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Old 05-18-06, 03:47 PM   #1
Airwick
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Design me the perfect bike for the Great Divide

I need the advice of you MTB gurus. Familar with the Great Divide route from Canada to Mexico? 2500 miles mostly on offroad with very few services. So, I want to do this route with all my gear completely alone. No experience with mtbs so design for me the perfect bike for this tour factoring in reliabilty, quality, AND price.

I like the Surly monkey,... way off or on the right track?

Thanks!
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Old 05-18-06, 06:40 PM   #2
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So let me clarify: You have no experience with MTB'ing whatsoever, yet you want to attempt a 2500 mile ride, by yourself, carrying all your survival gear?

Is that right?
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Old 05-18-06, 06:44 PM   #3
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Definately get an Xc hardtail. What's your price range or is money not an object?
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Old 05-18-06, 07:08 PM   #4
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Need I say more?
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Old 05-18-06, 07:26 PM   #5
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You'll probably get a lot more information and a lot less bull**** if you ask in the Touring forum. The Surly KM would probably work well, however.
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Old 05-18-06, 07:29 PM   #6
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Try this...

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Old 05-18-06, 07:33 PM   #7
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Here is what you need - The perfect combination of the two bikes above:



http://www.walmart.com/catalog/produ...uct_id=4088165

Doesn't really have the sweet accessories like literocola's suggestion, but I think the full-suspension design will really help you out over the thousands of rugged miles...
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Old 05-18-06, 08:03 PM   #8
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You guys are seriously pathetic. Here's a guy wanting to attempt something that NONE of you will ever have the time, money, endurance, or balls to do, and instead of offering valid assistance you're posting nonsense jokes. This guys already ridden Rt66 from CA to IL and apparently is looking for a new challange. How about pretending you aren't idiots for just a few minutes and trying to be at least a little helpful. As for me, I have no worthy input on the topic as I'm pretty sure the experience I've gained on my lowly Trek 4300 would be of no assistance. Good luck in your attempt!

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Old 05-18-06, 08:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gorsar
You guys are seriously pathetic. Here's a guy wanting to attempt something that NONE of you will ever have the time, money, endurance, or balls to do, and instead of offering valid assistance you're posting nonsense jokes. This guys already ridden Rt66 from CA to IL and apparently is looking for a new challange. How about pretending you aren't idiots for just a few minutes and trying to be at least a little helpful. As for me, I have no worthy input on the topic as I'm pretty sure the experience I've gained on my lowly Trek 4300 would be of no assistance. Good luck in your attempt!

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Old 05-18-06, 08:40 PM   #10
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aaahahahahahahahahahahaha im lovein this!!!
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Old 05-18-06, 09:41 PM   #11
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beer + this thread = good times
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Old 05-18-06, 10:15 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Airwick
I need the advice of you MTB gurus. Familar with the Great Divide route from Canada to Mexico? 2500 miles mostly on offroad with very few services. So, I want to do this route with all my gear completely alone. No experience with mtbs so design for me the perfect bike for this tour factoring in reliabilty, quality, AND price.

I like the Surly monkey,... way off or on the right track?

Thanks!
Since no one else is going to be serious about this, I will. The Surly is probably as good a choice as any for this kind of riding. You do need to go with a hardtail. You also want to look at a suspension fork but you want to check around for one that is pretty simple. Check MTBR.com and look for ones that don't have lots of problems with seals. If I were going, I'd probably use a spring, non-air fork simply because you don't have to carry an extra pump. If you have to go with an air sprung fork, look for one that is very reliable.

For carrying your gear, go with a trailer. Fitting racks and panniers to a suspension fork can be done but it's not trivial.

For components, just go with good Shimano stuff.

For brakes, disc or V will work. I'd go with v-brakes just because you are more likely to find parts for any v-brake just about anywhere along the way. If you have discs, you might not be able to find parts depending on the brand. If you do go with discs, get mechanical so that you don't have to deal with hydraulic fluid if something goes wrong. I'd also make sure that the bike has bosses for v-brakes if you do use discs just in case something does go wrong and you can't find the proper parts.

You probably don't need to carry extra components but be prepared for anything. This ride can be tough on equipment. Know your bike mechanically (good advice for any kind of touring) and know how to fix just about anything. Also make sure that you are ready to macguiver a solution to any problem. For example, if you biff a rear derailer, turn the bike into a single speed. You might have to walk hills but at least you won't end up as bear food.
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Old 05-18-06, 11:11 PM   #13
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super light frame (carbon or higher grade aluminum), hardtail, fork with lockout, xt (or close) shifters, 3X9 drive train, clipless pedals (the ones you clip into).

I'm not sure how a trailor will work (depends on how "off road" you will be). again, whats your budget?
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Old 05-18-06, 11:13 PM   #14
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I dunno that trail, but a lot of people use BOB trailers with much success for multiday MTB touring.
This basically allows you to have anything for a bike. For that long, you have three choices.
One is for your comfort -- Full suspension. It'll keep you more comfortable ancd if you use a BOB, you don't need the rack mounts. Both coil-ver shocks and fox air shocks are very reliable. You would need something simple with few, user-servicable, pivots. Honestly, for FS you'd want something rather high end. If you're willing to shell out the bucks the Titus Racer-X wuld be perfect. If you can get a used Alcola era Racer-X frame with the ALPs shock you will ahve one of the most bullet-proof bike built regardless of suspension (My dad bought a used one for $800 more than 5 years ago). The easton/float frames are great too and much lighter. However, used Titus's are not that common (though they'll all be in top shape), so really only consider this if you have the money. Even a used frame will need a new parts build.
Hardtail -- Perhaps the best bang for the buck. Rack eyelets are useful, even if you are using a BOB. careful with forks. Maybe its the retro-grouch in me, but i still don't trust airforks. Unlike the very simiple rear fox float airshox, these need quite a bit of work to service. For me, nothing would be more perfect than an oil bath Marzochi Bomber. No need to gram count when you're carrying loads of crap. I'd prefer steel or TI fr comfort, but AL can be a good choice too. Watch out of ultra-light racing frames like fishers though. i know from experence, tehy can't take the stress. Otherwise, whatever's comfortable
Rigid - Nothing to break, except you bones. Consider if you want to be hard core. Added advanatge of front Panniers. Make sure its a steel fork, or you'll regret it. Honestly, i'd look at the top two.
Before you do any of this, ride some pretty touch offroad stuff on whatever bike you're bringing and amke sure you know gow to fix any part that can break.
the guy above me who said, superlight, I disagree, I be willing to add a few pounds t keep the strength up. And extra pound is worth the pain caused by a snapped frame.
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Old 05-18-06, 11:14 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Airwick
I need the advice of you MTB gurus. Familar with the Great Divide route from Canada to Mexico? 2500 miles mostly on offroad with very few services. So, I want to do this route with all my gear completely alone. No experience with mtbs so design for me the perfect bike for this tour factoring in reliabilty, quality, AND price.

I like the Surly monkey,... way off or on the right track?

Thanks!
Got enough money for an $850 frame? Then I'd suggest this:
http://www.gunnarbikes.com/rocktour.php
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Old 05-18-06, 11:30 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyccommute
Since no one else is going to be serious about this, I will. The Surly is probably as good a choice as any for this kind of riding. You do need to go with a hardtail. You also want to look at a suspension fork but you want to check around for one that is pretty simple. Check MTBR.com and look for ones that don't have lots of problems with seals. If I were going, I'd probably use a spring, non-air fork simply because you don't have to carry an extra pump. If you have to go with an air sprung fork, look for one that is very reliable.

For carrying your gear, go with a trailer. Fitting racks and panniers to a suspension fork can be done but it's not trivial.

For components, just go with good Shimano stuff.

For brakes, disc or V will work. I'd go with v-brakes just because you are more likely to find parts for any v-brake just about anywhere along the way. If you have discs, you might not be able to find parts depending on the brand. If you do go with discs, get mechanical so that you don't have to deal with hydraulic fluid if something goes wrong. I'd also make sure that the bike has bosses for v-brakes if you do use discs just in case something does go wrong and you can't find the proper parts.

You probably don't need to carry extra components but be prepared for anything. This ride can be tough on equipment. Know your bike mechanically (good advice for any kind of touring) and know how to fix just about anything. Also make sure that you are ready to macguiver a solution to any problem. For example, if you biff a rear derailer, turn the bike into a single speed. You might have to walk hills but at least you won't end up as bear food.
Damn! You stole my entire post. I too recommend the Avid BB mechanical disk brakes, mostly because you will be able to get away without truing your wheels as often. Spring fork 4 teh win - I would go with Marzocchi. Education on your route and how to fix your own bike will be key. Are you actually riding the Continental Divide, or are you going to link trails that parallel it? I don't know about anything south of the border, but the Canadian part of the Divide will take you through a couple thousand km of prime bear territory.
<gone Googling>
Holy shizzle! I just checked out some info on the Canuck section. It's mostly UNMARKED. WTF? Take GPS and a rifle. Sir, if you survive, I doff my helmet to you.
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Old 05-19-06, 12:27 AM   #17
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Second going with V's
I've hard trouble getting replacemnt rotors in moab, how easy do you think it will be in bumfark, MT
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Old 05-19-06, 07:09 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gorsar
You guys are seriously pathetic. Here's a guy wanting to attempt something that NONE of you will ever have the time, money, endurance, or balls to do, and instead of offering valid assistance you're posting nonsense jokes. This guys already ridden Rt66 from CA to IL and apparently is looking for a new challange. How about pretending you aren't idiots for just a few minutes and trying to be at least a little helpful. As for me, I have no worthy input on the topic as I'm pretty sure the experience I've gained on my lowly Trek 4300 would be of no assistance. Good luck in your attempt!
Thanks everyone for the some good advice. No budget constraints other than wanting to be "smart" and here's what I mean. I've found that for road touring, it's hard to beat a Trek 520 or Cannondale T800, bikes in that class. I recently learned we could buy a Burly, use it for a trip, then sell it on ebaY for more than we originally paid. (hard to beat that)

Another example is the bob trailer. I'm no fan for using them for road tours but they hold their value. Going to use one for the GD then sell it since this trip is something new and different for us. That's why I asked about the Surly Karate Monkey because they seem to be one of the bikes that has a following and retain their value.

So, reading the suggestions you've given me to this point. 1) Going with a hardtail 2) 29 wheels 3) V brakes 4) 36 or 40 spoke wheels

So now that the field has been narrowed, what would you say would be some of the best choices (actual brands, models of bikes) now?

PS Gorsar, thanks my friend. Route 66 was probably where the idea was first hatched. (you pass the GD in Grants, New Mexico, one of our favorite towns. Both Airwick and Agape are coming along for the ride this time. www.agape.crazyguyonabike.com
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Old 05-19-06, 07:28 AM   #19
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Things I forgot:

I'd probably go with a short travel fork. With a load, even in a trailer, the bike will handle differently. Trailers tend to make the bike tail heavy and a long travel fork will raise the front end making it even lighter. You want a fork that will take the edge off but you don't need something for big hits. It's not that rough a trail from the parts that I've seen here in Colorado. I would also get a fork with a lockout even though it adds complexity since there's still a lot of pavement on the route.

Controls: I gather from another post that you are familiar with touring already so I don't have to harp too much on comfort of the controls. However, mountain bike bars are very different from road bars. You don't have as many hand positions which means that you put a lot of time in with your hands in one spot. Also, you don't want a set of bars that is way lower than your saddle but you also don't want to be sitting bolt upright either. First, when you install the fork (use threadless since it's easier to adjust) cut the steerer longer than you otherwise might. You can always add spacers above the stem. I'd use a 15 degree stem and riser bars. I'd also put bar ends on the riser bars. You won't need them for climbing necessarily but for the added hand positions. You might even want to look at a trekking bar but I, personally, don't really like those.

For grips, stay away from anything that is too firm. I did a solo trip on a mountain bike long ago with solid rubber grips and it took 6 weeks for me to get the feeling back in my hands. It's not a pleasant experience! I'd suggest something like Grab ons. Look at the leisure grips or one of the softer grips on that page. Grab ons have good grip when they are wet (something that will happen) and they have a bit more cushion than most of the firmer grips out there.

Finally, saddle. A shock post might be a good idea although it adds more complexity. You might want to consider something like a Brooks B67, the Champion Flyer or the Conquest instead. Or you can go with a regular plastic saddle. Whatever you get make sure that it is comfortable for you and that you put a lot of time in on it before you go. But you already know that
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Old 05-19-06, 07:32 AM   #20
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Off road touring bikes are a little different to sport MTBs. You need more stability, durability, touring brazeons.
Purpose built off-road tourers are available.
See
Thorn
Bruce Gordon
Gunnar
Sakkit do a "Great Divide touring MTB.

The Brooks Conquest saddle is an excellent idea. You get Brooks comfort, a little suspension to even out the bumps but no complex mechanism to wear out. The weight is similar to lightweight saddle + sus post.
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Old 05-19-06, 07:55 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelW
Off road touring bikes are a little different to sport MTBs. You need more stability, durability, touring brazeons.
Purpose built off-road tourers are available.
See
Thorn
Bruce Gordon
Gunnar
Sakkit do a "Great Divide touring MTB.

The Brooks Conquest saddle is an excellent idea. You get Brooks comfort, a little suspension to even out the bumps but no complex mechanism to wear out. The weight is similar to lightweight saddle + sus post.
Of the four you listed, I'd probably only go with the Gunnar for the Divide Trail. The Gordon and the Sakkit would be good bikes for touring but a front shock really helps with control off-road. The Thorn looks good but finding parts for a Rolhloff hub in the middle of Wyoming or deep in southern New Mexico would be next to impossible. And, even though I don't like trailers that much, a trailer is easier to use off-road than bags.
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Old 05-19-06, 08:11 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyccommute
Of the four you listed, I'd probably only go with the Gunnar for the Divide Trail. The Gordon and the Sakkit would be good bikes for touring but a front shock really helps with control off-road. The Thorn looks good but finding parts for a Rolhloff hub in the middle of Wyoming or deep in southern New Mexico would be next to impossible. And, even though I don't like trailers that much, a trailer is easier to use off-road than bags.
Stuart! I didn't realize this was you,... I LOVE your journals. I enjoyed your Solo without Pie journal so much that I think that is where I got the idea to name my last posted journal Route 66 without Airwick. Nice to "meet" you. I've thought about signing your guestbook several times but the site is growing so fast these days it's hard to keep up.

Ok, I like the Gunnar a lot. Nice people? Afraid I don't know much about them. Give me an idea of what the completed bike would run built up as you would build it up. The Canadian Rochy Mountain bikes also look appealing.

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Old 05-19-06, 08:19 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Airwick
So, reading the suggestions you've given me to this point. 1) Going with a hardtail 2) 29 wheels 3) V brakes 4) 36 or 40 spoke wheels
One thing to consider - opting for a 29er will drastically limit your choice of suspension forks and availability of replacement tires. I'm not sure about high spoke count mtb rim choices either.

I would go with disc brakes. It seems to me that long descents, particularly in poor weather conditions and with the extra weight of a trailer and gear, would cook V-brakes in short order, as well as taking their toll on your rims.
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Old 05-19-06, 08:19 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Airwick
Ok, I like the Gunnar a lot. Nice people? Afraid I don't know much about them. Give me an idea of what the completed bike would run built up as you would build it up. The Canadian Rochy Mountain bikes also look appealing.

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The Gunnar folks are awesome. Check out the message boards at their web site, www.gunnarbikes.com, to see just how involved they are in working with their customers. Gunnars are made by Waterford Bikes if that means anything to you. I own two myself, though I can't comment directly on the Rock Tour, since I've never ridden it (or seen one in person, for that matter).

Gunnar also offers custom geometry. How much are you thinking of spending?
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Old 05-19-06, 08:33 AM   #25
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One thing to consider - opting for a 29er will drastically limit your choice of suspension forks and availability of replacement tires. I'm not sure about high spoke count mtb rim choices either.

I would go with disc brakes. It seems to me that long descents, particularly in poor weather conditions and with the extra weight of a trailer and gear, would cook V-brakes in short order, as well as taking their toll on your rims.
26" wheels would be better. 700C tires (29er) are definitely going to be harder to find in Nowhere USA.

Have to disagree on the V-brakes. I've been doing this for a long time before discs and never had a problem with rubber pads. Plus, again, it's probably easier to find replacement parts in the Great American Desert for V-brakes/cantis.

The Gunnar looks good. The Krate Monkey is okay but I'm not a fan of the rear entry dropouts. Look a production bikes too. Since you are pulling a trailer, something like a Stumpjumper might be the ticket. I've done off-road touring on one and it worked well. Plus if you break it, you might be able to get it replaced easier. Same goes for a high end Trek or Giant or Kona etc.
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