Author Topic: Newbie ISO perfect touring bike  (Read 6433 times)

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Offline suppmich

Newbie ISO perfect touring bike
« on: May 11, 2016, 04:13:33 am »
Hello all!

MALVERN STAR OPPY S1 vs. CANNONDALE SYNAPSE 5 CARBON

New to the cycle touring world, and looking to purchase my first bike! I'm planning a three-month tour of both islands of NZ (I know it's not the US, but that's beside the point), and if all goes well touring Australia's east coast and Eurasia!

Initially, I had my eyes set on the Fuji Touring, but after visiting a local bike shop it's been recommended I check out the Malvern Star Oppy S1 [http://www.malvernstar.com.au/bikes/oppy-s-1/] -- lesser known, cheaper, and supposedly very similar build and components. The Oppy is a proper touring bike with a steel frame and surely capable of handling a rack with loaded rear panniers.

At the bike shop, there's also a used Cannondale Synapse 5 [https://www.rei.com/product/892482/cannondale-synapse-alloy-5-105-disc-bike-2016] that looks to be in very good condition and less than half the price of the Malvern Star. I've been assured it would be fine for touring, but the alloy frame is a little concerning for trucking around panniers. It's received stellar reviews as a road bike, but obviously nothing about touring.

Hoping there are some bike enthusiasts on here that can help me. Do you think the Cannondale would be good for up to a year of touring? I plan on sticking to roads and obviously switching the tires out for something more durable. Should I be concerned about load-bearing capacity of an alloy frame versus the Malvern Star's steel frame?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. As mentioned, I am a novice and really excited to learn more about bikes and touring :)

Cheers!

Offline RonK

Re: Newbie ISO perfect touring bike
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2016, 08:02:48 am »
Neither of these bikes are very suitable for touring - to start with they are both way too highly geared - (it's quite hilly in NZ you know), and both have relatively short chain stays which is likely to cause heel strike with panniers on board. The Oppy is definitely not a "proper touring bike" - it's a cx/road bike. The Synapse even worse.

Since you are talking about an Australian bike (the Oppy) I assume you are in Australia. The best value fair dinkum touring bike available here is the Vivente World Randonneur, and the best source of local touring knowledge is the touring subforums on Bicycle Network Australia, where there is a lengthy thread discussing the merits of the VWR,  any quite a few owners amongst the forum members.

Vivente World Randonneur - the best bang for your buck

You may also find useful information about touring in New Zealand in my South Island touring journals.

Chasing the Long WHite Cloud
Gone Fishin'
North of South
« Last Edit: May 11, 2016, 08:27:22 am by RonK »
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

Offline suppmich

Re: Newbie ISO perfect touring bike
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2016, 02:15:17 pm »
You were close, I'm actually in New Zealand, haha. Which makes things a bit more complicated, as we have less to choose from especially for a category of bike that isn't very popular. I have read about Vivente but it isn't available in New Zealand and all the bikes are definitely out of my price range. At NZD1300, the Fuji Touring is the most I'm willing to pay--and that is with much apprehension.

As for the bikes mentioned in this post, is gearing the biggest issue here? I thought you could modify bikes to accommodate lower gear settings, yeah? And I have small feet (36 EU), so would that affect the heel strike issue? The Oppy is rack-ready, so it shouldn't be an issue?

Thanks for the links, always looking for more blogs!

Offline Prairieboy43

Re: Newbie ISO perfect touring bike
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2016, 03:14:20 pm »
Advice? 1) Avoid Hills.  8)

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Newbie ISO perfect touring bike
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2016, 04:23:23 pm »


As for the bikes mentioned in this post, is gearing the biggest issue here? I thought you could modify bikes to accommodate lower gear settings, yeah?

But component swapping to get sufficiently low gears might end up costing you more in the end. For example, You might need an entirely new drivetrain. The Fuji Touring, on the other hand, comes sufficiently geared for most. I am a big guy and not a superlative climber and I get by with the same gearing as the Fuji.

Then the sufficiency of the wheels vis-à-vis your planned load also needs to be evaluated and may need attention in the form of replacements. Nothing sucks on a tour quite like persistent wheel problems. I know from experience.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Newbie ISO perfect touring bike
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2016, 05:55:00 pm »
As indy hints, component swapping can be either a simple change-out or it can lead you down an expensive rat hole.  It's probably worth finding a bike shop with knowledgeable mechanics to discuss your choices, if you don't know which way to go.

FWIW, my loaded touring bogey for gears is a low around 20 gear inches.  I'd start out by trying a mountain compact double crank -- that's probably $100-150 (all cost guesses in US dollars!), something like a 24-38.  If that works, great, you're done.  But I'm not familiar with Shimano Claris, you might need a NOS Tiagra or 105 front derailer.  Worst case, you need to change to bar-end shifters, which requires a lot of labor to recable and re-tape the bars.  As long as you stay with 8 speeds, the chain and rear cassette should be OK.

OTOH, the Fuji's wheels are machine built, which work just fine for some light, and lightly loaded, people.  If you don't fit those categories, or are just cautious, ask around for a wheel builder recommendation.  You want someone to make sure the wheels are adequately tensioned and stress-relieved -- if the alleged expert looks blankly at you when you say that, keep looking!  It's slightly tedious to do it yourself, but knowing how to do it will allow you to fix any problems that crop up on the road.  Jobst Brandt's book, "The Bicycle Wheel," is an excellent reference, and there are a couple of web sites that have adequate instructions.

Offline RonK

Re: Newbie ISO perfect touring bike
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2016, 07:01:13 pm »
You were close, I'm actually in New Zealand, haha. Which makes things a bit more complicated, as we have less to choose from especially for a category of bike that isn't very popular. I have read about Vivente but it isn't available in New Zealand and all the bikes are definitely out of my price range. At NZD1300, the Fuji Touring is the most I'm willing to pay--and that is with much apprehension.

As for the bikes mentioned in this post, is gearing the biggest issue here? I thought you could modify bikes to accommodate lower gear settings, yeah? And I have small feet (36 EU), so would that affect the heel strike issue? The Oppy is rack-ready, so it shouldn't be an issue?

Thanks for the links, always looking for more blogs!
Hmmm, that's a surprise - never would have thought you could buy an Oppy in NZ.

If you already owned this bike, and decided to go touring then yes, I would agree that the gearing could be modified. But it makes no sense and will probably end up costing you more to buy one and immediately start modifying it.

Gearing is not the only compromise with the Oppy - the wheels have only 32 spokes and may not strong enough to carry a touring load. Most of the components are fairly low grade and may not have a long life if your future touring ambitions extend beyond your current plans.

If the Fuji Touring is what is available, then that is the bike to buy. Even so it's a little high geared for hilly routes unless you are very fit and have strong legs. I'd be asking the bike shop to replace the 26 tooth inner chain ring with a 24 tooth chain ring, which is probably the smallest that will fit the Fuji's chainset.

Another touring bike which may be available in NZ is the Trek 520, but it's likely to be on par with the Fuji pricewise.
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

Offline suppmich

Re: Newbie ISO perfect touring bike
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2016, 04:05:15 am »
Hmm, a year is a long time to risk going with a non-touring bike. For now, Fuji Touring remains my top choice at the moment. I recently found out I may be able to get a decent discount off Tifosi bikes through my work. The Tifosi Classic looks like it could be decent, any thoughts? Might not have enough gears...

Offline DaveB

Re: Newbie ISO perfect touring bike
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2016, 09:16:33 am »
Hmm, a year is a long time to risk going with a non-touring bike. For now, Fuji Touring remains my top choice at the moment. I recently found out I may be able to get a decent discount off Tifosi bikes through my work. The Tifosi Classic looks like it could be decent, any thoughts? Might not have enough gears...
The Tifosi is also not suitable as a touring bike and has the same problems.  Gearing isn't low enough and the components are entry level at best. 

You can spend the money and buy a suitable and durable touring bike right off the bat or spend even more money and frustration trying to make an unsuitable bike work.  It's a "pay me now or pay me later" situation.

The Fuji Touring is the closest you've mentioned to a suitable bike and somewhat lower thasn stock gearing can be had with only a low cost granny chainring change.  Perhaps even a 22T granny chainring will fit if the granny bolt circle is 64 mm as on Shimano's other Trekking cranks.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Newbie ISO perfect touring bike
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2016, 10:37:08 am »
The Fuji Touring comes with 26x34 low, 20.6 gear inches.  That's solidly in the "low enough for touring" range.  You get down to 19.1 gear inches with a 24 chainring, almost one more gear.  On some climbs that might be enough difference that you could pedal all the way to the top, on other hills you still might have to get off and walk.

OK, I'm biased because I've got a Fuji Touring bike.  Nevertheless, it's a good bike that's at least good enough for a few years of touring -- some people get new bike lust and want something different -- and it may be all you'll ever need.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Newbie ISO perfect touring bike
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2016, 01:02:45 pm »
http://www.fujibikes.com/bike/details/touring-#bk_desc_tab

If the above Fuji Touring bike is the one you are considering, then it looks pretty darn good for loaded touring in mountains.  Deore crank which can fit a 22 tooth inner chainring.  Nashbar is selling one for $16.99.  Easy to change.  Bike comes with 11-34 nine speed cassette.  A low of 22x34 should allow you to climb almost any hill on earth with ease.  Rest of the bike looks fine.  Fairly standard basic touring bike specs.  Wheels are 36 hole with Deore hubs.  Shimano makes fine hubs.  MSRP of $770.  Performance Bike in the US is selling it for $729.  So price wise this bike is very good.  If you NEED a heavy duty loaded touring bike, this Fuji is a good choice.

Now if the question is whether you NEED a heavy duty loaded touring bike, that is a whole different question than whether the Fuji Touring is a good touring bike.