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  1. #1
    Enthusiast Archinutt's Avatar
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    If I were honest with myself, do I need a race bike or a touring

    I am starting to ride a lot. I am planning on buying a new bike at the end of the season for next year. I would like to spend around 800.00. I am of course attracted to the sexy race bikes, but I doubt I will ever race. I will be doing quick after work 15-20 milers a along the river couple of times a week with a longer 30-50 mile rides on the weekend. I would like to do longer rides. On my mid 80's raliegh I am averaging about 15-16 mph for the whole trip, but tend to ride along at about 18mph. I would like to start commuting to work on Friday's (about 7 miles, but through the heart of downtown Minneapolis)

    What is the difference in a race bike and a touring bike? (this is my biggest question)
    Do my riding habits lean one way or another?
    Are either of these bikes a better value at the $800 range?
    Given my description, Is there an obvious bike choice?

    I have a feeling that if I like my technium with it's downtube suntour shifting, a newer bike will be a dream. Especially with the shifting. I've never test rode a new one because i don't want to add fuel to the new bike fever.
    Archinutt

    "Most of us are very very good at finding what we are expecting to find"

  2. #2
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    The difference between race bikes and touring bikes:

    -Most race bikes can only fit super skinny tires. A lot of touring bikes can fit hybrid-level (mid-size) fat tires for more comfort, or you could modify them to fit skinny tires if you wanted. Skinny tires tend to be rough/harsh, but they are certainly a lot faster than fat ones.

    -Race bikes are made for speed, and touring bikes are made for more comfort and strength. Touring bikes tend to be heavier, because they use somewhat more durable components, and their frames are made to be tougher, too.

    -Race bikes generally don't have any braze-on mounts for racks or fenders. Touring bikes have them up the wahzoo. If you are going to be commuting, I would suggest a touring bike over a racer.

    -Touring bikes tend to have lower gears than race bikes do. This is to make it a lot easier to climb hills. If your legs are weak, and you want to have an easier time climbing hills, get the touring bike.

    -Touring bikes tend to have longer wheelbases than road racing bikes. What this means is that road bikes are twitchier, and touring bikes are more stable (they have to be, because they're designed to haul camping equipment). If you want an agile bike, get the racing bike. Touring bikes tend take corners going wide (understeer).

    Racer or Tourer?

    I'll say this right off the bat: I have a bias for touring bikes. So my obvious recommendation is to go for the tourist! It's not going to be as fast as the racer, but for long distance riding, I am betting that the touring bike will be much more comfortable. Touring bikes are designed to go very long distances, day after day after day after...well, you get the idea

    Maybe a race bike person will chime in on why a racer would be better than a touring bike for your type of riding.

    However, despite these recommendations, I will say this: the type of bike will not matter if you get yourself a good or bad fit. You can have a racer fit perfectly that would be able to do distance riding. You can have a touring bike that fits real badly and you wouldn't want to ride it 2 miles. Make sure you FIT the bike.

    $800 range?

    I'd say take a look at Jamis bikes (the Aurora is a touring bike):

    http://www.jamisbikes.com/usa/bikes/...es/aurora.html

    For $800, you will probably only be able to afford something in the low to low/mid range of road bikes, unless you go for used bikes. By the way, I do think that you're the target customer of this particular Jamis model. Just read the description (from the link):

    "Let’s face it. Most people buying road-racing bikes aren’t going to race them. Many are interested solely in getting back into shape or joining a local club for active camaraderie. Some are chucking the car keys and making a commitment to commuting. Others are hitting the highway for a tour across the country."

    On the other hand...

    You could get a "Sport Touring" or "Comfort Road" bike, which is more like a compromise between a tour bike and a pure racing bike. It's faster and more agile than a tourist, but it can equip fatter tires than a racer, while also letting you fit fenders.
    Last edited by fat_bike_nut; 04-21-07 at 10:56 AM.

  3. #3
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    I bought a Surly Long Haul Trucker in their largest frame (62 cm) then adjusted it to my size/height [6'5" 225 lbs, 35" inseam]. You are right there in Minneapolis where Surly bikes are 'created' altho I think their frames are only sold through OBP. There is now a 'complete' Surly LHT on the market for around 900 bucks.

    This is a touring bike, NOT a racing bike. It will take from the skinniest tire to a 2.5" tire, 26", 700, etc. Has rack & fender & cage mounts all over it. I use it to commute 8 miles RT to work and on my typical 15 -20 mile after-work rides. I love this bike. With fenders, rear rack, etc. it weighs about 30 lbs but at my size, the bike's weight is less of an issue than a bike that will cruise as fast as I want to push it and still be comfortable riding.

    I went from riding my modified steel MTB a thousand miles last year to this one that I've already got nearly 1,000 miles on. While in the market for a new bike, I considered 'road bikes' briefly then decided at age 53 I wasn't going to race anybody in a serious fashion and that strength, stability and multi-use riding were my preference. Most road bikes are only designed for riding 'fast' on the road, not on MUPs or trails or streets or over curbs or wherever. I've ridden my LHT through vacant lots, country lanes, gravel roads, construction sites, everywhere I needed or wanted to ride. And it has performed beyond expectations.

    Maybe one of these days I'll be able to afford a 'single-use bike' and spring for some titanium custom road bike but until then I'm quite satisfied with the Surly.

    My 2 cents' worth...
    centexwoody
    They're beautiful handsome machines that translate energy into joy.

  4. #4
    Enthusiast Archinutt's Avatar
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    really interesting.

    I have never looked at Jamis. I will

    I have seen the surley's around and my LBS sells them. I will ask more about them. Also we are almost the same specs. I am 6 4.5, 230 with a 34-35 inseam. I suspected those might be local.

    I have also never considered the mulitiple tire option. The bike i am on came with super skinny tires, but they were orginal and dry rotted. I ordered new tires 700x23 not knowing they were larger. I felt a difference, but not enough to send them back. Plus I was nervous about the first ones being so tiny.

    You also bring up a good point about having all of the connection points for accesories.

    THe wide range of gears would be nice. When I got my bike, the gears were way to tall, so I swapped out the cassette. Now I love it, but I really miss teh top gear. I have a great LBS and we are going to put a taller front chainring on Wednesday, so In theory I will have both now and my only pit fall with be less than perfect shifting between the two perfect rings (maybe)

    You are both pretty convincing. Now that I think about it, my nieghbor (who rides a lot) has all of these features on his bike. It would be interesting to hear from the racer advocates.

    When you say racers are faster, what does that mean? with the same effort is 2 mph difference or more like 8mph?
    Archinutt

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  5. #5
    Enthusiast Archinutt's Avatar
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    I am wondering if this is going to turn out like my Wife and my first car shopping after college. We said "Hey, we are finally not broke, no kids, lets buy a sports car while we can", but ultimatley looked at what we would actually use it for and drove home a Civic and have never regretted it, because all we do is drive downtown, park in tiny spaces, and the occasional long haul for vacation.
    Archinutt

    "Most of us are very very good at finding what we are expecting to find"

  6. #6
    Senior Member barba's Avatar
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    I would try a nice all-arounder. The Surly Crosscheck or Bianchi Volpe might fit the bill for you.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archinutt
    I am wondering if this is going to turn out like my Wife and my first car shopping after college. We said "Hey, we are finally not broke, no kids, lets buy a sports car while we can", but ultimatley looked at what we would actually use it for and drove home a Civic and have never regretted it, because all we do is drive downtown, park in tiny spaces, and the occasional long haul for vacation.
    I think it will

    And a 48T chainring/11T cog is a plenty tall enough gear to hang with the road riders if you can spin well (I'm thinking Surly LHT here). The Jamis' top gear is 52/11, which is even higher.

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    If your LBS is good, talk to them about building a Surly for you. Probably end up spending a little more then you were planning, but you'll end up with exactly what you want. Compact double or triple, road or mountain cassette, bar ends or brifters, right down to the tape. I did a CrossCheck that way and love it. Sorta poor mans custom build.

    http://centurycycles.com/page.cfm?PageID=520
    complete specs with final price at the bottom.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by dewaday
    I did a CrossCheck that way and love it. Sorta poor mans custom build.

    http://centurycycles.com/page.cfm?PageID=520
    complete specs with final price at the bottom.
    very nice bike!

    yep, the 'poor man's custom' is pretty accurate in my own case: I 'should' have a 67 or 68 cm bike but those are only custom so the Surly was the next best thing...
    centexwoody
    They're beautiful handsome machines that translate energy into joy.

  10. #10
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    Thanks, it's a great ride. Drooled over carbon racers for a day, lusted the aluminum a little, but in the end I can bomb anywhere, in any weather and not worry about it. I know lots of people with racers that never leave the garage, but all the Surlys I know get ridden continually.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by dewaday
    Thanks, it's a great ride. Drooled over carbon racers for a day, lusted the aluminum a little, but in the end I can bomb anywhere, in any weather and not worry about it. I know lots of people with racers that never leave the garage, but all the Surlys I know get ridden continually.
    that's my experience as well: while there aren't many Surlys around here, the ones I know of are ridden daily and seriously by folks who just love to ride their bikes.

    A couple of times a week the racers fly past me on the road but since they see me out there riding as often as they are, they've accepted my big ol' touring bike as an equal member of the cycling universe...
    centexwoody
    They're beautiful handsome machines that translate energy into joy.

  12. #12
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    i would put the lht at the expedition end of touring bike - that sucker's built.

  13. #13
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    If I had to have just one bike and it had to be in the $800 range, I'd choose a Bianchi Volpe or, if I could find one in that range set up the way I wanted it, a Surly Crosscheck.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  14. #14
    Enthusiast Archinutt's Avatar
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    this is incredibly helpful. Looks like I need to do some home work on the crosscheck, volpe, adn LHT. My LBS sells Surley and Bianchi.

    I find it interesting that no pro race bikers have chimed in. maybe my price range doesn't get me a serious bike there. maybe it's my description on how I will use the bike. It is hard to be drawn to them in the shop. They are just so sexy.

    No one chimed in on what "not as fast" means. Any thoughts?
    Archinutt

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    Archinutt-

    My speed and distances are almost identical to yours. 2 months ago, I bought a Novara flat-bar road bike at REI (last year's model) on clearance for $750. It's pretty well outfitted (Shimano 105, Mavic wheels, etc.) and I really like it, BUT if I did it all over again, I would get a drop-bar bike. The winds here in the Dallas area are seemingly always around 20 mph, and I am now presenting an even bigger wind drag since I'm more upright. Plus, I didn't think this would happen, but I definitely have a "need for speed". Only been back on a bike for a couple of months, but am already wanting to keep up with the skinny guys (I'm 6'4" - 260). Just my $.02.

  16. #16
    Junior Member khaosspawn's Avatar
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    This style (touring race) might be the best:
    http://www2.trekbikes.com/bikes/subcategory.php?c=1&s=2

    The handlebars are higher up so that you're more upright but you have some of the race bike features as well if you want to get more power, speed.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archinutt
    this is incredibly helpful. Looks like I need to do some home work on the crosscheck, volpe, adn LHT. My LBS sells Surley and Bianchi.

    I find it interesting that no pro race bikers have chimed in. maybe my price range doesn't get me a serious bike there. maybe it's my description on how I will use the bike. It is hard to be drawn to them in the shop. They are just so sexy.

    No one chimed in on what "not as fast" means. Any thoughts?
    It's the same thing that car driverrs get, they walk in, they look at the 5 speed 5L Mustang, but at the end of the day, they still end up taking the Focus Wagon with the Slush-a-matic home. Or resolve to bike more, and keep the old '95 Dodge on the road another year

  18. #18
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by barba
    I would try a nice all-arounder. The Surly Crosscheck or Bianchi Volpe might fit the bill for you.
    I have a nice race bike. And I love it on club rides. But, yet I find I use my Surly Crosscheck the most. I tend to do as many errands as possible with my bikes Touring and commuting. A race bike just does not fit the bill.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archinutt
    No one chimed in on what "not as fast" means. Any thoughts?
    Well, when I say "not as fast," what I'm actually referring to is acceleration and gearing. In general, racing bikes tend to have taller gears. Taller gears=more speed, assuming that you can pedal that the same RPM on all of your gears. As for acceleration, racing bikes have skinnier tires. Skinnier tires=quicker acceleration due to having less rolling resistance. Also, racing bikes are lighter weight. It's easier to accelerate when you have less weight to pull, don'cha think?

    Touring bikes have smaller gears for climbing and hauling loads of stuff. They have fatter tires for more comfort.

    I hope that clears it up for you.

  20. #20
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    Hey man!
    I'm more or less new to the whole bike thing but have jumped in with both feet. I'm lucky to live in Colorado Springs(home of the Olympic Trining Center, Veldrome...etc..) and the local bike shop was very helpful with me making the same decision you are. After riding a Specialized RockHopper for commuting reasons, I decided to check out a racer... And after a long talk with the salesmen I decided to go with a nice touring bike. I bought the Trek 7.3 FX Disc for around $580ish and then used the extra bit I had for getting a race bike for putting funders and a rack on it. I'm 6'5" 240lbs so my choices are limited.I found the Bianchi's to be small..even their biggest frames didn't fit me right. I felt a little stretched out on the Specialized and the Hurly didn't feel right either..all personel pref. Anyhow, the Trek has 700 wheels and fixed forks...It's comfo...pretty fast...and has a nice set of disc brakes..I couldn't be happier that I went with a cruiser than a racer..also...my 2 cents..

    J
    Last edited by fatguypikespeak; 04-22-07 at 07:05 PM.

  21. #21
    Enthusiast Archinutt's Avatar
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    Wow, this is pretty convincing. I think I am sold on a touring bike and putting the skinny tires back on my older bike and kicking up the gears. I am having some maintenance done on Wednesday at my LBS and I will check out the Surley's and Bianchi's.

    I noticed the Crosscheck and the Volpe had bar end shifters. Is there a reason for this? Is it better than the shifters on the brake levers?
    Archinutt

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  22. #22
    Senior Member c_m_shooter's Avatar
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    If bar end shifters go out of adjustment on a a ride you can switch to friction mode and keep on riding. They are also cheap to replace if you ever destroy them. That is what sold me on the Crosscheck over the Jamis Aurora.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archinutt
    I noticed the Crosscheck and the Volpe had bar end shifters. Is there a reason for this? Is it better than the shifters on the brake levers?
    The VOLPE has bar-end shifters? Are you sure? All of the Bianchi Volpes I have seen had Shimano STI (integrated brake levers/shifters).

    With that said, it's really a matter of preference. You will hear loads of arguments favoring it one way over the other.

    Lots of people like using the integrated systems because you have the brakes and shifters on the same lever. That lever is where most people put their hands 90% of the time when they ride road-style bikes 90% (from what I've seen; I actually ride on the top curves myself). With a system like the Shimano STI or Campagnolo ERGO, your brakes and derailleurs are within easy reach of where you'll be spending most of your hand gripping time.

    People like me like the bar-end shifters, because they come with a friction-shifting option. I like friction shifting, because it lets me jump from tall gear 7 to granny gear 1 with a single swoop, a nifty trick for taking on unexpected hills. Friction-shifting is less maintenance, and bar-end shifters are easier to repair if they get damaged or something. There are also some people out there that just like being "old-school" (of course, the real big retro-grouches out there would have the shifters on the downtubes). Lots of touring cyclists like bar-end shifters for the same reasons I do. Simplicity and ease of repair.

    Go and test ride the bikes, see what sort of shifter you prefer.

  24. #24
    Gorntastic! v1k1ng1001's Avatar
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    My 2 cents: "Sexy" road bikes are just plain fun. You certainly don't have to be a racer to have a lot of fun on one. I can appreciate the utility of touring bikes but they always feel like tanks to me.

    Speaking as a former Minneapolitan, I got along just fine commuting on a road bike with a larger-than-average messenger bag. Since I only carried a change of clothes and lunch, I never really needed racks and packs, although fenders would have been nice. During the winter I used my old moutain bike.

    It comes down to this, do you want to trick out a commuter for a once-a-week commute or do you want to buy something that is just plain fun to ride after work and on weekends? Minneapolis has some great road biking routes!

    On the other hand $800 might not get you a great road bike. You might have to up your budget to a $1000.

    If you end up shopping Erik's, head down to the Eden Prairie location and talk to the manager Chris. Tell him "Andy" sent you.

  25. #25
    Senior Member breadbin's Avatar
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    I'd go for a racing bike, buy secondhand if you want. You can change anything you are not happy with, gears etc. Its actually quite enjoyable. I know if it was me and I bought a tourer I would always be asking myself why didn't I buy the racer (especially when the going gets tough). At the end of the day the best bike for you is the one that you will use. One that you look forward to going out on, be it tourer or not. You will get comfortable on any bike over time so I'd recommend a racing bike. Just my thoughts...
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