Author Topic: How to build a world-class touring bicycle for under $250.00.  (Read 1370 times)

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Offline Westinghouse

Bicycles have gone upscale. I read several articles of how cyclists had to plunder the national treasury to buy a good touring machine One man who bought one told he he believed he had been conned. He had the very best Schwalbe tires, like $120.00 a piece. I just rebuilt a bicycle. It could go around the world 20,000 miles. First came the thought of doing it. Then I went to Goodwill. For $20.00 I picked up a Mongoose IBOC bicycle whole all components. Google said it cost $1500.00 new in the 1980s. The frame is light chromalloy steel. It had expensive Mavic wheels and expensive top end components. I stripped it down to the frame. I bought two double walled wheels, two Schwalbe Marathons, tubes, brakes, deraileurs, shifters, cables and brake pads. I already had a triple chain set, cartridge, saddle and chain. I had two racks from a bicycle I had used before.  I think the cost in dollars was under 250.

Offline ray b

Re: How to build a world-class touring bicycle for under $250.00.
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2021, 10:03:46 pm »
.... I already had a triple chain set, cartridge, saddle and chain. I had two racks from a bicycle I had used before. ...
Beautiful, but to be fair, you need to include the cost of the used parts you provided.

And, although if one plansxto tour around the world, they should be capable of building wheels and installing cranks and bottom brackets, not all choose to do so on the initial build of their bike; you might also want to add a modest amount for your time as a mechanic.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2021, 12:25:22 am by ray b »
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline Westinghouse

Re: How to build a world-class touring bicycle for under $250.00.
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2021, 12:19:49 am »
.... I already had a triple chain set, cartridge, saddle and chain. I had two racks from a bicycle I had used before. ...
Beautiful, but to be fair, you need to include the cost of the used parts you provided.

And, although if one plansxto tour around the world, they should be capable of building wheels and installing cranks and bottom brackets, not all choose to do so on the initial build of your bike; you might also want to add a modest amount for your time as a mechanic.


For one thing, the triple chain set had been on an old but hardly ever used Trek bike. Somebody paid thirty dollars for it, and later gave it to me. The bike was in a thrift store in Stuart, Florida.  Parts and repairs are part of it on very long expedition like tours. Chains wear, bearings pit, spokes break, tires pop, cables stretch, legs get strong, oxygenized body and mind, longer life.

Offline misterflask

Re: How to build a world-class touring bicycle for under $250.00.
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2021, 08:38:01 am »
I've cracked four steel frames now, and I'm not that heavy (200#+/-).  They don't last forever.  Of course, a cracked $20 steel frame on a tour could likely be resolved with the minor adventure of finding a local farmer to weld it.

The frame I cracked on a tour I went to the trouble and expense of replacing.  I didn't want to worry about it for the remaining 2500miles and since I planned to replace the broken dropout I didn't want the frame cobbled up with improvised welds.

I've been building my bikes, wheels, and frames for a while now.  I can't guarantee that it's always cheap, but it always seems like it since the expenses are all spread out.

Offline froze

Re: How to build a world-class touring bicycle for under $250.00.
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2021, 08:32:40 pm »
First off, don't worry too much about steel frames cracking, it rarely happens, just because one guy broke 4 that is no where remotely typical of such a thing happening.

Moving on.  If you want a world class touring bike for under $250 it's not going to be found unless you go into the used market and even then to find one in really good condition is going to be quite a struggle.  I found this list on the internet of vintage touring bikes that were rated really high for loaded touring, you should exam each one to see how they were reviewed and which ones would suit your needs, but again if it's in mint or excellent condition the price could be higher than $250.  Anyway I would take a look at these:

Bridgestone RB-T; T-500; T-700
Centurion Pro Tour; Elite GT
Centurion Elite GT
Fuji Touring Series
Kuwahara Caravan
Lotus Odyssey
Miyata 610; 1000
Nishiki Continental; Cresta GT; International; Riviera GT; Seral
Panasonic PT-3500; PT-5000; Pro Touring; Touring Deluxe
Raleigh Portage; Alyeska; Kodiak; Super Tourer; Touring 18
Schwinn Paramount P15-9 Tourer; Passage; Voyageur XT and Voyageur
Specialized Expedition; Sequoia
Takara Overland
Trek 520; 620; 720
Univega Gran Tourismo; Specialissima

Even if you do fine one there probably will be some work you'll need to do to beef it up, I don't see any reason to try to modernize one, the components they came with were extremely well built, better than todays stuff!  If you want to add a dynamo front hub then fine, if you want the rear gears to have more low speed pulling power for loads going up hills that's fine too.  Also try to find a bike with triples.  Brakes were usually Cantilever's which is what I would want to use so you have clearance for wider tires and fenders, but change the pads to KoolStop Salmon pads no matter what kind of brake calipers you have.  If you don't like downtube shifters you can get bar end shifters installed instead, Microshift makes the cheapest ones and they're not bad shifters, if you want the best get Dura Ace but obviously it will cost more.  Most of those older bikes came with 27" wheels you can easily convert to 700c...but...you have to mindful of the brake caliper reach, some will reach fine with a bit of adjustment, some you get an adapter for to make the reach work, while others may need different calipers with longer reach.  There are some really nice 27" tires available, including the best tire for touring called the Schwalbe Marathon HS420 Greenguard; then you can also get grommets that can covert the Schrader valve opening in the rim to a presta valve so you can use presta valve tubes if you want.

Offline misterflask

Re: How to build a world-class touring bicycle for under $250.00.
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2021, 07:52:27 am »
Quote
First off, don't worry too much about steel frames cracking, it rarely happens, just because one guy broke 4 that is no where remotely typical of such a thing happening.

On further reflection, I retract my caution.  That was 4 cracked frames over 25years and 3 could be considered special cases as far as this discussion goes.

I'm in complete support of the original poster's concept.  By the time you cobble together the proposed bike the understanding and mechanical competence gained would far offset the stray risk from the frame's history.

Everybody rides a used bike.

Offline froze

Re: How to build a world-class touring bicycle for under $250.00.
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2021, 11:42:04 pm »
One has to realize that people have done expedition type touring all over the world for many years going back to the first recorded touring event in 1869 with 3 people on steel bikes, and people still do to this day with very little in the way of frame breaking, and expedition touring puts a greater demand, thus stress, on frames than just regular touring around a few states in America, or even touring the USA, because in the USA you're never far from someplace to get supplies, but in other countries that won't always be the case, so you have to carry more supplies with you.

And you have to know that prior to the 1980's steel frames were not that great, but they really weren't that great in the 1800's!  And camping equipment weighed a lot vs todays ultra light stuff.  The trip done in 1869 was not a long distance trip just 15 hours but it caused a revolution to start and by 1890 2 riders took off for a 19,237 mile trip that took 2 years and two months, and back in those days stores weren't everywhere, in fact they were far and few between, they carried a hunting rifle to get food!  In addition to all of that paved roads didn't exist, be like taking a heavy low end gravel bike and try to do a 19,000 mile trek on it, yet those bikes held up!

On a expedition trip you can expect to be carrying about 110 pounds of gear plus your body and the bike weight.  For bike packing like I do, I carry around 60 pounds in gear, plus water.  I don't have expensive ultra light gear either, I could probably drop about at least 8 pounds off if I changed a few items, but for now I'm just practicing for a trip across the USA, when the time comes closer to leaving I will make those changes, but that's 3 years off yet.




Offline misterflask

Re: How to build a world-class touring bicycle for under $250.00.
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2021, 07:41:05 am »
A guy down the street from me rode around the world in the 30's (maybe more accurately rode across eurasia).  His single speed frame held up, but he broke chains which he somehow held together with safety pins until he could get replacements.  Quite the read:
https://www.amazon.com/Around-World-Bicycle-Fred-Birchmore/dp/1887813128

After too much worrying I realized that on a stateside tour in our modern age, almost any mechanical calamity could be resolved by hanging around in a small town for a day and waiting for a part to be overnited.  I don't even carry a spare tire anymore.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: How to build a world-class touring bicycle for under $250.00.
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2021, 04:44:58 pm »
I wrote a manuscript about my world bicycle touring. It is about 120,000 words. I have it right here. I wrote it from field notes in 1994, and revised it in 1997-1998. If I ever do become properly ambitious about anything in life, I might publish it some day.

Offline froze

Re: How to build a world-class touring bicycle for under $250.00.
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2021, 10:10:22 pm »
I hope you do publish it!  A lot of people would be interested in such a book.

Offline canalligators

Re: How to build a world-class touring bicycle for under $250.00.
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2021, 08:01:49 pm »
… Anyway I would take a look at these:…

Don’t ignore recumbents.  Right now, many good used two-wheeled ‘bents can be had for under $500, as that market is more interested in trikes these days.  Suggestions:
- Sun Tour Easy
- Baccetta Giro
- Barcroft Dakota
- Rans V-Rex
There are many more capable touring bikes, this short list has the ones that immediately come to mind.

Offline froze

Re: How to build a world-class touring bicycle for under $250.00.
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2021, 08:35:39 pm »
Why are used bents so cheap now?  Brand new those things cost a lot of money.

Offline canalligators

Re: How to build a world-class touring bicycle for under $250.00.
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2021, 07:45:20 pm »
Trikes are in more demand now.  Some manufacturers have even reduced or eliminated their product offerings in two wheeled machines.

Offline misterflask

Re: How to build a world-class touring bicycle for under $250.00.
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2021, 08:59:07 am »
I've never seen a trike that wasn't dawdling along, and never seen a bent that wasn't flying.  Sampling error?  Can't think of a reason trikes would be slow.  Seems like the aero-resistance of the extra mechanics would be cancelled out by the  super-reclined rider position.

They seem scary to me, occupying all that roadway, but at a logical level they're probably safer since most of the bad things that happen in accidents are likely from being thrown from the bike.

Offline froze

Re: How to build a world-class touring bicycle for under $250.00.
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2021, 01:27:53 pm »
I don't think that bents are scary because they occupy more road space, I think their scary  because they sit too low and motorists can't see them very well if at all.  Almost all the bents I've seen don't even put up a 6 foot or taller pole with some sort of neon flag to attract attention, I see those poles/flags on extremely few of those bikes.   But that's been my observations while driving a car when I encounter bents.