Trek 520 Commuter Beauty

Trek 520

Love, not at first sight.

In early 2005, I purchased the Trek 520 to replace my daily commuter (Electra Street Rod). I was looking for something faster to reduce my 26 mile round-trip commute times. In addition, the Street Rod developed a dangerous crack along the bottom frame tube. Electra ultimately replaced the frame, great company. I will blog about them later.
So research began with finding a quality fast durable commuter. My top two picks were the Novara Randonee from REI and the Trek 520 Touring bike.
I test rode both and ultimately decided on the Trek, mainly for two reasons:
1. The Trek had the simple bar-end shifters (Shimano Dura-Ace, bar end control) verses the integrated ergonomic Shimano shifters on the Randonee. I have the old school XT Deore Thumbies on my mtn. bike and believe in the philosophy of “Less parts = less problems”. During the test ride the Trek’s bar-end shifters were solid and shifted perfectly. In addition, the indexing could be “dialed out” to revert back to fricton shifting. This is a real plus when your derailleurs are being less than cooperative.
2. The Trek had Avid Arch Rival V-brakes verses the REI’s Shimano cantilever brakes. I knew I would be carrying the usual commuting gear + on weekends my son via trailer. I needed better brakes than the Randonee offered.
As this post implies, the Trek 520 was not love at first sight. I started commuting with her and started tweaking alittle bit.
The first noticeable upgrade is in the handlebar department. Standard road bike handlebars do not allow quick and easy braking nor shifting (This won’t cut it in traffic). The Nitto Moustache Handlebar from Rivendell solved these problems and offered comfortable hand positions.
Next, I needed some rain protection. Planet Bike Freddie Fenders kept the rain on the road and off of me.
I received the Brooks B17 saddle as a gift. The saddle is extremely comfortable, extremely heavy, extremely a pain in the ass with rain and extremely worth it.
I tossed the Shimano 525 clipless pedals on Ebay and bought some MKS Sylvan pedals and clips. There is some debate with clipless and toe-clips. My philosophy is simple, I want to walk comfortably, carry no extra shoes, and be able to ride with any footwear I want. Toe-clips allow this.
I finally gave-up on my homemade Dewalt battery/Mag-lite headlight and bought a Niterider Trail Rat and matching Universal Tail Light. Now my lights work when they should.
Enough about the commercial upgrades, how does she ride?
She, CHERi, is ’bout two years old and has about 3k miles on her. Most of these are hard miles, either carrying a 15 lb pannier or a 25 lb kid in a 25 lb trailer. And several of the trailer outings were either in the N. Georgia mtns. or W. Carolina mtns.
Part replacements have included new brake pads and a new rear wheel. Spokes were pulling through the rim. My friend John Kovachi built me a bullet-proof replacement.
CHERi has never left me stranded. CHERi has pulled a trailer with 2 kids near Bervard, NC. Her skin is as thick as her tires.
In closing, CHERi is what a commuter should be,….durable, reliable, easy to maintain, comfortable, and lovable.


6 Responses to “Trek 520 Commuter Beauty”

  1. Dewalt Lover Says:

    Useful information for this tool and your post looks very interesting. I always like to leave comments when I see a good looking website. Keep up the great work.

  2. Dewalt Lover Says:

    Good information on your site for this tool and your post looks very interesting. Keep up the good work.

  3. Alan Says:

    I have dreamed of a Trek 520 for over ten years…today I ordered her and she will be here in 3 weeks… I love the idea and look of your upgraded handlebars… I’ll give her an honest effort with the road bike bars but I gotta feeling your idea is best…

    Your bike is beautiful. My goal is to ride over a 1000 miles this summer and enjoy the time and sights with my 15year old son…. here is his idea of fun

    thanks for the nice blog!

  4. rhean Says:

    nice blog and very informative writeup keep it up.

  5. powertools Says:


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  6. Scott Johnson Says:

    I too bought a Trek 520 in 2005, I don’t ride much (hardly at all) but I look at it every day, and I don’t care much for the stock handlebar that came with the bike I like a bar with a flat ramp I can rest my hands on not one with a downward slope, otherwise I really like my bike, hopefully soon I’ll feel the wind in my face, peace

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