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  1. #1
    CRIKEY!!!!!!! Cyclaholic's Avatar
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    Let's talk about ultracycling specific bike requirements......

    There's already been a number of questions regarding ultracycling specific bike bits like triple cranks, bars, pedals, etc. so let's talk about what makes a great long distance bike. What hardware is out there that works best. What represents best performance, best value, most suited for what ultracycling will require of our equipment. By best I don't mean the most expensive but the most suitable for the task at hand, say the PBP (or any other very long, time limited, and largely unsupported ride)

    My hope is that this thread may become a repository for our experiences with equipment, and maybe ultimately come up with some really great combinations. It would be a great resource for the many of us that may have some or no experience beyond commuting or long day rides and are keen to get involved in Audax.

    Im my case I'm in two minds about my bikes, each has its good and bad points and I really don't yet know which one I should develop for long brevets, I mean really long 1,000km+ time limited challenges. I have my Surly LHT tourer/commuter with Deore LX (triple crank) 9 speed groupset and a nice but heavy set of 36-spoke wheels which I built using Mavic 719 rims, LX hubs, and DTSwiss spokes. SKS fenders, Topeak rack, Topeak trunk and handlebar bags. For lights I use a 7.5AH SLA battery wheighing 6 pounds and a 20 watt MR16 globe - awesome light but only get about 3 1/2 hours running time. She's a reliable but pretty heavy bike, very comfortable but not all that efficient. How to improve this setup?

    The other bike is a Giant OCR zero. Carbon/alloy frame carbon forks, featherweight wheels, carbon bars, light racing saddle, Ultegra groupset (compact double crank) she's fast and efficient, sprints and climbs like nobody's business but the thought of doing 1,000Km+ on her is just too painfull to contemplate. Not to mention the almost guaranteed mechanical failures. But the frame and many other components may make a good base to build a very efficient but reasonably comfortable long distance ride. Here's the question - what would those components be? and what components would we add/replace?

    Over to you guys....
    There are 10 types of people in the world - the ones that can count in base 2, the ones that can't count in base 2, and the ones that didn't expect this to be in base 3.

  2. #2
    hell's angels h/q e3st ny brunop's Avatar
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    i'm a firm believer in a broken in saddle and a more upright position. not a rivendell full-on commuter position, but a bit more upright on top of the bars.

    my question would be, what size tires are ya'll usin' for ultra rides?
    ". . .a striped jersey under his jacket; bared calves (outside the bicycle track); cap pushed back; feet in a false position on the pedals; a barking horn, a disorderly appearance, an always-dry tongue, and a definite fondness for wine merchants. . ."

  3. #3
    Senior Member Richard Cranium's Avatar
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    Good bikes are usually good bikes for any distance. I would avoid disc wheels and tubular tires. I think handlebar bags are a poor choice for carrying anything.

    That's about it.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclaholic
    My hope is that this thread may become a repository for our experiences with equipment, and maybe ultimately come up with some really great combinations.
    My hope is that this thread becomes a sticky. Or at least one of the other threads that discusses this very same topic gets stick'ied so that we can have one place to collect this data; rather than cut and paste every week when someone asks the same question.

    prior threads:

    Bmike's Brevet Bikes / Gear
    Brunop's What Bikes Y'all Ridin'?
    Georgiaboy's Describe a Long Distance or Randoneurring Bicycle

    I posted my own bike setup in Bmike's thread. It is essentially the same as Cyclaholic's -- loaded touring bike with a 105/Deore drivetrain and a pair of strong, stable wheels. I think the bike is a little overbuilt and suboptimal for brevet riding. Thus, I am getting a new custom Club Racer from ANT and the spec for it will be generally the same. 52/42/30 crank with an 11-32 cassette and bar end shifters.

    For a wheelset, I'm planning on running 32 spoke cross 3 700c wheels with 28mm tires and a dynamo hub for all-night lighting. The bike will be using long-reach dual pivot sidepulls, rather than the linear pulls on my current bike. It will still have fenders. Quill stem for flexibility in handlebar height. Custom rack for rack trunk and so that it can also do double duty as my regular commuter.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cranium
    Good bikes are usually good bikes for any distance. I would avoid disc wheels and tubular tires. I think handlebar bags are a poor choice for carrying anything.
    I used a handlebar bag for this year's series, and while I liked the combination of a stable cue sheet platform and food transport, I'll probably ditch it next year for a top tube bag and some kind of cue-clip holder.

  6. #6
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spokenword
    I used a handlebar bag for this year's series, and while I liked the combination of a stable cue sheet platform and food transport, I'll probably ditch it next year for a top tube bag and some kind of cue-clip holder.
    I go back and forth on this.

    When I ride my touring rig (not for Brevets), I like the convenience of a h-bar bag.
    When I ride my current Brevet bike, which is being pushed into duty until my custom machine arrives, I like having the aerobars - which do not afford the use of the h-bar bag.

    I'm curious as to one Boston Brevet rider who was using this:



    Seemed like a great use of space...

  7. #7
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclaholic
    There's already been a number of questions regarding ultracycling specific bike bits like triple cranks, bars, pedals, etc. so let's talk about what makes a great long distance bike. What hardware is out there that works best. What represents best performance, best value, most suited for what ultracycling will require of our equipment. By best I don't mean the most expensive but the most suitable for the task at hand, say the PBP (or any other very long, time limited, and largely unsupported ride)

    My hope is that this thread may become a repository for our experiences with equipment, and maybe ultimately come up with some really great combinations. It would be a great resource for the many of us that may have some or no experience beyond commuting or long day rides and are keen to get involved in Audax.

    Im my case I'm in two minds about my bikes, each has its good and bad points and I really don't yet know which one I should develop for long brevets, I mean really long 1,000km+ time limited challenges. I have my Surly LHT tourer/commuter with Deore LX (triple crank) 9 speed groupset and a nice but heavy set of 36-spoke wheels which I built using Mavic 719 rims, LX hubs, and DTSwiss spokes. SKS fenders, Topeak rack, Topeak trunk and handlebar bags. For lights I use a 7.5AH SLA battery wheighing 6 pounds and a 20 watt MR16 globe - awesome light but only get about 3 1/2 hours running time. She's a reliable but pretty heavy bike, very comfortable but not all that efficient. How to improve this setup?

    The other bike is a Giant OCR zero. Carbon/alloy frame carbon forks, featherweight wheels, carbon bars, light racing saddle, Ultegra groupset (compact double crank) she's fast and efficient, sprints and climbs like nobody's business but the thought of doing 1,000Km+ on her is just too painfull to contemplate. Not to mention the almost guaranteed mechanical failures. But the frame and many other components may make a good base to build a very efficient but reasonably comfortable long distance ride. Here's the question - what would those components be? and what components would we add/replace?

    Over to you guys....

    Back OT:

    I'll write about my IF build near the end of August.
    Plans questions include: (and nothing is firm just yet)

    IF Club Racer (Ti - eek!)
    Long reach brakes
    Fenders... maybe Honjo fluted...
    Probably staying with my compact crank set-up (50-34) after removing the triple from my Brevet bike.

    Re investigate saddles, as my Brooks Swallow is wonderful - but beyond 120+ miles I seem to develop bruises where the saddle starts to fold over - even with the "dents" from my bottom breaking in the leather ... so maybe moving to a Swift or Team Pro (wider)

    Questions unresolved:
    Bullhorns with aerobars or Drop bars (Nitto Noodle or Randonneur) - I do most of my riding solo, and while I live in VT with lots of climbing - I've ridden the last 2 weeks without the aerobars and admit to missing them for the optional positions they give me. (and to note, I'm NOT fast...)

    Bar Ends or STI (bar ends if I go to bullhorns...)
    Rear MT Derailer for capacity to go to 30 or 34 on casette (this will also be a light touring bike)


    Lighting will be my Schmidt Dyno Hub, lights mounted on the IF fork at the lowrider mounts.
    Probalby going to put the Tubus Fly on as a permanent fixture.

    More later...

  8. #8
    CRIKEY!!!!!!! Cyclaholic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmike
    Back OT:

    I'll write about my IF build near the end of August.
    Plans questions include: (and nothing is firm just yet)

    ...

    Questions unresolved:
    Bullhorns with aerobars or Drop bars (Nitto Noodle or Randonneur) - I do most of my riding solo, and while I live in VT with lots of climbing - I've ridden the last 2 weeks without the aerobars and admit to missing them for the optional positions they give me. (and to note, I'm NOT fast...)

    ...

    Lighting will be my Schmidt Dyno Hub, lights mounted on the IF fork at the lowrider mounts.
    Probalby going to put the Tubus Fly on as a permanent fixture.

    More later...
    Another bar option you might like is the Profile cowhorn or stoker bar as the base for the clip-on aerobar. I have the cowhorn with barcons and Dia-compe 287V road levers pulling DeoreLX V-brakes. The levers are a long throw model specifically for V-brakes.

    I also had untill recently a Profile Airwing aerobar but I took it off since it's not allowed in the PBP, which I'm training for.... I miss it so much.

    What rim would you lace up the Schmidt to?

    One hardware recommendation I want to make is my Topeak Road Morph pump. I've owned a zillion pumps and they all pale into insignificance next to the Road Morph.
    There are 10 types of people in the world - the ones that can count in base 2, the ones that can't count in base 2, and the ones that didn't expect this to be in base 3.

  9. #9
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    IFAIK specific bike requirements for long brevets are:
    - comfort (above all) = good position
    - decent lights for night rides (Schmidt driving 2x3W Solidlights LED looks the best so far)
    - somewhere to carry the clothing and stuff I need on the ride (saddlebag)
    - reliability (nothing breaks)
    Nice things include:
    - mudguards (if it rains) and mudflaps
    - a fairly stable ride (hitting potholes while descending hills at night)
    Sounds a lot like your Surly, possibly with lighter wheels. Rechargeable battery headlights are a pain on longer brevets (1000-1200km)

    You may find a different list if you are talking about UMCA events or similar...

  10. #10
    CRIKEY!!!!!!! Cyclaholic's Avatar
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    I see nobody has mentioned weight yet. With so much climbing it makes sense to me that lighter is better within the bounds of reliability and comfort. What do your bikes weigh? what would you say is reasonably achievable? My LHT comes in at around the 40 pound mark with empty bags, puncture repair gear and lights.
    There are 10 types of people in the world - the ones that can count in base 2, the ones that can't count in base 2, and the ones that didn't expect this to be in base 3.

  11. #11
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclaholic
    I see nobody has mentioned weight yet. With so much climbing it makes sense to me that lighter is better within the bounds of reliability and comfort. What do your bikes weigh? what would you say is reasonably achievable? My LHT comes in at around the 40 pound mark with empty bags, puncture repair gear and lights.

    My LeMond is 24 pounds with pedals, aerobars, and bag / light mounts.
    I think I hit 30 when its loaded, depending on the gear in the bag.

    Not sure what the new IF will weigh.
    Yeah, with all the climbing its nice to have a light rig - but I can't see compromising comfort.

    I'd rank like this:

    1. Comfort (fit, etc) (fenders?)
    2. Reliability
    3. Access to gear (rack, bag, whatever else)
    4. Weight

    That said, my Trek 520 is pretty comfy, but I didn't want to ride it for a Brevet series as its much heavier than my LeMond. Spokenword did the entire series on a 520 with some minor additions...

  12. #12
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclaholic

    What rim would you lace up the Schmidt to?
    Mavic Open Pro

    It recently flew off my roof rack at 75 mph, barely missing a tractor trailer.
    I nearly started crying.

    I found it in the ditch amongst the weeds, and when spinning it in hand it appeared true. I haven't got it in the bike yet - but spoke tension feels good all around. I hope the hub is not damaged!

    (it theoretically should be fine - it bounced a few times and then rolled along the interstate - so it did what a wheel does - and it wasn't loaded with me on it!)

  13. #13
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB
    - decent lights for night rides (Schmidt driving 2x3W Solidlights LED looks the best so far)
    I see those as batt lights. You can hook em up yourself? Can you get em to run off the dyno?
    I'm curious to see if the DanoLites (3W LEDs) can run off the Schmidt. The helmet mount I have is very bright...

  14. #14
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    sorry to go off topic, but why do I often read people saying that they will have more mechanicals on a lightweight bike than their 30 pound bikes? I ride alot of miles and never have mechanicals on the road outside of flats. Why do you have mechanicals in the first place? Lack of maintenance or bad technique???? Just curios on why lighter bikes are seen as being more unreliable.

  15. #15
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by watchman
    sorry to go off topic, but why do I often read people saying that they will have more mechanicals on a lightweight bike than their 30 pound bikes? I ride alot of miles and never have mechanicals on the road outside of flats. Why do you have mechanicals in the first place? Lack of maintenance or bad technique???? Just curios on why lighter bikes are seen as being more unreliable.
    I'm not sure anyone here is saying that.
    I find that all of my bikes seem to ride mechanical free... I regularly clean them, replace tires, etc...

    I think part of the "reliability" question is also in regards to what you feel like working with on the road, and what you feel can take abuse, in the middle of the night, when you might hit some unforeseen obstacle or mechanical problem, and may not be in the clearest state of mind to deal with it.

    A light bike that can carry some gear - that's probably what most people are riding for Brevets. How light, and how much gear, will vary. And define "lite" - thats in the eye of the beholder.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmike
    I see those as batt lights. You can hook em up yourself? Can you get em to run off the dyno?
    They do an automatically switched dynamo version as well. Just plug and play.

  17. #17
    CRIKEY!!!!!!! Cyclaholic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by watchman
    sorry to go off topic, but why do I often read people saying that they will have more mechanicals on a lightweight bike than their 30 pound bikes? I ride alot of miles and never have mechanicals on the road outside of flats. Why do you have mechanicals in the first place? Lack of maintenance or bad technique???? Just curios on why lighter bikes are seen as being more unreliable.
    There's light, then there's weight weenie ultralight componentry like wheels with a manufacturer's weight limitation. Like you I've started to seriously question what 'light' really means and contrary to many common beliefs I think that lightness actually contributes to comfort in so far as on the last big climb of a hilly 400km (my longest ride so far) I'd much rather be on my sub 25lb roadie than on my 40+lb tourer if pressed for time. That ofcourse has to be put into the right context - my 'light' bike is still a pig by weight-weenie standards for the sake of comfort and reliability.

    On the reliability issue there's a relationship between mechanical longevity and complexity. For example the current crop of mid-high end of STI and ERGO brifters are brilliant pieces of engineering - very smooth, precise instruments. They're also quite complex compared to barcons. They're fine when brand new but 20,000 or 30,000km down the track I'd rather be shifting with the barcons.
    There are 10 types of people in the world - the ones that can count in base 2, the ones that can't count in base 2, and the ones that didn't expect this to be in base 3.

  18. #18
    CRIKEY!!!!!!! Cyclaholic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmike
    Mavic Open Pro

    It recently flew off my roof rack at 75 mph, barely missing a tractor trailer.
    I nearly started crying.

    I found it in the ditch amongst the weeds, and when spinning it in hand it appeared true. I haven't got it in the bike yet - but spoke tension feels good all around. I hope the hub is not damaged!

    (it theoretically should be fine - it bounced a few times and then rolled along the interstate - so it did what a wheel does - and it wasn't loaded with me on it!)
    That's the exact same rim I have on the top of my list for my next wheelset, same dynohub too . I hope your hub is OK tho by the sounds of it I'm sure it will be. Sounds like it landed on the rubber and rolled/bounced down the road and slowly dissipated the energy (best case scenarion) completely missing that tractor-trailer is just cream
    There are 10 types of people in the world - the ones that can count in base 2, the ones that can't count in base 2, and the ones that didn't expect this to be in base 3.

  19. #19
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LWaB
    They do an automatically switched dynamo version as well. Just plug and play.

    I'll look at that...

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmike
    That said, my Trek 520 is pretty comfy, but I didn't want to ride it for a Brevet series as its much heavier than my LeMond. Spokenword did the entire series on a 520 with some minor additions...
    Yeah, it's a stock 2004 Trek 520 with the minor additions being a handlebar bag, fenders and a new rear wheel that I bought after the original started showing cracks in the rim.

    I've never weighed my bike because I never considered that to be useful information. It is what it is. I might not be able to hang with the lead pack, but otherwise, I think that any touring bike -- Trek 520, Surly LHT, Fuji Touring, etc. would be a fine ride for a brevet.

    With that said, I think that the main strengths of a touring bike are long-distance comfort and easier gearing for spinning up climbs. Its greatest drawback for a brevet is its weight. With a conventional road bike, I think that you can approximate the comfortable geometry by raising your stem and bringing the handlebars a little closer to your saddle height. A 30 tooth granny with an 11-32 cassette won't get you up the hill quickly, but it'll still allow you to conserve energy over the long haul. The ANT Club Racer that I'm building up is pretty much my 520 with a similar geometry and gearing, but just a little less weight.

    It should also be worth pointing out that despite the weight and relative slowness of my bike, I've always completed my brevets with hours in the bank. I've never really felt pressed for time or that I was racing against the clock. The hours are fairly generous, and what really eats up your time are mechanicals and rider deterioration brought on by poor fit or comfort.

    Speaking of mechanicals, I've never had experience with lighter, sleeker components. Pretty much everything I've used has been 105 and Deore LX; because that's what I can afford. So, I can't speak to the folklore regarding the supposed long-term fragility of Dura-Ace or Record groupsets. I do see a lot of Record and Ultegra on brevet bikes, though. So people do trust the higher-end stuff. What I see less of are exotic wheelsets and stuff that just seems really high-maintenance. You want a bike that is reliable and that you can repair on the road, with tools that can be transported on the bike. You want to either bring spokes that can be taped to your top tube and swapped in at a moment's notice or are compatible with a Fiber-Fix. You want a chain that can be broken with a chain tool and reassembled a few links short so that you can ride it to a bike shop and replace it with parts that they will definitely have in stock. It's not quite the level of reliability that one would associate with loaded, expedition touring, but it's close.

    Therefore, imho, the bias shouldn't be on heavy versus light, but common and familiar versus bleeding edge and exotic.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmike
    It recently flew off my roof rack at 75 mph, barely missing a tractor trailer.
    I nearly started crying.

    I found it in the ditch amongst the weeds, and when spinning it in hand it appeared true. I haven't got it in the bike yet - but spoke tension feels good all around. I hope the hub is not damaged!

    (it theoretically should be fine - it bounced a few times and then rolled along the interstate - so it did what a wheel does - and it wasn't loaded with me on it!)
    oh, geez, man. That's like the nightmare of every roof rack owner (well, that and having the bike fly off at 75 mph). Hope your hub is still good, too and that it just needs a little truing.

  22. #22
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spokenword
    oh, geez, man. That's like the nightmare of every roof rack owner (well, that and having the bike fly off at 75 mph). Hope your hub is still good, too and that it just needs a little truing.

    I got it on the bike and did 30+ miles with it Sunday. No truing required. Haven't tested the dyno yet, as I was on the road and left the lights at home.

    I called my mech who built the wheel (and offers lifetime adjustments, free!) and he gave me some tips before riding it. I'll take it in today - but my guess is its fine.



    Going to test the dyno tonight. (fingers crossed)



    An old toe strap will now loop between the rack and wheel. Don't want to see this happen again!

    I hate driving my bikes anywhere, but when I'm on the road for family or work, I do like to ride... sooooo...

    I almost rode to Burlington from here - but I needed laptop, clothes, etc, and ran out of time. Would have been nice - 140+ miles with 8k of climbing. Next time, for sure.

  23. #23
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    Modifications to make a comfortable long rider –heavier too- from your Giant OCR:

    - Gearing: (48/34) x (12/27) –or (12/29)- I would choose a 46 or 44 big chainring but your front derailleur can’t be adjusted so low as if it where fixed with a clip to the seat tube, so it won’t work well with such small chainrings.

    - 25 mm wide tires inflated to the manufacturer pressure specifications (1/2 kg/cm2 lower the front one) ¿Would 28 mm tires fit in your frame and brake clamps with enough clearance?

    - Double taped handlebar. I have my bike with an underlayer of cork tape, and Pinarello tape over it.

    - A more cushioned and wide seat or even a Swift or Swallow Brooks saddle.

    - AND some GOOD seamless cycling shorts as well as a pair of padded gloves.

    - Big ¾ liter bottles.

    - A pair of cycling shoes with a sole that permit an easy walk –may be mtb type- could be of utility.

    - A pair of Cateye Opticube head lights, a helmet headlight and a pair of red-leds tail-lights with a enough provision of batteries.

    PROBLEM UNSOLVED: how to carry some luggage.

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