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Old 08-07-17, 07:53 PM   #1
landrybrad
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Trek 520 setup for touring

Novice here in bike touring, and have a few questions for those more experienced:

I've just come across a 2015 Trek 520 in my size, but it came with some customizations. I am trying to figure out how much work it'll need to get it to a good touring spec. For reference, I am 6'3'' and weight about a buck seventy. Looking to do some multi-day (multi-week!?) tours eventually.

Right now it has a Bontrager RL 29er wheel-set. Will these wheels be strong enough for a loaded touring rig? I've heard they are very difficult to get tires properly set onto - which is a bit worrisome when thinking about flats while on a long haul. They're essentially mountain bike wheels, so I'd assume they'd take a beating. But I also noticed they don't have as many spokes as a more traditional touring wheel.

Also, it has a SRAM S1000, 42/28, crankset. This is, again, more of a mountain bike setup, and I'm wondering if I should add a 44 tooth chainring to give me more room to pedal on downhills.

I'd welcome your advice. Thanks!
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Old 08-07-17, 08:10 PM   #2
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A Trek 520 with a 29r wheelset is certainly different. A super compact crankset is not a bad idea and if it goes to 28 you wouldn't need a 44 in the rear-- maybe... 34 (unless you're talking about offroad touring).

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Old 08-07-17, 10:33 PM   #3
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Need to know the rear cog set up to know if the front is too small. When
I converted my MTB to touring I had the same worry, and started looking at new crank sets, but my first fully loaded tour, I found the gearing to be just right. I have a triple though. Rarely used the largest chain ring, just in a few downhills. Between the extra weight and wind resistance, high speed is not too much of a factor in touring.
The only concern for the wheels, might be steering. I've never tried 29, but have read that steering can be sleepy.
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Old 08-07-17, 11:14 PM   #4
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wheels on 29ers are 700c, tires are wider.. wider tires may not fit stay with 32, 37 max..
racks bottle cages , mudguards any other things are personalizations..

pedaling down hills is unnecessary .. enjoy coasting to reap the work you put in on the uphill side.
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Old 08-08-17, 08:19 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by landrybrad View Post
Novice here in bike touring, and have a few questions for those more experienced:

I've just come across a 2015 Trek 520 in my size, but it came with some customizations. I am trying to figure out how much work it'll need to get it to a good touring spec. For reference, I am 6'3'' and weight about a buck seventy. Looking to do some multi-day (multi-week!?) tours eventually.

Right now it has a Bontrager RL 29er wheel-set. Will these wheels be strong enough for a loaded touring rig? I've heard they are very difficult to get tires properly set onto - which is a bit worrisome when thinking about flats while on a long haul. They're essentially mountain bike wheels, so I'd assume they'd take a beating. But I also noticed they don't have as many spokes as a more traditional touring wheel.
As noted above, a "29er" is just a relabeled 700C wheel. I would be more concerned about the 24 spokes that the RL has than whether or not the wheel is for a mountain bike. With a load, you'll be popping enough spokes to make Oville Redenbacher proud. They aren't designed for taking the excess weight of a touring load.

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Also, it has a SRAM S1000, 42/28, crankset. This is, again, more of a mountain bike setup, and I'm wondering if I should add a 44 tooth chainring to give me more room to pedal on downhills.

I'd welcome your advice. Thanks!
Lord protect us from the unholy SRAM! This chart compares the 2x with system to a traditional 3x. Look at the shift pattern for the double. If you are riding in the 42/18 at 90 rpm and 18 mph and you need to shift to the inner ring in preparation for a climb, you have to increase your rpms to 140 to maintain the same speed. Not many people can do 140rpm nor can they maintain it for long. It feels very much like you've lost your chain and, more importantly, you lose momentum that might carry you up the hill further.

Look at the triple in the 44/19 at about the same speed and rpm. When you shift to the middle ring, you'll only need to increase to about 120 rpm to maintain speed. That's more doable.

As for going to a 44 tooth outer, you'll only make the transition worse.

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The only concern for the wheels, might be steering. I've never tried 29, but have read that steering can be sleepy.
The "sleepy" steering on a 29er is an artifact of the frame geometry and the slack head angle due to the suspension fork. The wheels are the same diameter as were stock on the 520. They won't change anything.
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Old 08-08-17, 08:36 AM   #6
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As noted above, a "29er" is just a relabeled 700C wheel. I would be more concerned about the 24 spokes that the RL has than whether or not the wheel is for a mountain bike. With a load, you'll be popping enough spokes to make Oville Redenbacher proud. They aren't designed for taking the excess weight of a touring load.
Actual serious question: if he is 170# and carries 50# of gear, how are those wheels any less capable than if it were my 215# butt unloaded and a couple water bottles on them? Bontrager says there are no rider weight limits. Does the load weight affect them differently than just having a rider on them?
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Old 08-08-17, 09:16 AM   #7
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Actual serious question: if he is 170# and carries 50# of gear, how are those wheels any less capable than if it were my 215# butt unloaded and a couple water bottles on them? Bontrager says there are no rider weight limits. Does the load weight affect them differently than just having a rider on them?
This is a point that is often ignored/not thought of/not understood.
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Old 08-08-17, 09:29 AM   #8
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Lord protect us from the unholy SRAM! This chart compares the 2x with system to a traditional 3x. Look at the shift pattern for the double. If you are riding in the 42/18 at 90 rpm and 18 mph and you need to shift to the inner ring in preparation for a climb, you have to increase your rpms to 140 to maintain the same speed. Not many people can do 140rpm nor can they maintain it for long. It feels very much like you've lost your chain and, more importantly, you lose momentum that might carry you up the hill further.

Look at the triple in the 44/19 at about the same speed and rpm. When you shift to the middle ring, you'll only need to increase to about 120 rpm to maintain speed. That's more doable.

As for going to a 44 tooth outer, you'll only make the transition worse.
Instead of going from 42/18 and only dropping to the 28t ring in preperation for a hill, why not drop to the 28t ring AND change the rear cog down to 14 and you will maintain speed at 110rpm.
There, hypothetical problem solved with a couple simple shifts instead of just one simple shift.

In the end though, i wouldnt enjoy even 110rpm for an extended time.

Reality time- I would most likely accept i won't go 18 up a hill and shift later than what you find acceptable. This would prevent the absurd 'need' to spin at 140rpm and would also prevent me having to spin at 110rpm.
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Old 08-08-17, 01:56 PM   #9
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Instead of going from 42/18 and only dropping to the 28t ring in preperation for a hill, why not drop to the 28t ring AND change the rear cog down to 14 and you will maintain speed at 110rpm.
There, hypothetical problem solved with a couple simple shifts instead of just one simple shift.
The shifts you propose aren't all that simple. Shift down the front first and you are still in a high RPM situation until you make the two shifts on the rear. Shift up on the back and you're now in too high a gear and the front derailer might not make the shift because the torque is too high.

Trying to shift on the front and rear at the same time, much less shifting twice on the rear is fraught with possible problems as well. Too many moving parts doing too many opposite things is asking for the chain to drop off the front...which really kills momentum...or asking for rear derailer to wrap around the axle which really, really kills momentum.

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Reality time- I would most likely accept i won't go 18 up a hill and shift later than what you find acceptable. This would prevent the absurd 'need' to spin at 140rpm and would also prevent me having to spin at 110rpm.
Again the problem is torque. Delay too long with the large chainwheel difference and there is a good possibility that the chain won't drop in the front. This has always been a problem in mountain biking. If you delay the shift too long, the spring on the front derailer just isn't strong enough to knock the chain off and you grind to a halt.

Even if you do happen to make the shift, the very large difference in the gears has to be dealt with.
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Old 08-08-17, 01:59 PM   #10
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Actual serious question: if he is 170# and carries 50# of gear, how are those wheels any less capable than if it were my 215# butt unloaded and a couple water bottles on them? Bontrager says there are no rider weight limits. Does the load weight affect them differently than just having a rider on them?
Spring weight vs unsprung weight. You are sprung through the action of your arms and legs. The load is dead weight on the frame which is harder on the wheels.
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Old 08-08-17, 02:15 PM   #11
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Spring weight vs unsprung weight. You are sprung through the action of your arms and legs. The load is dead weight on the frame which is harder on the wheels.
Fair point that I had not considered
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Old 08-08-17, 02:33 PM   #12
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The shifts you propose aren't all that simple. Shift down the front first and you are still in a high RPM situation until you make the two shifts on the rear. Shift up on the back and you're now in too high a gear and the front derailer might not make the shift because the torque is too high.

Trying to shift on the front and rear at the same time, much less shifting twice on the rear is fraught with possible problems as well. Too many moving parts doing too many opposite things is asking for the chain to drop off the front...which really kills momentum...or asking for rear derailer to wrap around the axle which really, really kills momentum.



Again the problem is torque. Delay too long with the large chainwheel difference and there is a good possibility that the chain won't drop in the front. This has always been a problem in mountain biking. If you delay the shift too long, the spring on the front derailer just isn't strong enough to knock the chain off and you grind to a halt.

Even if you do happen to make the shift, the very large difference in the gears has to be dealt with.
And not mentioned (or at least with my eyesight, I didn't see it) is the shift(s) are knee killers (double knee replacement guy here).

Nice close ratio keep a body happy.

I might try an 11-36 cassette on back with the 28/42, line it up with the 42 centered on the cassette, and use the 28 as a bailout granny only - but you'd have to watch the torque; or as noted you'd never get into the 28.

My commuter is a 1x9 with 44 and a 12-36 cassette, 37-622 tires, and no serious hills to deal with.
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Old 08-08-17, 02:57 PM   #13
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i use a 26/40 crank and a 12/34 cassette and it gives me everything i need. shifting from ring to ring only happens when you really need a bailout anyway. 40/34 handles most hills and when i need the bailout i am not worried about anything but finding a really low gear.
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Old 08-08-17, 07:38 PM   #14
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It's always nice to have two sets of wheels. Use the existing ones for unladen day rides and get another set for actual touring. You don't have to spend a lot of money but there is no gain to light wheels when a few lbs of racks and empty panniers totally erase the benefit of light wheels. Once you put 20lbs of dead weight on the rear wheel your simply getting closer to breaking spokes with zero "performance" gain in the light wheels. What you get with robust wheels is greater chance of wheels surviving abuse while riding or in the course of the bike being picked up and moved around in less than ideal conditions.
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Old 08-08-17, 08:56 PM   #15
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Looks like the wheels I'm referring to have 28 spokes, but still wonder if they're going to be strong enough. If it's an off-road mountain biking wheel meant to take trail abuse, I'm suprised it wouldn't be strong enough for loaded touring.

If these end up not working, how much does a good touring wheel set cost? I'm having a hard time finding anything online that's not for racing or mtb.

Also, is it possible to put a 3 ring crankset on, or would that be a mismatch with the sram x7 derailleur and SRAM PG-1030, 11-36, 10 speed cassette?

These are the only other specs I have until the bike arrives this weekend:
SRAM 500 TT, bar end control, 10 speed,
-Sram X7 Rear Derailleur,
-X5 Front Derailleur,
-Sram S1000, 42/28,
-SRAM PG-1030, 11-36, 10 speed,
-Sram Road Brake levers,
-Bontrager RL 29er wheelset
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Old 08-08-17, 09:18 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Instead of going from 42/18 and only dropping to the 28t ring in preperation for a hill, why not drop to the 28t ring AND change the rear cog down to 14 and you will maintain speed at 110rpm......

or.....you can just say, hey! i'm a tourer, not a racer!
i's gonna be slogging up that 30-km long hill in 16gi for
the next 4 hours at 50 rmp, so....

just downshift to the lil' front ring and then stop peddling,
coast until speed drops to resume at your normal cadence.

problem solved.
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Old 08-08-17, 10:00 PM   #17
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28 spokes may be OK in a 16" wheel , on a larger wheel, especially for touring I prefer many more spokes..

I found 48 in a 700c wheel great, but if crash damaged, replacement will be costly in time and expense..
now living and helping out at a shop that sees a lot of cycle tourists

cassette 36 spoke wheels will be adequate and should it be damaged,
off the shelf replacements in small town shops are more likely.

....
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Old 08-08-17, 11:10 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by landrybrad View Post
Looks like the wheels I'm referring to have 28 spokes, but still wonder if they're going to be strong enough. If it's an off-road mountain biking wheel meant to take trail abuse, I'm suprised it wouldn't be strong enough for loaded touring.

If these end up not working, how much does a good touring wheel set cost? I'm having a hard time finding anything online that's not for racing or mtb.

Also, is it possible to put a 3 ring crankset on, or would that be a mismatch with the sram x7 derailleur and SRAM PG-1030, 11-36, 10 speed cassette?

These are the only other specs I have until the bike arrives this weekend:
SRAM 500 TT, bar end control, 10 speed,
-Sram X7 Rear Derailleur,
-X5 Front Derailleur,
-Sram S1000, 42/28,
-SRAM PG-1030, 11-36, 10 speed,
-Sram Road Brake levers,
-Bontrager RL 29er wheelset
The issue of low spoke count isn't strength, it's durability. They could be plenty strong, for 1500 miles with 30lbs on the rear wheel, whereas conventional 36 spoke rear wheel might hold up until the rim braking surface wears out.

This is a decent rear wheel for touring.
Bikeman Quality Wheels Pavement Rim Brake Rear Wheel 700c 36h Shimano LX / Mavic A319 / DT Champion All Silver

http://www.bikeman.com/WE5556.html

Last edited by LeeG; 08-08-17 at 11:20 PM.
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Old 08-08-17, 11:16 PM   #19
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Quote:
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or.....you can just say, hey! i'm a tourer, not a racer!
i's gonna be slogging up that 30-km long hill in 16gi for
the next 4 hours at 50 rmp, so....

just downshift to the lil' front ring and then stop peddling,
coast until speed drops to resume at your normal cadence.

problem solved.
For sure. I have never come upon a hill and thought "oh man, i need to maintain my current speed". Ive often said here that my standards are low though.

I actually do exactly what you suggest- drop to the smaller ring, my speed reduces, and i can turn the prdals again.

But i also just dont find it difficult to shift into a smaller chainring then drop the chain to a cog 2 or so smaller than whatever it was on. Seems pretty easy to me, but im told it isnt. I must be extremely talented. Yeah, thats it.
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Old 08-09-17, 07:26 AM   #20
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OP,

Just try what it has for now and let us know how it worked out.

I've done tours with 28h Notubes Grail rims for a while and I haven't broken a spoke yet.

I do weight 200lbs., but I only carry two front panniers and a seatpack.
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Old 08-09-17, 08:58 AM   #21
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For sure. I have never come upon a hill and thought "oh man, i need to maintain my current speed". Ive often said here that my standards are low though.

I actually do exactly what you suggest- drop to the smaller ring, my speed reduces, and i can turn the prdals again.

But i also just dont find it difficult to shift into a smaller chainring then drop the chain to a cog 2 or so smaller than whatever it was on. Seems pretty easy to me, but im told it isnt. I must be extremely talented. Yeah, thats it.
The problem as I see it is more a case of a lot of fiddling that is unnecessary with proper component choice. Have you ever missed the middle ring on a triple during a shift and dropped down into the very lowest range by mistake? It feels like the chain has come off. Yea, you can stop pedaling and coast down to the speed where is it comfortable to pedal again but you've lost a lot of speed and momentum...5 to 6 mph. That's not much of you have a monster hill in front of you but for little roller hills, it means you have to put more effort to get you over the little humps.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
or.....you can just say, hey! i'm a tourer, not a racer!
i's gonna be slogging up that 30-km long hill in 16gi for
the next 4 hours at 50 rmp, so....

just downshift to the lil' front ring and then stop peddling,
coast until speed drops to resume at your normal cadence.

problem solved.
Well the biggest problem with the 2x is that they don't offer you the option of spending any time in a 16" gear. If...which is a big "if"...you could a 22 tooth inner on one, the transitions are even worse. The solution is to change to a smaller outer chainring but there goes the top speed.

I'm not a racer either but that doesn't mean that I want to coast down every hill I run across either. A triple crank lets me do everything two 2x systems do. I'm not all that willing to carry an extra crank and swap it at the bottom or top of hills. I have a derailer that does that for me.

2x and 1x drivetrains are a new twist on the old "10 speeds". People are impressed by the number of gears and the high and low. They just don't thing about how to use them.
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Old 08-09-17, 09:04 AM   #22
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I may see how I can make due with the two ring crank, but it's the wheels that are more baffling to me. Having a hard time finding a replacement for the Bontranger (28 spoke) wheels. I haven't been able to find a disc touring wheel set on the internet. Anyone know how to find something like this that isn't a custom build? One quote I got was upwards of $500, which is way more than I want to spend on wheels.
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Old 08-09-17, 02:55 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by 52telecaster View Post
i use a 26/40 crank and a 12/34 cassette and it gives me everything i need. shifting from ring to ring only happens when you really need a bailout anyway. 40/34 handles most hills and when i need the bailout i am not worried about anything but finding a really low gear.
I'm pretty similar. Running a 42/28 with an 11-36 cassette. It works really well for touring for me. If I'm pedaling faster than 20mph, I'm most likely going downhill and want to coast anyway. The 42-11 combo is enough of a high gear for me.
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Old 08-09-17, 03:47 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by landrybrad View Post
I may see how I can make due with the two ring crank, but it's the wheels that are more baffling to me. Having a hard time finding a replacement for the Bontranger (28 spoke) wheels. I haven't been able to find a disc touring wheel set on the internet. Anyone know how to find something like this that isn't a custom build? One quote I got was upwards of $500, which is way more than I want to spend on wheels.
The least costly wheelset is the one build yourself. Shimano Deore, LX or XT hubs, Velocity/Alex/Etc rims & Wheelsmith spokes. I built my last set of 700c wheels for a Surly Disc Trucker for ~$170, parts ordered from a QBP-affiliated shop.

WRT your existing wheels, 28h front wheel may be OK for a 170# rider with not much gear, but for rear wheel more spokes would be a lot better, since distribution of weight on most bikes is 40%:60% Front:Rear, before you load it with gear. You could use the 28h front and get a new 36h rear, or save both of the Race Lite wheels for non-touring use and buy (or build) a whole new touring wheelset. 32h would be better, 36h best (anything beyond 36h is likely custom only).
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Old 08-10-17, 09:31 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
The least costly wheelset is the one build yourself. Shimano Deore, LX or XT hubs, Velocity/Alex/Etc rims & Wheelsmith spokes. I built my last set of 700c wheels for a Surly Disc Trucker for ~$170, parts ordered from a QBP-affiliated shop.

Well...


You can often get a machine built wheel for less. Get something close to your ideal parts, and it somehow often costs less than to order the parts. Cheap machine built wheels come true. Then you have to go tension and stress-relieve the wheels before you ride on them.
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