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As you're going to use it for day trips -- lunches and rain gear? -- I'd think Ortlieb is overkill. I picked up a trunk bag from either Nashbar or Performance a while back. It attaches with Velcro, and can fit on any rack I've tried it on.+1 The Performance/Nashbar rack trunks are very functional and low priced.
In other words, don't overthink this purchase.
The Shimano triple had the same 30 tooth inner chainring that they have been putting on bikes for decades. They are still doing it today. Clueless. I also inquired if the 520 could be set up with 24-34 low gears. It took them over an hour to confirm the combination was possible. It was not a good experience.Shimano isn't "clueless", they are selling most of their triples to road riders, not tourists, so the 30T granny ring is adequate. However, if you find one of the older FC-5703 or FC-4503 triple cranks, they still have a separate 74 mm bolt circle and will take a replacement granny ring down to 24T. The newer Shimano triple cranks (FC -4603 and FC-6703) have the granny ring bolted to extended tabs on the middle chainring and with a 92 mm bcd and are indeed limited to a 30T granny chainring.
The Blue Ridge Parkway. Elevation will keep temperatures reasonable. Campgrounds along the way. Pretty scenery. 35 mph speed limit. Light traffic. What's not to like?Yep, it's a great cycling area alright with one minor disadvantage. The Blue Ridge Parkway runs east and west. The OP plans to ride north to south.
New Jersey bears are athletic:I've seen one bear while I was riding my bicycle. A friend and I were riding the access road through Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia when what looked like a large black dog ambled out of the woods and sat down on the shoulder of the road. As we got closer we realize it wasn't a dog, it was a bear cub! Next question; where is it's mother? We stopped a respectful distance away and waited until it wandered off back into the woods before riding on.
Seriously...We just missed seeing one in the Gap during an organized century. Alas, all we saw were his muddy prints in the road. The year before a couple of them walked out of the woods while the official photographer was photographing cyclists.
......you might have the pleasure of seeing a bear riding through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.Interesting. I've never seen a bear riding a bicycle. I didn't know they could ride.
- Reduce the weight in the handlebar bag.Absolutely. You have a 5 pound pendulum mounted high and on the steering mechanism. Make it a LOT lighter.
As Ronk says, you've got some big chainrings. a smaller granny can help; I've heard of people going to 26 and (sometimes) 24 rings...If your crank has a separate 74 mm bolt circle for the granny a 24 or 26T chainring is a great help. I've done it on numerous bikes and it works well.
Misinformation too about STI and sprocket size. It's the dérailleur which limits the cassette range - use a long cage dérailleur and you're set.More misinformation here. The derailleur does limit the maximum cog size but the cage length has nothing to do with it. A long cage road derailleur won't accept a larger cog than it's short cage counterpart, it will only wrap up more chain and allow a larger total tooth count.
Be sure to make the dealer replace the crappy QR with a safe one, and turn it around so that it clamps on the side opposite the caliper.That seems to be the proper way for any disc brake bike and if done and/or the quick release is closed properly, the Trek recall for "unsafe" skewers would have been unnecessary.