Author Topic: Outfitting a Trek 7.5 FX for a full summer tour  (Read 8711 times)

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Offline stiker

Outfitting a Trek 7.5 FX for a full summer tour
« on: October 23, 2012, 06:04:55 pm »
I made a post in the routes section http://www.adventurecycling.org/forums/index.php?topic=11117.0, but i also wanted to ask in here specifically about gear. I plan to bike from South Carolina to California this summer. I have a Trek 7.5 FX with nothing but a water bottle mount and bike lock. I would like some help or ideas about gear i should get for my trip. I want to start buying it early. Any help is appreciated!

Offline DaveB

Re: Outfitting a Trek 7.5 FX for a full summer tour
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2012, 07:19:27 pm »
Assuming your bike has the same specs as those on Trek's current web site you will need:

1. Lower and better gearing.  It comes with a compact 50/34 crank and an 11x34 9-speed cassette.  That gives a barely low enough low gear (27") for loaded touring by a strong rider and an absurdly high top gear(122").  A triple crank with a 22 or 24T granny ring and a 44 or 46T big ring would be a lot more useful. 

2. The wheels are also suspect for loaded touring having only 24 spokes.  Usually the minimum recommended spoke count is 32 and 36 is even better.

3. The pedals should be replaced with those that, at a minimum, take toe clips and straps.  MTB-type clipless pedals and matching shoes would be far preferred.

4.  Obviously you need racks. Rear only if you are going lightly loaded (credit card touring) or front and rear if you are carrying a heavy, full camping and cooking load. 

5. Panniers to match the racks and your luggage volume.

5A.  A travel trailer such as the BOB can be substituted for 4 and 5 above. There are partisans on both sides of which is better.

6. Other minor items include a frame or mini-pump, additional water bottle cages and/or a hydration pack, multitool for on-road repairs, extra tubes and patch kit, etc.     

Frankly, given the deficiencies of that bike for what you plan to do, buying a more suitable true touring bike might be more cost effective and satisfactory.

Offline ezdoesit

Re: Outfitting a Trek 7.5 FX for a full summer tour
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2012, 07:54:45 pm »
Assuming your bike has the same specs as those on Trek's current web site you will need:

1. Lower and better gearing.  It comes with a compact 50/34 crank and an 11x34 9-speed cassette.  That gives a barely low enough low gear (27") for loaded touring by a strong rider and an absurdly high top gear(122").  A triple crank with a 22 or 24T granny ring and a 44 or 46T big ring would be a lot more useful. 

2. The wheels are also suspect for loaded touring having only 24 spokes.  Usually the minimum recommended spoke count is 32 and 36 is even better.

3. The pedals should be replaced with those that, at a minimum, take toe clips and straps.  MTB-type clipless pedals and matching shoes would be far preferred.

4.  Obviously you need racks. Rear only if you are going lightly loaded (credit card touring) or front and rear if you are carrying a heavy, full camping and cooking load. 

5. Panniers to match the racks and your luggage volume.

5A.  A travel trailer such as the BOB can be substituted for 4 and 5 above. There are partisans on both sides of which is better.

6. Other minor items include a frame or mini-pump, additional water bottle cages and/or a hydration pack, multitool for on-road repairs, extra tubes and patch kit, etc.     

Frankly, given the deficiencies of that bike for what you plan to do, buying a more suitable true touring bike might be more cost effective and satisfactory.

+1
Remember it's mind over matter
you don't mind it doesn't matter

Ride more Drive Less

Offline stiker

Re: Outfitting a Trek 7.5 FX for a full summer tour
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2012, 04:57:59 pm »
Assuming your bike has the same specs as those on Trek's current web site you will need:

1. Lower and better gearing.  It comes with a compact 50/34 crank and an 11x34 9-speed cassette.  That gives a barely low enough low gear (27") for loaded touring by a strong rider and an absurdly high top gear(122").  A triple crank with a 22 or 24T granny ring and a 44 or 46T big ring would be a lot more useful. 

2. The wheels are also suspect for loaded touring having only 24 spokes.  Usually the minimum recommended spoke count is 32 and 36 is even better.

3. The pedals should be replaced with those that, at a minimum, take toe clips and straps.  MTB-type clipless pedals and matching shoes would be far preferred.

4.  Obviously you need racks. Rear only if you are going lightly loaded (credit card touring) or front and rear if you are carrying a heavy, full camping and cooking load. 

5. Panniers to match the racks and your luggage volume.

5A.  A travel trailer such as the BOB can be substituted for 4 and 5 above. There are partisans on both sides of which is better.

6. Other minor items include a frame or mini-pump, additional water bottle cages and/or a hydration pack, multitool for on-road repairs, extra tubes and patch kit, etc.     

Frankly, given the deficiencies of that bike for what you plan to do, buying a more suitable true touring bike might be more cost effective and satisfactory.
The gears would really be that big of an issue? Im planning on getting a trailer rather then panniers. I was planning on camping and cooking my own food a lot. Since the weight would be behind the bike instead of on it would the spokes be as big of an issue?

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Outfitting a Trek 7.5 FX for a full summer tour
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2012, 09:28:35 pm »
With a BoB trailer, the wheels may not be as susceptible.  But they are still not ideal.  You're better off with more spokes.  If one of the 24 spokes breaks, the wheel will be unusable.  It will rub the brake pads.  And it likely takes special spoke wrenches so regular DT ones won't work.  And it will be about impossible to find a replacement spoke.  The wheels are a liability.

You can get a tiny bit lower gearing by putting on a 33 tooth inner chainring.  About 1 gear inch lower.  Might not notice the difference.  Without the triple crankset, your gearing is not good for touring.  You want low gearing around 20 gear inches or lower for loaded touring.  Even with a trailer.  It might be fairly easy to put on a Shimano double mountain bike crankset to get lower low gearing and lower high gears too.  Might be the easiest to substitute just the crankset and put on a smaller inner chainring.  Then when the tour is over, put back on the original crankset.  Not cheap, but easiest.

http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_529026_-1___202429
http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_502591_-1___202428

A triple crankset was suggested.  Problem with this is you will also need a new shifter for the front derailleur to handle a triple crank.  Very expensive.  So to get good low gearing, you have to stay with a double crankset.  See links above.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2012, 04:45:20 pm by RussSeaton »

Offline Old Guy New Hobby

Re: Outfitting a Trek 7.5 FX for a full summer tour
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2012, 08:47:14 am »
Quote
You're better off with more spokes.  If one of the 24 spokes breaks, the wheel will be unusable.  It will rub the brake pads.  And it likely takes special spoke wrenches so regular DT ones won't work.  And it will be about impossible to find a replacement spoke.  The wheels are a liability.

Agreed. But who would go on a tour without the correct spoke wrench and some spare spokes? To me, the bigger issue is this. If one breaks a spoke in a shower, or at spot where it's not good to pull over, or just an hour from the end of the day's ride; it's a nice option to be able to ride through until one finds better conditions for repairs.

Offline DaveB

Re: Outfitting a Trek 7.5 FX for a full summer tour
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2012, 09:05:53 am »
Agreed. But who would go on a tour without the correct spoke wrench and some spare spokes? To me, the bigger issue is this. If one breaks a spoke in a shower, or at spot where it's not good to pull over, or just an hour from the end of the day's ride; it's a nice option to be able to ride through until one finds better conditions for repairs.
Changing a spoke on the road is more than just having a spare spoke and the right spoke wrench.  Typically the drive-side rear spokes are what break and you have to remove the cassette to get to them.  So you need a cassette lockring tool that will work in the field like "Hyper Cracker" or carry a regular lockring tool, chainwhip and big wrench.  You are far better off with wheels that are at least usable for some distance with a broken spoke until you can have it repaired under more civilized conditions.

Long story short: The OP has an unsuitable bike.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Outfitting a Trek 7.5 FX for a full summer tour
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2012, 09:44:48 am »
Long story short: The OP has an unsuitable bike.

I'd agree that there are better bikes for this purpose available, but "unsuitable" is a bit strong.  This probably isn't any worse than the hundreds of original Bikecentennial bikes with galvanized wire spokes and thread-on freewheels.

Back to the original question: first you need a way to carry a load -- if you're going to ride this Trek, you'll want a trailer.  For racks and panniers to work, you'd need stronger wheels (with more spokes) and a stronger frame.

Second thing to get is a tire pump, spare tubes, repair kit, and probably tire irons.  Frame, miniature, floor, doesn't matter; you're going to have flats.  My daughter and I made it across the country without breaking a spoke, but we had enough flats to make up for it.

You'll want to decide fairly soon if you can afford (and want) to do this trip inn-to-inn (really motel-to-motel), or camp.  The second option involves camping gear (tent, sleeping bag and pad) and cooking gear.

You can push the bike (+ trailer) up hills if you're geared too high, but you'll get to ride more if you get lower gears.  That's going to require either a really compact double (mountain gearing, about 24-36), or a triple.  If you go with a triple, and your bike shop has to change shifters and derailers, you're half way to the to the cost of a "true" touring bike.

Look at the Howto section off the magazine page on this site, or check out some of the ride blogs available.  Mine is backward, as I wrote up an "Unpacking" page to document what made it across the country, instead of list everything I packed.  And that was still too much...

Offline staehpj1

Re: Outfitting a Trek 7.5 FX for a full summer tour
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2012, 09:51:17 am »
Long story short: The OP has an unsuitable bike.

I wouldn't put it that strongly.  It wouldn't be my first choice, but people have successfully toured on much worse.  The gearing is probably not optimum and more spokes are definitely better if carrying much weight.  Still, if using a trailer the wheels are probably fine.  Also if packing really light the spokes and gearing may be OK as well.

I have met folks touring with higher gearing doing OK on long tours.  I would probably opt for a smaller inner ring which would require a different crank, but it isn't absolutely necessary if either really strong, travelling where it isn't too hilly, travelling light, or willing to walk once in a while.

I wouldn't want the flat bars either, but I know folks who have toured on this bike and liked it fine.

Offline DaveB

Re: Outfitting a Trek 7.5 FX for a full summer tour
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2012, 10:02:43 am »
Long story short: The OP has an unsuitable bike.

I wouldn't put it that strongly.  It wouldn't be my first choice, but people have successfully toured on much worse.  The gearing is probably not optimum and more spokes are definitely better if carrying much weight.  Still, if using a trailer the wheels are probably fine.  Also if packing really light the spokes and gearing may be OK as well.

I have met folks touring with higher gearing doing OK on long tours.  I would probably opt for a smaller inner ring which would require a different crank, but it isn't absolutely necessary if either really strong, travelling where it isn't too hilly, travelling light, or willing to walk once in a while.

I wouldn't want the flat bars either, but I know folks who have toured on this bike and liked it fine.
Sure, that bike as-is isn't impossible to tour with, particularly if he uses a trailer rather than panniers to reduce the load on the "inadequate" rear wheel and stays out of steep terrain.  And, of course people have toured on far less suitable bikes.   If you are strong enough, it's possible to tour on a sports bike with a 53/39 double crank and a 12x25 cassette. 

But, there are far better choices and if the OP is going to spend enough to try to make a true turing bike out of his Trek, the money would be better spent elsewhere.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Outfitting a Trek 7.5 FX for a full summer tour
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2012, 11:00:28 am »
But, there are far better choices and if the OP is going to spend enough to try to make a true turing bike out of his Trek, the money would be better spent elsewhere.

I agree that I'd not recommend spending a bundle on modifying it.  If he wants to use it with minimal or no modification fine.  So yeah, if he really wants or needs a "real touring bike" it would be better to just buy one.

I do think that not everyone does want or need a "real touring bike" even for transcontinental trips.  I know that I personally have gotten to the point where my touring bike just hangs on a hook in the basement.  I travel light enough these days that it just doesn't seem like the right tool for the job any more and that is with camping and cooking capability.  If someone wasn't camping or cooking it would be pretty easy to make their load light enough to where I would not want/need a touring bike.

I think I started thinking the touring bike was overkill at about 20 pounds of gear weight.  That should be an easy goal for a credit card tourist and not all that difficult a one even for camping and cooking.  Going really minimal I find I can camp and cook with a sub 10 pound base gear weight, so 20 isn't crazy light by a long shot.

Note that I am not saying that this should be everyone's approach, but it certainly is an option.  I should also note that it isn't necessarily all that expensive to travel light.  Getting to below 20 pounds can be done with about $300 in gear expenditures assuming the rider has a bike, rear rack, and clothing already, but was otherwise starting from scratch.

I also know folks, even some who travel very heavily loaded, who prefer a road bike and a trailer.  I rode the Southern Tier with a guy who carried what seemed like a ton of stuff in a BoB towed by a carbon fiber road bike with low spoke count wheels and higher gearing than the OP's bike.

Hmmm, I got kind of long winded there, sorry :)

Offline danieljndube

Re: Outfitting a Trek 7.5 FX for a full summer tour
« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2012, 12:06:21 pm »
In re spoke repair for potential issues with the Trek 7.5 FX's wheels. JA Stein makes a lock-ring tool for emergency replacement of driver-side rear spokes. No need to carry a chain whip, etc. as one respondent suggested. Also, FiberFix, a kevlar repair kit for spokes has been highly rated and is very, very small and light.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Outfitting a Trek 7.5 FX for a full summer tour
« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2012, 12:21:22 pm »
In re spoke repair for potential issues with the Trek 7.5 FX's wheels. JA Stein makes a lock-ring tool for emergency replacement of driver-side rear spokes.
I like the Unior Cassette Cracker.  I haven't used the Stein tool so I could be uninformed, but it looks like the Unior is lighter, simpler (not parts to lose), and cheaper (less than half as much).  It even includes an integral spoke wrench.  Any way, I have found it works well.  It might be more likely to mar the paint on the dropout, but I have not found that to be a problem for me.

Edit: I see that Harris Cyclery has it marked discontinued, so it may no longer be in production :(


Offline stiker

Re: Outfitting a Trek 7.5 FX for a full summer tour
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2012, 03:07:08 pm »
But, there are far better choices and if the OP is going to spend enough to try to make a true turing bike out of his Trek, the money would be better spent elsewhere.

I agree that I'd not recommend spending a bundle on modifying it.  If he wants to use it with minimal or no modification fine.  So yeah, if he really wants or needs a "real touring bike" it would be better to just buy one.

I do think that not everyone does want or need a "real touring bike" even for transcontinental trips.  I know that I personally have gotten to the point where my touring bike just hangs on a hook in the basement.  I travel light enough these days that it just doesn't seem like the right tool for the job any more and that is with camping and cooking capability.  If someone wasn't camping or cooking it would be pretty easy to make their load light enough to where I would not want/need a touring bike.

I think I started thinking the touring bike was overkill at about 20 pounds of gear weight.  That should be an easy goal for a credit card tourist and not all that difficult a one even for camping and cooking. Going really minimal I find I can camp and cook with a sub 10 pound base gear weight, so 20 isn't crazy light by a long shot.

Note that I am not saying that this should be everyone's approach, but it certainly is an option.  I should also note that it isn't necessarily all that expensive to travel light.  Getting to below 20 pounds can be done with about $300 in gear expenditures assuming the rider has a bike, rear rack, and clothing already, but was otherwise starting from scratch.


I also know folks, even some who travel very heavily loaded, who prefer a road bike and a trailer.  I rode the Southern Tier with a guy who carried what seemed like a ton of stuff in a BoB towed by a carbon fiber road bike with low spoke count wheels and higher gearing than the OP's bike.

Hmmm, I got kind of long winded there, sorry :)

That is what im going for. So far I know i need the BOB trailer some minor things like new petals with toe hooks, rear view mirror, ext. Im not as knowledgeable about  the gears as i would like to be and i dont really understand the doubles vs triple gear set. Is that something i would be able to bring into a local bike shop and have them do?
Also i am going to be camping. Is their a forum with lightweight camping supply suggestions?

Offline stiker

Re: Outfitting a Trek 7.5 FX for a full summer tour
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2012, 03:09:04 pm »
I would be getting a handlebar bag too, any suggestions on that?
Sorry to keep asking but i really dont know where i would find something comparing things like this.