Author Topic: Can you tour on a carbon road bike?  (Read 834 times)

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Offline jimjamm18

Can you tour on a carbon road bike?
« on: November 14, 2020, 03:16:23 pm »
Hello,

I have a 2020 Trek Domane SL 5. I've also committed to cycling BC to Mexico in summer of 2022. Question is, would the Domane be able to handle the weight and tourqe? It is a full carbon frame. I would plan to use a handlebar bag, a framepack, and a seatpack.

Could the frame handle the weight and such that a 30+ day tour would bring about? Or do I need to look at getting an actual touring bike?

Thanks in advance.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Can you tour on a carbon road bike?
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2020, 04:07:51 pm »
Standard questions: camping? cooking? Etc? Just something so that we can get an idea of what you need to carry.

Standard answer: trailer. Although if you pack light, the bags you mention should work.

Offline jimjamm18

Re: Can you tour on a carbon road bike?
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2020, 04:41:26 pm »
Thanks for the response.

I would plan to primarily camp and cook, with the odd stay in a hotel or home just for a shower and such. I've been looking at gear for it all and would try to make it as light as possible (getting a lightweight tent/bivy, small cookware for simple meals), even if that means a bit more expenses up front. I could look into a trailer as well, but I think if I can pull it off I'd rather the packs.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Can you tour on a carbon road bike?
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2020, 05:26:31 pm »
I think you can do it if you pack ultralight. The frame pack might interfere with your ability to use standard water bottles. Do you want to use a camelback instead?

Get your gear down to about 15 pounds (yes, it can be done) and volume down to about 18 liters.

Offline jimjamm18

Re: Can you tour on a carbon road bike?
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2020, 05:32:26 pm »
Thanks for the replies John. I was planning on using a framepack that doesn't fill the entire space. More so use one that is the full length of the top tube, but maybe only 3-4inches in depth. While I would prefer not to ride with a camelback, if that became the deal breaker then I would have to make that sacrifice.

I'm pretty comfortable roughing it, so if i have to make some concessions there as well I could manage it.

Thanks again. Guess I better start looking at how much everything weighs.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Can you tour on a carbon road bike?
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2020, 12:11:51 am »
Use the widest tires that your frame and fork allow.

You can get a 17 liter saddle bag that will hold your clothes and tools. Then you can strap the tent under your handlebars, or put it in a handlebar pack. The frame pack can then carry food, etc. You'll then have plenty of capacity. Try not to use it all just because it's there.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2020, 12:40:07 am by John Nelson »

Offline jimjamm18

Re: Can you tour on a carbon road bike?
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2020, 01:05:00 am »
My frame allows up to 38mm. Came with 32mm which I thought would have been good enough for riding road. Do you think 38 is necessary, or does it just allow for a smoother ride?

Cool. Sounds like it would be doable then, which is sweet because I really don't need a 5th bike as much as I might want one. Thanks again, I'll continue the research.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Can you tour on a carbon road bike?
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2020, 03:15:42 am »
Just a thought. It seems that you question the strength of the frame and wheels. You might consider using a frame of chromoly steel.  A 1983 steel Schwinn le Tour carried me at 180 pounds with fifty pounds of gear several thousand miles. It held up all around the U.K. and over the Alps and Rockies and Pacific coast route and northern tier. It took me many more places. For $120.00 it was useful rugged strong.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Can you tour on a carbon road bike?
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2020, 06:47:08 am »
I have ridden long road tours UL some with as little as 14 pounds self supported camping and cooking and have trimmed the gear weight since then.  I wasn't on carbon, but I was on an old aluminum crit race bike when I rode the Southern Tier from San Diego to Pensacola on that rig and enjoyed it just fine.  I wouldn't hesitate to do a similar tour on carbon with a similar load.

I have met a lot of folks riding carbon on tours, but most were loaded heavier.  Many were using trailers.  A few were packed UL.

As far as tires, I started out on the ST with 23mm knowing they weren't ideal but figuring I'd wear them out and replace them mid way.  I put on 25mm in Texas and they were better on the rough Texas chip seal with less buzz.  While the 23mm were kind of unpleasant on the rough chip seal, personally I really don't see the need to go super wide.  Maybe 28mm would have been nice, but I was fine with the 25mm.  Going more than 32mm is definitely not a necessity IMO.  Truth be told if I had just finished with the 23mm tires I wouldn't have complained.

Offline jimjamm18

Re: Can you tour on a carbon road bike?
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2020, 10:41:10 am »
Yes. My primary concern is whether the bike can physically handle carrying the weight. I would use some tape to deal with strap rubbing. My bike came with 32mm’s so I would likely keep that, or get better touring tires but still around 32.

But essentially I want to know if there is a high risk of cracking my frame strictly from the weight.

I will def look into getting a super cheap steel frame if I can find something like that.

Keep the info coming


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Offline Westinghouse

Re: Can you tour on a carbon road bike?
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2020, 02:16:24 pm »
TREK has a great reputation. If it were a cheap Chinese carbon bike I would not use it for the kind of distance, terrain and weight you are talking here. They tested one of those bikes. It is on You Tube. The frame cracked wide open.

Offline TCS

Re: Can you tour on a carbon road bike?
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2020, 03:43:28 pm »
But essentially I want to know if there is a high risk of cracking my frame strictly from the weight.

I was promised back in the mid-1990s that carbon fiber bicycle frames would soon start shattering and putting their riders in wheelchairs.  Okay, 2020 and still waiting on that.  Your Trek was designed for hefty but powerful customers to go storming up Mont Ventoux.  It's fine.

One point concerning your new carbon fiber-frame Domane SL 5 (ach!  such a cool bike!) as a touring bike.  It has front and rear 'IsoSpeed' engineered frame flex.  I'd caution against attaching any racks that might subvert this movement.  The bikepacking style bags you and others have discussed here should be fine.

Oh!  Second point: you will not want to intrude on the brifter shift arc with the handlebar bag/pack/tent.  Choose accordingly.

Smacks forehead!  Third point:  your 32s will be dandy for road touring.

Have fun!  Enjoy the trip!
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline jimjamm18

Re: Can you tour on a carbon road bike?
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2020, 04:23:24 pm »
TREK has a great reputation. If it were a cheap Chinese carbon bike I would not use it for the kind of distance, terrain and weight you are talking here. They tested one of those bikes. It is on You Tube. The frame cracked wide open.
Right on! Thanks!! Feeling good about it


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Offline jimjamm18

Re: Can you tour on a carbon road bike?
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2020, 04:24:40 pm »
But essentially I want to know if there is a high risk of cracking my frame strictly from the weight.

I was promised back in the mid-1990s that carbon fiber bicycle frames would soon start shattering and putting their riders in wheelchairs.  Okay, 2020 and still waiting on that.  Your Trek was designed for hefty but powerful customers to go storming up Mont Ventoux.  It's fine.

One point concerning your new carbon fiber-frame Domane SL 5 (ach!  such a cool bike!) as a touring bike.  It has front and rear 'IsoSpeed' engineered frame flex.  I'd caution against attaching any racks that might subvert this movement.  The bikepacking style bags you and others have discussed here should be fine.

Oh!  Second point: you will not want to intrude on the brifter shift arc with the handlebar bag/pack/tent.  Choose accordingly.

Smacks forehead!  Third point:  your 32s will be dandy for road touring.

Have fun!  Enjoy the trip!
Thanks for your excellent 3 tips! I feel much better about it. Good point on the handlebar packs


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Offline driftlessregion

Re: Can you tour on a carbon road bike?
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2020, 05:49:12 pm »
A friend rode a Trek Postal carbon fiber bike for many years on tour with a trailer with no problems.