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Old 05-01-07, 06:38 PM   #1
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Touring Bike for a Shortie, Trek 520? Specialized Tri-Cross?

I'm looking for a moderately priced touring bike. Got all excited about the REI Randonet, but then learned they don't make a size small enough for a shortie like me (I'm 5"4", male, 28" inseam). Next choice was a Trek 520 - lots of decent reviews on this one, seems like an acceptable and proven touring bike. Called up a local shop and they're steering me to the Specialized Tri-Cross, Sport model. Aluminum frame, fairly long wheel base, they tell me it's ideal for touring, but then they're trying to sell it to me.

Any advice for a short guy looking for a touring bike around $1000? Anyone have experience w/ a Specialized Tri-Cross? Thanks for any ideas!
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Old 05-01-07, 07:20 PM   #2
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Yes, they are trying to "push" the Specialized. If you read enough threads in the Touring forum, there's probably plenty of support for the Tri-Cross as a touring bike. Do you live near any Trek dealers? Go to and see what's in your area. I lucked into my Trek 520; it was just sitting in the front window of one of the many shops in this area, just my size, waiting for me to find it. But I'm guessing that's an exceptional case. You may also have some luck with eBay and craigslist once you test ride a 520 (or Tri-Cross, or Cannondale T800, etc) for real.

It really does depend on what you need the bike for. I own a 520 but it also serves as my commuting bike, my family ride bike, and my club ride bike. It's an outstanding all-around bike IMHO. I don't have any knowledge about the Tri-Cross but I'm sure there's more than one poster on this forum who can give you advice about that one.

Btw, I just did two paceline rides with the 520 for the first time, and it/we did pretty darned well. First century charity ride is coming up this weekend.

Much good luck on your search!

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Old 05-01-07, 08:58 PM   #3
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I'm only 5'7" and the 520 - 17" was way too small for me. I'd encourage a test ride. You should find it a comfortable fit.
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Old 05-01-07, 09:11 PM   #4
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I'm 5'2", ride the 17" 520, with a shorter-than-stock stem. Very happy with it.
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Old 05-01-07, 09:23 PM   #5
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28" inseam? Sounds like a Surly LHT complete bike in the 46cm size would work for you--well thought out components and a killer price of $900-$930! Check their website for the geometry of their frames--nice long chainstays, but with 26" wheels instead of 700s.
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Old 05-02-07, 03:00 AM   #6
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we just went through the same ordeal with bikes.. had 1000 euros to play with, but we all know you americans get it cheaper....

i settled on the Cannondale Touring Classic... i think equivalent of T.-something or other.

My girl, at 5ft6 managed to get her hands on a Trek 520 in 17. She phoned America who had none in stock, Ireland same, and UK had one, she got it.. so might be hard for you to find.. im not sure.

I would advice against the Specialized Tricross after spending weeks looking at it with my girl, it is not designed correctly for Touring, depending on length of tours i suppose. A lot of people told us it was to sporty geometry. Also the actual build doesnt look like it would last as long as a dedicated tourer.

/ All advice from a newbie, who questioned lots of ppl on this who knew what they were talking about... look beyond the tricross.. see how other bikes compare in strength and shape, even know she looks hot..
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Old 05-02-07, 07:46 AM   #7
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I am 5'2". I had a 17in Trek 520. I liked it but I always felt the reach was a bit too long for me. It all felt kind of big and unwieldy too.

I wanted to go to a 26" wheeled bike anyway, so I looked at the LHT. The effective top tube of the 42cm model is 50cm. (The e.t.t. of the 520 is 52cm). Standover for both the 42cm LHT and 17" 520 is the same: 70cm.

I like the 26" wheels. It's not too hard to find a good set of rim brake wheels these days with everyone going to disc. And you can pick up tires for them anywhere in a pinch. I even saw some mtn/townie tires in the Rite Aid pharmacy store in my neighborhood.

The fit on my 42cm Surly Pacer is the exact same as the 42cm LHT.

The LHT feels more proportional to me.

The 520 is a nice bike but I understand they downgraded some of the specs on it in recent years.

The complete LHT looks pretty sweet. I just got a Jensen catalog and they had the complete LHT for $900 and free UPS shipping.
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Old 05-02-07, 01:03 PM   #8
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Many thanks to all, this feedback is really helpful! I'm in a remote area and cannot just zip out and see these bikes in shops. I'll do some online research into the Surly and Cannondale. I'll keep checking this post for any addtional ideas. Thanks again!! -Mark
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Old 05-08-07, 08:41 AM   #9
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FWIW, I'm 5'6" with a a 30" inseam, and riding a 52cm Specialized Tricross. You may be happier with a 49cm Tricross. As you probably know, toe overlap is an issue with 700c wheels and smaller frame bikes. No biggie, but for some it can be scary. I definitely have toe overlap, kind of annoying, but I'm fine with it. The Tricross is a great do-it-all bike. So is the 520. Really try and get some test riding in. YMMV
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