Author Topic: Touring Across America  (Read 8758 times)

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Offline Mikexenakis

Touring Across America
« on: April 08, 2012, 11:22:15 pm »
Hey all,

I'm biking from Sab Diego to NY. I'm just getting into cycling and need to buy a bike. I wanted a sub $1000 entry bike. I'm thinking either the trek 1.2 or specialized specter sport. I know try are Aluminum frames so I'll be eating up road chatter, yet hopefully the carbon fork will eat up a lot of vibration. Is this true? Also, is a 23 or 25 mm wheel width too narrow? Will it be uncomfortable? Should I push for 28mm? I know the most common answer is "do what feels good for you" but I am new to cycling and have never had any bike or done any trip to compare to. I'm looking for knowledge based on experience.

Thanks guys,

Offline staehpj1

Re: Touring Across America
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2012, 07:14:19 am »
I used 23mm tires for the first half of my southern tier ride and found them pretty harsh.  When the rear tire wore out I put 25mm tires on and the ride was much nicer.  That was for 200+ pounds of me and 15 pounds of gear.  Especially if you are carrying more, then 28mm or 32mm might be a better choice.  32mm is probably the most common choice if the folks I met on my tours are any indication.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Touring Across America
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2012, 12:14:35 pm »
Before deciding on a bike, decide on how much gear you will be taking and how you will carry it. Will you be camping? Cooking? Will you be using panniers or a trailer? Have you made an estimate of the weight of your gear? How much do you weigh?

The more weight you will carry, the wider tires you will probably want and the sturdier bike you will want. And the width of your desired tires will affect your choice in bike. Also, if you need or want front panniers, a carbon fork is not the most common choice.

Be sure to read the bicycle buyers' guide here on this site. There's a brand new one in the latest issue of Adventure Cyclists, but I don't think that one's online yet. So you can use the 2011 guide, available here:

Offline Patco

Re: Touring Across America
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2012, 12:38:56 pm »
I do not believe you will be happy with the available gearing associated with the two bikes you are considering. On a tour you will likely not need the high end that is available and you will most likely want more useable low end gears. As to tires - so long as you are riding on pavement, 25's will work; 28's may provide a better ride ( On my longer tours I have ridden on both, but like the 28s better. I see no need to ride larger tires in the U.S.). You will also want to consider how you will attach any panniers to your bike, assuming you use panniers.


  • Guest
Re: Touring Across America
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2012, 01:44:11 pm »
Surface can also factor into choosing a tire size. If you plan on taking some unpaved roads (e.g. U.S.F.S. roads), you will almost certainly want something on the wider. You might also find yourself on a long stretch of unpaved road resulting from summer road reconstruction. That happened to me twice while riding a portion of ACA's TransAm route. I was happy for my 37c tires.

Re: bikes, at your budget, you might look into the Windsor Tourist from It has all necessary eyelets for attaching racks. They also sell the Motebcane Gran Tourismo.  Both are under a grand. But for both, you will, almost certainly want to get a smaller small chain ring to give you lower gearing.

Some people like BD. Some people hate BD. Let's not go down that road. Merely letting the OP know of the option so he can do his research and make his own decision.

Offline vmax4power

Re: Touring Across America
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2012, 06:40:35 pm »
I did a century race on a Trek 1.2. I could not imagine riding it across a state let alone the USA. Great bike for a 150 lb racer on a buget. I have a brand new never ridden Cannondale Touring 2 for sale on Ebay. User name v-max4power, 100% positive feedback rating on 193 transactions. Great bargin for your cross country trek. I also have it for sale on this site. Price is $1199, $50 shipping to the lower 48. Email me with any questions.

Offline commuter

Re: Touring Across America
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2012, 07:03:15 pm »
I don't think that the bikes you are considerining are good choices especially since the price range you are talking is close to the cost of a Surly Long Haul Trucker. In regards to the tire size, I ride on 32c tires and I would probably ride 35c if my bike with fenders would accommodate them. I have been on many bike tours where I am sitting alongside the road watching someone change a flat because they opted for 28c tires. I am not saying that I never get flats but I have ridden across the country without getting a flat. The other factor that I think has helped is the tire that I use. I ride on Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires (700x32c). I kept a log on the last set that I bought and I got 18,000 miles on the rear tire with one flat at 5,000 miles and on the front tire I got 25,000 miles with no flats. I realize most people will think that I made these numbers up but they are true. The other factor to consider is that the ride is more comfortable with a larger volume tire. Of course the larger the tire the more resistance you encounter, but from my experience, the trade off for reliability and comfort compared to resistance is in the 32c to 35c range if you are planning on riding mostly paved roads on a self-supported tour.

Offline Gif4445

Re: Touring Across America
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2012, 04:32:41 am »
Some really good advice for you in the posts thus far.  I will add my two cents worth.  I was a newby to the scene and purchased a trek 1.2  a couple years ago to take on some 4 day rides doing part of two BRANs and a NUMB (Nebraska rides).  Then last September, I did a 500 mile solo credit card tour (motels) from SC Nebraska to Breck CO (you can read my journal of the trip at )  Basically what all the posters are saying is true.  The trek 1.2 or equivalent is not a great pal on these trips.  You can do it and will have some great memories, but there are better options.  Recently, I bought a Surly Long Haul Trucker to do a coast to coast ride, hopefully in the next couple years.  I have about 400 miles on it and couldn't be happier.  First of all, the ride is some much better.  Wider tires, steel frame and longer wheelbase make it much more comfortable for me to ride.  I don't know your dimensions, but I'm 5-10 and 205.  My extra weight makes the LHT a good choice by itself.   Like previous posters said, if you are taking a lot of stuff, the LHT is a much better choice.  As my journal stated, the trek 1.2 has a shorter wheelbase and I had some issues with heel strike on my rear saddle bags and had to place them farther back on the rack, which created other issues.  The LHT was about $400 more than the Trek 1.2, but IMO this is money very well spent when you are on the road.  The most surprising thing to me about my Surly is that it weighs more than the Trek, but my average speeds are higher.  Probably just me.  Oh, and one more thing.  The LHT tends to be a little larger compared to the Trek.  I was fitted with a 56" trek, but when I test rode the LHT, I was borderline between the 54" and 56".  Good Luck and hope this helps!

Offline staehpj1

Re: Touring Across America
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2012, 07:11:37 am »
I ride on Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires (700x32c). I kept a log on the last set that I bought and I got 18,000 miles on the rear tire with one flat at 5,000 miles and on the front tire I got 25,000 miles with no flats.
Everyone priorities are different so we each need to make our own choices, but...  One man's choice of a tire that blissfully lasts 25,000 miles is another man's 25,000 mile sentence to riding a heavy tire with a super stiff sidewall when they would rather be riding a tire with a nice lively feel and fixing the occasional flat tire.

So consider the following when choosing:
  • How averse are you to fixing a flat once in a while.
  • How much do you value a nice lively feeling ride?
  • How much do you care about a tire weighing a more than double what some other suitable tires in the same size weigh?

The claimed weight of the 700x32 Gatorskin is 380 grams compared to 830 grams for the Marathon Plus.  Given that there are two of them on the bike that makes the difference 900 grams or almost 2 pounds and it is all rotating mass.  To me that is a big deal, but the real deal breaker in the stiff sidewall.  I took off a set of Marathon Plus Tires after just a couple hundred miles because I hated the ride feel.  Anyone want them at a cheap price?  They are 700x32.

Offline Sectrix

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Re: Touring Across America
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2012, 04:50:21 pm »
I rode the Long Haul Trucker on my trip, have never toured on another bike so I can't compare it. However it was a nice stable ride, well designed for carrying loads. All the bells and whistles for attaching racks, fenders, water bottles, bike pump, spare spokes, etc. I also rode on Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires at 700 x 28. I felt the 28mm was a tad too narrow for me. I felt every nook and cranny of the pavement, and the wheels seemed, well, almost fragile. Not that I had problems with them, but I think I may go for 35mm next time.

Also, check out the parts department and the gear ratio calculator at They have some good gear combinations for touring, and lots of information on all things bicycle.

If you are the least bit mechanically inclined, you also may want to put your bike together on your own, and shop for the best deal on parts. I found this to be cheaper than the pre-built bike, plus I got exactly the components I wanted. Also, you now know your bike inside and out, making repairs that much easier.

Offline dreitman

Re: Touring Across America
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2012, 08:08:52 pm »
When are you planning to start your trip.  Planning ST in Sept