Author Topic: advice for setting my bike up for touring  (Read 3598 times)

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Offline denver_whitest185

advice for setting my bike up for touring
« on: February 16, 2010, 11:02:22 am »
my bike is an old centurion Lemans 12, 62cm, which is a little on the large side for me, but i like it that way. I bought it with most of the stuff already on it. it has a salsa bell-lap bar, suntour bar-end shifters, a titanium brooks B17, and some 35cc panaracer urban max tires on 36-spoke shimano rims. The gearing is currently a 12-speed, but i can make it a 18 speed if i add a 28 tooth front sprocket for climbing. I added some fenders, lights, and a GPS mount for my garmin geko. what i don't like is the very aged derailleurs and cables, and the weak side-pull brakes. i really want this to be a rock-solid touring bike where i don't have to worry about having to fix anything but a flat mid-tour.

i was wondering if i could get some advice on thing that i should add or upgrade so that its capable of running smoothly for 300-400 mile trips (~40 miles a day) and touring comfortably in some very hilly terrain (with dirt roads too). I live in Fort Collins, CO and im going to be riding through rocky mountain NP and poudre canyon this summer, and maybe doing the utah cliffs loop too.

Also, any recommendations on a rear rack that will fit my bike well. The bike doesn't really have any way to connect the rack at the top near the seat. i can drill and tap holes, but i would rather avoid that if possible.

some pictures for reference, large to show detail:
http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e344/tedehrlich80227/IMGP1815.jpg
http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e344/tedehrlich80227/IMGP1818.jpg
http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e344/tedehrlich80227/IMGP1819.jpg
http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e344/tedehrlich80227/IMGP1820.jpg

Offline Jason

Re: advice for setting my bike up for touring
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2010, 12:38:01 pm »
Ah, a bike after my own heart...

As a follow centurion owner, I would highly recommend you check out oldmanmountain.com.  I ended up going with the Sherpa, as my frame had no rack mounts near the dropouts, or any on the seat stay.  If you have a look at the photos on this link: http://oldmanmountain.com/Pages/RackPages/RackGalleries/Pages/sherpaRear_gallery.htm - you'll notice they provide clamps to attached closer to the seat.   Their quality is top-notch.  At the very least, if after looking over their site, you can't find something they you think will work, I'd recommend emailing them - they were very receptive to my questions before purchasing.

Others might suggest something different, but I think you have a decent starting point with the wheels.  At 36 spokes, the strength and durability are pretty much spot on.  You may need to play with the gear-ratio a little.  I'm not a big fan of any speeds over just one, so someone else may be able to give you a ratio that will work.  Since the hub is a 12 speed, it should be fairly easy to modify it to fit what you need.

If you're concerned about the rims overall, you might want to have a go at a new rim-band, even just the rear - something with a few more inside chambers.  Easiest thing to do is google either touring rims, or go to a few manufactures - Sun rim, etc.  After that, just have someone with some experience lace them up with decent spokes - 14 gauge should be fine.

As for the derailleurs, you might want to take the bike to your nearest shop and have they give you a price to overhaul it.  What you might not like now about the brakes, etc, could just be that the cables are old, and  components themselves are in need of service.  I would seek the advice of an experienced tech.  They may very well be past their prime; just no sense in replacing something that really doesn't need it.

I would recommend searching through the forum for any questions about tires, or components. 

The key, though, I guess is how comfortable you're going to be.  There are countless suggestions that could be made, but in the end you're still going to have to pedal it; what seems right for you, may be way off for someone else.

Since you're working with a street frame I think you'll find it's going to be rock-solid.  I absolutely love my centurion - even with the Pink and Yellow paint scheme...!!!... :o

Enjoy,

j
« Last Edit: February 16, 2010, 12:46:31 pm by movershaker »
singlespeed touring - life generally requires just one speed.

Offline whittierider

Re: advice for setting my bike up for touring
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2010, 03:58:52 pm »
Quote
what i don't like is the very aged derailleurs and cables, and the weak side-pull brakes.  i really want this to be a rock-solid touring bike where i don't have to worry about having to fix anything but a flat mid-tour.
Some people replace their cables every year.  And yours are how old? ???   :)  Unless your derailleurs are actually damaged, they'll probably be fine if they're just cleaned up and have new cables.  For brakes, your best bet would probably be to put Kool Stop pads on them.  Your brake pads have probably turned hard and lost their grip.  Kool Stop pads won't suddenly turn the brakes into modern double-pivot ones (or side-pulls which could flip the bike in the 1970's), but they will make a bigger improvement than other brands.  Go to http://www.koolstop.com/brakes/index.php and go down to about the tenth picture, labeled "Campy Replacement pad" which is probably what will fit your holders.  If you might be doing a substancial amount of riding in rain, get the salmon-colored ones, otherwise get the black.  Many bike shops have these in stock, or you can order directly from Kool Stop, or eBay, etc..  But as for fitting new brakes, the biggest problem, from my experience, seems to be that the the new ones have the nut recessed and require a bigger hole in the back of the fork and a thicker brake bridge in the back.  Without going into all the details and what I've tried, I'll just say I haven't found a way to make it work.

I had a Blackburn rack on my tourer from the late 70's (actually we still have a couple of them on vintage bikes) which, instead of connecting to the seat stays, had a part that went over the brake bolt and was held onto the brake bridge by the nut that was normally on the old type of brakes anyway.  I don't know if you can still find that type of rack, but it works well.  Our older son still commutes with that arrangement, carrying loads of up to 60 pounds (!) back there.

Does your bike have room for a third chainring?  And does the spider have the mounting holes for the third chainring?  If not, you can get gears nearly as low as a lot of road triples have by going with the smallest possible inner ring, which for a 130mm bolt circle diameter (BCD) is 38 teeth, and then have the biggest cog on your freewheel be 34 teeth.  because of the large jumps between gears that would result from an even distribution, the very low end is often seen as a "bail-out" gear, and it is common to have a 6-speed freewheel with 14-16-18-21-24-34, with a large jump between the 24 and 34 and closer spacing for the rest.  Freewheels are being made even today.  One source is Loose Screws, and at $14.50 for this one, you can't complain about the price!  :)  You might need a different rear derailleur to handle it though.  Normal road ones can't accommodate a large cog of more than about 28 teeth.  MTB derailleurs will work, but you'll probably want to make sure you get a high-normal type instead of RapidRise (or low-normal) which is more common in MTBs as of the last several years.  High-normal is the kind you're used to, whereas low-normal has the spring push the derailleur in toward the wheel, and the shifter has to pull the cable to make the derailleur go to smaller cogs.

If your bike is that old though, I wonder if it has 27" wheels.  There are still 27" tires available, but most of the best ones are not available in that size.  It has mostly gone to 700c, 26", and off the top of my head I think even 650B and 650c probably offer more and better choices today.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2010, 04:11:09 pm by whittierider »

Offline briwasson

Re: advice for setting my bike up for touring
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2010, 07:42:48 pm »
I agree, that's a good starting point you have already. I'd definitely look at changing to a triple up front for your Colorado hills. You will need a crank and rings (or ring if you use your old ones) and possibly a new bottom bracket. Sugino makes a nice triple setup that you can get for around $100 or so with rings. Or, look on Ebay for a used set. You could even go with a mountain crank if you want really low gears, although you may have to also put on a new front derailleur.

Your 36-spoke wheels should be fine. I would take them to a good bike shop and ask them to make sure all the spokes are properly tensioned in addition to the wheels being trued. Your wheels can be perfectly true but have mismatched spoke tension, which could cause problems down the road under touring loads.

Regarding the rack, you can either use the brake-bolt mount type as others have suggested or a standard Blackburn Expedition-type rack with twin struts. Your LBS should have the small metal "p clamps" that wrap around the seatstays and allow you to mount a rack without having brazed-on bosses. I'd personally go this route over the brake-bolt mount type. I would not suggest drilling and tapping your frame! If you want to use low-rider front racks you can get the type that work without needing bosses on the fork, assuming that you have eyelets on the fork down near the axle.

Offline whittierider

Re: advice for setting my bike up for touring
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2010, 07:58:45 pm »
Quote
I would take them to a good bike shop and ask them to make sure all the spokes are properly tensioned in addition to the wheels being trued.  Your wheels can be perfectly true but have mismatched spoke tension, which could cause problems down the road under touring loads.
If they're true and have mismatched tension, it's because the rim itself is out of true and needs some spokes tighter than others to bring it into line.  Peter White talks about that on his web page on wheel-building, at http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/wheels.asp :
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How true will your wheel be?

That depends on how true the rim is. "WHAT?!?!?!?", you say!

Well, some rims are better than others.  And the sad truth is, that in order to keep prices under control, some rim makers are not as particular about the straightness of their rims as they roll out of the factory as I would like them to be.  When I build a wheel, I want to end up with a wheel that is round and true.  It shouldn't have any perceptible hop or wobble, and the spoke tension should be the same for all of the spokes on each side of the wheel.  Most rear wheels will have higher tension on the right side spokes than on the left side, that's normal.  But a perfect wheel would have all of the right side spokes at exactly the same tension, and the same for the left side spokes.

But sometimes I can't get a wheel to be both round and true, and have perfectly even tension all around.  That's because of irregularities in the rim itself.  If the rim isn't perfectly round and/or true, the spoke tension cannot be even, and end up with a round and true wheel.  In order to have a round and true wheel in that case, the spoke tension must be uneven.  In that case, I have a decision to make.  If the rim is so out of true that the wheel cannot be built with adequate tension in all of the spokes, I cut out the spokes, get another rim and start over again.  But if the rim is just a little bit out, and I can correct it with moderately uneven spoke tension, I'll finish the wheel.  As long as I can build it so it stays true, I'll do it.

Quote
I would not suggest drilling and tapping your frame!
Ah, yes, I forgot about that.  Definitely do not drill on the frame!!

Offline denver_whitest185

Re: advice for setting my bike up for touring
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2010, 11:21:09 pm »
This is all very helpful, and i really appreciate all of the responses.

I really like the idea of p-clamps. i think they will make mounting a rack very simple now.

The third gear for the front will fit, apparently its part of the original front gearing, the guy i bought it from removed it for some reason. i think i just need to reinstall it and then adjust the shifter cable. right now it has way too much cable to move the chain to the outside of the front gears. (sorry, i don't know the technical terms for these components)

Just wondering, but do you guys think that getting some modern "long" road calipers would help?
http://www.treefortbikes.com/107_333222344310__R556-Long-Reach-Road-Calipers-Silver-55-73mm.html

Offline whittierider

Re: advice for setting my bike up for touring
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2010, 03:17:47 am »
Quote
to the outside of the front gears. (sorry, i don't know the technical terms for these components)
Here you're referring to chainrings.  They go on the right crankarm which has the spider.  The whole set together is called the crankset.  The set of bearings there is called the bottom bracket.  On older setups like yours, this also includes the crankset's spindle.  In modern external-bearing types, the spindle has become part of the right crankarm, inseperable from it.  Ball bearings do not ride directly on it, so it does not wear out or get pitted like what we had decades ago did.  They're called "external" bearings because although the holder screws into the frame's threads the same as you have, the ball bearings are held in an assembly outboard of the frame.  (The smaller chainrings go over the right-side outboard bearings.)  This gives more room for more and bigger ball bearings, and reduces the forces from side-to-side torque you get especially when pedalling hard out of the saddle.  The result is that they last far longer.  It's also very easy to install and remove a Truvativ crankset once the bearings are in.  If it were any easier, I'd do it every time I want to do a good job of cleaning the bike.  It just takes one long 8mm allen wrench, and there are no adjustments to make.  The Shimano system is not quite as easy as SRAM/Truvativ's.

The "gears" in the back are called cogs.  What you have is a freewheel that screws onto the rear hub.  The freewheel has the "clicker," or ratchet assembly that allows you to power the bike forward but not backward, allowing you to coast.  Freewheels have the cogs on them.  When freewheels got thicker as they added more cogs though, the right-side wheel bearings got too far from where the axle was supported, and it got easier and easier to break axles.  The solution was to put the right-side wheel bearings in the "clicker" assembly, close to the dropout on the frame.  That meant the "clicker" now had to be basically part of the hub.  When the industry went that way, they put the cogs on a frame that held them together and slid onto splines on the "clicker" assembly, now called the freehub body.  The cogs and the frame they sit on is called the cassette.

You can get loads of this kind of stuff, with pictures, from http://sheldonbrown.com/ .

The seat stays I referred to earlier are the small, diagonal, rear frame tubes that go from the dropouts (which hold the axle) to the seat cluster (where they meet the seat tube and the top tube).  The rear brake mounts on the brake bridge that goes between the seat stays.  The nearly horizontal frame tubes that go to the rear axle are called "chain stays."  The other major frame parts are the top tube, down tube (at close to a 45° angle), seat tube, head tube, and bottom bracket (BB) shell.  The fork has two fork blades and a steering tube.  An older fork like yours has a crown joining the fork blades to the steering tube.  The dropouts in the ends of the fork blades and in the frame hold the ends of the wheel axles.  Your seat goes on the seat post, which is inserted into the frame's seat tube.

Quote
do you guys think that getting some modern "long" road calipers would help?
The problem is that the bolt that goes through the middle won't reach the back of the fork.  When I tried to address the problem with a 1982 bike here, I couldn't drill out the hole bigger in the back of the fork crown to make the recessed bolt fit either, because the hole would have to break out.  There wasn't enough material below the hole.  Modern forks are not any thinner (in fact, sometimes they're much thicker), but the recessed nut of modern brakes goes into the hole and meets the bolt way inside.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2010, 03:20:42 am by whittierider »

Offline MIBIKER

Re: advice for setting my bike up for touring
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2010, 12:17:53 pm »
Here is an idea on attaching  the rear carrier near the seat post.  In the current issue of Adventure Cycling Cyclosource  is  a seat clamp  that has mounts for the rear carrier stay to bolt into.  Having the rack mount here will make the rack more stable.  The cost is $15.00 plus shipping and handling or go to the LBS and have them order one because seat clamps do come in different sizes.  Good Luck

Offline briwasson

Re: advice for setting my bike up for touring
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2010, 10:23:06 pm »
Regarding my comment about spoke tension, you are right: I shouldn't have said "mismatched" spoke tension. What I was really getting at is that I've seen true wheels with more-or-less uniformly loose-tensioned spokes. This is more likely to occur on a new (poorly built) wheel than an older wheel, to be sure, and can lead to problems down the road.

If your crankset is already set up for a third chainring that's great. It's pretty easy to add, then, and they are cheap for the smaller rings. You'll likely need to adjust the front derailleur set screw to allow it to drop down far enough to shift into the smaller chainring.

Square-taper cranks can be perfectly easy to remove, assuming you invest $10-15 in an auto-extracting crank bolt. Once installed, all you'll need is an Allen wrench to remove the crank. I have them on all my bikes and they work great. They are well worth the cost, especially for a touring bike.

Offline whittierider

Re: advice for setting my bike up for touring
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2010, 05:59:23 pm »
But that would require a new wheel, maybe new brakes (if the old wheel is 27" and the new is 700c and the existing brakes won't reach it), probably new shifters (I've tried friction-shifting 9-speed and couldn't make it work without skipping when I'd get out of the saddle, and 10 is no doubt worse), and stretching out the frame from 120mm to 130mm, and for all that, the difference between 34 and 36 is less than the difference between an 8% grade and an 8.5% grade-- awfully minimal since grades vary more than that anyway from one quarter-mile portion to another.

Offline gregg

Re: advice for setting my bike up for touring
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2010, 06:08:38 pm »
whittierider had some good points (newwheel, 9 speed, rear end spacing) that I hadn't though of, so I removed my previous post concerning the Shimano 9 speed 12-36 cassette.

Offline denver_whitest185

Re: advice for setting my bike up for touring
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2010, 02:36:46 pm »
so, i ended up getting a blackburn expedition rack and a p-clamp. the rack is rock solid on the bike and i can't ever imagine breaking it.

So, after reading through your information about the spoke tension, i checked my spokes. even though the wheels were very true, some of the spokes didn't have any tension on them at all. most of them felt good though.

Is there a good write up on how to tension and then true the wheels properly. I'm guessing the best way is to have some sort of torque wrench that works with spokes and tension all the spokes to approximately the same tension, then adjust them to keep the rim straight.

just wondering, but how does someone become a bike tech at a bike shop. are there actually courses you can take to get "bike mechanic certified"? if so, i think that kind of a course would help me out a lot.

Offline whittierider

Re: advice for setting my bike up for touring
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2010, 03:17:48 pm »
Quote
even though the wheels were very true, some of the spokes didn't have any tension on them at all. most of them felt good though.

Is there a good write up on how to tension and then true the wheels properly.  I'm guessing the best way is to have some sort of torque wrench that works with spokes and tension all the spokes to approximately the same tension, then adjust them to keep the rim straight.
What is used is a spoke-tension meter, not a torque wrench.  The fact that the rim is true with some spokes totally loose means that the rim is bent and it requires the wildly varying tension to get it back straight.  In one or more places, it requires being pulled hard to the left, and in other places it requires being pulled hard to the right, in order to make it true.  Where it has to be pulled hard, say, to the left, having any spoke tension on the right means you need even more spoke tension on the left, which may be enough to break the spoke, or at least pull the rim too much toward the hub, causing more hop.  Once it's that way, there is basically no practical way in the world that it will ever be straight again with spoke tension that's anywhere close to uniform.  If you want uniform tension, you need to get a new rim and rebuild the wheel.  I'm not a wheel expert, but I have built a couple dozen (which lasted decades) and trued up hundreds.

Offline Spokey

Re: advice for setting my bike up for touring
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2010, 09:42:31 pm »
My daughter has my old Lemans 12 and hasn't gone that distance but uses it for commuting and 1-2 day rides.  This one is mostly OEM.  I had replaced the original shifters with down tubes and replaced those original safety lever brakes.  I also replaced the wheels with a set  of cheap Nashbar wheelset ( 36 front / 40 rear) in the late eighties / early 90s when I tacoed my OEM front.  I put a blacburn rack on the rear.  It came with a plastic covered clamp that connected the rack to seat stays. 

I would guess that I often carried about 40 lbs on it. 

I'd want better gearing these old days for my poor old knees but my 27 year old daughter seems fine with it . 

Offline Jason

Re: advice for setting my bike up for touring
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2010, 02:01:30 pm »
Something to think about:

There may be varying opinions about this, but your wheels, as they are right now, might very well react completely different when the bike receives the weight on the back (or front even.)  As Whittierider mentioned, the easiest way to ensure that the wheel carries correct tension and is true is to rebuild the wheel.

Though, to your question about tech skills, you have at your disposal right now a rim from which you could learn a great deal; at the very least, even if you decide to go with a new rim, you'll have a better idea of to look for out on the road if you "play" around with your current one.

This is a good place to start:  http://www.sheldonbrown.com/wheelbuild.html

It will give you a nice foundation on exactly how a rim is laced - you might even want to give it a try yourself.
singlespeed touring - life generally requires just one speed.