Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => Gear Talk => Topic started by: jwrushman on June 23, 2020, 02:09:00 pm

 
Title: Touring capable road bike
Post by: jwrushman on June 23, 2020, 02:09:00 pm
Just starting research on a new bicycle for my wife and would like recommendations and suggestions of considerations when buying. 

My wife is now 70 and has had road bikes rather than touring bikes.  Her last one has to be, I'm guessing, over 25 years old.  It is a Cannondale SR400.  She's no longer doing triathlons and would like a sporty bike that's capable of being used for touring.  I did the Northern Tier last year, but I suspect future tours for the two of us will be shorter - 7 to 10 days timeframe.  She's done weekends in New England with me, but is willing to try something longer.

My thoughts.  I have a Surly Disc Trucker that I love, but it's heavy, not sporty.  I think her Cannondale is in the 22 lb range.  I don't think she'd like a steel frame bike, so I'm thinking an aluminum frame bike suitable for touring.  That is, with lower gears and capable of carrying panniers.   The Cannondale has downtube shifters.  Will likely change to brifters with indexed shifting.  The Cannondale has rim brakes.  Will want to change to disc brakes, probably mechanical.  Will need a wide range of gears.  The Cannondale has a 42/52 chainring and 12-32 cassette.  Her lowest gear is 34 gear inches.  Would like something closer to 20.  Budget <= $2k. 

Thoughts?
Title: Re: Touring capable road bike
Post by: driftlessregion on June 23, 2020, 02:49:50 pm
What's the objection to steel? Trek 520 disc for roughly $1680 is steel but  you can't beat it. Review in Adventure Cyclist is dated in that Trek replaced bar end shifters a couple of years ago with STI. https://www.adventurecycling.org/blog/road-test-trek-520/
Title: Re: Touring capable road bike
Post by: Pat Lamb on June 23, 2020, 03:12:29 pm
First a couple questions.  What kind of touring are you and your wife planning to do?  There's a big difference between B&B tours (load is rain gear and a couple sets of clothes), supported tours (rain gear and sunscreen), and fully loaded touring (cooking and camping gear).  Next, what kind of terrain are you going to ride?  Towpath, rail-trail, or Florida may give you much wider gearing latitude than Appalachian hill climbs.

It's getting pretty hard to find a road bike that's not a loaded touring bike, with 20 gear inch lows.  Brifters on a triple are either Sora or NOS (i.e., hard to find).  Also, if you load any bike up, it won't feel like a tri bike. 
Title: Re: Touring capable road bike
Post by: driftlessregion on June 23, 2020, 03:32:12 pm
Except for the Cannondale all capable touring bikes under $2000 will be steel: Soma, Velo Orange (if set up right), Fuji for only $1200, Kona Sutra $1500, Jamis Aurora, Masi Randonneuer, Co-op (REI), the Salsa is >$2000.
More up to date review of the 520 in AC https://www.adventurecycling.org/adventure-cyclist/online-features/first-impressions-trek-520/
more from AC https://www.adventurecycling.org/blog/touring-bike-buyers-guide/
Gunnar frames start at $1300. I don't know if you can build a bike under $2000.
Good luck.
Title: Re: Touring capable road bike
Post by: jwrushman on June 23, 2020, 05:04:07 pm
driftlessregion, my only issue with steel is the weight and feel of the bike.  Not looking for something that feels sluggish.  The Trek 520 is a bike I was considering for myself a few years ago.  There's a Trek dealer not far from us.  Perhaps we should give it a look.   Do you think I may need to increase my budget?   A previous bike I owned was a Cannondale ST300.  I enjoyed it but I don't think it would have fared well on my cross-country ride.  Although it was fairly light and had a touring geometry, the gear range wasn't adequate for steep hills.  I replaced the chain ring, but a triple would have been better. 

Pat Lamb - My wife and I had planned a week-long, self-supported trip, but I suspect will be doing more B&B credit card touring (if New England opens up).  May need to carry panniers, but maybe only one pair, and not heavily loaded.  Terrain - roads and bike paths.  We live in NJ and bicycle from Pennsylvania to Vermont.  So, a good amount of short-steep climbs in the mix. 

Perhaps I should consider a road bike and add a trailer if we need to carry more gear...
Title: Re: Touring capable road bike
Post by: John Nelson on June 23, 2020, 05:06:09 pm
A sporty bike that's capable of being used for touring?

That’s not one bike. That’s two bikes. You’re in the market for two bikes. Accept that and your job will be easier.
Title: Re: Touring capable road bike
Post by: jwrushman on June 23, 2020, 05:08:33 pm
I'm afraid you may be right... There goes my budget!!
Title: Re: Touring capable road bike
Post by: driftlessregion on June 23, 2020, 10:02:03 pm
You're talking to someone who loves the feel of  steel bikes so I can't relate to your comment about that. Sluggish is not a function of the material but design.
For many years I toured with a trailer and a sport touring bike until I popped for a full touring rig (Gunnar). A friend of mine toured with a Trek Postal racing bike (with a triple!) and a trailer and did just fine. These days any bike can have sufficiently low gearing so your options are many.
Title: Re: Touring capable road bike
Post by: staehpj1 on June 24, 2020, 06:02:37 am
A few options:
Title: Re: Touring capable road bike
Post by: dkoloko on June 24, 2020, 11:22:53 am
I don't think an aluminum bike is that much an advantage for touring. I've had several Cannondale aluminum tourers, as well as a number of steel touring bikes. I wouldn't choose one touring bike over the other because one was aluminum and the other steel.  Cannondale gave up manufacturing touring bikes for a while. They weren't selling that many in an admittedly niche market. For your budget I'd choose one of the standard touring bikes, not paying much attention to whether one was aluminum or steel. For weight reduction consider tires, tent, sleeping bag, etc. As another mentioned don't think you're going to get a tourer that is also a fast bike. The Rivendell Atlantis was designed as an all-around bike, sport riding and touring. The frame alone will take your budget, but it will give you some idea of what to expect in a combination of sportbike and tourer. With an Atlantis construction and design, expect compromises in both, sport riding and touring.
Title: Re: Touring capable road bike
Post by: paddleboy17 on June 24, 2020, 12:17:31 pm
You guys are all going about this wrong.  Rotating weight -- big deal, static weight -- not nearly as big a deal as people make it.

Let me give you some benchmarks:

Carbon Frame - ~2 pounds
Aluminum Frame - ~2.5 pounds
Ti Frame - ~3 pounds
Steel Frame - ~4 pounds

So spending a butt load of money to go from a steel touring bike to a carbon touring bike just to save 2 pounds (everything else being the same) is nonsense.

Now before you flame me and my immediate family, lets talk about some other things.

There are components and architecture (not sure this is the best term), and as someone else said, what kind of riding are you really going to do.

I have a classic steel touring, and the frame weighs 4.5 pounds.  She is designed to be ridden from the Canadian Arctic Circle to the tip of to Tierra del Fuego and back, and I can even ride from my home outside Detroit to the starting point too.  Everything about the bike is beefy (and heavy).  What makes here sluggish to ride are the indestructible rims and Schwalbe Marathon tires.  I have never weighed the bike but I put her in around 30 pounds.  And I typically tour with a 60 pound kit (some groceries and a nice kitchen).

I also have a carbon fiber gravel bike, and I think she weighs about 23 pounds.  I did a bike packing trip last spring, and bike and kit came in at 56 pounds.  Handling was superb, and you would never know it was loaded with a kit.  The kit was very spartan.  If temps got below freezing, I was screwed.  I had enough clothing for 3 days, and I used everything except an extra pair of socks.  I should have used the socks, but on day 2 it was too cold to change them.  I carried no food or cookware, and don't know where I would have put them if I had to carry them.

So please sort out what your needs are, and don't be surprised if that turns into multiple bikes (I have 6 bikes).  This is a lot more complicated that steel versus aluminum.  Be advised that there are a lot of ill conceived bicycles available for purchase.
Title: Re: Touring capable road bike
Post by: staehpj1 on June 24, 2020, 12:25:22 pm
You guys are all going about this wrong.  Rotating weight -- big deal, static weight -- not nearly as big a deal as people make it.
I pretty often don't agree with you, but on this I do.  Don't get me wrong, I like a nice carbon frame but it isn't where I am quick to spend my money.  A good set of wheels is way more important.  I'd argue that gear weight is important too, because we are potentially talking about differences on the order of 10, 20, 30 or maybe much more pounds in some cases.
Title: Re: Touring capable road bike
Post by: El_Chupacabra on June 24, 2020, 01:04:44 pm


Just starting research on a new bicycle for my wife and would like recommendations and suggestions of considerations when buying. 

My wife is now 70 and has had road bikes rather than touring bikes. 

What does your wife want for this bike? Have you asked?

Not trying to be obnoxious about it, serious question.  There's a ton of widely varying suggestions already in this thread, and I suspect many are making assumptions based on what they personally prefer.

If she's going to be doing just credit card touring, wouldn't any bike work just fine? (backpacker type saddlebag and a handlebar bag can go on anything) So, have *her* pick something she's going to like riding.
Title: Re: Touring capable road bike
Post by: jwrushman on June 24, 2020, 01:58:43 pm
El_Chupacabra,

You're certainly right.  While I may have my own preferences, I think that the decision will end up what my wife enjoys riding.  If it ain't fun for her, she'll not be riding it and I'll never hear the end of it! 

As several people have suggested here, I may be looking at two bikes rather than one. 
Title: Re: Touring capable road bike
Post by: Old Guy New Hobby on June 24, 2020, 02:06:49 pm
My experience is limited, but I'm not sure that sporty and touring mix. I used to tour on my Trek 520. These days I still ride, but it's all local. I decided to get a lighter bike. I settled on a Specialized Cirrus aluminum bike with '38 Gatorskin tires for the occasional gravel road.  I ride about 4,000 miles a year. My rides are 20 to 40 miles. The only thing I carry is a few groceries once a week. (And maybe a little wine.) I'm not a strong rider. I'll do the hills, but little old ladies drop me all the time. The Specialized is a fine bike, but it's spent more time in the shop than the Trek ever did. It's mostly small stuff, but I was shocked when I took it in and the shop showed me cracks in the rear wheel rim after two years of use. I never looked for them because I didn't even know this could happen. I don't regret switching bikes, but that Trek was an indestructible tank.
Title: Re: Touring capable road bike
Post by: Patco on June 26, 2020, 05:47:43 pm
My wife switched from a Trek Pilot 2.1 WSD (woman specific design), which had an aluminum frame with carbon stays, to a Waterford, which is a steel bike. She enjoys riding the Waterford far more than the Trek, particularly when loaded.  With the Trek she felt like she was being bounced around, particularly on rough pavement, but with the Waterford the ride is far more stable and her control is enhanced. Not all steel bikes are the same.
Title: Re: Touring capable road bike
Post by: canalligators on July 14, 2020, 05:33:49 pm
A sporty bike with a load on it becomes a non-sporty bike.  Perhaps even dangerously so.

If by "sporty" you mean nimble and fast, I suggest that you don't want nimbleness on a loaded touring bike.  And you won't get fast.  You want stability, capability of carrying the desired load, rain protection, reliability and durability.  That all translates to a heavy-ish bike that to some degree will be a dull handling bike.

Each to his own, but as much as I enjoy riding a sporty bike, I do not want or expect my touring bike to be one.  You might ask yourself or your spouse why the bike has to have sporty handling to be an enjoyable ride.  I like riding all kinds of bikes, some of which are quite sluggish handling.
Title: Touring capable road bike
Post by: RonK on July 15, 2020, 09:58:41 pm
My wife is now 70 and has had road bikes rather than touring bikes.  Her last one has to be, I'm guessing, over 25 years old.  It is a Cannondale SR400.  She's no longer doing triathlons and would like a sporty bike that's capable of being used for touring.  I did the Northern Tier last year, but I suspect future tours for the two of us will be shorter - 7 to 10 days timeframe.  She's done weekends in New England with me, but is willing to try something longer.
Firstly JW, my compliments to yourself and your wife to be still cycling and willing to consider touring at age 70.

I'm approaching 70 myself and can perfectly understand her wish for ride that is nimble and easy to handle. And the responses here are entirely predictable.

I'm a lifelong roadie, I appreciate bikes that ride and handle nicely. My first touring bike was a Surly LHT. It's probably the most over-rated bike I've ever owned, it was a slug to ride and I couldn't get rid of it quickly enough after only one tour.

Despite the entrenched ideas and disapprobation of the retro-grouches who typically frequent touring forums, I went my own way and built a titanium tourer with a carbon fork and integrated brakes/shifters. That carried me over many 1000's of kms, and despite dire predictions the sky didn't fall down - not even once (I still have this bike, but it now languishes unused).

Later I built a titanium bike with a Rohloff hub - but the Rohloff is probably even more over-rated than the LHT, and like the LHT it didn't last long before I got rid of it.

Currently to lighten the ride even further I've built up a Salsa Fargo (steel with carbon fork) and adopted a bikepacking setup. Now I'm looking around for a more versatile bike, one I can take on local bunch rides as well as bikepacking trips - just as your wife desires. BTW, if the the idea of bikepacking interests or appeals, take a look at this page. Bikepacking 101 (https://bikepacking.com/bikepacking-101/)

The good news is - such bikes do exist, and in fact they are becoming more and more common at the same time as traditional touring bikes are disappearing.

They are called gravel bikes. They are built robustly enough to tackle unsealed roads without sacrificing ride and handling qualities, have suitably low gearing options and appropriate tyres for light touring.

A comprehensive list of such bikes can be found here: Riding Gravel: BikeFinder (https://www.ridinggravel.com/bikefinder/)

As you can see there are many choices. I've spent a fair bit of time looking into these bikes, and have picked the Norco Search XR as a likely candidate for my next bike. You can get a Search XR in steel, alloy or carbon, but my choice is for carbon with a 2X crankset. Norco Search XR C3 (https://www.norco.com/bikes/2020/road/gravel/search-xr-carbon/search-xr-c3/)

Carbon is a mainstream material for bicycle construction, has been for decades now and the engineering requirements are well understood by the manufacturers.

I'm betting you are NOT going to set out on a self-supported world tour. You don't need a bullet-proof bike that will last another 20 years. Don't be afraid to make unconventional choices - disregard the naysayers here and get your wife the bike SHE wants.

A happy wife is a happy life.
Title: Re: Touring capable road bike
Post by: jwrushman on July 15, 2020, 10:43:48 pm
Gronk,

Thanks for the link to Riding Gravel: Bikefinder.  I started browsing it tonight and will have to spend more time tomorrow.   The Norco Search XR C3 is a beautiful bike!
Title: Re: Touring capable road bike
Post by: froze on July 19, 2020, 08:16:21 pm
There are a lot of good touring bikes on the market, you just have to pour over the specs and find one that suits your needs, and consider any future needs that might happen.

When I did my research for my touring bike I limited the price of the bike to $2,000 or less, and after looking at all the bikes in that price range sold in the USA, the best one for me was the Masi Giramondo 700c, and it's been a great bike so far.  I wanted components that would last a long time and be easy to find replacements for, I did not want Hydro disk brakes, I wanted bar end shifters, I also wanted the lowest gear ratio I could find so my old knees could haul touring gear up steep mountain roads, and I wanted racks on it; the Masi came with all that I wanted; in fact the brakes are extremely good, they went as far as to put 180mm rotors on the front and 160 on the rear instead of the standard 160 all around that I saw on other touring bikes, that was cool they thought of that.

Is the Masi the best touring bike in the world? of course not, it only cost me $1,500, I'm sure I could have spent $5,000 and got darn close to the best one in the world, but I didn't want spend that kind of money.  So the Masi meant all my requirements and did so for less money then I had top budgeted for.  The only thing I really don't like on the Masi is the tires, my god, they put on tires that weigh 1,600 grams a PIECE!  So as soon as Schwalbe tires get back in stock I getting a pair of Almotions which will take off at least 1,000 grams per tire; it seems that most bikes come with crappy tires, seats and no pedals.
Title: Re: Touring capable road bike
Post by: David W Pratt on August 06, 2020, 04:15:11 pm
First, the most important criterion is what she likes.  That being said, I have a Bruce Gordon Rock and Road.  I have enjoyed it for recreational riding on paved and dirt roads and on supported and self contained tours.  It weighs about 30lb. but it carries me and 40lb. of gear without complaint.  It has a ~19" low.  Unfortunately, Mr. Gordon retired, and then died so they are no longer being made, but I have seen used ones.  That is not to say there are not other comparable bikes out there, but consider the used market.  Mine was built in 1992and is still in fine shape. I did 400+ miles on the Erie Canal Towpath last summer with zero mechanical problems.
Good luck
Title: Re: Touring capable road bike
Post by: froze on August 07, 2020, 04:20:42 pm
First, the most important criterion is what she likes.  That being said, I have a Bruce Gordon Rock and Road.  I have enjoyed it for recreational riding on paved and dirt roads and on supported and self contained tours.  It weighs about 30lb. but it carries me and 40lb. of gear without complaint.  It has a ~19" low.  Unfortunately, Mr. Gordon retired, and then died so they are no longer being made, but I have seen used ones.  That is not to say there are not other comparable bikes out there, but consider the used market.  Mine was built in 1992and is still in fine shape. I did 400+ miles on the Erie Canal Towpath last summer with zero mechanical problems.
Good luck

Those Bruce Gordon bikes were really very good bikes, and extremely difficult to find used, of course they weren't massed produced either so just finding one due to that reason alone would be difficult.  Nice bike you have, among the best there was.
Title: Re: Touring capable road bike
Post by: gottobike on August 14, 2020, 07:03:25 pm
Ditto on the previous suggestion regarding gravel bikes. They seem to fill the niche between road and touring very well.
For sporty handling, frame material might be less of a consideration than frame geometry. As frame geometry varies considerably within the same model, a smaller frame (ie, 52cm)  may not handle as well as a medium (56cm) or large (60).
If looking for a small frame, avoid the popular new fat 700c 29'er frames as too many compromises are made to fit the big wheels into small frames. This includes steep (74 degree) seat tubes and slack (71 degree) head tubes. For retaining the sporty feel of a road bike, frame geometries around 72-73 for seat tube, 71.5 to 72.5 for headtube with 70-75 mm bb drop and relatively short chainstays may deliver the road-bike feel.
Many of the options in this category will not accommodate front racks. It may be worth looking into bike packing bags as many are rackless or have floating racks (Arkel) that are not mounted to frame. A gravel bike packing kit with front bag, frame bag, and seat post bag typically comes in at about 30  litres, about half the volume of traditional front/rear panniers for a touring bike. This volume should support a 30 lb payload very well and by balancing the load with the heaviest load in the frame bag, should not have too much impact on handling.
The benefit of a bike packing kit is that there is no additional cost, weight and potential failure of racks, may be mounted on bikes with carbon forks and they work well on sportier frames as they do not require long chainstays for heels to clear rear panniers. Also, by removing the bags you have your sweet handling sport bike back, something you will never have with a full on touring bike.