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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

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Old 11-23-15, 05:27 PM   #1
Kertrek
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Would a touring bike be better for a double century than a racing bike?

I'm not really too interested in an endurance bike right now, because my job pays peanuts and I'd rather not blow thousands of dollars on bikes. I've done a century ride on a racing bike and it was fine, really hilly though. But once I start riding double centuries, would a touring bike be a better choice than a racing bike?
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Old 11-23-15, 06:37 PM   #2
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I'm not really too interested in an endurance bike right now, because my job pays peanuts and I'd rather not blow thousands of dollars on bikes. I've done a century ride on a racing bike and it was fine, really hilly though. But once I start riding double centuries, would a touring bike be a better choice than a racing bike?
Touring bikes are designed to carry a "lot" of weight, which means they are heavier than they need to be for a rando bike. If you aren't planning on touring, it might be not be the best choice.

What are you using currently?

I use a racing/endurance bike for long distance rides, and it's very comfortable for me. The only thing I might want is a lower gear or two (which a touring bike would have).

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Old 11-23-15, 07:14 PM   #3
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I'm riding the entry level Specialized Allez. Before attempting a double century, I'd need to get it fitted if I use it: I just got it sized. Some touring bikes are lighter than others, yet still capable of loaded touring. And I hear touring bikes are comfortable over distances.
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Old 11-23-15, 07:57 PM   #4
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I do centuries or longer about once a week. Done many on my race bike, and many on the touring bike. I get there a little faster on the race bike, but the low gears on the touring bike are easier on the knees. If I put the wider saddle from the touring bike on the race bike They would be so close I would not notice when I'm riding.

I would not bother to swap bikes. Just get lower gearing for the race bike, if you think you need it. Different cassette and maybe a different rear derailleur.


Or get an additional bike.
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Old 11-23-15, 08:01 PM   #5
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I'm riding the entry level Specialized Allez. Before attempting a double century, I'd need to get it fitted if I use it: I just got it sized. Some touring bikes are lighter than others, yet still capable of loaded touring. And I hear touring bikes are comfortable over distances.
You might need to get a fit (or you might not). That is, people get a range of benefits from a fit.

One issue is that a "touring bike" isn't just one thing. The Surly Long Haul Trucker (LHT) is a common touring bike (and, probably, what people imagine you are talking about).

People manage to use all sorts of bikes for long distance (LD) riding.

I think that a bike somewhere between a stiff racing bike and something like the LHT would be better for long distance riding for most people.

A touring bike isn't likely to be more comfortable than such a bike (except, maybe, when carrying a large load). Put another way, there isn't any reason you couldn't be as (or more) comfortable on something more-like an endurance bike than on a touring bike.

Something in-between could work fine for light touring.

Being faster is useful for LD riding and you probably won't be faster on a LD ride on an uncomfortable bike. "Faster" might mean 5% but even that small difference is valuable over long distances.

2manybikes's ironic suggestion to work with what you have makes sense.

If you are using 23mm tires, you might consider using 25mm tires with less pressure (if the wider tires fit).

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Old 11-23-15, 11:32 PM   #6
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No.
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Old 11-23-15, 11:34 PM   #7
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touring bikes are not made for long distances, at least not in a single day. The tourists that ride 200 miles a day are not the target market for touring bikes. From what I see, typical tourists go about 60 miles and consider that a good day. I know that if I ride 60 miles, I consider that a good day too, even without carrying anything
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Old 11-24-15, 01:10 AM   #8
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Goodness, such prescription from experts, and I am going to be the contrarian.

My Fuji Touring took me on more than several Super Randonneur series, including qualifiers for PBP 2003 and 2007, completed three 1200s, two 1000s, several Fleches, numerous centuries, two 24H races (460km in one), and a lot of touring and commuting and training in between. It clocked up over 60,000km before being semi-retired.

People sometimes forget that the paradigm for long distance is comfort, which comes back to fit. My Fuji Touring fitted me just great, and so does the replacement, the Thorn Club Tour. Then there is my Bike Friday that I am confident could do a double century, because I have already done a comfortable single century on it.

My fastest century was on my CF road bike, which also has done a 200, and maybe a 300. But it would not be my first choice for anything over a century these days.

If you already have the touring bike, fine, don't let the "touring" tag hold you back. If you already have the racing bike, try it. Only you will be able to decide which is better.

Randonneuring was originally promoted as "fast touring". I still adhere to that concept. Sure, there are races and challenges outside the randonneuring sphere, and the emphasis is on speed for speed's sake, and I can't argue that. But for mine, there is room for everyone and every type of bike; PBP is almost an artform in the "strange" bikes that appear in each edition.

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Old 11-24-15, 01:16 AM   #9
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why the attitude, Rowan?
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Old 11-24-15, 01:29 AM   #10
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why the attitude, Rowan?
See my edit.
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Old 11-24-15, 01:34 AM   #11
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You know, I look at the bikes that some of the randonneurs in my area are riding, and while there are road bikes, the old hands who have done a lot of events, including several PBPs have bikes that are touring based. One even has reverted from recumbents to a touring-style bike.

We live in hilly country, and the roads aren't super smooth, so a longer wheelbase (chainstays) and slacker angles and the ability to accommodate wider tyres as well as fenders to take account of variable weather, make them very attractive. Surprisingly, there is a good representation of steel among the frames.

I've also noticed on various events, that the fast boys on their road bikes are there in large numbers for the 200, but when it comes to the 300 and above, they aren't; those who are there, ride bikes that aren't necessarily road bikes.
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Old 11-24-15, 05:01 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by unterhausen;1834164d1
touring bikes are not made for long distances, at least not in a single day. The tourists that ride 200 miles a day are not the target market for touring bikes. From what I see, typical tourists go about 60 miles and consider that a good day. I know that if I ride 60 miles, I consider that a good day too, even without carrying anything
I find the emboldened statement a bit extraordinary. The fact that most tourists proabably don't tour at a a daily average of over a hundred miles has to do with preference, terrain, size of load and physical condition. It has nothing to do with touring bikes not being made for long days.

On a middleweight tourer weighing close to 30lbs with around 20lbs of gear I have toured at 125 miles a day for four successive days in comfort. I wouldn't have hesitated to use that bike, unloaded, for a competitive 200 and would have been at least as comfortable and very nearly as fast as on a road bike.

In any event, there are many types of tourer, ranging from fast light bikes designed specifically for randonneuring and credit-card tours, to overbuilt expedition bikes that might weigh 40lbs on their own.

OP, the choice of bike depends on your budget, preference and, above all, fit. A road bike on which you are comfortable is going to be absolutely fine. A suitable tourer would also be absolutely fine. Don't get hung up on the labels.
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Old 11-24-15, 05:37 AM   #13
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Have a look at all the bicycles which have completed centuries ...

Your century bicycle(s)


I'm sure any of them could manage a double too ... several probably have.
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Old 11-24-15, 05:39 AM   #14
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I find the emboldened statement a bit extraordinary. The fact that most tourists proabably don't tour at a a daily average of over a hundred miles has to do with preference, terrain, size of load and physical condition. It has nothing to do with touring bikes not being made for long days.

On a middleweight tourer weighing close to 30lbs with around 20lbs of gear I have toured at 125 miles a day for four successive days in comfort. I wouldn't have hesitated to use that bike, unloaded, for a competitive 200 and would have been at least as comfortable and very nearly as fast as on a road bike.

In any event, there are many types of tourer, ranging from fast light bikes designed specifically for randonneuring and credit-card tours, to overbuilt expedition bikes that might weigh 40lbs on their own.

OP, the choice of bike depends on your budget, preference and, above all, fit. A road bike on which you are comfortable is going to be absolutely fine. A suitable tourer would also be absolutely fine. Don't get hung up on the labels.
+1.
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Old 11-24-15, 09:18 AM   #15
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I don't quite get the rando prescriptions above. The OP isn't asking about a PBP bike. IIRC BQ's finishers study found that the greatest predictor of finishing was using a pannier. Not going to see too many panniers on a double. On a double, what you want is to get off the saddle and out of those shorts as quickly as possible. That means having your nutrition and equipment dialed. It means hanging with the fast pacelines. Think of it as really not all that long of a ride. Carbon race bikes are the way to go. Not necessarily the lightest or fastest or latest, just what suits you. You want to be hanging out at the finish line, fed, showered, drinking beer, observing the pain on the finishers' faces who come in 4 hours behind you. Yeah, that's kind of a Conan attitude, but it's a fun way to do 'em.

There are also the hard folks who have to do it the the hard way: fixies, unicycles, etc. Me, I'd rather get out of those shorts.
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Old 11-24-15, 01:19 PM   #16
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Start real early (might need non battery lights) if you want to ride over 100 miles before Lunch ..
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Old 11-24-15, 01:46 PM   #17
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I'm not really too interested in an endurance bike right now, because my job pays peanuts and I'd rather not blow thousands of dollars on bikes. I've done a century ride on a racing bike and it was fine, really hilly though. But once I start riding double centuries, would a touring bike be a better choice than a racing bike?
Read: heavy and comfortable. So, yes, if you are so inclined. However, entry level rando/endurance bikes can be had for much less than $1000s.
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Old 11-24-15, 02:48 PM   #18
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To over-generalize a bit...

Touring bike:
Longer wheelbase/chainstays (more comfort on bad roads)
Lower gearing (easier climbing)
Raised handlebars (more comfortable body position)
Wider tires (more comfort, better traction on wet roads)

Racing bike:
Lighter frame (easier climbing and acceleration)
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Old 11-24-15, 05:27 PM   #19
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The Allez was more fun than the endurance bikes at the same price point that I'd test driven. When I get it fitted I'll let them know my goals and typical rides, and the fitting should help increase comfort and minimise overuse injuries. Once I find a better job I might consider an endurance bike. But from what I gather, a fitted racing bike should do the trick.
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Old 11-25-15, 11:05 AM   #20
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The Allez was more fun than the endurance bikes at the same price point that I'd test driven. When I get it fitted I'll let them know my goals and typical rides, and the fitting should help increase comfort and minimise overuse injuries. Once I find a better job I might consider an endurance bike. But from what I gather, a fitted racing bike should do the trick.
Definitely go with what you like most and find the most fun to ride. A double-century can be done on any bike. If you already have a racing bike, you can always tweak your fitting to make it less aggressive and more comfortable (e.g., switching stems, saddle, etc), if that suits you better.

In regard to a touring bike, it would not be any better or any worse than a racing bike for a double century, in my opinion. A touring bike is almost like jack of all trades -- commuting in the winter, loaded touring/vacationing in the summer and even long-distance events. The only time when you're pushing the limits of a touring bike is for racing purposes. For an event like a double century, some people remove all the extra accessories from their touring bikes (e.g., racks, panniers, fenders) and put on a really light wheelset with high performance tires. These changes can make a big difference on a touring bike. So, keep that in mind if money is tight and you're trying to get the most out of one bike without having to resort to buying another one.

I agree that there is a point (distance-wise) where a race bike might stop being fun and you start wishing you had a more comfortable bike, even at the expense of more weight. Same goes with the more nimble/fun steering of a race bike. For some, it can get old when one is super tired at night and need more controlled, slower steering. A touring bike intrinsically offers those advantages. Also, long distance events become more about how you manage your time off the bike at checkpoints or at resting points than trying to ride them at blazing speeds. Try the latter and you might not even make it half way to the finish line.
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Old 11-25-15, 01:55 PM   #21
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I have a Trek 520 steel touring bike, and I wouldn't consider riding it on any of California's organized double centuries. While it rides great when loaded down with 50lbs, it is a different bike when unloaded, and unnecessarily heavy/slow for a supported double.

I've ridden most of my doubles on recumbents, though this coming year I'll be riding a Tarmac disc bike, at least for the hilly ones. I planned to buy an "endurance" bike for the doubles, however didn't find they were any more comfortable than the Tarmac and the slow handling was a huge turn-off.

Most bikes I've seen on the doubles are either traditional road bikes ("race bikes") or endurance bikes. Sure there are rando bikes (ok, bikes with decaleurs and front bags) and touring bikes, but they're in the minority.

I do plan on riding a full brevet series this year, though won't do that on the Tarmac ... back to a recumbent for those.
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Old 11-25-15, 02:08 PM   #22
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My fastest century was on my CF road bike, which also has done a 200, and maybe a 300. But it would not be my first choice for anything over a century these days.
Unless an all-out tourer would be your first choice, this isn't very useful.

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If you already have the touring bike, fine, don't let the "touring" tag hold you back. If you already have the racing bike, try it. Only you will be able to decide which is better.
He doesn't have the touring bike. He has the racing bike. It would be hard to tell which one is better since he only has one of them.

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But for mine, there is room for everyone and every type of bike; PBP is almost an artform in the "strange" bikes that appear in each edition.
No one has said otherwise. Clearly, most any bike would do but that doesn't mean that all of them work equally well. Some of them might be particularly bad.

That people can use a particular thing doesn't mean it makes sense for them to use it. That people are free to use whatever they want is another thing entirely.

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Old 11-25-15, 02:15 PM   #23
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In any event, there are many types of tourer, ranging from fast light bikes designed specifically for randonneuring and credit-card tours, to overbuilt expedition bikes that might weigh 40lbs on their own.
Unless people are more specific, people are likely to see "touring bike" as referring to something like the Surly LHT.
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Old 11-25-15, 02:17 PM   #24
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I don't quite get the rando prescriptions above. The OP isn't asking about a PBP bike. IIRC BQ's finishers study found that the greatest predictor of finishing was using a pannier. Not going to see too many panniers on a double. On a double, what you want is to get off the saddle and out of those shorts as quickly as possible. That means having your nutrition and equipment dialed. It means hanging with the fast pacelines. Think of it as really not all that long of a ride. Carbon race bikes are the way to go. Not necessarily the lightest or fastest or latest, just what suits you. You want to be hanging out at the finish line, fed, showered, drinking beer, observing the pain on the finishers' faces who come in 4 hours behind you. Yeah, that's kind of a Conan attitude, but it's a fun way to do 'em.

There are also the hard folks who have to do it the the hard way: fixies, unicycles, etc. Me, I'd rather get out of those shorts.
This (mostly).

The bike the OP already has is might be good enough.

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I don't quite get the rando prescriptions above. The OP isn't asking about a PBP bike.
Since the OP hasn't indicated he's only interested in double centuries, it might still be useful to consider the possibilty of doing longer rides. Especially, if he's buying another bike.

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IIRC BQ's finishers study found that the greatest predictor of finishing was using a pannier.
Correlation doesn't mean causation.

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I have a Trek 520 steel touring bike, and I wouldn't consider riding it on any of California's organized double centuries. While it rides great when loaded down with 50lbs, it is a different bike when unloaded, and unnecessarily heavy/slow for a supported double.
This too. The issue isn't really whether a touring bike would work. It's more about whether another sort of bike would work better.

The OP might end-up choosing to get a tourer anyway. But it would be a mistake if he did so because he thought it was the best choice for this kind of riding if it isn't.

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Most bikes I've seen on the doubles are either traditional road bikes ("race bikes") or endurance bikes. Sure there are rando bikes (ok, bikes with decaleurs and front bags) and touring bikes, but they're in the minority.
People may be using these bikes because they are common and what they have. Not because they are the "best" choice for the task.

Last edited by njkayaker; 11-25-15 at 02:54 PM.
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Old 11-25-15, 05:44 PM   #25
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Rando and doubles are hard enough as they are, I don't need to make them harder by choosing an inefficient bike. So long as comfort and the ability to carry the stuff you need to carry is not compromised, the best bike is the most efficient bike. The most efficient bike is going to be the fastest bike because the same qualities that produce speed (mph per available watt) are the same ones that produce efficiency (calories per mile). So, to that end, a touring bike might not be the ideal choice, even if it is a reasonable choice.
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