Author Topic: BRP Bike Help  (Read 7885 times)

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Offline furiousapathy

BRP Bike Help
« on: September 23, 2008, 07:41:49 pm »
Hi -

I need some help with an upcoming trip.  I'm doing a self-supported tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway in a few weeks and had intended on buying a new bike.  However work got the best of me and now I'm thinking I probably should just alter my current road bike for the trip.  

I have an older Trek 5200 and I think there are four things that concern me:  

1) Rolf Vector Comp rims
2) 53/39 in front and 11-25 in back
3) fork with no practical way of attaching a rack
4) 7 year old carbon fiber.  

There are other issues but I think I'm less concerned with those (i.e. fenders).  I don't really want to cancel the trip but I'm running out of time.  

Any thoughts to keep the dream alive?


Offline whittierider

BRP Bike Help
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2008, 11:19:08 pm »
4) 7 year old carbon fiber.  

Don't worry about that part.  Carbon fiber (CF) does not fatigue like the metals do, nor is it affected by weather or just plain time.  When I was doing my research before buying my CF bike, I found that NASA had put CF panels on the roofs of airports all over the world, out in the sun and weather 24x7, and tested the strength at 3, 5, 7, and 10 years, and found no weakening.

On a slightly different note, our son T-boned a car last month whose driver turned left in front of him without yielding.  He hit the side of the car straight on at 25mph, flew over, and broke his collar bone and his nose when he hit the asphalt on the other side.  I sent the Trek Madone 5.2 SL frame and fork to Calfee, one of the most knowledgeable in the industry, for inspection, and they said the only damage was to the aluminum dropouts and derailleur hanger, not the carbon.  I am becoming more and more impressed with this material.  No metal bike would have withstood that.  I used to work in a bike shop back when all frames were steel and they were thicker (because they didn't have to compete weightwise with the other materials) and I saw a lot of bikes that had been ridden into parked cars at lower speeds.  Their forks were always bent way back, and their top tubes and down tubes were always buckled right behind the head tube.

This message was edited by whittierider on 9-23-08 @ 8:22 PM

Offline HONDO

BRP Bike Help
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2008, 07:50:51 am »
Good luck on the BRP as Its absolutely a must ride.Having said that I would just say make sure you have the appropriate gearing for that ride as the grades arent impossible but they will grdaually wear you down if your bike isnt geared low enough especially fully loaded.

Offline RussellSeaton

BRP Bike Help
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2008, 09:52:39 am »
BOB trailer.  If you're doing a fully loaded trip and carrying tent, sleeping bag, cooking stuff, etc., etc.  A BOB trailer will not put much if any load on the bike so your racing bike will be fine.  Wheels won't see any extra weight either.  Fork won't need any rack on it.  You will need lower gearing if pulling a BOB.  A triple crankset or maybe one of those compact cranks can be bought cheap.  Nashbar has many.  May need a new bottom bracket too.  And a new rear cassette of 12-27 at least can be bought cheap.  Assuming your bike is 9 speed you could also go with a 12-34 or 11-34 cassette and get a new cheap Shimano rear derailleur.  Shimano rear derailleurs for mountain bikes can be bought for less than $20.  Cheapest and easiest is to stick with yor 39 crankset and get new cheap cassette and rear derailleur.  $20 for each.  39x34 is a 30 gear inches.  Pretty low.  Changing cranks is more work and more expensive.  And with a compact crank's 34 inner ring you end up with 34x25 or 34x27 low gears of 36" or 33".

Or you could just travel uptralight and go with the bike just as it is.  Stay in motels at night.  Carry the absolute bare minimum in a seatpost rack bag.

Offline staehpj1

BRP Bike Help
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2008, 10:11:58 am »
You will want lower gearing.  The climbs on the Parkway are fairly steep and if you need to stay off the parkway you will be likely to have a VERY steep climb to get back on.  I would not find a 39-25 to be low enough.  A 26-32 is a good idea and a 24-34 even better.

Especially if you go fairly light, rear rack and panniers only should suffice.  This will depend on what you and your gear weigh.

This message was edited by staehpj1 on 9-24-08 @ 7:13 AM

Offline paddleboy17

BRP Bike Help
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2008, 12:46:34 pm »
You have a criterium bike, and most of your concerns are justified.  It is not designed to tour on, and I would be concerned about how comfortable you would be riding it all day long.  

I think you would be better off twiddling with your mountain bike, or buying new.  I am sure that your local bike shop would love to sell you a Trek 520.  You might want to have them swap the OEM crank out for an LX crank.

I also encourage you to do at least one overnight practice tour while you get the hang of your equipment.


Offline whittierider

BRP Bike Help
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2008, 04:15:35 pm »
To comment on several things above--

I have the same frame (the first one Lance won the Tour de France on), and I am quite comfortable riding it all day.  We've done countless day rides of 100-155 miles on our racing Treks.

Mine came with a 30-42-52 triple and I have a 12-26 cassette on it, so my low gear is about 31".  I virtually never use that smallest ring, but when I need it, I'm sure glad it's there.  We have a 24/34 (19") low gear on our road tandem because my wife is such a poor climber.  If worn-out bearings and chainrings and the desire to tour ever make you want to change your crankset, go for the external-bearing type.  External bearings last much longer because there's room for more and bigger ball bearings in them, and the side-to-side torque does not have nearly as much leverage on them because the left-side and right-side bearings are farther apart.  (The Q, or pedal stance, is no wider though.)  The crankset is so quick to install and remove on these that it's almost worth removing it every time you want to clean that area of the frame.  Mine has a single 8mm allen bolt and doesn't require a crank puller or any special tools-- just one allen wrench with suitable leverage, either a long handle or a cheater bar.  Since the spindle is part of the right crank arm, you'll automatically have the right length if you frequently change the cranks out for different kinds of rides.

I and our younger son were going to ride down the California coast this summer but he broke his collar bone (as mentioned in my post above) completely in two, 10 days before the planned date.  (He's back on the bike now, but since he's in school, we'll have to wait for next summer to try again.)  Our plan was to take only what we would need for staying in hotels, and keep good aerodynamics so we can go fast and have fun.  We made a list of everything we'd need and got it together and put it in my Jandd Mountaineering Mountain Wedge III seat bag which I got as an experiment.  It fit just fine, so I bought another one for him.  This seat bag has about 450 cubic inches.  I was pleasantly surprised how well behaved it was back there with the straps that go down to the chain stays.  I have a seatpost-clamp rack too, but have never used it, and we found we would not need racks for this ride.  We did many solo centuries with this bag loaded up with extra stuff we didn't need, just to try it out before the tour.  Here's the setup:

(and yes I know the seat post is on backwards.  This made attaching the bag just slighty more of a challenge with the XLab Saddlewing carrier there for two additional water bottles, but I like to sit farther forward relative to the pedals.  I'm not comfortable sitting as far back as most people do.  Both of our sons are the same way.)

If you want more room, there are seat bags that have nearly a cubic foot, like the Carradice Camper Longflap at 32x24x32cm or the Carradice Super C at 48x28x17cm, both seen at .  Another good page on them is at .  Metal stabilizers keep them from swinging around back there, or dragging on the tire.

Offline furiousapathy

BRP Bike Help
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2008, 10:38:15 pm »
Thanks for all the great feedback.  After reading the comments I spoke with several bike shops regarding the gearing since it sounded like that would be my deciding factor.  I used some online tools to estimate the inches I would need to handle the 5-10% grade hills and came to the conclusion that it wasn't responsible to attempt the trip with my bike given the limited changes I could make to the gearing and time frame I had.  

I would basically have to sink ~$400 into cranks, bottom bracket, mountain dérailleur, and cogset to get close to the inches I'd need and even then I wasn't sure it was enough and I wouldn't have enough time to tweak and tune once I would had that work completed.

The BOB trailer was a great idea, Russell.  I'll have to keep that in mind next year.  I wasn't worried about  bike comfort - as Whittie pointed out Lance road the bike in the TdF and I rode it last year on Cycle the Gorge - it's a great bike!

Anyway, I'm sure I'll enjoy the trip more next year given I've got 12 months to properly plan!!