Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => Gear Talk => Topic started by: njdaniel on February 10, 2006, 05:52:52 pm

 
Title: Windsor Tourist? Is this a good bike?
Post by: njdaniel on February 10, 2006, 05:52:52 pm
I was wondering if anyone has heard or has experience a Windsor Tourist bike.  I need a bike on the "cheaper" side of touring bike costs for some loaded touring.......how does this bike compare to others kinda close to its price, such as the trek 520, fuji touring, bianchi volpe, or novara safari?

Thanks for your help everyone

Title: Windsor Tourist? Is this a good bike?
Post by: wanderingwheel on February 10, 2006, 07:39:36 pm
I assume you're talking about the $600 bike from bikesdirect.com.  It looks like a perfectly servicable touring bike at a fair price, but I don't think it is some screaming deal.  They will probably send you the bike in the original box from the factory, so expect to spend some time tuning and re-assembling before your first ride.  Pay special attention to the wheels, you may even want to drop them off at a local wheel builder to be checked out.

Sean

Title: Windsor Tourist? Is this a good bike?
Post by: sccr2337 on February 21, 2006, 10:31:10 pm
I'm in the market for my first tour bike and have noticed that bikesdirect.com is the cheapest.  I did some research on the matter and found out why they are so cheap.

They are a company out of florida and they have the bike parts assembled in Asia.  They then buy the names of the bikes from companys that have more than likely gone bankrupt.  So, from what I can tell; the Windsor of old is not the Windsor of new.  All that said, I have no clue about the bike and if it would hold up for a tour.

I want to do a transamerica tour, but I cant afford a nice tour bike (I probably spent too much on my road bike).  Do you guys think that the Windsor will hold up if I put better tires on it?  

This is basically my price range for a tour bike, is there anything else I should look at?

This message was edited by sccr2337 on 2-21-06 @ 9:21 PM
Title: Windsor Tourist? Is this a good bike?
Post by: njdaniel on February 22, 2006, 02:52:12 am
Hmm I see what you are getting at about maybe the company uses an old Windsor name, but I've never heard of Windsor other than at bikesdirect.  Plus, they have the Fuji brand which is still doing well, no doubt.  After doing some more research since I first posted, I still do not know if this bike would hold up.  I do know that it has a cromoly frame which would do well, along with a variety of high quality SHimano parts.  I'd say you were right about maybe upgrading the tires, if anything.  I've been a little wary of the Windsor since I can't seem to find anyone who's had one, so I've gone up just a bit in price and am looking at the Fuji Touring, Bianchi Volpe, and Jamis Aurora.  These are all tried and true touring bikes ranging from $825(aurora) to $900.  Not too far off of the Windsor $695 price tag.

This message was edited by njdaniel on 2-21-06 @ 10:53 PM
Title: Windsor Tourist? Is this a good bike?
Post by: dknapp on February 22, 2006, 09:49:51 pm
For about $750 you could possibly get an '05 Novara Randonee at your local (if you have one) REI store or for $950 an '06 that has the better touring setup on the front chainrings (26/36/48 vs. 30/42/52).  The REI bikes would come fully setup, you can test ride them, etc.  Just a suggestion.  I looked around my metro area (Wash D.C) and could not find any shops that had anything other than one Trek 520 to look at.  No Fuji touring, no Cannondales.  The shop owners said they did not sell enough touring bikes to keep any in stock.  REI was my last choice and it had a good selection, although they would not order a Cannondale for me to check out unless I pre-paid for it, even though they carry the line.  Good luck.

Title: Windsor Tourist? Is this a good bike?
Post by: njdaniel on February 22, 2006, 10:01:21 pm
dknapp, do you mean that the '06 Randonee has the 26/36/48?  I'm not too savvy yet on chainring size; you basically want a lower set for hills, right? (esp for touring) Also, what is a good set of sizes for touring, is the 30/42/52 too big?  I think I've heard that you want your lowest ring to be in the 20's...?

Title: Windsor Tourist? Is this a good bike?
Post by: DaveB on February 23, 2006, 11:55:26 am
You are planning a TransAmerica tour and you are willing to trust an unknown bike from an unknown assembler to save a few bucks?  Sounds like very false economy to me.  

I recommend you seriously reconsider Trek, REI, Cannondale or other known suppliers.  You will have the comfort of knowing that they are well established, their bike are a known quantity and if there is a problem, you have a waranty and local dealers that can help you.

Title: Windsor Tourist? Is this a good bike?
Post by: wanderingwheel on February 23, 2006, 12:05:09 pm
On the chainring size, it really depends on the rider's strength, riding habits, and touring load.  Lower gears allow you to spin the pedals faster at a lower force, or to ride slower.  I usually use the standard road triple of 52/42/30 and have no problems.  With a 32 on the cassette, I can go down to 4 or 5 mph.  With the 48/36/26 chainrings, you can go about 1 mph slower, but you will spin out sooner on the downhills.  Since most tourists coast on the downhills, this is rarely an issue.

Sean

Title: Windsor Tourist? Is this a good bike?
Post by: scott.laughlin on February 23, 2006, 02:02:11 pm
I certainly wouldn't be afraid to order a Cannondale.  I bought a used one from Plano Cycling, near Dallas.  It's an older one, but has evidently been hanging in someone's garage for a long time.  It's the best bike I've ever owned, and cost only a fraction of the prices mentioned at REI.  It shouldn't be too hard to find someone in DC who owns a Cannondale and would let you take it for a spin.  

Just a thought

Title: Windsor Tourist? Is this a good bike?
Post by: ptaylor on February 23, 2006, 11:11:23 pm
"...maybe the company uses an old Windsor name, but I've never heard of Windsor other than at bikesdirect."

I once had a Windsor bike; bought it about 1975 or so from a bike shop in Illinois (there weren't many bike shops other than Schwinn back then). I think it was made in England. It was a good bike until I drove my car into my garage with the bike on the roof-rack. Ouch and *^#%$@%*&!!!

I presume they went out of business or at least stopped exporting to the US.

Gramps
Title: Re: Windsor Tourist? Is this a good bike?
Post by: dahut on May 29, 2010, 12:23:24 am
I know this is an old thread, but, hey - stuff happens.

The Windsor name originated with an early English cycle maker that was renowned during the 60's-80's (and earlier). at least a few records were held by the Windsor teams. I remember them from years ago. It seems there was a long relationship between Windsor and Cinelli and Colnago, too. At least one reference indicates that many Cinellis are Windsors - with Cinelli decals.

And just like Raleigh, Motobecane and other bikes that reached their zenith in the 70's-80's, Windsors are making a comeback. Recently, the name was re-licensed, the new company selling Asian made and assembled bicycles. Which we should recall is the VERY same thing most bicycle companies are doing (Cannondale is an exception; they're still being designed and made in PA, ASFAIK)

Most Road Bikes sold in the USA are made in Taiwan, these days, by 'factories' which you have probably never heard of. For example, IDEAL builds for Fuji, Trek, Motobecane, Windsor, Terry, and many others. Another common 'factory' is Merida; they build for the likes of Specialized, Jamis, Mercier, Felt, Bianchi, and many others. Big names in the bike biz, all made in Asia.

What is also highly interesting is that these same 'factories', in most cases, only do assembly. They buy everything on the bike from subcontractors who make the assorted parts. Then the 'factory' just applies decals, assembles, and boxes the bike.

In the case of the frame, several frame shops in Taiwan build road frames for many high end brands. Asian frame builders like Kinesis, A-Pro, and Astro build frames for brands like Fuji, Trek, Motobecane, Specialized, Felt, Bianchi, LiteSpeed and dozens of others. They ship the frames to the individual factories where they get painted, and the assembly begins.
In fact, several 'Italian' brands buy frames in Taiwan and then ship them, unpainted, to Italy. Once there, they paint and decal them and mark them 'Made in Italy' - and sell them for Italian import prices.

So lets dispense with the whole bicycle "name game" here and now. In all but a very few cases, it hardly applies nowadays.

According to the searching Ive done, the Windsor "Tourist" frames are the very same ones sold by Fuji on their tourers. So while you are buying a Windsor "Tourist," you are also (in essence) buying a Fuji Touring bike. So, if names impress you, here you go:
The "Tourist" gets you a Fuji touring bike frame, and for all practical purposes - the same running gear setup, too.

at this point, we should not fail to mention the Fuji sells for nearly $1100, while the Tourist goes for $599. You do the math.

Re-branding, that is putting various makers names on the same product, is common in the consumer market (think of DVD players, TVs, shoes and so on). So it goes with bicycles, as painful as that may be to some people.
The wise consumer can get the best value by not paying much attention to the decal on the downtub. Instead he researches, learns and and compares bicycles based on the fit, the components, the service and warranty offered and last but not least, the price (and the discount!)
Title: Re: Windsor Tourist? Is this a good bike?
Post by: whittierider on May 29, 2010, 02:02:15 am

Your assumption is that they make a bunch of standard products, all with the same materials and quality controls, and then a bike company comes along and says, "We want 10,000 of that model there," so they slap their name on it and a bike goes out the door that's identical to one going out with another name and a higher price on it.  That's not what's happening!

Each of the three major frame manufacturers in Taiwan is able to make whatever the customer company asks for.  They may have a high-end carbon frame being made on one line, and next to it, under the same roof, they're making garbage.  Why?

As a prominent man in the industry who has traveled to and visited all these factories said, just because the manufacturer has shown that they can make a good bike doesn't mean every bike they make is good.  A bike company may come along and ask for a frame and negociate a price too low to make it right, and the manufacturer obliges and gives them the garbage they asked for with the idea that the people who buy this off brand won't know the difference-- at least not until it's too late.

But further, the distributor that sells Windsor has had a ton of other problems besides the frames themselves, ranging from easily chipped paint to things assembled improperly to false advertising and the worst customer service in the industry.  I would never send a friend to them.  I know there are some people who are happy with the product; but this company has had a disproportionate number of very angry customers.
Title: Re: Windsor Tourist? Is this a good bike?
Post by: DaveB on May 29, 2010, 08:29:17 am
But further, the distributor that sells Windsor has had a ton of other problems besides the frames themselves, ranging from easily chipped paint to things assembled improperly to false advertising and the worst customer service in the industry.  I would never send a friend to them.  I know there are some people who are happy with the product; but this company has had a disproportionate number of very angry customers.
+1.  I've seen very mixed reports about Bikesdirect products.  Some customers are quite pleased and others terribly disappointed.  Partly it depends on how good a bike mechanic the customer is. 

Good mechanics expect to go over the bike in detail correcting the assembly flaws and shortcuts and aren't surprised by what they find and have to fix so they are satisfied with their purchase. 

Inexpert owners can run into a lot of problems they have to pay someone else to correct and will be very disappointed.

BTW, I wonder what the OP wound up buying. It's been 4 years so he should have done something by now.  It would be nice to have feedback on his experience.
Title: Re: Windsor Tourist? Is this a good bike?
Post by: dahut on May 29, 2010, 09:56:12 am

Your assumption is that they make a bunch of standard products, all with the same materials and quality controls, and then a bike company comes along and says, "We want 10,000 of that model there," so they slap their name on it and a bike goes out the door that's identical to one going out with another name and a higher price on it.  That's not what's happening!

Each of the three major frame manufacturers in Taiwan is able to make whatever the customer company asks for.  They may have a high-end carbon frame being made on one line, and next to it, under the same roof, they're making garbage.
 

Exactly. The point, of course, is that it IS all very standardized, almost cookie-cutter. In the case of the Windsor Tourist, the suggestion is that they ARE the same bike as the higher priced Fuji's. The ad hype and the glossy magazine covers don't tell that side of the story. What the savvy buyer needs to understand is the concepts of price point vs. features and doing due diligence so as to find out.

Quote
As a prominent man in the industry who has traveled to and visited all these factories said, just because the manufacturer has shown that they can make a good bike doesn't mean every bike they make is good.  A bike company may come along and ask for a frame and negotiate a price too low to make it right, and the manufacturer obliges and gives them the garbage they asked for with the idea that the people who buy this off brand won't know the difference-- at least not until it's too late.

But further, the distributor that sells Windsor has had a ton of other problems besides the frames themselves, ranging from easily chipped paint to things assembled improperly to false advertising and the worst customer service in the industry.  I would never send a friend to them.  I know there are some people who are happy with the product; but this company has had a disproportionate number of very angry customers.
The one thing a big-name company has is reputation. It has something to protect in that reputation and makes the extra effort to get it right. Inspections, specifications and more inspections are par for the course for them. Ditto good service and warranty backing, to include distribution and parts availability. That is what really sets them apart - and what subsequently drives the cost up.

Interestingly, I visited my LBS yesterday, mostly to yuck it up with the ladies in the store. Yes, my LBS is female owned and operated :)
While I was there, I looked closely at the bikes in the $500-$700 range. To be frank, I could tell little practical difference between the various bikes at that price point. Big name, no name - much the same.

I am not a prominent man in the bicycle industry. I work instead in the consumer pharmaceutical industry, which constantly struggles against generic competition. Just like the bike companies. And while there are obvious differences between the two, they have much in common.

The truth is this: anybody can make the same products we do, and many do. We happen to pride ourselves on our reputation and quality, because that is truly all we have in our favor... especially when we are asking the consumer to spend more for our products than the others.

But the specifications for our products aren't difficult to arrive at and the technology exists to meet those specs for anyone able to set up a facility. The regulations are the same for both of us, with the FDA watching us both equally. In fact, we also produce the same products as our name brands - to sell to the private label side of the market. We are just like those Asian cycle factories.
Like I said, more similarities than meets the eye.

Believe me I'm not knockin' the big name cycle folks. Its because of them that cycling is growing as it is in this country. Yeah!
Ditto the LBS, which is taking off (it doesnt hurt to have a limping economy, high gas prices and a strong
Green Movement, either :) ) Yeah!
There are good reasons to go with both of them, things that smack more of value than price.

However, for those people who are willing to do the diligence and learn to do a few things for themselves, cost effective alternatives exist that meet the same needs... often in much the same ways.
Title: Re: Windsor Tourist? Is this a good bike?
Post by: staehpj1 on May 29, 2010, 11:40:54 am
I have bought 4 bikes from Bikes Direct and have had zero problems with the company and like the bikes very well.  Three of the four bikes were Windsor Tourists and all three successfully did the Trans America.  Two of the three have since been used for commuting and the third has done additional touring.  Two of us are getting ready to leave on the Sierra Cascades Route on the same Windsor Tourists we rode on the Trans America.  We are all quite happy with them.

I have only two caveats.  The gearing wasn't ideal so consider swapping the crank out (we used a Sugino XD600).  Realize that you will either need to do any mechanical work yourself or have a relationship with a local dealer.  Most dealer don't mind working on bikes bought elsewhere, but a few might.

Bikes Direct is a company that many love to hate but I have been quite happy with them.  Their marketing hype is over the top, but not much worse than some other companies (look at some of the BS that Surly slings for example).
Title: Re: Windsor Tourist? Is this a good bike?
Post by: 12phil34 on May 06, 2012, 12:05:45 am
I've owned three Windsor Tourists since 2004, toured with them extensively in Europe and North America (four paniers, tent, sleeping bag - 20 kg) without any major mechanical problems and have been very satisfied with all of them.  In my opinion, the Tourist is probablyy the best value for money in a touring bike.  As other replies here indicate, you're often paying an extra $500 for an almost identical bike with a name brand label made in the same factory in Taiwan so why bother? 

I'd recommend running slightly fatter-than-supplied tires for loaded tours, purchasing a better rear rack than the one bikesdirect supplies to stop panniers flapping against the rear wheel and installing a slightly lower gear ratio cassette when the first one wears out.  Apart from that, no probs.
Title: Re: Windsor Tourist? Is this a good bike?
Post by: DaveB on May 06, 2012, 08:38:09 am
The above two postings reporting good experiences with Windsor Tourists from Bikes Direct either state directly or imply that the owner must be a reasonably competent bike mechanic or be willing to pay someone who is to "finish" the bikes.  As long as the frame and fork are decently constructed and aligned, the other problems can be addressed if you (or someone you hire) knows what to do.

Poorly built wheels can be trued and tensioned properly, poor shifting and braking can be adjusted to work well, bearings can be readjusted as needed, etc.   Bikes direct can provide a fully functional bike out of the box but the smart money doesn't bet it that way and plans to correct the shortcomings themselves.