Author Topic: info overload, help!  (Read 5747 times)

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Offline Wild Dave

info overload, help!
« on: September 10, 2011, 03:36:04 pm »
randoneering, touring, 650b? i want the "jeep" of bikes that'll ride the road, ride the dirt, option to ride in different parts of the world with easily obtainable parts, sturdy, reliable,time tested frame.
   i have a middle weight gear package from years of long distance hiking.
pbh-80, 5'9.5'' tall/ fairly short legs and fairly long torso, 190 lbs, budget @ $1.500.00. give or take $500.00, or maybe just a little more.
  i've browsed online at soma saga, surley l.h.t., velo orange, drooled over some rivendells, sevens, i.f.'s. most likey this will be my one and only touring bike as i'm not a spring rooster anymore, so would like to purchase a ride that'll stand the test of time.
 thanks for any and all imput

Offline John Nelson

Re: info overload, help!
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2011, 05:12:48 pm »
There are no bikes that are good for both long-distance touring on roads and for single-track mountain biking. But if we can cross single-track off the list, and if we can cross fast club rides off the list, then almost any bike sold as a touring bike will do, and most of them are in your budget.

Both the Surly Long Haul Trucker and the Trek 520 fit your requirements, as well as many of the other bikes listed in the bicycle buyer's guide right here on this site.

Here's my recommendation. Print out the guide. Go visit all of the local bike shops in your area, including REI if you have one. Ask them which of the bikes on the list they have on the floor (probably none). Then ask them which of them they can order for you, without obligation. Ride two or three up and down the steepest hill around. Buy the one that feels the best to ride. If two both feel good, but the one you like the looks of best.

Don't fall into analysis paralysis. There are many bikes that will do just fine. Don't worry about getting the "best"--there is no best. Just get one that meets your requirements and fits you like a glove.

If you have no bike shops near you, or none of them are willing to order a bike for you without obligation, then determine your size using online sizing guides and order either the Surly LHT or the Trek 520, whichever one you like the looks of best.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: info overload, help!
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2011, 09:21:47 pm »
I wish it were possible to peg John's response up near the top, as he's boiled down many posts into a single, well-written response with a good foundation.

However, fools rush in, so I'll add "things I look for in a touring bike" on to his answer.  Note almost all the bikes currently sold for loaded touring meet almost all these additional requirements.

 - Low gearing.  I think it's almost impossible to get too low, but 20 gear inches is a good maximum minimum gear.  16-18 would be better.  Honestly, you won't care too much about the high gear, but anything over 100 gear inches will see pitifully little use.

 - Long chain stays.  Keep big feet from knocking rear panniers.

 - Provision for mounting front and rear racks.  You can use P-clamps (except maybe on carbon), but it's really nice to have everything build into the bike.

 - Good geometry for those front racks.  I don't know what makes it good, but you'll have lots of fun wrestling with tight turns on a loaded bike; don't add to it unnecessarily.

 - Provision for getting the bar close to level with the saddle.  Some people like low bars, but most of us prefer to sit up a bit and see what we're riding past.  Next to nobody complains they can't get bars low enough, but lots of people try to get the bars further up.  Don't let anybody cut the steerer on a threadless headset until you've ridden it for a year!

 - Built for wide tires.  In 700C, that means 28 or wider.  I prefer 32-35, and some people and makers like really fat tires, like 37-40.  These carry the load at reasonable tire pressures, and absorb some of the shock that would otherwise end up at your tush.

 - Room for fenders.  You'll get some argument here from people who only ride in dry areas, but I dislike getting road spray on my shoes and chain.

 - Room for at least two water bottles.  Three might be better. 

I'll add that for off-road and third-world touring, you might prefer 26" tires.  You can make them work on the road as well, just by using slicks instead of knobby tires.  In addition, though this may be more controversial, 9-speed seems to be the newest that's widely available.

Back to echoing what John wrote, do try out as many touring bikes as you can.  Try to get them as close to identical fits as possible, but there's usually one or two that just ride better than anything else.  Get that one -- you'll like riding it, so you'll ride it more.  There's nothing sadder than a high-end bike rusting in the garage because the owner doesn't like to ride it.

Offline PeteJack

Re: info overload, help!
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2011, 10:50:19 pm »
When I was looking for a bike I went to my LBS and said "I want a steel touring bike" (I'd read that steel had a more comfortable. "You need a Trek 520" said the man. 28000 miles later which includes a TransAm, the Sierra Cascades this summer and a bunch of other stuff. I'm pretty sure he was right. It is a heavy bike and on club rides you are sometimes struggling to keep up but by the time you are loaded with touring gear your total weight is not much less than with any other bike. Hurtling downhill and on rough roads or both the stability of the 520 is reassuring. The only time I've ever experienced wheel shimmy was on my Specialized Roubaix

Some suggestions: (1) get a really small granny ring, mine's 24T (2) when climbing don't be coy about using your smallest ring. Staying too long in your middle ring is tiring and hard on your knees.(3) get a professional fitting to get your saddle and bar height right. Mine was all wrong until I paid for a fitting. It was like getting 5 lbs taken off the bike!

Now having said all that I'm sure the LHT is a fine bike as are others. Just pick one and get out there.

Offline bogiesan

Re: info overload, help!
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2011, 11:04:38 am »
PeteJack, you were veery fortunate to have met a knowledgable sales person who was not only able to give you excellent advice, but who was willing to outfit you properly instead of siply meet his shop's quotas. I hope you have continued to patronize that shop.

I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline dombrosk

Re: info overload, help!
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2011, 06:56:51 am »
Lots of good advice already here... I want to focus on three things.

First,  the 5' 9" height angle.

Happens to be my height also, and for bicycles that can be a tricky fit situation, especially if you want an upright riding position.  I really wanted a Surley LHT, but couldn't make it work with an upright riding position due to a tall stand-over height (painful combination with short legs).  For a few years I toured in a modified Surley Cross-Check, but while the stand-over height was good, the frame geometry was a bit too 'lively' for me, I wanted more stability for touring.

Stand-over height is a frame dimension which most cyclists don't need to worry about... but it can eliminate a lot of frames for those of us with a certain size shape.

Next, the 650B issue.

Not unrelated to the height.  Turns out that Surley LHT's come in 700c and 26" frame sizes, and I am kind of perfectly in-between those two.  If I were shorter, the 26" LHT would be great.  If I were taller... but actually I've reached the age where my height is dropping and my shoe size is increasing!

I looked for 650B bikes, and was struck by the Yves Gomez by Rivendell, because another part of getting older is finding a step-through frame really helpful.  But my local bike shop employs a young man who's just starting out as a framebuilder, so I asked him to build me a custom 650B mixte frame... after 6 months of commuting and a 700 mile tour in Europe it's still my favorite bike ever. 

Here's a photo of the bike:

Finally, for us no-longer spring chickens... buying a bike is a bit different when you are trying to adapt to an aging body while also considering the possibility that this may be your last bike purchase.  For me that meant designing a frame that could adjust to an increasingly upright riding position and a step-through mount.  It also meant spending more money to get exactly what I wanted.  At a certain point it doesn't make a lot of sense to wait for 'later'.

Happy shopping and happy touring!


  • Guest
Re: info overload, help!
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2011, 04:37:45 pm »
At your price point for a complete bike, you can probably forget Seven, Rivendell and IF.  (BTW...Some will tell you that IF is not the same now that it has been bought and people have left the company.)

My Surly LHT performed perfectly on all my trips, including this summer's tour 460 mile tour in Montana which included at leat 50 miles of dirt.  It wasn't single track, but some of it was pretty rough and steep. I also commute on it. It has all the desired features noted above.  There is even room for lowering the gearing by switching the small chain ring to a 22. As noted, most sizes are offered in 700c or 26".  Only the smaller sizes come in 26" only.

Like you, my inseam is relatively short compared to my torso. I am 6' 2", about 215 lbs. and wear 33" pants. The 60cm size leaves a little (but enough) standover clearence.  With the stem uncut, the seat is level with the bars, and it otherwise fits me great "upstairs."  YMMV of course.

Offline Wild Dave

Re: info overload, help!
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2011, 07:05:39 am »
thanks everyone i appreciate all your imput. thanks again

Offline DaveB

Re: info overload, help!
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2011, 09:17:52 am »
As noted, Surly will fit any size LHT frame with 26" wheels which can be used to allow stand-over clearance on a larger frame so having the bar high is easier.