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  1. #1
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    RIP, the classic touring bike?

    The classic touring bike was never that popular but had its heyday in the 80s with bikes like the Trek 720, the specialized expedition, the miyata 1000, and a number of other bikes. The formula didn't change much for a long time. Typically touring bikes have a little heavier tubing to deal with the extra weight and the problem of shimmy, a longer wheelbase which made it easier to deal with rear panniers, cantilever brakes to deal with fatter tires, lots of eyelets to help deal with racks, fenders, etc.

    That bike is still made (e.g., surly LHT, soma Saga, and Trek 520) but there are some really interesting alternatives out there.

    You could go lightweight with your gear and use a lighter and nimbler bike. Or you could get a touring bike designed for off road touring like the Trek 920, REI Mazama, Velo Orange camargue, etc.

    Does anyone need a "true" touring bike anymore? If you want to go lightweight with your gear, you don't need a classic touring bike. If you want to carry a lot of weight, why not buy the more versatile off road capable touring bike?

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    I have always had racing style bikes and am looking at my first touring bike. The trek 920 is really appealing to me with its versatility. I am also looking at LHT,520 and kona touring bike. I guess i worry that it may not be the best touring bike OR off road bike,so I am still debating. I sure do like the looks of it!

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    OK, I'll bite I have one because I want one. I had it custom built (in 2005-6) to fit me, and I am very happy not having to make compromises with fit. 48 spoke wheels - Rhyno-Lite rims and PW (black) hubs. Powder coated blue color and with custom built racks. Suits me fine with no compromises. VERY heavy-duty

    Oh, and in spite of having a couple of Timex watches, I once bought a Rolex - also because I wanted to

    Obviously you have different ideas and wants than I do - and you have the wonderful opportunity of spending your hard earned money the way you want to.

    I rest my case.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
    heavier tubing to deal with the extra weight and the problem of shimmy, a longer wheelbase which made it easier to deal with rear panniers, cantilever brakes to deal with fatter tires, lots of eyelets to help deal with racks, fenders, etc.
    In my own experience, and my understandings of my friends' experiences, this is the best type of bicycle for 95% of the people who want to ride (and all I ever want these days!). The off road tourers you mention add disc brakes and knobby tires, which aren't really the "I don't need them, but it's ok to have them" type of components. But for me, as someone who enjoys casual evening social rides, commuting to work, carrying groceries, and meeting my friends at bars and restaurants, a true touring bike is exactly what I need and want.

  5. #5
    Senior Member mstateglfr's Avatar
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    I sure hope the classic style continues. Sure there aren't many options, but add in the VO campeur, Randonee, nashbar's touring frame, Fuji, and Riv's offerings and there looks to be a good number that will allow the frame look to continue.

    It's amazing how many LHTs I see around here on the trails just for weekend beer rides. More power to em all.

    I wouldn't want a heavy off-road fat wheeled bike for paved touring.

  6. #6
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    ... And, you dont have to buy a 'touring bike' to go on a bike tour, you just have to go for a ride in your bike

    and sleep somplace other than back at your house that night.



    What may be RIP is enough Time Off to Enjoy a long TOUR . with the boss'es wanting to Profit from your time.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 06-07-15 at 12:14 PM.

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    "Does anyone need a "true" touring bike anymore? If you want to go lightweight with your gear, you don't need a classic touring bike. If you want to carry a lot of weight, why not buy the more versatile off road capable touring bike?"

    Total nonsense.

    1) In your description, about the only thing that is actually different about a classic touring bike is that it has heavier tubes. If you calculate the average weight difference it is justa few ounces a tube. It amounts to .2 mm over about18 inches x 3 x the circumference of the tube, times the density of steel. Like enough aluminium wrap to wrap a few sandwiches, though steel is 3 times heavier, it is still very little weight.

    And the heavier tubing is actually standard butted tubing, 8/6/8, what the avergae non racer should be ridding. Many of the most classic popular MTBs were designed out of heavier straight walled tubing, and nobody seemed too put off by that. It is only when one learns enough about frames to not understand what one is talking about that issues come up.

    2) While there are some interesting alternative designs available, and the classic design is a niche bike like every other bike out there, the off road designs are not more versatile. They go well offroad, but not that well on the road, just as road bikes are fine off road, up to some practical limit few riders ever see. Touring in the US is mostly on road, so the road style touring bike is best, but you can go either way depending on use. I would rather tour off road, but there just aren't that many wilderness bikes allowed trails that stretch out a thousand miles, even in NA.

  8. #8
    Senior Member intransit1217's Avatar
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    I've read, on more than one occasion, the LHT does fantastic loaded and not so well unloaded.
    Bikeforums: Not just for bikes any more.

  9. #9
    A Roadie Forever 79pmooney's Avatar
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    I have a bike designed as an all-rounder that tours quite well. My namesake 1979 Peter Mooney. 531 tubing, long chainstays, fender eyes, Lowrider mounts, cantis, 7 speed triple. 700c and 27" wheels work, tires can be huge and still be fendered. It hasn't toured much, but in its early days, I used to ride up a mountain and camp (surreptitiously - I won't say where).

    I now ride it loaded every Saturday home from the Farmer's Market. Riding it loaded is no chore at all, and it comes alive when I take the panniers off. (I rode home from work a few years back and did a Bike Palooza tour of Portland's water frountains. I had my panniers full of a week's worth of work clothes, the ride was often at sub-walking speeds and over trolley tracks, etc. Bike handled superbly at those speeds! So much so that I was enjoying it more than those around me.

    The Miyata 610 I rode as a fix/commuter/rain/winter bike for 20 years wasn't all that different. Very practical bikes.

    Ben

  10. #10
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post
    "Does anyone need a "true" touring bike anymore? If you want to go lightweight with your gear, you don't need a classic touring bike. If you want to carry a lot of weight, why not buy the more versatile off road capable touring bike?"

    Total nonsense.

    1) In your description, about the only thing that is actually different about a classic touring bike is that it has heavier tubes. If you calculate the average weight difference it is justa few ounces a tube. It amounts to .2 mm over about18 inches x 3 x the circumference of the tube, times the density of steel. Like enough aluminium wrap to wrap a few sandwiches, though steel is 3 times heavier, it is still very little weight.

    And the heavier tubing is actually standard butted tubing, 8/6/8, what the avergae non racer should be ridding. Many of the most classic popular MTBs were designed out of heavier straight walled tubing, and nobody seemed too put off by that. It is only when one learns enough about frames to not understand what one is talking about that issues come up.

    2) While there are some interesting alternative designs available, and the classic design is a niche bike like every other bike out there, the off road designs are not more versatile. They go well offroad, but not that well on the road, just as road bikes are fine off road, up to some practical limit few riders ever see. Touring in the US is mostly on road, so the road style touring bike is best, but you can go either way depending on use. I would rather tour off road, but there just aren't that many wilderness bikes allowed trails that stretch out a thousand miles, even in NA.
    That's more than a little tendentious, isn't it? I was hoping people could have some fun with my point of view rather than start a flame war. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have toured extensively on classic touring bikes. I really like touring bikes but I'm not certain whether I will continue to use them going forward since I'd like to lighten my touring load.

    (1) I understand that the frame weight difference isn't much but there is considerably more variation than you suggest in wall thicknesses for touring bikes. This page for example has a nice diagram showing the differences in wall thicknesses between Reynolds 531c and 531st: https://www.worldclasscycles.com/JACKSON-TOUR-FRAME.htm

    But you're going down a rabbit hole on this one. Touring bikes typically have longer chain stays in addition to thicker tubing. That's a plus when carrying gear in panniers but a bit of a performance drag when going lightweight in touring. Not a huge deal but it is a difference.My point is that if going lightweight with your touring gear, you can ride a lot of different bikes and not just a classic touring bike.


    (2) Touring bikes designed for touring off road will work well for fully loaded touring even if you stick to roads but they do give you more options. Take a look at the frame geometry on the velo orange camargue or the REI mazama. Those are fine all purpose touring bikes that can take a pretty fat tire.

    I understand you disagree about the utility of touring bikes designed for off road touring or touring with lighter gear on a lighter bike but there's a heck of a difference between a difference in opinion and thinking that something you disagree with is nonsense. There's a line I always liked from Mark Twain which is that it's the difference in opinions that makes for horse races. . . .
    Last edited by bikemig; 06-07-15 at 01:37 PM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Bill1227's Avatar
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    Seems your idea of "classic" is geographically limited to the US-North America at the most

    Worth noting on the world wide web

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    I hope it's never RIP, as I believe this style of bike is about the most useful and practical bike to own. If you could only afford to purchase, or only had room for one bike, a tourer is about the ideal choice.

    I have a coworker who wanting to get off his too small mt. bike, that he used as a commuter, slicks, rear rack and all (yes it had eyelets), got talked into a Specialized carbon road bike from a local shop. He immediately loved the speed and position, probably cause the shop did fit him. In a few short months commuting, he's suffered a pinch flat and dimpled front rim - a Specialized 16 spoke wheel, and he's lucky the rim wasn't trashed. He now laments having to constantly clean crap off the bike (no room for fenders) and having to wear a backpack on his commute and agrees that the shop sold him what they had in his size and wanted to off-load. A racing bike was absolutely what he didn't need and I'm now trying to steer him towards a tourer.

    He now fully understands the practicality and when the time comes, I'll get him to REI or another NYC shop that understands what he needs. I hope full blown tourers are still around when he's ready.

  13. #13
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill1227 View Post
    Seems your idea of "classic" is geographically limited to the US-North America at the most

    Worth noting on the world wide web
    Not really. I was thinking of a few bikes that I knew well and made it clear that there were a great many other bikes that would fit that label.

    My first touring bike was a peugeot UO-10 which I bought in London. I wouldn't mind finding one of those again in my size. It's a great bike.

    My 2d touring bike was a koga miyata that I bought in the Netherlands when I lived there. My 3d was a motobecane that I toured in Europe with.

    I've lived all over Europe and worked in a bike shop in Paris so I don't have any doubt that a number of manufacturers all over the world could give the US a run for its money when it came to touring.

    My point is that the classic touring bike has changed less than say racing bikes over the last 30 or so years. That may be beginning to change which is why I started this thread.
    Last edited by bikemig; 06-07-15 at 03:43 PM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    I think that for me the classic touring bike is not a likely option these days, but that is because I like to travel really light (9-15 pounds of clothing,ultralight camping gear, and bags) and I like nimble handling and a generally sportier bike.

    That said, the classic touring bike is still a perfect fit for a lot of folks especially those who carry more and or don't really want to ride a sportier bike. I don't see the classic touring bike going away any time soon.

  15. #15
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    I think this is a good discussion because I'm having a little trouble finding the right bike, now that I've greatly reduced my touring load. I've ridden "classic" touring bikes for the last 40 years or so, my current one (Novarra Randonee) for nearly twenty. I've reduced the weight of the bike over the years by using lighter wheels, tires and seat, removing the front rack, sawing off the seat post, etc. But I like the geometry and braze-ons and the ability to add fenders. If I ever need a new bike, I just don't know what to buy. I don't want to pay for a touring bike then start cutting things off it. Many road bikes I see won't easily take a rack or fenders or an extra water bottle. The triple crank, though I seldom use it, is nice to have every once in a while when heavily loaded on a dirt road.

    I'm sure I'll find a bike and make it work when needed, maybe just do without something I've gotten used to over the decades. I hope to get a few more years on my current bike. As long as the 3x7 shifters keep working....

  16. #16
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    I can't speak for the industry in general, but for me, I think the OP has some good points. I've been riding a Long Haul Trucker for the last 6 years. I did a few bike trips on non-touring style bike before that, but the LHT is the first touring bike that I've had. It's been great, but over the past few years, I've been looking at what I would change if I could, and looking at the wide variety of bikes that have come out lately, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to switch to something else (top of the list right now is a Troll). If I was exclusively interested in road touring, or if I had room for an arsenal of bikes, the LHT, or some other purpose-built touring bike, would remain in the fold, but with my one-bike-for-all-purposes aproach, combined with the fact that I only get to spend a few weeks doing straight up touring/bike-camping, combined with the fact that even my supposeed pavement-only trips seem to take me down at least a couple of dirt/gravel roads or even off-road for a stretch, it just makes sense to get something a little more versatile. I'm sure, should I make this switch, the next time I spend more than 50 miles in the saddle, I'll miss the LHT, but my hope is that the rest of the time I'll find more ways to use the bike.

    Some things that have changed since my first serious bike trip:

    1) Bike styles. From what I remember, when I was a kid, you wanted to ride off road, you got a mountain bike. Anything else, you got some kind of road bike. Some were made for speed, some for comfort, and while I know there were touring-specific bikes back then, They weren't on my radar. I think my first multi-day trip was on an old, 3 speed Schwinn and my next was a 10 speed with some Wald baskets on the back. Now I feel llike there's a bike for every concievable type of terrain, and some that try and be versatile enough to go multiple places.

    2) gear options. The gear I used to carry is inferior in every way. I probably used to carry twice the weight and get half of the utility. I still overpack, but when I see someone going ultralight, I can see how they can do it. 20-30 years ago I feel like it would have been far more difficult to get servicable gear that didn't take up a good amount of space on the bike. You don't need a super, carry-everything bike if your gear can fit in a saddle bag.

    3) The internet. Not only has the internet opened up my eyes to what's out there and various possibilities of how travel by bike could be done, but it also allows all these niche products to be profitable. I doubt the bike shop in my home town would have even entertained the idea of a fat bike, for instance, when selling even one might be optimistic, but now you can come up with a niche product and market it to enough people on-line to make it worthwhile, and even if I deal directly with the bike shop, I can just tell them what to order.

    So, yeah, there are so many more possibilities now, that I can see where the touring bike could become less popular. I don't think it will go away, but it could become just one more niche bike in an endless spectrum of bikes.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by intransit1217 View Post
    I've read, on more than one occasion, the LHT does fantastic loaded and not so well unloaded.
    I commute unloaded on my LHT all the time. And I have taken it off road loaded and unloaded (can you say d2r2?).

    IMO, the OP is just trying to stir the pot.

  18. #18
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    I commute unloaded on my LHT all the time. And I have taken it off road loaded and unloaded (can you say d2r2?).

    IMO, the OP is just trying to stir the pot.
    Hopefully stirring the pot in a good way. I like classic touring bikes a lot. But there are more choices out there than there were and that's a good thing I think.

  19. #19
    djb
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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    (can you say d2r2?).
    no, but I can say p3co.

    have no idea what you meant, but that is what I saw and thought reading your comment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by intransit1217 View Post
    I've read, on more than one occasion, the LHT does fantastic loaded and not so well unloaded.
    I have heard the LHT rides better loaded, but I haven't heard they do "not so well unloaded." I ride mine loaded and unloaded. I like it either way. Unloaded it is nice because it feels like a rocket by comparison. I usually ride the the bags on with a few odds and ends in them anyway, but when I take them off, it rides fine and it feels nice. Sometimes I think people over-inflate their tires when riding unloaded.

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    I'm trying to figure out what I could do on some other bike that I haven't done on my trusty 1982 Trek 720.

    Lightweight off-road bike-packing - Check. I was doing this before there was a name for it and when the widest tires I could find were Specialized Tri-Crosses in 700 X 35.

    Four-pannier many thousands of miles trips (I'm the mule who carries all the communal gear) - Check.

    Sporty riding - Check. I put on a nice pair of sew-ups and rode a double century in less than eight hours.

    Commuting - Check. It was my go-to bike for all my none-trivial commuting needs (in town commuting is done on a beater). What could be better for fifty to one hundred mile round-trip commutes than a nice touring bike?

    I ride it where others choose mountain bikes with no huge performance losses until we get to insane descents (which aren't really my cup of tea anyway). I ride it where others are on their modern road bikes with no obvious lack of speed and handling. I even used it for time trials, back when time trials were done on road bikes.

    Is it perfect? Of course not. In order to not lose energy on those long chain stays, one has to keep a high cadence. This keeps me in shorter cranks than might be fastest up the hills, but certainly adds to my endurance. Sure, even with modern components it weighs more than a nice road bike, but not so much that it's likely to be the difference between staying with the group and getting dropped (although it could be a handy excuse). Add a few unpaved hills onto the route and I'm the only one who can roll without fear of pinch flats. Heck, add in some crappy chip-seal and my wider tires give me a speed edge over the 21 mm 140 psi folks.

    I'm so happy with my vintage touring frame that I'm considering building up another one with a bias towards lighter components.

  22. #22
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    And to stir the pot up even more...

    Because we travel at least annually by plane and because of the big fees airlines are charging for boxes identifiable for having bikes in them, we have opted for Bike Friday Pocket Llamas as touring bikes because they fit in suitcases.

    We still have our other touring bikes, for me a Fuji Touring and Thorn Club Tour, and for Machka a Club Tour and her Marinoni Cyclo, and they will continue to serve us as comfortable moderate to heavyweight touring bikes.

    We even have lightweight bikes, including a Ti bike that I hitched a trailer to for an overnight tour that proved as successful as any other I have done. Undoubtedly, I can adapt the Ti bike to lightweight extended touring, if I so desired. And my fixed gear, which uses an old Shogun 400 frame served as a touring bike in 2007 through France and Belgium and Germany.

    I have pondered CX bikes, but I ask why? We have done randonnees that included a large gravel road component, and our touring bikes including the BFs can cope with gravel quite well, depending on tyre choice. We also have mountain bikes that excel on gravel, mud and dirt as well as rock. I can't really justify a CX bike for what they are designed to do, for gravel grinding, or for other general touring, because I/we already have the tools for all that except the CX-racing (which I don't currently have an interest in).

    And as a poster in the Addiction thread has shown often, you can ride and have fun in CX races on old MTBs as well as you can on the plastic fantastics.

    By the way, my old Fuji Touring did everything when I lived without owning a motor vehicle. Just like B.Carefree, it commuted, toured, randonneed, raced, pacelined, and did the beer runs. It wasn't the greatest bike in the world, but it generally was all I had at the time. I eventually changed the fork, which transformed its rideability, but that is another story... and it is a bit like grandma's axe with all the component changes. But it is a bike very dear to my heart for the places it took me and the experiences it helped me enjoy.
    Last edited by Rowan; 06-07-15 at 09:36 PM.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
    That's more than a little tendentious, isn't it?
    I don't really think that promoting, if that is what I am doing, touring bikes in the touring forum is a controversial point of view. The tendency to tendentiousness is probably on your side of the card, not that it matters either way.

    I was hoping people could have some fun with my point of view rather than start a flame war. In the spirit of disclosure, I have toured extensively on classic touring bikes. I really like touring bikes but I'm not certain whether I will continue to use them going forward since I'd like to lighten my touring load.
    There isn't enough info to know whether that is silly or not, but on the average it is. An inch or so more stay, and a few thou more wall thickness. That is nothing. And as I pointed out the upweighting, at the average is actually in the normal range, most people are riding bikes that are too racy for them, in the road stylings. Americans are incapable of buying sensible bikes in the main. For something to take off it has to represent a personality enhancing self delusion. Like the idea we climb mountains, or race, or do difficult tricks, or are Green, etc... Bikes are popular based on what people wish they were, not on what they do.

    The point is that historic touring bikes are sensible bikes from post war UK styling. They were not designed for carrying 4 panniers, etc... And they are already designed for light touring in a country and time when one could find a B&B or youth hostel for very reasonable rates. It wasn't credit card touring, since nobody had to go into debt to do it, but it was that idea. You can absolutely ride lighter gear, particularly if you are very much towards the light end of the spectrum, but the idea the classic touring bike is an LHT, a truck, is just marketing.

    (1) I understand that the frame weight difference isn't much but there is considerably more variation than you suggest in wall thicknesses for touring bikes. This page for example has a nice diagram showing the differences in wall thicknesses between Reynolds 531c and 531st: https://www.worldclasscycles.com/JACKSON-TOUR-FRAME.htm
    Of course there is a wide possible range available, we have folks here who weight 100 and 300, my numbers are not for the universe of all frames but the difference in a standard touring frame, and road frame. You can make all kinds of other choices depending on various real or idiotic scenarios, but the basic gap between types in narrow. Even the difference between an all carbon frame and a steel frame is trivial. My wife weighs 100 pounds and somehow manages to enjoy cycling on her steel mountain bike. As against that, the weight weeny endeavours of most are pathetic winging.

    But you're going down a rabbit hole on this one. Touring bikes typically have longer chain stays in addition to thicker tubing. That's a plus when carrying gear in panniers but a bit of a performance drag when going lightweight in touring.
    It's not a performance drag for light touring. Such light touring savants as Jobst Brandt of the Bicycle Wheel fame, specified his frame builder use all the available length of the stays, for the better ride. His specialty was credit card touring in the alps. But again, stay length is completely trivial weight wise. It is a fair bet that if all you know about bikes is how to read weight differences, you don't know very much.


    Not a huge deal but it is a difference.My point is that if going lightweight with your touring gear, you can ride a lot of different bikes and not just a classic touring bike.
    You can, and if you go custom you may get some interesting options, but off the rack the classic touring bike is the bike you should be after, the other options are designed for very different tasks. And there is nothing new about this path. We did touring back in the 70s on racing bikes, as it was all we had. My parents did it on racing influenced bikes in the 40s.


    (2) Touring bikes designed for touring off road will work well for fully loaded touring even if you stick to roads but they do give you more options. Take a look at the frame geometry on the velo orange camargue or the REI mazama. Those are fine all purpose touring bikes that can take a pretty fat tire.
    There is nothing about classic touring bikes that rules out fat tires. I think there is a difference between bikes that are looking for trouble (which could be a touring objective for some) and wider tires. I would never do a combined road tour with much over 1.5 tires. But it doesn't cost anything to have the ability to put fatter tires on there.

    I understand you disagree about the utility of touring bikes designed for off road touring or touring with lighter gear on a lighter bike but there's a heck of a difference between a difference in opinion and thinking that something you disagree with is nonsense.
    No, I think touring bikes for offroad are fine, it is really a red hearing in the overall rant which is about light versus classic touring. What is meant by offroad could be a subject of argument. Literally offroad, you can use any touring bike for a lot of it. But there comes a point where 4" tires aren't even enough. At some point you need a special bike, but not just because you are riding dirt. The parts that were nonsense though very widely held, are excess concern with weight on frames that vary only very slightly, and the idea that classic touring bikes are somehow designed to carry tons of weight. It's americans who added the extra rack and all that jazz, the classic bikes were light and 3 speed. My mom who is now 88 was touring in the UK post war and the bike that was recommended for her was a three speed (single speeds were the norm), drop bar racing style classic touring bike, that had a rack and a pair of saddle bags. Nothing has changed in 60 years, there is no new.

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    I am currently building up a classic touring bike in AL frame, with maybe a carbon fork. It is hard to see how much weight one can save, over that. With carbon the cost would be around 350 all in. It would still be a mule for 4 bag travel as required. And one doesn't have to do foolish things with no purpose.

    The BF calls me too. Unfortunately AC has just cut back on the bag size, and I don't think any bike will fit in the new size, not for 58 CM, but I haven't actually looked into it with care.

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    Quote Originally Posted by djb View Post
    no, but I can say p3co.

    have no idea what you meant, but that is what I saw and thought reading your comment.
    D2R2 | Franklin Land Trust

    Might be worth the drive down. The 180K, which I did not do, has 15,900' of climbing. You can camp the night before and after for a small fee, and they feed you well before, during and after. Includes a free beer. I went to high school in Deerfield. Beautiful country.

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