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Old 10-11-07, 08:33 AM   #1
Bob_in_Midland
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Realistic Distance Expectations

If one were considering a bike in the Giant Suede DX, Trek Pure Sport, Electra Townie 24 or Townie 21 700C realm of bikes, how far should one realistically expect to ride one of these on a given day? Would you do any long distance riding on them at all??

I ask, because I have the impression that some people would think that these bikes really should not be used for such things as touring, or centuries, etc. Yet, people do these types of rides all the time on recumbents. I realize that the bikes mentioned above are NOT recumbents, but are just more relaxed in their geometry than other diamond frame bikes.

If equipped with the proper tires, etc., why could one not do a long distance ride on one of these??
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Old 10-11-07, 08:54 AM   #2
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They are more relaxed in geometry than a traditional bike, but you give several things up. For one, the wider, more cushy seats are more comfortable for very short rides, and casual riding without cycling shorts. However the design lends to chafing over any distance. This isn't the case with a recumbent seat because your legs are in front of you rather than under you, so you aren't rubbing those parts of your anatomy on the sides of the seat. You also give up having a variety of hand positions available, although with a more upright sitting position it's not as important because you aren't putting much, if any, weight on your hands. Aerodynamics is also a larger factor than you'd probably believe.

I have ridden a metric century on a comfort bike. It was the last time I rode one. I ride a century charity ride every year, and support another for the same organization. I see very few comfort type bikes, although to be honest there's probably an equal number of mountain bikes. Many of the people I see year after year switch over to road bikes after a year or two riding either a comfort bike or mountain bike, because for any kind of distance they are neither comfortable nor efficient. Quite a few riding those bikes are never to be seen again.
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Old 10-11-07, 10:38 AM   #3
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You can ride ANY distance on ANY bicycle as long as it is in the ballpark of fitting you, and as long as it doesn't fall apart somewhere along the way.

I have seen just about every imaginable human powered vehicle on the long distance rides I've done, and I've done long distance rides on bicycles which many would consider unsuitable for such endeavors.
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Old 10-11-07, 10:55 AM   #4
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I've seen a few doing centuries on comfort bikes. Some mtn bikes with slicks. One thing I remember on the Amtrak century is a very attractive lady kicking the snot out of many riders on a comfort bike with a bell. Smiling while she was doing it!

Change of tires, maybe the saddle, proper fit and some training,it can easily be done.
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Old 10-11-07, 11:58 AM   #5
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How far you can expect to travel on a given day depends on several things: your bike, your fitness level, your timeline, the route, and the weather, ie wind.

Assuming you've got time, you're reasonably fit, the route is asphalt and not too hilly, and wind is a non-factor, I don't see why you couldn't cruise at 20 kph comfortably. 3 hours later and boom, you've done 60k, 4 hours and you're 80km from home! (assuming you didn't turn around at the 40k mark )

As has been said before, while the bikes you list are not the most efficient at long distance, ie, seat design, tire size, posture, hand hold positions etc, they'll perform the task admirably, albeit at a slower speed.

Just think turtle and hare...
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Old 10-11-07, 12:10 PM   #6
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I commute 28 miles a day on a Giant Sedona, which is considered a comfort bike. I did a century on it last summer. I replaced the stock saddle with a Brooks, and the stock tires with Armadillos, but the rest is pretty much as it came.

I may not be the fastest on the road but I get there, and I'm willing to ride in just about any weather, which most of the other guys aren't.
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Old 10-11-07, 01:04 PM   #7
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Distance is a function of comfort - period. The longer you ride, the more comfort you will need. That said, I've seen all types on all types of rides. But the longer the ride, the more weeding out there is. First to dissappear are the comfort bikes with gel/padded saddles. It's the number one complaint - the butt hurts. I think they call them "comfort bikes" because they only go until the "comfort zone" is reached, which usually isn't too far down the road. There are always exceptions.

Next, they drop out in no particular order, but I suspect it's a problem of physical conditioning, and wise decisions by each individual. I say this because there are lots of riders out there that have very advanced bikes, but are not yet able to ride to the machine's potential. Some of them are wanna-be's, while others "buy up", and then progress into the sport from there - not a bad approach.

I have an old Trek 930 MTB that is set up for very long road travel (Brooks, skinny slicks, fenders,racks, etc.) that I tend to select based upon the total century elevation. Other times I use a Trek 520, or one of my roadies.

Comfort is the key, and the longer the ride, the more things will come to light in that regard.
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Old 10-11-07, 01:21 PM   #8
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I just took my comfort bike for an 85 mile ride lat Monday.
I was comfortable for the entire ride. (even though my left pinkie is still numb)

BUT!, I am now researching road bikes and plan on getting one for myself on my birthday.
not for extra comfort, more for efficiency, If it is more comfortable that is a plus.

By the way, choosing a new high end road bike is seemingly impossible!
way to many things to look at!
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Old 10-11-07, 05:03 PM   #9
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I sort of wondered the same thing. I noticed on a website with lots of photos of different organized rides, that you see very few mountain bikes, comfort bikes, or anything but the conventional road bike (I think tandems and recumbents are actually more common that mountain bikes in those photos!).

A big part of how far you go will depend on how hilly it is. Get on a reasonably flat route, and you can go forever. Get a major hillclimb, and it becomes more a test of fitness than anything.
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Old 10-12-07, 07:57 AM   #10
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Thank you!

I want to thank those who have replied thus far. My primary concern is wrist pain, which is something I refuse to put up with. Thus my current ride. After swapping out the handlebars last night, I'm feeling absolutely no pressure on my wrists. A long ride will obviously bear out the truth. I'm also moving toward a traditional saddle and away from comfort saddles. Time, and miles, will tell.

Thanks folks!
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Old 10-12-07, 06:07 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob_in_Midland View Post
If one were considering a bike in the Giant Suede DX, Trek Pure Sport, Electra Townie 24 or Townie 21 700C realm of bikes, how far should one realistically expect to ride one of these on a given day? Would you do any long distance riding on them at all??...
You can ride any functional bike any distance--it's just that for any particular set of conditions, some are better choices than others.

I'm not a fan of most comfort bikes. They still use regular saddles, which are a common source of comfort complaints. I have a RANS Fusion and it works fairly well overall. The seat is larger and flatter than a saddle, but the pedals are further forward and the seat won't fit (or work properly) on other bikes at all.

A recumbent bike (assuming it suitably fits the rider's proportions) is generally much more comfortable and requires much less effort overall. The only part of your body that really ever gets tired is your thighs.
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Old 10-13-07, 10:32 AM   #12
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Check out the touring bikes circa 1910, and note that roads were mostly packed dirt.

For long distances things like how your butt tolerates the saddle, how road noise works its way through the bike, durability of the parts, hand grips ect become important.
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Old 10-13-07, 10:42 AM   #13
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I have done metrics on nearly every bike I own and for longer distances do have two purpose built touring bikes... one is a modernish Trek while the other is a vintage fixed gear.

Wrist pain can often be alleviated by simply having a higher bar position and both my touring bikes have bars that are parallel with the saddle and can be easily adjusted to go higher if needed since they use quill stems.
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