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  1. #1
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    Qualities of a Great Touring Bike

    I was curious what you all think makes a great touring bike. I am not talking about bike fit, but rather other things to look for.

    Thank you all!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Seve's Avatar
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    Just a few thoughts.

    Comes with all the braze-ons/eyelets, easy to add fenders, racks, panniers, lighting and a triple crank.

    Hubs/wheels and other components that are common and easily serviced/replaced if need be.

  3. #3
    Senior Member jeneralist's Avatar
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    Gearing is important; you don't want the rear cassette to go from 11 to 24 in 10 steps.

    Reliability and repairability; I'd be more likely to have an 8-speed rear than an 11-speed rear.
    - Jeneralist

    See video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gv4CrEEg_N4 to see me in the Outrageous Outfit Challenge for the MS Society; or go straight to http://goo.gl/bALZDg to donate

  4. #4
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Proper geometry for load balancing: Relaxed head tube angle, slightly longer fork rake, longer chainstays.
    Lowrider rack mounts up front.
    Frame/fork clearance for 35mm tires with full fenders.

    You end up with a bike that needs a turning clearance like a cruise ship, but it's a stable ride that you don't have to fight to keep it tracking straight when loaded down.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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  5. #5
    Perma-n00b Askel's Avatar
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    Touring where? And how? Fully loaded? Light? Credit Card?

    Man, there's so many different ways to tour, so many different ideal bikes....

    But I say just go for it. No bike is perfect for every given condition. Accept your limitations and do what you can with what you got.

  6. #6
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    Long wheelbase for stable handling. Long chain stays for adequate heel clearance. Plenty of clearance for high-volume tires. 26" wheels so you're not constantly worrying about toe overlap. Braze-ons for front and rear racks, fenders, and 3 or more water bottle cages. Chain rings smaller than a standard (52/39/30) road triple; look for 48/38/26 or smaller if you're planning to carry a heavy load.

  7. #7
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    I debated these questions before I went to Florida and did a fixed base tour. I love my Madone but it really is giving it's all just hauling me around. The 7300 Hybrid's upright seating literally becomes a pain in the rear in less than an hour's time. So like you I was looking for a bike capable of longer rides with wide tires and lots of braze-on points and dropbars.

    As you've found out by now the choices are overwhelming as each move towards heavy duty touring makes them less useful for everything else. I rode a Long Haul trucker and like CliftonGK1 says they handle like a cruise-ship and for touring that's a good thing. So I started looking at all the different bikes and trying to find the "magic" geometry to do it all and it just doesn't exist. What I realized was that they had steel frames for the most part, used cantilever brakes allowing tire clearance for 35mm tires or greater. The rest of the components were all over the map. The big differences were in the frame.

    Since I haven't actually toured before and don't know whether I'd like it, I focused more on a heavy duty version of a road bike. I looked at cyclocross bikes pouring over the specs and searching forums for opinions. Time and time again I read posts of I bought X bike and got into Y riding so I bought Z frame and transferred the components.

    Frames are not really that expensive if you develop the skills to swap out components. I first was going to transfer the 7300 drive train to the Cross Check frame but all I was getting out of it was a cheap crankset and cheap derailleurs. To utilize them I'd have to invest in cheap shifters that really weren't that cheap. So I bit the bullet and got a Sram Rival groupset that many recommended as best all around use (dirty) with dropbars. (except barends no thank you)

    Is there a cheaper way to do this? Yes, but in the long run I'll need the skills I pick-up doing this. I don't want to depend on LBS's.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Steel - for carrying lots of weight
    Braze ons - for fenders and racks
    Low gearing - I have 24/34 as my lowest gear. It's rather nice on those really steep hills. Anything that's tough to get up with your current weight is going to be much tougher with touring weight applied.
    Fat tires - slower, sure, but negligibly so. They provide nice suspension and are able to handle a larger range of terrain.
    Fenders - Get ones with full coverage and a mud guard, who knows what you'll be up against.
    Comfort - most of all get a relaxed geometry built for comfort over speed. You won't be setting any records carrying all that extra weight, so why even try?

    Opt for a triple crank and a mountain bike cassette, somewhere inbetween 11-32 and 11-36.


    Some people insist that simpler parts are better due to being more repairable. As such they prefer square taper bottom bracket, friction shifters, etc. Another common suggestion is 26" wheels because those are more common throughout the world. I didn't heed any of that advice because I don't really plan on doing any tours out in the middle of nowhere, where finding replacement octalink/STI/700C parts is going to be an issue, but it is good advice and should be heeded if you plan on going out of the way.
    Last edited by Mithrandir; 04-01-12 at 09:04 AM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    For me it's the frame, I want a bike that handles well with a heavy load. good brakes with a good touch, braze ons for racks and fenders, and that I can use a low rider rack on the front fork. The reason I group the brakes in with the frame, if you want disk brakes or canti's or calipers, this needs to be decided when getting the frame.

    Anything else I can change as I learn what suites my needs.
    I don't do vintage, I bought them new, rode them, kept them. Now they are just old bikes
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  10. #10
    Senior Member jeneralist's Avatar
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    And remember, you don't need a touring bike to go touring. I've done two 300+ mile tours on what I suppose is classified as a "city" or "hybrid" bike.

    That's a Cannondale Adventure 400. Came stock with a front shock (not the best for touring, unless you're doing alot of off-road riding); aluminum frame (many claim steel is more comfy). The fenders and racks were all aftermarket, as was the 2nd water-bottle attachment. The stock saddle, shown, is gel -- which many claim gets uncomfortable after about 40 miles.

    And nonetheless I had a blast.

    It carried all my junk (and you can see I carried a LOT of junk). It was a nice smooth ride. Things didn't break (knock wood).

    Point being, you don't need a "touring" bike to tour. You might want to go for a few long rides first and find out what you'd do differently if you had it to do over again before getting a new ride.
    - Jeneralist

    See video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gv4CrEEg_N4 to see me in the Outrageous Outfit Challenge for the MS Society; or go straight to http://goo.gl/bALZDg to donate

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeneralist View Post
    aluminum frame (many claim steel is more comfy).
    I know many bicycle tourists claim that steel is more comfortable, but I just don't buy it! Big fat tires are what makes a touring frame more comfortable. My Nashbar double-butted aluminum touring frame is darn near as comfortable as my carbon fiber road bike. Why? Because it has 700x35 tires that are only inflated to 65psi. Super-comfy and a lot less flexible than the steel frames I've tried...

  12. #12
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    I think this one is great, that is why I bought it, even 3rd hand. http://www.cyclofiend.com/working/20...clark1008.html

    Loved the drivetrain So I got a Bike Friday Pocket Llama that packs small
    to sneak thru air fare fees without surcharges.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    I know many bicycle tourists claim that steel is more comfortable, but I just don't buy it! Big fat tires are what makes a touring frame more comfortable. My Nashbar double-butted aluminum touring frame is darn near as comfortable as my carbon fiber road bike. Why? Because it has 700x35 tires that are only inflated to 65psi. Super-comfy and a lot less flexible than the steel frames I've tried...

    On the contrary the reason most tourists recommend steel is because it's easier to fix than aluminum. It's very easy to weld steel, but aluminum is tough to fix, and could be dangerous if it isn't fixed perfectly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post
    I debated these questions before I went to Florida and did a fixed base tour. I love my Madone but it really is giving it's all just hauling me around. The 7300 Hybrid's upright seating literally becomes a pain in the rear in less than an hour's time. So like you I was looking for a bike capable of longer rides with wide tires and lots of braze-on points and dropbars.

    As you've found out by now the choices are overwhelming as each move towards heavy duty touring makes them less useful for everything else. I rode a Long Haul trucker and like CliftonGK1 says they handle like a cruise-ship and for touring that's a good thing. So I started looking at all the different bikes and trying to find the "magic" geometry to do it all and it just doesn't exist. What I realized was that they had steel frames for the most part, used cantilever brakes allowing tire clearance for 35mm tires or greater. The rest of the components were all over the map. The big differences were in the frame.

    Since I haven't actually toured before and don't know whether I'd like it, I focused more on a heavy duty version of a road bike. I looked at cyclocross bikes pouring over the specs and searching forums for opinions. Time and time again I read posts of I bought X bike and got into Y riding so I bought Z frame and transferred the components.

    Frames are not really that expensive if you develop the skills to swap out components. I first was going to transfer the 7300 drive train to the Cross Check frame but all I was getting out of it was a cheap crankset and cheap derailleurs. To utilize them I'd have to invest in cheap shifters that really weren't that cheap. So I bit the bullet and got a Sram Rival groupset that many recommended as best all around use (dirty) with dropbars. (except barends no thank you)

    Is there a cheaper way to do this? Yes, but in the long run I'll need the skills I pick-up doing this. I don't want to depend on LBS's.
    Why did you decide not to go with a Long Haul Trucker?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeneralist View Post
    And remember, you don't need a touring bike to go touring. I've done two 300+ mile tours on what I suppose is classified as a "city" or "hybrid" bike.

    That's a Cannondale Adventure 400. Came stock with a front shock (not the best for touring, unless you're doing alot of off-road riding); aluminum frame (many claim steel is more comfy). The fenders and racks were all aftermarket, as was the 2nd water-bottle attachment. The stock saddle, shown, is gel -- which many claim gets uncomfortable after about 40 miles.

    And nonetheless I had a blast.

    It carried all my junk (and you can see I carried a LOT of junk). It was a nice smooth ride. Things didn't break (knock wood).

    Point being, you don't need a "touring" bike to tour. You might want to go for a few long rides first and find out what you'd do differently if you had it to do over again before getting a new ride.
    I thought a lot about this. You told me this a while ago when we talked about touring and have been thinking about it since. My road bike, even though I love it, gives me trouble (comfort) on longer rides. My mtn bike commuter I love but it is really heavy and I feel very slow with it. Slow is not a problem but that is not fully loaded either.

  16. #16
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
    Why did you decide not to go with a Long Haul Trucker?
    I'm fairly sure I don't want to do the camping part of a tour. So when you don't have a tent, sleeping bag, cooking stuff... ect. The Long Haul Trucker becomes much more bike than I need. I'm definitely not saying it isn't the bike for you. What I'm wanting out of the Cross Check is a bike I can go explore the back roads and non paved trails which right now would be a mistake on the Madone. Have fenders and a rear rack for food and supplies for day long journeys. Get back to the Car and sleep in a Motel or drive home. If later on camping and the whole tour thing suits me I'll buy a frame and a few hours work have a touring bike do the tour and put the parts back on the Cross Check. Part of the appeal of bicycles for me is working on them so it's a win win.

    So Why not start with a LHT? They handle like a cruise ship.

  17. #17
    Senior Member jeneralist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
    I thought a lot about this. You told me this a while ago when we talked about touring and have been thinking about it since. My road bike, even though I love it, gives me trouble (comfort) on longer rides. My mtn bike commuter I love but it is really heavy and I feel very slow with it. Slow is not a problem but that is not fully loaded either.
    Fair enough. See my "first ride with the new(ish) bike" thread for a mention of what happens when the bike feels slow.
    - Jeneralist

    See video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gv4CrEEg_N4 to see me in the Outrageous Outfit Challenge for the MS Society; or go straight to http://goo.gl/bALZDg to donate

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post
    I'm fairly sure I don't want to do the camping part of a tour. So when you don't have a tent, sleeping bag, cooking stuff... ect. The Long Haul Trucker becomes much more bike than I need. I'm definitely not saying it isn't the bike for you. What I'm wanting out of the Cross Check is a bike I can go explore the back roads and non paved trails which right now would be a mistake on the Madone. Have fenders and a rear rack for food and supplies for day long journeys. Get back to the Car and sleep in a Motel or drive home. If later on camping and the whole tour thing suits me I'll buy a frame and a few hours work have a touring bike do the tour and put the parts back on the Cross Check. Part of the appeal of bicycles for me is working on them so it's a win win.

    So Why not start with a LHT? They handle like a cruise ship.
    I am just not sure. Saw one up close today with another guy I rode with. Hard to say. Still in the very early stages of researching.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeneralist View Post
    Fair enough. See my "first ride with the new(ish) bike" thread for a mention of what happens when the bike feels slow.
    It usually means I have had too many donuts!

  20. #20
    Senior Member irwin7638's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post

    So Why not start with a LHT? They handle like a cruise ship.
    I thought the LHT was good, but it did handle like a cruise ship. I like my Hunqapillar better. It rides like a touring bike, handles like a mountain bike, is a lot more versatile than either and has all the features everybody has mentioned.


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  21. #21
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    What make the LHT handle like a cruise ship? Length of the fork?

  22. #22
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    This is my choice in a touring bike. http://www.raleighusa.com/bikes/steel-road/sojourn-12/

    I am anxiously waiting to make sure that my local dealer was able to secure one of the 13 Raleigh is making in my size this year. Without tax I'll be able to get this bike just a dollar short of 4 figures, which is an AWESOME value for a Reynolds 631 frame.

    BTW, I like the wide tires for commuting and rambling country rides. Once I get the Sojourn then I'll setup my Schwinn LeTour more for Randonneuring and Organized supported rides. Currently the LeTour (Willy) is doing triple duty as trainer, commuter, and group ride.

    Of course, I blew the doors off what my Schwinn Voyageur 7 is supposed to be tonight. The Voyageur is a hybrid/cruiser bike that I'm supposed to ride slow but I turned in a 16.5mph avs on a 33 mile ride tonight :-o

    Why do I mention the Voyageur? Because the Voyageur has the same size tires as the Sojourn (700x35) and I can tell you that on the bitumen roads I was on tonight the 35's gave me a great sense of confidence. The Sojourn with a steel frame, drop bars, and 35's should very well be an all day bike. Maybe a several day bike.
    RUSA #8269

  23. #23
    Senior Member irwin7638's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
    What make the LHT handle like a cruise ship? Length of the fork?
    Compared to the Hunq, the LHT has a longer wheelbase, a little less fork rake, a little less bb drop. I'm no expert but apparently all those little things add up.

    Marc
    Last edited by irwin7638; 04-01-12 at 08:32 PM.
    Read Simply Cycle

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  24. #24
    Senior Member Mithrandir's Avatar
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    For the record I have an LHT and I don't feel like it's difficult to maneuver.

  25. #25
    Perma-n00b Askel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
    My mtn bike commuter I love but it is really heavy and I feel very slow with it. Slow is not a problem but that is not fully loaded either.
    Just pack light.



    Can usually go 2-3 nights at a time camping out with that setup. Maybe more if the weather is good and I have time to kill at a laundromat.

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