The Trek 520 has: drop bars, 28C tires, 36 spoke rims, LX derailleurs, brakes and hubs; non-MicroDrive chainrings, 11-28 cassette, bar-end shifters, 3 WB mounts, mounts for front and rear racks & fenders. Also has a longer wheel base, lower center-of-gravity, lower seat angle, longer chain stays, etc. And there is plenty of room for wider tires if you think you’ll need them. The cassette is part of the MicroDrive setup, but the chainrings are still the big ones, giving a decent range for the road: 11-28 & 26-36-46.
If you like you can do what I did and swap the 7-spd freehub for an 8-spd, giving you either the same range in finer increments or perhaps a wider range (I don’t know exactly what is available offhand.) I find that HyperGlide chains hold up well until you (manually) break them apart. After that I switch to Sachs – but they’re only $14 mail order in US. I still think that the Specialized Expedition was one of the best stock touring bikes ever produced: sealed bearing hubs, bar-end shifters, full braze-ons (three for bottles + lowrider mounts !), and half-step plus grany gearing (same small steps as 8 speed with out rediculous dish or added weight). If I could build up a pefrect touring bike I would not change much from this design. Sounds great, but where can you find them now?
Aside from the hubs and the gearing the setup is similar. And I think I just read something indicating that the concern about dished wheels not bearing out in actual riding. We’ll see I guess – I intend to do some shorter loaded trips first. Just my ramblings… I think when I can afford it I’m going to get a Bruce Gordon frame and custom speck it. It’ll cost a fortune, but it should last forever. Bruce’s bikes look great. But when you can get the 520 for half the price you have to determine if its worth that much more to you. It wasn’t to me right now.