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  1. #1
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    Touring or Road Bike?

    I posted this in Road Cycling but I think I'll post it here as well. Just wanted an opinion. I am a 56 year old woman. I have gone from a hybrid to a road touring bike (Devinci Caribou) thinking that I would do some touring. However I now see that it will probably never happen. I do commute to work from time to time. I try to ride about 40 km three nights per week and then have a women's group and we ride anywhere from 50-75 km. I live in a rather hilly area and I can never get my average speed any greater than 21 km/h and hate it when real roadies fly by me (mind you they are guys and much, much younger!) I just recently replaced my 35 cc Ritchey Trail Mix tires with smooth 28s. My question is whether I would derive any great benefit from having a true road bke.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Doug Campbell's Avatar
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    I always hate replies where the response is definitive. Things just aren't that black & white, but in this case I think the question deserves such a response. The answer to your question is NO!

    As a 60 year old geezer, I discovered that road bikes are only marginally faster and definitely not as comfortable. Although I have a LeMond Zurich (which will be going on E-Bay soon), I have found that more and more, I prefer riding my Trek 520 touring bike.

  3. #3
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Wow, another great touring bike. Thanks for posting.

    From roadbikereview
    The Michelin tires are good for bad roads, but too slow for paved ones. I replaced them with Continental 1000's. Much faster.
    To answer your question, the only way you know for sure would be to borrow a road bike for a day, or rent one, and give it the pedal test. I don't think you will gain enough going from your bike to an al road bike. You'll notice some increase if you went to Ti or Carbon bike, but we're talking about thousands of dollars. How important is this extra tidbit of speed?

    13 mph avg isn't bad when you have hills. I'm older, and I didn't know as much speed improvement until I was able to ride 5 days a week. Try tracking your average speed and adding another workout/training ride. You also might try increasing your cadence, that does help.
    No way you can catch the youngsters, but you can slowly improve.

    BTW, what brand of 28's did you get, hopefully not Michelins. They are not fast.
    Hi 'o Silver away

  4. #4
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    A touring bike may have a little bit of a problem keeping up with a road bike, but if my math is correct, 21 kmh comes out to over 13 mph. Yes the young guys on the road bikes do go by at 32 kmh or so and you could probably get a little closer to that by going with even narrower tires, but I don't think there is anything wrong with a touring frame. You can always buy another set of wheels that would allow you to use 25mm or 23mm tires and it may help slightly. One of the advantages of the road bike is that it is often a better hill climber. One of the sure give aways in this is the closeness between the seat tube and the rear tire. Often on a race type of frame there is less than a finger's width but often on a touring bike you can get two or three fingers between the tire and seat tube. This is intentional in both cases. One is designed for speed and climbing power by moving the rear wheel as close as possible to the rider and the other is built for comfort on the long haul by moving the wheel back a little. I have a touring bike and I also have a Zurich frame with custom campy chorus components like Doug mentioned. I ride both depending upon what type of riding I plan on doing. That is, of course, unless I am off road somewhere on my mountain bike, or path riding on my hybrid.

  5. #5
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Jabike, my actual calc was 13.0491518051327 mph, but I rounded for sanity.

    Sxpirit -- how much does the entire bike weigh? It's not mentioned on the manu site.
    Hi 'o Silver away

  6. #6
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    Why round for sanity, HiYo? It goes without saying that most of us here are happy being perfectly insane. The seat hurts, my legs are cramping, I have no feeling in my hands, I pedal faster, and I'm smiling. Does that sound like a sane person?

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    Hey, a question I can answer! Those are pretty rare....
    I'm a 60-year-old guy who, until I cleared out the garage last spring so we could put our house on the market, had an embarrassing backlog of bikes of all sorts. I started cycling in college, bought a new bike every few years and never sold any of the old ones, so I was pretty well equipped. We've lived in the same house for 25 years, so I've been able to compare my speeds and times over familiar courses on a huge range of bikes, from racer roadies with 700x20 tires to mountain bikes with fat slicks.
    In your case, I think you're fine with what you've got. You probably gained a little speed getting rid of the Ritchey tires, and you might gain a tiny bit more by going a little skinnier. Everything is a tradeoff, though--you'd give up comfort, stability and durability for it, and the gain would be small.
    I have three main road bikes left: A Rivendell Atlantis with 700x37 tires, a Rambouillet with 700x28s and an Allez on 25s (I weigh 240, so I stay away from narrower rubber). I've ridden them all over the same routes hundreds of times, and my speed depends far more on how I'm feeling that day, how hard I push and which way the wind is blowing than on the bike. My personal record on my 12-mile commute, in fact, is on the heaviest and least "racy" frame, the Atlantis--it's so comfortable I can just stay in the saddle and crank.

  8. #8
    cs1
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Campbell
    I always hate replies where the response is definitive. Things just aren't that black & white, but in this case I think the question deserves such a response. The answer to your question is NO!

    As a 60 year old geezer, I discovered that road bikes are only marginally faster and definitely not as comfortable. Although I have a LeMond Zurich (which will be going on E-Bay soon), I have found that more and more, I prefer riding my Trek 520 touring bike.
    My Waterford RSE also seems more comfortable than his brother Waterford 1200. Though the 1200 is very light for a steel bike. At 47 I find myself riding just for the fun of it.

    Tim
    1999 Waterford RSE-11, 1995 Waterford 1200, 1989 Specialized Rockhopper Comp
    1989 Raleigh Technium, 1989 Schwinn Traveler, 1986 Specialized Rockhopper
    1984 Specialized Stumpjumper, 1986 Specialized Stumpjumper and just way too many projects to list.

  9. #9
    Badger Biker ctyler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Campbell
    I always hate replies where the response is definitive. Things just aren't that black & white, but in this case I think the question deserves such a response. The answer to your question is NO!

    As a 60 year old geezer, I discovered that road bikes are only marginally faster and definitely not as comfortable. Although I have a LeMond Zurich (which will be going on E-Bay soon), I have found that more and more, I prefer riding my Trek 520 touring bike.
    I agree. I have a Cannondale Saeco CAD3 and a Co-Motion Co-Pilot, both wonderful road bikes. This year I bought a Fuji Touring bike. I added SKS fenders and Arkel bags and use it for errands and rides out in the country. I too am "a 60 year old geezer", but I average 13-14 MPH on my rides with the touring bike.

  10. #10
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velo Dog
    Hey, a question I can answer! Those are pretty rare....
    I have three main road bikes left:
    A Rivendell Atlantis with 700x37 tires,
    a Rambouillet with 700x28s and
    an Allez on 25s (I weigh 240, so I stay away from narrower rubber).

    Did I understand this correctly? You have about the same speed regardless of whether using x37, x28 or x25 tires?
    If this is correct, then the roadie mantra "skinnier, skinnier, skinnier" might be replaced with "wider comfort and speed".

    You don't have any problems riding x25's????
    Hi 'o Silver away

  11. #11
    Senior Member dagna's Avatar
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    I'm going to chime in on the other side. If, despite all well-thought-out logic (and there's been a lot of good, logical advice here) your heart yearns for a road bike, I say go for it. You are the only one who knows if you will always be drawn to the road bikes, but I somewhat suspect it from your comment that you 'hate it when real roadies fly by me (mind you they are guys and much, much younger!)'. You seem to realize they'll almost certainly still fly by you if you're on a road bike...but, perhaps not quite so quickly. I'm an older lady, too, and I'm afraid I have that road bike jones and competitive streak. Comfort (beyond a well-fitting bike frame and a saddle that doesn't cripple me) just doesn't mean that much to me. With the road bike, I blame getting passed on the engine rather than the bike, and somehow that makes it better. Not logical, but there it is.

    So, if your heart wants a road bike for non-logical reasons, what's the harm? With commuting, a road bike doesn't sound like the most practical bike you could have, but not being completely practical isn't the end of the world. Only you can make the call, though.

    Dagna

  12. #12
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    I'm also a woman over 50 who - as Dagna writes - must like speed over comfort. My main concern of comfort is just that I'm not in pain (other than the pain of keeping with a pack going 28 mph). It's really all in what you enjoy. I just love being able to hang with the "racer guys" in training rides. Even did some racing myself this summer.

  13. #13
    Si Senior dbg's Avatar
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    Last week I took a roadie on a touring trip thinking I could keep up with the super fit "horses" in the group better. It worked slightly, but they could still pull away from me over the long haul. And I had troubles on the long uphills without a touring granny gear.

    But ...there were plenty of downhill stretches where, as it flattened out, I clicked into the 53/12 or 53/11, got low in the drops, and just pounded leg for a mile or so and really flew! It was a great feeling that I don't think would have been the same on a full touring setup.

    Bottom line: very small benefit, but some great moments.

  14. #14
    fmw
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    I switched from hybrid to road bike about 3 years ago. I don't race. But I do compete against myself, using my computer to measure results. I enjoy the road bike so much I just finished building a new one with a carbon fiber frame and an overall weight just over 16 lbs. Do I need that for exercise? Of course not but there are a lot of other things involved.

    If you want a road bike, then get a road bike. If comfort is an issue you can do things like buy a frame one size too small, tilt the handlebar upward, get a shorter handlebar stem and so on and get something akin to a tourer in terms of fit and feel. If you like wider tires, you can put them on the existing wheels. The road bike will be more nimble, take corners better, avoid hazards in the road better and go faster. I say do whatever lights your fire.

  15. #15
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    I do a few longer road rides each year and the thing that surprises me is the wide variety of fitness amongst the riders and the wide variety of bikes.I do these rides on a mountain bike with just a change of tyres to slicks, so no real advantage for me, unless I go on the Tandem.

    I am not talking road racers now, as I either never see them as they disappear into the distance from the front of the pack, or they don't do this type of ride in the U.K. Our Tandem is fast and we leave our group of mountain bikers fairly quickly. We are still a Mountain bike though, and nowhere as fast as a good road rider whether they are on a racer or a tourer. Especially those damn tourers. They may not go as fast as the racers, but they go consistently quick.

    Get to the end of the ride, and the fast boys, Luckily the tandem is still just about in this group, are a mixture of Racing bikes, and tourers. The only point I have noted is that there seems to be only one type of racing bike, and that is very lightweight and the riders are mostly walking very tenderly. The touring bikes come in all styles, all sizes and all weights. Some of them are as light as the racers, or almost, but they have extra gear on them like triple front rings and mudgaurds. The riders are different though. They all look as though they could do the ride again. No saddle soreness, no strained legs, and no aches.

    At heart I am still a racer, even though I know that I am slowing down a bit. Perhaps if I got that racer, that is 2 or 3 lbs lighter, I could stay with that front group solo. I doubt it, but mentally, I would prefer to give myself the chance to be there, rather than finish a ride in better condition with a bike that would give me a more confortable ride.

  16. #16
    Huachuca Rider webist's Avatar
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    You'll only be risking a portion of the total cost to find out. Buy one. Get it fitted. Use it. If your choice is wrong, sell it. Just don't let go of the tourer until you are sure. Better yet, keep it.
    Just Peddlin' Around

  17. #17
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    If you want to go fast get a bike with little skinny tires and start working out.

    You have to train if you want to go fast.

    Several weeks a go I was passed by some speed deamon probably going 25 mph or more showing off to a fat old guy going about 12 mph. Kind of funny about a mile down the road I passed him while his tung was hanging out and he was panting like a dog, I was still going my 12 mph and he never did catch me again. It is amazing what 16 miles a day commute will do for you.

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  18. #18
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by taylor8
    If you want to go fast get a bike with little skinny tires and start working out.

    You have to train if you want to go fast.

    Several weeks a go I was passed by some speed deamon probably going 25 mph or more showing off to a fat old guy going about 12 mph. Kind of funny about a mile down the road I passed him while his tung was hanging out and he was panting like a dog, I was still going my 12 mph and he never did catch me again. It is amazing what 16 miles a day commute will do for you.

    Joe
    How true. I do put the skinny tyres on my mountain bike, but for the road rides, it is still a mountain bike. With my gearing of 42/11, there is no way that I can go as fast as the roadies, but I do spin as fast as them. Daft thing is, I rarely use the 11t sprocket on the back, that is for downslopes only, but the one thing I do have on the ride is a constant pace. It is surprising how many times the fast boys will pass me, and I mean the same fast boys each time. Perhaps they have taken a diversion to clock up a few extra miles, or I keep taking shortcuts. Daft thing is, They keep overtaking me, but I never seem to overtake them. Where they manage to disappear to, I don't know.

  19. #19
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Szpirit
    My question is whether I would derive any great benefit from having a true road bke.
    I think the speed benefit will be trivial. I have a Panasonic road bike and a Trek 520 tourer...two steel 1980's bikes, and my best lap time on the 400 m high school track is exactly the same (41 sec) for each, but the road bike has slightly fatter tires so it would probably be marginally faster if that were corrected. ..my guess is that the road bike might be noticeably faster on the uphill, negligibly faster on the flats, and somewhat twitchier and scarier, forcing you to hold back a bit, on a fast downhill. Do you intend to tear down the Niagara escarpment at 80kph? The tourer is probably safer.
    Robert

  20. #20
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    Greetings from a 50-something woman, who struggled with this same issue. Had a touring bike, changed out the tires, and was still being passed by others in my riding group. Finally got a light (carbon) racing bike (added an adjustable stem to increase comfort and a compact crank set for hills). At first, it was slightly faster, especially acceleration. After a few months, was much faster. Think this was due to learning how to handle the bike, and also, because it is a joy to ride, makes me want to ride more. Now can pass most of the folks on "slow" bikes, even experienced guys. As for those young guys on fast bikes... well, they are still a blur in the distance to me. However, I know other women my age (with fast road bikes) who do keep up with them. Good luck, and enjoy riding!

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