The road to acquiring Emily a touring bike has been long. It didn’t have to be, but I can be difficult, and picky, when it comes to choosing gear. I was a backpacker before I was a cyclist. I’ve walked many a mile devising strategies to eliminate minuscule grams from the burden upon my back. For the most part, this mindset has followed me into the world of bicycle touring.
Back in 2011, while researching bicycles for my cross country ride, I learned the vast majority of touring bikes have a steel frame. Steel frame bicycles can handle the added stresses and weight of loaded touring, and ride smoother than other materials. I ignored the conventional wisdom and opted for a Cannondale with an aluminum frame in order to save a pound or two of weight. While out on the road on my first tour, it seemed that 95% of other long distance tourers were riding steel framed Surly Long Haul Truckers. I wasn’t converted myself, but was intrigued enough to want a steel frame for Emily.
Three years ago we picked up a well used 1994 Trek 520 (Trek’s touring model and one of the last 520 models to be made in the US). We had purchased this bike before our New Jersey to Virginia ride, with hopes of fixing it up in time to use for that tour. Alas, this did not happen and we ultimately finished Emily’s bike just days before leaving on our current tour. The bike was in decent shape for local use, but the paint was in rough shape, and most of the “wear” parts would need to be replaced before any long distance touring. So a few weeks ago, after years of procrastination, I began prepping the steel stead.
The Trek in its original state:
I then stripped the bike down to the frame. Below are the tools needed to strip this specific model, minus a headset removal tool, which I picked up the next day.
After every component was removed from the frame, we dropped it off to be sandblasted and powder coated. We then delivered it to our local bike shop to be rebuilt. I would have liked to rebuild the bike myself, but opted for the bike shop in order to prevent any marital strain. I did not want my bike mechanic prowess being questioned every time there was an issue with Emily’s bike over the next 3,400 miles.
Painted and rebuilt, as received back from the bike shop:
I then added some full cover aluminum fenders, a bike computer, and the base to the handlebar bag:
Loaded up and ready to hit the road!
Model: 1994 Trek 520
Paint: Custom powder coat
Frame: USA Made Trek custom butted Cro-moly
Crankset: Shimano Deore LX 46/36/26
Cassette: Shimano 13-34T 7 speed cassette
Derailleurs: Shimano Deore LX, front and rear
Shifters: Shimano bar end shifters
Hubs: Shimano Deore LX
Brakes: Shimano Deore LX M-System
Stem: Quill Stem adapter, converted to threadless stem
Saddle: Terry Butterfly Ti*
Tires: 700×32 Schwalbe Marathon
*While researching bike saddles, Emily emailed Terry with some questions. A typo on the contact form caused Terry’s reply to go to an Ethan Cherin in Minneapolis. Ethan, a fellow cyclist, deduced the mistake and forwarded it on to Emily. Ethan was kind enough to share some advice on saddles from his experience, and offered to show us around Minneapolis if we would be traveling through. Small world!