Touring - Tcx ??
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02-20-10, 08:48 AM
I'm looking to do some simple overnight camping trips this summer. I don't have time to do anything extended, so I'm only talking one, or two, nights at the most. I could just pack up my Xtracycle with almost everything I own, but would like to go a bit lighter, and faster, with my Giant TCX cyclocross bike.
I've read through many of the threads on here about people using all manner of bikes for touring, but I'm wondering if the wheels on my bike can handle a light load? They are cross wheels, is I would think that they would be stronger than standard road wheels, but am not 100% sure of this. The light spoke count has me a bit skeptical.
I have a rack on the back and can fit a small(ish) set of front panniers on the rack without any heel-strike- so that's not an issue. I also have some light backpacking gear that will work without weighing things down too much- but still more than a bare bike.
My other question comes to gearing. Right now I have an FSA compact double on the front (34/50) and am wondering if there's any way to drop the 34 inner ring down to anything smaller. I could always put a triple on, but if I was going to go that far I would probably use the xtra- or look into a LHT. The idea is to do some simple trips with gear I already own and not have to modify anything too greatly. I already have 28mm slicks for the road, but could go wider if needed.
Here's the spec's on the bike: http://www2.giant-bicycles.com/en-US/bikes/road/1239/29259/?collections_id=3
I have absolutely no experience with those low spoke count wheels but I'd be inclined to replace at least the rear wheel with a generic touring wheel. Regarding gearing replace the 50 with a 46 and try out a cheap 11-34 cassette.
02-20-10, 09:45 AM
I tried out a larger cassette, but it didn't work with the rear derailleur. I could go ahead and change that out as well, but I was wondering if it would be easier, and cheaper, to just do the chain rings instead.
02-21-10, 02:15 PM
Unfortunately, I can't find any chainrings smaller than 34T that will work with your compact double's 110mm BCD. I thought I'd seen a 32 somewhere, but I can't seem to dig it up now...
I thought about using my road bike for credit card touring, but quickly decided against it. With even a 15lb load divided between a Carradice saddlebag and Lone Peak handlebar bag, I found that the handling of the bike really suffered. In addition, the gearing offered by my compact crank (50/34) and 11-28 cassette just wasn't low enough to comfortably get over large hills.
Built a touring bike based on Nashbar's cheap Double-Butted Aluminum Touring Frame with a road triple (52/39/30) and 12-27 cassette. Probably could have gotten by with that, but eventually ended up installing a 48/38/26 Deore trekking crank. Bike+water+luggage weighed in around 51lbs and the 26-tooth granny gear made extended climbs much more enjoyable than even the road triple. I spent about 6 weeks training with the bike, gearing, and luggage I was planning to take so I was able to sort out any problems before I left on my week-long trip down the Pacific Coast. That was one of the reasons I decided to switch to the trekking crank.
If you're not planning to tour immediately, it wouldn't be a bad idea to load everything up and go for a day-long ride that starts and ends at your house and includes terrain that's as close as possible to what you expect to encounter on tour. Should tell you a lot about your gearing choice and, possibly, the durability of your wheels.
02-22-10, 08:50 AM
Those wheels are tougher than they look. We have a customer riding around on that same bike and he is a bit over 250lbs and rides harder than you would think someone of his size could (ex motocrosser)
Especially for short tours I wouldn't worry about it at all.
As for gearing the lowest you would be able to fit is a 28 tooth cassette and there is no smaller chainrings out there that I am aware of. The easiest and cheapest thing to do is get a shimano deore or slx rear derailer and 11-34 mountain cassette and you will have all the gearing you could as for on shorter tours.
02-22-10, 10:15 AM
As for gearing the lowest you would be able to fit is a 28 tooth cassette and there is no smaller chainrings out there that I am aware of.
I don't know about the Tiagra RD that the OP's bike uses, but I've seen people using 30-tooth IRD cassettes successfully with higher-end Shimano derailleurs. It wouldn't surprise me if you could run a 32-tooth cassette, though you might have to swap in a longer B-tension screw and shift quality would probably suffer.
The smallest Shimano-compatible chainring I can find for a 110mm BCD crank is 33-teeth (http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/chainrings.asp).
02-23-10, 08:22 PM
Just do it. Use whatever gearing you have. Worst case, you have to walk some hills. It'll give you some time to reflect on the ins and outs of overnight camping.
I did some overnighters on my Gunnar cross bike a few years back. I only had a 130 BCD crank on there, and I was too lazy to swap the whole crank out, so I was limited to the 39t small chainring. I bodged together a few cassettes in the back to make a custom 12-34 nine speed, which worked OK with my short cage rear derailer. Friction shifting is nice that way. Still, my low gear was only 39x34, but that was OK for flat Central Ohio.
You didn't mention your weight, which is a factor on wheel suitablity.
FWIW-- I did several long tours in Oregon and Washington (not flat) when I was young on my 1973 Puegeot PX10 competition bike. It was all I had at the time. The gearing was 52/40 front and 14-28 rear 5 speed freewheel--Fully loaded and in some pretty hilly terrain. It did just fine. However, I did build a pair of clincher wheels, because I was concerned about the fragility of tubular wheels and tires, not to mention the expense. The 14-28 replaced the 14-24 or 14-21 I usually ran on the bike.
The point is that the advice of some of the other poosters to "just go for it" is proably pretty good advice.
02-25-10, 09:24 AM
I'm 180 lbs. and I don't anticipate my gear weighing in at more than 20 pounds. I packed up the panniers, tent, bag, and pad on the rack and road around the block a few times because I was worried about heel-strike, but there is no issue there. I was pretty worried about the strength of the wheels, but it sounds like I don't have as much to worry about as I first thought. I have 28 mm slicks for summer road riding and was wondering if I should put something wider on to help protect the wheels? I run 44mm studded tires in the winter so I have lots of room to play with.
Gearing is another issue, but I think the "just go for it" attitude is probably best for now. I'd still like some lower gears, but want to do it with the least amount of hassle possible. I'm not sure if that's done by switching out the rear dérailleur and going with a wider gear stack, or throwing a triple crank on the front? The idea of smaller chain rings on a compact crank looks like it's out- since it sounds like nothing is made smaller than a 34.
Thanks for all the tips you've given me so far.
I owned a Giant OCR3 (triple) that had similar wheels. I was about 210 lbs back then and I rode it for few thousands of miles that included many club rides around New York City (potholes!) and the wheels were perfectly true after a year. Unless you hit a really big hole I don't expect you'd have any major problems.
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