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Messages - TwoWheeledExplorer

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Gear Talk / Re: Thoughts on "fat-tired" touring bikes?
« on: February 15, 2016, 02:52:37 pm »
I have ridden the Katy Trail from St. Charles to past Defiance and back (day trip), but was on my 26" mountain bike because I was in St. Louis for the 2012 IPMBA conference. The Katy Trail is constructed of crushed limestone, and although it may be do-able with skinny 25-28 mm road tires, that would certainly NOT be my first choice. Currently I have a Volcanic 29-er MTB with 2.1 inch WTB Nano 29s on it, that work well on pavement, gravel and dirt, but it is a heavy-duty patrol bike, and I am not sure I want to ride it all the way from St. Louis to the Western Sea, nor would I do so on my fat-bike. My current touring set-up is a 2006 Bianchi Volpe with 35 mm Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires that I think would do the trail just fine. I have ridden them on the very course gravel of BIA "paved" roads on the L&C in South Dakota, that ruined a pair of WTB All-Terrainasaurus (now just called "All-Terrain") tires. The Marathons wear like iron and ride well in any condition I have used them on, and I ride a lot of gravel.

I'm retired now and plan to go back to St. Charles next year and ride the L&C/Katy Trail, hopefully to Yankton, SD, from which point I have ridden to Pierre. I am working on the specs questionnaire for a custom touring bike from Meriwether Cycles (my retirement gift to myself) that will be fitted with 40 mm (1.6 inch) Schwalbe Marathon Mondial HS 428 tires. I used to have an older model Novara Safari with 26x1.95 inch Conti T&Cs, and was tempted to go with that width (47 mm) in the 700, but decided on the 40s, the largest width they make in the Mondial. If you have seen Schwalbe's "puncture-proof" guarantee in "Adventure Cyclist", they really mean it. (although my Marathons did get a slow leak from what, when we finally found it, appeared to be the end of a metal staple.) I think they may be an ideal tire for all of the Lewis and Clark Bicycle Trail except perhaps the Lolo Motorway.

Just my thoughts.

Ride safe,

PS: I am skipping the Gateway Arch to St. Charles portion for safety reasons.

Gear Talk / Re: New Adventure Bike...from Trek!
« on: March 23, 2015, 06:21:24 pm »

Nope, you missed the point again.

These bikes use a geometry with a high front and short reach. The drop bars used are typically Salsa Woodchippers, but there are other similar bends which have flared drops which are intended to be ridden at the normal height of flat bars.

Actually, the Trek 920 has a Bontrager Race VR-C handlebar, which like most Bontrager drops, are not flared. It is the same handlebars as on the venerable Trek 520, which, BTW is now also available with disc brakes for $200 more than the canti version.

The Trek website ( surmises what the bike is built for: "When the pavement ends, 920 is just getting started. This rugged adventure tourer sports 29er wheels and an off-road drivetrain, giving you endless room to roam. Don’t let a little bit of gravel dissuade you. 920 is equipped to handle whatever lies on or off the beaten path, while carrying the cargo that matters most."

Salsa, on the Fargo page, says it even better; "The Fargo is our drop-bar, off-road adventure bike. A unique creature with a special set of skills, it is always willing to fulfill the most imaginative endeavor. It has developed a cult status as an off-road touring and bikepacking machine, and fuels our passion for long days in the saddle in distant lands."

I'm just happy as a clam the thing is finally actually on the market!

Ride safe,

Gear Talk / Re: New Adventure Bike...from Trek!
« on: March 23, 2015, 11:58:55 am »
In reply to what are the differences between "touring" and "adventure", I would answer that while all bicycle travel is an adventure, I believe what Trek, Salsa and Co-Motion (among others) have in mind is primarily "off-pavement" or "gravel-grinding". Adventure-themed bikes have heavier frames, wider tires, and more MTB-like gearing than touring standards, but also have the drop bars, long wheel-base and frame geometry for long-distance travel. In Europe they have called them "trekking" bikes for years. The Co-Motion Pangea and Divide and the original pre-2010 Novara Safari were the first American bikes to enter this niche of the market, followed by the Fargo from Salsa.

I see that for 2015, Novara has brought back the disk brakes and 1.9 inch (48mm) x 700 tires on the Safari, making it a new (or re-new) entry in the adventure bike niche, and although it is now just over $1000, it is still half the price of the Trek 920 or Salsa Fargo. BTW, it still retains the signature "butterfly" handlebars, too. Clearly a bike to consider if you are looking for an-entry level bike for "adventure".

I like, actually love, that the 920 has SRAM gearing. Although I have bikes with Shimano and SRAM, and one has a mix of both, I have always been a SRAM guy, but it is a matter of personal preference. I am going to wait until one shows up at a nearby Penn Cycle to make a more defined judgment, but the Trek 920 still tops my list for the bike to take the place of my venerable '06 Bianchi Volpe.

My big trip this year will be on my Cogburn CB4 fat-bike, across the western Adirondacks, where I grew up and where I was a licensed guide in the 1980s before we moved to MN.

Ride safe,

Gear Talk / Re: New Adventure Bike...from Trek!
« on: September 14, 2014, 11:26:01 pm »
From talking with the Trek rep at the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival MTB race (Trek is a long-time sponsor) the 920 will be available starting in February.

Ride safe,

Gear Talk / Re: Best foot wear for touring?
« on: August 30, 2014, 08:02:34 pm »
Personally, on my touring bike I have toe clips and on my MTB I have PowerGrip straps. I was born with a splayed foot (Something they couldn't correct 60 years ago, but do now.) so I can't use SPD. I for bikepacking I wear lightweight hiking boots, and find myself wearing them more and more on road/gravel, too. I have a pair of police-style bike patrol shoes (I'm a park ranger.) that have semi-rigid soles and work well with the PowerGrips. I also have a pair of older Bontraeger MTB Race shoes I wear for rec riding because I can throw them on and pull the Velcro shut and be on my way.

Long and short, the hiking boots are working well for me, and it gives me one set of shoes for on and off bike.

Ride safe,

Gear Talk / Re: New Adventure Bike...from Trek!
« on: August 30, 2014, 07:43:23 pm »
Nice looking bike. Similar in some ways to the Salsa Fargo, at least in appearance.

My guess, without talking to anyone at that the potential Fargo (or Co-Motion Divide) buyer is the market they are going for. I have always liked Trek MTBs; their geometry fits me well. This bike is at the top of my list for my bucket list super trip on the Lewis and Clark Bicycle Trail.

Ride safe,

Gear Talk / Re: New Adventure Bike...from Trek!
« on: August 30, 2014, 01:48:28 pm »
Trek is offering a 520 Disc version starting later this model year. I still have not been able to find out a release date for the 920 and 720. The 520 Disc is on the Trek website already.

Gear Talk / New Adventure Bike...from Trek!
« on: August 05, 2014, 10:41:10 am »
Stop the presses! Holy Hot Wheels, Batman! I may have to become a Trekkie again! Just introduced at the Trekworld Trek dealers gathering, the new 2015 Trek 920 Adventure Bike. Those of you who know me know until I got the Volcanic, all of my MTBs were from Trek, and I still ride one at work. Been thinking of upgrading the Volpe, and this may be the ticket! Looks very interesting, to say the least.

Ride safe,

Routes / Re: Lewis and Clark route: Traffic concerns?
« on: July 27, 2014, 11:02:06 pm »
ACA rerouted the L&C in ND to address those very concerns, It gets away from the Missouri River for a while, but also avoids the oil boom traffic in the Williston area. The problem is it also takes one away from Ft. Mandan and their beautiful new Visitor's Center.

Ride safe,

Gear Talk / Re: Saddle Suggestion other than Brooks
« on: May 09, 2014, 12:12:13 am »
My favorite saddle has always been the WTB SST. Very comfortable. I have an original leather version on my MTB, but I think they make it in naugahide now.

General Discussion / Re: Tour Divide Race 2014!
« on: May 09, 2014, 12:03:52 am »
All you need to do is run "tour divide" on Google (or Yahoo or whatever) and the first listing should come up as ""

Ride safe,

Gear Talk / Re: Wheel sizes
« on: April 12, 2014, 01:08:35 pm »
A couple of years ago, every MTB magazine was shouting from the rooftops that 26 was dead, get your 29ers now! Now in their market-driven madness they are the biggest advocates of the 27.5/650B. Even so, some of the big names, like Giant, are pushing the 650B as their primary entry. Will the 29er go the way of the 26? I hope to heck not, because I looked at a lot of different 29ers , including the Salsa Fargo and Co-Motion Divide before I bought my Volcanic Vx7. I like it. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Routes / Re: St Paul to Fargo via Bemidji
« on: December 01, 2013, 12:48:36 am »
Everybody rails about the bugs here in MN, but really, they are not any worse than Maine or the Adirondack Mountains, and definitely not as bad as in NW Russia, Alaska or the NWT. In May you'll be ahead of the worst pests (other than tourists) the deer flies.

I am from northern NYS, but have lived in MN 26 years. There is a lot of beauty in this state, and it is GREAT for cycling. If I hadn't moved here, I'd probably still be a backpacker instead of a bikepacker. Our state parks have an "open to bikes, always" policy. If you arrive by bicycle, even if the campgrounds are full, we'll find a place for you to set up. (Yes, I am a state park ranger; bike patrol as a matter of fact.) Knutson Dam Campground is federal (USFS), not state, but is really nice. (I used to be a Backcountry Ranger on the Chippewa National Forest.)

You will like it here!

Gear Talk / Re: Of Tires and Roads
« on: October 20, 2013, 12:37:33 am »
Thank you all for the input. I did it and it worked great; better than I expected. The campgrounds on the Chippewa were closed due to the federal shutdown, so I did the Rum River State Forest near Milaca, MN. and had a great time. From the looks I got from loggers, hunters, a fire crew and a state forester, you'd think they'd never seen a bicycle before. In fact they haven't, at least on the forest. Both a hunter and the forester told me they didn't get bicyclists there. Going to go back with my MTB before the snow flies and check out some of the side trails and fire lanes.

Picture is the Volpe, on the dirt, fully loaded. That's my Dr. Livingstone helmet. I wore it for my oldest grandson who thinks it's pretty cool; so do I!

Ride safe,

Gear Talk / Re: Of Tires and Roads
« on: September 16, 2013, 09:46:54 am »
Thanks; that was what I was thinking too. We have plenty of dirt roads around here I can test it on. As for the bike itself, the Volpe was first introduced as a cyclocross bike, so it can handle the abuse. Of course, my MTB, a Volcanic Vx7 APB (basically a heavy-duty hard-tail, built specifically for police/EMS use) can definitely do it with ease.  I just like the drops and the suspension seatpost on the Volpe for touring.

Thanks again!

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