Author Topic: Custom touring bike vs. mass produced  (Read 15625 times)

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Offline paddleboy17

Re: Custom touring bkie vs. mass produced
« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2018, 04:05:39 pm »
I started off with an off the shelf touring bike.  Most so called touring bikes sold are light touring or sport touring bikes, and they never ever have panniers on them.  The bike companies know this, so be advised that most off the shelf touring bikes are terrible touring bikes.  My off the shelf touring bike was a great ride, until you put panniers on it, at which point it wiggled and was unstable to ride.  The factory gearing was also too high to tour on.

So I bought a full custom frame from Waterford and had it built up as a touring bike.  There is nothing special about me that requires a custom frame. Sure I got to add features I wanted (that would not have come on a factory frame).  I don't know what Waterford did in designing my frame but I ended up with a fabulous touring bike.  I can make the frame flex, but it immediately dampens out.  I chose the components, so of course the gearing is perfect.

So if you are going to look at a stock bike, be sure to try riding it under load to make sure it really is a touring bike.  A lot of people start with stock bikes and work into a custom bike, and vanity is never one of their motivating factors.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2018, 04:07:12 pm by paddleboy17 »
Danno

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Custom touring bkie vs. mass produced
« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2018, 04:36:36 pm »
I started off with an off the shelf touring bike...be advised that most off the shelf touring bikes are terrible touring bikes.  My off the shelf touring bike was a great ride, until you put panniers on it, at which point it wiggled and was unstable to ride.

When exactly did you start out with an "off the shelf" touring bike? I got my Surly Long Haul Trucker 10 years ago and it was very stable to ride with panniers, front and back. While I had the bike built from a bare frame/fork, I've heard that the gearing on the stock builds has been good for touring.


Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Custom touring bkie vs. mass produced
« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2018, 05:02:19 pm »
I got my Surly Long Haul Trucker 10 years ago and it was very stable to ride with panniers, front and back. While I had the bike built from a bare frame/fork, I've heard that the gearing on the stock builds has been good for touring.
Mine has served me well since 2008, even fully loaded on unpaved, hilly and mountainous terrain, although last year I dropped the granny from a 26t to a 24t for physiological reasons. Have never come close wiping out due to handling reasons.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Custom touring bkie vs. mass produced
« Reply #18 on: April 04, 2018, 05:09:09 pm »
Touring bikes may have been noodly 20-30 years ago (except for the Trek 520 and Cannondale touring series), but most loaded tourers made today have pretty stout frames.  Production touring bikes went through a phase maybe 10-15 years ago when the manufacturers went to "road triples" with lows of 27 gear inches, which is pretty high for loaded riding in mountains.  However, bikes like the LHT, Fuji Touring, REI 1.1, and Salsa Marrakesh have low gears around 20 gear inches.  You can get about one gear lower than that, but it's getting close to the zone where it's easier to push the bike than ride it.

Offline hikerjer

Re: Custom touring bkie vs. mass produced
« Reply #19 on: April 04, 2018, 05:56:39 pm »
My current touring bike is a 2012 stock Kona Sutra. While it is a mass produced bike, it's a good one and certainly built as a dedicated touring bike.- frame geometry,  tire clearance, rack braze-ons, etc. The only improvements I made were lower gearing and a Brooks B-17 saddle.  It's actually been a very good bike but there is still something in me that desires a custom built bike. Maybe it's because I'll never be able to afford a BMW or Lexus so I'll go  with what I can afford. :D

Offline EmilyG

Re: Custom touring bike vs. mass produced
« Reply #20 on: April 06, 2018, 09:34:55 pm »
I have a custom Bruce Gordon Rock & Road Touring bike, built 2016-17.    Love this bike, and all I want to do is ride this bike.  You take someone who has built bikes for a living for decades, with all that experience and knowledge....he measures you, measures the bike you ride on, asks about what you like/don't like about your current bike, asks what you intend to do with the bike, and he does magic with tubes and welders.    This bike fits, and it does exactly what it was designed to do.  May of my complaints from previous bikes are GONE.  I am comfortable and feel like I belong on this bike.

Granted, I saved for 3 years to get this bike, and it is likely the last bike I will ever buy (unless I decide to go the recumbent route in my later elder years).   I have ridden on many off-the-shelf bikes and just had never been happy with the fit for my short torso/long legs frame.

And yes, there is a bit of personal pride in it.   This is a very, very good bike, built by an excellent craftsman, and people who know the name come up to talk about the bike and the builder, in the most obscure locations!

Offline EmilyG

Re: Custom touring bkie vs. mass produced
« Reply #21 on: April 08, 2018, 11:58:42 pm »
Let's say you got that custom bike.  What do you do with it when you're on tour?  If you lean it up against a wall, the wall might scratch that rad paint job.  If you run into a convenience store for a nature break, are you going to worry about will the bike be there when you come out?  Brag about how much it costs, and do you really want to camp in the park in that town and leave Precious Bike outside your tent?  What will you do if it's stolen or damaged?  If it was a production bike, it's feasible to budget a couple thou to replace the bike and keep touring.  If it takes 6 months to get a new custom, are you going home to pout until next year?
(snipped by me for focus)

Well, I am not concerned too much about scratches, I lock my bike, and I don't tell random people that it is a custom bike.  People who know Bruce Gordon bikes come up and talk to me about it, and that's really cool to have that connection.   My bike doesn't LOOK like a bells and whistles bike, unless you know what you're looking for.  It flies under the radar.    I figure if my bike gets stolen, it's going to  likely end my tour.  That would be the case no matter the bike. I can't budget to replace it, so I will protect it.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Custom touring bkie vs. mass produced
« Reply #22 on: April 09, 2018, 06:52:27 am »
I figure if my bike gets stolen, it's going to  likely end my tour.  That would be the case no matter the bike. I can't budget to replace it, so I will protect it.
That is one way to look at it. Me, I ride a bike well within my means and figure I could easily replace it at any time with no real pain.  Whether loss/theft would end my tour, that would depend on the tour.  For a shortish tour, yes, I'd just go home.  For a multi month tour, I'd be far more likely to do whatever it takes to continue.

I find that bikes in the $1000-1500 are in a sweet spot where spending more buys you less and less in improvement.  They are really very good bikes and very serviceable.

Again, just me, but I'd only buy a custom bike if it really solved a fit problem that I couldn't resolve on an off the rack bike.

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Custom touring bkie vs. mass produced
« Reply #23 on: April 09, 2018, 10:14:56 am »
That would be the case no matter the bike. I can't budget to replace it, so I will protect it.

Inasmuch as Gordon has retired from the biz, the bike is irreplaceable. Sounds like you got your just in time.  8)

Offline EmilyG

Re: Custom touring bkie vs. mass produced
« Reply #24 on: April 09, 2018, 10:43:24 am »
That would be the case no matter the bike. I can't budget to replace it, so I will protect it.

Inasmuch as Gordon has retired from the biz, the bike is irreplaceable. Sounds like you got your just in time.  8)

Indeed!  Ours were two of the last he made. We ordered them, and then he had a wreck on gravel, hurt his knee, and was unable to work for months.  It took almost a year to get our bikes, from the time we ordered them. And he announced his retirement soon after. Fortunately, we weren't planning to do our first long tour until this year, so we weren't freaking out about the delay!  (our only worry at the time was that he wouldn't be able to make them at all....)   Well worth the wait.  For me, knowing that Bruce went over every detail of this bike gives me great peace of mind and confidence.   Plus this bike is a sweet ride. Fits like a glove.

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Custom touring bkie vs. mass produced
« Reply #25 on: April 09, 2018, 12:11:08 pm »
I started off with an off the shelf touring bike...be advised that most off the shelf touring bikes are terrible touring bikes.  My off the shelf touring bike was a great ride, until you put panniers on it, at which point it wiggled and was unstable to ride.

When exactly did you start out with an "off the shelf" touring bike? I got my Surly Long Haul Trucker 10 years ago and it was very stable to ride with panniers, front and back. While I had the bike built from a bare frame/fork, I've heard that the gearing on the stock builds has been good for touring.

I got my Waterford in 2008.  2008 is also the year that I saw my first LHT.  I have seen a lot of people ride on them, but I have not seen anyone touring on one.  I might add that Surly does not push the LHT as a light touring bike. 
Danno

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Custom touring bkie vs. mass produced
« Reply #26 on: April 09, 2018, 12:16:57 pm »
Let's say you got that custom bike.  What do you do with it when you're on tour?  If you lean it up against a wall, the wall might scratch that rad paint job.  If you run into a convenience store for a nature break, are you going to worry about will the bike be there when you come out?  Brag about how much it costs, and do you really want to camp in the park in that town and leave Precious Bike outside your tent?  What will you do if it's stolen or damaged?  If it was a production bike, it's feasible to budget a couple thou to replace the bike and keep touring.  If it takes 6 months to get a new custom, are you going home to pout until next year?
(snipped by me for focus)

Well, I am not concerned too much about scratches, I lock my bike, and I don't tell random people that it is a custom bike.  People who know Bruce Gordon bikes come up and talk to me about it, and that's really cool to have that connection.   My bike doesn't LOOK like a bells and whistles bike, unless you know what you're looking for.  It flies under the radar.    I figure if my bike gets stolen, it's going to  likely end my tour.  That would be the case no matter the bike. I can't budget to replace it, so I will protect it.

Touring bike with panniers on them are not exactly sexy looking.  I don't think they are anymore likely to be stolen than any other bike, and the morons doing the theft don't know what they are stealing anyhow.  Adding a rider to your home owner's insurance to cover a bike is pretty cheap.  I think my Waterford is $50/year.
Danno

Offline staehpj1

Re: Custom touring bkie vs. mass produced
« Reply #27 on: April 09, 2018, 12:26:14 pm »
2008 is also the year that I saw my first LHT.  I have seen a lot of people ride on them, but I have not seen anyone touring on one.
I am surprised to read that.  On some tours the LHT was the most common bike among other tourists I met.  That especially was true of my Trans America in 2007 and my Pacific Coast tour in 2011.  It for some reason seemed less common, but still popular on my other tours.

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Custom touring bkie vs. mass produced
« Reply #28 on: April 09, 2018, 01:29:18 pm »
2008 is also the year that I saw my first LHT.  I have seen a lot of people ride on them, but I have not seen anyone touring on one.
I am surprised to read that.  On some tours the LHT was the most common bike among other tourists I met.  That especially was true of my Trans America in 2007 and my Pacific Coast tour in 2011.  It for some reason seemed less common, but still popular on my other tours.
I tend to do shorter trips in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  I am seeing more touring bikes now that the US routes are taking off.  USBR 35 covers a lot of my favorites. 

My wife has family in Oregon, right on the Trans America route, and I have done a lot of day rides there.  It must be a timing thing as I never saw a single touring bike there.  I suspect the bikes come through in the spring and the fall but not summer.
Danno

Offline hikerjer

Re: Custom touring bike vs. mass produced
« Reply #29 on: April 09, 2018, 09:39:12 pm »
Just  couple of comments.  First, I agree with attaching a rider to your renter's or homeowner's insurance. It's remarkably affordable and while your bike and gear may be stolen and that may end the trip, you can recover your losses and live to ride another day. I'd look into it 

My observations on LHTs are pretty much as staehpj1's. Seems like you can't  swing a dead cat while on tour without hitting one.
Easily the most common bike I've seen on my tours.

Finally, the last thing I worry about is scratches and dents on my bike. It's going to happen sooner or later so why worry about it. I don't see my bike as a museum piece but as something to be used and used a lot.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2018, 09:41:40 pm by hikerjer »