Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Touring
Reload this Page >

1985 Trek 520

Notices
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.

1985 Trek 520

Old 12-03-10, 08:04 PM
  #1  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 86
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
1985 Trek 520

I've been looking for some vintage steel to do loaded touring on. I want a bike that can accept fenders and racks. I've been looking for the usual suspects--Miyata 1000, Trek 720, Specialized Expedition... I have the chance to buy a 1985 520 at a reasonable price. However, according to vintage-trek.com, the 85 520 was a sport touring model, and I found this blog which seems to confirm my suspicions that, while a very good bike, it's not exactly what I want.

I wanted to get everyone's thoughts before I definitely say no. Am I missing a chance on a great bike, or should I hold out for that 720?
FuzzyDunlop is offline  
Old 12-03-10, 08:24 PM
  #2  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Bay Area, Calif.
Posts: 7,239
Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 659 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 7 Times in 6 Posts
Does it have the right top tube and seat tube lengths to give you a good fit? I'd be more concerned with that than whether it's a 520 or 720. Both have reasonable clearance for fenders with decent width tires and you can fit racks to just about any bike. The brakes aren't the cantilevers that are the norm for the typical touring bike of that era, but with good pads they should be more than adequate.
prathmann is offline  
Old 12-03-10, 08:47 PM
  #3  
missing in action
 
Chris_in_Miami's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 4,483
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 42 Post(s)
Liked 49 Times in 29 Posts
I had an '83 520 a few months ago that was a lovely bike, but I don't think it would be ideal for loaded touring. Had it been 2cm smaller, I probably would have kept it, but I found someone who fell in love with it instantly.

That's the reaction you'll have when you find the proper bike, and you'll be much happier with it in the long run.

Here's the '83:

Chris_in_Miami is offline  
Old 12-03-10, 08:54 PM
  #4  
Senior Member
 
rothenfield1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Montereyish
Posts: 2,306
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
Here’s a link to the 85 catalog if you haven’t seen it already: https://www.vintage-trek.com/images/trek/85TrekSport.pdf


It is listed under the ‘sport’ section, not the ‘touring’ section. Looking at the geometry, it reminds me of a Miyata 610. These sport/touring bikes are very popular with hipsters and older ex-racers that haven’t given up their road race roots and can’t see riding a full-on loaded and slow 26” wheeled bike.


The obvious main difference between the sport/touring and touring bikes is the length of the chain stay. If you compare the difference between the distance from the rear tire to the seat tube on a mid-80’s Expedition or Miyata 1000, which is probably 3-4 inches; to a mid-80’s race bike, which may barely have enough room for a 700x23 tire: you’ll see the 2 extremes between a touring bike which is designed to take advantage of the flex of the steel, much like the leaf spring on an old truck, as compared to a stiff race bike. A ‘sport/touring’ bike is designed to be a hybrid between the two, like Goldilocks’ porridge is neither too hot nor too cold. Like most sporting products that are designed to do a lot of things, it usually means that it doesn’t do one thing really well, but a lot of things adequately.


So; if loaded touring is your primary thing, this is not your best option. But; if you are looking for a bike that can pretty much do anything that you would want it to do from sporty, fast exercise bike to partially loaded comfortable daily commuter to occasional loaded touring, other than rough off-road use, this is your bike. Again; in the C&V world, it’s because this type bike can be built up in so many different ways that makes it so desirable.
rothenfield1 is offline  
Old 12-03-10, 11:32 PM
  #5  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Eugene, Oregon
Posts: 7,048
Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 509 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 9 Times in 8 Posts
I've got a few vintage Trek bikes in the stable: '83 720, '76 (employee-custom)520ish, '7X 710 (or something like that), '84 720, '85 620. Here's my take:
IMO the best touring bike ever made is the 720. But, and this may not be important to you, the seat-stay attachment on all of the vintage Treks was poorly thought out. There is very little metal there, so if you are big and carry heavy loads and like to tour off-road a bit (all of which describes me), you will eventually crack those pretty brazes. My 720 is currently waiting at a frame builder's shop for me to pick it up (new seat stays). If you are a smallish person who doesn't carry all the gear for groups of four when touring off-road, you may not have any issues. I did have one 720 that didn't fail for over 250,000 miles; I also had one fail after 10,000 miles, YMMV.

While the ride of the 720 is a bit more comfy and stable than the 520, it's not much of a difference. If I didn't have size Godzilla feet (16 U.S., 51 Europe), I would not hesitate to grab a 520 for loaded touring. In fact, when I was briefly without a 720 I did do a 750 mile tour on my 520. I did have to put the small bags on the rear, but I usually carry most of my weight in the front bags anyway, so that wasn't a problem.

I would get the 520 if I were you. In part because of the seat-stay attachment problem 720s (and other vintage Treks) are getting difficult to find. Also, there is quite a following for the 720 so you may be shocked at the price you must pay to get one. If you find that the 520 is just not the right bike for you there shouldn't be a problem selling it. Or, when you eventually crack those pretty seat stays, you can pay $200 and have both the seat stays and chain stays replaced to create your own 520-->720 by having the chain stays lengthened.
B. Carfree is offline  
Old 12-04-10, 12:32 AM
  #6  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 86
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I think my biggest concern with the 520 is fenders and tire width. I'd like to be able to have fenders and at least 32 mm tires. Would the 520 have the clearance for those?

My understanding is that the reason dedicated tourers have cantilever brakes is so that you can mount fenders. The bike I'm looking at has side-pull calipers. Is there a way to put fenders on a bike w/ caliper brakes?

When I think about it, I only get so many vacation days, so I'll no doubt be using the bike more for commuting and short trips than long fully loaded tours, and I think the 520 would be a great bike for that. But fenders and tires are a concern.

Thank you for all the advice so far.
FuzzyDunlop is offline  
Old 12-04-10, 12:46 AM
  #7  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Eugene, Oregon
Posts: 7,048
Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 509 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 9 Times in 8 Posts
I use fenders on my vintage Treks. Most of them have side-pull brakes. On the old '76-520ish employee special, the seat-stay brace/brake mount is a bit low, so I can't use Schwalbe tires bigger than 25 mm with or without fenders. That is largely due to the extraordinary height of Schwalbe Marathons. You'll have to check to see if you can fit 32 mm tires and fenders, but I would be surprised if you couldn't find at least one brand that worked.

I never use fenders on my 720 on tour. I often find myself in deep mud and have found that fenders just aren't worth the hassle when the mud is caking up.
B. Carfree is offline  
Old 12-04-10, 01:28 AM
  #8  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Bay Area, Calif.
Posts: 7,239
Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 659 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 7 Times in 6 Posts
Originally Posted by FuzzyDunlop
I think my biggest concern with the 520 is fenders and tire width. I'd like to be able to have fenders and at least 32 mm tires. Would the 520 have the clearance for those?

My understanding is that the reason dedicated tourers have cantilever brakes is so that you can mount fenders. The bike I'm looking at has side-pull calipers. Is there a way to put fenders on a bike w/ caliper brakes?
The clearances on the '85 520 look very similar to those on my '84 Specialized Sequoia which also has caliper sidepull brakes. I can fit 28mm tires with full fenders and can run at least 35 mm tires without fenders (or using fenders designed to go around the caliper brakes). 32mm tires with regular fenders would be very tight - it might work with some tire brands.
prathmann is offline  
Old 12-04-10, 09:25 AM
  #9  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 86
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by prathmann
The clearances on the '85 520 look very similar to those on my '84 Specialized Sequoia which also has caliper sidepull brakes. I can fit 28mm tires with full fenders and can run at least 35 mm tires without fenders (or using fenders designed to go around the caliper brakes). 32mm tires with regular fenders would be very tight - it might work with some tire brands.
Are there a lot of fenders designed for caliper brakes?
FuzzyDunlop is offline  
Old 12-04-10, 11:25 AM
  #10  
Senior Member
 
Steve.D's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Portland OR
Posts: 71

Bikes: 1972 Schwinn Paramount, 1984 Trek 620, 1984 Trek 720, Fisher X-Caliber

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I can't speak for the '85 520, but I own an '84 620 and a 720. The 620 is simillar to a 520 but with slightly better components and steel tubing. The 720 was Trek's ultimate (paved road) touring bike, with even better components and steel.

There is big difference in how 620 and 720 handle due to frame design and components. The 720 has a longer wheel base and is much more comfortable to ride especially when loaded. The 720 also has lower gears that make it a better choice for loaded touring.

In regards to fenders, I could not mount a front fender (in the conventional manner) on the 620 because the clearance between the top of the tire and the fork crown was too small. There is no such problem however with the 720. They have slightly different forks but the same 27" x 1-1/4" wheels.

Another issue when riding vintage bikes is maintenance. If the bike your thinking of purchasing still has the original components, you may find that it's impossible to find replacement parts at the local bike shop. Or even a mechanic that knows how to work on the old components. You can of course upgrade to modern components but this has a high cost and require spreading the rear chain stays to accept a 130mm hub.

My 2 cents: Get the sport/touring 520 if you plan to do a lot of fast commuting and an occasional loaded tour. Or get a dedicated touring bike for loaded long distance extended touring. Don't get either for off road touring.
Steve.D is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
bikemig
Touring
61
06-22-15 07:31 PM
keval
Touring
22
02-23-15 09:22 PM
GaryinLA
Touring
3
10-26-11 08:46 AM
scozim
Classic & Vintage
16
08-28-10 01:47 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.