Author Topic: Finding a Touring bike  (Read 4777 times)

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Offline obinja

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Finding a Touring bike
« on: May 30, 2010, 02:35:33 pm »
I want a bike that does it all. I bought a Jamis last year and did an 800 mile basically flat tour. When I hit the Rockies, it was like hitting a brick wall (geared too high for me). It's too expensive and complicated to change the drive train. I'm starting over. I'm a short legged fairly strong but older female rider. My commuter frame is 15 " with 700 wheels. Unfortunately, I'd need a new fork and new racks for the disk brakes blah blah to convert it to a touring bike. Anyway, I feel pretty secure on the smaller frame and a long seat post. I got tanked by a pick up truck two years ago and managed to limp away with only minor injuries. The bike was totalled. I am not opposed to bailing off a bike to save my life. I'd like to be able to ride the highway as well as rough county roads (dirt, gravel, mud) on the same set of wheels and bike. Maybe even some single track thrown in. I like a steel frame for just about everything except racing.The Jamis I rode last year was a little taller. Nice ride but I never felt real safe and secure on it.
I have limited funds but I'm looking at the usual suspects out there: Salsa, Surly, Jamis. Terry is nice though a little spendy for me.
Any thoughts, suggestions out there? I'm planning a ride from Colorado to California in the fall.
Never a bad day to ride...

Offline whittierider

Re: Finding a Touring bike
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2010, 04:09:04 pm »
I want a bike that does it all.

Unfortunately there is no such thing.  You probably need to decide how off-road you want to go.  If you get one that will do well for the off-road, it won't be very efficient on the road.  Unfortunately a hybrid is kind of a compromise, and as such, doesn't do really well in any area.  Road bikes (especially touring ones that allow for tires a little bigger than 25mm width) can handle hard-packed dirt roads just fine, but not going over big rocks, roots, etc..

What was there about the Jamis that made you feel insecure?  How tall are you?  Surly is definitely popular in touring circles, and for good reason.  Also, their smaller frames are made for 26" wheels which is good for shorter people.  Making a bike with 700c wheels to fit really short people requires compromising the geometry, resulting in poor handling.  There is no way around it.  The fit may be perfect, but the rider won't have the control of the bike that (s)he otherwise could.  One common tell-tale sign is the weaving, the difficulty in making the bike go really straight as you pedal.

I haven't ridden in the Rockies much, but I understand the steepness of the grades is mostly held down to about 6% because they don't want vehicles sliding off the road in the ice.  California has plenty of back roads with grades of 10-20% where ice is not a problem, but the main roads again hold it down to about 6%.

In any case, get a mirror (glasses ones work best) and learn to use it.  It's not just to see things coming for the advance warning, but rather that you can learn to get a surprising amount of control of the traffic behind if you have one.  Drivers seem to appreciate and respect that we can see behind also.  Knowing the best way to avoid or evade a situation developing ahead also depends on seeing what's behind.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2010, 04:11:51 pm by whittierider »

Offline rvklassen

Re: Finding a Touring bike
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2010, 08:36:34 pm »
You might watch the used market for a Terry.  This would give you the shorter (front to back) frame, and a 26" wheel, at least in the front, if not also the back.  Yes, they are rather pricey, new.

Offline biased bohemian

Re: Finding a Touring bike
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2010, 07:55:46 pm »
I just got through researching bikes and went with the Surly.  My first choice was the Rocky Mountain Sherpa 30.  If you have an opportunity to test drive this or buy it then i would consider it.  I have been riding the Surly for over a week now and its smooth as can be.  Surly has a large following and seems to be the old reliable in touring bikes along with the Trek.  I found the Trek to be better looking but overpriced for what it offered.  I won't be able to comment on the integrity of the Surly until I am done my cross country voyage, which will be September.
___________________________________ - an unabashedly biased look at the world from one small unapologetic man

Offline Tourista829

Re: Finding a Touring bike
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2010, 09:21:38 pm »
Obinja, an interesting user name. We sympathize with you, we have both been hit by cars, not a pleasant experience. We had to replace both our bikes. Too bad the Jamis didn't work out. I am surprised you couldn't replace the smallest gear on the front crank (granny gear) with a smaller one, change out the rear cassette to an 11-32, and if necessary replace the rear dérailleur to a longer one. The max should be around $170. If you have your heart set on a new bike, I'd go with the Surly. It will meet most of what you are looking for. I believe for the money, it is one of best values around. You could change out tires for a wider diameter for some off road use. I am Leary of toe overlap on 700c wheels on small frames. Good luck with your search. :)