Author Topic: Newbie gear questions - which bike?  (Read 7706 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline iconnelly

Newbie gear questions - which bike?
« on: April 11, 2005, 01:37:31 am »
Hi, I've been reading the forums here a bit and they're really interesting. Thought I'd jump in and post my 'dilemma.'

I'm in my early 30s, only been cycling for 3 years seriously (commute on a fixie, road-riding on the wknds).  A friend and I are planning on riding from Crescent City home to San Francisco in June. He's a more experienced cyclist, just bought a Rivendell Atlantis.

I've been trying to pick a bike. I know, everyone posts this question. Basic problem is that when considering Rivendell or extremely purpose-built makers like Co-Motion, Bruce Gordon, there're no shops here (San Francisco) that I can ride a built-up version in my size. Price range is probably $3k at the top-end with a little wiggle room; looking for a bike that's sturdy and (ideally) would bridge the tour/commuter/road barrier, with the idea I'd take up seasonal touring regularly. I'm unlikely to ever take up racing.

I've liked the Waterford 1300 I rode at American but am not sure it's suitable for 50lbs of gear.

Today a shop steered me from a Surly LHT & put me on a Ti Airborne Carpe Diem w/24 spoke Mavic Speed City rims/hub, which seemed utterly cyclocross to me. I've found at least one picture of one of these loaded up for touring, but does anyone here have experience with them? My idea of loaded touring seems incompatible with Ti frames/disc brakes/carbon fork.

Going to ride a Rivendell Atlantis this wknd, which is maybe what I want deep-down, but I'm pretty lost in the analysis/paralysis obsession. Have people who've ordered Co-Motion or Bruce Gordon bikes done it without having ridden one?

Any advice on the above vague questions would be really helpful.

Thanks in advance!



  • Guest
Newbie gear questions - which bike?
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2005, 12:08:59 pm »
I may be a bit "old school" on this, but I would prefer a traditional build of a steel frame, steel fork, strong wheels with plenty of spokes and a relaxed, upright riding position.

Low spoke count wheels and carbon fiber are all the rage these days. They look great in the showroom and may be prized by the club riding set, but I wouldn't quite trust them under a full load. Of course, I'm  certain that somewhere, someone is proving different by circumnavigating Siberia with just such a setup!

My newest bike was ordered over the phone. It's a Bike Friday folder...a Pocket Gnu built up for loaded touring/commuting/trail riding. I supplied all the requested measurements and can say that the bike fits very well. In my neighborhood, southern Florida, touring bikes are almost non-existent in the local shops. One would have to order a bike sight unseen. I recall spying a Cannandale model a few years back, but not much else. Surprisingly, such is not the case with recumbents. I could drive to a nearby shop and pick up a touring ready 'bent in short order.



Offline valygrl

Newbie gear questions - which bike?
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2005, 03:14:44 pm »
You might try the Bicycle Outfitter in Los Altos, they are very touring oriented.  

Is there a reason you are not considering "off the shelf" models such as the c-dale or the trek?  I am super happy with my trek 520, I almost bought a BG, went up to Petaluma to meet him, but I didn't want to buy a bike w/o riding it.  

Offline iconnelly

Newbie gear questions - which bike?
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2005, 04:28:00 pm »
Well, at one shop in the city I went to ride the C-dale, only to have one of the staff say they didn't recommend it (or any other aluminum touring bikes). I rode a 520 that was clearly the wrong size for me (it was 21 cm, I'm 6'2", the shop didn't have a 25cm) and while I liked the gearing/components, it felt a little wrong to me. Maybe it was all size?

So, you went to Petaluma but BG doesn't have any bikes built...even if you call ahead? I was going to call him this week. Hrmm.

lucky 13, I haven't considered a Friday or a recumbent.  But yes, I was writing because whilst a newbie I'm also  biased towards steel for most applications. I liked the Ti bike's stiffness/lightness but was puzzled because it seemed like it was a cross bike in cross clothing with eyelets for racks.

Thanks for your suggestions, all.

Offline sunfisher

Newbie gear questions - which bike?
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2005, 05:21:23 pm »
Hmmm... Auld School.  Fuji's been making a touring series since at least 1980 or '81. (Back when Trek's big model was the 728 or some such number).  I've always thought the brazed on spoke holder was a nice touch.

I've no personal experience with it, but the geometry looks promising (wheelbase, angles), and at 840 msrp you've some room left for good racks, maybe a different chainring and whatever else.  You might actually be able to find one in a store somewhere.

'05 Fuji Touring

Offline RussellSeaton

Newbie gear questions - which bike?
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2005, 05:36:39 pm »
"I've liked the Waterford 1300 I rode at American but am not sure it's suitable for 50lbs of gear."

Why isn't it suitable for 50 pounds of gear?  Waterford markets the 1300 as one of their two fully loaded touring bikes.  I suspect it will handle 50 pounds as well as any of the other loaded touring bikes you mentioned.

There is nothing wrong with aluminum touring bikes.  I have one now and it works just fine.  I suspect the Cannondale T800 is the second most common loaded touring bike in the US, after the Trek 520.  Nothing wrong with titanium touring bikes.  Except the price.  I had a Trek 520 that was too small for me.  So I eventually replaced the frame/fork.  I test rode my Trek 520 before buying and still bought a too small bike.  I did not test ride the replacement Redline aluminum frame/fork but ended up with the right size.  I have ridden long enough to know what my right size frame is.

I think any bike sold today advertised as a fully loaded touring bike will work just fine for touring.  As for getting the right size, hopefully you know what size you need from riding other bikes.  Hopefully.  Then pick the right frame size from the geometry chart.  You can adjust a fair amount with stem, bars, seatpost if you are fairly close to the right size.  Its not that huge of problem.  Assuming you are sort of average dimensions yourself.  And I am pretty sure the reputable makers you mentioned will be happy to talk to you about sizing to see that you end up with the right size bike.  And I think many of them have programs to send bikes to local shops for you to try, no strings attached.  Call them up and talk to them.

The Surly Long Haul Trucker frame/fork is a very good place to start building a loaded touring bike.  $400 frame/fork.  I would choose it over the Trek 520 today.  The Trek 520 seems to use the same length top tube in its largest three sizes.  21", 23", and 25" frames.  I test rode a 23" Trek 520 a couple years ago.  It felt the same in length, too short, as my old 21" Trek 520.  I'm 5'11" so the 23" frame size is the right size.  I toured many thousands of miles on my too small Trek 520 so poor bike fit is not a hinderance.

I do recommend a second bike for recreational riding.  I have never considered my loaded touring bike fun to ride.  It provides me with fun when I visit places and see things.  But its not fun to ride compared to my lighter, livelier racing bikes.  I don't race them.  I just ride them for fun.

Offline iconnelly

Newbie gear questions - which bike?
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2005, 05:53:32 pm »
re: Waterford. Yes, I'm probably wrong about this one. Good point. When I started doing research a few months ago, the LHT was my first choice, but for some reason shops keep turning me away from it, claiming the current construction isn't as good as Surly's reputation would indicate. I'm at the point where I can't tell where personal opinion intersects with shop/brand politics!

Good pointer on the Fuji, sunfisher! There are a half-dozen shops near me that are Fuji dealers. I'll have to call around and see what they've got.

At this point I can (barely) afford the upper end of expensive bikes mentioned but certainly wouldn't turn away any bike 1/3 the price that felt good to me.