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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 09-05-06, 04:57 AM   #1
fastturtle
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One more "which bike ?" question

I have limited experience in the lower end of long distance riding, being able to ride 200 km quite routinely but having never exceeded 300 km. I am presently riding with either a 2001 Bianchi road bike, or a home tuned touring bike, depending on the weather.

The Bianchi is a fast bike, I quite like it, but it has absolutely no way to accomodate any kind of fenders, and fenders, to me, are a must if I am to start doing long brevets in sometimes difficult weather conditions. Also, there are no fittings for a rack; I use a Topeak rack clamped to the seatpost, but my thighs tend to bump into the quick release and this is not very comfortable (I forgot to mention that I hate backpacks). Finally, this bike is quite touchy in fast downhills, a bit too much for my taste.

The tourer has all what is required including good dynamo light, but is really heavy (16-18 kg). It is also old (frame is probably close to 15 years of age, and it shows), and although most parts are newer, I am not sure it is worth investing in anymore. Its geometry is a bit weird, with a very tilted saddle tube (~68-69 ?), which makes it difficult to get the perfect fit: I have to play tricks with a special seat post to manage to bring the saddle forward enough. Overall, this bike is 10-15% slower than the Bianchi. 10% might not seem a lot and I am not obsessed about speed, but it still represents one hour rest in a day ride.

So it seems that I will get a new bike... but which one ? I was at Eurobike in Friedrichshafen last week-end. I've seen four bikes that I could consider (and find for sale in a reasonable radius around where I live), and I'd appreciate any advice, keeping in mind a randonneuring application, with a series of brevets as next year's goal.

1) Gilles Berthoud. Beautiful french hand-made classical Audax type bicycle: http://www.gillesberthoud.fr/velos_tandems/index3.php, look for instance for model "Escapade". I have talked with the boss in person, and he admitted that his web site not being really up to date, the bike he was showing was much more expensive than I had expected (approx 4500 Euro !), which brings it out of my reach.

2) Trek 1200. http://www2.trekbikes.com/bikes/bike...id=1422000&f=4
The 2007 version of this simple road bike has fittings and very minimal space for fenders and rack, so it could theoretically be upgraded to my needs.

3) Stevens Gran Turismo. Stevens is a german brand, even though its name doesn't sound like it. http://www.stevensbikes.de/2007/inde...ion&lang=en_US
It is described as a "light touring bike", 10.8 kg including fenders and rack, 3x10 Shimano 105. I might consider replacing the A319 touring rims with narrower road rims and 700x23C.

4) MTB Cycletech Andale Touring. Small swiss brand.
http://www.velo.com/bike.asp?id=85&category_id=8.
A strange bike with drop bars and 26" wheels. It's the only one of the four I had a chance to try (its big brother Papalagi, actually, but basically the same geometry), and I positively loved its behavior, stable but responsive. It would definitely be my choice for heavy touring or everyday commute, but I suspect it won't be any faster than my present tourer/commuter.

I would be glad if more experienced long distance riders could share comments.
Thanks a lot

Turtle
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Old 09-05-06, 10:44 PM   #2
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I can't comment on the four bikes, since I don't know them. In the end, what fist you best is the best bike for you.

You mentioned that your touring bike most parts are "newer", you may want to consider the option of just getting a good new frame and migrating the components from the tourer to your new brevet bike frame. You may get something you like better, while staying within your budget.
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Old 09-06-06, 05:38 AM   #3
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I have a similar issue - 2002 Orbea vs. 1986 Trek 500 - it's not a full-on tourer, but a racer with sports tour geometry (shares the same dimensions in Trek's line with their sports bikes of that year but decked out with better gruppo).

I compared the Trek with my wife's new AL Cannondale after a short ride this weekend and the buttery smoothness of the Trek, plus its potential accomodation of fender and racks (tho I use a seatpost clip on rear fender only when needed and no racks) is a nice plus for longer rides. The clearance for 700x25-28s is the main advantage for a smooth ride - those won't fit on my Orbea.

The main problem I have in justifying more investment in the Trek is the 20-yr-old factor (I already sunk about $750-800). The bike itself is in fantastic condition, but just to get the right stem and handlebar for fit's sake was a pain. I sold off a slew of threaded 1" quill stems about 5-6 years ago when you could still get them easily. Now they've disappeared from catalogs except for a few budget models. Aside of trolling ebay the availibility for old parts is drying up and for a passionate tinkerer/upgrader/tweaker who will use the bike regularly and hard, the effort becomes frustrating and cost prohibitive.

I mention all this because I suspect one could not always move the nice components over to a newer/better/lighter frame due to size incompatibilities. Aside from seatpost and pedals, nothing is really interchangeable between my two road bikes.

Sadly, one of them has to go (we need the space and the dough) and as much as I love my Trek, I will lose too much $ on the newer bike, so the Trek is now up for sale. I know I'll regret it but for someone like us who wants to really squeeze top performance out of a bike, you sometimes have to move up. I have no desire for load hauling and prefer to keep a light speedy bike (I use an old rigid MTB for commutes and easy rides - heavier and slower than the trek but a bit more burly for NYC streets, and less of a theft magnet)

It sounds like a new, modern bike with lighter frame but more clearance and braze ons is what you need. Rivendells are nice but pricey. Plus they use a lot of vintage technology; I'd just stick with my trek at that point.

I know people used to have to go custom build for a nice lightweight tourer. The trek you mentioned would probably be fine, but since you want zippiness and stability why not the custom? That would be your best bet, though very expensive. But if you use it a lot and know what you want why not drop $3 grand on the perfect bike?
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Old 09-06-06, 11:30 PM   #4
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Hey ! If the Berthoud were 3 k$ I would probably go for it, but the exchange rate says that 4.5 k is more like over 5 k$ !
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Old 09-07-06, 06:40 AM   #5
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True, but there have got to be slightly less expensive options....and I should have been clearer, I meant $3K for frame and fork! OUCH!

But last summer I was looking around for a frame with shallow angles in a small size and I was put in contact with several independent builders who seemed ready willing and able to construct exactly what I wanted in steel if need be, for less than I expected (maybe 1500 for Frame & Fork....). Do some poking around before you settle on a so-so bike. It sounds like you have definitive needs and there should be a solution out there that will make you happy. Worth looking into, especially if you are putting lots of miles in!!

Happy hunting!
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Old 09-08-06, 08:45 PM   #6
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A 15-year old frame isn't so old. I've done doubles on a 25-year old frame.

Before buying a typical road bike, like a Trek 1200, I would want to see fenders fitted on it along with the size tires you plan to ride.

You might also look at a Rivendell Atlantis or Ramboullet. These bikes are designed for long distance riding and will take fenders and wider tires.
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Old 09-16-06, 12:25 AM   #7
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I've done my fastest long distance rides recently on my Bacchetta. No pains at the end other than tired legs. I'm seeing more and more of them on the road. Here's a friend of mine who is going to be doing the Furnace Creek 508 on one in a few weeks. Nice setup for Brevets and he does a ton of them. Plus he lives in Portland. Check out the gear and ride reports. He does have an Riv Atlantis btw.

http://escapevelocipede.blogspot.com/
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