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A tale of two tourers: Trek 520 vs Schwinn Le Tour

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A tale of two tourers: Trek 520 vs Schwinn Le Tour

Old 08-22-21, 10:49 AM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by rustystrings61 View Post
Trek’s rise to power helped in large part by their sponsorship of a cheat stripped of 7 Tour titles
Seems to me Trek was pretty much "in power" by the mid 80s, long before anyone knew Lance Armstrong's name.
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Old 08-22-21, 10:57 AM
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> but I just don't think they're much of an "apples to apples" comparison- not even really an "oranges to tangerines"

You may think that, but liking at them side by side and measuring them, they’re not so far apart. That’s not to say the Trek isn’t better built (it is) or that the Trek doesn’t have much better gearing ( it does). But I’m struck by how comparable the two really seem to be. If you’re disinterested in the comparison, that’s fine.
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Old 08-22-21, 11:04 AM
  #28  
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While the Le Tour is in the “paint booth” I was pleasantly surprised to find that the 520's tires still held air. So I wiped off some grime and took it for a little test ride today.

It’s unfair to make judgements on a bike so in need of tune up and adjustments but it wasn’t bad at all.

Last edited by denaffen; 08-23-21 at 08:29 AM.
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Old 08-22-21, 11:13 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by seedsbelize View Post
I have an '84 Letour Luxe, that I use for touring simply because it has couplers. And it has couplers simply because it was the last bike I still had in the US when I ran out of storage options there. The Suntour Summetric shifters are very nice to use, IMO, especially when they don't snap off as a unit. Mine are coupled with a first gen Cyclone rd. This is a match made in heaven. And an unknown(at the monment)fd. I'd like to put a Suntour Spirt on it, but I don't know if they shift three rings. I guess there is one way to find out.
I usually set up spirts as wide range doubles but they will do a triple. The best value front derailleur ever made. I wish I had a hundred of em.
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Old 08-22-21, 11:21 AM
  #30  
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Poorly staged pic but here it is.
this is an 89 I think. Trutemper and quite light. I dimpled the chain stays a little for 650b clearance and am still working on what rack to use but I must say for an entry level frameset it's excellent.

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Old 08-22-21, 02:41 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by Pompiere View Post
I've got another one of the Mississippi built Le Tours, a 1988. I keep playing around with different drivetrains. At one point I installed a triple and bar ends to make it more of a touring bike.


1988 Schwinn Le Tour
I generally don't like fade paint jobs, but I like that one.
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Old 08-22-21, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by 52telecaster View Post
I usually set up spirts as wide range doubles but they will do a triple. The best value front derailleur ever made. I wish I had a hundred of em.
I have three or four. Next time I'm coming north I'll be in touch.
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Old 08-22-21, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by seedsbelize View Post
I have three or four. Next time I'm coming north I'll be in touch.
Please and thankyou!
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Old 08-22-21, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by thumpism View Post
Not every year. I sold Le Tour Luxes in the '80s and the early ones had centerpulls. Later ones ('86 and later?) had cantilevers.
Here's an early LTL with centerpulls. Cantis came out the year after I stopped working at a Schwinn place.

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace...21300029847330

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Old 08-23-21, 11:54 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
With the fork pointing straight ahead, run a string from the rear dropouts to the front fork ends, then measure the vertical distance from the string to the center of the bottom bracket shell.
As I measure it -- and I acknowledge my measurements may be suspect -- I found a ~6cm drop on the LeTour and slightly more, about 6.5cm on the Trek.

I also measured the wheelbase and came up with ~410 on the Le Tour, and ~415 on the Trek.
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Old 08-23-21, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by denaffen View Post
As I measure it -- and I acknowledge my measurements may be suspect -- I found a ~6cm drop on the LeTour and slightly more, about 6.5cm on the Trek.
That sounds about right. 5mm is not a huge difference, but in general a lower bottom bracket feels more stable and tracks better, while a higher bottom bracket gives better pedal clearance in cornering.

I also measured the wheelbase and came up with ~410 on the Le Tour, and ~415 on the Trek.
Is that chainstay length in millimeters? Wheelbase should be a little over 1m. Longer chainstays give better heel clearance when using panniers.
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Old 08-23-21, 07:57 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
That sounds about right. 5mm is not a huge difference, but in general a lower bottom bracket feels more stable and tracks better, while a higher bottom bracket gives better pedal clearance in cornering.



Is that chainstay length in millimeters? Wheelbase should be a little over 1m. Longer chainstays give better heel clearance when using panniers.
that’s overall wheelbase, although I may need to re-measure. I had measured the stays before and they’re about 5mm different, with the 520 being just a smidge longer.
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Old 08-23-21, 09:07 PM
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...i dimly recall the Spirt's mechanics are inverted - the spring 'relaxes' the cage onto the big ring.

if that's correct, surely the Symmetric shifter auto-trim function will send the FD in the wrong direction?


Originally Posted by seedsbelize View Post
I have an '84 Letour Luxe, that I use for touring simply because it has couplers. And it has couplers simply because it was the last bike I still had in the US when I ran out of storage options there. The Suntour Summetric shifters are very nice to use, IMO, especially when they don't snap off as a unit. Mine are coupled with a first gen Cyclone rd. This is a match made in heaven. And an unknown(at the monment)fd. I'd like to put a Suntour Spirt on it, but I don't know if they shift three rings. I guess there is one way to find out.
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Old 08-23-21, 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by niliraga View Post
...i dimly recall the Spirt's mechanics are inverted - the spring 'relaxes' the cage onto the big ring.

if that's correct, surely the Symmetric shifter auto-trim function will send the FD in the wrong direction?
I didn't realize there was an auto trim function on the shifters but since I use bar ends it's not an issue. The reverse action is what I find so appealing about spirts and some other suntours.
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Old 08-24-21, 06:49 AM
  #40  
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I have an older than yours Mississippi built Schwinn Le Tour Luxe that I thought would just be ok. After riding it, I like it a lot. The biggest knock I have with the Mississippi built Schwinn's is the paint and decals. They are not anywhere near as good as Chicago built Schwinn's and not as durable as some other comparable frames. It looks like you are taking care of that issue and therefore evening the playing field again.

Your can measure them, weigh them, analyze them, but the proof is in the puddin', as they say. Find out which one you prefer when you ride them. You may even want to swap the wheel set so that you have better comparison.

I'm with you on the comparison of Canti's to sidepull brakes. I don't really favor one over the other.

You have a good dilemma there denaffen ..

I have a similar one I have my Le Tour Luxe and a similar Traveler. Both from Mississippi.. One of the reasons that I may favor the LeTour is that the Traveler has a fade paint job. And the Traveler has double butted True Temper tubing and the Le Tours is straight gauge. It is older than yours, At this point, I am keeping both. I set them up differently. The Le Tour Luxe has bar end shifters with drop bars and a triple chainring (now).
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Old 08-24-21, 07:09 AM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by niliraga View Post
the Spirt's mechanics are inverted ... surely the Symmetric shifter auto-trim function will send the FD in the wrong direction?
You can setup the cam in those shifters to work in either direction.
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Old 08-24-21, 08:33 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by rustystrings61 View Post
Schwinn’s demise due to poor marketing and business decisions and Trek’s rise to power helped in large part by their sponsorship of a cheat stripped of 7 Tour titles are irrelevant in discussing the relative merits of these two bikes.
Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
Seems to me Trek was pretty much "in power" by the mid 80s, long before anyone knew Lance Armstrong's name.
The Golden Boy is correct - Trek's fortunes were already headed steeply upwards when they started sponsoring pro teams , incl. Armstrong. Furthermore, while I believe Armstrong was a cheat, and a particularly nasty one, that was (is?) the reality of pro cycling (and most pro sports) in general. Man many other riders, and even whole teams were caught doping.
Schwinns, while generally very good value, were never as good quality as Treks, with few exceptions. Schwinn also made the mistake of helping develop Giant into the behemoth they are today in order to cut their own costs, while Trek continued investment in their USA manufacturing capabilities until the mid 90s, when the bulk of their frame production started being done overseas.
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Old 08-24-21, 08:37 AM
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Trek was certainly an up and comer before Lance, sure - and Schwinn did themselves no favors with poor marketing choices. But when talking the difference between two mid-grade bikes, the relative fortunes of the manufacturing firms has zippidee doo dah day to do with the relative merits of the bikes themselves, which was my initial main point.
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Old 08-24-21, 08:45 AM
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denaffen Great job on the LeTour repaint. Really like the color. Thank you for posting your overhaul of these 2 C&V bikes, looking forward to the finished products. As often happens on BF, much information on the LeTour series and Trek tourers has accumulated. Good to have it in one place. I agree with rustystrings61 that a Marque going out of business doesn't necessarily speak poorly of the bikes they built. For example Motobecane, Bridgestone, Stella and many others still have quite a following. Adding a link to the 1985 Schwinn catalog: https://bikehistory.org/catalogs/1985.html Don
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Old 08-24-21, 11:12 AM
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Just ordered stickers, which cost me more than 2x what the Schwinn did. But on the plus side, Velocals did reproduce the "made in America" sticker that wasn't in their normal inventory. They do nice work.

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Old 08-24-21, 03:20 PM
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hi all, been lurking a while, thought i'd try coming out of my shell...
,doesn't the "le tour" name refer (rather walter mitty-ish-ly) to 'le tour' de france, rather than to it being a 'touring' bike? just a thought.

cheers,
rob
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Old 08-24-21, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by denaffen View Post
that’s overall wheelbase, although I may need to re-measure. I had measured the stays before and they’re about 5mm different, with the 520 being just a smidge longer.
Keep in mind you're comparing two bicycles of a different size.

For apples to apples comparison, here are some published wheelbases.
23" Le Tour: 40.75"/1035.05mm
22.5" 520: 1056mm

I took a guess that the 23" Letour is about the same as a 22.5" 520, but if it's more like a 24" 520 then the difference is even larger. 36mm or almost 1.5"! Admit it, the Le Tour isn't a touring bike!

23" Le Tour: 40.75"/1035.05mm
24" 520: 1071mm

Geo charts below.

85 Schwinn Catalog (edited to move the columns close together)



88 Trek Catalog
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Old 08-24-21, 06:46 PM
  #48  
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there is absolutely no way there is 35mm difference in these two frames wheelbase
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Old 08-25-21, 09:54 AM
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The Le Tour has its (hopefully) last coat of paint and is ready for polishing.


Meanwhile, I just keep riding the 520 more and more. 5 miles one day, 6 the next, 8 this morning. It seems to always want to go more than I have time for. And I still haven’t done much except a light cleaning, throw some air in the ancient tires and swap out the worn out seat.
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Old 08-25-21, 10:50 PM
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Originally Posted by denaffen View Post
The Le Tour has its (hopefully) last coat of paint and is ready for polishing.


Meanwhile, I just keep riding the 520 more and more. 5 miles one day, 6 the next, 8 this morning. It seems to always want to go more than I have time for. And I still haven’t done much except a light cleaning, throw some air in the ancient tires and swap out the worn out seat.
That color is so, so money.

Are you going to decal it?

--Shannon
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