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The most popular page ever on this site, by far, is the one about my Trek 520 touring bike which I bought in Toowoomba, in Australia, where I live.

Here it is – on my feral driveway.

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A couple of regular readers were annoyed that I strayed from the normal fare of word processing and XML but it brings me a steady stream of Googlers. I might figure out how to start up separate feeds for technical posts and cycling posts. Maybe. Anyway, there will be a couple more cycling posts coming soon. We have a new bike in the shed that I need to talk about.

One of the nice things about posting about the Trek 520 was meeting one Simon Troman online. He emailed me with some advice about the numb toes I was getting from the Specialized Body Geometry Comp MTB shoes.

Simon suggested that this might be due to soft soles, causing the shoe to flex over the pedal. Not in this case – my shoes are very stiff. Subsequent discussion suggests I should try moving the cleats back a bit. I haven’t tried that yet. I have a feeling my toes might hit the mudguard (fender) if I do. But with thick socks in winter I have not been doing the shoes up as tightly as I did in summer with no socks and I’m having fewer problems with the toes.

Simon works for a Canberra bike shop part time. I’ve never been there, but based on Simon’s willingness to help me out over the net I’d recommend a visit if you happen to be shopping for a bike in Canberra. Try Bike Culture in O’Connor. They can sell you a Trek, I gather.

Anyway, at around 7 months of age the bike has now done 2000km, mostly on the home, school, work, shops, home run so I thought I’d give an update.

Everything still works, as you’d expect from a decent bit of machinery. In contrast, the $340 Apollo mountain bike that preceded it was was starting to show its age after this kind of mileage with gears not shifting properly and brakes a bit funny, not to mention the broken back axle (but then it was carrying me and a 20kg kid 15km per day 3 days a week).

The Trek 520 doesn’t look new anymore – there are a few scuffs on the frame from bike racks, and collisions with children and the like.

A few minor issues:

  1. Handlebar tape is getting a bit uneven – maybe this is normal.

  2. Mudguard is a bit bent. This is due to the impact of an enthusiastic six-year-old on the way home from school in Queen’s Park Gardens, formerly known as the botanic gardens. I said “You know I’m riding beside you, don’t you …”. We tangled on the “you”. Nobody was seriously hurt. He got a good jab from the end of the drop handlebar.

  3. Went through the first set of front brake pads (right down to the metal) in 1500km. The guys at Bikeline in Toowoomba were astounded, as I don’t do that much seriously downhill riding, but I worked out that it was from riding with my kids. I come home from school, about 1km, with brakes on just about all the way a few times a week. And maybe I’m a bit timid on some of the other downhill pitches around Toowoomba.

  4. One of the little plastic covers fell off one of the STI gear/brake levers. It appears to serve no function anyway, except maybe micro-aerodynamics.

  5. The Bontranger Race Lite (700x32) tyres are really hard to get off and on the rim. I found this out when I broke the valve on the front tyre (more than once) because I only had a hand pump. Then I broke the plastic tyre levers I bought when I got the bike. Then the tyre would not seat properly until I got a real pump and pumped it up to 110psi.

    Kids, get a proper floor pump with a pressure guage. It was amazing how far under the recommended pressure all our bikes were.

  6. And those tyres are a bit slippery in the wet. Not that it rains much here, but when it did a couple of weeks ago I had a couple of little wobbles. I assume a bit of practice would be needed to know how far they can be pushed.

  7. Then I got my first puncture, and in the process of replacing the tube I:

    • Blew up a tube with a spectacular gunshot-like crack at about 100psi while I was pumping. I assume it was pinched somewhere.

    • Bent the lip of the rim outwards presumably with tyre levers. I bent it back in with a hammer and a pair of pliers, as per the instructions here. It’s pretty straight now, but I had to adjust the brake pads to clear the wobbly bit.

Next step is to buy a trailer, to make trips to the markets, supermarket, nursery, hardware store, and picnics  a bit easier. True, I can put a whole box of apples on the front rack of the Apollo. And a big load of veges in the back panniers. And more in a backpack. But a trailer would be simpler. And I could hitch it to the 520.

I like the look of the BicyleR Evolution trailers. I have no desire to have  an xtracycle.


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