Author Topic: First Touring Bike  (Read 1574 times)

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Offline mjackson

First Touring Bike
« on: January 23, 2014, 12:34:05 am »
Hi all. I am in the market for a touring bike. I have never done any touring before but have been cycling for years, commuting in Brooklyn/NYC and longer distances for exercise. I have ridden a handful of bikes and have narrowed my choices to a Long Haul Trucker and the Raleigh Sojourn. I've read up on the major differences between the two bikes. I have the chance to get a great deal on a Sojourn but the issue is this: I have not had the chance to test-ride the size I would likely order. I am a 6'1" woman with long legs and arms. My road bike is a 61cm and my commuting bike is a 59cm. I rode the 60cm Long Haul and it felt awesome. I loved riding it and thought from a fit perspective that it was great. My concern is that it feels like a giant bike (big wheelbase, very upright) and once loaded up with 40+lbs of gear it will be tough to handle. I was able to ride a 57cm Sojourn which was clearly a great bike but also clearly too small for me. I am concerned that a 59cm Sojourn will be too small too but, for the price, it seems like an awesome bike.

So I guess my question is, for long distance, self-supported touring, should I err on the side of a smaller bike for the sake of it handling? And, has anyone bought/ridden a Sojourn and can tell me whether they tend to run on the smaller side relative to other bikes in terms of pure numerical sizing?

Thanks so much for any advice!

Offline paddleboy17

Re: First Touring Bike
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2014, 01:18:19 pm »
If the bike does not fit you properly, then it is not worth owning. 

Lets talk about what happens once you put panniers on it.  The bike still fits as good or as bad as it did before.  The handling will be lethargic.  The bike will be slower in general.  If the bike frame was not designed for touring, it may also wiggle or shake (or it may not).

Are you concerned about keep in bike up right when you start or when you are stopped at a light?  I don't really understand your fit concerns, but maybe you could tell us more.  The long wheel base of a touring bike makes the bike pretty stable once it is moving...

Some loose rules on fit.  The bike frame size is chosen based on your stand over, and then the stem (plus steering column spacers) and seat are adjusted to make the bike work for you.  For many people, the frame size based on their stand over, can never be made to work for them because the stem would be insanely too long or too short, and that is why there is a market for custom bicycles.  I generally fit a standard bike, but I have a friend that can only ride a custom bike.

You probably should get hooked up with a good bike store that knows how to fit you for a touring bike.  Finding the right store can be a challenge.  One of our local stores  is known for their fit service, but their focus is on racing, and they don't know much about touring bikes or how to fit one.  I bought two bikes from them, but my touring bike came from somewhere else.  I am in the market for a cross bike, so I will probably go back there.

Where do you live?  Are you in New York?  Someone on this forum might know a good store in your area.
Danno

Offline dkoloko

Re: First Touring Bike
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2014, 01:35:42 pm »
I suggest you compare Sojourn specs with LHT. Sojourn: http://www.raleighusa.com/bikes-road-commuter-touring-sojourn

Touring bikes are offered in few sizes; expecting an exact frame fit is optimistic. Frequent advice in this forum is to try the bike. For me, living in a small town, I don't even think of that as a possibility.

Offline ...neil...

Re: First Touring Bike
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2014, 03:50:20 pm »
Agree with all of the above, fit is paramount. That said, if the LHT fits right and 'feels awesome', go for it!

Regarding handling and stability of the LHT...I've been riding one as my do-all since 2009, and it handles great with a load. Arguably better than unloaded. Long wheel base and slack angles are very very stable and predictable.

One option to consider: you can get the LHT with 26" wheels instead of 700c if you wish. This would bring the overall height of the bike down considerably, as well as effectively lower the bottom bracket height, which will greatly improve stability. Also, Jan Heine argues that 26" wheels are optimal for fatter tires (say, over 38mm), but there are limited premium tire choices in 26" (Schwalbe Marathon Supremes notwithstanding). No doubt that 26-inch wheels are stronger than 700c, all things being equal.

If the LHT fits and feels right, I cannot imagine you will regret the decision.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: First Touring Bike
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2014, 05:47:23 pm »
As paddleboy suggests, finding a good local bike shop (LBS) is key to getting a bike with which you'll be satisfied.  If the two bikes on your short list are from different shops, I'd suggest interviewing each LBS.  If you have to narrow it down to one question, ask "Will youwork with me and swap out stems for free if necessary to get me a good fit?"  Don't buy from there if the answer is no.

You may be able to call around and find a Sojourn in your size, particularly if you can wait until about March.  Spring touring bike shipments seem to start about then.  Look under "Dealers" on the manufacturer's web page.  You may have to drive a few hours to find a bike shop that stocks it in your size, but that few hours is nothing compared to the hours you can spend on your bike while touring.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: First Touring Bike
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2014, 08:06:50 pm »
Can't really help much since you are asking about bike size.  And only you know what size bike fits you.  Probably from riding it and changing the saddle, stem, bars to fit.  So I would suggest finding the bikes at a shop and riding them and trying to fit them to you.

Concerning bike fit, you really don't have to fit it very well to ride it.  I rode a 21" Trek 520.  Too small by a couple inches.  Still made it fit with a long post and long stem.  Rode it many years quite happily.  Now have a 60cm Redline.  Little too big.  Still made it fit and ride it quite well.  Humans can adapt to a wide variety of bike sizes and make them all work fine.  It helps to get the correct size.  But an incorrect size does not prevent you from riding it for years and years.  Both my poorly fitting touring bikes rode fine with panniers and handlebar bag.  So fit does not affect how the loaded bike rides.

Offline DaveB

Re: First Touring Bike
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2014, 08:14:10 pm »
. I rode the 60cm Long Haul and it felt awesome. I loved riding it and thought from a fit perspective that it was great.
You answered your own question right there.  It won't be any bigger or fit any different once it's loaded.   BTW, the 26" wheel LHT are limited to the smaller frame sizes and a 60 cm isn't one of them.

Offline ...neil...

Re: First Touring Bike
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2014, 11:06:28 pm »
. I rode the 60cm Long Haul and it felt awesome. I loved riding it and thought from a fit perspective that it was great.
You answered your own question right there.  It won't be any bigger or fit any different once it's loaded.   BTW, the 26" wheel LHT are limited to the smaller frame sizes and a 60 cm isn't one of them.

Incorrecto. 26" wheels available up to 62 cm...From Surly's website...The standard Long Haul Trucker is compatible with good ol’ rim brakes, and it’s available as a frameset and as a complete bike, with 26˝ wheels in 42–62cm frame sizes, and with 700c wheels in 56–64cm.

Offline indyfabz

Re: First Touring Bike
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2014, 10:18:41 am »
I rode the 60cm Long Haul and it felt awesome. I loved riding it and thought from a fit perspective that it was great. My concern is that it feels like a giant bike (big wheelbase, very upright) and once loaded up with 40+lbs of gear it will be tough to handle.

Just the opposite. Many people say it rides just as well if not better when loaded since it's designed to carry loads. I rode mine fully loaded for touring and "bare" for commuting. I don't think it handles any worse when loaded.

I am 6' 2" with a relatively short inseam (about 33") for my height and ride a 60cm LHT. I could have probably gone with a 58cm due to my relatively short legs, but I liked the way the 60cm fit "up top." My first touring bike was a Cannondale. Back then they came in only a few sizes. S, M, L  and possibly an XL. I tried one size and and it felt a little cramped so I went with the next size up. From a standover perspective, most people would say it was too large, but I like the way both felt. My point is that maybe I am biased towards larger frames. Bus as others have said, if it feels good to you, go with it.

The LHT comes with a prettly long steering tube and a lot of spacers. You can always rearrange the spacers to affect the "uprightness" of your position. Some people (myself included) prefer a more upright position for long days in the saddle. I highly recommend not cutting the steering tube until you find out what works best for you after a good aount of time in the saddle. Also note that the difference in wheelbase between the 60cm and the 58cm is only .6". Finally, the stock bar on the 60cm is nealry 1" wider than that of the 58cm. Could make a difference if you have broad shoulders like I do. My road bike has 440mm bars like the 58cm LHT. The 60cm has 460mm bars. I can definitely tell the difference.

Good luck with your purchase.

Offline DaveB

Re: First Touring Bike
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2014, 12:50:20 pm »
Incorrecto. 26" wheels available up to 62 cm...From Surly's website...The standard Long Haul Trucker is compatible with good ol’ rim brakes, and it’s available as a frameset and as a complete bike, with 26˝ wheels in 42–62cm frame sizes, and with 700c wheels in 56–64cm.
Good catch, I didn't see the larger LHT's are available with 26" wheels.  That said, I see no advantage to them for anyone who is not short enough to need the lower stand-over height they provide. 

Offline bogiesan

Re: First Touring Bike
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2014, 10:26:04 am »
Try a recumbent. Awesome touring machines.
There are two rules for running a 'bent bike (or trike):
1. Be comfortable
2. Be weird

You must comply with both and that is why there are so few of us.
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline indyfabz

Re: First Touring Bike
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2014, 10:11:40 am »
Wanted to amend what I wrote previously. I believe on my first 60cm LHT (it was stolen) I swaped the stem for a slightly shorter one. Haven't done the same with the new one, but I have been thinking I probably should to fine tune it.

Offline mudfreek

Re: First Touring Bike
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2014, 02:16:24 pm »
just bought my self the surly disk trucker planning a trip well my first tour ever it will be epic the surlys are heavy if u dont mind weight then surly is your bike

Offline DaveB

Re: First Touring Bike
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2014, 06:01:50 pm »
just bought my self the surly disk trucker planning a trip well my first tour ever it will be epic the surlys are heavy if u dont mind weight then surly is your bike
Touring bikes in general are heavy.  They are designed for stability and luggage carrying capacity, not speed.

Offline mudfreek

Re: First Touring Bike
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2014, 11:52:17 am »
oh ok this is my first touring bike