Author Topic: Straight up Noob bike/gear advice.  (Read 3594 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline ThatOutdoorGuy

Straight up Noob bike/gear advice.
« on: September 04, 2014, 01:23:40 am »
Ok so i'm a Hiker looking to get off the dirt and do some yellow blazing along the Southern Tier from the east side of texas(Silsbee Tx) to California next year.... As far as riding experience i have little besides from when i was kid.(do not own a bike currently lol) Honestly what do i need to be looking for in a bike? There is a local Bike shop that carries AWOLs i think and i can drive 2 hours to Houston to test out the touring bikes at REI... but i read other posts from bikers who ride all the time and they say the bike feels "right". Can some one explain this to me?

Also what is the thoughts on bike trailers? I look at the Burley Travoy and i could just strap my hiking pack on the thing and be off or would the saddle bags(panniers) be better? I realized i won't be carrying a weeks worth of food 24/7 on a bike tour but i will need repair gear so i imagine my total weight would be some where around 30-40 lbs....

I'm sure ya'll have seen posts like this before and thought that guy is going to hit the learning curve hard lol but i'm a sucker for punishment so what ever honest even possibly burtal advice and gear suggestions ya'll have please send it my way. Thanks!!!

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Straight up Noob bike/gear advice.
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2014, 09:36:02 am »
Some answers to all your questions can be found at http://www.adventurecycling.org/resources/how-to-department/.  (If you don't like those answers, ask the questions again and somebody will argue with everything that's written there!)

Fit is critical on a bike where your hands, feet, and seat are going to be fixed for 4-10 hours every day when you're riding.  REIs vary; some may have people who know how to fit a bike to you, others will say, "looks like you have enough room there, you're good to go."  Run away from the latter.

As a substitute for a professional fit, people who've been riding a fair bit can test ride a bike for a bit and get a good feel for whether the bike "feels" right or not.  Since you're not in this class, you probably need a good fit.  Try to test ride the bikes you're interested in for 3-5 miles, minimum, anyway.

One good thing about REI is that many of them have at least two or three models of touring bikes you can try.  Touring bikes are a very good idea if you're carrying the load on the bike; if you're using a trailer, it's not so critical.

Don't get hung up on carrying too much gear.  You're only a day's ride away from parts with mail order and ovenight delivery.  You do need to be able to repair flat tires, and it's a good idea to be able to replace a set of brake pads.  For everything else, duck tape or thumb into town and pull out a credit card.

Offline DaveB

Re: Straight up Noob bike/gear advice.
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2014, 09:50:02 am »
I've never heard of "AWOL" bikes but you absolutely must buy a bike from a decent bike shop or REI, NOT from a department store or Xmart.  Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, Fuji, or other well established brands and REI's house brand should all be available in the type you need and be reliable.

As Pat recommended, go to a shop that will fit you properly and is willing to make changes to dial in the correct dimensions.  A touring or similar bike will be far more suitable than an ultralight carbon frame racing bike.

Finally, ride quite a bit before embarking on your trip.  You need to get used to hours in the saddle and to handle the bike.   

Offline DanE

Re: Straight up Noob bike/gear advice.
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2014, 03:45:55 pm »
AWOL is the current line of Specialized adventure bicycles. If you like your Specialized dealer and you can work with them I think the AWOL Elite looks like would be a very nice bike for someone like you to start with.

Offline DaveB

Re: Straight up Noob bike/gear advice.
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2014, 08:29:27 pm »
AWOL is the current line of Specialized adventure bicycles.
OK, thanks for the update.  I really don't follow the various manufacturer's product line and name changes from year to year so that's why the name was new to me. 

Offline staehpj1

Re: Straight up Noob bike/gear advice.
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2014, 07:11:37 am »
Pick your gear first.  Then pick the bike and type of baggage that will best haul it.

Not sure how much you carried when backpacking, but you should be able to go lighter than 30-40 pounds.  Spares and tools can be pretty minimal (a pound or so including spare tubes).  Even in relatively remotes parts of the US you can typically stick out your thumb and catch a ride to the next town pretty easily.  I have done that a couple times and have ridden with others who did it a lot more and I think the longest wait for a ride was 20 minutes.

I'd suggest that you shoot for 20 pounds or less and for sure stay below 30 pounds or gear.  You can usually buy food daily so don't need to carry much.

If you are at all inclined toward going a bit minimal on the gear I suggest going really light 10-15 pound gear weight is fairly easy to achieve and I have not found any great loss of comfort or convenient.

I have done long and longish tours with loads ranging from 45 pounds down to 11 pounds or so (not counting food or water).  I found the lighter loads, lack of stuff to sort through and keep track of, and just simplicity of living with very limited items to deal with to be a joy.  I was able to maintain cooking and camping capability and comfort just as well with the lighter loads.

BTW, there are other choices besides a trailer or panniers.  Stuff sacks strapped on work well with lighter loads and there are also rackless "bikepacking" systems available if you are so inclined.

Offline bogiesan

Re: Straight up Noob bike/gear advice.
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2014, 10:15:40 am »
I urge all newbies to find a supported tour, four to six days, and see if this bike touring thing is for you. Then try a self-supported group tour, maybe a week. Borrow any gear you don't already have from backpacking.
Bike? That's not as difficult as you think. You don't need a tour-specific bike. Anything you're comfortable on will get you where you want to go but a better bike will do it more reliably and more comfortably. People ride around the world on singles, fixies, unicycles, trikes, mtn bikes, recumbents, folders and homebuilts.
Can you ride your bike of choice 100 miles and then get up the next day and do it again? Can you fix the regular stuff on it that goes wrong, goes flat, or breaks? If so, that bike will work fine.
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline Old Guy New Hobby

Re: Straight up Noob bike/gear advice.
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2014, 06:57:11 am »
bogiesan, you offer excellent advice, but it's not necessary to ride 100 miles a day on a tour. My tours are 50 to 70 miles a day, and I generally take one day a week off (or more). Somebody else might ride even less. I tour because I enjoy traveling under my own power, and experiencing the world as only a cyclist can. It's not about the miles, at least for me. Nevertheless, riding a tour is a lot different than going out several days a week. I took several supported rides before my first tour. And I'm glad I did.