Trek 520

The Trek 520 Disc Touring Bike

A proper touring bike is a beast of burden. It’s not the fastest, generally not the fanciest, but it knows how to work. Touring bikes are designed to carry large loads over long distances. Everything from gear selection, frame geometry, wheel construction, and frame material is built with the single purpose of schlepping you and your gear. We’ve recently received Trek’s touring specific 520 Disc and love the well thought out design. Listed below are a few key features that distinguish the 520 from a standard road bike that you add racks to.

1. Frame material

The 520 boasts a butted chromoly steel frame. While not as light as a full carbon rocket ship, the steel frame is much more durable, provides a great ride quality and is capable of supporting loads far better than any other frame material. Steel is the material of choice for these bikes, no matter what your budget.


2. Frame geometry

Low and long. The geometry of the 520 is designed to provide stable, predictable handling when under load. By increasing the wheelbase length and lowering the bottom bracket height, the 520 provides a lower center of gravity than a standard road bike. The rack mounts on this bike are also lowered so that the weight of the bike is lower to the ground. The difference this makes is pretty drastic when the 520 is loaded down.

3. Gearing

While we generally steer our road and hybrid customers away from a triple chainring, for someone looking to tour we always recommend it. Even with a modest load, gentle hills can become horrible, unforgiving, energy sucking nightmares. Having a broad range of gearing allows a rider to spin up climbs under load and dial in a proper gear to maintain a high, lactate cleansing cadence.


4. Wheels

We’re so happy that the 520 comes with 36 spokes. These are workhorse wheels that run more spokes at a lower tension. Not only does a 36 spoke wheel provide more shock absorption, it can also handle much more weight than its lower spoked brethren. In addition, the 520 comes standard with bombproof 700x32 Bontrager Hard Case tires. These provide excellent flat protection and hold a larger volume of air, further increasing your ride quality and load capacity.

5. Racks, brakes, etc.

The 520 has all the necessary attachments to take you from commuter to multi-day touring rider in just a few minutes. With rack and fender mounts integrated into the frame, the 520 provides a stable platform for adding gear. The disc brakes also provide more stopping power than traditional rim brakes. Even in the wet conditions and under load, the brakes on the 520 provide superior stopping power.