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Recommendations for upgrades to 520

Old 11-27-20, 07:38 AM
  #1  
Jno
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Recommendations for upgrades to 520

I am pretty much settled on ordering a 520 (with revised gearing) in the next couple of days. I assume that this model has made some concessions on some components, in order to offer better components elsewhere in the build, to keep price competitive. If any of you are familiar with the bike, or with the realities of long term touring in Canada (near enough to civilization to deal with calamities), what upgrades or modifications you’d recommend? I don’t mean “wish lists” that improve something that is already fine, but rather, something that ought to be replaced because it is maybe not even adequate.
Thanks for any suggestions
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Old 11-27-20, 08:29 AM
  #2  
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I have no doubt that you could hop on the bike as is and ride it cross country (assuming wheels and drive train are true).. If it's the rim brake model, I would switch out the brake pads to Kool Stop Salmons and change the saddle out to one of my Brooks but those would be my "necessities".
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Old 11-27-20, 08:46 AM
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I'll put this stuff down while I am thinking of it, not parts stuff or changes, but really good practices to follow for a long trip.
-if you have ever regreased and adjusted ball bearing hubs before, I'd add more grease to the new hubs and check the cone tightness. Its very common for new hubs to be delivered often a bit too tight, they are made by machines. I realize that if you arent into this sort of thing, it will sound weird, most people just assume and expect that a new bike will be perfect, but in the real world, they often aren't, but noone notices this stuff unless you work on your own hubs and can feel the difference. Its just not worth a shops time to check this.

after riding the bike for a while, get a good mechanic to go over spolke tensions, Super important. Try to get recommendations of a really good wheel guy , or gal.

re rack bolts, make sure that you put blue loctite on these bolts to stop them loosening and falling out, and damaging the threads. This is super common, happens all the time. Loctite stops the constant vibrations and load forces from loosening the rack bolts over time.
When I do my weekly bike go over on a long trip, I always check my rack bolts. Sometimes a slight tightening is needed. Loctite really helps with minimizing this.

oh, get wheel spoke tensioning and bottom bracket bb tightness checked before trip, but NOT right before, to make sure that all is well for a while to be safe.

other than that, just ride the bike as it is and figure out what stuff you want to change, like seat specifically. You really want to have the bike fitting you like a glove next summer, so that if you do this trip in 2022 (a long way away frankly) you'll know that the bike works great for you, and that doing test trips shows that everything is comfortable.
You have tons of time, no worries at this point.
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Old 11-27-20, 08:49 AM
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I know there was a lot of general speculating about gearing in the other thread but that bike is good to go, for what you want to do, as is. I wouldn't over think it. It is already far better than several of the bikes I have done tours with in the past.

As Djb mentioned. Those things aren't replacements as much as having a good mechanic give it a going over, similar to someone taking a car in for a check over before a long motor trip. I think old people still do that with their Buicks

Generally, the things people upgrade / change / personalize are contact points: saddle, pedals, bar tape. And good tires.
There are many threads about saddles, it's a topic with lots of opinions.
For pedals, the big decision will be platform or clipless. Bartape is again, one of those "everyone has their own idea" things. Same with tires, though there are a couple of common favorites.

Beyond that you will have to choose panniers. Ortlieb seems to be the benchmark brand for many. Then tents sleeping bags, cook stoves etc... lots of fun!

One thing that would help in making suggestions is your budget expectations or desired quality level. Lots of people get carried away with theoretical dream builds but reality dictates how much one actually intends to spend on stuff. You could retrofit a lot of parts on your bike but at some point you would have been better off buying a more expensive model.

Last edited by Happy Feet; 11-27-20 at 08:59 AM.
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Old 11-27-20, 10:19 AM
  #5  
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I think Fuji offers a better bicycle in their Touring Disc. It's less expensive than the Trek 520 and has better core components (chromoly fork, etc). Use the savings to buy better racks than what either of the bicycles come with.

Edit: After learning that this Fuji has QR-skewers rather than thru-axles, I am retracting my endorsement of it. No bicycle should have disc brakes without also thru-axles. Disc brakes NEED to have thru-axles, otherwise you don't get the benefits of them. Don't get scammed!

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Old 11-27-20, 10:47 AM
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I would change nothing. If you do as djb recommends, there is no reason why that bike wouldn't last you for years to come.
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Old 11-27-20, 11:10 AM
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Brand new bike that you want to use to ride many long consecutive days, that means you should assume that after you have it for a while that you will buy a new stem that makes the bike fit perfectly, as new bikes often are not a perfect fit.

Add fenders for a long bike tour.

If this is the bike you plan to ride across Canada, you want a good flashing taillight. One that you can run for a week before you charge it or change batteries. I like the Planet Bike Superflash, I use rechargeable AAA batteries in it but it can use non-rechargeable. That light is still bright after a week, but I charge them up weekly to make sure they stay bright. I have two taillights, but most of the time only one is turned on.

I like to carry two spare tubes, patch kit with self adhesive patches, spare rear shifter cable and spare rear brake cable. I have never needed to use a tire boot, but I carry some tyvek pieces that I cut from a post office envelope with my spare tubes in case I needed a tire boot. I find that self adhesive patches do not last forever, but are a good short term fix, can also patch an air mattress or other sleeping pad.

Road Morph G pump or Lezyne Micro Floor Drive pump. If you use the Lezyne, that pump might not play well will removable presta valve cores, make sure they are tight in the valve stem so they stay there when you remove the pump chuck.

Some trips I carry a spare tire, some I do not. My spare is not a high mileage durable tire, it is lightweight, folding, and good enough to get me to a bike shop.

On a different thread I think I suggested a Fiber Fix emergency spoke for your group if you do not carry spare spokes.

Spare quick link or two for your chain.

Djb mentioned blue loctite. I have started to carry a tiny bottle on tours after seeing how many people lost bolts off their bikes.

And I carry some spare M5 bolts in case I lost one or two. And spare cleat bolt. I have heard that a busted seatpost bolt can really ruin your trip, I used to carry a spare but when i realized that my stem cap bolt would work, I quit carrying a spare seatpost bolt.

After you have ridden the bike for some long days, decide if the saddle on it is what you want.
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Old 11-27-20, 12:06 PM
  #8  
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First make sure you get the biggest size you can stand over. These have 3 cm size jumps and they are comparatively small framed.
Then shorten the stem if necessary. The bars are way in front of the steerer, very awkward IME. "Funny steering comments" are nothing but old wives tales. Standover room between seat and stem is just as important. The seat tube is very steep, not good for fitting.
It does come with the BEST disc brakes, TRP with both pads moving.
With the rear rack mounts, if possible make the bolt longer and put a lock nut on the end, it'll be far stronger too.
It says max 275 lbs like most bikes do. Mine is 290, LOL, with my Rohloff14 and dyno drum brake in front. I wouldn't go without a dyno and "free" lighting myself.
I always ride with platform pedals. Far safer in a wipeout and they will NOT develop knee pains.
======
I think the Marakesh is better anyway. Except bar end shifters. I saw a discontinued 2016 flatbar one that has a long TT and really long frame. It was loaded so heavy I couldn't lift it a mm. LOL

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Old 11-27-20, 12:12 PM
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Contact points (pedals, saddle, handlebar [and the correct length and angle stem]) should get your attention. A good low-rider rack for the front (like Tubus). Tires. Fenders.
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Old 11-27-20, 12:15 PM
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Generally if you are looking to upgrade a new bike right away then you might consider a different bike. You might consider the bike that has the components you want on it from the get go.

That is of course not mentioning things like saddle or pedals or something like that, you might change anyway or need to add. Those are normal on just about any bike even the most expensive stock bike.

One thing I would upgrade on any touring bike is adding a good quality dynamo system, if you cannot get one from stock. That is always a good upgrade for any tourist or commuter.

Beyond that stuff the 520 was downgraded with an aluminum fork this year so not my first choice for a touring bike.
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Old 11-27-20, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Jno View Post
I am pretty much settled on ordering a 520 (with revised gearing) in the next couple of days.
What gearing did you revise?

I had a 1990 520 from 1990 until about 10 years ago, and didn't have to change anything apart from the stock saddle.

This time around, I bought a Soma Saga disk frame on sale from Somafabrications and built it up myself with exactly what I wanted. I won't say it was less expensive, but I have no compelling need to upgrade anything. (Yet.)
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Old 11-27-20, 02:25 PM
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don't change nuttin' at first.

buy it.
ride it a month or two.
then consider necessary changes.
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Old 11-27-20, 04:54 PM
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If you have the bike shop change out your crankset, the old one they remove has value. If they do not offer you anything for the parts then you should keep the parts. Maybe sell later, maybe use on a different bike, maybe give to a charity, but don't donate them to a bike shop that might turn around and sell them.

If I recall correctly, you are a road bike rider. If that means you have biking shoes that are impossible to walk on for any distance, consider getting some good cycling shoes you can walk in that take SPD cleats. There will be times that you spend a half hour or more in a grocery store wearing your bike shoes, so you want something you can function in.

I like pedals that take SPD cleats on one side, platform on the other. Touring, I bring a pair of non-cycling shoes to wear in the campsite. Sometimes I want to bike with those shoes instead of the biking shoes, thus the platform side. Shimano makes several pedals that are SPD on one side, platform on the other.
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Old 11-27-20, 09:44 PM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
If you have the bike shop change out your crankset, the old one they remove has value. If they do not offer you anything for the parts then you should keep the parts. Maybe sell later, maybe use on a different bike, maybe give to a charity, but don't donate them to a bike shop that might turn around and sell them..
yup, I already offered to buy the crankset and bb if he or she does end up going this route.
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Old 11-29-20, 01:38 AM
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520 upgrades

The bike is fine off the shelf for most tours, in my opinion, I own one but heavily modified it when I bought it because I thought I knew what I wanted in a tour bike but had only one short tour under my belt 20 years ago.
My mods were, added S&S couplers, compact triple up front 52/39/30, 10 in the back 36-12, ultegra by the way, brooks b-17 saddle, and matching bar tape, custom paint, air brushing, clear tape over all airbrushing, Schwalbe marathon tour pros front and rear, SPD pedals, chain, brakes, Schmidt Dynamo hub in front......in the end, shoulda just bought a Comotion and been done with it, lol. After the first tour with her, the only necessary change was the bar end shifters had to go. Couldn’t stand them. Thought about just going with down tube shifters - it was what I wanted when I bought the bike, but touring Bikes have bar ends I was told, and had read. BS. Changed over to Gevanelles and they are fantastic. Toured up to Arctic (35 days) and all was great. Probably the best part of the bike in my opinion we’re the shifter/brakes from Gevanelle. All the top shelf components have been bullet proof with 20,000+ miles on them.
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Old 11-29-20, 03:18 AM
  #16  
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Originally Posted by Jno View Post
I don’t mean “wish lists” that improve something that is already fine, but rather, something that ought to be replaced because it is maybe not even adequate.
Thanks for any suggestions
Check the headset. Last time I checked they were putting horrible generic ones with loose balls on there. The worst kind of Chinese junk. BITD you used to get a decent Cane Creek.

Usually the parts are mostly Bontrager which were all pretty good on my 2008 model. But I don't know if that has changed.
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Old 11-29-20, 03:18 AM
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Originally Posted by LuckySailor View Post
....My mods were, added S&S couplers, compact triple up front 52/39/30, 10 in the back 36-12, ultegra by the way, brooks b-17 saddle, and matching bar tape, custom paint, air brushing, clear tape over all airbrushing, Schwalbe marathon tour pros front and rear, SPD pedals, chain, brakes, Schmidt Dynamo hub in front........

if theseus had a bike.................
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Old 11-30-20, 03:55 AM
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Saddle, bar tape, pedals, dynamo hub, Salmon pads..that's all I'd do.
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Old 11-30-20, 07:39 AM
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My Trek 520s are older, model years 2004 and 2007 but still riding strong - so may not be as relevant. I initially rode them "as is" but before my first cross-continent tour, I updated:
- saddle
- pedals
- longer stem and seat tube for better fit
- added a front rack
- tires
Myself and load are also heavier so I replaced the wheels with 48-spoke wheels.

Since then, I've mostly replaced things as they wore out, e.g. drive train components, eventually the back rack broke, water bottle cage, rims, hubs - as well as standard sorts of stuff, e.g. bar tape, cables, tires, etc.
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Old 11-30-20, 08:44 AM
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Bike purchased

I bought the bike built up with a couple affordable mods (lower gearing, better brakes, a hand built rear wheel). As a result, no spare crankset or brake set or what have you, for those who inquired.
The rest of any changes based on preferences will wait until I’ve ridden the bike.
Thanks for all the help.
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Old 11-30-20, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by LuckySailor View Post
My mods were ... compact triple up front 52/39/30
Curious, what is compact about this? It’s literally the least compact combo available. Not throwing shade, in fact my most-ridden touring bike came with these ratios - though I swapped the 30 for a 24 and was glad I did. But someone could read this and get confused what “compact” means
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Old 11-30-20, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by fourfa View Post
Curious, what is compact about this? It’s literally the least compact combo available. Not throwing shade, in fact my most-ridden touring bike came with these ratios - though I swapped the 30 for a 24 and was glad I did. But someone could read this and get confused what “compact” means
i didn’t name it, just specified what it’s always been called in my world. My guess it’s compact because of the closer chainring sizes than what may be conventional. Whatever that is. Now, if you took your 30 out and replaced it with a 24, I couldn’t call it compact anymore because of the huge difference between 39 and 24. And does that even work?! Holy smoke that seems a lot to ask a chain to negotiate during a gear change. I’m no mechanic, but wow! And really, I wonder if the word compact is even relevant anymore when it comes to cranks? Just my 2cents.
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Old 11-30-20, 12:43 PM
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OK, I understand now. In cycling circles, a "compact crank" is a road double with 50-34 chainrings (16 tooth jump). "Subcompacts" are becoming more common with 48-32 and 46-30 rings (again, 16 tooth jumps). Traditional full-size cranks used to be 52-42 or 53-39, though now that all 2x front road derailleurs are designed around that 16 tooth jump, you see more 52-36 cranksets.

My Shimano 105 5703 triple front derailleur never complained about the 15-tooth 24-39 upshift, not ever. Modern upshift ramps on the 3x10 middle ring really work, I guess. Though perhaps it's partly due to the long-cage SGS XT rear derailleur I installed to keep steady chain tension with that much range.

Sorry for the off-topic, back to the 520

Last edited by fourfa; 11-30-20 at 12:48 PM.
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Old 11-30-20, 01:17 PM
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Lucky, just to confirm that the term "compact crank" is for a 50/34, although as stated, there are smaller doubles out there, 42/28 , that sort of thing.
The standard road triple is 50/39/30, but you used to see 52/42/30

the typical mtb triple used to 42/32/22, but then morphed into slightly diff teeth numbers. My 9 speed era XT is a 44/32/22 and then you got into the 10 speed era with slight changes of teeth numbers.
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Old 12-10-20, 07:57 PM
  #25  
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I have a 2019 disc model. Not much will need to be upgraded, just other stuff added to suit your tour.

I did replace many of the bolts with stainless ones in mine. A good set of pedals of course is good. I went Shimano EH500 after having a couple near-misses unclipping with another brand. The EH500 clip tension is really light, basically the lightest you can use and still be practical. The platform side has studs too so good grip even with normal shoes.

Would suggest if you're using a tail light you get a rack mount for it.

I found the stock saddle really comfy, no urge to upgrade it but that's personal.

Edit:
One small thing and depends on your panniers. For my rear rack I replaced the bottom most bolt with an M5 threaded eyelet bolt. This is the perfect way for my panniers hook to engage. Found I was scratching my rack all up and not getting a solid grip before. The eyelet solves that nicely.

I will also add that I've been happy with the stock tires. I'm sure there are options that are better overall but these ones seem decent. They ride smooth, seem flat-resistant and have reflective sidewalls.

Last edited by Wiggle; 12-10-20 at 08:12 PM.
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