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Messages - CastAStone

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General Discussion / Re: what about cheap Walmart bikes?
« on: May 13, 2010, 10:28:07 am »
Usually they'll work on it if you beg...the problem is that the repairs usually cost as much as the bike did, so people scoff at the price and get very upset. When you break something on a $200 bike, its nearly always cheaper to buy a new bike.

Also to me it sounds like bebert's bike in France is worth less than the cost to ship it.

General Discussion / Re: what about cheap Walmart bikes?
« on: May 13, 2010, 02:51:37 am »
You mean like a b'twin bike? No, we don't have anything like that, the closest comparison would be Schwinn probably, and yes, that's a Walmart bike.

The fact is that the €200 b'twin bikes aren't ready for touring either. At least not touring in the Western United States, where there are thousands of square miles with a) no cellular phone service b) no one living within a 3 day walk, and no water within a 3 day walk and c) no cars travelling on your road for hours at a time. If you break something and can't fix it, and no one will stop to help, you could easily wind up dead.

SRAM components without even a "3.0" on them and Shimano "Tourney" components (or worse, those that are just referred to by a model number, like M194) are just begging to be broken; they're only made to last a few hundred miles, and they're typically not road serviceable. And twist-grip gear shifting, which (if I remember correctly) is how most b'twin bikes hybrid and commuter bikes work, is impossible to repair if your on the road. Not a great idea in Arizona or Montana, especially if its 110 degrees out.

If you can't find something used, maybe the Schwinn Sportera will suit you, at least it has Altus stuff on it. You will have to spend at least $300 on it though.

In the end, its up to you. If you go with Walmart, spend as much as you possibly can to at least give yourself something maintainable. Good luck.

General Discussion / Re: How Realistic is 125 miles daily mileage?
« on: May 13, 2010, 02:24:31 am »
I sure hope it isn't windy. 125 miles with 20MPH headwinds is gonna take a looong time.

Gear Talk / Re: Cross-USA touring bike choices
« on: May 09, 2010, 11:47:42 pm »
You where going to spend $1000 and now your spending $200 to up grade your old bike right? You have $800 to play with to get a good set of wheels. Next to the frame, the most important part of the bike imo

I wish I had $800 to play with for the wheels. More like $200, and that's a maybe. Between the brake levers, cassette, chainrings, Rear Derailer, Stem, Handlebars, shifters, front derailer, grip tape, cables and chain, I'm at about $430, and that's after getting a great deal on a stem taken off of a floor bike and a "New" 2007 SRAM 9.0 FD ($40 total). I still want to add a tuneup to that before I go, which is another $100. If I wanted to spend $1000 I'd have bought the 520.

Unless you all are sure they're unsuitable I'm gonna go with the stock Bontrager Nebula rims and Altus hubs...I know they're not flashy but durability wise, I assume hubs are hubs, the Nebula rims are double walled and supposed to be commuter rims, and my Bontrager Hardcase tires are bulletproof. I'll get them trued before I go.

Can you recommend a model & manufacturer to get? I would definitely be into raising the handlebars on my bike. I have a couple questions. If I use spacers, will that make the ride less comfortable due to vibration or weaken the frame? Also are spacers the only way to raise the handlebars?

WTB makes a 60cm bar (traditional drops are 40-46cm) called the "mountain road drop bar", but its a little funky shaped, I'd look it up.

You might learn a lot about your handlebar options at Sheldon Brown's page; . You might enjoy trekking bars or "mustache" bars as well; if you are unfamiliar with those you can read about them there.

Spacers I can tell you definitively will not weaken the frame if you have a decent headset on your bike. I do not know the answer to the vibration question although I believe that since the spacers go above the headset, vibration is probably minimal. Chances are pretty good that you have at least one spacer on your bike now.

Another way to raise the handle bars is a taller stem (look for higher angle numbers). Also, getting a 31.8mm width handlebar will raise the handlebars a few millimeters. Off the top of my head, they you might also be able to find taller headsets, I'm speculating on this one but well made headsets of special materials may do better to reduce vibration than the combination of spacers and your stock headset. There might be more ways to raise the bars, but I don't know them.

If your not finding a bike that fits, order one! Just because the 520, LHT, etc in stock isn't sized right for you, that doesn't mean that they can't order one that is. Plus, a bike fresh from the factory will have an uncut fork, which enables you to raise up the handlebars as much as you want using spacers.

Allow me to put myself in the category of people who think you should just get really wide drops instead of a flat bar; you can use them like a flat bar but when things tense up you will probably appreciate the ability to occasionally change hand positions.

As for your tires, I can tell you that I'm 300+ lbs and I ride 32s, and the only time I ever change tubes is when I break the end of the presta valve off (Turns out that i'm bad at inflating tires). I literally have never popped one.

If your super worried about durability, the 35s will probably take bumps a little bit better, but 35s will slow you down. I personally do not believe they're necessary.

Gear Talk / Re: Cross-USA touring bike choices
« on: April 30, 2010, 02:41:27 pm »
Thanks everyone for your input and I would definitely appreciate more if anyone has any other thoughts on the matter. My plan going forward is to use the 7.3, buy inexpensive drop handlebars, new brake levers (mine are integrated and new ones are like $12), buy the DA 9sp bar-ends, and buy the cassette (I want indexing and the PC-970 is only $34.99 at Performance right now) and of course a 9 speed chain.

As for the wheels, I'll buy some emergency spokes and get the wheels trued when I get my bike rebuilt in Oregon (shipping from Ohio) Any suggestions for bike shops at the start of the Louis and Clark trail? My Bontragers are 2009, so I don't know if that's past the problem years or not, but I used to weigh 50 pounds more than I do now and I broke just 1 spoke at that weight, which seems okay to me; that's the weight I'll probably be touring at once its loaded up. If I run into any real problems, I can just buy a new wheel somewhere, right? I assume that I'm never more than a day or two from a bike store and I'm touring with a friend if my bike becomes inoperable.

Thank you again everyone and please chime in if you have any more thoughts!

Gear Talk / Re: Cross-USA touring bike choices
« on: April 30, 2010, 12:07:25 pm »

I may be wrong, but it seems like you should be able to do it for less than the prices you quote. 

You are very right. I priced it out last night; a SRAM 970 cassette, Forte brand handlebars (with tape), DA shifters (with cable), and a SRAM 971 chain can be had for just over $200. And I realized I can take my x.9 FD off my MTB and put it on my 7.3; it's practically brand new.

I would think the Trek 7.3FX might be up to the task without many changes unless you carry a lot of weight.  If you are carrying a particularly heavy load the wheels may be marginal.  If you be sure they are properly trued, stress relieved, and tensioned and then pack reasonably light you would probably be fine.

How would I know whether the wheels are bearing too much weight? What does a wheel failure look like - is it like it bends and I need to replace it or are we talking catastrophic failures?

Gear Talk / Re: Cross-USA touring bike choices
« on: April 30, 2010, 11:56:43 am »
Looking at the 7.3 FX, I'd ask why you would replace the cassette.  Seems like a reasonable setup for touring.  Also wonder why you would be replacing the spokes.  You might need to change the stem to change the bars, and still have them the right height.  I assume you're thinking drop bars.  Bars do come in multiple thicknesses, so you don't need to change the stem just for the bar diameter.  If you change to drop bars, you do need to change the shifters.  You might consider bar-end shifters.  Very reliable, and inexpensive.  Good chance you'll need new cables.  Some shifter sets come with cables.  Some don't.   

So this is what my thinking was: working backwards, I want drop bars, which necessitates new shifters, and yes I'd like the Dura-Ace bar ends, which only come in 9 and 10 speed, so then I need to get a 9 speed cassette so I don't accidentally dump the chain. Also, I do think I'd prefer a 34 tooth gear, especially with 28t as my lowest chainring.

The spokes I just assumed that the stock spokes will fall short of what I need. But if I can get away with just buying 3-4 spokes and a spoke took, that's great with me too. I'll try to find drops that can work with the stock stem, thanks!

Gear Talk / Re: Cross-USA touring bike choices
« on: April 29, 2010, 10:30:06 pm »
Hey side question,

How bad of an idea is it to just replace the stem, spokes, shifters, cassette and handlebars on my bike now? Again I have a Trek 7.3FX, made of alpha black aluminum, 700x32 Bontrager Race Lite Hard Case tires and 32 spoke Nebula wheels, very similar dimensions to the 520 including chainstay dimensions, and braze-ons for front and back racks.

I know AC Mag recommended the 7.2 and 7.3 in 2008 for touring, but do you think a 4000 mile trip is pushing my luck? I'd love to do it because it would only cost about $400, 500 if I upgrade the derailleurs as well (right now Altus front, Deore rear)

Gear Talk / Cross-USA touring bike choices
« on: April 29, 2010, 10:53:01 am »
Hello everyone,

My friend and I are looking to tour unassisted from West to East across the US this summer. We will be taking Louis and Clark to Nebraska, doing an old RAGBRAI route across Iowa, and then use Northern Tier most of the way to Syracuse, cut down to Phily on PA state bike routes, and then finish in Seaside Heights, NJ.

We both are looking to buy real touring bikes for the occasion (my Trek 7.3 can be loaded up front and back for short tours just fine, but it is aluminum, flat barred, and has lots of Altus/Acera components), and we're in a bit of a pickle. We're both hoping to spend as little over $1000 as we can.

Everything we can find on the Surly LHT and Trek 520 is dated. Our LBS told us that the 2007 LHT bears little resemblance to the 2010 one (cheaper handlebars, lower grade Shimano and SRAM components) and the 520 is much the same. We've eliminated other bikes due to component quality (like the Aurora) and price (like the Cannondales), and at this point we're trying to decide between these two.

My questions aren't to compare them, as I doubt too many of you have toured on 2010 versions of both, but rather to compare a few components:

1) 520 has LX derailleurs, LHT has XT rear and Tiagra front. Can anyone tell the difference between these sets? I'm worried about losing momentum while shifting uphill; I know the XT is "better" than the LX, but I'm wondering if anyone can actually tell this difference. Also I'm curious how a road set like the Tiagra compares.

2) The LHT has 11-34 cassette, the 520 11-32. Will the 520 cassette get me through the mountains or should I assume I need to replace it?

3) I know the LHT has longer chainstays, has anyone rode the 520 loaded with size 13 shoes? Is it okay?

Anything else I need to know, please do tell.


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