Touring - Not best but good bike??
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08-25-05, 08:06 AM
I have a dream to someday (within the next few years) tour the US coast to coast. I'd like to know what bikes are out there that would be a good, yet within a tight budget, to use. Litespeed, Trek,....? I figure I'll pick out a bike and start saving for it now and hopefully shortly before I'm ready to go I'll find one at a decent price. Right now I use a new Trek 3900 MTB that I installed Kevlar street tires, rear rack and Brooks B17 Champion Special saddle. I've thought of using it for the tour but feel like a normal touring bike would be better. Any thoughts on that? Thanks for any help or advice given.
I'm very much in favour of the 700c style real touring bike for NA road touring. However, a lot of the really big stuff these days is done on mountain bikes, partly because a lot of people these days know no other kind of bike, and obviously also because they are arguably more versatile for rugged terain. Check out the sites where folks are blazing a trail across Africa, or wilderness Asia, etc... And you are likely to see mountain bikes. Certainly a more convincing use than running to the corner store for a paper.
To a certain extent, every choice is just a rationalization for a person's prefered equipment. A slight mdification to route or itinerary might mandate a switch to a mountain bike or even recumbent.
For a very cheap touring bike, you could do something like blend together some mountain bike parts, on a Nashbar touring frame, or Surly LHT. Start testing this stuff out now, and break in that Brooks seat, and then you will be ready when the time comes for your trip. There are lots of builds from those frames, so do a search, and you will learn about the appropriate components regardless of what frame you choose.
08-25-05, 04:14 PM
jamis aurora. probably the cheapest "touring conscious" bike you can buy off the shelf. if you want to spend some more money upgrade the wheelset or look at the bianchi volpe.
my volpe made it across the county last summer with a jamis aurora following behind.
in all honesty, you can make it across on pretty much anything within reason (flame away). your current steed will do fine. ultimately, it comes down reliability and comfort. beyond that it starts to get compulsive.
you have a bunch of choices. Depends a lot on you and your budget. The Surly LHT is hard to beat if the geometry works for you.
You could even cannibalise parts off your Mtn bike. Check out the trek 520, and all the other econo-tourers.. Be careful with your choice of panniers. Some of the cheap ones aren't relaible.
08-25-05, 05:31 PM
The Trek 3900 may be a little week for the distance you want to travel and I would not recommend using suspension. However, I would continue to use it and start looking for a nice sturdy bike for touring - either a rigid MTB or a road touring. I have both types of bikes for touring and most of my touring and ridding has been on a MTB. This year I found a classic 1988 Miyata 1000 which I rebuilt and I have a 1992 Rocky Mountain Hammer which has about 8000-9000 kilometres on it. If I was to do a long distance tour, I think I would choose the Rocky Mountain, rebuild it with modern components, and use a trailer. The key to happy touring is to use the strongest parts available; who wants to ruin a trip of a lifetime with a worn bottom bracket or a bent axle? Oh and good breaks are a must!
My wife has toured extensively solo, and she just goes to some place, picks up a crap 3 speed, and gets on the job. I don't mean a new 3 speed...
In the old days pre MTB, there were lots of touring bikes, and as pointed out above, they all did pretty well. One of the concequences of touring falling a little to the wayside is that now there are a few pretty well known options, be they Surly, Trek, or Canondale, and probably an increased number of customs. This creates the impresio that the choices are narrow for a reason (other than the collapse of the market), but in fact there are any number of sturdy bikes.
Also back then few of the components were up to todays stadards, the cheaper cranks were steel, as were the deraileurs, and plastic. Rims were often steel. We didn't have all these fast shifting alloy groupos to chose from.
It's all good.
08-26-05, 02:33 PM
In the old days pre MTB, there were lots of touring bikes, and as pointed out above, they all did pretty well.
there was a time when I toured miles and miles on heavier steel frames, double chainrings, 5-speed freewheels, junk rope-tied of bungie corded all over the place. We never complained. It's as if the world is a MUCH harder place to ride on... NOT
Steel frames are more forgiving over the weeks and miles.
Once could find a well build steel frame with a relaxed geometry and build it up
The Aurora (which I recently got) seems a nice option (still have not toured on it)
The Trek 520 is a good choice
my first tour, a 300+ mile round trip, w/four friends, consisted of:
A single speed, 26" Schwinn
A Schwinn Varsity (mine)
a Schwinn Varsity (only a few gears actually worked)
A schwinn 5-speed upright
we had a blast
(foot note: we were all 14-15 years old)
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