Author Topic: Uncoventional bike conversions?  (Read 3423 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline richp

Uncoventional bike conversions?
« on: July 11, 2013, 05:13:11 pm »
Although a longtime cyclist, I'm just now learning about long distance bike touring.  Seems like everyone is pointing to Surly LHT as THE bike to have (ok a few have mentioned Trek 520).  Is anyone here willing to admit to using something else?  Before starting my research, I assumed I could take my Cannondale fat tube unsuspended bike, add some racks and go, but I'm guessing there are good reasons why not.  So, who has been happy with their unconventional conversion of something to a reasonable durable and comfortable tourer?  Details please!

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Uncoventional bike conversions?
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2013, 05:44:04 pm »
  Seems like everyone is pointing to Surly LHT as THE bike to have (ok a few have mentioned Trek 520).  Is anyone here willing to admit to using something else?  Before starting my research, I assumed I could take my Cannondale fat tube unsuspended bike, add some racks and go, but I'm guessing there are good reasons why not. 

"Admit" is a bit strong, as I've got a Novara Randonee and Fuji Touring.  Really, most of the mass-produced touring bikes are similar, except that a fair few have higher (than I'd like) gearing.

Lots of people have ridden lots of different kinds of bikes, and there are only a few things that make a bike unsuitable for touring.  Weak frames (sold as "lightweight", such as racing bikes and carbon fiber) have a hard time handling the load a loaded tourist put on them.  Skinny tires aren't the best with a load, or on dirt, gravel, mud, etc.  Suspension frames waste a lot of pedaling energy, unless you can lock the suspension out.  Knobs give you a buzz on the road, which is a drag and pretty unpleasant after some distance.

Your unsuspended mountain bike will probably be great for carrying a load on roads.  It'd be a good idea to put slick tires on it.  You might come to wish for multiple hand positions that road (drop) bars give, or you might never notice.  And MTBs are often sold without the attention to fit a good bike dealer will give you when you buy a road bike; sub-optimal fit might limit your daily time in the saddle.

That said, get some racks and change out your tires, then try some weekend and week-long trips.  You'll soon figure out if you need to make any other changes.

Offline richp

Re: Uncoventional bike conversions?
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2013, 06:27:18 pm »
Thanks PD, that kind of affirms my ideas, conservative upgrades, starting on shorter trips.  My wallet just breathed a sigh of relief too.

Offline mmounties

Re: Uncoventional bike conversions?
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2013, 05:38:33 pm »

I'd try to identify first what it is that you think lacks with your current bike and then find the best way to get it.

I used my 3-speed city bike (www.linus.com) with rear panniers and a Ralph's reusable wine bag for food hung from my handlebars for my first 10 day trip (from San Luis Obispo to LA).  Considering the bag kept pulling the handlebars to the left it worked well enough. But after that trip I decided to invest in a bike with appropriate gearing and eyelets on the frame for good racks front and back, and with wheels strong enough to take the load. 


I'm lucky to live near enough a great bike store for cyclists interested in touring (www.pacificcoastcycles.com).  They actually came recommended by ACA as a recipient of the Braxton Bike Shop Award a couple of years back and had all sizes of the LHT on site so I could try out and see which candidate fit me best.  They also made some changes for me to the standard LHT setup (i.e., handlebars and saddle) so that I won't need to give up the things I like best on my city bike when I start using my new LHT tomorrow.  8)
-- Tina

Offline richp

Re: Uncoventional bike conversions?
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2013, 08:06:48 pm »
Thanks mmounties!  Perhaps I should struggle for a ride or three with my current bike, then I will appreciate the LHT or other special purpose tourer if I get serious. :)

Offline FatCloud

Re: Uncoventional bike conversions?
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2013, 03:49:19 pm »
ANY bike is a good touring bike. Just go out, do it, learn what works and what doesn't.

Sure there are things that make it better. Breaking a carbon frame is way easier than breaking a steel one, but hell you can definitely tour on any bike, just recognize your limitations on certain bikes (like carbon frame would be great for inn to inn touring with tools/day food/Iphone/water/credit car).

I for one am not a fan of traditional touring bikes so I prefer cyclocross geometries for touring. The classic is old steel mountain bikes, which is something I want to build for funsy (like an old Stumpjumper or Hardrock).

Just go out and do it!

Offline Greg in MO

Re: Uncoventional bike conversions?
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2013, 11:19:11 pm »
Canondale used to make some nice touring bikes.  I built one up for my father.  If you can find one of those it may suit you since you are used to Canondales.  Not sure why they stopped making them.

Jamis makes the Aurora, which my wife rides and LOVES.  It is a nice bike, but I did have to add some upgrades to it.  The geometry was perfect for her though.

There are lots of options, and the LHT is not the end all of tourers.  Bruce Gordon has some very nice offerings, and I would say that custom would be the best.  All depends on your price range though.

By all means try things out with your current bike.  If you decide you hate touring, you aren't stuck with a new bike gathering dust.  If you catch the bug, you will have a better idea of what you want.

Have fun!

Greg

Online RussSeaton

Re: Uncoventional bike conversions?
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2013, 06:51:15 pm »
It kind of depends on your definition of long distance bicycle touring.  Do you mean fully loaded, camping, cooking, carrying four panniers?  Or motels and restaurants and carrying minimal gear?  For fully loaded you kind of need a touring bike like the Surly Long Haul Trucker or Trek 520.  It comes with a fork that can mount lowrider racks on the front and can carry four panniers front and back.  Only loaded touring bikes come with forks that can mount racks on the front and carry panniers on the front.  So about any other bike won't work too well for fully loaded touring.  The BoB trailer can be pulled by any bike so I guess any bike can be a loaded touring bike.  But for carrying four panniers, you need a loaded touring bike.  Nothing else will work.  I know that many years ago people toured across the country with only rear panniers.  You could do this today I suppose.  Its not as good as having four panniers, but...  So any bike that can fit a rear rack could be a loaded touring bike.  If you are going minimal with motels and restaurants, then your gear should be very minimal.  And about any bike should be able to carry minimal gear.

Offline rondickinson

Re: Uncoventional bike conversions?
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2013, 12:37:16 pm »
I'm planning a trip next summer - Trans Am.

Researched a lot of bikes.  Surley is a great choice.
Multiple bikes are good selections.


In the end I ordered a Lynskey Backroads bike.
Higher Price - $3,500
Titantium
Very sturdy.

Just bought Ortlieb Panniers.

Now on to the next steps

Offline DaveB

Re: Uncoventional bike conversions?
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2013, 09:58:04 am »
ANY bike is a good touring bike. Just go out, do it, learn what works and what doesn't.
I disagree. There are bike totally unsuited to anything but the very lightest touring, if that.  A pur sang race bike with its high gearing, total lack of rack eyelets and very narrow tires is a terrible choice.   There are a wide variety of bikes that can be used or adapted to touring but not all.

Offline tjse25

Re: Uncoventional bike conversions?
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2013, 10:18:18 pm »
I have a Trek 540 touring bike, but I still prefer to put a ridged fork and 700cx35 tires on my specialized rockhopper 29er. I did a 870 mile trip with it, and planning on a coast to coast ride next spring with it. Just find more comfortable on the Rockhopper.

Offline JayH

Re: Uncoventional bike conversions?
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2013, 07:17:32 am »
I have toured on  a bunch of bikes, not one an LHT or a 520!

Jay

Offline zerodish

Re: Uncoventional bike conversions?
« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2013, 06:33:12 pm »
I had the Cannondale touring bicycle the axle destroyed the dropouts in less than 5000 miles. The situation is worse now because dropouts have replaceable hangers which makes them weaker. The bicycle also shimmied. I had a Fuji lugged tourer it shimmied unloaded. The lugged trek 950 was too flexible in the bottom bracket for me. The Klein pulse was nice and stiff but no eyelets. These three were given to my beta tester Coyote. I'm riding an all chromoly Mongoose Hilltoper the top and down tube are two sizes larger than the Surley the Jamis and a few others and is 1.1mm thick. This bicycle does not shimmy unless I really overload it such as putting 56 pounds of water in the front panniers.  Of course the chainstays are too short the bags are all the way back and I have to use two Wald fender struts reinforced with tent poles to keep the bags out of the spokes. I built rack struts for the front rack out of drawer rails and have transferred most of the weight to the front which at the moment is 50 pounds this makes the rear end a bit squirrely under hard braking. The front axle is 10mm solid I bent to many 9mm solid axles. Don't support the idiots who are making frames today spend as little as possible. Today's frames are less stiff and less strong than the early bicycles used in the Tour De France and what was considered a world record in those early races is an average day touring for today's fit rider. 

Offline MidSouth

Re: Uncoventional bike conversions?
« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2013, 06:50:10 pm »
So, all your old bikes were pieces of junk and all the new ones are made by idiots...what is a biker to do???

Offline tonythomson

Re: Uncoventional bike conversions?
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2013, 11:33:13 am »
My friend if you have a half decent well built and maintained bike you can go anywhere.  Put your money in the wheels and decent tyres.  I've done long distances on Black Diamond, ST on an old Italian bike, and it goes on.  Passed someone doing LEJOG 1000 miles on a unicycle.

Basically just  go through your present road bike replacing or servicing the various parts.  Get some decent racks and wave goodbye.

Having said that I did buy a Surly LHT recently because I needed a new bike to cross Australia on but that really was because I had no other bike fit for purpose.   

Latest ride I use a WW2 ex army Mercury - never let me down just a bit heavy.

Good luck and have fun
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com