Author Topic: Lighter weight touring options  (Read 7776 times)

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Offline joan

Lighter weight touring options
« on: January 04, 2007, 04:30:14 pm »
Until today, my husband and I had been looking at loaded-touring bikes for a 2000+ mile trip this summer, but today I got a reco from my doctor (an avid cyclist herself) to go lighter on the weight, due to some knee problems.  So, while we still want to do this trip, we are now looking at other equipment options.  The three main ones are:

a) I get a lighter weight sport touring bike, and my husband get the Cannondale T800 that we have been looking at, and he carry more of the stuff;

b) we both get lighter touring bikes and we get a BOB YAK trailer that my husband would tow; or

c) we both get lighter touring bikes, give up on the camping, and just use panniers and take less stuff.

We want the flexibility for future credit card touring trips of using light panniers without a trailer as well.   What are the thoughts out there on the plusses and minuses of these options?   Any other suggestions?  Suggestions on what those "lighter weight sport touring bikes" should be (trying to stay under $1500 per bike)?

Thanks in advance for your help...  this is a great forum!
   --Joan & Mike

Offline ptaylor

Lighter weight touring options
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2007, 10:02:30 pm »
Hi again Joan. Sorry to hear about your knee problem. But, frankly, I don't agree with your doctor. Rather than reducing weight, I would look at limiting my mileage. Here are some thoughts. Take them for what they are worth.

  • Think about fewer miles per day and more rest days. You can only reduce weight so-much, but there is almost no limit to how much you can reduce miles.
  • On total weight, 120 + 25 + 50 = 195 lbs (You + bike + gear). If you add/subtract a few pounds for your bike, and a few for your gear, it doesn't really make a lot of difference. If your gear and panniers were over 60 lbs I might get concerned because of bike handling issues, but I don't think you will get there.
  • Credit card tours are nice, but often a motel is out of the way, or a long day's ride.
  • As I understand the definition of a 'sport touring' bike, they are not suitable for loaded touring. The difference is the length of the chain-stay. Loaded touring bikes give you enough clearance between the heel of your foot and the rear pannier so that your heel doesn't hit the pannier. Sport bikes do not.
  • Have you considered a tandem with panniers and a Bob? I've never done that combo, but maybe someone else on this forum has.

Whatever you decide, I wish you the best. Your bike trip sounds like a wonderful idea to me. I'm one of your fans.


Offline biker_james

Lighter weight touring options
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2007, 08:21:23 am »
I think it would be more relevant to look at lower gearing for the bike, rather than just the weight carried. No matter how little weight, if you are riding in too high a gear it will put extra strain on your knees. An unloaded bike with a 30/25 low gear is probably putting more stress on your knees than a loaded touring bike with a 24/34 low gear. I would recommend getting the Cannondale, put a 24 tooth granny ring (or just put on a MTB crankset) and try not to overload. Be sure you shift down before straining too hard. Unfortunately, I think the only way you'll find out if it works is to try it on some shorter trips. You might also want to be sure to keep your knees warm-they catch a lot of wind, without the warming that keeps your muscles warm, and cold knees are more susceptible to injury.

Offline miles2go

Lighter weight touring options
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2007, 10:22:49 am »
What kind of knee trouble are we talking about?

My knees always feel stronger/better after our yearly 30 day tour and I had knee trouble with an ACL replacement ten years ago.

I would think you'd be fine on the Cannondale if you get the right frame size.  Generally speaking, a sport touring bike will have shorter chainstays as mentioned and have a more upright/forward riding position.  Furthermore, sport touring bikes typically have caliper brakes which limits tire size.

Trailer or panniers is an eternal debate and the outcome depends on the rider's personal preference.  Using one isn't a good way to try limiting what you carry.

Nancy and I always carry the camping gear.  Even if we intend to stay in hotels there's always a day or two that we need or want to camp.

Like others said, I'd focus on seeing that the gearing is right for your touring needs.  The T800 already comes with a 34t rear cog and 26/36/48.  Not a bad place to start and it would be very simple to change the 26 out for something lower.


« Last Edit: April 28, 2010, 03:15:45 am by miles2go »

Offline RussellSeaton

Lighter weight touring options
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2007, 12:22:16 pm »
I think the Cannondale T800 bikes are somewhat light.  A racing, sport touring bike may be a pound or two or three lighter.  Similarly equipped.  Triple crank, STI, big cog cassette, etc.  Mostly due to a carbon fork instead of the 1.5 pound heavier steel fork on the T800.  Maybe a couple other things too.  But total bike weight is not much different.  So if that is the bike you want, get it.  Its versatile.  Put on skinnier tires.  And use it for credit card touring.  Just plan your routes so there are motels/hotels at the right spots.

Jobst Brandt, famous wheel builder book writer, does summer tours in Europe credit card touring.  He travels very light, MINIMAL, on his racing style bike.  Its another option of bicycle touring.  Here is a link to his packing list.  You can also get to his tour writeups from this page.  You can survive quite happily on a bike ride without carrying everything under the sun.  In the vast majority of the world you are not in the middle of nowhere.  There are people all around to get emergency assistance from.  You don't have to take everything for every imaginable problem.  And you don't have to have a clean set of clothes twice a day on and off the bike.

Offline wanderingwheel

Lighter weight touring options
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2007, 01:55:38 pm »
I agree that weight is probably a red herring here.  Your knee doesn't know how much weight is on the bike, it only knows how much force you are putting into your pedals and your rpm.  This is most easily addressed by keeping your gearing in mind at all times.  Any time you fomd yourself trying to force the pedals, lower your gear.

As for reducing weight, I wouldn't worry too much about the bike at first.  Look at what you are carrying and what you are using.  It is much cheaper and more effective to simply leave things at home rather than buying super-light gear.  

Next, consider your method of touring.  I have this theory that the amount of discomfort experienced on a tour can never be reduced, it can only be moved.  Carry a lot of gear and you will live like a king in camp, but may struggle climbing hills.  Go with a "stupid-light" load and riding will feel easy, but camping may be less than enjoyable.  Or move the discomfort to your wallet with a credit card tour.

I've done a few short tours with "stupid-light" loads of 15 pounds or less.  I fashioned my loads after the Ray Way of backpacking.  When travelling this light, you must always be aware of your surroundings and what you will be facing in the near future.  It is almost impossible to stay warm and dry regardless of the weather with such a light load.  Instead, you must pick your camping spots based on local terrain in order to find the spots that will be the warmest and most sheltered.  For instance, opt for a grove of trees on the shoulder of hill rather than an exposed hilltop.


Offline Dan_E_Boye

Lighter weight touring options
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2007, 02:50:01 pm »
Not to be rude but one thing to consider when reducing touring weight is body fat.  I know a lot of cyclist don't have much to spare, but I also know that some of us do.  For those who do it is something to consider.  I lost about 40 lbs before I did the Trans Am.  It sure made a difference.  

Offline joan

Lighter weight touring options
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2007, 08:56:38 pm »
Thanks for all of the great suggestions! We are going to think on it over the weekend and then probably order the T800's with skinnier tires than the standard 35c. And we had planned all along to change the crank set to one with a 22 tooth ring that the bike shop offered.  Then, putting some thought into less and lower weight gear (but I need my thick sleeping bag pad!!) and lots of thought into using the proper gears and not waiting too long before downshifting. Now I feel better. I'll feel even better after we take a few trial runs. Will any of you be doing the new Underground Railroad route this year?  We are really looking forward to it! Thanks again!