Author Topic: Touring capable road bike  (Read 1477 times)

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Offline jwrushman

Touring capable road bike
« on: June 23, 2020, 02:09:00 pm »
Just starting research on a new bicycle for my wife and would like recommendations and suggestions of considerations when buying. 

My wife is now 70 and has had road bikes rather than touring bikes.  Her last one has to be, I'm guessing, over 25 years old.  It is a Cannondale SR400.  She's no longer doing triathlons and would like a sporty bike that's capable of being used for touring.  I did the Northern Tier last year, but I suspect future tours for the two of us will be shorter - 7 to 10 days timeframe.  She's done weekends in New England with me, but is willing to try something longer.

My thoughts.  I have a Surly Disc Trucker that I love, but it's heavy, not sporty.  I think her Cannondale is in the 22 lb range.  I don't think she'd like a steel frame bike, so I'm thinking an aluminum frame bike suitable for touring.  That is, with lower gears and capable of carrying panniers.   The Cannondale has downtube shifters.  Will likely change to brifters with indexed shifting.  The Cannondale has rim brakes.  Will want to change to disc brakes, probably mechanical.  Will need a wide range of gears.  The Cannondale has a 42/52 chainring and 12-32 cassette.  Her lowest gear is 34 gear inches.  Would like something closer to 20.  Budget <= $2k. 

Thoughts?

Offline driftlessregion

Re: Touring capable road bike
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2020, 02:49:50 pm »
What's the objection to steel? Trek 520 disc for roughly $1680 is steel but  you can't beat it. Review in Adventure Cyclist is dated in that Trek replaced bar end shifters a couple of years ago with STI. https://www.adventurecycling.org/blog/road-test-trek-520/

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Touring capable road bike
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2020, 03:12:29 pm »
First a couple questions.  What kind of touring are you and your wife planning to do?  There's a big difference between B&B tours (load is rain gear and a couple sets of clothes), supported tours (rain gear and sunscreen), and fully loaded touring (cooking and camping gear).  Next, what kind of terrain are you going to ride?  Towpath, rail-trail, or Florida may give you much wider gearing latitude than Appalachian hill climbs.

It's getting pretty hard to find a road bike that's not a loaded touring bike, with 20 gear inch lows.  Brifters on a triple are either Sora or NOS (i.e., hard to find).  Also, if you load any bike up, it won't feel like a tri bike. 

Offline driftlessregion

Re: Touring capable road bike
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2020, 03:32:12 pm »
Except for the Cannondale all capable touring bikes under $2000 will be steel: Soma, Velo Orange (if set up right), Fuji for only $1200, Kona Sutra $1500, Jamis Aurora, Masi Randonneuer, Co-op (REI), the Salsa is >$2000.
More up to date review of the 520 in AC https://www.adventurecycling.org/adventure-cyclist/online-features/first-impressions-trek-520/
more from AC https://www.adventurecycling.org/blog/touring-bike-buyers-guide/
Gunnar frames start at $1300. I don't know if you can build a bike under $2000.
Good luck.

Offline jwrushman

Re: Touring capable road bike
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2020, 05:04:07 pm »
driftlessregion, my only issue with steel is the weight and feel of the bike.  Not looking for something that feels sluggish.  The Trek 520 is a bike I was considering for myself a few years ago.  There's a Trek dealer not far from us.  Perhaps we should give it a look.   Do you think I may need to increase my budget?   A previous bike I owned was a Cannondale ST300.  I enjoyed it but I don't think it would have fared well on my cross-country ride.  Although it was fairly light and had a touring geometry, the gear range wasn't adequate for steep hills.  I replaced the chain ring, but a triple would have been better. 

Pat Lamb - My wife and I had planned a week-long, self-supported trip, but I suspect will be doing more B&B credit card touring (if New England opens up).  May need to carry panniers, but maybe only one pair, and not heavily loaded.  Terrain - roads and bike paths.  We live in NJ and bicycle from Pennsylvania to Vermont.  So, a good amount of short-steep climbs in the mix. 

Perhaps I should consider a road bike and add a trailer if we need to carry more gear...

Offline John Nelson

Re: Touring capable road bike
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2020, 05:06:09 pm »
A sporty bike that's capable of being used for touring?

That’s not one bike. That’s two bikes. You’re in the market for two bikes. Accept that and your job will be easier.

Offline jwrushman

Re: Touring capable road bike
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2020, 05:08:33 pm »
I'm afraid you may be right... There goes my budget!!

Offline driftlessregion

Re: Touring capable road bike
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2020, 10:02:03 pm »
You're talking to someone who loves the feel of  steel bikes so I can't relate to your comment about that. Sluggish is not a function of the material but design.
For many years I toured with a trailer and a sport touring bike until I popped for a full touring rig (Gunnar). A friend of mine toured with a Trek Postal racing bike (with a triple!) and a trailer and did just fine. These days any bike can have sufficiently low gearing so your options are many.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Touring capable road bike
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2020, 06:02:37 am »
A few options:
  • Learn to pack really light for a camping type tour.  I manage to camp and cook with as little as a 9# base gear weight.  I went coast to coast with a 14# base and have since trimmed weight on quite a few items (and splurged on a couple heavier ones).  It isn't for everyone but it is possible with ultralight backpacking gear.
  • Credit card tour and use some discipline in packing.  It is possible to be really unencumbered.  Be careful though, some people wind up still carrying a ton of stuff.
  • Pack as you wish and use a trailer.  I'd still strongly advise some discipline in packing choices, but you don't need to go crazy light.  You will still need gearing appropriate to the load and terrain.

Offline dkoloko

Re: Touring capable road bike
« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2020, 11:22:53 am »
I don't think an aluminum bike is that much an advantage for touring. I've had several Cannondale aluminum tourers, as well as a number of steel touring bikes. I wouldn't choose one touring bike over the other because one was aluminum and the other steel.  Cannondale gave up manufacturing touring bikes for a while. They weren't selling that many in an admittedly niche market. For your budget I'd choose one of the standard touring bikes, not paying much attention to whether one was aluminum or steel. For weight reduction consider tires, tent, sleeping bag, etc. As another mentioned don't think you're going to get a tourer that is also a fast bike. The Rivendell Atlantis was designed as an all-around bike, sport riding and touring. The frame alone will take your budget, but it will give you some idea of what to expect in a combination of sportbike and tourer. With an Atlantis construction and design, expect compromises in both, sport riding and touring.

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Touring capable road bike
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2020, 12:17:31 pm »
You guys are all going about this wrong.  Rotating weight -- big deal, static weight -- not nearly as big a deal as people make it.

Let me give you some benchmarks:

Carbon Frame - ~2 pounds
Aluminum Frame - ~2.5 pounds
Ti Frame - ~3 pounds
Steel Frame - ~4 pounds

So spending a butt load of money to go from a steel touring bike to a carbon touring bike just to save 2 pounds (everything else being the same) is nonsense.

Now before you flame me and my immediate family, lets talk about some other things.

There are components and architecture (not sure this is the best term), and as someone else said, what kind of riding are you really going to do.

I have a classic steel touring, and the frame weighs 4.5 pounds.  She is designed to be ridden from the Canadian Arctic Circle to the tip of to Tierra del Fuego and back, and I can even ride from my home outside Detroit to the starting point too.  Everything about the bike is beefy (and heavy).  What makes here sluggish to ride are the indestructible rims and Schwalbe Marathon tires.  I have never weighed the bike but I put her in around 30 pounds.  And I typically tour with a 60 pound kit (some groceries and a nice kitchen).

I also have a carbon fiber gravel bike, and I think she weighs about 23 pounds.  I did a bike packing trip last spring, and bike and kit came in at 56 pounds.  Handling was superb, and you would never know it was loaded with a kit.  The kit was very spartan.  If temps got below freezing, I was screwed.  I had enough clothing for 3 days, and I used everything except an extra pair of socks.  I should have used the socks, but on day 2 it was too cold to change them.  I carried no food or cookware, and don't know where I would have put them if I had to carry them.

So please sort out what your needs are, and don't be surprised if that turns into multiple bikes (I have 6 bikes).  This is a lot more complicated that steel versus aluminum.  Be advised that there are a lot of ill conceived bicycles available for purchase.
Danno

Offline staehpj1

Re: Touring capable road bike
« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2020, 12:25:22 pm »
You guys are all going about this wrong.  Rotating weight -- big deal, static weight -- not nearly as big a deal as people make it.
I pretty often don't agree with you, but on this I do.  Don't get me wrong, I like a nice carbon frame but it isn't where I am quick to spend my money.  A good set of wheels is way more important.  I'd argue that gear weight is important too, because we are potentially talking about differences on the order of 10, 20, 30 or maybe much more pounds in some cases.

Offline El_Chupacabra

Re: Touring capable road bike
« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2020, 01:04:44 pm »


Just starting research on a new bicycle for my wife and would like recommendations and suggestions of considerations when buying. 

My wife is now 70 and has had road bikes rather than touring bikes. 

What does your wife want for this bike? Have you asked?

Not trying to be obnoxious about it, serious question.  There's a ton of widely varying suggestions already in this thread, and I suspect many are making assumptions based on what they personally prefer.

If she's going to be doing just credit card touring, wouldn't any bike work just fine? (backpacker type saddlebag and a handlebar bag can go on anything) So, have *her* pick something she's going to like riding.

Offline jwrushman

Re: Touring capable road bike
« Reply #13 on: June 24, 2020, 01:58:43 pm »
El_Chupacabra,

You're certainly right.  While I may have my own preferences, I think that the decision will end up what my wife enjoys riding.  If it ain't fun for her, she'll not be riding it and I'll never hear the end of it! 

As several people have suggested here, I may be looking at two bikes rather than one. 

Offline Old Guy New Hobby

Re: Touring capable road bike
« Reply #14 on: June 24, 2020, 02:06:49 pm »
My experience is limited, but I'm not sure that sporty and touring mix. I used to tour on my Trek 520. These days I still ride, but it's all local. I decided to get a lighter bike. I settled on a Specialized Cirrus aluminum bike with '38 Gatorskin tires for the occasional gravel road.  I ride about 4,000 miles a year. My rides are 20 to 40 miles. The only thing I carry is a few groceries once a week. (And maybe a little wine.) I'm not a strong rider. I'll do the hills, but little old ladies drop me all the time. The Specialized is a fine bike, but it's spent more time in the shop than the Trek ever did. It's mostly small stuff, but I was shocked when I took it in and the shop showed me cracks in the rear wheel rim after two years of use. I never looked for them because I didn't even know this could happen. I don't regret switching bikes, but that Trek was an indestructible tank.