Touring - Tall (custom) expedition touring frame feedback
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07-26-09, 11:39 PM
Okay so my current touring bike is a death trap. I love "her" but she's definitely not gonna be the one to carry me through Central and South America or other remote areas I intend to tour. My current bike is made up of a steel road bike frame with a MTB Cassette triple chainring and touring wheels.
I know I want 26" wheels on my custom tourer even if it's gonna be a big bike because it's easier to find 26" wheels in remote and foreign locations. So don't bother telling me to get 700c because I won't.
What I want to know is how to spec a bike for rough road or off-road riding fully loaded as well as road riding. This is a bike that needs to take a 6'8" tall guy who weights at least 300lbs (of beef) from Prudhoe Bay Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina and other equally remote varied places. The bike has to have drop bars (I use a Nitto Noodle) be tough as nails and stiff as hell though and has to be able to carry nearly 500lbs (rider, baggage and bike). Can a guy get a MTB style frame fabbed up and throw on the bullhorns or is there a way of making a bombproof roadbike that can handle the rough stuff? I'd like it if I could get something like an LHT but with room for the fattest MTB tires and better offroad handling as well as longer chainstays (for my bigger feet) and more rake on the head tube so I can sit almost upright if I so desire while getting down in the drops to avoid headwinds from time to time all the while having a bike that tracks nicely. I know it's contrary to offroad performance but I prefer a little extra overall length and front end inertia over OR handling. Getting stabbed in the leg with bar-cons gets old fast.
So people suggested Independent Fabrications to me but their stuff looks too wimpy/ road specific and I won't do a full on mountain bike so where's the middle ground?
07-26-09, 11:42 PM
07-26-09, 11:43 PM
you could try MTB components on a set of Titec H-Bars.
use a DH (downhill) wheelset
07-27-09, 07:12 AM
I'd contact Bruce Gordon and see what he has to say.
07-27-09, 07:12 AM
"the current waiting list is only 9 months" :roflmao2:
07-27-09, 07:21 AM
I second Thorn. For an expedition level bike they are hard to beat. And you definitely want 26" wheels, unless you like sitting around waiting for parts to show up.
07-27-09, 07:52 AM
Waterford also builds a beautiful bike and the wait list is much shorter. They also have alot of experience qith taller riders as well. I doubt you will get away with anything short of a full custom frame if you want it to fit properly.
Also build a STRONG wheelset, at your weight a 48 spoke rear wheel wouldn't be a bad idea. Also use a decent quality hub, shimano xt is standard if you are on a budget but if you can afford it you would not regret going with a high end up like Phil Wood, Chris King, DT...all are excellent.
07-27-09, 08:32 AM
They'll sell you a bike with STI shifters instead of bar ends for an upcharge. Custom geometry will be no problem.
07-27-09, 12:28 PM
www.rodcycle.com (http://www.rodcycle.com) will build any type of frame you request, they list only road style bikes though. They've done hard tails, BMX, and freestyle frames if I remember correctly. The price is pretty reasonable too.
The adventurer isn't suitable for what you want though. It might be worth shooting them an E-mail about a fully custom frame for what you need.
I've got an Adventure built by them, quality is top notch.
If you are still hanging out in Eugene go to the Co-Motion factory and have a chat with them. They make fantastic touring bikes, why go out of town, or out of the country to get a bike? The are on the west side of town off West 11th and Danebo streets.
07-27-09, 02:41 PM
07-29-09, 06:58 AM
I have a Bruce Gordon Rock & Road XT. It's a great bike. Consider this as an option. The XT has 26" wheel set.
I don't have a frame builder recommendation, but will give you one cautionary tale.
In 2001, I took off for a year of cycle touring. I'm a little smaller than you (6' 4") but myself, bike and gear was also ~350 lbs on the road. For some of the same reasons, I also thought about getting a custom bike, getting 26" wheels, etc. My departure date was May 1st and so about a year before I started looking for a custom bike to be built (to also give myself some time on a shakedown trip, etc).
I found what looked like a good custom bike builder [not any of these mentioned so far] and Memorial Day weekend 2000, I drove up to Oregon to talk with the builder. Everything looked pretty good, so I put down a deposit. It was going to take while to build and I wasn't in a huge rush and so we agreed to a Thanksgiving delivery so as to give me some time after that to do some smaller tours.
We get close to Thanksgiving and I'm told the subcontractor being used to build the frame had some difficulties. I'm willing to be flexible, and say we agree to at least get it done by Christmas. Christmas gets close and we have another delay. January delay and now it looks iffy for my March 1st departure - at least to get any riding before departure. So I decide to start off on the the touring bike I already had and then try the new one perhaps if it made sense the first part of my 2001 trip was a ride across the USA and that was followed by a circumnavigation of Australia.
The bike eventually did get delivered in late June, long after I was also in Australia. At this point I had a bike that was working for me. The new custom bike might be nice, but I also had tried and true. So, I didn't really try that new bike until after I returned from a year of touring in March 2002. Almost immediately the seat tube tears out. Back on the phone with the builder. Apparently the frame builder hadn't quite followed specifications. So, bike gets boxed up and sent back again to be reworked. It came back after that, though I never rode it much after that.
Mine is a bit longer tale of woe and some lessons I learned along the way:
- I was a little too mellow in accepting some of the setbacks along the way, and should have probably cut from the deal and asked for money back early in the process.
- Check on reputation of the frame builder (and whether they use subs and their reputations). While mine generally had good recommendations - about the same time I had problems others did as well. A well-established track record is a good thing.
- Watch your delivery dates. Custom can sometimes take a while. Prepare for backup plans including potentially doing first part of your ride on another bike if necessary.
There are things I would do differently a second time around...
How about a Rivendell Bombadil? I know Grant has had some pretty big frames made before and it may not be custom, but man!, does that thing look stout.
07-30-09, 01:35 PM
At 6'8" you sound like a suitable case for Zinn (http://www.zinncycles.com/). Lots of people can make "big" bikes but rarely are they done well.
From what I can see, Zinn specialises in bikes for very tall people and takes special care to make them proportionate and well balanced. His use of high bottom brackets to accomodate extra long cranks is especially thoughtful.
Regarding the style of bike, if you are going custom then you don't want a modified racer or MTB, you want an expedition bike (http://www.adventure-cycling-guide.co.uk/bike5.htm) designed as such from the ground
You can Sakkit to the list of Bike to Inspire your Builder
07-31-09, 03:59 AM
hahaha, sakkit. lovely bikes, if you ever get it... you might want to find some people who have dealt with this outfit and verify that the process went smoothly for them first.
I have a Chas Roberts roughstuff: http://www.robertscycles.com/largeviews/tour2.html which is great. They've been building custom Expedition touring frames for decades, and custom bikes for decades longer than that. based in London though... pricey/
I would talk to bruce gordon, since you're in north america. or Bilenky. both quality outfits that deliver on time...
07-31-09, 11:17 AM
AnnaMossity, since you're in BC I'd recommend you spend some time talking to two of the builders mentioned above -- Rodriguez in Seattle (www.rodcycle.com) and Co-Motion in Eugene, especially the Pangea model recommended above.
Co-Motion used to make a model specifically designed for bigger riders - the Mazama - but the Pangea is a pretty beefy model suitable for large riders, IMHO. Given their experience in making (fantastic) tandems, they also have experience beefing up components like wheels, tubing, brakes, etc.
08-07-09, 06:21 PM
Thanks for all the info guys. I like the look and the idea of the Big Dummy bike but it's too small for me.
I actually had a Zinn race bike built for me and was really unimpressed with it. It cost me $7000 CAD too so I don't think I'll be going back there. Maybe others have had good Zinn experiences but the whole thing just left a bad taste in my mouth.
Mev: Great advice, I had a similar situation but with my race bike not showing up in time for competition season. Wasn't pleased.
I'm thinking Thorn is looking most appropriate right now but I'll have to look into it more to see if they'll do a lugged frame and make it compatible with 26" wheels despite it's size.
Might just end up going to Naked Bikes after all since they are within weekend distance and I prefer to deal with someone in person and ESPECIALLY someone in my own country. Trying to ship bikes via UPS FedEx or even USPS has been a hassle at best for me in the past. Damage and exhorbitant fees are the tip of the iceberg.
'mazing how much you learn in a day's touring sometimes. :D
09-08-09, 03:23 PM
There may soon be LHTs of all frame sizes for 26" wheels:
Sakkit ! Yes . . . if you are very patient.
Zinn . . . yep . . . and get long cranks . . . don't even think about 175's . . . probably 195's you'll need. Longer cranks are the most important component tall riders overlook.
The Bombadil is out though , as it uses 700c in larger sizes.
Surly's LHT isn't big enough or long enough for you . . . no matter what the wheel size is.
One guy in Canada who does expedition touring bikes is Arvon Stacey. Not sure what the wait is, but he was ready to go about a year ago when I was talking to him about hubs
He made the demountible tandem/solo used for the Antipodes Expedition. He is in the Rockies somewhere. Also True North does good work for touring bikes.
Some of his older work is here and his contact info. I would suggest phoning:
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