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Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

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Old 09-06-17, 10:05 AM   #1
Piratebike
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Trek 520 for off road....

Was looking at the Trek 920 and the new 1120 for some off road touring....
But now I am thinking 520 with some off road/cyclecross tires. Then new 520 has Disc brakes and stronger rims. Seems like it might be better suited for my travels which are bike paths, some road, and some trails but no serious trails. Mostly gravel roads and logging trails. What would be the cons of this bike. I have an older 520 not with rim breaks that I use for road touring already.
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Old 09-06-17, 10:58 AM   #2
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Dunno how big of tires you can fit under one, but I regularly ride 32mm tires on gravel roads. I have ridden them on forest/two track road, although probably not to the level of logging road (depending on the exact conditions, I imagine deeply rutted, muddy, etc). Wouldn't be my first choice, but if it was simply I was going to encounter them every once in a while in no great number, with the majority of riding on bike trails and road, I wouldn't hesitate to use one.
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Old 09-06-17, 11:10 AM   #3
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Off road, like past the end of the paved , Un paved 'dual track'?

Con, your only interest?

neutral, tire damage can happen any how?

Can't ride as recklessly fast as a 29 by 2" wheeled bike?







....

Last edited by fietsbob; 09-06-17 at 11:14 AM.
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Old 09-07-17, 06:18 AM   #4
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Piratebike, Generally a touring bike does well on non technical unpaved surfaces. Tires and tire tread design won't make much difference. Extended mud, soft sand, and anything beyond a casually groomed path can require more aggressive tread designs, but again only for extensive distances. A good tire I have used gravel grinding was a Pasala.

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Old 09-07-17, 12:05 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Piratebike View Post
Was looking at the Trek 920 and the new 1120 for some off road touring....
But now I am thinking 520 with some off road/cyclecross tires. Then new 520 has Disc brakes and stronger rims. Seems like it might be better suited for my travels which are bike paths, some road, and some trails but no serious trails. Mostly gravel roads and logging trails. What would be the cons of this bike. I have an older 520 not with rim breaks that I use for road touring already.
520 will accept up to ~35mm (comes with 32mm). LHT/DT will go to 45mm without fenders, maybe a bit more. LHT/DT in 26" would be a better choice for lots of off road loaded touring.
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Old 09-07-17, 08:09 PM   #6
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I've taken my 520 over some moderately rugged terrain without any serious problems but that said, I would much rather ride a bike with a suspension fork for off road use. When I go from my Haro 29er to my 520, one of the first things I notice is how much more harsh the rigid front fork is on my shoulders when I'm riding on bumpy roads. I had 42mm Conti Top Contact II tires on my 520 (no fenders). I suppose newer disc 520's would be slightly better suited to off road use than older ones like mine. The 520 is never going to be a stump-jumping, rock-hopper but with sufficiently robust tires, wheels, brakes etc it should certainly be able to handle gravel roads, carriage roads, fire roads etc, even some single track trails as long as they're not too radical.

Last edited by hfbill; 09-11-17 at 08:26 PM.
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Old 09-16-17, 07:55 PM   #7
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Have ridden my 520 over some pretty rough terrain, logging and gravel roads. Right now it is my winter bike with Schwalbe studded snow tires.
That said - I now have a mtn bike for rough terrain, logging and other types of paths.
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Old 09-19-17, 03:56 PM   #8
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Just getting back on Bike Forums after a long abase.

I bought a 2017 920 on impulse last spring and I love it!!! The tires are little noisy and it's not really fast but I can stay on it all day. If you are still thinking about it I'd give you a nudge in that direction.
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Old 09-19-17, 05:07 PM   #9
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I've ridden my 2007 Trek 520 across Russia including ~1000+ kilometers of gravel road. Also ridden it down the Dalton Highway from Prudhoe Bay. It accepts 700x35 tires and does OK on that type of rougher roads.

In the "PRO" category would be that it rides across a wide range of roads. For example, a total distance of my Russia trip was over 12,000 kilometers and gravel was thus a small portion. If you were exclusively riding this off-road stuff, I might suggest a different bike.

In the "CON" category would be not much fender space if you want fenders. I left my fenders behind on a road sign after they repeatedly got clogged with mud.
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Old 09-21-17, 11:47 AM   #10
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the 520 is pretty much a prototypical touring bike and such bikes have been used forever on all kinds of roads. i personally would use your rim brake model if it were me. 35's and fenders is a nice way to tour lots of kind of roads.
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Old 09-28-17, 06:03 PM   #11
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I left my fenders behind on a road sign after they repeatedly got clogged with mud.
and to this day, travellers pass by and say, "Look Yuri, that road sign has so little rain spray on it, I can clearly read the distance to the next gulag".
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Old 09-28-17, 09:39 PM   #12
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I've taken my 520 over some moderately rugged terrain without any serious problems but that said, I would much rather ride a bike with a suspension fork for off road use. When I go from my Haro 29er to my 520, one of the first things I notice is how much more harsh the rigid front fork is on my shoulders when I'm riding on bumpy roads. I had 42mm Conti Top Contact II tires on my 520 (no fenders). I suppose newer disc 520's would be slightly better suited to off road use than older ones like mine. The 520 is never going to be a stump-jumping, rock-hopper but with sufficiently robust tires, wheels, brakes etc it should certainly be able to handle gravel roads, carriage roads, fire roads etc, even some single track trails as long as they're not too radical.
Surly Disc Trucker w/50 mm tires is even more relaxed geometry than 520 but still less comfy on rough surfaces than any MTB/hybrid I've tried. If one already has a road tourer than why not get something more specialized for the off-road tours?

Only suspension fork I've tried is a cheap version on Trek hybrid but even that really smooths out the bumps on local rides. Alu-frame MTB w/nice susp fork is about the same weight as a steel tourer. Susp fork can sometimes allow for narrower/faster tires since they reduce need for wide tire to absorb shocks.
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Old 09-29-17, 10:03 AM   #13
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If you already have a 520, and are happy with it for "on-road" touring and everyday riding, then why would you buy an essentially updated version. HAve you tried your current 520 on the type of trail you are considering, even for just a few miles. That might help you decide whether a new 520 would work, or you want something stouter. Also, if you really want another bike, it would seem more practical to buy something a little more suited for what you are considering the bike for, rather than just a copy of what you already have.
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Old 10-03-17, 08:04 PM   #14
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Go with a fat bike or a mountain bike much better choice for this type of touring.
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Old 10-04-17, 09:54 AM   #15
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I had a Long Haul Trucker for a while. It seems to be the bike most often mentioned alongside the 520, although I personally don't know how they compare, but I will say that I switched from the LHT to a Troll for a number of reasons, one of which was a desire to tackle a wider variety of terrain. I took my touring bike off-road, but it was slow, rough going if I did anything more technical than rail-trail. Even with 38/40mm tires, I didn't love it's performance on gravel, although many are fine with it on even narrower tires. But some 2" tires on my Troll with a higher bottom bracket, and I'm riding over some of the same terrain that I walked the LHT through.

My feeling is that you can take your touring bike lots of places, and you can swap out your tires to improve the experience, but if your goal is to spend a significant amount of time off-road, a touring bike may not be the right choice.
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Old 10-04-17, 04:05 PM   #16
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I had a Long Haul Trucker for a while. It seems to be the bike most often mentioned alongside the 520, although I personally don't know how they compare, but I will say that I switched from the LHT to a Troll for a number of reasons, one of which was a desire to tackle a wider variety of terrain. I took my touring bike off-road, but it was slow, rough going if I did anything more technical than rail-trail. Even with 38/40mm tires, I didn't love it's performance on gravel, although many are fine with it on even narrower tires. But some 2" tires on my Troll with a higher bottom bracket, and I'm riding over some of the same terrain that I walked the LHT through.

My feeling is that you can take your touring bike lots of places, and you can swap out your tires to improve the experience, but if your goal is to spend a significant amount of time off-road, a touring bike may not be the right choice.
this is certainly my view on the subject, and why I got a Troll, and while I cant really comment on the bb height aspect, to me being able to put much wider tires is the main plus of a bike like this vs a 520.
Ive set my troll up as a dropbar bike, and it rides no different really from my other dropbar touring bikes on pavement, gearing and wider tires aside.
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Old 10-04-17, 11:19 PM   #17
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IMHO serious touring bikes should give option for ThudBuster seatpost & ShockStop stem. Trek 520 now has a slanted top tube which should allow for ThudBuster or other suspension seatpost.

Haven't tried TRP brakes, AFAIK main benefit of dual-piston would be slightly less lever travel. Properly-adjusted BB7's have fairly low lever travel & today I tried out SwissStop pads which stop so effortlessly I'm not sure if hydraulics would work much better.

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Old 10-08-17, 05:33 AM   #18
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I may be a little late to the party but; yesterday I had my 520 on a sandy crushed stone path with 35mm Marathon tires. It was pretty terrible. The tires were too narrow for the loose surface. I unclipped rather hastily a few times to catch myself. I rode on the grass next to the path most of the way. Anyhow it made me think of this thread.
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Old 10-08-17, 06:10 AM   #19
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I've been thinking of buying a new touring bike but one that is at home on rough stuff as well as roads. The salsa fargo, for example, can go offroad and would also make a reasonable touring bike. There are other bikes that can do that as well. I'm not so sure that the Trek 520 is your best bet though.
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Old 10-11-17, 04:56 AM   #20
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One word: Ogre.
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