Author Topic: light tour bike  (Read 2203 times)

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Offline fastrog

light tour bike
« on: February 23, 2020, 10:26:23 pm »
i tour supported, and a few years ago i bought a surly frame and worked with my LBS on the build. it is a great bike, but after two partial summers making my way from yorktown to missoula, i'm training to reseume the transam to astoria. the surly is comfortable, but i really felt the weight in the mountains. does anyone have a recommendation for a lighter bike that would still be comfortable for a 220-pound man? thanks

Offline John Nettles

Re: light tour bike
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2020, 10:37:09 pm »
You don't say what your budget is but you might consider buying a high-end used bike (or titanium frame) in good condition.  You can easily save 40%+ off a new bike.  However, a high-end steel frame won't save you much weight over a similar sized Surly steel frame.

You could also consider looking at lighter Tubus racks.  The Surly racks are nice but very heavy.

Lastly, if you can get lower gears, try that and just enjoy the scenery as you climb slowly but easier.

Tailwinds, John

Offline paddleboy17

Re: light tour bike
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2020, 01:11:50 pm »
The advice I am about to give you will be controversial.  All of my engineer buddies agree with me, and most of my disagreements come from non-engineers.  I am a software engineer, but one of my mechanical engineering friends says that SolidWords (a very expensive 3D design and modeling tool) backs up this claim.

There are at least two kinds of weight to review. 

Static weight does not rotate, and its importance is generally overrated.  Going from a 4 pound steel frame to a 2.5 pound aluminum frame is not really going to reduce the burden of riding the bike, and you may curse the ride of the aluminum frame.  Sure you can pick up the difference between riding the bike loaded versus unloaded, but I doubt you can perceive carving a pound and a half of non-rotating weight off. 

Rotating weight, aka moment of inertia, now that is a big deal.  This is weight and radius of the rotation.  So going to say a carbon fiber bottom bracket is probably not going to pay much of a dividend because the radius (bolt circle) is not  very large.   Saving 100 grams by ditching the inner tube when you go tubeless will pay a dividend because it has a large radius. 

So my advice to you is to explore reducing the weight of things that rotate, especially the wheel set.  If you are still running tubes, then look into going tubeless.
Danno

Offline John Nettles

Re: light tour bike
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2020, 05:07:01 pm »
Paddleboy,

I strongly agree with you.  The trick would be to get a strong enough wheel set that can support his weight and gear while it is being thrown into curves at speed.  You are the engineer, so correct me, but I would think the side force of a wheel is it's weakest point, especially the rear if it is dished.  So having say 260 (rider & gear) giving lateral force would require strong wheels.  Probably not the lightest.

The only reasonable way I can think of to effectively reduce the weight of a strong but probably heavy wheel set is to use lighter tires, but then you will get more flats, or worse, blowouts.

For instance, if the OP currently uses a heavy tire like the Schwalbe Marathon Plus (a very heavy but robust tire), I would switch it to the Marathon Supreme.
 Thoughts??  John

Offline paddleboy17

Re: light tour bike
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2020, 05:43:34 pm »
There are a lot Surly frames, and I do not know which one the OP had.  My latest bike in my fleet is a Salsa Cutthroat, which has 2.x wide tires. I did the tubeless conversion which saved something like 200 grams per tire.  Not a lot of weight, but at the end of a big radius.  Post change, the bike accelerates much quicker.

I think our OP should investigate tubeless conversion, if the tire are say at least 35mm wide.  If that is not possible, then maybe a change to say a 32mm wide tire.  You can tour on 32mm wide tires on crushed limestone rail trails or paved roads.  Doing a new wheel set is tricky as getting a lighter hub does not do that much, (small bolt circle), spoke pretty much all weigh the same, and rims and tire are where the investigation needs to be.  As has been identified, light and strong are in direct conflict. 

I did a bike packing trip on my  Cutthroat last spring.  My normal touring kit is 60 pounds and includes a day's worth of food.  My bike packing kit was 30 pounds, with no food or stove.  You could hardly fell that the Cutthroat had 30 extra pounds on it.  So maybe a brutal kit review is in order.  My trip was 4 days long and I used everything in my kit but an extra pair of socks.

Time to pipe in fastrog.  I have spoken in generalizations, and more details are needed.
Danno

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: light tour bike
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2020, 06:22:44 pm »
Reading between the lines: fastrog says he tours "supported," which I take to mean involves a 5-10 pound load (including 2-3 pounds of water).  I'm assuming the rest of the load on the bike includes flat repair tools and materials, sunscreen, camera, perhaps a rain jacket  -- basically a long day trip.  Extra clothes are carried for OP.

On a loaded bike, the frame isn't going to make much difference -- 1.5 pounds in the frame will be swallowed by the panniers or trailer, not to mention the extra weight that loaded tourists have accepted as the price for reliability.  That's not the case for OP (as I read it).

It's probably worth some time to make sure the new bike uses widely available parts (notice I didn't use the "standard" word!).  Because you'll want in your gears what you don't have in your legs at the end of a long week or day in the saddle as you approach the last climb, look for some way to accomplish lower gearing -- I still think 27 gear inch low is overgeared.  If you have and like a good leather saddle (Brooks, anyone?), hat extra pound will pay off after the first 3-4 hours every day.  I might look at some of the Compass tires, as long as I had a Marathon or Gatorskin in the SAG wagon -- just in case.

If I've described OP's situation, it's probably time to hit the bike stores starting in the next month.  Look for something like a road sport, endurance, or perhaps a lightweight "gravel" or "all road" bike for wider tires (skip the knobs since you're riding roads).  Buy one you like and start riding.  Pay extra for carbon, titanium, aluminum, or lightweight steel if you're so inclined.  Stock bikes are pretty good, and, with enough up-front investment, you'll cut your bike weight significantly.

Offline jwrushman

Re: light tour bike
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2020, 07:25:33 pm »
It may be a sensitive subject...My Surly Disc Trucker with fenders, racks and miscellany was 35 pounds.   My gear weight was 45.  In retrospect, I could easily get rid of 5 pounds.  It was my first cross-country tour.  My biggest saving was losing 10 pounds of body weight.  And I felt so much stronger.

Offline driftlessregion

Re: light tour bike
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2020, 10:04:59 pm »
In the mountains, a bike that is couple of pounds lighter is much less important than a 220# body.

Offline fastrog

Re: light tour bike
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2020, 11:31:46 pm »
thanks, everybody. pat is right. i ride supported on the transam. drink, small snack, rain jacket. my wife drives 10 miles ahead in a van and waits for me. we go again. camp for the evening. so the main weight issues are my fat 220 pound ass. i have a surly straggler frame, built by LBS to be bombproof so i have chucker velocity wheels with schwalbe marathon plus tires with heavy tubes. my first attempt at the transam in 2018 involved a lot of pain. walked up to afton and other climbs in the appalachians before mixing it up with a groundhog in loretto, kentucky and breaking some bones (mine) 800 miles in. went home in a cast and a boot and after feeling better went back to my LBS and got a lot more gears. resumed same spot in 2019 and made about 2,000 miles to missoula. still suffered the hills in the ozarks and portions of the rockies. still seems harder than it should. so looking for help before resuming is missoula in june. i think i will start with the advice of looking into  lighter wheels and tubes. have had normal tubes since a 1970s-era peugeot 10-speed with sew-ups. never tried a modern tubeless. i should add that i had a heart attack a few years ago, and am diagnosed with congestive heart disease (i prefer that to "congestive heart failure.") so my blood flow is compromised. i have to do more with less. may be, as someone said above, i just have to keep my head down and keep plugging. good news is that i have a lot of time. and last year i lost 30 pounds on the transam.

Offline paddleboy17

Re: light tour bike
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2020, 12:06:11 pm »
Now that I know what you have, I think there are a couple of things that you could do.

If you do the tubeless conversion, I would also get a different tire (I have MAXXIS IKON on my gravel bike). 

I would consider swapping out the crank.  I have an SRAM GX crank on my gravel bike, which might now be SRAM GX-1000.  You can get them with a 30, 32, 34, 36, or 38 tooth ring.  I think your bike has a 42 tooth crank.  I started with a 38, moved to a 34 (really liked), and a 30 for a bike packing trip.

Both of these changes will improve what you have, and cost $200 - $300.

But you are riding a gravel bike and it sounds like what you really want is a traditional road bike.  This would involve some soul searching and expense on your part.  You could look at a light touring bike or a not so serious criterium bike, or some other bike that floats your dreams.  You would have to work with your LBS to get the gearing right.  I also have a not serious criterium, and it designed to make riding effort all day long.  I love my gravel bike, but I also love the other 4 bikes I have as well.

Danno

Offline RonK

light tour bike
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2020, 03:20:37 pm »
I had a Surly LHT, but quickly became disenchanted with its weight and sluggishness. I replaced it with a titanium frame a carbon fork and a custom light but strong wheel build , saving around 2kg over the Surly, achieving a more lively and more comfortable ride.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2020, 03:23:34 pm by RonK »
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: light tour bike
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2020, 04:04:05 pm »
I'm thinking about lightening my bike (similar situation, I'll keep the touring bikes in case I do loaded touring and for commuting).  I'm thinking about something like the cheapest Trek Checkpoint (gravel bike with a carbon frame) so I can put Compass 42 tires (or thereabouts) on it, if I can figure out how to put smaller chainrings on the thing.

My theory, totally unsupported by evidence at this point:

Fat-ish, flexible tires to soak up lousy roads.  Light bike for climbing with a Brooks saddle (because I'll be out there for a while).  As long as I'm riding with SAG support, I'm not going to worry about reliability on an old bike.  I'm going to ride as far and as long as I can, which probably isn't going to be for another 20 years like my older bike has on it, and if something breaks, well, between SAG, mail order, and overnight shipping, I should be able to get back on the road within a couple days.

Offline DanE

Re: light tour bike
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2020, 04:49:51 pm »
Be careful when buying cyclocross bikes. UCI racing rules do not allow for tires wider than 33 mm to be used in UCI sanctioned racing. Sometimes cyclocross bikes are not made for tires wider than this. Tires of 42 mm width may not fit.

Offline fastrog

Re: light tour bike
« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2020, 01:30:10 am »
thanks everybody.  great food for thought. which prompts this question: what is the best new or used titanium frame that could be paired with some mountain gears and a lighter wheel set? and what titanium could take he other components from the surly straggler? maybe i sell the surly frame.

Offline paddleboy17

Re: light tour bike
« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2020, 03:36:37 pm »
Let's say that you get a titanium frame and move your stuff over.  You will get a net weight savings of a pound and a half, for a cost of say $3000.  Your new bike probably won't feel like an improvement over your Straggler.  I doubt you can perceive the difference of 1.5 pounds.  It is static weight.  Maybe if you were an elite athlete you could perceive a difference.  The legendary Georgena Terry says no one could perceive a 1.5 pound static weight difference while riding a bike.  She says you might notice other material properties.

It is a little different with body fat as your is probably around you middle, rotating constant partial turns about your spine.

If you want to take some burden out of riding you current bike, muck with the tires as previously discussed.

If you want to make climbing easier on your current bike, muck with the crank.

If you want to ride on the road, look at a new road bike, especially if you have $3000 dollars to throw at it.  Gravel bike are great all purpose bikes.  I love mine, and it almost as fast as my criterium bike, but my steel 30 year old Paramount road bike weighs less and is faster and less tiring to ride than my 2 year old carbon fiber Salsa Cutthroat.

Steel is an amazing material as it has properties that can be altered to make springs or cutting tools.  In theory titanium also has a similar broad range of properties, but because it is so expensive there are fewer alloys to choose from.  Aluminum is lighter still, but while the metal is not as strong, it is strong enough for bike frames.  Carbon fiber is lighter still, and be made to have different properties in each plane.

If it was my money, I would make some upgrades to the Stragler, keep the Straggler for riding marginal to difficult roads, and add a nice road bike.
Danno