Author Topic: Bicycles for off-road riding  (Read 9151 times)

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Offline dracolytch

Bicycles for off-road riding
« on: March 24, 2010, 04:33:34 pm »
Ok, so I'm thinking about upgrading and getting a new bicycle. I'd love some thoughts as to what folks are using, and have found to be good/bad.

I do a lot of off-road riding. I'm not a mountain-biker who's hopping logs or doing any crazy-pants downhill suicide runs, but I'm also not happy just sticking to pavement. I'm often doing unpaved bike paths, rail trails, canal towpaths, and such. Sure, I run into the occasional mud-pit or fallen tree, but that's really a small fraction of my cycle time.

I'm currently using a Raleigh comfort bike which I've given more rugged tires. It's a 24 speed, and I use the entire gear range. Last summer I rode 250 miles in Maine, and it did pretty good. I'm fairly happy with it, though I'm NOT happy with the number of stock pieces I've had to replace (The tires had an issue on the bead line, my bike shop had to replace so many spokes at no charge, that they eventually just gave me a new rear wheel).

I'm just over 6" tall, and so I've been considering getting a 29" bike. However, I'm a bit concerned about the body position for long rides, plus the lack of available parts when I'm riding in more rural areas.

My bike seems to be a decent fit for the riding I do, but I sometimes get the feeling I'm at the upper-end of my bike's capacity/durability. Does anyone have some thoughts or experiences that might be enlightening?

Offline dracolytch

Re: Bicycles for off-road riding
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2010, 09:43:18 pm »
My dad actually mentioned a recumbant bike might be good, and I think he has an interesting idea. Does anyone know where I can get reliable info on recumbants? Thoughts, suggestions, experiences, etc?


Offline luckylarue

Re: Bicycles for off-road riding
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2010, 10:06:02 am »
Draco - Check out the Salsa Fargo.  I don't have one but it seems geared for off-road adventure travel.  I have a Surly Karate Monkey 29er that I run single speed that I love & I'm only 5'6.5".  The thing w/ the Karate Monkey is you've got options.  Run it single-speed or geared, racks for panniers, rigid or suspension fork, etc.  Imo, unless you're riding a lot of gnarly, technical single-track, you don't need suspension.  I ride the monkey full rigid over plenty of northern New Mexico rocky/tech trails - no prob.  The km climbs great, corners great and cruises really nice on the smooth stuff - even pavement.  Alright, enough of the Surly commercial...just my 2 cents.


Offline tsteven4

Re: Bicycles for off-road riding
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2010, 06:05:48 pm »
It is amazing what you can do with a little skill and a 700c touring bike with larger (x35, x38) tires.  For example we did the Cinnamon pass 4WD road last summer on our Bruce Gordon BLTs with 700cx37 tires fully loaded.  You can always walk a little.

Lately I picked up a used BG RNR EX, the 26" tires should make this sort of thing easier and reduce the probability of taco-ing a wheel, but I have some concern about the highway sections with the 26" tires.  Time will tell.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2010, 06:13:08 pm by tsteven4 »

Offline vanvalks

Re: Bicycles for off-road riding
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2010, 08:18:51 pm »
For anything you ever wanted to know about recumbents and more, go to  It is a very active board and the regulars between them know everything about recumbents.


Offline EnduroDoug

Re: Bicycles for off-road riding
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2010, 02:22:59 pm »
Regarding 700c wheels off-road... I've been riding the bigger wheels for mountain biking for 4 years now, including a 7 day 350-mile off-road tour through the Canadian Rockies in BC and a 3-day crossing of the Kokopelli Trail in CO/UT and numerous lengthy day-trips on very rugged singletrack in the Cascades and have not had a single problem with the wheels. In fact, after the first year riding the 29" wheels, I tried to go back to the 26" and just didn't feel safe anymore (mental, I know, but it is what it is). And I love how they maintain momentum through the rollers and on pavement or forest road.

If you get them built good and solid (I have Bontrager Mustang OSB rims) the chance of tacoing one is very slight. I have another 29er with a set of DT swiss wheels that I've been hitting even burlier terrain and doing some 3 to 4 foot drops and big rocky singletrack rides with and the wheels are staying as true as the day I bought the bike. My point is: don't worry about the incredibly slight chance of tacoing a wheel out there. It can happen, sure, but after thousands of miles on singletrack and unpaved roads of all conditions, I can safely say it's not even something I worry about for a split-second.

I currently ride a Moots Mooto-X YBB (1" soft-tail 29er), a Kona Unit-29 (singlespeed 29er), and a Specialized Stumpjumper 29er (full-suspension 29er). In the process of converting the Moots into a touring bike by switching from hydro disc brakes to mechanicals, getting rack eyelets installed, and swapping out the fancy XTR components for something a bit less fragile.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2010, 02:27:29 pm by EnduroDoug »

Offline cyclingsteve

Re: Bicycles for off-road riding
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2010, 02:34:00 pm »
I agree with Endurodoug... I no longer own any 26" wheels ... I run 29er or 700c wheels on all my bikes and my newest build (hopefully done tomorrow!) will be a Salsa Vaya (great for dirt roads!).  The wheelset is one I had built using Bontrager Duster rims (they can be run tubed or tubeless) on DT Swiss hubs - they're 32 hole with heavy, straight gauge spokes for strength.  I've run them on a SS  hardtail 29er mtb with a rigid fork and a Fox 100 suspension fork. The same set will be  used on my on/off road tourer - the Vaya but now they'll get some 700x38 Schwalbe Marathon Cross tires. 


Offline Tourista829

Re: Bicycles for off-road riding
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2010, 03:15:47 pm »
If you want to follow your dad's advice about recumbent (s), contact Ask for Mark he knows his stuff and would be very helpful. Sticker shock may surprise you.

Offline Galloper

Re: Bicycles for off-road riding
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2010, 02:36:55 pm »
Don't buy a Salsa Fargo...   I recently bought one and when loaded up for touring it proved dangerously unsafe.   I informed Salsa of this but they have chosen not to reply from which you may draw your own conclusions!

You don't mention a budget but a Koga Miyata World Traveler will take you anywhere you want to go.   If you can get hold of one in the USA a Dawes Karakum might be just about perfect for your needs.   It comes with 700 X 38 wheels/tyres, Deore kit, comfy trekking bars and full racks and fenders.   I've used mine on plenty of tracks and trails and it copes extremely well.   Check out, I think they will ship worldwide