Author Topic: Looking for a combination road / light touring bike  (Read 12885 times)

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Offline HelenaEngineer

Looking for a combination road / light touring bike
« on: November 11, 2015, 10:25:13 pm »
I have been riding for about 10 years or so on a Cannondale SR500 and am doing my first tour this spring - van supported Southern Tier. I am looking to buy a new bike for the tour but also hoping to find one that will work well as my everyday bike.  I am 54 and really have no interest in any competitive riding and don't do many group rides. Sometimes on longer event rides, I do hook up with a group of riders and would like to be able to have a bike that would give me a reasonable chance to keep up with riders of similar ability. I am more interested in comfort than performance and hope to do a lot more 40-60 mile rides in upcoming years than I have been doing. I normally ride around 2000-2500 miles a year with most rides under 20 miles - but I do try to do 4-5 organized metric centuries a year and am looking to ramp up to a bit more mileage and some longer rides. I am under no illusion I will get any faster but I don't want so much extra weight that I have to work that much harder to complete reasonably long rides. I also am looking forward to being an empty nester next year and hope to have more free time for overnight trips so something that allows me to carry fairly light loads for single overnights would be of interest.

Some of the bikes I have looked at online include steel road bikes such as the Kona Roadhouse, an "adventure" bike like the Jamis Renegade Exploit, a Kona Esatto or a Jamis Quest Elite. I have really just had the one Cannondale road bike since I was a kid and don't have a good feel for relative advantages / disadvantages or the flexibility of these bikes for different types of riding. Can anyone give suggestions of a bike that will be comfortable and enjoyable for the transcon trip, work well for everyday road riding at a reasonable but by no means competitive pace and give a little flexibility to put a rack on it and carry a tent / bag and some fishing gear if I just want to get away for a day or so? Ability to use slightly wider tires and go on gravel may be helpful but 98%+ of the riding would be on paved roads, so that would be primary objective. I assume something like 700X28 might be a reasonable choice for long tour?

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Looking for a combination road / light touring bike
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2015, 11:57:08 pm »
I looked up your Cannondale SR500 bike.  It is a road racing style bike.  Drop bars, narrow tires.  Not sure if you have downtube shifters or more modern STI style shift/brake levers.  About any bike on earth will work for your van supported Southern Tier.  And it will also work for the other riding you described.  Unless the bike is an exact copy of a Tour de France race bike, it will almost surely accommodate 28mm tires.  You would almost have to search high and low to find a road bike that will not work with 28mm tires.  I'd suggest just going to a bike shop and find a bike you like.  It will work for you.  Make them put 28mm tires on it if you are worried.  For touring, check out the bags made by the companies below.  Carrying a tent and sleeping bag might be challenging, but you might be able to squeeze them in if you get the lightest and tiniest ones you can find.  A large saddlebag, frame bag, and maybe a handlebar bag should hold all you need for light touring.
 
Apidura https://www.apidura.com/shop/
Revelate http://www.revelatedesigns.com
Alpkit https://alpkit.com/bike-luggage
Carradice https://www.carradice.co.uk/

And road bike tires work fine on gravel roads because the cars have made hard smooth paths in the gravel that are good for riding with road tires.  On gravel roads you are not really riding on the rocks.  You would need 2 inch wide mountain bike tires to comfortably ride on the loose rocks.  The pounded down smooth road tracks on gravel roads are fine for road bike tires.  Nothing special needed.

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Looking for a combination road / light touring bike
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2015, 12:47:58 pm »
I think you have conflicting goals, and not all of them can be met with one bike.

You want a bike that you can go on event rides, and the one that you already have could be fine for that.
You want to do a van supported trip, and again the bike you already have could be fine for that.
Maybe a professional fitting to make the bike more comfortable for you would be a good investment.  It you are all handy, some upgrades from down tube shifters if it has them.

As for over night trips, any light touring bike could work for you.  The fit will be relaxed, but you may or may not like it for other riding.  Some think that a touring bike has a harsh ride when it is not loaded up with some gear.  I think softer tires are are the right answer, but I found rack and fenders a turn off for everyday riding.  I am not sure I understand what an adventure bike is, as there is no consistent marketing hype.

Dirt roads might be better served by a different bike, as I think 700x32 is a better fit than 700x28.  Again rack and fenders would be annoying.  I think a compliant frame would be better than a stiff touring frame.

I currently have 4 bikes in use.  I have a short wheel base road bike that is probably similar to your Cannondale.  I have a heavy touring bike.  I have a mountain bike that I put snow tires on for winter riding.  And I took one of my kids mountain bikes and turned it into a road bike for riding on dirt and gravel roads.  I keep toying with a gravel road bike, but so far most of them do not come in frames small enough to fit me, as I don't fit a 52 CM frame.




Danno

Offline staehpj1

Re: Looking for a combination road / light touring bike
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2015, 03:09:26 pm »
I rode the Southern Tier on a very similar bike (1990 Cannondale Crit bike) carrying ultralight camping and cooking gear.  I used 23 mm tires at the start and when they wore out I switched to 25 mm.  The 25 mm buzzed a lot less and 28 mm would be even better in that regard if you have room, but I personally don't like to go to tires that barely fit.  It makes it way harder to deal with and wheel/spoke problems.

The bike was a good choice for my light camping and cooking Southern Tier IMO, but I wouldn't choose it if I was going to ride a lot of dirt/gravel.  By the way, I did use lower gearing.

Offline Old Guy New Hobby

Re: Looking for a combination road / light touring bike
« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2015, 04:18:02 pm »
I agree that one bike won't meet all your stated goals. You might be better off to focus on a touring bike and keep your present bike for the shorter, faster rides. Beyond that ...

Well built steel frames are the tanks of bicycling. Very strong, very heavy. There's nothing wrong with well built aluminum frames. They don't cost significantly more and they are lighter. They are strong enough for all but the most grueling touring. Beyond that, the best things most of us can do to to make the biking package lighter is to carry less gear, and lose some weight by eating better.

You should think about gearing. Road bikes are geared for fast riding. Mountain bikes are geared lower for extreme hills. Many tourers prefer mountain bike-type gearing. It's better for endurance rides (days of 50+ miles/day). It's better for hills. It's better for rides where you are carrying more weight. Think about the riding you do now and what gears you find most useful.

Tire width shouldn't be a big issue. Bikes with connection points for racks typically also include connection points for fenders and also will accept wider tires. I rode the C & O canal before I decided I wasn't all that interested in touring on dirt and gravel roads. I found wider tires are helpful, but more important for riding where the trail can be muddy and rutty is to have some kind of tread to help give a little extra traction. I used a hybrid tire, with a smooth center and treads on the side. If I were to do a lot of road riding but also a significant amount of trails, I would go back to those. But other people in my group rode the C & O trail with narrow street tires.

Finally, you don't have to make an instant decision. You don't have a cross-country trip planned with a deadline start date. You can do some longer rides, see how they work out, develop your knowledge of what you want a little bit. Get off the internet and visit some bike stores. Don't overthink this too much, follow your gut. If you think you like a bike, you probably will. You ride a lot. Use your own experience to guide your decision.


Offline dkoloko

Re: Looking for a combination road / light touring bike
« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2015, 07:51:47 pm »
I recommend you buy a randonneuring bike. Typically they have brifters instead of bar ends and separate brake levers, braze-ons for rear rack but not front, enough clearance for 28-32 tires and fenders if desired, two water bottle mounts instead of three, a slightly livelier frame than a fully loaded touring frame, maybe two instead of three chainwheels, and maybe little higher low gearing. Rivendell Atlantis fills that niche; not so popular since price went up, but will illustrate concept, http://www.rivbike.com/Rivendell-Atlantis-p/f-atlantis.htm. Number of lower cost similar alternatives.   

Offline aggie

Re: Looking for a combination road / light touring bike
« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2015, 07:56:11 pm »
I have 3 bikes that work for the various types of rides mentioned earlier.  My favorite bike is a Moots and it fits what you described.  I've used it for multi-day supported rides, cross country self-supported and just riding for exercise.  I'm sure you can find a similar bike and have it geared to do what you need.  I have several different rear cassettes so I can change the gearing especially if I'm not touring and carrying gear. 

Granted my favorite bike was a little expensive but it will last until I can't ride anymore and it was made to fit me.  Check out the bike shops in your area to see what they have to offer.  ACA magazine has an annual issue that lists manufacturers and it may be a good idea to check the bike makers web sites to see what they have to offer. 

Offline csykes

Re: Looking for a combination road / light touring bike
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2015, 10:48:46 pm »
There are bikes/frames that could fit the bill.  Look at Soma's ES and San Marcos models.  I ride a Soma Stanyan (no longer made,) which is similar to the ES.  It is designed for long rides such as supported/lightweight touring and centuries.  It is 4 or 5 pounds heavier than my Bianchi 928 carbon road bike, has a longer wheelbase, takes 32mm tires, and has eyelets for racks.  I have ridden it in fairly fast club rides with no problem.  If I had to give up all but one of my bikes, that's the one I'd keep.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Looking for a combination road / light touring bike
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2015, 02:37:53 pm »
I have been riding for about 10 years or so on a Cannondale SR500 and am doing my first tour this spring - van supported Southern Tier. I am looking to buy a new bike for the tour but also hoping to find one that will work well as my everyday bike.

The only recommendation I can give you is the least helpful: Ride Lots.  Try to get up to a 50 mile ride once or twice a week.  You might have to go to spin classes if the winter in Helena is not conducive to riding outside.  3-5 rides a week, increasing mileage about 10% a week, has been the standard prescription for years; it's a good 'script.  Start now, if you're going to be ready to ride next spring.

Quote
Sometimes on longer event rides, I do hook up with a group of riders and would like to be able to have a bike that would give me a reasonable chance to keep up with riders of similar ability.

I'm afraid you've got that.  Those "riders of similar ability" have better endurance, or ability to ride faster than you, because they've trained longer and/or harder.  They actually have more ability than you do at this point. 

Your bike is 90% of the best you can get.  A fitting from a professional who knows what he's doing would be the best $200 you'd ever spend on a bike.  Swap the stem?  Adjust seat height?  Tweak the seat setback?  The fitter can help you with that.  At 54, you might well need a higher stem, especially for long days in the saddle.  You don't really need a touring bike for a van supported tour, although the lower gearing might be welcome when you start climbing mountains!  (Note I'm saying that with two of my three bikes being touring bikes, and those are the ones I've taken to all my supported tours!)

Have you considered doing a one-week van supported trip next year, and hold off on the Southern Tier for another year?  That would give you a chance to get into shape for the longer trip.

Offline Patco

Re: Looking for a combination road / light touring bike
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2015, 07:19:33 pm »
Similar to your thinking, not so many years ago I reduced the number of bikes I had and selected one road bike to reflect the type of riding I was, and expected to continue, doing most often. That riding was not unlike what you have expressed. I settled on a Waterford sport touring bike. I have eyelets front and rear for racks and fenders (which I install depending on the weather), STI, triple chainring, and gearing with a reasonable high end and much appreciated low end. I ride on 28's. Someone in this thread said that steel bikes were heavy. I suppose that is relative. I know that my bike weighs in at 25 pounds (frame, seat (sella anatomica), crankset, wheels, tires, bike bag), is responsive (not whippy), stable, and is a comfortable (again, a relative term) ride. This will never be mistaken for a 'go fast' bike, so if your ego requires you to always be in front, then this would not be a good choice. My spouse also decided on a Waterford, and while she liked her Trek, she is much happier with the Waterford. Downside to a Waterford, it is not an inexpensive bike, but then you get to decide on the components, color, wheels, etc., and you can customize to fit your needs.

Offline HelenaEngineer

Re: Looking for a combination road / light touring bike
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2015, 03:43:21 pm »

Quote
Sometimes on longer event rides, I do hook up with a group of riders and would like to be able to have a bike that would give me a reasonable chance to keep up with riders of similar ability.

I'm afraid you've got that.  Those "riders of similar ability" have better endurance, or ability to ride faster than you, because they've trained longer and/or harder.  They actually have more ability than you do at this point. 

Your bike is 90% of the best you can get.  A fitting from a professional who knows what he's doing would be the best $200 you'd ever spend on a bike.  Swap the stem?  Adjust seat height?  Tweak the seat setback?  The fitter can help you with that.  At 54, you might well need a higher stem, especially for long days in the saddle.  You don't really need a touring bike for a van supported tour, although the lower gearing might be welcome when you start climbing mountains!  (Note I'm saying that with two of my three bikes being touring bikes, and those are the ones I've taken to all my supported tours!)

Have you considered doing a one-week van supported trip next year, and hold off on the Southern Tier for another year?  That would give you a chance to get into shape for the longer trip.

I had no intention of indicating that the bike was intended to make up for riders that are better than I am. By riders of similar ability, I mean ones that ride about like I do currently - so I am not sure why you would assume they have more ability. I wasn't referring to riders I can't keep up with currently. I simply was hoping to find a bike that would allow me to continue at a similar pace to what I can do now. Also, I am not sure I indicated anything about my current conditioning for a long trip, but I do know that work won't allow me to do any more training next year than this year and I will be a year older, so I don't see any advantage to waiting. I am not even guaranteed to be around in a year. I have done a number of 50-70 mile rides this summer and fall with no difficulty, so I think I should be fine with continued riding this winter - which is not too difficult to do in Georgia.

I am dabbling with the idea of getting a Lynskey titanium bike and am waffling between an Urbanskey, Sportive Disc and Cooper CX. If I go that route it would be for a long term bike, so I need to think about what I would want to ride as a 65 year old as well.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Looking for a combination road / light touring bike
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2015, 06:29:39 pm »
I apologize if I offended you, HelenaEngineer.  Apparently I didn't understand your question.

I inferred the need for additional training from your statement that, "I normally ride around 2000-2500 miles a year with most rides under 20 miles - but I do try to do 4-5 organized metric centuries a year and am looking to ramp up to a bit more mileage and some longer rides."  If you're on a van-supported Southern Tier you'll be doing the equivalent of 5-6 organized metric centuries a week.  It's no problem to ride one of those, but when you start stacking them up?  Also, my suggestion to try a week long trip is to see for yourself what you're getting yourself into.  After a week you can either go home relaxed and certain that you really want that new bike, or go home and find some other hobby.  It strikes me a foolish to invest thousands of dollars in a new bike and a long tour, arrange for 2.5 months off, and risk being one of those who heads home after the first two weeks.

But if you want a new bike, go ahead and get one.  Don't ask permission from a bunch of strangers on the internet!

Offline HelenaEngineer

Re: Looking for a combination road / light touring bike
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2015, 06:53:52 pm »
I was simply asking for suggestions and recommendations - not permission. I am not terribly worried about doing a bunch of metrics, but that is maybe just ignorance. If so, I guess I'll find out next spring. The reason I don't ride more is time, and this is one of those rare occasions when I have it - so I will go for it. Having only owned one bike in my life, I was just looking for some viewpoints.

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Looking for a combination road / light touring bike
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2015, 09:01:43 pm »
I am sticking with you need to sort out the bikes that go with the riding you want to do.  I still think you need multiple bikes, how many is up to you.

Adding a Ti bike to mix is an interesting subject.  For most of us, the weight of the frame is given more importance than it really deserves.  A good steel frame comes in at 4 pounds (maybe 5 pounds for a touring bike), a titanium frame is 3 pounds, and an aluminum frame is 2.5 pounds.  A pro racer might pick up on the weight differences, but I doubt any of us on the forum would tell.  We might pick up on handling differences.  Carbon fiber can be light but I don't think it is durable enough for touring.  Rotating mass is where you get your bang for the buck--moment of inertia is technical term that describes the dynamics of what is going on.

I have a friend with a Ti back road bike,  and he got it because he wanted a livelier ride than he would get from aluminum, and because he is "hard on equipment" and  carbon fiber would not hold up.  We salt our roads in the winter time up here and that may also have been a factor.  His touring bike is a steel CoMotion Americano.

Danno

Offline dkoloko

Re: Looking for a combination road / light touring bike
« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2015, 12:11:03 pm »
Titanium is not the dream bike tubing it once was, but that is what you want, go for it. I still recommend a randonneuring bike for its versatility, but if your touring is going to be strictly limited to van supported tours, any road bike, particularly one suited for long events, will do. I recommend one that will take wide tires, up to 28-32mm, with fenders. Even if you don't want fenders now, you may later. Building a bike from a frame is a project; be forewarned. I carefully chose components for a custom frame, only to make many changes until I got the bike I was ultimately satisfied with.