Author Topic: Touring Bicycle  (Read 156 times)

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Offline sxmimb

Touring Bicycle
« on: October 24, 2014, 09:58:39 am »
I'm planning on doing the Great River Route in the spring of 2015.  Route is described as steep hills in Iowa and rolling hills and flat for that portion along Natchez Trace.  Will NOT be doing any big mountain crossings in the future on any routes.  (Did my version of the Southern Tier [San Diego, CA to Richmond, VA] thirty years ago on a K-Mart 10 speed bicycle.)   Will be doing some credit card touring and fully loaded in the future, Bike Across states, etc.  Presently have a Trek 7200 hybrid and want to go to a touring bike.  Here's the request.  With the limited information that you have, make suggestions for a touring bike in the following cost categories:

$500.00 - $1,000.00

$1,000- $1,500.00

$1500 - $2,000.00

Feel free to include a sentence or two as to why you are making each suggestion in each category.

   

Offline John Nelson

Re: Touring Bicycle
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2014, 11:52:21 am »
Although you can tour on any bicycle, I would always recommend a touring-specific bicycle if your budget and garage space allow. It has at least a dozen features specifically optimized for touring.

Although there are many touring bikes available (and you should consult the ACA buyers guide on this site), I would generally recommend one of the standards, i.e., either the Trek 520 or the Surly Long Haul Trucker. If you can find a bicycle shop with touring bikes in stock (unlikely), however, I would probably test ride and buy one of those, whatever it is. Most bike shops, however, do not carry real touring bikes and will probably try to convince you that some bike on the floor is just as good. Don't fall for that. Get a shop to order you a real touring bike, preferably with no obligation to buy (many shops offer this service). REI is the most likely place to find touring bikes on the floor. They often stock two different Novara touring bikes and the Long Haul Trucker, although perhaps in limited sizes.

There's no sense in figuring out what the perfect bike on paper is and then finding out that you can't practically get it. I'd suggesting doing it the other way around. Figure out what touring bikes you have reasonable access to and then deciding which one of those suits you best.

Offline ozroller

Re: Touring Bicycle
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2014, 09:41:35 pm »
I test rode the Surly Disc Trucker (the long haul trucker with disc brakes) at a bike shop.   The bike felt good, but i wanted something different.   I researched and ended up buying the 2015 Jamis Aurora Elite for $1600.    I liked it because it has Shimano 105 with Dura Ace bar end shifters.......superior disc brakes.   I like the gearing ratios too, compared to some other bikes.    high gear 50 x12 and low gear 30x30......i don't believe i will need any lower than that.....one bike had a 28x32...you could pull out tree stumps with that..lol
if you buy ....sizing runs big.....i ride a 56 road bike...bought 55 Jamis......and it is almost too big frame for me.

I liked the Kona Sutra also

Offline RonK

Re: Touring Bicycle
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2014, 04:42:22 am »

I like the gearing ratios too, compared to some other bikes.    high gear 50 x12 and low gear 30x30......i don't believe i will need any lower than that.....one bike had a 28x32...you could pull out tree stumps with that..lol
Hope you're hauling a light load on flat roads. There are plenty of us using MTB group sets with 22x34 gearing. :lol:
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

Offline staehpj1

Re: Touring Bicycle
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2014, 07:46:39 am »
How heavy or light will you be packing?  That makes a huge difference in what I would suggest.

I figure that it makes sense to pick your gear, then the bags to carry it, and then the bike to suit those choices.

In recent years I have been cutting back on the gear and going to lighter and lighter choices.  Once you get below 20 pounds or so of base gear weight it starts to make sense to ride a racier bike than a typical touring bike.  At least that is my preference.

As far as the categories go...  Just me, but I'd stick don't find it worth spending too much on the bike.  My $599 (delivered) Windsor Touring served me well on the Trans America and other tours back when I was packing heavier.  My two companions on the TA were happy with their's as well.  On the Southern Tier with a very light load of camping and cooking gear I was very happy with and old (1990) Cannondale Crit racer with 14 pounds of clothing and camping/cooking gear in lightweight waterproof stuffsacks.  The whole rig bike and all weighed 38 pounds and worked out very well.  You can find bikes like that used for $300 or so.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Touring Bicycle
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2014, 08:02:30 am »
one bike had a 28x32...you could pull out tree stumps with that..lol
It depends on the rider, the terrain, and the load carried, but it seems like the majority of tourists would find that gearing too high.  24x32 is pretty common among touring cyclists and many go lower.

I did find that for me when packing light (14 pounds of gear) on the Southern Tier I was happy with a little higher gearing than that (26x28).  Still a lot of folks commented that they would not have found that gearing low enough and indeed I would have wanted lower gearing if I was carrying a more typical load.

Offline DaveB

Re: Touring Bicycle
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2014, 08:41:11 am »
.....high gear 50 x12 and low gear 30x30......i don't believe i will need any lower than that.....one bike had a 28x32...you could pull out tree stumps with that..lol
That depends on where you tour and how much you carry and, obviously the age and strength of the rider.    For most of us, a 30x30 low gear will allow a modest load to be ridden up fairly steep but short climbs or more shallow but long climbs.  If you get into steep and long (think West Virginia) you will want something significantly lower.

Offline ozroller

Re: Touring Bicycle
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2014, 11:34:28 am »
Thanks for all the comments on my choice of gearing....i may have to install a cassette with a lower gear.    I live in Kansas.....long, steep hills are non-existent here to practice on...lol    I hope a 30x34 will suffice.....im a strong climber.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Touring Bicycle
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2014, 12:25:31 pm »
If you are a strong climber with a lightweight load on non-mountainous roads, then you can get away with significantly higher gearing than a weaker rider with a heavier load going through the Rockies, Appalachians, New England or even along the Pacific Coast. I would caution, however, that a Kansas cyclist may have little idea about what to expect pretty much everywhere else except in the states between North Dakota and Oklahoma. Almost every other state in the country is significantly hillier than those states.

On my TransAm, I met eastbound cyclists in Idaho that asked me when it was going to flatten out. I had to tell them that, with the exception of eastern Colorado and Kansas, it didn't. For anyone buying a bicycle for touring, I would suggest not just thinking of their first trip, but thinking ahead to future trips too.

Since this thread is about bike selection, however, I'll note that gearing is only one of the considerations, albeit one of the more important considerations.

Online RussSeaton

Re: Touring Bicycle
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2014, 06:35:08 pm »
I'll contribute to this thread.  Already mentioned, Trek 520, Surly Long Haul Trucker, REI Novara Randonnee.  These three are the name brand full touring bikes.  All three are more or less identical.  All sell for about $1500.  All will work fine as loaded touring bikes carrying four panniers and a handlebar bag and a tent on the rear rack.  Other possible options for bike mechanics, Nashbar touring bike and BikesDirect touring bikes.  These are around $700.  These are fairly close to the three name brand models.  The parts are lesser in the hierarchy but will function as well in the real world.  BUT, you will need to tune and overhaul the bikes to make them function well.  Think of them as kits with all the parts but assembly required.  All of these bikes will carry panniers and have low gearing.  Low enough to crawl up any hills you come across.  And you can probably put a 22 or 24 tooth inner chainring on the triple cranksets of any of these bikes.  And a 32 or 34 rear cassette in 9 or 10 speed.  Better to have low gears you do not use than the opposite.  A full on touring bike will work fine no matter whether you are carrying a lot of gear or going ultralight.  Or carrying nothing.  They are durable bikes that keep working almost forever.  You can use them to commute to work or the grocery store too.  They are functional.

Offline zzzz

Re: Touring Bicycle
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2014, 10:04:45 pm »
If "ozroller" is evaluating himself accurately as a strong climber and he's packing light he should be fine w a 30x30 (27" gear) and certainly w a 30x34 (23.8"). Just make sure you take a drive over to Colorado and test how it all feels with accurate weight in your panniers before you leave on a long trip. Loveland Pass should tell you everything you need to know. Or since Kansas is a big state you can go the other way and spend a couple days going up & down in the Ozarks. Be very honest w yourself after your test, pulling too high a gear can lead to issues w your knees.

I fancy myself a pretty good climber and I pack light and I just take my regular road bike. My low gear is 34x28 and it's served me well and I've gone up plenty of long and steep stuff (SC, all of the GPN & 1/2 of the GPS, WE, & the TA between Missoula & Co. and then again east of the high plains to the Va. coast).

Pete