Author Topic: Best bike for Pacific Coastal Trail on a Shoestring Budget  (Read 3156 times)

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Offline charlietew

Hi everyone

Me and my girlfriend are relatively new to cycling but we have quit our jobs to do the Pacific Coastal Trail starting in about a month. We are planning on buying bikes in Vancouver to do this and plan on a fairly leisurely pace (20-40miles/day) and camping most of the way. We are trying to do it on as little money as possible.

To that end I was hoping for some bike advice - anyone particularly recommend a bike shop in Vancouver, or somewhere that would sell second hand bikes for this? I have a friend who works at SportChek and can get us a discount, but from the look of the website the best they can do is a relatively low end hybrid (Orbea Vector 30). Realistically the most we were hoping to spend on bikes was £600 ($1000 Canadian, $800usd)

What do you guys think- should we not waste money on a SportChek bike or can we get away with it, given that we aren’t fussy and going quite slowly? If not that, then is a specific Touring bike really worth the money?

Thanks in advance

Charlie


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Offline Nyimbo

Re: Best bike for Pacific Coastal Trail on a Shoestring Budget
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2018, 04:23:12 am »
Hi Charlie,
It sounds from the post like this is something you are doing soon and need help with quickly. I probably can't help much but I'll tell you my story.


A quick trip like this might be amazing and fun especially if you are a spontaneous couple and willing to just see what happens.  I kind of did that on my first attempt at a tour.  I took my hybrid bike with a small rear pannier and did a 1 week credit card tour. I only spent a couple weeks in planning and most of that planning was to guess how far I could ride each day making sure that I had a motel at every nights stop. After that trip I found out I needed to do a lot more research before I headed out cross country - mostly because I realized I could not afford a 3 month credit card tour. For me, I decided I needed a proper touring bike with lower gearing and I needed all the camping equipment and panniers, and racks.  I researched this whole subject steadily for about 18 months.  I bought a used touring bike In new condition off of Craigslist for $600, and then started purchasing each additional item on my list as I found them on sale or craigslist - probably about 1 major item per month before I left on my first cross country trip.  About half of my research came right here on these forums both asking question and searching and reading old posts, the other half of my research came by google searching other bike touring sites and just reading and reading, and making list of questions and looking for answers.

So that said, what I did, after deciding I wanted a traditional steel frame touring bike was this: I went to a couple stores and found out what size bicycle I would likely need because I was going to try to find something used.  I then made a list of the most often recommended touring bicycles, such as the Trek 520, Surly-LHT, Fuji Touring, REI randonee, etc, etc, I had about three more on my list then I started typing in these brand names in craigslist every other day for all of the regions in Northern California, until I found one in my size.  Actually found several bikes for sale looked that like ancient things, and since I'm not a fix it myself person I kept looking but within a month I had a REI (Novara) touring bicycle that was purchased for a cross-country trip and then never used and I bought it for exactly 1/2 of what a new bike cost.

Anyway thats my story.    If you are young and adventurous and can muscle your way through the mountains on a bicycle that doesn't have low gearing you will find it easier to get something to get by.  --- just take off and have fun.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2018, 04:39:23 am by Nyimbo »

Offline staehpj1

Re: Best bike for Pacific Coastal Trail on a Shoestring Budget
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2018, 07:55:08 am »
Me and my girlfriend are relatively new to cycling but we have quit our jobs to do the Pacific Coastal Trail starting in about a month.
Do you mean the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH)?  Not sure if there is such a trail as the Pacific Coast Trail, but I often have seen folks incorrectly refer to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) as the Pacific Coast Trail.  The PCT is not suitable (or legal most of the way) for biking.  The Sierra Cascades Route roughly follows the PCT, but on roads.  It is an exceedingly difficult route, much of it in remote country, with massive amounts of climbing.  If you ride that you better bring your A game.  If you are thinking of doing the Sierra Crest Trail, I recommend that you have a lot of miles under your belt first unless you are a gifted athlete.

The PCH is a nice ride.  Great scenery and nice, if busy in places, roads most of the way.  It has a lot more climbing than you might imagine, but is do-able by a determined newbie.

What do you guys think- should we not waste money on a SportChek bike or can we get away with it, given that we aren’t fussy and going quite slowly? If not that, then is a specific Touring bike really worth the money?
Some kind of used bike is your best bet, if the budget is super tight, but there are new and affordable bikes to be found that are OK for touring even fully loaded.  The Windsor Touring ($600 USD delivered) from Bikes Direct comes to mind.  My two companions and I rode the TransAmerica on them and were pretty happy with them.  I subsequently did a number of other long tours on mine until I started packing light enough to prefer a road racing bike.

I did the ST, on a 1990-ish criterium race bike and was happy with the choice, but I was packing VERY light (14# not counting water and other consumables) with UL backpacking gear.  I don't see why I couldn't have done the trip with twice that much gear on the bike though, and on hindsight with the light load I think I'd have been okay even with my modern race bike.

A similar 1990-ish race bike could most likely be found for $200-300 and sturdier bikes should as well.

FWIW, we met a guy from Japan on the PCH who was on Walmart quality bike and gear.  It was all junk by most people's standards, but he was having the time of his life.  His plan was to buy cheap enough that he could give it all away at the end of the trip before flying back to Japan.  It was cheap enough stuff that he could just replace anything that broke.  I am not recommending that approach, but it demonstrates the fact that you do not need to spend a fortune to do a trip on the PCH.

Offline charlietew

Re: Best bike for Pacific Coastal Trail on a Shoestring Budget
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2018, 09:09:24 am »
Hi Nyimbo and Staehpj1

Thanks for your thoughts, I really appreciate the input! I did mean the Pacific coastal highway...

It’s reassuring that we aren’t completely mad for doing this. Ok, so it sounds like a SportChek bike probably isn’t worth the savings- I’ll have a good look into second hand touring bikes!

We start in a month once we have rodtripped our way across Canada. Super excited!

Cheers

Charlie


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Offline walks.in2.trees

Re: Best bike for Pacific Coastal Trail on a Shoestring Budget
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2018, 09:31:23 am »
Hi everyone

Me and my girlfriend are relatively new to cycling but we have quit our jobs to do the Pacific Coastal Trail starting in about a month. We are planning on buying bikes in Vancouver to do this and plan on a fairly leisurely pace (20-40miles/day) and camping most of the way. We are trying to do it on as little money as possible.

To that end I was hoping for some bike advice - anyone particularly recommend a bike shop in Vancouver, or somewhere that would sell second hand bikes for this? I have a friend who works at SportChek and can get us a discount, but from the look of the website the best they can do is a relatively low end hybrid (Orbea Vector 30). Realistically the most we were hoping to spend on bikes was £600 ($1000 Canadian, $800usd)

What do you guys think- should we not waste money on a SportChek bike or can we get away with it, given that we aren’t fussy and going quite slowly? If not that, then is a specific Touring bike really worth the money?

Thanks in advance

Charlie


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it took me 3 months of riding every day, in increasingly larger loops as skill allowed, to be able to ride a 40 mile loop when I first got back into cycling, and I was bone-tired at the end...

So when you say "relatively new", "we quit our jobs", and you don't even HAVE  bikes, I'm pretty worried for you both, because this screams clueless and unprepared if I ever heard it.

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Offline staehpj1

Re: Best bike for Pacific Coastal Trail on a Shoestring Budget
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2018, 09:39:31 am »
Just a quick correction...  The Windsor Touring is now $699 (delivered).  It was $599 when we bought our's in 2007.  They do also have the Gravity Liberty CX for $399 delivered.  It is a low end bike, but I personally would consider it or something else in that class if I was on a very tight budget and wanted to buy new.

Bikes Direct is heavily criticized by a lot of folks, but my friends and family have bought 7 or 8 bikes from them and have been pretty satisfied.  It helps if you are a decent bike mechanic since they are delivered as they (or any bike) would be to a dealer who would go over them for you, but you can pay a local shop to go over the bike before the trip if you aren't mechanically inclined.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Best bike for Pacific Coastal Trail on a Shoestring Budget
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2018, 09:51:01 am »
it took me 3 months of riding every day, in increasingly larger loops as skill allowed, to be able to ride a 40 mile loop when I first got back into cycling, and I was bone-tired at the end...

So when you say "relatively new", "we quit our jobs", and you don't even HAVE  bikes, I'm pretty worried for you both, because this screams clueless and unprepared if I ever heard it.
Very true, but...
I met a lot of folks on the PCH that were in exactly that boat and as far as I could tell were okay even if they didn't meet their mileage goals.  When we did the TransAmerica, one of my companions wasn't a cyclist, and one hadn't ridden while at college.  They were in the process of finals, graduation and so on leading up to departure so they only got a few training rides in and I think the longest was about 30 miles.  We kept the mileage modest for the first ten days or two weeks and they rode into shape.  It helps that they were young and reasonably fit.  It also helps that on tour you have all day to get your mileage in.

It also helped that we were all experienced at other outdoor pursuits like backpacking and were able to pack reasonably light or at least not crazy heavy.

I would definitely not recommend trying that on the Sierra Cascades (don't ask how I know that  :) ), but we were okay on the TA and the PCH would be more forgiving.

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Best bike for Pacific Coastal Trail on a Shoestring Budget
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2018, 10:36:40 am »
Everyone is different. I helped a couple of newbs plan a cross country trip from the Northeast. Very little biking under their belts and they were carrying an insane amount of weight. Their gear included a large, cast iron pot and, at least a half dozen books and, I kid you not, a full size Park floor pump. They made it as far as TX before giving up.

When I got back into cycling I was extremely overweight yet worked up to 40 miles in far less time than 3 months of daily riding. Ended up losing 90 lbs. in the process.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2018, 10:38:48 am by BikeliciousBabe »

Offline charlietew

Re: Best bike for Pacific Coastal Trail on a Shoestring Budget
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2018, 01:10:23 pm »
Thanks for the opinions everyone

Walks.in2.trees- we are young, relatively fit and outdoorsy and good at packing light. We have bikes in the uk, but they aren’t good enough to justify the cost of shipping them out. We’ve done a fair amount of daily cycling but never done a cycle tour- if we don’t make it, it isn’t the end of the world, but we are keen to give it a shot, starting super slow!

Staehpj- I like the look of the Windsor Touring, thanks for that and the other tips! I’ll let you know if we end up going with that one...


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Offline charlietew

Re: Best bike for Pacific Coastal Trail on a Shoestring Budget
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2018, 08:09:33 pm »
Me and my girlfriend are relatively new to cycling but we have quit our jobs to do the Pacific Coastal Trail starting in about a month.
Do you mean the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH)?  Not sure if there is such a trail as the Pacific Coast Trail, but I often have seen folks incorrectly refer to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) as the Pacific Coast Trail.  The PCT is not suitable (or legal most of the way) for biking.  The Sierra Cascades Route roughly follows the PCT, but on roads.  It is an exceedingly difficult route, much of it in remote country, with massive amounts of climbing.  If you ride that you better bring your A game.  If you are thinking of doing the Sierra Crest Trail, I recommend that you have a lot of miles under your belt first unless you are a gifted athlete.

The PCH is a nice ride.  Great scenery and nice, if busy in places, roads most of the way.  It has a lot more climbing than you might imagine, but is do-able by a determined newbie.

What do you guys think- should we not waste money on a SportChek bike or can we get away with it, given that we aren’t fussy and going quite slowly? If not that, then is a specific Touring bike really worth the money?
Some kind of used bike is your best bet, if the budget is super tight, but there are new and affordable bikes to be found that are OK for touring even fully loaded.  The Windsor Touring ($600 USD delivered) from Bikes Direct comes to mind.  My two companions and I rode the TransAmerica on them and were pretty happy with them.  I subsequently did a number of other long tours on mine until I started packing light enough to prefer a road racing bike.

I did the ST, on a 1990-ish criterium race bike and was happy with the choice, but I was packing VERY light (14# not counting water and other consumables) with UL backpacking gear.  I don't see why I couldn't have done the trip with twice that much gear on the bike though, and on hindsight with the light load I think I'd have been okay even with my modern race bike.

A similar 1990-ish race bike could most likely be found for $200-300 and sturdier bikes should as well.

FWIW, we met a guy from Japan on the PCH who was on Walmart quality bike and gear.  It was all junk by most people's standards, but he was having the time of his life.  His plan was to buy cheap enough that he could give it all away at the end of the trip before flying back to Japan.  It was cheap enough stuff that he could just replace anything that broke.  I am not recommending that approach, but it demonstrates the fact that you do not need to spend a fortune to do a trip on the PCH.

Hi staehpj1

Thought I owed you an update- we went for Windsor Tourists in the end (and got them on sale as well!), and after ironing out a few initial kinks, we are loving them. So far we have gone from Vancouver, round Vancouver island and through Washington without any major problems. Thanks for the recommendation!




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