Author Topic: Surly, Trek, Soma....???? I'm overwhelmed; please help!  (Read 6829 times)

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Offline NWAdventureGal

Surly, Trek, Soma....???? I'm overwhelmed; please help!
« on: May 01, 2017, 02:39:15 am »
Hi, I am new to touring, though not new to road biking. I've been riding for about 10 years now on a Trek Madone 5.2 and train to ride a week long ride every year where we cover approximately 500 miles over the span of a week. But our gear is hauled from campsite to campsite, so hauling gear is new to me. So, that said, I've been researching touring bikes for a few months now. I've been to a really reputable bike fitter and know that the bike geometry of the Trek bikes doesn't play well with my body geometry (trust me on this: I've put waaaay too much money into customizing my Madone for comfort and to avoid further injuries because I love how it handles on the road!). Because I am in the process of taking off 70lbs body weight, I want to buy a good, servicable entry-level touring bike (or slightly above entry level; money isn't the biggest factor but it is part of the deal) that I can use for a year or two while I drop the weight and do shorter tours of 3-10 days. Eventually I plan on having a custom CoMotion made for month-long+ tours once I'm better at touring and once I know I genuinely would enjoy longer tours. I've ridden a Salsa Vaya and a Salsa Marrakesh. I've also tried Treks and Cannondales but the bike geometry on those was no good for me. I was disappointed because I really liked the Trek 520. What are your thoughts on the Salsa bikes? What other bikes would you suggest I try? I'm only interested in steel with disc brakes. I am still unsure of the shifter situation because the end shifters are new to me, but I liked the overall feel of the Marrakesh better than the Vaya, but the Vaya had the shifters I'm used to. I just didn't like the way the Vaya handled as well and it didn't seem to absorb road vibrations as well as the Marrakesh either. I am a poor climber, so gearing is also important to me. Hey, I'm a curvy gal; climbing is never going to be my forte! If it is a consideration, I am 5/8" tall and I'm in my 50s. Looking forward to seeing what advice you all have for me; thank you!

Offline dkoloko

Re: Surly, Trek, Soma....???? I'm overwhelmed; please help!
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2017, 09:04:28 am »
From what you said, I'd go with the Marrakesh. Bar end shifters are more trustworthy, and what you are apt to find on traveling fully loaded touring bikes. Adjustments, seat height, etc, can make all the difference after you've settled on a specific bike. Tires and tire pressure can be the definitive determinate in road comfort.

Online Pat Lamb

Re: Surly, Trek, Soma....???? I'm overwhelmed; please help!
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2017, 09:21:32 am »
Can you give us a bit more information on what part of the Trek/Cannondale bikes don't fit you?  Also, what size frame are you looking at (+/- a size)? 

Surly LHT, for instance, seems to have longer top tubes than most other bikes.  Would that make your problem worse, or make it go away?

Offline jrswenberger

Re: Surly, Trek, Soma....???? I'm overwhelmed; please help!
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2017, 09:29:26 am »
Keep in mind that all of the components are replaceable. If everything else on the Marrakesh works for you, just factor in the the cost of changing a few components to make the bike exactly how you like it. It'll be a small price for your own comfort and piece of mind.

Enjoy the ride,
Jay
ACA Life Member 368

Offline DaveB

Re: Surly, Trek, Soma....???? I'm overwhelmed; please help!
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2017, 09:42:53 am »
I'm not sure what type of shifters you are used to but I expect they are STI brifters on your Trek.  I'm also not a fan of barend shifters having had them on a couple of bikes and changed them out after a fair trial.   You have to remove your hands from the hoods to shift and that can be very awkward if you are surprised by a hill or the grade increases suddenly.

Anyway, there is a fairly low cost fix for any bike that has them.  Gevenalle sells brake lever that have brackets that accept either downtube or barend levers and put the shifters right at your finger tips just like brifters.  The levers are available in both short pull (caliper, cantilever and road mechanical disc brakes) or long pull (V-brakes and MTB mechanical discs) format and cost about $150 and will take the levers that comes on the bike. 

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Surly, Trek, Soma....???? I'm overwhelmed; please help!
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2017, 12:04:38 pm »
I will second Pat Lamb on asking why you don't think a TREK 520 will NOT work for you.  I think all bike manufacturers mimic each others geometry.

The Vaya is a light touring bike, so if you put too much weight on it, then you might not like the ride.
Danno

Offline NWAdventureGal

Re: Surly, Trek, Soma....???? I'm overwhelmed; please help!
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2017, 12:20:03 pm »
Thank you for the feedback so far. There isn't an easy way to explain the geometry issue other than to say that the majority of road bikes are designed for European body types which tend to be shorter 5'8". In America we are taller and many of the bicycles in the actual frame dimensions are not set up so well for the taller American body. I've been to two very reputable bike Fitters and both have told me the same thing so it isn't just some guy trying to sell me on a certain type of bike. Anyways with that information I have a bike geometry sheet and I'm not really great with mathematics and numbers and all of that so what I have been doing is trying out bikes and sending my bike fitter the ones that seem to be of interest and then he's checking the body geometry of that bike frame against the bike fit that he did for me and making recommendations from there. The goal is not to have to replace half of the stuff that comes on the bike outside of the bike frame because I'm already paying quite a bit just for the new bike. So yes we're looking at stack and reach which can be adjusted with a taller stem or a different seat post etc but why not try to get the closest frame geometry fit first?

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Offline NWAdventureGal

Re: Surly, Trek, Soma....???? I'm overwhelmed; please help!
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2017, 12:23:29 pm »
Pat, I am riding a 54cm Trek for road bike rides

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Offline paddleboy17

Re: Surly, Trek, Soma....???? I'm overwhelmed; please help!
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2017, 01:06:00 pm »
I still do not understand your fit issues.  5'-8" is tall for a woman, and I might guess that the bikes tend to be too long for you.  I do not know about the American vs European thing, but I do know that men tend to have longer torsos than women.  Smaller bike sizes tend to fit for adolescents and women better.  Bigger bike sizes tend to fit men better.  It is pretty common to chose a bike frame size based on stand over height, and then adjust the stem.  If that does not work for you, then you have no choice but to go the custom route.

I did read the Marrakesh specs.  It is designed as a heavy touring bike.  If you are not a strong climber, then you might want to swap out the crank for a compact mountain bike triple crank.  I would replace the cassette too as Alivio is not a durable group.  Everything else looks reasonable.
Danno

Online Pat Lamb

Re: Surly, Trek, Soma....???? I'm overwhelmed; please help!
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2017, 09:10:11 pm »
As paddleboy notes, the part that makes sense (5'8" woman riding a 54 cm bike) is that your legs are proportionately longer than your torso.  If you need to lose some weight (like so many of us), it makes sense that you need the bars up near the level of your saddle, because your tummy gets in the way of your thighs when you're pedaling.

I'm grasping at straws still, but I'll go further out on a limb anyway. When you bought your Madone, were the bars slammed down against the headset, and there were no spacers above the stem?  If that's the case, I'm guessing you bought the bike off the showroom floor, and the person who set it up for display cut the steeerer so there was no vertical adjustment possible (because it looked more like a racing bike that way!).  It's possible the biggest part of your fit issues has been trying to get the bars up with stem swaps, perhaps even changing out bars to a shorter reach model to pull the ramps back toward your saddle.

If I haven't sawn off my limb with me on it yet, bottom line is you need to catch the bike coming out of the box from the factory before the steerer is cut.  That will let you mount the stem and bars higher and closer to the saddle, for a reduced reach.  Most bikes come from the factory like that -- just don't let anybody get near it with a hacksaw or tubing cutter before you get your hands on it!  Most normal touring bikes should be amenable to fitting if this is your case.  I suspect it'd be simple to swap in a shorter stem with a similar angle, if that's necessary ($30 vice $75), and you shouldn't need to change out the bars ($$ in labor to re-install shifters and re-wrap the bars).

Note, too, that many tourists prefer to sit up a bit compared to a normal racing fit, both for better views and to support longer days in the saddle.  If you ride with your hands on the brake levers, or even on top, you don't need to go to as much trouble raising the bars as if you plan to spends your trip in the drops.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Surly, Trek, Soma....???? I'm overwhelmed; please help!
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2017, 09:20:13 pm »
Since you believe you need a unique bike geometry that cannot be found on any bike made, why don't you buy a custom frame using the measurements you got from your two bike fittings?  That seems pretty obvious to me.  Gunnar makes steel frames.  Subdivision of Waterford.  You seem to want only steel.  They offer a custom loaded touring frame for around $1400 or so.  Plus a fork.  For $1600-1800 you could easily have a custom made loaded touring frame that matches your exact measurements you have.  That does not seem too complicated to me.  If you want to spend a few hundred more, Co-Motion and/or Independent Fabrications also offer custom loaded touring bikes in steel.

Offline aknomad.ki

Re: Surly, Trek, Soma....???? I'm overwhelmed; please help!
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2017, 10:48:41 pm »
My wife is also 5'8" with long legs, short torso. Just bought a steel Traitor Slot bike at REI for $838. Medium sized frame and they swapped out the head tube bracket to bring bars closer and higher for her. Bike has some similar components to Marrakesh at about half the price. You could do many upgrades when you need and have a great bike at reasonable costs. Mountain bike gearing for hills.


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Offline Patco

Re: Surly, Trek, Soma....???? I'm overwhelmed; please help!
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2017, 11:41:24 pm »
You may want to consider a Waterford. They are steel frames and built to how you want to ride. Not inexpensive but if you want to tour, then spending some cash for a bike that fits you to a T may be a something to consider. My spouse and I both have Waterfords and from my spouse's perspective, once she acquired the Waterford she enjoyed touring far more than when she had the Trek. But as I said, the cost may be uncomfortable.

Offline NWAdventureGal

Re: Surly, Trek, Soma....???? I'm overwhelmed; please help!
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2017, 01:03:25 am »
The cost for custom isn't the overall issue. What is the issue is knowing that if I get a custom bike NOW and successfully lose the 70lbs then I'd be at my goal weight and my hip flexion would be quite different, which would require quite a different bike according to the bike fitter. I don't want to pay for two custom bikes and I am not willing to wait 8-12 weeks for it to built right now either. I have short trips planned in late May/early June so was just looking for input from this community and I do so appreciate all the feedback so far--thank you all!

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Offline NWAdventureGal

Re: Surly, Trek, Soma....???? I'm overwhelmed; please help!
« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2017, 01:21:40 am »
Since you believe you need a unique bike geometry that cannot be found on any bike made, why don't you buy a custom frame using the measurements you got from your two bike fittings?  That seems pretty obvious to me.  Gunnar makes steel frames.  Subdivision of Waterford.  You seem to want only steel.  They offer a custom loaded touring frame for around $1400 or so.  Plus a fork.  For $1600-1800 you could easily have a custom made loaded touring frame that matches your exact measurements you have.  That does not seem too complicated to me.  If you want to spend a few hundred more, Co-Motion and/or Independent Fabrications also offer custom loaded touring bikes in steel.
I didn't say that the geometry couldn't be found on any bike made! I said I was told MANY of the bike frames I'll have trouble with, but not all of them. So far Trek and Specialized frames don't line up well--stack and reach are off for the touring geometry that suits my body well. Soma works, but there was significant road vibration and my close friend crashed badly on one and it was determined it was an equipment malfunction so I've kind of sworn off Somas. I ran the Salsa frames by my fitter and they could work. But I was looking for various inputs to make an informed decision in the end.

I'm interested in a custom frame down the line but not now. For that I'm torn between Waterford, Sweetpea and CoMotion. But that's for another thread ;)

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