Introductions - New guy needs advice
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Hello, I am new to this Forum and am hoping to get some good advice on selecting my new bike, and other things.
I am currently riding an old (15yrs) Fuji Odessa (very unlike the current model). This is a "hybrid" bike. Though pretty frequently used, I have never really liked the bike. I don't think it was properly fit for me to begin with, and the componants are pretty shoddy stuff.
Anyway, I am about to buy a new bike and could use some advice. I have not shopped for a bike in a long time and the options are mind boggling. Of course, like everyone else, I want a "do-everything" bike. My requirements/issues are:
1. The bike will be used for shortish touring on both paved and dirt/gravel roads, with some longer touring on pavement only.
2. I also will be using the bike as my transport to backroad photo locations so I need to be able to carry some stuff. I need the ability to mount a rack and possible some panniers.
My first trip to a LBS resulted in my being steered to "comfort bikes", which is not what I want. I have looked at road bikes but am concerned that they won't do well on my back roads. It also has been a long time since I used drop handlebars. That will take some getting used to, but I would not discount drops because of the learning curve. I don't think a mountain bike will do well on longer rides on pavement.
Any advice to at least narrow my focus would be appreciated.
05-21-03, 02:18 PM
Sounds like you need a touring bike or maybe a cyclocross bike. I love my Trek 520, it is burly enough to hold all the gear I need, rides super smoothly on the road, and is capable of riding dirt trails. The drop handlebars are easy to get used to, and on longer rides the multiple hand position options come in very handy. For any amount of off-road use, I would suggest something that can handle a 35c or wider tire. There are some good cyclocross bikes out there, too, which are a good idea if you are going to be doing a lot of dirt trail riding.
I would second the touring or cyclocross suggestion. Not sure what your budget is. Seems like many of the big companies such as Trek, Cannondale, etc. offer at least one touring bike. You might look into Bruce Gordon bikes. They have a 26 inch wheel option that should work well off road. At one time, I think they also had a flat bar option as well. They are rather pricey though.
Yeah - a cyclocross bike would be great. The big companies are now making cross bikes. Some hardcore cross racers may tell you they are not really cross bikes, but the functionality is there. Redline makes one called the Conquest that starts around $700, but can be had on sale for less. Trek makes the XO-1 that costs a few hundred more.
But when I was in grad school in Iowa, I ended up making a psuedo cross like bike by just putting narrow knobbies, fenders, lights and a rear rack on a Trek 970 MTB. It was fun to ride (and crash) in deep snow.
I would consider getting a mountain bike in one size larger than recommended for off-road riding, then ask if the dealer will swap out for some narrower tires. Your riding position should be more upright, but not as bad a hybrid. You can also swap out the stem maybe.
Also - consider an entry-level dual suspension bike if you'll be carrying expensive photo equipment on the bike. I ride a hardtail off road, so I prefer to carry my photo gear in a backpack. Rough roads can wreak havoc on even the best (Nikon, etc.) bodies and lens elements.
05-22-03, 10:14 PM
The Bruce Gordon (http://www.bgcycles.com)'s BLT is the "ideal" in terms of gearing and tire clearance. In other words, aim for low gearing. Pricewise, if it fits your budget and if you are not too tall (the BLT stops at 56 cm (oblique tube) which is equivalent to a 58-59 cm hz tube), go for it. Everyone on the Touring and I-bob lists who owns a Bruce Gordon loves it.
Other possibilities are the Trek 520, Cannondale T series and a few others are praised, notably a tourer by Fuji, the Bianchi Volpe (a little lighter). If you want to shop in Canada, Urbane Cyclist (http://www.ucycle.com) in downtown Toronto offers a very interesting tourer, the Urbanite Touring.
On the plus side, the Urbanite Touring is configured the way you want.
Another popular setup is a cyclocross bike such as the Surley Crosscheck. I find, however, that the rear stays are a little bit too short to allow hell clearance around many panniers.
Basically, any frame with rather beefy rear triangle, low gears, 45-cm chainstays and room for 700x35-40 tires would fit. If you get the Trek 520, for example, you could use two sets of tires. For rugged trails, you could mount cyclocross tires (knobbies) 700x32 or 700x35 in front and even 700x40 on the rear wheel for relatively good traction in sand and a relatively smooth ride on rocks. Then for on-pavement tours and commuting, you could mount 700x32 slicks.
Look at Sheldon Brown's Gear chart (http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears). Many tourers think that a touring bike should have gearing between 20" and 100". I have a Trek 520 with a MTB drivetrain (swap at purchase time): 44-34-22 with a 12-32 cassette. Essentially, the low gear would allow you to do the gravel roads and trails, including their hills, without problems and the 100 gear-inch high still allows you to pedal up to 40 km/h.
I prefer curved (road) bars whcih, on the long run, offer more positions and keel the wrist in a straight line. I put my bars much higher than roadies, as the top of the bar is level with the saddle. Just make sure the bike shop doesn't cut the fork too short too soon!
Racks or Trailer; 1 or 2 wheels?
There are two possibilities. I think you need a rear rack anyway. If you think in terms of panniers, then also get a front rack (Lowrider preferably). Good panniers include the Arkel (http://www.panniers.com)'s Touring series. You might attach your tripod on top of your rack with bungee straps or you might adapt (or have Arkel adapt) the long pocket on the right side of the GT-54 to fit the tripod.
Trailers, especially the 2-wheel variety, store more and would be essential if you do large-format photography. Some people prefer them, but they are a bit more bulky to handle, I think.
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