Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => Gear Talk => Topic started by: fastrog on February 23, 2020, 10:26:23 pm

Title: light tour bike
Post by: fastrog on February 23, 2020, 10:26:23 pm
i tour supported, and a few years ago i bought a surly frame and worked with my LBS on the build. it is a great bike, but after two partial summers making my way from yorktown to missoula, i'm training to reseume the transam to astoria. the surly is comfortable, but i really felt the weight in the mountains. does anyone have a recommendation for a lighter bike that would still be comfortable for a 220-pound man? thanks
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: John Nettles on February 23, 2020, 10:37:09 pm
You don't say what your budget is but you might consider buying a high-end used bike (or titanium frame) in good condition.  You can easily save 40%+ off a new bike.  However, a high-end steel frame won't save you much weight over a similar sized Surly steel frame.

You could also consider looking at lighter Tubus racks.  The Surly racks are nice but very heavy.

Lastly, if you can get lower gears, try that and just enjoy the scenery as you climb slowly but easier.

Tailwinds, John
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: paddleboy17 on February 24, 2020, 01:11:50 pm
The advice I am about to give you will be controversial.  All of my engineer buddies agree with me, and most of my disagreements come from non-engineers.  I am a software engineer, but one of my mechanical engineering friends says that SolidWords (a very expensive 3D design and modeling tool) backs up this claim.

There are at least two kinds of weight to review. 

Static weight does not rotate, and its importance is generally overrated.  Going from a 4 pound steel frame to a 2.5 pound aluminum frame is not really going to reduce the burden of riding the bike, and you may curse the ride of the aluminum frame.  Sure you can pick up the difference between riding the bike loaded versus unloaded, but I doubt you can perceive carving a pound and a half of non-rotating weight off. 

Rotating weight, aka moment of inertia, now that is a big deal.  This is weight and radius of the rotation.  So going to say a carbon fiber bottom bracket is probably not going to pay much of a dividend because the radius (bolt circle) is not  very large.   Saving 100 grams by ditching the inner tube when you go tubeless will pay a dividend because it has a large radius. 

So my advice to you is to explore reducing the weight of things that rotate, especially the wheel set.  If you are still running tubes, then look into going tubeless.
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: John Nettles on February 24, 2020, 05:07:01 pm

I strongly agree with you.  The trick would be to get a strong enough wheel set that can support his weight and gear while it is being thrown into curves at speed.  You are the engineer, so correct me, but I would think the side force of a wheel is it's weakest point, especially the rear if it is dished.  So having say 260 (rider & gear) giving lateral force would require strong wheels.  Probably not the lightest.

The only reasonable way I can think of to effectively reduce the weight of a strong but probably heavy wheel set is to use lighter tires, but then you will get more flats, or worse, blowouts.

For instance, if the OP currently uses a heavy tire like the Schwalbe Marathon Plus (a very heavy but robust tire), I would switch it to the Marathon Supreme.
 Thoughts??  John
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: paddleboy17 on February 24, 2020, 05:43:34 pm
There are a lot Surly frames, and I do not know which one the OP had.  My latest bike in my fleet is a Salsa Cutthroat, which has 2.x wide tires. I did the tubeless conversion which saved something like 200 grams per tire.  Not a lot of weight, but at the end of a big radius.  Post change, the bike accelerates much quicker.

I think our OP should investigate tubeless conversion, if the tire are say at least 35mm wide.  If that is not possible, then maybe a change to say a 32mm wide tire.  You can tour on 32mm wide tires on crushed limestone rail trails or paved roads.  Doing a new wheel set is tricky as getting a lighter hub does not do that much, (small bolt circle), spoke pretty much all weigh the same, and rims and tire are where the investigation needs to be.  As has been identified, light and strong are in direct conflict. 

I did a bike packing trip on my  Cutthroat last spring.  My normal touring kit is 60 pounds and includes a day's worth of food.  My bike packing kit was 30 pounds, with no food or stove.  You could hardly fell that the Cutthroat had 30 extra pounds on it.  So maybe a brutal kit review is in order.  My trip was 4 days long and I used everything in my kit but an extra pair of socks.

Time to pipe in fastrog.  I have spoken in generalizations, and more details are needed.
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: Pat Lamb on February 24, 2020, 06:22:44 pm
Reading between the lines: fastrog says he tours "supported," which I take to mean involves a 5-10 pound load (including 2-3 pounds of water).  I'm assuming the rest of the load on the bike includes flat repair tools and materials, sunscreen, camera, perhaps a rain jacket  -- basically a long day trip.  Extra clothes are carried for OP.

On a loaded bike, the frame isn't going to make much difference -- 1.5 pounds in the frame will be swallowed by the panniers or trailer, not to mention the extra weight that loaded tourists have accepted as the price for reliability.  That's not the case for OP (as I read it).

It's probably worth some time to make sure the new bike uses widely available parts (notice I didn't use the "standard" word!).  Because you'll want in your gears what you don't have in your legs at the end of a long week or day in the saddle as you approach the last climb, look for some way to accomplish lower gearing -- I still think 27 gear inch low is overgeared.  If you have and like a good leather saddle (Brooks, anyone?), hat extra pound will pay off after the first 3-4 hours every day.  I might look at some of the Compass tires, as long as I had a Marathon or Gatorskin in the SAG wagon -- just in case.

If I've described OP's situation, it's probably time to hit the bike stores starting in the next month.  Look for something like a road sport, endurance, or perhaps a lightweight "gravel" or "all road" bike for wider tires (skip the knobs since you're riding roads).  Buy one you like and start riding.  Pay extra for carbon, titanium, aluminum, or lightweight steel if you're so inclined.  Stock bikes are pretty good, and, with enough up-front investment, you'll cut your bike weight significantly.
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: jwrushman on February 24, 2020, 07:25:33 pm
It may be a sensitive subject...My Surly Disc Trucker with fenders, racks and miscellany was 35 pounds.   My gear weight was 45.  In retrospect, I could easily get rid of 5 pounds.  It was my first cross-country tour.  My biggest saving was losing 10 pounds of body weight.  And I felt so much stronger.
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: driftlessregion on February 24, 2020, 10:04:59 pm
In the mountains, a bike that is couple of pounds lighter is much less important than a 220# body.
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: fastrog on February 24, 2020, 11:31:46 pm
thanks, everybody. pat is right. i ride supported on the transam. drink, small snack, rain jacket. my wife drives 10 miles ahead in a van and waits for me. we go again. camp for the evening. so the main weight issues are my fat 220 pound ass. i have a surly straggler frame, built by LBS to be bombproof so i have chucker velocity wheels with schwalbe marathon plus tires with heavy tubes. my first attempt at the transam in 2018 involved a lot of pain. walked up to afton and other climbs in the appalachians before mixing it up with a groundhog in loretto, kentucky and breaking some bones (mine) 800 miles in. went home in a cast and a boot and after feeling better went back to my LBS and got a lot more gears. resumed same spot in 2019 and made about 2,000 miles to missoula. still suffered the hills in the ozarks and portions of the rockies. still seems harder than it should. so looking for help before resuming is missoula in june. i think i will start with the advice of looking into  lighter wheels and tubes. have had normal tubes since a 1970s-era peugeot 10-speed with sew-ups. never tried a modern tubeless. i should add that i had a heart attack a few years ago, and am diagnosed with congestive heart disease (i prefer that to "congestive heart failure.") so my blood flow is compromised. i have to do more with less. may be, as someone said above, i just have to keep my head down and keep plugging. good news is that i have a lot of time. and last year i lost 30 pounds on the transam.
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: paddleboy17 on February 25, 2020, 12:06:11 pm
Now that I know what you have, I think there are a couple of things that you could do.

If you do the tubeless conversion, I would also get a different tire (I have MAXXIS IKON on my gravel bike). 

I would consider swapping out the crank.  I have an SRAM GX crank on my gravel bike, which might now be SRAM GX-1000.  You can get them with a 30, 32, 34, 36, or 38 tooth ring.  I think your bike has a 42 tooth crank.  I started with a 38, moved to a 34 (really liked), and a 30 for a bike packing trip.

Both of these changes will improve what you have, and cost $200 - $300.

But you are riding a gravel bike and it sounds like what you really want is a traditional road bike.  This would involve some soul searching and expense on your part.  You could look at a light touring bike or a not so serious criterium bike, or some other bike that floats your dreams.  You would have to work with your LBS to get the gearing right.  I also have a not serious criterium, and it designed to make riding effort all day long.  I love my gravel bike, but I also love the other 4 bikes I have as well.

Title: light tour bike
Post by: RonK on February 25, 2020, 03:20:37 pm
I had a Surly LHT, but quickly became disenchanted with its weight and sluggishness. I replaced it with a titanium frame a carbon fork and a custom light but strong wheel build , saving around 2kg over the Surly, achieving a more lively and more comfortable ride.
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: Pat Lamb on February 25, 2020, 04:04:05 pm
I'm thinking about lightening my bike (similar situation, I'll keep the touring bikes in case I do loaded touring and for commuting).  I'm thinking about something like the cheapest Trek Checkpoint (gravel bike with a carbon frame) so I can put Compass 42 tires (or thereabouts) on it, if I can figure out how to put smaller chainrings on the thing.

My theory, totally unsupported by evidence at this point:

Fat-ish, flexible tires to soak up lousy roads.  Light bike for climbing with a Brooks saddle (because I'll be out there for a while).  As long as I'm riding with SAG support, I'm not going to worry about reliability on an old bike.  I'm going to ride as far and as long as I can, which probably isn't going to be for another 20 years like my older bike has on it, and if something breaks, well, between SAG, mail order, and overnight shipping, I should be able to get back on the road within a couple days.
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: DanE on February 25, 2020, 04:49:51 pm
Be careful when buying cyclocross bikes. UCI racing rules do not allow for tires wider than 33 mm to be used in UCI sanctioned racing. Sometimes cyclocross bikes are not made for tires wider than this. Tires of 42 mm width may not fit.
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: fastrog on February 26, 2020, 01:30:10 am
thanks everybody.  great food for thought. which prompts this question: what is the best new or used titanium frame that could be paired with some mountain gears and a lighter wheel set? and what titanium could take he other components from the surly straggler? maybe i sell the surly frame.
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: paddleboy17 on February 26, 2020, 03:36:37 pm
Let's say that you get a titanium frame and move your stuff over.  You will get a net weight savings of a pound and a half, for a cost of say $3000.  Your new bike probably won't feel like an improvement over your Straggler.  I doubt you can perceive the difference of 1.5 pounds.  It is static weight.  Maybe if you were an elite athlete you could perceive a difference.  The legendary Georgena Terry says no one could perceive a 1.5 pound static weight difference while riding a bike.  She says you might notice other material properties.

It is a little different with body fat as your is probably around you middle, rotating constant partial turns about your spine.

If you want to take some burden out of riding you current bike, muck with the tires as previously discussed.

If you want to make climbing easier on your current bike, muck with the crank.

If you want to ride on the road, look at a new road bike, especially if you have $3000 dollars to throw at it.  Gravel bike are great all purpose bikes.  I love mine, and it almost as fast as my criterium bike, but my steel 30 year old Paramount road bike weighs less and is faster and less tiring to ride than my 2 year old carbon fiber Salsa Cutthroat.

Steel is an amazing material as it has properties that can be altered to make springs or cutting tools.  In theory titanium also has a similar broad range of properties, but because it is so expensive there are fewer alloys to choose from.  Aluminum is lighter still, but while the metal is not as strong, it is strong enough for bike frames.  Carbon fiber is lighter still, and be made to have different properties in each plane.

If it was my money, I would make some upgrades to the Stragler, keep the Straggler for riding marginal to difficult roads, and add a nice road bike.
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: fastrog on February 26, 2020, 09:46:43 pm
thanks again

Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: fastrog on February 26, 2020, 10:17:45 pm
throwing a wrench in the works: i had a beautiful trek 1100 aluminum road bike more than 30 years ago. many miles in many states. after moving to florida, switched mostly to MTB. sold the 1100 to a friend who sadly did not ride it.  he might sell it back. i also have a trek fx 7.3 alum about 12 years old. since i understand aluminum  has a shorter life expectancy, would it be crazy to retrofit either of them? i guess at this point i'm leaning toward  a used road bike if i can find one, or a new mid-range one.
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: paddleboy17 on February 27, 2020, 09:31:57 am
Aluminum frames are a complex issue.  The very first aluminum frames were not very stiff, and hence not very well received.  Since then, aluminum frames have been very stiff, and this brings up the problem of stress relief.  WW2 era steel liberty class cargo ships had a tendency to spontaneously crack in half as square cargo hatches did not distribute stress evenly.  There is a similar issue with 1950's Comet passenger jets--square windows caused tails to break off.  With aluminum bike frames, the issue is how the frames were joined.  Aluminum frames sometimes crack at the welds.  I am good friends with our field failure engineer and he thinks aluminum is a great material for bike frames.  I  get the impression that a lot of progress has been made in using and joining aluminum.
i had a hard time finding specs on your 1100, but i will take a stab at it anyways. 

I think if you frame was going to crack, it would have done so by now.  Trek might have glued yours together in stead of TIG welding it.  The frame will be stiff, so it will depend on the tires to be a little soft in order to provide a good ride quality.  You can play with tires to get a balance between ride effort and ride quality.  The only thing bad I can find about the 1100 is the down tube shifters (something about the bracket being delicate).  So you could upgrade to bar end shifters or brifters.

Did you like riding the 1100?  Why did you get rid of it?

By the way, I think the support you wife has been giving you is wonderful.  You are a lucky man.
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: TCS on February 27, 2020, 02:32:31 pm
I ride supported on the Transam...Still suffered the hills in the Ozarks and portions of the Rockies. Still seems harder than it should, so looking for help before resuming in Missoula in June.

I read this and thought, 'I'd so slap that fella on a Trek Domane SL with a bigger cassette (and perhaps a riser stem).'

I guess at this point I'm leaning toward a used road bike if I can find one, or a new mid-range one.

In 2020's market, I'm seeing carbon fiber framed, Ultrega drivetrain, tubeless-ready road bikes in the $1500~1600 range.  Would upgrading the old 1100 really be cost-effective?
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: fastrog on February 27, 2020, 05:37:15 pm
you are right, danno, she is a saint. she has full internet and as a professor she can work with her post-grad students in brazil and chat with her may cousins there. as a physical geographer, she also sees lots of things she has read about and studied. back to bikes. yes, the 1100 has downtube shifters, which i would likely move.  but those who say it is not worth upgrading are probably right. for starters i will try to look at some lightly used road bikes like a madone. if i find nothing, think about a new mid-price to lower and roadie. thanks again everybody.
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: TCS on February 28, 2020, 12:47:21 pm
Yeah, for a long time mainstream 'road' bikes were designed around (and would only fit) very narrow tires, the wheelbases were relatively short and the frames were engineered to be as stiff as possible.  You can still buy plenty of bike models like that, but these days there are also relatively light, relatively aero road bikes designed to fit 38~45mm tubeless tires with meter plus wheelbases and frames engineered with vertical flex. 

We've really entered into some salad days for light/supported touring bikes.
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: fastrog on February 28, 2020, 04:25:23 pm
ha ha. my 70-year-old brain is overhelmed with the choices. danno has suggested salsa, which i have heard good things about. i have been a trekkie for years because the small town i lived in had one bike shop and their better bikes were treks. broke the mold with the surly, which will stay with me in case i get into gravel and/or unsupported. new question: i just found a merlin in my size for $1,200. too good to be true?
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: canalligators on February 28, 2020, 06:42:24 pm
Aluminum frames are a complex issue.  ...

I think if you frame was going to crack, it would have done so by now. 

Not necessarily so.  As I understand it, aluminum fails after some number of stress cycles.  With continued use, it will get weaker.
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: paddleboy17 on February 28, 2020, 10:50:40 pm
When aluminum frames break, it is usually where tubes are joined (TIG welded).  So you are right about the frames lasting a finite number of duty cycles.

 I don't think the 1100 frame are TIG welded.  I think there is a really good chance it is a bonded (glued) frame.  Bonded aluminum frames are supposed to be pretty durable.
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: fastrog on February 29, 2020, 12:12:45 am
i think you are right about the 1100. as i recall it was glued. anyway, it would need lots of updates after all this time. i'm leaning toward something like a merlin i saw advertised. my size for $1,100. thoughts?
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: paddleboy17 on March 02, 2020, 12:31:40 pm
I have to confess that I do not know very much about Merlins.  $1100 sounds really good--sure it is not just for a frame?

As for your old Trek 1100, I think there is an element of what condition it is in.  We have already established that there is nothing wrong with a bonded, aluminum frame.  I think those came with Shimano R-X 100, which was not a bad group.  My Paramount came with 7 speed R-X 100, and other than the down tube shifters, it was OK to ride.  I am 62 and even if I wanted to deal with down tube shifters, I don't feel flexible enough to want to deal with them.  When 8 speed came along, frames were suddenly 4 mm wider at the rear drop outs.  That extra chain ring went at the high end. Since then, all that has transpired is to make the spacers between gears thinner, and to provide more resolution between the highest and lowest gear.  In my mind, the only real revolution has been in 1X drivetrains, with rear derailleurs that can span a 42 tooth ring instead of a 32 tooth ring.   So if you like riding the 1100, and it is in good shape, then you may not have to do too much to it.  I would upgrade the shifters.  I have had good luck with Microshift's shifters.  This is a Taiwanese company, and my experience has been limited to their 11 and 10 speed shifters, but they do make barcon, brifter, and thumbie style shifters, and they have all broad 7 speed shifter product line.  New 7 speed Microshift shifters are around $100.

For any used bike that you look at, you will need to decide how expensive it will be to replace parts that are either worn our or just not what you want.  I am pretty handy, and I have made some upgrades that might otherwise have made sense, especially if I had my LBS  do the work.  Truing wheels and building wheels I farm out, but I am up for almost anything else.  If you need the LBS to do all that, then you might as well just buy a new bike.

My Paramount is the same vintage as your Trek 1100, and around 2000, I replaced most of the 7 speed R-X 100 parts with 9 speed Ultegra parts, and a new 9 speed wheel set based on Durace hubs.  I think I spent $1000 in upgrades, and it only made sense because I really like riding the bike.  I was also single (again) in those days, and did not have to report my spending to a higher authority.  My steel frame has enough flex that I could wedge in new 130mm wide wheels in my 126mm rear drop outs.  Your Trek might not be so forgiving, but you could borrow a wheel set and see how it works out.  A few years back the lube in the Ultegra shifters dried out (brifters have that problem),  and I replaced the brifters with ones from Microshift.  The Microshift brifters were way better than the Ultegra shifters.  My local roads are not what they used to be, and I just don't have the roads to make the Paramount my only road bike.  She is still a delightful ride, when I can find good blacktop.

Since then I have taken a mid 90's steel mountain bike and turned it into a 2X10 gravel bike complete with drop handle bars. I think that was a $300 conversion, with new stem, drop bars, barcon shifters,  crank,  and brake levers.  I maybe spent an additional $100 on chain, cassette,  and bar tape, but that come out of my maintenance budget and not my upgrade budget.  I may have had stems, bars, and brake levers in my spare parts bin.  The shifters came with a cable kit.

I live in SE Michigan, and I make a half hearted attempt to ride through the winter.  I have been using a mountain bike for winter riding, but I wanted to use the homemade gravel bike instead.  I updated the bike once again with a new stem, Jonesbar, thumb shifters, and new mountain bike style brake levers.  I went for the cheaper single butted aluminum Jonebar handle bars, and I think I had a total outlay of about $250 for new parts.  I have spare stems, just not one long enough.  I like the new setup better for winter riding. 

You can make a lot of upgrades with just a multi tool and a cable cutter in your tool box.

Back to your bike issue.  Keep the Straggler, and add a roadbike.  A buddy and I went back and forth of specs (he thought I was crazy for promoting shorter wheel base bikes).  We both agreed on 700C rims with tires in the 25mm to 32mm range.  Said bike should fit you, and be comfortable to ride.  A more relaxed geometry is going to be more comfortable.  Ride quality trumps most of your frame choices.  I know you are attracted to a titanium frame.  With the right alloys, a steel frame will be a pound and a half lighter, just as comfortable, and a lot cheaper.  If you are bound and determined to get a lighter frame anyways, then I would look at aluminum or carbon fiber.  Newer aluminum frames have these elastomer inserts to improve ride quality.  Carbon frames are just plain awesome as long as you don't crash them, and you regularly grease all the threaded inserts.
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: froze on April 12, 2020, 02:44:50 pm
sorry of what i'm going to say has been already said I didn't want to take the time to read every single post.

I would keep the Surly, it's a quality bike, no sense in retiring it for something lighter.

So since you are not doing loaded touring you need to make changes to the bike that will make it more comfortable.

The first think I would do, and I think I glanced over someone who said this already, is to change the wheels to a lighter pair, and use lighter narrower (700x32c would be idea) tires with less rolling resistance.  The Surly LHT came with 700c wheels that would fit 56-62cm tires, those are much too wide for the kind of touring your doing, and fat tires weight a lot.  So get a set of rims built that will support a 32 to 40 size tires and go more on the narrower end of the spectrum.  Unless you need those wide rims and fat tires for some intense gravel riding you could save a bit of money and remove the hubs from the wheelset and put them on the new wheelset and save a bit of money, your bike shop can do that for you.
If you are doing riding on gravel than a 32mm tire maybe too narrower, though I can ride gravel with that size with no issues but some people don't feel as comfortable on narrower tire, so with that same new rim you can put a 40mm tire on and be more than fine.

Really the only other change you need to make is to change the rear gear cluster to 11-36 or better yet a 12-38 range.  Then check your front chain rings and get them to be 44/32/24, your current chain rings are 50/39/30, those are a bit on the taller side, and if you're struggling with weight going up mountain roads than you need to relieve that excretion by going with a better set of chainrings.  Of course changing the chainrings to what I said you will lose some top speed, but if flying down a mountain grade at 50 mph is not important than change those gears.

Another alternative if you want to keep some of your top speed is not to change the chainrings and instead use a 11-40 cassette, the Deore derailleur you have will handle that large of a rear gear even though Shimano says it only handles 32.  I would do this route first and see if it works for you, if you still need a lower gear ratio than go with the new chainrings, personally since you're not loaded I would not change the chainring gears, I would do the cassette only.  After the cassette is changed you will need to do minor rear derailleur adjustments.

So really all you need to do is some simple re-adjustments to the bike you have and can save yourself a ton of money over buying another bike! 

I suggest you go to your local bike shop and have tell them what you want done.  A custom built touring wheel, like what you have now but narrower, can be built for under $450 including hubs for the pair.  You can get a Sunrace 11-40 cassette for just $50.  So for $500 plus labor for the cassette and deraileur adjustments, also brake adjustments for the narrower rims, you got away a lot cheaper than finding a $2500 lighter touring bike.

Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: fastrog on April 14, 2020, 02:59:21 am
thanks to all for the advice. for now i will keep the straggler. i was impressed by the physics lesson (was it danno?) about wheel/tire weight. i had been running schwalbe marathon plus tires (700x35) for their bombproof reputation. and the reputation is deserved. no flats over two years from yorktown to missoula, plus thousands of training miles. but they were sluggish, compared to gatorskins and armadillo i ran  on my previous two bikes.  so a few weeks ago i switched out for schwalbe marathon supremes in a 32. world of difference. easier pedaling and better response. we'll see if flats become an issue.  may be some placebo effect there, but it seems a world of difference. another factor may be that i have lost 17 pounds since originating this thread  in february. (someone on here had nicely enough suggested that it was my fat ass that was the problem, not so much the weight of the surly.) i took the point, as well as a diagnosis of diabetes about the same time.) still planning/hoping to return to missioula about june 20 and finish the transam to florence.
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: froze on July 19, 2020, 09:41:27 pm
If you want a lighter touring bike, and you're not sure about aluminum, and quite frankly I don't blame you, then you only have 3 choices. One is to go th expensive route but an expensive bike like the Rivendell, which would be custom built for you, or Waterford, which makes the Rivendell, is another expensive choice for a lighter touring bike.  The other choice is to go with Titanium which would be lighter than the above steel bikes I mentioned but price wise maybe the same.  The last choice, and this one would be controversial to some of you, but to find a very good condition Schwinn Voyageur SP, those bikes were not only beautifully made but are probably the same or better than a Rivendell or a Waterford! The best years for those were 1983, 84, and 85 and the 86 Passage, those 4 years were Schwinns finest years for a making touring bikes, in fact dare I say Schwinn made the finest touring bikes in the world during those years.  Both the Voyageur SP and the Passage can be found for under $850 in excellent condition, and they weighed on average 25 pounds if memory serves me correctly, but that is really light for a touring bike when modern touring bikes under $2,000 will weigh over 32 pounds.

I have Schwinn Voyageur, but not an SP, it's a bit tall for me so I'm saving it for my grandson who will probably be taller than my 6' height and it's got low miles on it and would do quite well touring.  You can pick up the lower end Voyageur for less money than the SP, around $350, but the weight is about a pound more but it's a highly capable bike for light to medium touring.  The same years apply to for the best regular Voyageur as it does for the SP models.  Then there was the Schwinn Le Tour Luxe, 1985 was the only year to consider for this model, in 1985 Schwinn pulled all the stops on this bike and made a stunner and capable touring bike, I did a couple of short tours on mine before being hit by a car and it did very well, that was a bike I would have had no second thoughts about going across country on, the only thing I would have done to it was to change the gears to make them lower for climbing steep grades with loads. 

You don't have to worry about getting parts for those bikes, they are plentiful, the simple stuff like cables, gears, pedals, brake pads, wheels, hubs, spokes, etc can all be found in bike shops today; the more difficult stuff like derailleurs, brake levers and calipers can be found on Ebay rather easily if you stayed with original factory equipment.  Some of those models came with 27" wheels, you can either replace them with 700c but that may require new brake calipers, or you stay with 27" and go with Panaracer Tour Guard series of tires and those will work excellently for light to medium touring.

Another option for older touring bikes is the Trek 520, 620, 630, 640, 720 and 728 from 82 to 85, these were also well recognized in the touring world back then (as the model numbers go up so does the quality).
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: John Nettles on July 19, 2020, 10:53:07 pm
.... in fact dare I say Schwinn made the finest touring bikes in the world during those years.
I would say the Specialized Expedition would give it a serious challenge.  That was one heck of a touring bike.
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: froze on July 20, 2020, 08:38:32 am
.... in fact dare I say Schwinn made the finest touring bikes in the world during those years.
I would say the Specialized Expedition would give it a serious challenge.  That was one heck of a touring bike.

That was another interesting bike, that I forgot all about till you jogged my pea brain.  The frame on those were Ishiwata 022 (which after they went bankrupt they formed Kaisei tubing and that is highly respected by steel builders today).  I had 022 on a 412 Trek I had, it was ok tubing, it didn't really impress me as much as Fuji VaLite Quad butted or Miyata spiral triple butted, or Reynolds 531cs (limited production tubing), did, though it was far better than Vitus!  However I didn't tour on the Ishiwata, but it just doesn't "seem" like an idea touring tubeset...but it could be.  Unfortunately the Specialized never became a touring favorite, in fact it's a sort of rare bike to find.   

That is a bike I would not overlook that's for sure.
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: staehpj1 on July 20, 2020, 09:59:27 am
thanks, everybody. pat is right. i ride supported on the transam. drink, small snack, rain jacket. my wife drives 10 miles ahead in a van and waits for me. we go again.
Given those criteria I'd ride what is essentially a carbon fiber race bike with lower gearing than a pro racer would use.  I like the feel of a responsive bike and am very comfortable with a racy riding position even as I age, at least so far at age 69.  You might deviate on any of that based on what you enjoy riding.  At 220# and no added heavy load you really don't need a sturdier bike, but if the wheels make you nervous you could go higher spoke count.  If you want a little cushier ride maybe go a little wider on the tires, but I'd avoid going with some ultra stiff flat proof tires with crazy stiff sidewalls and stay with something pretty supple.  I have generally run gatorskins, but if I had a support vehicle close by with spares I might go with a lighter sportier tire.  I'd never run something like a Marathon Plus even for fully loaded touring and certainly not for supported touring.

All that said it is true that the wheels make the most differences weight wise.  Geometry wise it is mostly a matter of aesthetics, but I enjoy sportier geometry.  Not everyone does, it is kind of like motor vehicles, some people like to drive trucks, some like sports cars, some take a purely utilitarian approach and drive an inexpensive car that gets the job done.  I figure that with my bike it is a recreational activity and I want something fun.  For me that means sportier is better.

Basically in your use case there probably isn't a wrong answer as long as it is what you enjoy riding.
Title: Re: light tour bike
Post by: froze on July 20, 2020, 10:21:33 pm
Schwalbe has better tires than the Marathon Plus, called the Marathon Supreme and the Marathon Almotion V-Guard.  The Almotion V-Guard has the least amount of rolling resistance of any touring tire followed by the Supreme, the Plus comes in a lot higher in rolling resistance. 

Schwalbe has a bad habit of naming stuff the same but have two different tires, weird, anyways, the Almotion has 2 different sub models, the V-Guard weighs around 500 grams and has the lowest rolling resistance, and it's new on the market; the other one is the Microskin Race Guard TLE, this tire weighs almost 900 grams due to the better flat protection in the tread and sidewall, but it does make the tire heavier as you can tell.

The most subtle touring tire that I know of is the Panaracer Pasela ProTite with the tan sidewalls.  Of course, when you go with a more subtle tire it won't last as long under heavy loads, but if you want a smoother ride this is the tire that will deliver that.  There was another tire that is more comfortable riding than the Pasela, but you give up a lot in flat protection and tread life to get that sort of ride, I can't recall the name of the tire at this time but from the reviews I read it didn't last long at all.

But if you want long mileage tread life and puncture resistance and durability the Schwalbe Marathon Plus is indeed the tire to get.