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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 03-13-07, 05:40 PM   #1
tromper
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Touring Bike

Hi folks,

I'm contemplating a touring bike, & have a few options.
I'm thinking
new Trek 520 - advantage is that I could ride it tomorrow, no hassle, except maybe replace the crank
Save my shekels longer pick up a
Heron Wayfarer - advantage = lugged steel is cool, & a new bike.
Pick up an
85 Trek 620 - currently offered at just shy of 5 bills but would need 'nuff done to make it somewhat similar to the new 520 for cost(Replace the 27" wheels with 700c, cold set the rear, update shifters to 8 spd possibly paint etc..) Advantage lugged steel is cool - questions around are the 47cm chainstays , would they be too springy for a fat bastard such as I (circa 250)? Any clydes have experience with those?
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Old 03-13-07, 05:43 PM   #2
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I would add the new complete bike Surly Long Haul Trucker to your list of considerations.
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Old 03-13-07, 05:43 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tromper
Hi folks,

I'm contemplating a touring bike, & have a few options.
I'm thinking
new Trek 520 - advantage is that I could ride it tomorrow, no hassle, except maybe replace the crank
Save my shekels longer pick up a
Heron Wayfarer - advantage = lugged steel is cool, & a new bike.
Pick up an
85 Trek 620 - currently offered at just shy of 5 bills but would need 'nuff done to make it somewhat similar to the new 520 for cost(Replace the 27" wheels with 700c, cold set the rear, update shifters to 8 spd possibly paint etc..) Advantage lugged steel is cool - questions around are the 47cm chainstays , would they be too springy for a fat bastard such as I (circa 250)? Any clydes have experience with those?
Save the shekels for the Heron! That's my take!

That said, don't neglect the vintage steel touring frames!
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Old 03-13-07, 05:59 PM   #4
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The Long Haul Trucker isn't completely off the Radar, but I'm a bit inclined to a U.S. made frame. A quibble of mine, & in no way a dig on the Tawanese stuff. I do own a Jamis at the moment, & it's a good bike. I'm also a bit inclined to a 1" threaded vs. 1.125 non threaded since it's a bit easier to adjust. I've read there's more flex, but I really haven't noticed anything sigificantly between my 750, & my Nova. That said the Nova has a carbon fork, so perhaps I'm trading one flex for the other, but that's a whole different discussion I may well launch at some point.
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Old 03-13-07, 06:04 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by tromper
The Long Haul Trucker isn't completely off the Radar, but I'm a bit inclined to a U.S. made frame. A quibble of mine, & in no way a dig on the Tawanese stuff. I do own a Jamis at the moment, & it's a good bike. I'm also a bit inclined to a 1" threaded vs. 1.125 non threaded since it's a bit easier to adjust. I've read there's more flex, but I really haven't noticed anything sigificantly between my 750, & my Nova. That said the Nova has a carbon fork, so perhaps I'm trading one flex for the other, but that's a whole different discussion I may well launch at some point.
Steel is real, Bro! I tour on an 86 Schwinn Passage. Columbus steel frame, lugged and very old school simplicity. I run 27" wheels because of a couple of reasons....
  1. The canti brakes won't adjust for proper braking on 700c wheels
  2. You can get 27" tires ANYWHERE.....even small back country towns that don't have a bike shop
40 spoke rear and 36 spoke front for load carriage as well!
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Old 03-13-07, 06:16 PM   #6
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Very Nice Tom! I do have a preference for steel, but of course that's an ongoing debate 'round her.
Is that a sprung seat I'm seeing there?

Part of the reason for the change of wheels being contemplated is the desire for a gear or two more. currently it has a 6 speed freewheel, & I'm partial to cassettes. 7 speed cassettes seem to be rather scarce these days so going to 8 makes sense. Since it would involve redoing the wheel 700c Makes sense. Brakes do become a question, but I think there's 'nuff adjustment in the Br550's I'd be thinking of to make the drop. It's also been suggested to use the front drum/dyno setup from Sturmey Archer.
How long are the chainstays on your passage? I assume no issues with too much flex or anything?
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Old 03-13-07, 06:49 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by tromper
Very Nice Tom! I do have a preference for steel, but of course that's an ongoing debate 'round her.
Is that a sprung seat I'm seeing there?

Part of the reason for the change of wheels being contemplated is the desire for a gear or two more. currently it has a 6 speed freewheel, & I'm partial to cassettes. 7 speed cassettes seem to be rather scarce these days so going to 8 makes sense. Since it would involve redoing the wheel 700c Makes sense. Brakes do become a question, but I think there's 'nuff adjustment in the Br550's I'd be thinking of to make the drop. It's also been suggested to use the front drum/dyno setup from Sturmey Archer.
How long are the chainstays on your passage? I assume no issues with too much flex or anything?
46 cm is what I measured with a old wood ruler from the bb shell to the center of the rear axle, so that would make them 47 cm overall. As to flex? It's a touring bike, very stiff unless it's loaded, it's essentially a truck on two wheels!

Rear gears....I have a 5 cog freewheel! All original! I found the bike cheap with the original tires on it with no wear, just dry rot!

Saddle: It's a clone of a Brooks Conquest, a sprung touring saddle for drop bars....it's the most comfortable saddle I've ever ridden!
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Old 03-13-07, 07:59 PM   #8
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Any of your options would work. Personally, I'm with Tom - go for the Heron. Reason? It sounds like it is the closest to exactly what you want. It is worth a bit of a wait for that. The long-term disappointment of compromising is much worse, IMHO, than the short-term disappointment of having to wait for your ideal. The Treks are good, and you can tour anywhere you are likely to want to go on either of them, but that "I'm on my dream machine" feel is hard to beat, even if you can't come with an objective reason for the feeling.

As for 47 cm chainstays, whether they are too flexy for you is a matter of (1) personal taste and (2) the tubing used. Odds are they would be fine for the reasons Tom S. gave. They can be an advantage if you have really big feet in that they provide more clearance between heel and pannier. To me, the issue is less likely to be flex than it is to be turning feel. But under a load, I'm willing to wrestle a bit more in turns in exchange for rock-solid straight-line stability - over the course of the vast majority of your days in the saddle with a full compliment of touring gear, that is a far less tiring way to go - and 47 cm stays almost certainly will give you that unless the top tube is stupid-short and the seat is abnormally far forward relative to the total wheelbase.

PS - FWIW - I'm 6'3", a little under 280 pounds (and shrinking - slowly) and have toured fully loaded on my 1994 520 with no problems.
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Old 03-13-07, 08:15 PM   #9
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I can only speak about the '85 620, because I have one. I bought it two years old in '87, and it was my main bike for four or five years, then got hybridized with fatter tires and a flat bar for commuting and did that for awhile, then I put cyclocross tires on it and rode it on the fire roads in the mountains around my house. It sat in the garage for a year or so after I bought my Atlantis. A couple of years ago I stripped it except for the brakes and middle chainring and spun on a BMX freewheel to turn it into a singlespeed, and I ride it a couple of times a week like that. I have no idea how far it's gone (the guy I bought it from rode it from Indiana to Reno), but it still has the original headset and bottom bracket (I repacked the BB with the old bearings but never have touched the headset). I weigh 230 now, but I've been as high as 270, often ridden with a backpack, and never noticed any particular flex. I have both an Atlantis and a Rambouillet now, and I really like both, but the Trek is very close to as good for way less money ($500 sounds pretty high. I paid $350 for mine 19 years ago, and I don't think it's a rare enough bike that it's begun appreciating).
Replacing the 27-inch wheels with 700c's was a snap, by the way--there's enough adjustment in the cantilever brakes that all I had to do was put on the wheels and lower the brake pads a bit. Took about three minutes.
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Old 03-13-07, 08:21 PM   #10
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Oh man, this is a tough one.

I've heard nothing but praise for the Trek 520, even from some very admitted hardcore OCP cycling snobs. I'll agree with you on the handmade in the USA part, I don't know why, but that tends to sway my decisions a bit. I've thought of the Surly LHT, another bike that comes beyond highly recommended, but I just really keep going back to the 520. WHen I first got back into biking it was one of the first "dream" bikes I had, and I just keep thinking of it.

Anyway, I say ride them and see which one you really like. With my last bike purchase, I ended up buying something I had previously scoffed at.
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Old 03-13-07, 09:50 PM   #11
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I tried the Trek 520 in my search for a touring bike. I liked it, no doubt, but it's not nearly as nice of a bike as the one I opted for... Rocky Mountain Sherpa 30. But, if you're sold on "American" this is only close... it's a Canadian company. I just go with the best bikes and the best value - I don't get hung up on where they are made or assembled or where the company headquarters are. It's a world economy now.
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Old 03-13-07, 09:55 PM   #12
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I ride a LHT and they are good bikes. Build it up with your choice of parts and you have a bike that fits and rides just like you want it too. That being said; Heron makes some really nice bikes.

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Old 03-13-07, 10:43 PM   #13
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Shameless plug for www.bgcycles.com Bruce can make up your tourer any way you want lugger or unlugged, or any combination of parts. He is mellowing of late. Still is one of the top frame builders in the country. Reason for my bias: I live a 90 minute ride from his shop and have one of his bikes. At least go to his site and see the eye candy.

Edit: he just won Best of Show at the North American Custom Bike Builder show in San Francisco.
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Old 03-13-07, 10:49 PM   #14
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Shameless plug for www.bgcycles.com Bruce can make up your tourer any way you want lugger or unlugged, or any combination of parts. He is mellowing of late. Still is one of the top frame builders in the country. Reason for my bias: I live a 90 minute ride from his shop and have one of his bikes. At least go to his site and see the eye candy.

Edit: he just won Best of Show at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show near San Francisco.
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Old 03-13-07, 11:01 PM   #15
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Well, I just got my first real ride today on my LHT (I got it the day before Thanksgiving, and there just wasn't enough time for any longish rides), and I'm totally in love! The chain stays on the LHT are 46, and seem fine to me (but then, at 205 this morning, I'm lighter, and my bigger issue is my heal hits my panniers if I don't have the long chainstays).


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Old 03-14-07, 10:18 AM   #16
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Cannondale makes touring bikes stateside. If you have a chance, you could give them a try. Aluminum frame, CrMo fork. I've had one for a good number of years and use it for regular road riding as well. T800 and T2000 have different component packages, but I believe the same frame comes with either spec.
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Old 03-14-07, 01:12 PM   #17
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What is your take on the 'dale as a big-guy's bike. Are they noticable stiffer than large size steel touring bikes? Most large steelies are made from longer sections of regular sized tubing so are flexier than the M size frame.
Is extra stiffness a Good Thing for you?
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Old 03-14-07, 02:39 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by MichaelW
What is your take on the 'dale as a big-guy's bike. Are they noticable stiffer than large size steel touring bikes? Most large steelies are made from longer sections of regular sized tubing so are flexier than the M size frame.
Is extra stiffness a Good Thing for you?
cyccommute seems to think so. Try contacting him about it
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Old 03-14-07, 03:39 PM   #19
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I have a Cannondale T800 and just love it, haven't ridden my other bike since I got it. I go about 270 and when touring I carry about another thirty pounds of gear. This has been one of the best purchases I have made, I would highly recomend this bike to any big-guy.
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Old 03-14-07, 08:16 PM   #20
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I dig mine... it's very stiff when unloaded, but somehow feels really well balanced when you strap a bunch of stuff onto it.

FWIW, I'm 210, and it's a frame that is what was referred to as 25" at the time.
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Old 03-14-07, 08:42 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tromper
Hi folks,

I'm contemplating a touring bike, & have a few options.
I'm thinking
new Trek 520 - advantage is that I could ride it tomorrow, no hassle, except maybe replace the crank
Save my shekels longer pick up a
Heron Wayfarer - advantage = lugged steel is cool, & a new bike.
Pick up an
85 Trek 620 - currently offered at just shy of 5 bills but would need 'nuff done to make it somewhat similar to the new 520 for cost(Replace the 27" wheels with 700c, cold set the rear, update shifters to 8 spd possibly paint etc..) Advantage lugged steel is cool - questions around are the 47cm chainstays , would they be too springy for a fat bastard such as I (circa 250)? Any clydes have experience with those?
There is always the option of conversion, for example I have a 2004 Norco Bushpilot (MTB), new tires, a set of fenders and a rear rack, and I have a shorter distance touring bike for $100. Originally a MTB, I found that trail riding crashes and middle aged human bodies are mutually exclusive So I have a bike, that doesn't suit the riding I do, and no budget to replace it. However I can put on narrower smoother tires, add some fenders for foul weather, and a rear rack (there are mounts for it), and for around a C note, I have a short haul commuter/tourer. Maybe not so short haul, the LBS has a similar conversion bike that just did a Toronto to Halifax and return tour, which is about 1300 km one way, as the crow flies, probably closer to 1600km by road.

For touring you want longer chainstays, the longer the chainstays, the larger the pannier you can install. As for flexing, that is dependant not only on the length, but also the thickness of the tubes, most chainstays are straight gauge metal, so the designer picks the thickness of metal they want for the stiffness they want. Besides a little flex may not hurt, some bikes are designed so that the chain and seat stays flex a little to give some shock absorbing. However if it's aluminum, you don't want flex, as that can cause premature fatigue failure.
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Old 03-16-07, 10:10 PM   #22
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Thanks for the input folks, that definitly helps. It's always fun to see what other folks look for & like.

I've looked over some of the other options, & had decided they weren't quite the one. I keep trying to like the cannondales, but I'm just not a big fan of aluminum bikes despite some of their obvious advantages.

At this point I think I'll await the seattle vintage bike show/swap, & see if there's something fun there. If not maybe I can dicker that 620 down a bit.
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