Touring - What modifications can I/should I make to my MTB for touring?
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I'm planning on riding down the California coast sometime soon. I don't know if its really the right way to go but I'm a hobbyist with a small budget so I was thinking about using my Cannondale F1000 mountain bike with some modifications for the trip.
Someone suggested I change the bars to something that allows more positions and comfort. Is this easy? Do the brakes and shifters fit right on or do I have to change those too (they're the rapid-fire ones).
Will the headshock be a burden or a help?
The F1000 doesn't have those welded-on bits that allow you to attach a rack on the back--a friend said I can use his trailer but I don't know for sure if I'll need those bits for attaching it or anything else I might need?
Skinny slick tires, right?
Should I get one of those suspension seatposts?
Anything else I might be overlooking? Any experiences or insight would be greatly welcomed.
04-05-05, 06:28 PM
Many people have toured long distances using just about any kind of bike including mountain bikes and in fact some people prefer them!
With respect to handlebars it is true that many people prefer to have more hand positions then can be provided by a straight bar. You could likely replace the bars with a drop bar or even a butterfly bar but another alternative might be to just add some bar ends to your existing handle bar. This will often give you some additional benefit at a lower cost then a new set of drop bars especially if moving to drops requires you to changes shifter and brake levers etc.
Trailers are also a piece of gear that people have used very successfully. It is important to consider if the rear part of your bike is stiff enough to handle any flexing that the trailer might induce. This might be worth asking about at your local bike shop or as a secondary question to others who have used your model of bike.
Based on your question about skinny, slick tires I am assuming that you are likely to be riding on paved roads. If this is largely the case then you are less likely to need the suspension post.
Make sure you take plenty of spare tubes, a spare tire and some spare spokes and the knowledge of how to fix them if they break. An easy temporary spoke solution is some Fiberfix spokes.
Have a good time with your tour!
I'd try the handlebar end route first as well. Give them a go over a few days of long rides. See if you have enough hand positions that suit you. If not go with a butterfly bar like the Nashbar trekking bar. This was an easy swap on my MTB (commuter/foul weather rig). It gave me just a touch of extra reach to stretch out when I want to, or ride uprite. Drop bars can apparently get a tad complicated to put onto a MTB.
Where do you mount the brakes/shifters on this bar?
The shifters and brakes are mounted at the ends of the bar. Normally, the bar is installed with the ends closest to the rider. The picture shows the bar as if you were standing in front of the bike looking down on the bar.
Thanks, this is some great info.
I actually have small bar ends on my bike that have definitely been a bit of help on some one and two day trips, but they're small and I don't use them enough. Maybe that Nashbar would be a good idea to look into...
Any good tire style and size suggestions? Oh yeah and the front shocks, will that be a hinderance over a long trip like this? And good lights for nighttime? I apologize for so many questions, on all my past trips I've just made it up as I went along and I want to make sure I'm not making any grave mistakes for this big one.
Next thing I need to learn is spoke work--I've never had to deal with that either.
OK thanks again!
04-06-05, 04:43 AM
Aerobars are a good option for MTB road touring. You can retain all your existing controls and have a good comfortable cruising position. Touring style aerobars are usually set a bit higher and closer than for road racing.
A 1.5" slick tyre is good for touring/commuting and general road riding. You can also do a fair bit of trail riding with care.
Leave your suspension in place, its not worth swapping out for a short tour.
Check out the BOB info at
04-06-05, 07:02 AM
I'd to reiterate the semi-slick tires. Regular knobby tires are dreadfully slow on pavement, it will drive you nuts. Putting tires with a raised center ridge or a slick tread will speed you up more than anything else. It's less work and less tiring too.
04-06-05, 01:14 PM
When I toured Vietnam 2 weeks ago, I rode my Litespeed Ti mountain bike, 2 small additions to the bike: a set carbon fenders and an Old Man Mountain bike rack (since my bike has no provision for mounting normal rack)...Oh I even used the same XC tires but replaced the tubes with the Ultra light Slime tubes (not single flat in 1400 miles).
I am thinking about doing the California Pacific Highway late summer but will do that with my Trek road bike instead because of the excellent roads here.
One thing I noticed got few attentions is bike shorts, get the best one you can afford. I never noticed the different between them in the typical 2-4 hours trainning rides that I do often, but after 21 days...I found the big differences...
I wonder if you could use that nashbar bar and some aero's if you like lots of possible positions. You might take a bit of a weight hit, but...
04-06-05, 03:45 PM
I like 1.25" Panaracer Pasela tyres a lot.
04-06-05, 06:22 PM
Admittedly I have not done any long distance touring but I'll give my two cents. I have used avocet cross 1.25 and actally went singletracking with panniers. They worked just fine on mountain roads and off roads. It seems that when you get to small widths of tires, the preasure may be just as important as width.
I did use a BOB years ago and had two issues with it... I broke a spoke. Make sure your wheels are in good shape. The other issue I have is that BOBs are real easy to overload. Make an effort to not use all 6000 cu in of space. I would personally look into Old Man Mountain racks but you got to admit that free is much cheaper than 150 for racks alone.
When I toured with my suspension fork I noticed that with all the weight in the back there was no suspension movement on the fork. Concidering your budget and the extra expence of getting fittings to mount a rigid fork on a headshock bike, I'd leave the fork alone. You realy cant go out of the saddle that much with a BOB so the fork will work even less.
I wonder but have never seen this idea... how about putting the rapid fire on the top of drop bars and then getting some dummy brake levers for better riding position??? Also in the same category of do not know the answer, but do you need to get another stem or will the same postion work with drop bars???
There was a thread not to long ago about lights. It seemed that most people didn't use much for lights.
You never actually did mention what kind of trailer you can borrow... If its not a BOB than ignore some of that info. I'd skip the suspension seat post, but I'm a roadie also and a lightweight.
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