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  1. #1
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    What is a "touring" bike?

    I'm a relative newbie to cycling but not biking.

    I was talking about my hobby at work this morning and a couple of older fellas (50s) mentioned that touring bikes were no longer being made and that they missed them.

    So what are they to young guys like us? Are they basically road bikes or is there something I'm missing?
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  2. #2
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    Sounds like your co-workers have been out of touch from cycling for many decades....

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    Senior Member envane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ablang View Post
    I'm a relative newbie to cycling but not biking.

    I was talking about my hobby at work this morning and a couple of older fellas (50s) mentioned that touring bikes were no longer being made and that they missed them.

    So what are they to young guys like us? Are they basically road bikes or is there something I'm missing?
    They are road bikes intented for loaded touring. They've a longer wheelbase to make them more stable under load and have a more relaxed geomtery for comfort on long rides. The frames have lots of bosses to attached racks, fenders, water bottle holders, etc. They still make them. I ride a 2008 model (the Jamis Aurora).

  4. #4
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    To middle-aged women like us, touring bicycles are usually a type of road bicycle, as described above. And they are definitely still made.

    Go visit the touring forum.

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    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Cannondale makes some. Trouble is, they don't sell them here.

    http://gb.cannondale.com/bikes/08/ce/model-8TR.html

  6. #6
    No longer in Wimbledon... womble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ablang View Post
    So what are they to young guys like us? Are they basically road bikes or is there something I'm missing?
    A lot of people tour with mountain bikes, generally either because of cost reasons or because they'll be riding roads rough enough to require fatter tyres. For example, every tourer that I have seen in SE Asia has been on a mountain bike.

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    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Those must be some really ollllld guys (never learned how to access the interntet) They still make plenty of nice touring bikes. You can still buy custom made ones too In fact I would say there is a better choice of touring bikes out there today that there was 35 years ago when I first started touring. It is a very small segment of the overall cycling market, but it is definitely alive and well.

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    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

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  8. #8
    Senior Member rodrigaj's Avatar
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    Being a 59 year old, my guess is that they were referring to the bikes known as touring bikes from the 60's and 70's. They included downtube friction shifters and resembled road bikes of today. Bottechia and Motobecane are two manufacturers that made them, but there were lots more.

    But really, they are probably the same folks, who say "they don't make cars like they use to." Thank goodness!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    "Touring bike" and "bicycle touring" for that matter are terms that people commonly use but are poorly defined. I find it helpful to ask people who use those words just what they mean.

    Some people define touring as any bicycle riding that's not raceing.
    Some people define touring as bicycling across country carrying all of your luggage with you.
    Some people define touring as riding from town to town with a truck to schlep your bags.

    Until you answer that question you can't define what an appropriate touring bike might look like.

  10. #10
    Infamous Member chipcom's Avatar
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    Back when I was a kid, the term 'touring bike' was often applied to the old Raleigh 3-speeds, aka English Racers or English Touring Bikes.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

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    Touring bikes today share almost nothing in common with modern road race bikes but they do have similarities to the race bikes of the 1950s (when mountain roads were often unsurfaced) . They are made of heavier duty tubes, use a different steering geometry to cope with heavy loads, have a longer wheelbase, have more tyre clearance, use brakes that give more tyre clearance and can fit luggage rack and fenders direcvtly to the frame. The wheels are built much stronger and use thicker tyres, the gear ratios are much lower, the gear shifters are often older style with a non-indexing(click-stop) backup mode. The riding position is usually more upright for comfort and the pedals are often older toe-clip style.
    ...
    Since there is no ready-made touring groupset of components, touring bikes often mix and match MTB, road and older parts.
    Many specialist touring bikes use curly drop bars but for the alternate hand positions rather than to get very aerodynamic.
    I use my tourer for touring on and off road, for everyday commuting and day rides. They are the original do-it-all bike.

  12. #12
    There's a biking season? yohannrjm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom View Post
    Back when I was a kid, the term 'touring bike' was often applied to the old Raleigh 3-speeds, aka English Racers or English Touring Bikes.
    I don't know when you were a kid, but back in the 1930's and 40's that would have been an accurate description. I am currently reading a series of articles by a couple of guys who toured around England and Scotland in the 30's. They describe their bikes as old 3-speeds (brand not mentioned). Several weeks of riding around and camping constitute touring as far as I'm concerned.

    While most people these days would not consider a 3-speed for touring, it has been done before. I've been thinking about doing it someday. Maybe on a tour in the midwest.....I would not like to climb the Cascades on a 3-speed.

  13. #13
    Senior Member jaxgtr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
    Cannondale makes some. Trouble is, they don't sell them here.

    http://gb.cannondale.com/bikes/08/ce/model-8TR.html

    I beg to differ, they do sell them in the states.

    http://www.cannondale.com/bikes/08/cusa/model-8TR1.html
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    you should learn to embrace change, and mock it's failings every step of the way.

  14. #14
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaxgtr View Post
    I beg to differ, they do sell them in the states.

    http://www.cannondale.com/bikes/08/cusa/model-8TR1.html
    Kinda, but the one I linked to already comes with fenders, Brooks B17, bottles & cages, fatter tires, heavier-duty rear rack, front pannier rack, etc..

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    The key to "loaded" touring is a bike with long chainstays...17 inches or so. Today, Trek sells only ONE bike that is advertised as being a touring bike, but many of the Trek hybrid bikes have the long chainstays necessary to full side saddle bags. And, most low to mid-priced mountain bikes have chainstays long enough for compact and smaller size saddle bags.

    REI and Fuji sell touring models that are under a $1,000, but for a week-end tour, a $400 hybrid would be just as useful.

  16. #16
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yohannrjm View Post
    I don't know when you were a kid, but back in the 1930's and 40's that would have been an accurate description. I am currently reading a series of articles by a couple of guys who toured around England and Scotland in the 30's. They describe their bikes as old 3-speeds (brand not mentioned). Several weeks of riding around and camping constitute touring as far as I'm concerned.

    While most people these days would not consider a 3-speed for touring, it has been done before. I've been thinking about doing it someday. Maybe on a tour in the midwest.....I would not like to climb the Cascades on a 3-speed.
    I'm sure glad I am not "most people" I love touring on my old British 3 speed. Some tours are from B&B to B&B, others are self contained. And some of them have been in the mountains. I carry a range of cogs with me and swap them as needed and have even been known to get off and walk

    It is all a mind set, when I am touring my mindset is to see what I can see and not to worry about things like schedule or mileage. I do start with a plan in mind, but it usually changes very quickly.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
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    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  17. #17
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    If those men are in their 50's there is a good chance they are talking about lugged frame bikes from Europe, the UK, and Japan that fueled the bike boom of 1971. These were derailleur geared bikes built in a "Sport Touring" geometry and they were everywhere. Not quite meant for fully loaded touring, they didn't have long chainstays, robust wheels or super low gears; nonetheless they often were used for a wide range of touring. They were also used for everything else, going to school, getting around campus, riding on country roads, baha'ing through the woods, even local racing. You only had one bike and you did everything on that bike. They had many of the characteristics MichaelW mentioned above that made it possible to do a lot of things with one bike.

    The French called this Cyclotouring and it pretty much meant riding your bicycle for the enjoyment of riding a bicycle. It's a broad term but it is distinct from racing and riding for work. To this day it still describes what most of us do with our bikes.

    The Sport Touring bike of the 60's-80's is still a good design and is probably why thirty year old bikes are still commonly seen on long organized rides. You can still get such versatile bikes brand new but instead of a bike shop filled with them you have to be extremely specific in what you ask for to find one. Many younger bike shop clerks only know about racing bikes (which is the only thing they ride) and they have a fuzzy understanding that there are a bunch of other bikes bought by other people but they're not entirely sure what they do with them.

    The sport touring bike has experienced a resurgence in popularity as the frame of choice for conversion to fixed gear bikes that are de rigueur on campuses nationwide.

  18. #18
    There's a biking season? yohannrjm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    I'm sure glad I am not "most people" I love touring on my old British 3 speed. Some tours are from B&B to B&B, others are self contained. And some of them have been in the mountains. I carry a range of cogs with me and swap them as needed and have even been known to get off and walk

    It is all a mind set, when I am touring my mindset is to see what I can see and not to worry about things like schedule or mileage. I do start with a plan in mind, but it usually changes very quickly.

    Aaron
    What sort of panniers/bags do you use on the 3-speed? Did you put a rack on, or do you use more of a day-touring setup?

  19. #19
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yohannrjm View Post
    What sort of panniers/bags do you use on the 3-speed? Did you put a rack on, or do you use more of a day-touring setup?
    I have a Presstube Minor rack on the bike. I use a monster Carradice saddle bag. I have toyed with the idea of getting a set of the new Brooks Brick Lane Panniers,but for that kind of money there are a lot of other choices.

    I travel pretty light and normally my tours aren't over 3 days in length. But longer tours could certainly be done. Heinz Stucke has been on the road for over 45 years...on a 3 speed!

    Aaron

    Last edited by wahoonc; 07-03-08 at 05:38 PM.
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  20. #20
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    Around here if you want something other than a strick road bike (a more touring geometry) you are directed towards the comfort bikes. There is no grey area. Sure they make them, somewhere. I don't think the local shops have heard of the brands breezer, surly, and rivendale. I was informed by one that jamis is a walmart brand.


    Good luck if you want assistance putting mustache bars, trekking bars, or some other type of bars on your road bike, they will look at you like you have three heads or something.




    I am ready to just give up and purchase my next bike somewhere else, or off the web. Does anyone know of any bike shops in jacksonville, charleston, or whereabouts?

  21. #21
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by margoC View Post
    Around here if you want something other than a strick road bike (a more touring geometry) you are directed towards the comfort bikes. There is no grey area. Sure they make them, somewhere. I don't think the local shops have heard of the brands breezer, surly, and rivendale. I was informed by one that jamis is a walmart brand.


    Good luck if you want assistance putting mustache bars, trekking bars, or some other type of bars on your road bike, they will look at you like you have three heads or something.




    I am ready to just give up and purchase my next bike somewhere else, or off the web. Does anyone know of any bike shops in jacksonville, charleston, or whereabouts?
    The Mainstreet Bicycle Shop in Summerville, SC (near Charleston) is pretty decent. They are small and don't have a large inventory, but will special order things for you.

    Fuji, Trek, Cannondale all make touring geometry frames. If you want to spend some money you can look into Thorn, Rivendale, A.N.T or a host of other custom/semi-custom frame builders. AFAIK Bob Jackson in the UK still builds touring frames.

    Also the mid 80's to early 90's steel frame MTB's have a very touring friendly geometry and can quite often found for dirt cheap.

    As far as adding or swapping components the best defense is to learn to do it yourself. If I had to leave a bike at the LBS for more than a day I would have a fit...and probably be broke.

    Aaron
    Last edited by wahoonc; 07-03-08 at 08:41 PM.
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  22. #22
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    One place to look is at www.bgcycles.com
    This space open

  23. #23
    Banned wagathon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ablang View Post
    I'm a relative newbie to cycling but not biking.

    I was talking about my hobby at work this morning and a couple of older fellas (50s) mentioned that touring bikes were no longer being made and that they missed them.

    So what are they to young guys like us? Are they basically road bikes or is there something I'm missing?
    The classic tour bike was something like a Renolds butted steel road bike frame with a long wheelbase, heavy duty rims with a lot of spokes and sealed hubs like, e.g., Phil Woods, and an alloy rack that was firmly attached to eyelets on the dropouts, a wide range of friction-operated gears (e.g., cranks with a triple, with a small inner ring, the likes of which are not made anymore, like Mighty Tour or TA), a peg for a frame pump, and a saddle that you will feel obliged to stick with even though you probably will gripe about it ... a lot.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Catweazle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom View Post
    Back when I was a kid, the term 'touring bike' was often applied to the old Raleigh 3-speeds, aka English Racers or English Touring Bikes.

    Around here they were commonly called "Gentleman's Touring" cycles or "Roadster" cycles. Distinguishing factor wasn't so much that they had 3 gears (although most did) as it was the fact that they sported more robust and heavier frames than 'racing' cycles, and came with mounting provisions for all the assorted paraphernalia to be bolted onto them.

    Curiously perhaps, most of the ones I ever saw sported 'drop handlebars' which were mounted and used in the upright rather than drop position.

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    One advance, although expensive, which helps greatly with touring bikes is a Rohloff hub. It adds a grand to the cost of a bike, but if you are going long distances, it might be worth it, because they are quite hard to kill if maintained properly. I've seen touring bikes made with those, although it was from a UK maker.

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