Author Topic: Touring novice seeking bike advice  (Read 2154 times)

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Offline helix_aspersa

Touring novice seeking bike advice
« on: March 24, 2012, 01:03:24 am »
Evening all. I'm a touring novice looking for some advice -- although I've ridden a bike almost daily for many years now, I know woefully little about the technical aspects of cycling. I've pretty much always just gone for the cheapest thing I could find -- for over two years I commuted to and from work very happily on a kids' mountain bike I found abandoned in a drainage ditch (and it only had functioning brakes for one of those years…).
I currently ride an old Trek 720 Multitrack hybrid, which looks to be late '90s or early '00s. It performed surprisingly well when I loaded it up with panniers and camping gear for a few overnight jaunts a little while back. I guess my question is -- would it be completely daft to even consider taking this bike on a long-haul trip? I mean, it can't have been top-of-the-range even when new, and it's had a lot of owners since then. I've been looking around at purpose-built touring bikes, but the sheer number of options available for every little component (not to mention the prices) makes me feel a little out of my depth.

Any advice much appreciated -- thanks in advance!

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Touring novice seeking bike advice
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2012, 02:24:33 am »
I toured for 20 years on a $200 1976 era 10 speed Nishiki and had a great time.  If you're comfortable on it, go for it.  You don't need to spend more money to get the newest special thing.  We used to sew up our own panniers and ride all over the state of Wa in swimming trunks. We knew nothing about "clipping in", in fact did not even have cages on the pedals.  We used lights that ran off generators on the front wheel.  We carried whatever old flannel sleeping bags we coud dig out of our parents' closets.  Rain gear? A hefty garbage bag with head and arm holes torn out on the spot when needed.  A flat grommetless tarp was the tent.  We got cold and wet and tremendous sores on our you know where, but we had great adventures every time. 
May the wind be at your back!

Offline bogiesan

Re: Touring novice seeking bike advice
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2012, 08:57:37 am »
We see this same post many times each year.
The main AC site protal has sections for touring novices including how to consider, shopr for and eventually choose a bicycle that's right for your abilities, aspirations and budget. That section gets updated every year or two.
Want comfort? I suggest you look at and test ride recumbents. I've got almost 40,000 miles on mine and have never looked at a conventional bike again.
The other main reason I run a recumbnet is hardly anyone else does.
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline DaveB

Re: Touring novice seeking bike advice
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2012, 09:00:30 am »
I toured for 20 years on a $200 1976 era 10 speed Nishiki and had a great time.  If you're comfortable on it, go for it.  You don't need to spend more money to get the newest special thing.  We used to sew up our own panniers and ride all over the state of Wa in swimming trunks. We knew nothing about "clipping in", in fact did not even have cages on the pedals.  We used lights that ran off generators on the front wheel.  We carried whatever old flannel sleeping bags we coud dig out of our parents' closets.  Rain gear? A hefty garbage bag with head and arm holes torn out on the spot when needed.  A flat grommetless tarp was the tent.  We got cold and wet and tremendous sores on our you know where, but we had great adventures every time.
I love these reminiscences of "how we did it when we were kids".  Sure, you did it that way because you didn't know any better and didn't have the resources to buy more suitable equipment even if you knew what you needed.  Question: would you tour under those conditions now?  Would you advise someone else to tour that way if they had a choice?

I agree that as long as the bike fits adequately and is reliable you can tour on a lot of marginally suitable designs and a pure "touring" bike is not essential.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Touring novice seeking bike advice
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2012, 10:10:36 am »
A touring bike that fits you correctly and with good components are all important. Be advised, it is possible to get a used frame that is perfectly good for touring, to fit it out with decent components, and to cross a continent on it comfortably and efficiently. It can be gotten for a great deal less than buying an expensive bike new. I have done it several times. Within certain limits, a good touring bike can be had for about as little or as much as you want to spend on it.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Touring novice seeking bike advice
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2012, 01:49:28 pm »
I toured for 20 years on a $200 1976 era 10 speed Nishiki and had a great time.  If you're comfortable on it, go for it.  You don't need to spend more money to get the newest special thing.  We used to sew up our own panniers and ride all over the state of Wa in swimming trunks. We knew nothing about "clipping in", in fact did not even have cages on the pedals.  We used lights that ran off generators on the front wheel.  We carried whatever old flannel sleeping bags we coud dig out of our parents' closets.  Rain gear? A hefty garbage bag with head and arm holes torn out on the spot when needed.  A flat grommetless tarp was the tent.  We got cold and wet and tremendous sores on our you know where, but we had great adventures every time.
I love these reminiscences of "how we did it when we were kids".  Sure, you did it that way because you didn't know any better and didn't have the resources to buy more suitable equipment even if you knew what you needed.  Question: would you tour under those conditions now?  Would you advise someone else to tour that way if they had a choice?

I agree that as long as the bike fits adequately and is reliable you can tour on a lot of marginally suitable designs and a pure "touring" bike is not essential.

I would do it that way again if I had no other choice like I did then.  I think we get too hung up on expensive non-necessities nowadays.
Advertising can be very powerful.

From the OP's statements, I appears cost may be an issue.  In that case, find a way to go for it anyway.  Poverty can in many ways be  the mother of adventure! 
May the wind be at your back!

Offline Sectrix

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Re: Touring novice seeking bike advice
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2012, 05:07:19 pm »
You can tour on almost anything. When I rode I had a Surly Long Haul Trucker (which I suggest if you can afford it), and my buddy had a downhill racing bike. He had the 26" knobby off-road tires, suspension on the front, and he loaded everything on the back. Zero front bags. He kept up with me just fine.

I'd say keep your bike. Get the wheels and rims checked out, replace your chain and cables maybe, load it out and go.

I read of a hiker named Grandma Gatewood. In her 70's she hiked the triple crown (PCT, CDT and AT), without fancy gear. She had a pair of Keds, and a duffel bag slung over her shoulder. Don't get too caught up in the latest and greatest.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Touring novice seeking bike advice
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2012, 01:21:23 am »
You can tour on almost anything.  Don't get too caught up in the latest and greatest.
[/quote
Well put! And another thing about the latest and greatest, is that it is often less durable.  I've noticed that the newer bikes and equipment sure take more maintenance and break down a lot more than the older stuff.
May the wind be at your back!