Author Topic: best touring frames  (Read 1932 times)

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Offline driftlessregion

best touring frames
« on: November 20, 2013, 11:37:24 am »
Besides the Trek 720 in the 80's, & the 520, Waterford's Adventure Cycle, what are some of the great touring frames (without considering how the frame was built up)? Fuji had a pretty good frame once too; the Finest?

Offline DanE

Re: best touring frames
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2013, 03:38:50 pm »
I purchased a Trek 720 new in 1983, rode it for 25 years and about 75K miles. Then I decided to move on and purchased a Co-motion Nor'wester Tour. There is no comparison, the Co-motion is better in so many ways, more stable at high speed, better gearing, better able to carry the weight of panniers without feeling it in the ride, does not shimmy.

The thing is, bikes like the 720 were good at the time and some of the best that were available. With the standard diameter tubing they were using before the era of oversized tubes they were not optimal for the job at hand. Gearing at the time was 3 x 6 with a good range but was still meant for a young person in their prime to move it along the road. We are better served today by the touring bikes we have to choose from and with the selection of components available than what we had to choose from back then.

Fortunately some builders came along and applied some thought that was needed to build some proper bicycles and not just build them because the lugs they could purchase would fit a 1" top tube. They have come up with some much better bicycles than existed back in the day. A Surly LHT purchased today, while probably not as esthetically pleasing in some ways as a Trek 720 was when new is a much better bicycle for doing the job at hand than a 720 is, not that many a person was prevented from doing some pretty good trips on the 720 they owned. 
« Last Edit: November 21, 2013, 08:39:12 am by DanE »

Offline bogiesan

Re: best touring frames
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2013, 07:17:09 am »
By what criteria? Comfort? Durability? Resale value? How about comfort? 
Easy Racers' Tour Easy.
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline John Nelson

Re: best touring frames
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2013, 10:19:12 am »
Almost any question that uses the word "best" is an invalid question. Best for you is almost certainly different than best for me. Furthermore, nobody needs the "best". All that's needed is one that meets the requirements.

Even if a set of weighted criteria could be developed that we could agree upon (which is not possible), it would require that some independent organization rigorously test all available products against that criteria. Consumer Reports is an example of such an organization, but the chances of Consumer Reports testing touring frames is almost zero. Even so, the testing would need to be repeated every year because the products change.

Anyway, the "best" touring frame is the one I have.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: best touring frames
« Reply #4 on: November 22, 2013, 11:18:09 am »
Anyway, the "best" touring frame is the one I have.

No way, that one's third best.  Best is the one I want.  Second best is the one I have.

Thus proving John's point, I guess.

 :)

Offline driftlessregion

Re: best touring frames
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2013, 04:16:16 pm »
Well, my question wasn't what was the best bike, but what were the great ones. I guess I didn't give enough context in the question. I was intending to focus on the past such as the 720, and though the Adventure Cycle is current it has been around awhile. Lots of good frames now  such as the Long Haul Trucker, and Co-Motions.   What are the precursors to today's bikes? Nishiki had a couple of good ones, Fuji etc.

Offline John Nelson

Re: best touring frames
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2013, 04:39:38 pm »
Technology and materials have improved so much that, in my opinion, no bike of times past can compare favorably to the bikes made today (ignoring WalMart bikes). Among the reasonably-priced bikes, the Trek 520 and the Surly LHT are the standards and have well-deserved reputations. If you want to open the wallet a little wider, hand-built bikes from Bruce Gordon, Co-Motion or Waterford are hard to complain about. If the wallet is a little thin, the Novara or Windsor bikes are quite attractive for their price.

If you're being nostalgic and asking about which bikes were great for their day, ignoring how they would compare against modern bikes, then the answers might be pretty interesting, although I have no opinions on that myself.

Offline DaveB

Re: best touring frames
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2013, 09:25:03 am »
The advent of specific touring bikes probably came from the specialization of bikes that began back in the 80's and 90's.  As "road" bikes became more and more specialized and less and less suitable for touring use, designs that were purpose built for touring were created. 

In the past even sports frames had sufficient frame and fork clearance for reasonably wide tires, long reach brakes, long enough chainstays to provide adequate heel clearance, dropout eyelets were standard and somewhat "relaxed" geometry the norm.   You could mount larger tires, a rear rack, panniers and go tour on it.  As sports framed evolved, clearances got tighter, short reach brakes became standard, eyelets disappeared and geometry got more aggressive.  Hence the touring frame as a separate type.

I have a 1983 Trek 400, sold as a sports bike, and a 1996 Litespeed, also in the same category.  The differences are just what I mentioned above.  The Trek has plenty of clearance for 32 mm tires, dropout eyelets, long reach calipers, a long wheel base and rather relaxed handling.  The Litespeed accepts 23 mm tires and not much more, no eyelets and more aggressive handling.

BTW, a currently available throwback to my Trek 400 is the Surly Pacer.  Again, clearance for large tires, long reach brakes, eyelets, etc.  It's not a pure touring bike but it certainly would work well for all but the heaviest touring.   


Offline John Nelson

Re: best touring frames
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2013, 10:40:03 am »
Thanks Dave. You make some very interesting observations that I hadn't thought about.

Offline DoubleD

Re: best touring frames
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2013, 03:58:06 pm »
The advent of specific touring bikes probably came from the specialization of bikes that began back in the 80's and 90's.  As "road" bikes became more and more specialized and less and less suitable for touring use, designs that were purpose built for touring were created. 

In the past even sports frames had sufficient frame and fork clearance for reasonably wide tires, long reach brakes, long enough chainstays to provide adequate heel clearance, dropout eyelets were standard and somewhat "relaxed" geometry the norm.   You could mount larger tires, a rear rack, panniers and go tour on it.  As sports framed evolved, clearances got tighter, short reach brakes became standard, eyelets disappeared and geometry got more aggressive.  Hence the touring frame as a separate type.

I have a 1983 Trek 400, sold as a sports bike, and a 1996 Litespeed, also in the same category.  The differences are just what I mentioned above.  The Trek has plenty of clearance for 32 mm tires, dropout eyelets, long reach calipers, a long wheel base and rather relaxed handling.  The Litespeed accepts 23 mm tires and not much more, no eyelets and more aggressive handling.

BTW, a currently available throwback to my Trek 400 is the Surly Pacer.  Again, clearance for large tires, long reach brakes, eyelets, etc.  It's not a pure touring bike but it certainly would work well for all but the heaviest touring.

My old 1991 Raleigh Technium with long cage derailleur was used for club rides and touring.  I loved that bike but it was set aside for others.   It still rests in my garage and is ridden once in a while, but I now prefer my LHT for long distance slower excursions and touring.  My son and I built a Pacer earlier this year and it is wonderful.  It has a triple chainrig and Nitto noodle bars.  I use it for my daily rides with my buds and century rides.  I love both of my Surlys.  They are perfect --- for me.   8)

Offline driftlessregion

Re: best touring frames
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2013, 07:40:40 pm »
Yes, it's true. I probably am being nostalgic. Nevertheless, there were some great bikes back then.

Offline zerodish

Re: best touring frames
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2013, 08:15:00 am »
I'm riding a mongoose with all 4130 steel frame. Every steel frame made today is less stiff and this includes the Comotion ones made with tandem tubing. The only frame I would consider today is the REI Safari and even then I would have to go to the show room and make sure it is the one with the 1.5 inch down tube and not the one with the 1.375 inch down tube.

Offline DaveB

Re: best touring frames
« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2013, 09:28:05 am »
I'm riding a mongoose with all 4130 steel frame. Every steel frame made today is less stiff and this includes the Comotion ones made with tandem tubing. The only frame I would consider today is the REI Safari and even then I would have to go to the show room and make sure it is the one with the 1.5 inch down tube and not the one with the 1.375 inch down tube.
It seem frame "stiffness" has become an end in itself and the concept is more is better and way too much is barely enough.  At some point enough truly is enough, particularly for a touring bike.  I've never heard anyone report their oversize steel tubed frame is too flexy to be stable. 

Offline mjackson

Re: best touring frames
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2014, 06:11:23 pm »
Has anyone had any experience touring long distances on the Motobecane Gran Tourismo? I am looking for a solid touring bike with decent hardware for cheap and it's available on bikesdirect for $700. Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks.

Offline DaveB

Re: best touring frames
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2014, 09:05:22 am »
Has anyone had any experience touring long distances on the Motobecane Gran Tourismo? I am looking for a solid touring bike with decent hardware for cheap and it's available on bikesdirect for $700. Any advice would be much appreciated! Thanks.
Bikesdirect does have very good prices but the reports on their as-delivered quality vary widely.  Some buyers have had little to no problems and are very happy with their bikes.  Others report terrible problems with missing or damaged parts and poor customer service getting these problems corrected.

You must be aware that the bike will require a fair bit of assembly and adjustment when you get it and the wheels will likely require attention to assure proper spoke tension and trueness.  If you are not comfortable doing that level of bike maintenance yourself, leave some money in your budget to have the bike set up by your bike shop.

As a general rule I've found the most satisfied Bikesdirect customers are those with fair to good mechanical skills who are willing and able to finish what Bikesdirect starts.  The most unsatisfied customers are those who expected their bike to be fully functional right out of the box.