Author Topic: TransAmerica  (Read 3389 times)

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Offline briansmith0317

TransAmerica
« on: March 11, 2018, 05:30:04 pm »
I'm 63 and planning on doing the TransAmerica solo in 2 years-- what does everyone suggest as the best bike for the trip-- I currently use a trail bike for 30+ mile rides (mostly because I like to ride weight so it's a workout). yes. ...I plan on longer than 30 mile days on the TransAmerica. Suggestions? Thanks!

Offline John Nettles

  • World Traveler
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Re: TransAmerica
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2018, 05:51:02 pm »
Welcome to the forums!

You will get a wide variety of answers, especially since you did not give much to go on.

Do you prefer a road bike setup (drop bars) or a mountain bike setup (flat bars)?  For a paved road only tour, most prefer a drop bar.

Do you prefer speed/responsiveness over comfort or vice versus?  A long chainstay will give you a more comfortable ride but will take away a little bit of responsiveness.  On a fully loaded touring bike, very few are responsive unless you are spending some serious money.

Which brings up the next item?  Budget.  Low $1k, mid $1k-$3k, high $3-$5k, for those who are absurdly serious into touring, $5+k.

A good bang for the buck touring bike is a Surly Long Hall Trucker, commonly referred to as a LHT.  I personally would not go lower but then I am more in the absurdly addicted to touring group.  From there, you can spend as much as $8k.

A major thing to remember there is no wrong answer as long as you buy what is best for you, not what others will think.  I know people who tour on a mid-80s Trek touring bike and that is perfectly fine.  Others I know have a custom top of the line Co-Motion Tour Divide with all the bells and whistles.  Both are decent bikes and both are quite happy for what they spent.  I have met people crossing the country on a garage sale department store bike too.  Granted, they had a harder time due to poor gearing, the handling sucked, but that was all they could afford and they were satisfied with what they had.

A suggestion is buy a better used bike for the same money you would have spent on a lower quality new bike. You can always put any savings toward upgrades, camping gear, etc.  I have had many touring bikes over my 40 years of touring and have only bought 1 new.  Most I buy are very high end, barely used, and I get for less than 1/2 off.  I could buy any bike out there but do not see the use in spending thousands extra.  Sort of like buying a slightly used 1 year old car versus a new car.

Hope this helps, John
« Last Edit: March 11, 2018, 05:57:04 pm by John Nettles »

Offline canalligators

Re: TransAmerica
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2018, 07:58:44 pm »
The general guidelines are that you need a bike that:
- is comfortable for all-day, every day riding
- is stable at low and high speeds, with load
- has low enough gearing, shoot for 25 inch-gear or lower
- can carry your intended load

On a regular (diamond frame) bike, it's a good guide to have long chainstays and a bit shorter top tube.  You want a more upright position for comfort.  Definitely don't go with the typical racing-style bike posture.

Then you should decide panniers (4 recommended) or trailer.  This will take some research on your part.

Do yourself a favor, don't automatically dismiss recumbents.  Many of them make great touring bikes.  Also, start out short; do an overnight or weekend, then go for a week.  And be ruthless with yourself about NOT taking a lot of stuff.

Except for the low gearing and stable handling, don't obsess about the rest.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: TransAmerica
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2018, 09:05:59 am »
I'd look for a lower gear than canalligators.  You'll appreciate a low gear closer to 20 gear inches in the hills of Kentucky and Missouri.  Looking for lower gears knocks a lot of "touring" bikes out of consideration, but your knees (and shins) will benefit.

Offline dedgren

Re: TransAmerica
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2018, 01:49:17 pm »
Well, I’m not “everyone,” but I am about the same age (65 last fall) and have just gotten back into unsupported long distance touring over the last two years.  I have cycled 3,600 miles/5,800 kilometers down the Atlantic coast from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Key West, Florida in 2016 and 2,400 miles/3,850 kilometers down the length of the Mississippi River from Lake Itasca, Minnesota to Venice, Louisiana out on the delta in the Gulf of Mexico last year.  This year I’ll cycle round trip on the Natchez Trace Parkway from Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi and back in April- about 950 miles/1500 kilometers- and from Washington, DC to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania via the C&O Canal towpath and GAP trail then down the Ohio River to Cairo, Illinois, up the Mississippi to St. Louis, Missouri, then across Missouri on the KATY trail wrapping up in Kansas City Missouri- a little less than 2,000 miles/3,200 kilometers.

I was not physically fit when I started in 2016.  I had not been on a bike in 15 years and weighed about 350 pounds/160 kg (I’m 6 foot 4 inches/193 cm tall).  My weight has fallen to around 300 pounds/135 kg and I have been able to maintain it there for a year and a half.  Cycling has radically improved my health in other ways, too.  My A1C has fallen to 5.1 and I no longer have to take diabetes meds.  I am also off cholesterol and blood pressure medication.

Finding a bike presented me with a significant challenge- largely because of my size and weight, but also because I had two major back surgeries in 2012-13: a laminectomy of L1-L6 (I have an extra lumbar vertebrae) and S1, and a laminectomy and fusion of C3-C7.  Due to these surgeries I have to ride in a more upright position in order to be able to look ahead down the road.  Leaning forward for extended periods of time on a bike is also very uncomfortable.

I ultimately settled on a Surly Disc Trucker, which appeared to be one of the few touring bikes that could handle my weight and still tour fully loaded.  It is the disc brake variant of the Long Haul Trucker noted above and is a steel-frame bike with traditional (flat top bar) diamond frame geometry.  It is a long wheelbase bike and I have found it extremely comfortable to ride over long distances.  The bike cost me around $3,500 fully set up for touring, including racks, front and rear Ortlieb Classic panniers, and a Brooks B17 leather saddle.  Because if the physical limitations I’ve described above I went with a flat MTB bar with bar ends, which allows me to vary my hand position sufficiently to avoid numbness when riding all day.  I had 36 spoke wheels built on Velocity Dyad rims running 700x38 Schwalbe Marathon tires.

This combination worked great on the rides noted.  I asked for “bulletproof” and that’s pretty much what I received.  The major failure was the rear rack, which was aluminum (Bontrager) and broke on a ride here in Alaska (where I live).  Other problems were minor- I had the bottom bracket fail after about 7,000 miles/3,175 km but that is normal wear life for that item, which came from Surly as part of the frame purchase. 

This winter I went for a major upgrade and replaced the racks with Tubus steel racks, had a substantially heftier bottom bracket installed and, the best for last, completely replaced my derailleur-based drivetrain with a Rohloff Speedhub, which is an internal hub that allows shifting into 14 evenly spaced gears and eliminates the front chainrings.  This, along with tube and tire replacement and other regular maintenance items, set me back another $2,800.  So I’m well into the over $5,000 “fanatic”range noted by another commenter.  Best money, though, I’ve ever spent.

Tailwinds!




Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Offline Figaro

Re: TransAmerica
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2018, 08:54:10 pm »
I bought a 2017 Trek 520 in August for my TransAm trip this year. Have put about 1,600 miles on it so far and really like it. I'm 58 and will be starting the TransAm solo in May--east to west. I'll be able to tell you more around the end of July when, god willing, I finish :-)

Offline DaveB

Re: TransAmerica
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2018, 12:39:43 pm »
Do you prefer speed/responsiveness over comfort or vice versus?  A long chainstay will give you a more comfortable ride but will take away a little bit of responsiveness.  On a fully loaded touring bike, very few are responsive unless you are spending some serious money.
"Responsiveness", ie. quick handling and cornering, is highly desirable on a pure road or racing bike but not what you want on a loaded touring bike.  You want stability and predictability and you aren't going to (or certainly shouldn't) be bombing winding downhills at high speed.  The long wheelbase, long chainstays and stable front end geometry are standard on true touring bikes for a reason.

Frankly, I don't know of any "responsive" loaded touring bike, no matter what the cost.  That said, some riders do use a racing-style bike for touring but they tend to be very lightly loaded and are either ultralight bikepackers or credit-card tourers.

Offline hikerjer

Re: TransAmerica
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2018, 11:16:18 pm »
Hey, I'm in the same age bracket as you - young  guy, ya know..  If you can afford it, I strongly recommend a dedicated touring bike for a long tour.  Not that there is anything wrong with other bikes for a tour, but it just makes sense that a bike built specifically for touring will serve you better.  Personally, I ride a 2012 Kona Sutra which I really like. Other than a few  modifications in gearing, putting a Brooks B-17 saddle on it and adding a front rack, it was pretty well ready to go.  No complaints at all. But I think any of the well known manufacturers i.e. Trek, Raleigh, Jamis, Co-motion, Surly, Co-op (REI) to name a few, all make a pretty darn good touring bicycle. Of course, you could always go with a custom made bike from Rodriguez, Rivendale or the likes and get the ultimate touring machine, but you'd pay for it.  Not that I wound't like one.  Guess it comes down to who can give you the best deal for what you want.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2018, 08:17:17 pm by hikerjer »

Offline PeanutButterShammyCream

Re: TransAmerica
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2018, 11:19:38 pm »
Well, I’m not “everyone,” but I am about the same age (65 last fall) and have just gotten back into unsupported long distance touring over the last two years.  I have cycled 3,600 miles/5,800 kilometers down the Atlantic coast from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Key West, Florida in 2016 and 2,400 miles/3,850 kilometers down the length of the Mississippi River from Lake Itasca, Minnesota to Venice, Louisiana out on the delta in the Gulf of Mexico last year.  This year I’ll cycle round trip on the Natchez Trace Parkway from Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi and back in April- about 950 miles/1500 kilometers- and from Washington, DC to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania via the C&O Canal towpath and GAP trail then down the Ohio River to Cairo, Illinois, up the Mississippi to St. Louis, Missouri, then across Missouri on the KATY trail wrapping up in Kansas City Missouri- a little less than 2,000 miles/3,200 kilometers.

I was not physically fit when I started in 2016.  I had not been on a bike in 15 years and weighed about 350 pounds/160 kg (I’m 6 foot 4 inches/193 cm tall).  My weight has fallen to around 300 pounds/135 kg and I have been able to maintain it there for a year and a half.  Cycling has radically improved my health in other ways, too.  My A1C has fallen to 5.1 and I no longer have to take diabetes meds.  I am also off cholesterol and blood pressure medication.

Finding a bike presented me with a significant challenge- largely because of my size and weight, but also because I had two major back surgeries in 2012-13: a laminectomy of L1-L6 (I have an extra lumbar vertebrae) and S1, and a laminectomy and fusion of C3-C7.  Due to these surgeries I have to ride in a more upright position in order to be able to look ahead down the road.  Leaning forward for extended periods of time on a bike is also very uncomfortable.

I ultimately settled on a Surly Disc Trucker, which appeared to be one of the few touring bikes that could handle my weight and still tour fully loaded.  It is the disc brake variant of the Long Haul Trucker noted above and is a steel-frame bike with traditional (flat top bar) diamond frame geometry.  It is a long wheelbase bike and I have found it extremely comfortable to ride over long distances.  The bike cost me around $3,500 fully set up for touring, including racks, front and rear Ortlieb Classic panniers, and a Brooks B17 leather saddle.  Because if the physical limitations I’ve described above I went with a flat MTB bar with bar ends, which allows me to vary my hand position sufficiently to avoid numbness when riding all day.  I had 36 spoke wheels built on Velocity Dyad rims running 700x38 Schwalbe Marathon tires.

This combination worked great on the rides noted.  I asked for “bulletproof” and that’s pretty much what I received.  The major failure was the rear rack, which was aluminum (Bontrager) and broke on a ride here in Alaska (where I live).  Other problems were minor- I had the bottom bracket fail after about 7,000 miles/3,175 km but that is normal wear life for that item, which came from Surly as part of the frame purchase. 

This winter I went for a major upgrade and replaced the racks with Tubus steel racks, had a substantially heftier bottom bracket installed and, the best for last, completely replaced my derailleur-based drivetrain with a Rohloff Speedhub, which is an internal hub that allows shifting into 14 evenly spaced gears and eliminates the front chainrings.  This, along with tube and tire replacement and other regular maintenance items, set me back another $2,800.  So I’m well into the over $5,000 “fanatic”range noted by another commenter.  Best money, though, I’ve ever spent.

Tailwinds!




Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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