere from a couple inches below the saddle to almost level with the saddle. And I used to use a 120mm stem with a 54-55cm top tube. Now I like about a 90mm or even an 80mm. It's just a little less of an areodynamic posture and a bit more relaxed posture appropriate for the speed I find myself riding these days.
Looking at that last picture, that bike would fit me good with the saddle lowered to about 27 1/2" (center of crank to top of saddle along the CL of seat tube, and with the handlebars at the same or a little higher height then they are, but with a 90 or 100mm stem.
Your bike looks great! It would be faster with some light, supple tires - maybe 27X1-1/8 or1-1/4. Panaracer Pasela's with a folding bead would be pretty good. You'd have to convert to 700c rims to be able to fit the really nice tires, though. The 27" selection is somewhat limited.
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