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Another Touring Project - 84 Trek 520

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Another Touring Project - 84 Trek 520

Old 09-25-21, 11:09 AM
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Another Touring Project - 84 Trek 520

Apparently I'm going through a "Cantilevers and a good deal? I'll buy it!" phase. Found this Trek 520 locally, right up the street even, and couldn't resist. It's been hanging in a garage for years and appears to be completely stock, minus the saddle and well, the pedals are missing. It's pretty dusty and mucked up with bone dry grease, but I'm confident it'll clean up nicely. No surface rust and the paint looks flawless. Judging by the original brake pads and chainrings, it didn't see very many miles at all. Anyhow, I'll be doing a full teardown / rebuild and swapping a few parts.

I wasn't familiar with Helicomatic Hubs, but after some quick searching, I'm glad I have extra wheelsets to choose a good replacement. I'm not opposed to 27", but may lean towards a 700c conversion since I also have extra tires in that size. We'll see how it works out with the brake adjustment.

I know the 520 is situated below the 620, and 720 models, but gotta stay it seems like pretty sweet ride. At a glance, on par with my 84 Miyata 610. Hoping to start the deep cleaning this weekend and get it back on the road soon.













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Old 09-25-21, 12:06 PM
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Looks to be in great shape. I'm not a fan of the helicomatics but, on the other hand, these look to have little use on them & those rims are decent. If you had a decent thread on freewheel hub, with similar flange dimensions, you could swap it with the helico, hopefully using the same spokes, and those wheels would probably last a good while. The front hub probably wont give you any trouble, it's just the rear helicomatic that's problematic. Or just clean out the old grease, regrease them, and get some miles out of them before worrying about it. If it were me, I'd want a nicer set of wheels eventually, but I'd be tempted to get some miles out of those first, unless somebody else wanted them. Man, it looks like it was never ridden! Great score!
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Old 09-25-21, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Hobbiano View Post
Looks to be in great shape. I'm not a fan of the helicomatics but, on the other hand, these look to have little use on them & those rims are decent. If you had a decent thread on freewheel hub, with similar flange dimensions, you could swap it with the helico, hopefully using the same spokes, and those wheels would probably last a good while. The front hub probably wont give you any trouble, it's just the rear helicomatic that's problematic. Or just clean out the old grease, regrease them, and get some miles out of them before worrying about it. If it were me, I'd want a nicer set of wheels eventually, but I'd be tempted to get some miles out of those first, unless somebody else wanted them. Man, it looks like it was never ridden! Great score!
I suffer from matchy matchy syndrome, so replacing just the rear hub would really hurt my brain. Luckily I have 3 decent spare wheelset options... A) Maillard sealed mechanism 36/40 on 27" rims, B) Suntour XCE 36/40 on 27" rims, and C) Sansin sealed system 36/36 on 700c rims. I'll definitely need to buy tires if I stick with 27", but then might need different brakes if I go with 700c.

So far it's cleaning up real nice. Bottom Bracket had petrified grease, but luckily no pitting on the races. Cleaned out the very light rust inside the seat tube and fork and treated with T-9. Making quicker progress than expected!
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Old 09-25-21, 03:41 PM
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Count me in the "cantilever and good deal" club too.
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Old 09-25-21, 05:25 PM
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Nice! Almost picked this one up myself but itís a little tall for me. Iím in Phoenix.
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Old 09-25-21, 10:44 PM
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Beautiful condition for that 520! Classic Trek subdued taupe/pewter metallic. Looks great. You'll find another vote for 700C whenever you decide to do it. I'm in a "Touring bike and a good deal? I'll take it!" phase, almost like cantis, except 1982 was the one year a 720 didn't come with with cantis, or 27" wheels (700C was spec'd, but the owner put 27s on, lol). Looks like you have the 24" size. 45.5cm chain stays, too. Very nice!
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Old 09-25-21, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by polymorphself View Post
Nice! Almost picked this one up myself but itís a little tall for me. Iím in Phoenix.
Yeah it's pretty much at the max of standover height for me, but top tube is just right.

Let me know if you ever need help with a Tucson pick up. I could always store it in my garage until there's a convenient time for you to come down.
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Old 09-26-21, 12:23 AM
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Originally Posted by squarenoise View Post
Yeah it's pretty much at the max of standover height for me, but top tube is just right.

Let me know if you ever need help with a Tucson pick up. I could always store it in my garage until there's a convenient time for you to come down.
Awesome, thank you! And likewise for Phoenix.
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Old 09-26-21, 05:25 AM
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I recently swapped a used heliocomatic hub back into an 83 Peugeot to replace a damaged one. Matchy matchy syndrome combined with the “try it out first in stock condition” complex. I did like the 13-30 range on the freewheel and it shifted nicely too. I won’t be going across state or country and have many bikes, so I will ride it until it gives up. It seems you have quite a few choices and perhaps don’t suffer from that “stock” affliction. Nice bike in nice condition. It would be impossible to pass up.
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Old 09-26-21, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by sd5782 View Post
I recently swapped a used heliocomatic hub back into an 83 Peugeot to replace a damaged one. Matchy matchy syndrome combined with the ďtry it out first in stock conditionĒ complex. I did like the 13-30 range on the freewheel and it shifted nicely too. I wonít be going across state or country and have many bikes, so I will ride it until it gives up. It seems you have quite a few choices and perhaps donít suffer from that ďstockĒ affliction. Nice bike in nice condition. It would be impossible to pass up.
I used to have the "stock affliction", but then shifted to period correct(ish) "upgrades" are okay. Sometimes pretending that I bought the bike the year it came out, then made changes as components wore out, haha.

I'll store the Heliocomatic wheels in my garage. Let me know if you ever need another replacement.
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Old 09-26-21, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by RiddleOfSteel View Post
Beautiful condition for that 520! Classic Trek subdued taupe/pewter metallic. Looks great. You'll find another vote for 700C whenever you decide to do it. I'm in a "Touring bike and a good deal? I'll take it!" phase, almost like cantis, except 1982 was the one year a 720 didn't come with with cantis, or 27" wheels (700C was spec'd, but the owner put 27s on, lol). Looks like you have the 24" size. 45.5cm chain stays, too. Very nice!
I just came across your epic Trek 620 project, then realized... Oh! This is the guy with ALL the EPIC projects, haha. Big fan of your bikes and process.
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Old 09-26-21, 04:37 PM
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Congratulations!!!

You *might* need different brakes- I've read of some people having luck with DC 960s- but there's several sets of cantilevers that have enough adjustment to fit to 700C.

Originally Posted by squarenoise View Post
I suffer from matchy matchy syndrome, so replacing just the rear hub would really hurt my brain.
Originally Posted by squarenoise View Post
I used to have the "stock affliction", but then shifted to period correct(ish) "upgrades" are okay. Sometimes pretending that I bought the bike the year it came out, then made changes as components wore out, haha.
I used to not be able to understand why people would specifically get an old bike and throw stuff on there all willy-nilly. A little later I started getting more interested in components- and I stopped looking at bikes as "bikes," but rather a system of combined frame and components to create a bike. I think it kind of started with Suntour Command Shifters- because I wanted to use those shifters- I did whatever mental gymnastics that made it OK to upgrade a 1985 bike as if someone upgraded the bike in 1993 or so. Sometime later I finally figured out that "vintage" frames don't need to have "vintage" components. I am still encumbered by "classic" looking components- I do have trouble with black, plastic-y, swoopy droopy components on a "vintage" frame.

As far as the whole "matchy-matchy" thing- Stuff has to match- and by "match" I mean it has to go together at least to my own particular... idiom. Much like Trek built the tourers with the "eclectic mix" of components- like combining Simpex with Huret with Suntour. As long as things match in a cohesive functional and aesthetically pleasing manner- I don't like things being thrown together.

Speaking of "matching," I've always thought that Sakae CR crankset should have been marketed as a Cyclone crankset because it looks like a propeller or something.
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Old 09-26-21, 05:50 PM
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Originally Posted by squarenoise View Post
I just came across your epic Trek 620 project, then realized... Oh! This is the guy with ALL the EPIC projects, haha. Big fan of your bikes and process.
Thank you, I try! A large market, patience (which is hard!), and allowing one's self to chuck some money at it can make anyone look pretty good, I'd like to think. That 620 will never be worth the money I have into it if I wanted to sell it, so it stays, haha. The 720 I could break even on if I needed to sell it at some point--I think that monetary "justification" helps the purchase, time and monetary investment side of things. That and considerable learning and hopefully relevant information for future buyers of my bikes or the same models. Just a big fan of all the (big) bikes, especially these vintage Treks.
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Old 09-26-21, 05:54 PM
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Those brakes should work just fine for 700C work. If you wanted to, finding a set of Shimano MC70 or MT62 cantis also works and happens to be period correct (if that's a thing for you). They look good and work well, too. They were original to my '85 620 when I ran cantis (MC70s), and handled the 27" to 700C conversion just fine.
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Old 09-27-21, 09:47 AM
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Just picked up a new to me 84 520. Yours seems to have the headset listed in the catalog. How does it feel? I ask because the specks have the word "delrin" (1984 Trek Bicycle Brochure Part 3 - Touring Bikes). Owning a PX10 old delrin is a concern.
The bike looks great.
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Old 09-27-21, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by dmark View Post
Just picked up a new to me 84 520. Yours seems to have the headset listed in the catalog. How does it feel? I ask because the specks have the word "delrin" (1984 Trek Bicycle Brochure Part 3 - Touring Bikes). Owning a PX10 old delrin is a concern.
The bike looks great.
Yeah, I was surprised to see "plastic" cups on a headset. First time encountering that, but they seem fine. The headset spins super smooth actually. I wonder if there are any real world scenarios with one of these exploding? I'm guessing if one of the cups cracked, you'd just have a loose headset, definitely annoying, but maybe not crash causing? Darn it! I wasn't worried about it initially, but now thinking maybe replace while I have it torn down.
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Old 09-27-21, 11:19 AM
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Updates!

Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
You *might* need different brakes- I've read of some people having luck with DC 960s- but there's several sets of cantilevers that have enough adjustment to fit to 700C.
The Dia Compe 960s KIND OF work, but not close enough for my liking. They have the most minimal, if any, vertical adjustment making the brake pad angle down too much. The pads would need to be filed down to make more contact with the rim, soooo I have a set of Shimano BR-AT50s on the way that should do the trick.

Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
Sometime later I finally figured out that "vintage" frames don't need to have "vintage" components. I am still encumbered by "classic" looking components- I do have trouble with black, plastic-y, swoopy droopy components on a "vintage" frame.
Same here! Stems and handlebars are usually were I lean classic looking versus actual vintage. Mainly because of the lack of options for wider bars and taller stems.

Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
Speaking of "matching," I've always thought that Sakae CR crankset should have been marketed as a Cyclone crankset because it looks like a propeller or something.
I can't decide if I like this crankset or not. I think it's a bit visually problematic for me. Like, it's okay from a distance, but almost too wacky looking close up. I have a Sugino AT crankset that's been in the "maybe sell to fund other parts" pile, which I'm now leaning towards keeping to put on the Trek.

Originally Posted by RiddleOfSteel View Post
I think that monetary "justification" helps the purchase, time and monetary investment side of things. That and considerable learning and hopefully relevant information for future buyers of my bikes or the same models.
I'm a big fan of the "figuring things out" factor and put a lot of value in that. Some people might ridicule the time and financial investment, but hey it's my time and my money and it brings me joy and a sense of accomplishment. Wrenching and riding are my therapies.

Originally Posted by RiddleOfSteel View Post
If you wanted to, finding a set of Shimano MC70 or MT62 cantis also works and happens to be period correct (if that's a thing for you).
I LOVE the MC70s and have them on a couple bikes, one being a 27 to 700 conversion and they did work perfectly for that. I also have the AT50s on another bike which seem to be functionally just as good as the MC70s. I just picked up another set at a decent price so I should be good to go.

- - -

Here it is with the 700c wheels and 33.3 Jack Brown tires. I was hoping to make this a fender bike and thereís room in the rear, but not enough clearance in the fork. Weirdly Iíve almost always experienced the opposite (tight rear stays, roomy fork) on every other bike Iíve built up. My current preference is larger tires over having fenders, so Iíll stick with it for now and maybe re-evaluate when itís time for new tires as Iím sure 28s with fenders would work.

Onward!









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Old 09-27-21, 12:27 PM
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Man, sorry that the tire/fender clearance is limited. :/ Reminds me of any vintage x10 Trek up until about 1982 where the front had clearance for a decent tire plus fenders (say, 33s and fenders), and the rear was only 25mm with fender. Made zero sense to me and was the main reason I sold those frames, not wanting to dip into the 650B world just yet at that time.
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Old 09-27-21, 02:37 PM
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I rode one of those for a few years as a commuter and loaded tourer. Despite having less tire clearance than we seem to want these days I found it excellent to ride loaded, like the 30 lbs I had on it for spending a month riding around the North Island of New Zealand way back when. Even with mere 32mm wide tires it coped with both gravel and a touring load extremely well. 700c wheels worked with Mafac tandem cantilevers. Mafacs command a lot of $ but they will help 700c wheels fit some frames that were made for 27".
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Old 09-29-21, 06:04 PM
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Whelp, I’ve officially rabbit-holed this project. I initially intended to use a lot of the stock parts, but then converting to 700c (because I had extra tires) meant switching brakes (to reach), which meant switching brake levers (to match). Then paranoia set in about the headset so that’s being replaced. I also have several nicer “backup” parts, so I have a feeling I’m gonna end up with a completely non original build. Just waiting on headset and brakes to show up, then the rest should fall into place.
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Old 09-29-21, 07:12 PM
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That fender clearance in the front seems bizarre on this bike. How much the various mid 80s touring models offered in this regard is always interesting to me. I seem to have lucked out with my 86 Voyageur in this regard as it fits 35s with fenders in front and back comfortably enough.

It looks like you may have just enough room up front. Have you tried putting a fender in there just to see?
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Old 09-29-21, 08:08 PM
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Ah yes, mission/scope creep via component dominoes. Or just an all non-original build from the get-go. It's why I try to just buy framesets, knowing my inclination to put 'my' parts on bikes and use next to no original parts, save for maybe a headset and the cantilever brakes. Fear not!
@polymorphself I think getting fenders in there is going to be reeeeeeeal tough. That is not much room at all. I bet I could get PDW fenders in there, but I'd have to modify them to accept being right up against the fork crown. Certainly a challenge to consider, IMO.
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Old 09-29-21, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by polymorphself View Post
That fender clearance in the front seems bizarre on this bike. How much the various mid 80s touring models offered in this regard is always interesting to me. I seem to have lucked out with my 86 Voyageur in this regard as it fits 35s with fenders in front and back comfortably enough.

It looks like you may have just enough room up front. Have you tried putting a fender in there just to see?
Like super bizarre! It's crazy tight, maybe 1/2 a cm at most between top of tire and fork crown. I did try to gently squeeze a fender in there and there's absolutely no room.

I have a 87 Voyageur with 32s and plenty of fender room. Good to know that 35s would work too.

Edit: 5 cm, not 1/2. Brain fart while reading the ruler.

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Old 09-29-21, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by RiddleOfSteel;22250791
[MENTION=472972
polymorphself[/MENTION] I think getting fenders in there is going to be reeeeeeeal tough. That is not much room at all. I bet I could get PDW fenders in there, but I'd have to modify them to accept being right up against the fork crown. Certainly a challenge to consider, IMO.
Yeaaah, looks like you're right. If it were me I'd just have to try for the sake of being 100% haha.

Originally Posted by squarenoise View Post
Like super bizarre! It's crazy tight, maybe 1/2 a cm at most between top of tire and fork crown. I did try to gently squeeze a fender in there and there's absolutely no room.

I have a 87 Voyageur with 32s and plenty of fender room. Good to know that 35s would work too.
Ah, glad you gave it a whirl at least. And yeah, your 87 will do 35's fine:

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Old 10-03-21, 04:59 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 219

Bikes: Raleigh Competition GS, Freschi Supreme, Miyata 1000, Schwinn Voyageur, Trek 520, Trek 950, Marin Pine Mountain, Specialized Rockhopper, Soma Smoothie, Surly Cross-Check

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Replacement headset installed and everything is coming together. Just waiting on the brakeset, then hopefully test riding by next weekend.

Parts List so far...
Tange Levin CDS Headset
Nitto Technomic Stem
Fairweather All Road Bar (Similar to Nitto Noodle, but shallow drops)
Shimano RX100 Brake Levers
Rivendell Silver2 Barends
Shimano Deore DX Derailleurs
Sachs Aris 7 Speed Freewheel
Sugino AT Crankset
Specialized Touring Pedals

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