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Old 08-30-17, 05:32 PM   #1
Kahrpistols
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Newbie Touring Guy Here

Hi guys! I've been seriously road cycling for two years now and I'm finally ready to start a long-term tour. I've been reading online about camping/touring tips, but I was wondering if anyone had some links to a handy "everything I need to know" website or blog so that I can make sure I'm not blindsided by something.

I am planning to do a mostly asphalt/gravel tour around the east coast & west coast ... whether I'll do the middle of America is still tbd. Might take a train across or something.

I have an aluminium cross bike with a carbon fork and carbon aero rims (24 spokes). I tried to attach the photo but I wasn't able to, so here's a link to a photo of the bike: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxZ...ew?usp=sharing Hopefully the photo can answer any questions you may have, otherwise ask away!

First, do you think I should look at getting some dedicated touring wheels or will my carbon wheels do? I'm planning to buy a trailer so that I can offset the majority of the weight of my stuff on there; therefore I don't expect to have greater than 200-220 lbs on the bike itself (I weigh somewhere around 175-180 lbs). I do expect to put a rear rack with either two panniers or a top bag/two panniers, but if I can get away with fitting everything in the trailer I may forgo the rack.

Second, I currently run 28 mm tires - should I look at getting 32 or even 35 mm tires? My frame has the clearance for up to 35 I think, but I like the rolling feel of the 28's. Should 28's be able to handle gravel pretty well?

Thanks!
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Old 08-30-17, 05:57 PM   #2
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Welcome Two good places to start.... I can't answer your other questions but I'm sure someone will.

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/

https://www.adventurecycling.org/
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Old 08-30-17, 07:32 PM   #3
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Welcome. You actually do not have to use wider/ taller tires because of your intention to use a trailer. Tourists generally use taller tires to avoid pinch flats with the gear on their bike, but since you want to try a trailer, your weight will be off the bike. You may want wider tires for the gravel riding though.
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Old 08-30-17, 07:41 PM   #4
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i regularly tour with 32's and a fairly heavily loaded bike so i would also say a trailer and 28's might be just the ticket. you may want to look into lower gears when towing the trailer.

you'll learn lots more from the other folks on here but let me just say welcome to touring. its a total gas and i can't believe i waited as many years as i did before i started touring.
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Old 08-30-17, 07:52 PM   #5
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Second the Adventure Cycling Assoc. link. The best maps and info in one place.


I will suggest that even with a trailer wider then club/racing tires is a very good idea. Unlike racing, when one gets a flat on a tour it's not a chance to get some training in. The tour continues and you still want to enjoy it. Andy.
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Old 09-02-17, 02:17 PM   #6
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Thanks for the tips! I've checked those websites out and they seem to contain a lot of what I was looking for.
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Old 09-02-17, 03:06 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Kahrpistols View Post
My frame has the clearance for up to 35 I think, but I like the rolling feel of the 28's. Should 28's be able to handle gravel pretty well?

Thanks!
Depends on the gravel. If it's flat, then for sure. As the incline grows, you need wider and wider tires with lower and lower pressure to maintain traction, both for pedaling up and for braking. I had grand ideas of doing a "white road" tour in Tuscany, which consists of gravel tertiary farm roads and such. Well, turns out the reason that those roads remain gravel is that they're steep as heck. Couldn't start (just spit pebbles out the back), couldn't stop (just locked up on top of the gravel and kept going) with a loaded Vaya on 35mm Schwalbes, and had to reroute to stay on pavement. Meanwhile, the White Rim Trail in Utah was a breeze on the same setup.

I live in California and have ridden road bikes, touring bikes, and mountain bikes all over. A mild gravel bike with 28s will surely get you anywhere in Iowa, but with a load it's going to be a struggle off-pavement on the west coast.
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Old 09-02-17, 03:17 PM   #8
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If you bring Money, you buy stuff as you go, rather than carry it with you on the bike..

Start out on weak wheels, you may have to replace them in the middle of the trip..

But people do head off on less than perfect gear.


Id not call them necessarily Touring Wheels , just adequate wheels for someone who desires to include touring on their riding choices..

I have a 24 spoke wheel set , but its a 16" wheel built around a 36 spoke hub .. 700c rim that's a bit sparse..

maybe go with an extra set of heavier duty wheels.. ? BoB trailers are popular ways of touring with camping gear.








...

Last edited by fietsbob; 09-02-17 at 03:24 PM.
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Old 09-02-17, 06:06 PM   #9
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Hi guys! I've been seriously road cycling for two years now and I'm finally ready to start a long-term tour.....
Try a short 3 day tour with your rig, throwing in a variety of terrains. Heck even just a loaded up day ride hitting some hilly gravel roads.

To me the bike looks on the fast/light/racy side. For extended touring, I'd want something more durable/versatile/heavier, with a more relaxed riding position and definitely lower gearing.

But thats me.

Do take the time to put it through some difficult paces, and see if it pans out for you.... before the big trip.
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Old 09-04-17, 09:14 AM   #10
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Try a short 3 day tour with your rig, throwing in a variety of terrains. Heck even just a loaded up day ride hitting some hilly gravel roads.

To me the bike looks on the fast/light/racy side. For extended touring, I'd want something more durable/versatile/heavier, with a more relaxed riding position and definitely lower gearing.

But thats me.

Do take the time to put it through some difficult paces, and see if it pans out for you.... before the big trip.
Ya, it's a bit on the racy side. I am thinking to do exactly that, a few trips of several days duration before I head out on the big one. If I have to buy a touring bike, I have no idea about what budget gets me a good bike as until now I was solely focused on road / racing bike technology & budgets. What should I look to spend to get a good touring bike if I need to get one?
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Old 09-04-17, 10:50 AM   #11
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But it's the middle that holds much of the magic - and holds it all together.

Pic - Misty, quiet morning in the Sandhills of Nebraska
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Old 09-04-17, 01:09 PM   #12
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Ya, it's a bit on the racy side. I am thinking to do exactly that, a few trips of several days duration before I head out on the big one. If I have to buy a touring bike, I have no idea about what budget gets me a good bike as until now I was solely focused on road / racing bike technology & budgets. What should I look to spend to get a good touring bike if I need to get one?
Ditto on the short trips. My $.02 is to hold off on committing to a particular load carrying setup or bike for "the big one". The big one is a continuation of the little ones and the little ones are the basis for choosing your set up for the big one. Not sure what "gravel/asphalt" means but if it means dirt roads I see no benefit from 28mm tires and 220lbs load on them. Once you start adding weight on the bike, or towing a trailer the theoretical benefit of smaller tiles is minuscule compared to the drag pulling a trailer, weight up a hill or chance of increased rim damage on rough surfaces. If it was always asphalt sure 28 mm but if you're on dicey surfaces go fatter.

Also touring is not racing. Leaving a little in the tank so you have energy for adapting to sleeping in strange places or starting the next day less than rested because of a rainstorm is better in the long run. The benefit of "performance" that only manifests itself at 95% efforts is meaningless when 75% effort keeps you on the bike for days.

Start with a minimalist set up on your existing bike with gear that can be transferred later if need be to another bike. A bundle under your handle bars, frame bag, seat bag. It looks like you frame can take a rear rack but don't bother using it for panniers, just a med small load on top.

I have not toured with a trailer. To me their utility is for people carrying extraordinary loads and that if you stick with average sized loads distributed on a bike so as to not screw up the handling you won't have to carry the weight of a trailer around. If your bike can't carry an average sized load, say two front panniers and misc. 10lb load on rear rack it might be worth considering a different bike. In my limited experience road, sport-tour, cyclocross bikes aren't designed for carrying a load primarily over the rear wheel, regardless if the wheel is up for it. The were designed for the load to be the rider and heavy rear loads screws up handling. Spreading the load out or using front low riders seems to me to the best way to tour with those bikes. That said most of my first tours were heavy rear loads and it was the most common set up back then. After I started doing more road riding I moved from sport tour bikes to road racing bikes and still toured but dropped the load to 15lbs of gear.

Wrt wheels go ahead and use the existing wheels then if you are pleased with the existing setup and bike go ahead and buy some affordable basic durable wheels for the big one.

Basically just outfit the bike just enough for the next trip. Apply what you learn to the next. If you accumulate enough tools and spare parts your bike for the big one might be the existing one with some mods, a built up frame with some parts from the old or a totally new beast. No reason to build The Bike for The Big One. Make your bike work for this one. Repeat.
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Old 09-04-17, 01:58 PM   #13
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Ditto on the short trips. My $.02 is to hold off on committing to a particular load carrying setup or bike for "the big one". The big one is a continuation of the little ones and the little ones are the basis for choosing your set up for the big one. Not sure what "gravel/asphalt" means but if it means dirt roads I see no benefit from 28mm tires and 220lbs load on them. Once you start adding weight on the bike, or towing a trailer the theoretical benefit of smaller tiles is minuscule compared to the drag pulling a trailer, weight up a hill or chance of increased rim damage on rough surfaces. If it was always asphalt sure 28 mm but if you're on dicey surfaces go fatter.

Also touring is not racing. Leaving a little in the tank so you have energy for adapting to sleeping in strange places or starting the next day less than rested because of a rainstorm is better in the long run. The benefit of "performance" that only manifests itself at 95% efforts is meaningless when 75% effort keeps you on the bike for days.

Start with a minimalist set up on your existing bike with gear that can be transferred later if need be to another bike. A bundle under your handle bars, frame bag, seat bag. It looks like you frame can take a rear rack but don't bother using it for panniers, just a med small load on top.

I have not toured with a trailer. To me their utility is for people carrying extraordinary loads and that if you stick with average sized loads distributed on a bike so as to not screw up the handling you won't have to carry the weight of a trailer around. If your bike can't carry an average sized load, say two front panniers and misc. 10lb load on rear rack it might be worth considering a different bike. In my limited experience road, sport-tour, cyclocross bikes aren't designed for carrying a load primarily over the rear wheel, regardless if the wheel is up for it. The were designed for the load to be the rider and heavy rear loads screws up handling. Spreading the load out or using front low riders seems to me to the best way to tour with those bikes. That said most of my first tours were heavy rear loads and it was the most common set up back then. After I started doing more road riding I moved from sport tour bikes to road racing bikes and still toured but dropped the load to 15lbs of gear.

Wrt wheels go ahead and use the existing wheels then if you are pleased with the existing setup and bike go ahead and buy some affordable basic durable wheels for the big one.

Basically just outfit the bike just enough for the next trip. Apply what you learn to the next. If you accumulate enough tools and spare parts your bike for the big one might be the existing one with some mods, a built up frame with some parts from the old or a totally new beast. No reason to build The Bike for The Big One. Make your bike work for this one. Repeat.
Seems like good advice. I'll definitely take it slow as I'm going with my wife and she's at a slightly lower fitness level so I'll have to go at her 75%
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Old 09-04-17, 07:44 PM   #14
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Seems like good advice. I'll definitely take it slow as I'm going with my wife and she's at a slightly lower fitness level so I'll have to go at her 75%
Ok, now you just reframed the whole conversation.
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Old 09-04-17, 08:53 PM   #15
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I was convinced I had mentioned that in the initial post but after rereading it I see that it's not in there...oops! Sorry, meant to mention that at the beginning
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Old 09-04-17, 09:20 PM   #16
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Hopefully the photo can answer any questions you may have, otherwise ask away!
I do expect to put a rear rack with either two panniers or a top bag/two panniers, but if I can get away with fitting everything in the trailer I may forgo the rack.
Thanks!

Those chainstays look pretty short. I think you'll end up with with your heel striking the panniers if you try that. I'd stick to the trailer and not bother trying to add rear panniers. I do agree with other posters to try a few short trips to see how it goes with your setup.
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Old 09-05-17, 05:18 PM   #17
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What kind of chainstay length do I want to avoid heel strike? I was hoping to add a rack and panniers to my wife's bike, which is an endurance model.

Also, should a Burley 100 lb capacity trailer & two top bags (two bikes) be enough for two people to tour indefinitely?
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Old 09-05-17, 08:19 PM   #18
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What kind of chainstay length do I want to avoid heel strike? I was hoping to add a rack and panniers to my wife's bike, which is an endurance model.

Also, should a Burley 100 lb capacity trailer & two top bags (two bikes) be enough for two people to tour indefinitely?
I've read 17 1/2 inches is a good guideline. It depends on a lot of factors including the specific panniers used and your shoe size. I mentioned chainstay length in my post because heel strike was an issue I ran into when I used a cyclocross bike for touring. I remedied the problem by buying an extra long rack and sliding my panniers to the rear of the rack. (I still use that rack with my current bike, but am tempted to buy a smaller, lighter rack)

For fair-weather touring, you should be more than fine with the gear you can fit in the trailer. I would still put a rear rack on your SO's bike so she can bring along some gear also. If heel strike is an issue with her bike, she could still tie the tent and/or sleeping system to the top of the rack. (I do like to use a front rack with the rear rack to balance the weight between the front and the back)

In most situations, you'll be able to resupply your food every 1 - 3 days so the bulky gear will be your sleep systems including tent and/or hammocks. You can get by with less clothing than you'd think if you plan and pack wisely. There are some posters on this forum who have become experts at packing small and light. Some say they can tour with less than 20lbs of gear, but there should be no need to make sacrifices if they compromise your comfort level too much. Maybe make a packing list and get all the gear together and look and see how much space you need?
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Old 09-05-17, 08:38 PM   #19
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I've never been passed by anyone pulling a trailer. I have passed numerous people pulling a trailer. Therefore I conclude that a trailer slows you down more than a traditional touring set up with a rack and panniers or other bags that attach directly to the bike. Could be wrong, having never pulled a trailer.
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Old 09-05-17, 09:06 PM   #20
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Mntbud, working on getting that list together now.

Alan, that's a pretty good argument for a trailer due to the different fitness levels between me and my wife, but I'll keep that in mind in case touring ups her levels and we want to go faster.
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Old 09-06-17, 04:56 AM   #21
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Mntbud, working on getting that list together now.

Alan, that's a pretty good argument for a trailer due to the different fitness levels between me and my wife, but I'll keep that in mind in case touring ups her levels and we want to go faster.
I've introduced my wife back to cycling last year. She now has four bikes in her personal stable, and craves a ride every day. She is the director of IT where she works, and cycling is a great de-stressor for her. I've watched her fitness level improve vastly over the last year. It happens gradually, and all you got to do is ride every day that you can.

Another thing that will keep her engaged is a properly-fitted bike. Be attentive. Make sure that her saddle, handlebars, grips, and everything is completely satisfactory. She'll be more comfortable and will be able to log more miles and more miles means more smiles!
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