Trek 520 Gears

Discussion in 'Touring and recreational cycling' started by scituatejohn, Mar 15, 2004.

  1. scituatejohn

    scituatejohn New Member

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    I contacted a local Trek dealer about the 520. I was concerned that the gears were not low enough and told the dealer that I would like to change the cassette to a 12-32 and change the crankset to a Sugino XD. Someone from the dealer replied to me and here is what she had to say:

    The standard Trek 520 has 11-32 in the back and 30/42/52 in the front. This gives a gear range of 24" to 128". The 128" gear seems silly to me, and I am sure that I would never use it. The biggest gear that I have on my non-touring road bike is 119", and I hardly ever use that, and don't need it. I have never done fully loaded touring before, but I have read that one should try for the range of 20" to 100". The 26/36/46 front with a 12-34 rear will give me a range of 21" to 104". If I used a 22/32/44 front and 12-34 rear, then I would get a range of 18" to 100".

    Is the dealer correct in saying that gears below 24" aren't "necessarily a workable option," or should I insist on lower gears?

    I should point out that my goal is to do a loaded tour, and I want to ride from Boston to Atlanta and use the Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway along the way. I am 37 years old and 30 lbs overweight. My knees do hurt occasionally, and I want to make sure that I do not injure them.
     
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  2. daveornee

    daveornee New Member

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    I think your gearing plans sound resonable.
    The dealer is probably trying to save you the cost of a new crank, bottom bracket, and front derailer; which would be required for the change you want.
    Bruce Gordon is one manufacturer that gears touring bicycles just the way you want. Bruce's frames and racks are also very stout. If you carry 50 pounds, which is a fairly typical fully loaded set up, you will like the idea of those lower gears. You might be going slow enough that you could almost walk the same speed, but staying mounted is usually safer and easier.
    I think you should go for the gears you feel appropriate for your applications. Spinning up those grades will help keep your knees healthy.
     
  3. pantouflard

    pantouflard New Member

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    I agree. I tour (when in mountainous areas) with a 22/32/44 chainring and 12-34. With 26 inch wheels I make that a 16 inch gear. With the loads I carry I wouldn't go back to anything less (in fact I'd like to fit a 20 t cog on the front. Not enough momentum to balance? He must be kidding!

    Have a look at the late Ken Kifers website. He talked a lot of sense on gears for touring fully loaded in mountainous areas.
     
  4. leebm

    leebm New Member

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    I have a 1997 Trek 520 which came with a 26/36/46 with a 11-28 cassette. When I converted the bike to 8-spd bar ends shifters from the spec RSX STI, I also changed the granny to a 24.

    I made these changes are doing a supported XC as well as a number of self-supported trips in the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway area. I've also done a number of rides on my road bike on the NC part of the BRP.

    I disagree with the bike shop. I would go ahead with the plan to change the crank one that can take a 20 or 22 tooth granny gear. When heavily loaded and touring in the mountains, you can never have too low of a gear. I've not found balancing to be a problem at low speeds and actually find it easier when you are able to "spin" an easier gear vs. struggling with too large of a granny. While I can turn a 39-27 (with a lot of effort) on my road bike going up Grandfather Mtn and Mt. Mitchell, the 24-28 is not low enough for me when I am doing loaded touring in the mountains.

    I've found when touring, I don't care about the high end of the gear ratio as I'm usually soft-pedaling down the hills. I think a 44-12 would be plenty on the high end unless you had a fantastic tailwind. I like the idea of having a 18 gear inch low gear. Before I do another mountainous self-supported tour, I plan to replace the cranks on my touring bike.

    Have a great time on your tour! I like Skyline Drive a bit more than the BRP b/c the campgrounds are so nice and the campstore are well-provisioned b/c of the AT. Stay at Lewis Mtn rather than Big Meadows. There's a great campground just off the Parkway in Fancy Gap as well. I'd recommend the Skinners' book if you don't have it already.
     
  5. Gonzo Bob

    Gonzo Bob New Member

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    While I do really like the Trek 520, I think Trek messed up on the crank selection. It should really come with 22/32/44.

    I checked on the Trek website but I could not tell if the 520 has a bracket or clamp mount front derailer. If clamp, there should be no issues going to a different crankset as you will be able to lower the derailer as needed. If bracket, the height of the bracket may not allow lowering the derailer enough for the smaller rings.
     
  6. arke38

    arke38 New Member

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    I bought a Trek 520 last year; it came with a 11:32 rear and a 30..52 front. After trying it out for a few weeks, it was clear that it needed different gearing and I had the place I purchased it from put in a 22:44 front. The gearing it has now gives an almost ideal range of about 18 to 108 and really makes a positive difference (for me) on climbs. Yes, it spins out at about 38 mph but that's fine for my needs (I can only do that on slopes anyway). I strongly recommend doing this. Regards.
     
  7. scituatejohn

    scituatejohn New Member

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    Did you replace the front derraileur too.
     
  8. valygrl

    valygrl New Member

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    Agree, the stock gearing is stupid. I replaced the middle/inner rings with 39/26 and the cassette with an 11-34. I would go smaller in front, but the shop didn't have a 24 in stock and I was in a hurry, and didn't want to cough up the dough for a whole new crankset & der. maybe later.

    It shifts fine. It's not too low for stability.

    Last year I used an MTB with a 22x34, and that was even better.

    Other than that, I also replaced that crummy stock rack with a jannd expedition rack.

    Gonzo Bob, it's a clamp front der. on my 2001 520. (ok, yeah, my bike IS in my living room. wanna make something of it?)

    Have fun!
    Anna
     
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