Trek 520 question

Discussion in 'Touring and recreational cycling' started by Krispy, Feb 16, 2004.

  1. Krispy

    Krispy New Member

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    Hopefully someone who has recently purchased a Trek 520 or someone who works in a shop can help with this question.

    When you order a Trek 520 does it ship from the factory with the steerer tube long so that it can be cut to fit the customer?

    The manager of an LBS told me that it came pre-cut from the factory and he doubted that there was enough to allow the bars to be brought level with the saddle even with a different stem. I'm questioning his answer because he didn't really want to talk to me about touring bikes anyway and was trying to blow me off because I didn't want to look at a racing bike. My first hint was when he said "Oohhh...... you really want to buy a touring bike??? ........Why???'


    The other reason I'm questioning his expertise is that I just can't imagine Trek going to the trouble of building a touring bike only to limit the riding position by forcing the rider into a aero-racing position.

    Unfortunatly the other Trek dealers that I have talked to in my town know very little about touring bikes (they are all wrapped up in the racing scene) and nothing at all about the Trek 520 since they've never seen one (except in the brochure) or ordered one for a customer.
     
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  2. starquake

    starquake New Member

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    I think the steerer tube of that bike has a fixed length. Maybe you should try adding some spacers under the upper bearings, or switch to an adjustable stem. I guess with all these you should be able to lift handlebars up with around 4".
     
  3. daveornee

    daveornee New Member

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    You are dealing with an issue that many touring riders or aspiring touring bicycle riders face most of the time.
    In fact, you dealer is telling the truth.
    However, as you surmised, there are solutions.
    1. Stem with significantly higher rise.
    2. Stem Riser like "Zoom Heads-Up" for 3.9" of rise.
    3. Ask dealer to special order a fork from Trek with longer steerer tube and use spacers.
    You may need to change the cables and housings as well due to length and fit combinations.
    Depending where you are located, you might want to shop around for a more accomdating dealer. Fuji also makes a touring bicycle that is in this price category.
     
  4. Krispy

    Krispy New Member

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    Thanks, that's good to know that he wasn't lying just to keep from having to deal with it.

    Believe it or not this one was the most accommodating in my area! One dealer kept promising me that he would get some in stock and that I should check back in a few weeks. That was back in November. After a few months of checking back every few weeks his head mechanic told me confidentially that the owner had no intentions of stocking any. He was just trying to get me out of his hair.

    The good news is that I found a dealer that is an hour and a half drive away that knows quite a bit more about touring bikes and actually owns a 520 himself. The bad news is that it is an hour and a half drive away and he also does not stock them.

    So basically even with a production touring bike I'm still looking at having to order one site unseen. When I think about it I might as well keep looking at the BLT, Atlantis, Waterford Adventure Cycle and such.

    P.S.

    I did find a local dealer who handles Surlys. He told me that the Long Haul Trucker will be available sometime in March. I may hold out a little longer for that.

    Thanks for the advice.
     
  5. daveornee

    daveornee New Member

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    The alternative rides are all great alterntives, but cost more.
    If you are ready to do some of the work, customizing, and equipping yourself you don't need to rely heavily on a dealer.
    It is always best to get a ride on what you want to buy, before you buy it. It isn't always possible as bicycle retail margins are quite slim and it is difficult to stock inventory that doesn't turn over in a single season.
    When you make your selection, include your plans for racks, fenders, tire clearance, etc. Not all forks mount desireable racks. Changing out a fork can be expensive just so you can mount the rack you want/and/or to get the clearance you need.
    If you can get a fork that other wise does everything you want, but the column is longer than you need, you can give it some riding time with spacers above the stem. Once you are sure that you will not ever need/want it higher, you can always trim off the "excess" later.
    PS: the front rack I like the best is the Tubus Tara. I know that you may want something totally different, or no front rack at all.
    Waterford is very accomodating in custom choices, including the fork and head tube extension. Custom means more time and money.
     
  6. gescom

    gescom New Member

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    Download and read the following PDF file http://www.trekbikes.com/bikes/2002/manuals/Touring.pdf . Its from the 2002 model so hopefully should still be relevant as it used a threadless headset.

    If you scroll down the bottom of the pdf there is a table listing the length Trek cuts the steerer tube on the 520. The 17, 19 and 21 inch models all have the same length steerer and headtube which is interesting.
     
  7. daveornee

    daveornee New Member

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    A visit to the Trek website is also a good idea.
    You can go to their dealer locator and enter appropriate information.
    I tried it here and found a dealer within 25 miles of me that has 3 Trek 520s in 2003 model year, each for $899.
    The dealer has his inventory listed in Adobe pdf and I used "520" as my search criteria. The whole process took me about 5 minutes.
     
  8. Krispy

    Krispy New Member

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    Thanks! That is helpful information.
     
  9. Krispy

    Krispy New Member

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    I tried what you suggested but unfortunatly none of the dealers within 200 miles have any 520 listed on their website. However, yesterday I emailed a few and found a dealer 200 miles away that has some 520's as well as some Bianchi Volpe's in stock. He is supposed to be checking on what sizes he has. Hopefully I'll hear from him today.

    As I have been comparing features of potential touring bikes I had been thinking that one advantage the 520 would have over the others is that I could test ride one first. I'm finding out now that isn't even a convienient thing to do in my area. If the shop in Texas has my size I may make a trip down there this weekend to check it out.

    Thanks
     
  10. Krispy

    Krispy New Member

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    Actually this has been pretty good information for doing a comparison. The page mentioned above says that the bike weight is 26 Lbs. I’m also considering the Surly Long Haul Trucker when they are available next month. I found out from Surly’s website that their frame is 5.15 lbs and the fork is 2.25 lbs. When I calculated what the complete bike would be using LX and other components that are comparable to the 520 the Surly would end up weighing 29.69 lbs. While the 520 includes a rear rack the calculations for the Surly does not include any racks.

    Now I’m not trying to be a weight weenie over a touring bike but that is a 4 pound difference! It may or may not be noticed once the bike was fully loaded but when you think about it that 4 lbs could mean the difference between sleeping in a bivy sack and sleeping in a nice roomy tent! More importantly I think I would notice the weight difference when I use the bike unloaded for long day rides.

    Does this sound like a reasonable comparison? Even for a touring bike doesn’t 30 lbs without racks sound a little on the heavy side?
     
  11. daveornee

    daveornee New Member

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    You might notice the weight, but you also might notice that the heavier bicycle is more stable under load, especially when you are going down the side of a mountain.
    The only way to really know what works best for you is to ride it fully loaded in the way you intend to use it.
    Have you looked at the comparison information and other Bruce Gordon rants on his web site?
     
  12. Krispy

    Krispy New Member

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    Good point!

    Also a good point. However, since I don't have the cash to buy all of the different bikes and test them out to see which is best I'm having to rely on my own research and the experience of others to weigh out the pro's and cons and then buy the one that sounds best and is within the price range I'm willing to spend.

    Yes. As a matter of fact I called Bruce Gordon today and we discussed the BLT. Although he never really said what the weight of the BLT was he hinted that it was probably a little heavier than the 520. He mentioned that the difference would be in the fork and said that the BLT should be more stable while going down a mountain with a full load.

    The good news is that he happens to have a frame in my size and if I were to have purchased it today I could have it in about 3 to 4 weeks. However, we discussed the top tube length and the existing stem and agreed that we would need to put a shorter stem on. Another alternative was that said he could install a threadless headset and an adjustable stem. This of course would affect price.

    After adding up the cost of the BLT with racks, panniers, alowing for the cost of a different stem and shipping, the cost of the bike will be over $2500.00. I would not be opposed to spending that much if I knew absolutly that the bike fit me and I would know that I would like the way it felt and rode. So I will still have to think about it some more.

    Tomorrow I'm headed for Texas to check out the 520. The Trek dealer I talked to on the phone today hinted that they may be willing to deal on the price. They have the 520 listed at $999.00. A little bit lower and we're talking half the cost of the BLT. If I were able to get them to come off that price some I may be tempted to go with the 520. That is assuming that I get there and decide that I like the bike.
     
  13. daveornee

    daveornee New Member

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    Well, you are talking apples and cherries here.
    I love apples and cherries both, but they are very different.
    The BLT fully decked out with all the things you might need should cost more than twice a 520. I had a BLT with Bruce Gordon racks. It rides very stable with full load and is ready to go where you might find an interest in going, including very reasonable gearing, fork, and top tube rigidity to handle the loads at every speed I would ever dare ride. It rides quite stiff when unloaded.
    You will find the 520 to have a very nice stable ride when unloaded, but not stiff like the BLT. Can you get the handlebar height where you want it, will it be stable under your touring load, and will the gearing match the climbing you want to do?
     
  14. Krispy

    Krispy New Member

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    Actually I meant to say that if the Texas LBS will lower their price just a bit more it would make the 520 half the price of the BLT without the racks etc. The BLT is currently $1610.00 without adding the price of the stem. The shipping will be $85.00.

    Now that's the kind of feedback I'm needing to hear. Have you also owned a 520? It would be great to hear fom someone who has owned both.


    Good questions. I'll find out tomorrow about the handlebar height. The dealer assured me we could swap out components to make it work. It shoud be pretty obvious once I see the bike. If we have to get too radical with the changes I'll run.

    The gearing should not be a problem either as the dealer said we could swap out the front crankset for the LX if I wanted as well.

    The stability under a touring load is the one thing that I can't test until I actually own whatever bike it is that I settle on. Although, as I've searched this forum and one other I'm not finding many people who are disatisfied with the way the 520 handles under a full load. At the same time there seems to be slightly more people using the 520 as a commuter bike than those who use it for loaded touring.

    Until I manage to find more feedback I'll be making an educated guess on which one to buy if it were to come down to just the BLT or the 520.
     
  15. daveornee

    daveornee New Member

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    [<SNIP> Have you also owned a 520? It would be great to hear fom someone who has owned both.

    I never owned or toured a Trek 520.
    The only Trek 520 I ever rode was a little too big for me, was totally unloaded, but rode very stable. I road it for a one day trip up and down the mountains from 3,000 to 9,000 feet. The gearing was OK for unloaded climbing but it wouldn't be OK for me when loaded.
    I used to own a Trek 720 and it was very stable in loaded touring.
    I was quite a bit stronger and lighter then, and my touring load was also lighter. The racks I had back then weren't anywhere near as stable as the Bruce Gordon, Tubus, or Beckman racks that are available now.
    I can't help you in a direct current comparison of the BLT and 520 in loaded touring. I can tell you that racks, packing, and securing your load will make a signicant difference no matter what frame you choose.
    The BLT is more rigid than the 520 in frame and fork from my comparisons.
     
  16. Krispy

    Krispy New Member

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    Here's the answer to my original question about getting the handlebar level with the saddle.

    On a properly fitted Trek 520 the uncut steerer tube and stock stem bring it to where I want it. But just in case I want to raise it more or lower it in the future I bought an adjustable stem too.

    I took it for a 30 mile ride today and I think I am really going to enjoy this bike!

    Also, I'm really glad I gave up on getting any help from the local LBSs on this bike. They reluctantly said they'd order one for me but they all were recommending a frame that would have been way too small. And when I say way too small I mean the difference between a 17" and a 23" frame!!! What's worse is the fact that if I had ordered it through my LBS I would have had to pay up front and would have been stuck with it if it had been the wrong size. I wanted to see and ride the bike before buying and in this case it made all the difference.

    I highly recommend Richardson Bike Mart in Richardson Texas! They went to the extreme to make sure that everything about the fit was correct. I'm not exaggerating on the extreme part either. I think when I have some time I'll start another thread in the appropriate forum on the subject and explain how thorough they were about making everything fit right.
     
  17. Krispy

    Krispy New Member

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    Here's a pic.
     
  18. daveornee

    daveornee New Member

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    Sounds like it was worth the trip to Richardson.
    When I compared your photo to the one on the Trek site I can see 3 significant differences:
    1. The steering tube of the fork is quite a bit longer so the stem can allow the bars to be set higher. I think Trek does themselves a dis-service by showing a touring bicycle example the way they do.
    2. Your seat is set lower than I would normally expect. This helps the relationship of reach and bar height, but it makes me wonder about the "fit". This is just an observation based on my experience. If your fit works well for you, don't change anything based on my observation and experience. You can read a good fit article that covers the important points on Peter White Cycles site, URL:
    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/fitting.htm
    I would be interested in hearing about Richardson shop's fit approach. I am also interested in what your natural pedal/foot position is and what your shoe size is.
    3. Your rack is mounted too far back at the top connection.

    Your local shop certainly won't sell any Trek touring bicycles to any serious riders. A 4.5" difference in stand over height is huge.
    It is impossible to see how they could arrive at it.
     
  19. Krispy

    Krispy New Member

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    Yes, I agree!

    To make a long story short we were originally trying to make the next size smaller frame fit. The size that I originally thought would be the one. The problem was that even after adding a different seat post with a very radical setback my tibia was still in front of the pedal spindle when using the plumb bob. Even at that we were having to use an adjustable stem set at it's highest setting to get the bars higher and then were only able to get it to about 3cm below the saddle. Also to make my reach correct we were having to use a stem that would be less than 80 mm.

    When we tried the next size frame (the one you see in the picture) the stock stem and the stock seat post put me in the proper position and with the uncut steerer tube my bar height is right where I want it to be. They even put on a larger set of tires on so that I could check to make sure I still had enough stand over height. Even with the larger tires I still have an inch.

    I agree the seat post doesn't look like the typical height you normally see on other folks road bikes. One thing that adds to that appearance is the fact that the seat tube extends up a little higher above the top tube when compared to other brands of bikes. But when you look at my regular road bike my saddle is about the same distanc from the top tube and everything fits me on it as well.

    While I was there I met two other people who had the Trek 520. They said they had the same situation with theirs. One had his for over 10 years and was still quite happy with the bike.

    Not that I was basing my fit off of Rivendell's philosophy but after I got home I was reading their site this pretty much falls in line with the way they would have fitted me.

    Yesterday I road 30 miles on various roads including hilly, rough, smooth, gravel, dirt and so far it has exceeded my expectations. I'm actually sitting more comfortably on the 520 than I am my Litespeed but I think it is mostly because of the bar height situation because the rest of the fit is identical. Besides the rack I may change the tires. I was originally going to get the Conti Top Touring but I let them talk me into the Specialized Armadillo because it had thicker sidewalls. I really wish I had stayed with the Continentals because they made the ride so plush I felt like I was riding a cruiser bike. Even though the Armadillos are a lot plusher than the racing tires on my road bike they are still not as nice as the Continental Top Touring.


    That was the way it shipped from Trek. I told them I'd be replacing it soon so we didn't mess with trying to do any adjustments to it.

    Because the first thing most of the local shops ask you is what your height is and what the inseam size is on the pants your wearing! Now days when I'm looking to buy a bike or frame I've learned to just carry my own tape measure and double check everything they say. I just bought a new frame for my mountain bike in November to replace a bad fit I got from an LBS! The funny thing is that I drove to Tulsa (hour and a half drive) to buy that one! The 520 is the second bike that I've bought from an out of town dealer.
     
  20. daveornee

    daveornee New Member

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    Continental Top Touring 2000 tires are at or near the top of my favorite tour tire list.
    I used Armadillo for touring and tandeming with acceptable results. They certainly are tough, but they don't have as much tread life or comfort as the Conti TT 2000s.
    I am trying out Schwalbe Marathon XRs. I will see how they work in a loaded tour this summer.
    You can look at them on URL:
    http://www.schwalbe.com/index.pl?bereich=produkte&einsatzbereich=4&produktgruppe=6&produkt=95

    It sounds like you have your fit dialed in.

    What rack(s) do you plan to use?
     
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