Author Topic: mountain bike frames for touring  (Read 9870 times)

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Offline DrScience

mountain bike frames for touring
« on: February 07, 2005, 09:56:43 pm »

The deal is I'm planning for an extended tour of central/south america and i'm looking for advice on mountain bike frames.  due to the fact that most people ride on 26" wheels down there and that the road conditions suck, i've been advised to ride a moutain bike.  all other tours i've completed on a touring bike.  i'm looking for suggestions on a mountain bike frame that has relaxed geometry and that i can comfortably put drop handle bars on.  i'd love some help here.

Offline JayH

mountain bike frames for touring
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2005, 11:30:47 pm »
Specialized has some 26" MTB frames that are made for touring, like the Expedition series... I'm pretty sure Trek and GF has some "comfort" bikes or so that use 26" frames and aren't as laid out as a pure MTB frame.  


Offline DaveB

mountain bike frames for touring
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2005, 12:07:12 am »
Be careful of the 26" wheel generality.  There are several rim diameters all generically called 26".

The 26x1 (650C, ISO 571mm) road rim used on tri and some small frame road bikes.

The 26x1-1/2 (650B, ISO 584mm), an obsolete European size making an attempted comeback.  

The 26x1-3/8 (ISO 590mm) used on department store and old 3-speed bikes.  

The 26x1-3/4 (ISO 571mm) used on Schwinn cruisers.

Finally, the 26" MTB rim (ISO 559mm) used on most modern mountain bikes and some hybrids and Touring bikes.

I assume you expect the MTB (559mm) rim is common where you are going but you should check out what's really used.

This message was edited by DaveB on 2-7-05 @ 8:08 PM

Offline RussellSeaton

mountain bike frames for touring
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2005, 10:48:35 pm »
No advice on a specific mountain bike frame.  I suspect they all will work just fine.  Some might recommend steel since it can supposedly be repaired easier because you are likely to run across people in the boonies with a welder for steel but not a more specialized TIG welder for aluminum.  For the most part this is wishful thinking.  The cheap welders you will run across in the boonies are the ARC stick welders owned by untrained people who weld broken agricultural implements using heavy welding sticks.  If you tried to weld thin steel bike frame tubing with such a welder and untrained person, you would melt your thin steel tubing.

I've often thought of converting my mountain bike, Raleigh M600, to drop bars for loaded touring.  This is what is required, assuming you are starting with a relatively new model Shimano equipped mountain bike.

1.  Rigid fork.  I don't want a suspension fork unless its very rough trail.  The fat tires will provide enough cushion with a rigid fork touring on gravel or dirt roads.  $65 Dimension steel from QBP or $137 for Kinesis aluminum from QBP.  See Harris Cyclery for the QBP listings.  Any local bike shop can order from QBP.
2.  New headset race for the rigid fork.  Or you could take the race off the suspension fork.  $5
3.  Drop handlebars.  I like my Nitto 115 drop bars.  They are 25.4 diameter so they fit MTB stems.  $30 from Harris Cyclery.  Or you can get 26.0 diameter road bars and then replace the stem cheap enough.  You might have to replace the stem no matter what depending on where you want the reach to be.
4.  Bar tape.  $5
5.  Maybe new shift and brake cables.  $20 or so.
6.  Shifters and brake levers.  Two choices.  Bar end shifters.  9 speed for $80, 8 speed for $40.  Brake levers Dia Compe 287V for $60 from Harris Cyclery.  These brake levers work with V brakes so no adaptor is required.  OR go with STI.  $130 for Shimano 105 or $160 for Ultegra.  Plus two Travel Agent V brake adaptors for $20 each.  These allow the STI levers to pull enough cable to work with V brakes.

About $250 to $350 depending on how fancy you want to go.  If you have not bought the mountain bike yet, then you can switch out the parts at the shop and maybe pay no difference.

Offline DaveB

mountain bike frames for touring
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2005, 06:00:52 pm »
Russell, interesting that you mention converting an MTB to road use as I did just that last year.  I converted an early-90's Trek 7000 to road bars and STI shifting. My costs were very low as I used a lot of components I already had on hand.

My Trek already had a rigid fork so no change was necessary.  BTW, check with your LBS before buying a new fork.  Mine has a huge collection of rigid MTB forks they kept when riders upgraded older MTB's to suspension forks.  You could probably get a suitable rigid fork for practically no cost. This presumes you want or can use a threaded fork as very few rigid  forks were made in threadless MTB configuration. NOTE: DO NOT use a threaded fork with a threadless headset and stem unless the steerer is so long you can cut off ALL the threads before fitting the stem.  

I bought a pair of NOS 25.4 mm SR drop bars from my LBS and a 1-1/8" quill stem from Bike Tools Etc.  

I was able to get the rear STI shifting to work very well.  I converted the stock 7-speed rear wheel to 8-speed by substituting an 8-speed freehub body and respacing and redishing the wheel.

Rear shifting is by a used 8-speed 105 STI lever I had in my parts box.  I couldn't get the front shifting to index properly with the 105 triple STI as the geometry of MTB cranks and front derailleurs seems to be different from their road counterpart.  I installed a friction barcon for the front.

I fitted a 12x25 8-speed cassette which, along with the stock 46/36/24 chainrings, gives a gearing range of 25" to 100".  

I replaced the 1.75" knobbies with 1.25" slick tires which are fine for road and Rail-Trail use and are much easier rolling.

The bike is used (with a rack and fenders) as a beater/rain/snow/errand bike and had been very successful for that use.  I expect it would do fine as a Tourer too.  


Offline skibc

mountain bike frames for touring
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2005, 05:47:55 pm »
I have lived in Peru and Bolivia for 7 years.  I have travelin
Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Argentina.........

I would first go with a mountian bike as I think you will be
happier with that choice.  Why?

Yes the roads are rough---but more importantly you will be
able to get to more interesting places and not be worried
about your wheels being beaten up so badly.

You will have a wonderful trip and I am sure you will have lots of ups
and downs as well.

I would make sure you have your bike fit nicely----you may want
everything a bit more upright on the mountain bike.  You may want bar
ends if you are going with straight bars as your hands will get worn

Have a wonderful trip---go to Huarez in Peru and say hi to Edward at
Edwards Inn for me!


Happy pedaling!

Happy pedaling!