Author Topic: Thoughts on "fat-tired" touring bikes?  (Read 4695 times)

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Offline planeguy5

Thoughts on "fat-tired" touring bikes?
« on: December 03, 2015, 03:51:37 pm »
Hi folks,

The ACA recommends for the Lewis and Clark Trail "that you equip yourself with a fat-tired touring bicycle." What size tire would be necessary for this trip? Any recommendations for bikes? I've been leaning strongly towards the Kona Sutra or Novara Randonee, but don't know if these would be up for this route.

Thanks for any help you can offer.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2015, 01:24:54 pm by planeguy5 »

Offline BikePacker

Re: Thoughts on "fat-tired" touring bikes?
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2015, 03:35:35 pm »
I have ridden it ...

... with this bike (an earlier model that has 26" wheels):
http://www.rei.com/product/874998/novara-safari-bike-2016

... using the equivalent of these tires (Because some of the areas on the route have sand spurs that will puncture tires):
http://www.adventurecycling.org/cyclosource-store/equipment/tires-tubes-inflation/sp/schwalbe-marathon-hs-420/

In the off road (including The Katy Trail portion) sections you will probably find that you will be happiest with at least 1.75 inches equivalent width tires or when it rains you will find that you will likely bog down too much.  Mine were 1.95 inches in width.

I have also had good fortune with less pricey tires while using 'flat protector inserts' (my preferred brand is Tuffy - they 'used to be' the thickest):
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/190-5611316-6493557?url=search-alias%3Dsporting&field-keywords=bicycle+tuffies

- Best wishes for a great tour.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Thoughts on "fat-tired" touring bikes?
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2015, 08:24:20 pm »
The ACA recommends for the Lewis and Clark Trail "that you equip yourself with a fat-tired touring bicycle."

The route description says this:  "there are 174 miles of unpaved rail-trails and 184.3 miles of gravel, 24.5 of which are unavoidable if you stay on the main route."  Not sure if this means a total of 358 unpaved and gravel roads or if the 174 unpaved is part of the 184 gravel.  Route is a total of 3,143 miles going west.  So either 11% or 6% is unpaved.  Not much really.  All the rest is on paved roads.  I'd advise taking a bike and tires ideal for the 89% or 94% of the route, not the small unpaved portions.  Road bikes and skinny 28mm or 25mm tires do OK on gravel roads.  Wide 32mm or 35mm touring tires do even better on gravel roads.

I have been on a short section of the Katy trail near Columbia, Missouri.  It is very fine gravel/dust.  Not the big chunky gravel on country gravel roads.  If dry, road bikes and tires are probably the best choice for the Katy trail.  Better than mountain bikes.  If wet, then I'd suggest finding the paved roads that more or less parallel the Katy trail.

Offline PNWRider92

Re: Thoughts on "fat-tired" touring bikes?
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2015, 12:49:00 am »
I believe it's ~358 miles are unpaved. As in ~174 is dirt like and ~184 gravel.
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Offline RussSeaton

Re: Thoughts on "fat-tired" touring bikes?
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2015, 05:10:27 pm »
I believe it's ~358 miles are unpaved. As in ~174 is dirt like and ~184 gravel.

OK.  It looks like all of the gravel miles are the Katy trail in Missouri.  Which can be ridden with skinny road tires if dry.  Still recommend just avoiding all the unpaved sections if it is wet.  Find paved roads nearby if it is wet.

Offline walks.in2.trees

Re: Thoughts on "fat-tired" touring bikes?
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2016, 12:12:39 pm »
I wouldnt ride gravel with high pressure road tires... You'll pinch flat in no time. I doubt they'd spend money on fine grade landscaping gravel for a trail, and I know railroad gravel is very very coarse . Bontrajer makes a low pressure 700x32c tire with some low profile tread on it that I finally found at a bike shop in Saugerties, NY after walking my bike all night down RTE 212 from Woodstock and stealth camping the night in the woods by the Speedway gas station, still some 60 miles from home. I couldn't get my tire to seat properly and had burned through all of my patches on pinch flats on that one crappy road.

I'd been looking for this tire for years... Tried many kinds, and after a lot of commuting  I knew I  needed a hybrid mt-bike-like tire that fit a road bike. 32 pushes the limit of my frame, and I can only fit a 28 on the front. Part of my daily commute is on a stretch of railroad, another part is on sand trails, the rest is on pavement, though some of that is pretty brutal for broken pavement and rim bending potholes in places, and dangerous because it's also everyone's shortcut which means they drive it faster than they should, and they're also impatient about pesky bicyclists (theres three different trail-heads on this same road)

For anyone that hasnt been, aside from RTE 212 itself (the last leg) the ride from Albany to Woodstock is beautiful, and the roads are enjoyable. RTE 212 has almost no shoulder, and is broken pavement every one does 65mph or is a tour bus from NYC. I had breakfast at the Bread-alone Bakery, which was amazing. On my way out of town a tour bus rolled up and puked out a load of rude nyc denizens, cars were honking their displeasure at being inconvenienced by other cars, buses, and families with small children hoping to survive crossing the street. I couldn't wait to get the hell away from the place. and then got my first set of pinch flats from the broken pavement 2 miles out of town, discovered I had lost my tube of patch adhesive and had to walk back to that offensive place.

You'd think that a town like that would be bike friendly. There's bike rentals all over it, a decent bike shop, its basically the Hippy Capital of NY... But no bike lockups, no bike lanes, the road is in ruins, not even a shoulder to ride on... And if you do get a flat, lock it all up of take it with you, because you'll be lucky if it's still there when you get back

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« Last Edit: January 23, 2016, 12:16:09 pm by walks.in2.trees »

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Thoughts on "fat-tired" touring bikes?
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2016, 05:43:30 pm »
I wouldnt ride gravel with high pressure road tires... You'll pinch flat in no time.

? ? ?  How could you pinch flat on a gravel road?  Pinch flats occur when riding at high speed on a skinny tire and you ride into a SHARP edge.  Such as the edge of a large pothole you ride over.  The front tire will clear the edge due to momentum or you pulling the front tire off the ground.  The back tire will drop into the pothole and crash, at full speed, into the sharp hard edge of the pothole.  Pothole in a paved, hard surface road.  All the potholes I've seen on gravel roads have very smooth and rounded over edges.  And are not very deep because with a gravel road, the surface is not hard so it moves into the lower pothole.  Sort of filling the pothole up.  Not really sure a pothole can develop in a gravel road.  As for the size of the gravel.  All the gravel I've ever seen is 1 inch in size or less.  On gravel roads you do not see big chunks of rock that fill your entire palm.  That is not gravel, that is rock chunks.  Gravel roads are not made from rock chunks.  They are made from rock that has been crushed and sorted to the size of small gravel.  And even with rock chunks, I doubt you would ever ride fast enough on such a surface to induce a pinch flat.

Offline walks.in2.trees

Re: Thoughts on "fat-tired" touring bikes?
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2016, 01:04:31 am »
Gravel IS a lot of big sharp edges. It definitely happened to me. Where it happened on rte 212, wasn't even as coarse as gravel, just rough road, and I ended up with 4 pinchflats at once (distributed around the tube)... Though I'm pretty sure it was because of a poor tire install because I've never had more than one at the same time before, and I had just had the tire replaced prior to that trip. I remember reading about the best set up for gravel, not sure if it was on here or a cycling webzine, but it definitely called for a fatter tire. Hard packed gravel is different from freshly poured too, right now the tracks I mentioned previously have a maintenance road going up each side. On the left side is a fresh bed of gravel because they're prepping to lay a second set of track. The right side is the old hard packed bed. Like I said, it's not like the fine white pebbles in your garden path this is big coarse gravel. It's hard to walk on. I wont even push my bike on the fresh side, I cross to the old side.

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« Last Edit: January 24, 2016, 01:07:59 am by walks.in2.trees »

Offline walks.in2.trees

Re: Thoughts on "fat-tired" touring bikes?
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2016, 07:56:07 am »
 I wouldnt lie to you lol photos later

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Offline RussSeaton

Re: Thoughts on "fat-tired" touring bikes?
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2016, 07:05:45 pm »
Gravel IS a lot of big sharp edges.

No.  Its maybe possible to have a sharp edge on gravel.  But not likely.  Gravel on roads in the USA are made from limestone.  Its a very soft rock.  Easily crushed and easily rounded by use.  Gravel roads in the US are not made out of granite that can hold a sharp edge.  And you are confused about pinch flats and cut tires.  They are not the same.  Pinch flats occur when the tire hits a sharp edge, such as the edge of a pothole, at high speed.  The tire and tube are compressed so the edge of the rim contacts the tube.  And you get two holes in the tube about an inch apart.  As wide as the rim.  Skinny tires with low pressure ridden on pothole paved roads can result in pinch flats easily.  You are talking about cut tires.  There are many situations where tires can get cut.  Cut tires and pinch flats are not the same.  The railroad beds you are talking about are not made from limestone like gravel roads.  Railroads use a different rock of much larger size for the track beds.  You will never see this rock on gravel roads or trails in the US.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Thoughts on "fat-tired" touring bikes?
« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2016, 11:36:12 am »
No.  Its maybe possible to have a sharp edge on gravel.  But not likely.  Gravel on roads in the USA are made from limestone.  Its a very soft rock.  Easily crushed and easily rounded by use.  Gravel roads in the US are not made out of granite that can hold a sharp edge.

Not no, just maybe.  Most roads in the US are made of the cheapest rock that's available within 30-60 miles.  Usually that ends up being limestone, but not always. 

Quote
The railroad beds you are talking about are not made from limestone like gravel roads.  Railroads use a different rock of much larger size for the track beds.  You will never see this rock on gravel roads or trails in the US.

Well...

Most railroads I know of ARE ballasted with limestone, it's just a much larger size.  There's one rail-trail that's barely rideable with standard MTB tires, because it does use the railroad ballast as the surface.  It's maybe 2-3" screen.  Horse riders don't mind it too much, though.

Also, some fire roads, at least in the southern Appalachians, that have been covered in gravel use large screen rock.  It doesn't USUALLY approach railroad gravel size, but again, where the road managers have to deal with severe erosion, there are exceptions.  1/2" gravel washed?  Put in 1".  1" washed out?  Try 2".

Offline walks.in2.trees

Re: Thoughts on "fat-tired" touring bikes?
« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2016, 06:13:58 pm »
Honestly it doesn't matter, pretty sure Russ is trolling, right? Arguing about minutia that really has nothing to do with the topic?

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Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Thoughts on "fat-tired" touring bikes?
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2016, 10:59:49 am »
Though I disagreed with Russ, but I wouldn't call him a troll.  I'd look closely at someone who'd make a blanket statement "I wouldnt ride gravel with high pressure road tires... You'll pinch flat in no time." over a month after the previous last post.

Just saying.

Offline walks.in2.trees

Re: Thoughts on "fat-tired" touring bikes?
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2016, 11:45:37 am »
Really... As if the time between participations has anything to do with anyone's knowledge or experience. A first time poster who just found the forum could be someone with 20 years of touring behind them.

The topic is about touring with fat tires. I gave a reason to consider it. Nobody wants to be miles from anywhere with a flat.

Actually it may not be reporting properly. I don't know if its a tapatalk problem, or a problem with the forum itself, but I posted asking for opinions on good winter SPD shoes, and while I can go find it and read the comments, and it definitely has my user name on it, it's not in my "participated", nor do I get notifications about replies, and there were a bunch.

As for trolling, I could understand someone questioning my statement if I hadn't backed it up with a statement saying that it's happened to me. I've had it happen enough times that I felt it was worth mentioning.

And I'll add to it now that a wider tire also won't sink as much in a bed of loose gravel... "stone", if you prefer... And control on a grade covered in loose stone would be better too, although, not much better for either, with a wide tire on a road rim rather than a wide MTB rim. ...unless the OP is actually referring to a FatBike, which I would NOT recommend for touring, but only because I've heard they're pretty heavy, not from personal experience, as I've never ridden one, though I did once watch a guy at a bikeshop spend an hour trying to get his bead to seat on the rim because it was a tubeless tire, which would be impossible without an air compressor. I would imagine a FatBike is great for sand or snow. That guy was certainly raving about his, saying he'd never go back to a regular bike again... But he obviously wasn't touring either

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« Last Edit: January 26, 2016, 11:49:15 am by walks.in2.trees »

Offline TwoWheeledExplorer

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Re: Thoughts on "fat-tired" touring bikes?
« Reply #14 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,
Hans

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

« Last Edit: February 15, 2016, 03:05:07 pm by TwoWheeledExplorer »
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