December 12, 2009
Trips back home to Iowa always bring me back to my cycling past. Familiar roads, memories of RAGBRAI, and my first true touring bike, a Trek 520.
The Trek 520 was first introduced in 1983, and continues to make its way through the production line as one of the most popular touring bikes today. With a large following, there seems to be no slowing down for this model. The inaugural version was more a sport touring model, with lugged Reynolds steel, and no eyelets for racks. Over the years, it has developed into a full-on touring bike to meet the needs of weekend warriors and expedition tourists.
The 2010 Trek 520 steel frame is well refined with eyelets for racks and fenders, while the steel fork is drilled with low-rider rack eyelets. There are some nice subtle features, such as a pump peg, three bottle cage mounts to extend your hydration range, and a sloping top tube, which makes it easier to get on and off the bike. They also include fenders, and a rear rack to get you started.
The 9spd Shimano drivetrain is reliable, and highlighted by Dura Ace bar end shifters, Shimano Trekking triple crankset (48/36/26 gearing), and Deore LX derailleurs. For the components (handlebars, stem, seatpost, saddle), Trek uses their own in-house Bontrager parts. You will be happy with the wheelset, which is built tough with 36 spokes and uses long lasting Shimano LX hubs with cartridge sealed bearings.
All and all, this is a very well rounded bike, and at $1320, it's pretty affordable as well. Be sure to check out Trek's website for full specifications and sizing information.
TOURING GEAR AND TIPS is written by Joshua Tack of Adventure Cycling's member services department. It appears weekly, highlighting technical aspects of bicycle touring and advice to help better prepare you for the journey ahead.