Touring - Touring on my old Trek 700
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03-06-10, 04:44 PM
So I'd really like to do some tours of decent distance, as at the moment I have no ties. The thing is at the moment I have quite an out-of-date bike and limited funds. This forum scares me a bit because I can't really go for ortlieb panniers - I'm more looking at cat litter buckets strapped to my bike!
Here is my bike, I believe it's a '97 but not too sure. More of a town/towpath bike really, but...
Is it any good for touring? As well as bars, rack, and mudguards, what should I be looking to add/change? Ideally I'm looking to go over and see some friends in Holland, and do a good few hundred miles over there (nice and flat :))
I know this is a fairly vague question, but I'm looking for some expert opinions before I spend on gear that's not going to do any good!
that's not an out of date bike. It's a perfect bike. First off do a google image search of your bike and look at what people have done with the same model. I just did that and found a range of
setups. There's a few things you should know how to take care of yourself that you can learn as you set the bike up for touring. Changing tubes, fixing flats, replacing brake pads, adjusting brakes
and derailleurs, adjusting headset.
The bike doesn't look used that much but it would be worthwhile to go over some things, whether it's a shop or you.
In order of priority make sure the headset is adjusted correctly and not loose.
Have a shop check the spokes and adjust/true if needed.
Check wheel bearings and bb for grease and adjustment. A lot of bikes can be assembled with minimal care resulting in the bearings being too tight or loose causing excessive wear.
Make the handlebars comfortable, get some bar ends, the bars are probably too wide already so they could probably be cut narrower another 1" on either side. Know how high the stem can
be raised and don't take it higher than that. If you need a different position, look for a different stem.
Search around for deals on racks and panniers. Whatever bags you get secure them well.
You can get away with almost anything if you don't overload the rack/bike. Even panniers aren't a necessity, look around at some of the mtn bike setups people have
toured on without racks to get an idea how to secure bags onto handlebars and frame tubes. The nice thing about flat mtn bars is that you can strap a bundle right under the bars.
You'll probably need about 6-8 2' bungies. You could start with strapping sleeping bag under the bars and seeing if a small duffle and sleeping pad will fit ok on the rack. Who knows, maybe panniers won't be needed at first. Whatever you do make ABSOLUTELY SURE no loose straps can unwind and get caught in the wheels. Speaking from experience it's possible for a wheel to lock up at high speed from things getting caught in it, and things go very bad from there.
things to get
two or three water bottle cages (third one under down tube secured with strap)
minipump attached to inside downtube bottle cage.
rear rack- $20-$45 the Topeak Super Tourist DX is the upper end of the low cost range but it's a really useful rack.
Instead of just looking at cheap panniers consider a good compression sack for under the handlebars http://www.rei.com/product/679890
03-07-10, 08:19 AM
140490(This is my bike outside a small church in Ireland)
You can manage just fine with that bike! Last August, I did Ireland, Scotland and England on my Trek 4300, which I think is an even heavier bike than yours, as I still had the front suspension, and the frame is beefier. Also on a budget, I watched Nashbar sales for some budget panniers and a rack. Also, I did invest in some fenders and some Eggbeaters and shoes. However, my total investment for the trip, including tools, dry bags, bike clothes, etc, was maybe $700. Mind you this was spent over 6 months or so preparing, and I bought stuff that I could use for other things. My bike performed incredible. I did 500 miles in everything from flats to Scottish hill climbs, etc.
I used the Nashbar ATB panniers on a budget Nashbar rack. I also used a Nashbar Front Rack, on which I strapped a LL Bean Dry Bag. Between the pannier on the rear I also had another LLbean dry bag. I also rolled Armadillo Kevlar tires. These were probably the most expensive upgrade, but I used them for commuting before and after the trip, so I don't really consider them an exclusive Trip Expenditure.
The bike, from a mechanical standpoint, was STOCK. STock derailleurs, stock brakes, stock gear levers, seat, etc. I did have a replaced front crank, as I damaged mine the previous summer, but it was replaced with a stock equivalent.
My point is that it can be done. I have always kept my bike in good maintenance, so even though components are on the cheaper end, they were well tuned and adjusted.
The early 80's 720 was a wonderful drop bar touring bike with good parts.
The mid to late 90's they became lower end hybrids. I had a early 90's 720 and it was more of a touring geometry and even had a touring fork with eyelets for racks. Measure the seat tube and measure the top tube. If they are close to the same length then it is more of a touring Geometry and could be converted to drop bar if desired.
My biggest concern with that bike is it looks to have low end Derailleurs. If they are in good shape you may be fine but they look like stamped steel and cast pot metal. They wear fast. The next concern would be the handle bars. Straight bars have on good hand position and it will wear on you. I would at the very least look at a set of Trekking bars.
Looking at the amount of seat post you have out and how much you have pulled out the bars that bike may be too small for you. Be careful on that stem. there is a mark that is the maximum you should have above the steer tube. You run them higher then that mark and they can loosen up or break.
Make sure that the bike has been serviced. Dried out grease will destroy the hubs in short order.
03-07-10, 10:10 AM
I can completely understand your feeling of being overwhelmed, and that your bike is unsuitable becuase it doesn't have Ortlieb panniers or a Brooks saddle. IMHO these recommendations are perhaps the ideal set-up for folks with many years' experience who know what works/doesn't work. They are not afraid of spending reasonably large amounts of money on quality gear because these tourers know it will pay for itself over the coming decade(s). If you're not either loaded with cash, or sure that you'll like touring, that doesn't mean you have to stay home!
Your bike looks great. A similar style, but much better quality than the bike I did my first tour on 18 months ago.
I would be getting some bar ends. I prefer foam (about 1cm thick is great) for the handlbars as for me it seems to absorb the shock of an uneven roads much better than rubber. You may want to look at putting some mudguards on. Minor stuff, really. I agree with LeeG regarding the drink bottle cages and pump also. Pedals are cheap; at least they can be! I prefer the wider, BMX or MTB pedals. No straps or clips for me. I like wide pedals and would be replacing the once on your bike. Again, almost every suggestion like this comed down to personal preference. Maybe some semi-slick 1.5 inch tyres...
Grim suggests trekking bars. I have been considering this myself over the past few weeks. I think this is a personal preference rather than a necessity. I don't think you'd regret buying the trekking bars and it's cheap enough, but just depends on whether you're happy with the current set-up. Again, you'd certainly need bar ends for a tour.
I have been using an army-surplus canvas bag and clipped that onto the rear rack using those mountain climbing clips available at the supermarket with "not to be used for climbing" written on the side. The bag cost about $12. The clips are a dollar or two each. I find the bag is easy to attach and remove. But that's just what I have been doing. There are countless other ways of attaching an endless array of gear storage bags/buckets etc.
03-07-10, 01:24 PM
Thanks so much guys!
LeeG: Amazing tips. The bike has had very little use in its life, it's mostly been in storage, so a service will probably do it some good. I'm all over ebay at the moment, but I think i'll pick up a rack at the LBS when I take the bike in. As far as bars and stem are concerned - I'm not very fond of it at the moment. It's a nice ride but I don't get on so well with the grip-shift. I was thinking of getting a pair of those combined shimano shifters and brake levers off ebay. I have been given some trekking bars to try out, if I can wrestle them into my stem! (which is really way too high in this photo, which was taken just as I got the bike. lowered now!) Can't thank you enough for the confidence boost - I've got my shopping list tacked to my monitor!
77midget: I like your bike! And thanks for the advice. I with it was easier/cheaper to order from places like Nashbar to the UK, but I'm sure alternatives are there to be found. That sounds like a nice tour - but no Wales?
Grim: You're right, the bike in that photo is too small for me. That's just how I found it though, and it's changed since then :) The derailleurs look kind of low end to be honest, they're Shimano SIS ones (I'll get a photo if needs be) so they might need replacing. I'll see what the shop guys say - I'd be suprised if the bike has done 20 miles in it's life though. I did find a guy who'd put drops on his 700 which looks interesting - check out the bar end shifter recycling! (not sure if the owner is on here?) http://www.cyclofiend.com/cc/2008/cc576-normanwoodhead1208.html
mattbicycle: Thanks :) I've been really inspired be the budget tourers I've seen on here, who just make do. I love riding my bike, and that's really what it's about to me. It would be nice to have a high end bike with amazing components, but I don't, so I just have to make do! The pedals ARE crappy though, I think definitely some BMX style ones would be much better. I think I'll go down to 1.75 semi-slicks, because I do live in the countryside and there's the occasional muddy patch to contend with. Trekking bars, as I mentioned above, are going to be tried out.
Phew! Thanks again guys, I was enthusiastic but unsure - now i'm just enthusiastic!
I have a Trek 700 and I will be converting it into a tourer soon. There were several who toured on Trek 700 and you can find pictures of it on this site: http://www.fullyloadedtouring.com/
My Trek 700 have over 10K miles on it mostly road and trail riding.
great to hear, my $.02 is that if the seat in the photo is the correct height for you the bike isn't too small. I'm guessing the tires are cracked with flaky sidewalls, ride the heck out of them then get new ones a couple weeks before your trip, whatever changes/maintenence you do to the bike you should get in a weeks worth of riding afterwords to make sure the repair/change is secure. Don't get fixated on equipment making the trip possible. You're pedaling 99.99% of the time so whether you have bar end, down tube, brifters or some kind of cobbled together shifter on the tops of drops it really won't miake a big difference. When I did my big tour out of highschool the common shifters for entry level touring/road bikes were stem shifters like on old Schwinns. Having to take two or three seconds to make a shift instead of 1/2 second really isn't a big deal when you aren't racing. If you're whole rig is so unstable that you can't risk moving one hand to shift then something needs changing.
The 90's 700 series still had decent frames. My 91 was 4130 CroMo. No complaints there, it is a good starting point if it has the Touring geometry like mine did.
It was just loaded with lower end components and marketed as a path bike to older riders. My 91 was loaded with Suntour derailleurs that were decent for a lower end but it had the junk Acu**** shifters that were prone to hanging and missing shifts. It was so bad that if you down shifted you had to down shift past your gear then up one to get it to hit the gear. The 80's SIS were ok entry level parts. In the 90's SIS were bottom of the barrel for Shimano and what ended up on the box store bikes but Id say the shifters were better then the Suntours on mine. As little millage as the bike has you should be fine for a while. Run them till they die.
Here is the one I had.
03-07-10, 09:51 PM
James, some great advice here from Grim and LeeG. Lee touched upon something that is worth mentioning... It doesn't matter how much stuff you've got and how much it costs if you haven't got the right internal strength/drive and the correct attitude. Cheaper stuff will more than likely get you through the trip, it just won't last for ten years. It might not be as convenient to use as top-of-the-line gear, but will get the job done. If you've got a well-maintained bike with working, serviced components and aren't carrying a huge load, IMHO it will get you through most short-to-medium length trips on sealed roads.
In this case, provided you're mentally prepared and are focused correctly, you'll have a great time. I think the mental side of touring is often overlooked in favour of getting the gear right. It seems that 90 plus percent of the questions on this board are about bike componentry, and camping-related. I believe strongly that given the solitude, hours spent daily on a bicycle, and potential hardships, being prepared for poor weather, unexpected trouble (like not finding anyone who speaks English or can understand your poor foreign-language skills!) etc., mental preparation is huge.
Think about the bike and camping. But don't neglect to prepare mentally. Try to constantly think of possible difficult situations and then plan how you'll deal with them. Reading others' tour reports on CGOAB and other sites is excellent for this.
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