Touring - Can one tour on a Trek 1200 road bike if they pack "Ultralight" like backpackers?
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09-27-05, 02:02 PM
So I'm thinking about getting into backpacking and so I've been reading up on all of the ultralight gear you can buy and make. Packing ultralight gear (Sleeping bag, backpack, tent, cook equipment, clothing, etc...) you can get your load weight (on your back) down to about 25 or 30lbs.
Do you think that touring and backpacking have enough overlap that you could get your touring weight down to 30 lbs?
If yes, what about for a cross-country (USA) trip?
What sacrifices do you think would be needed and would they be worth it?
Next, if weight were reduced to 30 lbs, do you think one could use a road-bike (Trek 1200) for touring instead of a touring bike? (I'm only 150lbs so that would be a total of 180lbs which seems fairly decent for a Trek 1200).
Finally, just in general terms, are road bikes such as the Trek 1200 suited to touring in terms of things like gearing and tires and durability and such? I've never been touring so I don't know what unique obstacles and demands on your bike that touring has in comparison to standard road-biking.
The short answer is yes, you can tour on your trek 1200 especially if you pack light. Most would argue that a touring bike would be better but not essential.
The issues that you _may_ have with your trek 1200 are...
1. Heel clearance with panniers installed. I can mount panniers on my trek 1000 (same frame) and I my heels don't hit the panniers.
2. You're limited as to the size of tires that you can mount. 28-622 is probably the largest.
3. Gearing may be a little high for long climbs but if you pack lightly and are in decent shape you should be ok. Does your 1200 have a triple?
That's all that I can think of at the moment. If I go on a short (overnight) trip or credit card tour (no camping) I prefer to ride my trek 1000 over my trek 520 touring bike.
09-27-05, 03:09 PM
Most bike tourists use lightweight gear - there is a lot of crossover between the two activities. However, there is a difference between a week long backpacking trip, and six weeks on the road across the country, especially if you plan to camp and cook. Unless you just want to cycle across as fast as possible you will have to think about extra clothes and shoes for evening wear, visiting friends, and sightseeing. Also, tools and spares, reading materials, etc. In some parts of the country you need to be able to carry quite a bit of water, which is very heavy. You don't have to carry much food since you can get it daily, so that helps, but likely you will still end up heavier.
Which leads to my next point - the Trek 1200 will work for credit card touring and even camping for overnight or week long tours, as Gobes mentions, but I think it is a compromise on a cross country tour. It is lighter weight and the components are designed for fast riding, not slogging along on roads that may be potholed. unpaved or in dirt. Tires, wheels, shifters and frame are all lighter weight on the 1200, and designed primarily for speed. It has a shorter wheelbase and chainstays, which may limit the use of panniers, and it probably does not have proper rack or fender mounts although there are workarounds for that. You will need a triple and the gearing may need to be lowered even more. Lastly, the shorter wheelbase and lower riding position will make for ride and handling that is fatiguing on long days in the saddle, compared to a longer wheelbase, and heavier touring bike.
That said, you can do whatever you want if you are willing to make some significant compromises in comfort, durability and the route you take. Sometimes we get too carried away with the equipment and forget that 90% of the trip will be dependent on your attitude and outlook. Whatever you do - enjoy!
09-27-05, 03:35 PM
Thanks gobes and mtnroads for your insightful responses. My long term goal is to do a coast to coast ride but in the short run my first step is to do a tour of the California coast. According to your advice, I think I will try the California tour on my Trek 1200 and see how it holds up. Depending on if that's a huge success or not I will get a touring bike for the big trip.
09-28-05, 12:13 PM
Like Gobes I have done CC touring on my Trek C1000. It has a carrier and guards on it all the time. I have had the gearing changed to MTB. 48,36,26 up front and 11,32 on the rear. This gives me a great spread of gears. THe bike handles really well with panniers. I have done some rapid descents no problems at all. THe bike should be able to take a good load . I am 140lb and some people out thee riding these bikes are 182plus lb so as you said you have at least 30odd lb for gear. If you were going to do very long tours you may want to think about a proper touring bike for the reasons stated by Mtnroads. The main thing is get out there and try it. The 1200 has rack and guard mounts , though using guards does limit tyre size, I am riding on 23s.
You can get your weight way down from 30 pounds, for basic gear. My basic backpack weighs under 10 pounds, and the gear is as comfortable in fair weather as anything out there. I packed about 35 pounds for my recent 1600km, but it does creep up with water and food added, which as already pointed out can be a big variable. nontheless, I had everything I needed, and several things I didn't, so I probably could have gone 25-30 pounds.
I ran into some people who chose non-touring/hybrid style bikes for their cross country tours. Basically because they prefer to ride those kinds of bike, or because they figured a real touring bike would be expensive (not true). It certainly is expensive if you already own a good bike.
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