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Old 07-10-11, 03:18 AM   #1
Ethnod
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New bike - 4 Touring and fitness

So hoping I can get some advice. Looking to buy a good bike, currently I have a great like but its a mountain bike and its horrible for commuting and would be a disaster for long distance, plus the frame is too small for me.

So been looking around a few shops and talking to people but each shop only deals with a few manufacturers and then I have no idea how to compare one to another plus then I forget what model number they were talking about when I go into a new place a week later

Ok so I best explain what I am looking for. I'm 6'1" and a big lad, big build I mean so I need a bike the right size for me. Plus I have some weight on me atm due to some injuries and this is actually partly why I am getting more into cycling.
So I am going to be doing some small tours around Ireland, well I start off with a cycle down to a music festival here in Ireland to raise money for a children's hospital but later on it Sept I intend on doing a 5 day tour around Co. Clare (around 350km) and I hope to do more, like Wicklow and Waterford, Kerry and Donegal over the next year or so. Plus I will be hoping to use the bike daily commuting and travelling in and out of the city (Dublin) from Cabinteely. I'm Irish as you can probably tell so names of places are probably no use but you get the idea
I am looking for something good and reliable (clearly), light, no suspension, fast and comfortable. I think I might want it all
Oh and I have never been a racing style handle bar bike so probably a straight bar or something, not sure

Budget is between 600 - 900 ish ($850 - $1300 USD ish)

So one bike that I am liking the look of is the Felt Speed 30. Its very light, pretty strong and some great parts on it.
Another was a Trek and another Dawes but I cannot remember what models they were for the life of me.


Any thoughts, advise and or suggestions?
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Old 07-10-11, 04:11 AM   #2
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There's a great U.K. cycling magazine called Cycling Active that does a lot of bike tests/reviews. I know they've done touring and cyclocross bikes in the past.
You can read some of their previous issues on their website. This will probably be a better overview of what's available in your part of the world.
http://www.cyclingactive.com/category/bikesgear
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Old 07-10-11, 09:23 AM   #3
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A realization that helped me when buying is that all the bike store bikes are good bikes. I was approaching buying a bike the way I buy most things which is to figure out which brands break after two months and which tend to work well.

All the bikes are good bikes, so if you are in a store you like and you they have a bike you like that feels good when you ride it you can just buy it and not worry about it. You have a good bike.
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Old 07-10-11, 10:26 AM   #4
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Ah, your post makes me ache for the tour I did of your fair land a few years ago. The 'Grand Tour' as I've heard it referred to upon occasion. I rode counter-clockwise along the coast. Did the Ring of Kerry, Cliffs of Moher, Dingle Peninsula, Aran Islands, etc. 30 days total before going to Wales via the Stenna ferry. Landed at the Dublin airport, assembled my bike and road into town via Swords Road. There's a bike shop on Bachelor's Walk. They welcomed me to Ireland while telling me I was probably clinically insane to have done that. At one point while negotiating S.R. I unclipped from the wrong side at a traffic light and promptly fell over to the street side! Had no idea bikes weren't allowed...it just looked to me to be the shortest way into town. In relating the story to some 'pub mates' that night I found myself plied w/pints o' Guiness and shots of Jameson to my health and good fortune for my tour. Needless to say I woke up the next morning w/a monumental hangover and a 50 miles ride to an IHH in Rathdrum via Sally Gap to look forward to that day. Good craic and a grand time I'll never forget. Oh yeah, and I fell into a ditch near SG trying to avoid some sheep on a decend that day. I slept 12 hours that night. Sorry, I digressed!

You're probably best off w/some sort of hybrid w/700wheels and a sturdy rack/trunkbag combo to which you can add a set of panniers when necessary. 28-32mm tires will give a good combo of speed/cushion for commuting/touring. Get really good tires. Schwalbe Marathon Plus, Specialized Armadillos, Continental Gatorskins, Vittoria Randoneurs, Bontrager Hardcase are all flat resistant. Personally, I use(and favor) the SMPs. Others will agree or disagree according to their experiences. You'll do fine w/t amount budgeted for your new ride. All the best!

Btw, if you stay at the IHH in Donegal say hello to the Cunninghams...if they still own it. Really great people.
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Old 07-10-11, 11:17 AM   #5
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NB, bikes below the pro race level come out of a handfull of Asian factories.
Because that is where the Capital went.

Lots of pro level carbon fiber stuff is jobbed out too, as labor intensive work
goes to the lowest bidder .

Shop The Dealer . they will take care of you after the sale too..
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Old 07-10-11, 11:49 AM   #6
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The Dawes Galaxy on the CENTRO Ltd. looks like it might fit the bill. Just use the Search:,Type:, and Touring; function on the left hand side to get an idea of what they have.
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Old 07-10-11, 02:10 PM   #7
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The easiest to find in Irish bike shops are probably cyclo-cross style bikes. These have loads of tyre clearance but are light, strong, agile and quick and many now come with disc brakes. Beware that high-end racing CX bikes lack all useful features, the midrange ones are better. There are no low-end CX bikes.

Traditional touring bikes are still made by Dawes, Claude Butler, Ridgeback and Surley, Jamis. There are some smaller shop brands that are well respected including Hewitt and Thorn.

If you are carrying a camping load you will need a tourer or hybrid style but for lighter loads, eg hostelling, a practical road bike will perform well. In the UK, these are called Audax style and, compared to race bikes have more tyre clearance, more threaded eyelets for accessories and wider range/lower gears.
I toured Ireland using 32mm tyres but could have used wider ones for some of the unsurfaced trails.

I'm not sure where you want to buy, mail order or a local bike shop.
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Old 07-11-11, 06:01 AM   #8
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Not sure what brands of bikes that cycling shops in Ireland carry, but I imagine that Dawes and Thorn are widely available and they have lots of models. When I was in Ireland (twice), it seems that all the cyclists rode mountain bikes, although the roads seemed fine for road, hybrid or cross bikes. Bob Jackson and Mercian are British bikes that are highly regarded and should be available as well.
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Old 07-11-11, 06:14 AM   #9
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Michael, I'll probably go the dealer route as it means I have someone I can go back to.

I am hoping you guys can answer a question or two seeing as you have been so generous with your postings

I have never ridden a bike with racer style handlebars. What are the reasons why I should chose straight over racer style handlebars?
And with the mm size of the tyres, is it the skinnier the faster? or is there something else there I should know?
Oh and whats the deal with cyclocross style bikes? Never heard about them before, what are they made for?

Thanks for your comments about frame strength and weight, I get the whole balance between strength and lightness when it comes to frames, as the stronger ones last you longer as they can sustain more punishment and the lighter ones make cycling long distance easier but a balance is necessary as I will want this bike for a long period. So I will take that into account when I am finally choosing a bike

nashcommguy, sounds like you had a blast around Ireland, its a great place. You should come back
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Old 07-11-11, 10:59 AM   #10
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Drop bars (racer style) give you more options for hand positions, which is more important on longer rides or for riding in windy conditions or going faster. With drop bars, you can always ride with your hands on the tops or the hoods if you don't need the drops. However, with flat bars, you basically have just one position.

Skinny tires are not necessarily faster but are generally lighter. Fatter tires can actually be faster than skinny tires if they aren't too much heavier. They are certainly more comfortable.

Cyclocross bikes are sort of a mix between a road and mountain bike. They use 700c tires like road bikes, but have more clearance for larger tires and often will have mounts for fenders and racks. They also usually have cantilever brakes (or disc) which allows for larger tires as well.
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Old 07-11-11, 11:06 AM   #11
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I thought it was a rule that someone had to post a surly bike as the answer to any "Which Bike" question within the first few posts....Anyway, if you are mostly commuting, the Surly CrossCheck has a lot of fans and it can do light touring duty. The Long Haul Trucker is great too (I have one of these) and it would do what you are asking. I don't know if they sell them in Ireland though, but I'm assuming they do.
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Old 07-12-11, 06:02 AM   #12
Ethnod
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Thanks tarwheel, that post has left me thinking a lot about my options. Will be going back to the bike shops to do more research but with a better eye

Guys I really appreciate all the feedback. I'll still keep an eye on this thread so if you have any more words of wisdom keep em comin'
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