Author Topic: Choosing a touring bike  (Read 6021 times)

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Offline blueridge

Choosing a touring bike
« on: February 25, 2005, 02:52:41 am »
I am planning on biking the 470-mile Blue Ridge Parkway in May (self-supporting).  The route is quite mountainous.  I want to buy a new touring bike and can't decide which to buy.  I'm considering the Cannondale T700 and T2000, the Trek 520, and the Fuji Touring and Fuji World.  Any suggestions?

Offline valygrl

Choosing a touring bike
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2005, 02:42:29 pm »
I haven't done the parkway, but I did cross the ridges in PA last year... steep!

I ride a Trek 520, haven't tried the others.  My only comment is that the stock gearing on the Trek is too high (30x32).  I swapped out my rings for 28-39-50 and my cassette to 11-34 and am much happier.

Happy touring!

Offline blueridge

Choosing a touring bike
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2005, 08:21:03 pm »

I have heard others claim that the gearing was too high on the Trek 520 for touring in the mountains.  I also heard that you couldn't just replace the lower ring.  Did you replace the entire crank and the derailleur?
Are there any nice long routes for touring in the PA mountains?  I've driven across PA a few times, but have never biked there.

Offline valygrl

Choosing a touring bike
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2005, 09:04:32 pm »
Grr, i just typed a long reply and my browser ate it.

I just replaced the rings (middle and granny), not the der. or cranks.  It works just fine, esp. since it is friction shifting.  I think it would be more trouble on one of the STI-equipped bikes.

If you want to go lower than 28 (26??) you have to go to a MTB crank, and then you need a bb and maybe a der.  I thought about doing this, but the snowball effect of all the stuff you need to replace made me balk at the cost.

I think you would have shifing problems if you just replaced the granny and not the middle ring.  

The 520 comes with a road crank and mtb rear der, which works fine with an 11-34 9-speed cassette.

I rode across PA on one of the state-marked PA bike routes (the southernmost route), there are like 6 routes criss-crossing the state.  There is a state bike coordinator (uh.... David Gordon?  ??)  who was REALLY helpful to me with routing, I talked to him on the phone for an hour.  The state bike routes are available on line, as printable maps, and the route is very well marked by road signs.  try googling "Bike PA"

PA was the scariest place I rode in the whole US in terms of traffic, and also one of the most difficult in terms of steepness of hills.  It was also really beautiful and historic.  

Oh yeah... and what gears you need is determined by how much crap you carry - I was fully self-supported / camping/cooking, bike weight around 80 lbs.

Have fun!

Offline valygrl

Choosing a touring bike
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2005, 09:06:58 pm »
here ya go....


and DEFINITELY do the rail trail it is sweet!  just fine with road tires, too.


This message was edited by valygrl on 2-25-05 @ 5:14 PM

Offline RussellSeaton

Choosing a touring bike
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2005, 01:40:51 am »
You can just replace the inner chainring on the Shimano crankset that comes on the Trek 520.  Smallest it will accept is a 24 tooth.  It is the standard 74 mm bolt circle diameter.  There will be a 28 tooth difference between the outer chainring (52) and the inner chainring (24).  The front derailleur will handle this, despite Shimano's brochure saying it will not.  I would advise putting on a Third Eye chain watcher or the N Gear Jump Stop chain watcher.  Cheap insurance against the chain dropping off to the inside.

You can also replace the rear cassette.  Something with a 34 big cog in back is advisable.  A 24x34 low gear should get you up most climbs.  With the chain lengthened (new chain) to fit the biggest ring in front (52) and the biggest cog in back (34), the chain will droop quite a bit when using the smaller cogs in back with the 24 tooth inner chainring.  You will be somewhat restricted to just using the bigger cogs in back when using the 24 tooth inner chainring.  Not a problem really since you won't be in the inner chainring unless you are really climbing.  Also the chain will drag on the bottom of the front derailleur cage if you try to use the small cogs in back when using the 24 tooth inner chainring.  Not a problem.  The MTB rear derailleur will clear the 34 tooth rear cog.

Back in 1992 I bought a 1991 Trek 520.  It was pretty similar to the bike you can buy now in parts.  Pathetic gearing from the factory, just like today.  I had the shop where I bought it change the inner 28 chainring to a 24 tooth.  Then I bought a single 32 cog for the back from a shop and replaced the 28 big cog with the bigger 32 cog on the cassette.  Front chainrings were 50-45-24.  Rear cogs were 12-14-16-18-21-24-32.  Not the best gearing but I rode 4,000 miles around Europe in the summer of 1992.  The low gear was just barely low enough.  My newest gearing is 45-42-20 chainrings and 14-16-18-21-24-28-34 cogs.  Half step plus super granny.

I've since replaced the Trek 520 frame/fork with a new Redline Conquest Tour aluminum frame/fork.  The Trek 520 was too small from the day I bought it.  It just took 12 years for me to finally decide I should replace it.  I've test ridden the Cannondale T2000 bike.  I liked it a lot and considered buying it.  Except I thought I really wanted a 26" MTB wheel size for a new touring bike.  The T2000 was about $1600 a few years ago.  The Trek 520 is $1100 today.  I would guess the Cannondale T800 is priced close to the Trek 520.  But I see the Cannondale T800 comes with a 4 arm mountain bike crank with a 26 inner ring.  See what the smallest ring you can put on this crank is before buying.  The T800 does appear to come with a 34 cog in back.  And it comes with STI instead of bar end shifters.  Not sure if this is a positive or negative.

I don't think you can go wrong buying the Trek 520 or either Cannondale.  I have not seen a Fuji Touring bike so cannot comment on them.  Another option is to buy a Surly Long Haul Trucker frame/fork for $390 from Harris Cyclery or your local bike shop (Surly is made by QBP, the main supplier of parts to all USA bike shops) and then build it up with parts.  You would come out fairly close to the Trek 520 in price and have the complete control to choose everything yourself.  Or you could buy a mountain bike and convert it over to drop handlebars and a rigid fork for touring.  Fairly easy and not too expensive.

Lot of options and they all work well.  Just make sure you can get a low gear of 24x34 (Russell's recommended minimum low gear) and you can easily attach racks/pannier or a trailer.  And the bike should be the right fit of course.

This message was edited by RussellSeaton on 2-27-05 @ 9:49 PM

Offline kjim

Choosing a touring bike
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2005, 08:16:04 pm »
  The gearing seems to be high on most prebuilt touring bikes like Trek 520, Cannondale T800 & T2000, and the Fuji touring. The fuji world has lower gearing but has 32 spoke wheels.
  If you decide on the upgrades that you wnat when you buy the bike and get them at the same time, most lbs
will discount the cost of the upgrade to make up for the parts you don't get.
   I've read some complaints on the front fork of the Cannondale T2000 and its ability to take a front rack.
  If you decide on the T2000 you might be wise to get a front rack and panniers at the same shop to amke sure they work or go for a different fork such as the one the T800 uses.  This is if you are planning to use panniers rather than a trailer
Jim K