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Old 01-14-11, 08:24 PM   #1
Addison
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cross or tour

My dear wife threw a card in an envelope this Christmas. It allows for my first n+1.

Some background...... I'm soon to be 58, found a riding renewal about 5 years ago. Bought a Trek Madone (4.7) 3 years past and it is my only ride. I'm doing ok considering I ride in the Adirondacks where seasonal conditions rule, and where you can't get away from climbing. For the good 6 months of riding, I usually ride 100-120 per week and fit in a century or two per summer. And, I've got a miserable back and neck so gentle geometry is key. BTW, can't stand flat bars because of the position they put my neck in and prefer riding high in a drop style handlebar.

I would really like another bike that would allow me to ride off pavement. Not looking to do trails or off road, for sure not racing. I want to be on the pavement and then turn off onto the dirt roads without thinking. Lots of dirt roads here that don't call for anything too aggressive, but my skinny tires now won't work.

So...... have been looking on line at cross bikes all winter, but today a young studly type who I work with recommended a Surly touring bike . Size 32 tires, good climbing gearing, swears its comfortable for long rides of 60+ and its kinda cheap. I'd like to keep this under 2k and the Surlys are way under that. Please forgive the ignorant, but what is the difference between cross and touring frames? What is the best for a 45 mile ride, half on hardpack dirt? Lots of things that I left out, so apologies in advance.

I guess I want another ride to take the stress off of my road bike, but still perform ok on roads, do modest off road and be able to go out on a lightlly snow covered winter ride.

lets hear it,

Thanks
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Old 01-14-11, 08:48 PM   #2
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It sounds like he is recommending the Long Haul Trucker... a very popular bike. IMO you may really want a cyclocross type bike more than a touring bike. Check out the Surly Cross Check or Salsa Chili con Crosso. I think the cross frame will tend to have a little shorter wheelbase and perhaps a higher bottom bracket. Both types of bikes can usually handle fenders and racks but the touring frame is designed to be fully loaded and not so with the cross frame. You can gear a cross bike any way you want and there are lots of cool choices in that type of bike. I'm sure someone will post a more thorough explanation of the frame differences soon.

Oh, you can put wide tires on a cross bike just as easily as a tourer. And with skinny tires (25s or 28s) you will not be much slower than on your Madone, if any.

And finally, you can go to the Surly website and view the geometries of the Cross Check and LHT and get some specific answers to your questions, at least with respect to the Surly brand.

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Old 01-14-11, 09:25 PM   #3
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Also, suggest you go over to the Cyclocross forum and browse the "Show Us Your Cross Bike" thread. Some very cool and versatile bikes are there.
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Old 01-14-11, 09:37 PM   #4
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billydon nailed it. If you don't need a heavy duty bike designed to carry a lot of weight then a cross bike is the better choice. Cross bikes can take a pretty big tire and have canti brakes that allow for shedding mud. Cross bikes are also designed for some shock absorption that is inherent in racing. One additional benefit of a cross bike is that with a wheel switch with your road bikes' you have a backup or bad weather bike.
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Old 01-14-11, 09:53 PM   #5
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I lifted a friends Long Haul Trucker onto my roof rack once. I'm lucky I can still walk. It may be a great touring bike, but geeezzz it's a brick. I'm guessing Schwin Varsity weight. Maybe 700 pounds. I wouldn't want to ride it uphill.
Unless you need it to tour in Africa, look at a cross bike.
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Old 01-14-11, 10:09 PM   #6
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A different opinion. While a cyclocross bike would be very good for what you want to do, so would the touring bike. Yes, the touring bike would be a little heavier, but it has the same toughness, brake type and tire versatility as a CX bike. An advantage of the touring bike would be the lower bottom bracket and associated more road bike like handling. There are also a few recent road bikes and many older ones with room for wider tires and with not too tight handling to make them good all road bikes.

For example.

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Old 01-14-11, 11:29 PM   #7
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I tend to agree with the "go lighter" folks. I have used a Bianchi Volpe, a cross bike, for several years for touring. I still have it, but it was replaced by a Surly LHT as my primary touring bike. The Volpe is a jack of all trades and the only thing it does exceptionally well is doing many things fairly well. I still ride it around town, and on club rides when fenders are in order. However, I have been thinking about doing more with it, simlar to what you described. It is a little lighter, more agile, and about the same price as the LHT. The LHT tours exceptionally well, but is not as versitile.

Bianchi in fully loaded tourng configuration.


LHT minus racks and fenders (steerer tube also needs cutting)--still a truck

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Old 01-14-11, 11:49 PM   #8
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I lifted a friends Long Haul Trucker onto my roof rack once. I'm lucky I can still walk. It may be a great touring bike, but geeezzz it's a brick. I'm guessing Schwin Varsity weight. Maybe 700 pounds. I wouldn't want to ride it uphill.
Unless you need it to tour in Africa, look at a cross bike.
I almost mentioned trying to find something other than a CroMoly frame... like Reynolds or True Temper for example. A Gunnar might be nice. I like the looks of some recent Gary Fisher models like the Presidio too. There are some nice cross bike frames being made from CF these days as well.
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Old 01-15-11, 12:06 AM   #9
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OP, I had the same needs as you mention. I wanted a bike that would do well on the road and on gravel/dirt roads. I already have a Specialized Roubiax as my go fast club bike but I would not consider riding it on gravel so I bought a Specialized Tricross Sport which is a cx bike. It's very versatile and comfortable. It can take wide tires, fenders, racks etc and does well on gravel roads. I also use it as a backup (with road tires) to the Roubiax. I was surprised that I am able keep up with my buddies in a paceline.
There are a lot of different cx bikes out there that would work well for you but I really like my Tricross.
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Old 01-15-11, 03:15 AM   #10
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A tourer would be strong enough to cope with a bit of rough trail riding- and a CX would be able to take racks and pannier bags for a bit of touring but would you ever decide to do those 5 day fully loaded tours?

Been looking at a Giant TCX http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-US/....1/7315/44077/

But the main consideration is how the bikes would ride. Both would be different to your Madone so get a test ride.

I am afraid this is a biased opinion. I would not have a use for a Tourer- but I fancy getting out on those hills on a CX and giving it a try. Then If I would prefer to use the MTB up there- I would still have a bike I would ride. A heavier Touring bike would just sit in the shed.
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Old 01-15-11, 04:19 AM   #11
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Another solution is to pick up an old lugged steel sport touring frame from the 80's. I have a 1984 Trek 610 I've been thinking of bringing up to date for the same exact reason.

They can usually be found at garage sales for a song. They will clear 700x32 tires. More importantly they ride more like a road bike than a CX. If you have any mechanical skills it would be easy to build it for well less than 2,000 and it wouldn't weigh a ton.

Also, have you tried mounting 700x28 tires on your existing. My Roubaix clears 28s and is very stable on dirt roads and rail trails.

What I really want is a Lynskey Sportive. Titanium frame and clears 32s. They are advertising complete builds for around 3,000. I'm going to watch for a used one on ebay.

Whatever you choose, make sure you take a good test ride on a CX. I tested a Specialized Tri-Cross. Didn't like and it was no feather weight.
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Old 01-15-11, 07:57 AM   #12
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I have a Salsa Vaya. Lighter and more nimble than a LHT, but can handle wider tyres and some fairly rugged off-road stuff as well as touring if you want. A 'cross bike is a good solution too, but will put you in a more aggressive position than a bike like the Vaya or LHT.

Incidently, more people ask about the Vaya when I'm riding it than any of my other bikes.
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Old 01-15-11, 08:47 AM   #13
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Salsa Vaya or Salsa Casseroll would top my list of recommendations.
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Old 01-15-11, 09:41 AM   #14
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wow, just looked at the Salsa bikes on line. They look great and seem to have the more relaxed geometry I need. Both the Vaya and the Cesserole are intriguing. A problem here would be finding one to test, just have to work through that somehow. Thanks to all, I gathered some good info.
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Old 01-15-11, 10:13 AM   #15
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Trek Portland is the answer.

The Portland's front end is copied straight from a cross bike, which also means it's a bit higher, or in marketing-speak, "relaxed". The rear end is longer like a touring bike. Rather making the bike schizophrenic, everything works together to make it an excellent all-'rounder.

It's equally as fast as my roadies, just not quite as quick. It cares not a whit that I load it up with 40-50 pounds of groceries every week. In fact, it seems to relish the task of hauling them home. It fits my 38mm studded snow tires just fine, likes its 34mm cross tires when we go off-roading, and it gobbles up centuries on its 28mm road tires. The triple makes easy work of climbing. Its only limitation is that the carbon fork won't take a front rack.

Don't let the aluminum frame scare you off. The ride rivals both my Litespeed Classic Ti and my Reynolds 853 steel Schwinn Peloton. Despite these other two fine bikes in the stable, the Portland remains my favorite bike.


I take it on vacation to my family's cabin in Ontario. I mount the cross tires and we do dirt and gravel road half-centuries every other day. The bike has as much fun as I do. Looks like we picked up a little mud there.


The triple made it my ride of choice when we went to Colorado back in 2008. This pic has been posted frequently here. That's us at the top of the highest paved road in North America. While not a great climber (the wheels are a bit heavy), it's an adequate one. Of all my bikes, it's the best descender too. I've had it up to 48.6mph and it was just as solid, and comfortable as at 20. Carves corners like it has a five-foot rudder sunk into the pavement.


And it fits full fenders over the 38mm studded snow tires.

It gets sunny day rides too, and it's my daily commuter.

Mine's an '06. Trek screwed up the component spec for a couple of years, but the '11 is re-speced with better components, and I've returned it to my recommended-buy list.

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Old 01-15-11, 10:51 AM   #16
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I use my Focus Mares CX bike quite as you plan to use your new bike. One thing that is very good with the CX bikes is the interrupt lever braking. Going down bumpy roads or light singletrack the extra position to brake from comes in very handy. It is very easy to get your weight too fra forward with regular brifters.
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Old 01-15-11, 11:08 AM   #17
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Trek Portland is the answer.
That is such a fine and glowing writeup that, even though I'm not looking for or in need of another bike, I now want this one.
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Old 01-15-11, 11:36 AM   #18
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<snip> Please forgive the ignorant, but what is the difference between cross and touring frames? What is the best for a 45 mile ride, half on hardpack dirt? Lots of things that I left out, so apologies in advance.

I guess I want another ride to take the stress off of my road bike, but still perform ok on roads, do modest off road and be able to go out on a lightlly snow covered winter ride.

lets hear it,

Thanks
Generally speaking, a touring bike is designed for heavy loads with attachment points for racks, both front and rear. A Cyclocross bike is designed for speedy travel on grass and dirt. Some Cyclocross bikes are really general-purpose drop-bar bikes and can be used for light touring, commuting, non-technical trail riding.

I would look at bikes like the Salsa Vaya, these are versatile bikes that can be used for both touring and non-technical trail riding. Also consider a lighter Cyclocross bike if you want to maintain speed. Gunner makes the Cross Hairs, Hyper-X and Fast Lane. Consider using Sram Apex componients with the Compact crank and the 11-32 ten speed cassette. Any of the Gunnar bikes I listed would be a great frame to built a sporty & versatile bike with. Doing it within you price point should not be a problem.

http://gunnarbikes.com/site/

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Old 01-17-11, 12:17 AM   #19
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Here's my new "Swiss Army knife" build:

Frame is an '08 Kona Sutra w/105 triple drivetrain, Easton XCOne 29er wheelset, Avid Road BB7s, 700C x 35 Michelins, and Planet Bike full fenders for bad weather. Haven't had a chance to take it for a ride yet.
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Old 01-17-11, 10:55 AM   #20
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tsl,
Like cccorlew, I do not need another bike, but after reading your post I would look at the Portland if I did. Do you get a commission
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Old 01-17-11, 11:42 AM   #21
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If I were interested in a bike like this, my short list would be:

- Salsa Vaya.
- If I win the lottery, Salsa Vaya Ti.
- Bikes Direct Phantom Cross Ti: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...ross_ti_xi.htm
- Or, any of the entry-level cross racing bikes -- Redline Conquest, Kona Jake, Specialized TriCross.
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Old 01-17-11, 12:29 PM   #22
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If you're going to go touring self-supported, I'd recommend a touring bike. On tour it's you and your bike against the world. You want something that does that. If you buy a tourer for touring, you can use it for other things and it's not bad. I have an LHT. Yes, it's heavier than my road bike - especially with the very-strong front and rear racks, the fenders, the sprung Brooks saddle, and of course, the spare spokes mounted on the chainstays. When I pick it up after being used to my road bike, it does appear to weigh 700 pounds. But when I'm out touring, I'm so happy to have it.

I've ridden it on day rides and centuries. It's not great for those, but it's fine. If I was going on a long, self-supported tour and could only afford one bike, I'd be happy to have an LHT, and I wouldn't complain about its weight when I was riding a century.

HOWEVER, if you're not going to take a long, self-supported tour, I think buying a tourer like the LHT wouldn't make sense. If you really want a bike that can ride on both roads and dirt, do both fairly well, and you don't want to tour, a cyclocross bike might be the ticket.

Actually, I think the real answer is to have a different bike for every type of riding you are likely to do.
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Old 01-17-11, 04:25 PM   #23
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I like my LHT and use it for general riding as well as touring.

My wife opted for a lighter general riding/touring bike and picked out a Jamis Aurora. If you do go for the Aurora, make sure the one you pick up has braze-ons for a front rack. A few of the 2009s did not.
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Old 01-18-11, 08:16 AM   #24
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Ten years ago I bought a Cannondale touring bike. I hadn't toured since 1980 and had no specific plans to tour, but had always hoped to do some more. Having the bike at least facilitated and possibly forced me to go touring, so the next year my bike and I went to Austria. It was such a great trip that I have since toured in Europe two more times a have done a number of shorter tours here in North America. So, if you have any aspirations to go touring, get a touring bike. I hate to think of what I would have missed had I not bought that bike.
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Old 01-18-11, 08:23 AM   #25
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[QUOTE=BigBlueToe;12089950] <snip>
I've ridden it on day rides and centuries. It's not great for those, but it's fine. If I was going on a long, self-supported tour and could only afford one bike, I'd be happy to have an LHT, and I wouldn't complain about its weight when I was riding a century.

HOWEVER, if you're not going to take a long, self-supported tour, I think buying a tourer like the LHT wouldn't make sense. If you really want a bike that can ride on both roads and dirt, do both fairly well, and you don't want to tour, a cyclocross bike might be the ticket.

Actually, I think the real answer is to have a different bike for every type of riding you are likely to do.[/QUOTE]

Bingo! Two bikes keep you riding in all conditions and on any route. (Three & four bikes just add to the fun, bikes don't care if you are monogamous).

Michael
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