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  1. #1
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    My nephew's family will retire within 5 years to Australia. Plans might be to cross Australia or North America on bike. Which tourer would you get to last for really serious tours and maybe the rest of you life.
    Titanium, steel? Which brands of each. Think titanium would last the rest of our lives without any frame warp under maybe repeated 60 pound loads. ?
    Friend recommends a Litespeed Tourer..Did not know they made a tourer. Whats your pick.Think my wife will take it better if I can keep it for under US $ 4,000.

  2. #2
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    Get bike fridays. They are like workhorses and the suitcases convert to trailers. They are just the ultimate in utility touring bikes.

    Koffee

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    I'd opt for steel... Appart for weight, I never saw any use for titanium (and even then, frames are only a very tiny a fraction of the weight). Any good touring bike would do a good job for your diverse project. If you plan on crossing central Asia, the Andes or Africa, you might want to get a modified mountain bike or what some call 'expedition bikes'... If your plan is to be mobile, take many planes, buses and trains... a foldable bike, like the bike friday mentioned by Koffee, would be another good choice.

    In other words, the best touring bike there is depend on your definition of touring!

  4. #4
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    Bike Friday is a good bike but they use an odd size tire that you can't find in a lot of places nor do will you find an assortment of tires or tubes to choose from.

    Steel is the most widely used material in touring bikes, plus if by some odd chance you break the frame or fork you can have a local welder put it back together cheap.

    There are two ways to go with a touring bike, you can either go cheap $1200, but still have a good bike and thats the Trek 520 (http://www.trekbikes.com/bikes/2004/road/520.jsp) which comes equipped with racks. Or if you want something a bit more radical there's the Sakkit Expedition 26 (http://www.coinet.com/~beckman/bikeframes.html) which I think is the most thought out touring bike and probably the most rugged I've found. OR if you want a artsy fartsy type of touring bike then there's the Atlantis (http://www.rivendellbicycles.com/htm...tisframes.html).

    Regardless what you get, you want components that are not odd ballish, can be fixed on the side of the road, parts are available anywhere in the world, simple to operate and to repair. The Sakkit even has reduntant systems such as lighting and shifting because you never know what might go wrong 100's of miles from a bike shop. All the bikes I mentioned are simple and easy to get parts for, and all are made of steel.

  5. #5
    No longer in Wimbledon... womble's Avatar
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    Gah- don't get a Ti touring bike! If you're travelling in strange places, the last thing you want to worry about is your bright and shiney $4000 bike being stolen. Not a big problem for Oz, or probably for much of North America, but if you're keeping it a long time you might be travelling to less salubrious destinations.

    I'd argue against getting an overly expensive touring bike of any material as you're going to be constantly worried about having it damaged by airport gorillas or scratched when loaded into the cargo compartments of long haul buses. I met an American in Patagonia who'd wasted half his 2 week annual holiday checking at the Santiago airport every day to see if his custom tourer had been found after being misdirected by his airline. His worry for the bike had stopped him from just taking the first week off to go sightseeing instead. Ironically, when we saw his sweet, custom bike, we realised that tyre clearance wasn't enough to handle gravelly Patagonian roads without chipping his frame anyway. A $4000 bike is $2000 of functional bike and $2000 worth of sentimental art- that's fine so long as you recognise that part of the purchase is toy value rather than actual performance.

    Material doesn't seem to be overly important anyway: I've got friends who have circled Australia on aluminium Cannondales, with surfboards attached. My travelling companions had ridden Anchorage-Ushuaia (33,000km over 18 months) on $300 aluminium frames, and another friend who rode half of Asia on a '90s steel Harro. Most these frames are still being used ten years later, and those that aren't have just been replaced with nicer looking ones as salaries increase.

    Get steel if worring about fatigue life is going to keep you awake at night.

  6. #6
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Womble. My top price range was not some kind of fashion statement; but thought maybe, money spent to assure a frame that will last over difficult conditions and be durable.
    The idea of waiting at an airport for a lost bike is a good point to consider. I have had problems with airlines transporting bikes. How soon we forget.
    Rivendale. possiblity if not too expensive for airline neglect.

  7. #7
    No longer in Wimbledon... womble's Avatar
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    I can see why paying over, say, 2 grand for a race bike *might* sense- weight is important at the edge of human performance and ultralightweight bikes need some serious engineering. A tourer, in the other hand, just has to be well designed and strong. "Well designed" doesn't necessary mean high R&D costs that need recouping. "Strong" quite often means thicker tubes, which should be relatively cheap. Workmanship comes into it, but after a certain point, workmanship gets into beautiful lugs or artistic powdercoating and doesn't contribute to the longevity of the bike.

    If you've got an upper limit of 4 grand, how about spending half that and keeping the rest as an emergency reserve if you ever destroy the bike?

    Mmm.... Rivendell. That company's marketing fits me to a T Yeah, I've found airline travel to be okay on my bike structurally, but it sure has messed up the paintwork. Were I to get a dedicated tourer, I'd look carefully into the S&S couplers that some of the custom makers offer- they could make travelling so much easier.

  8. #8
    Virtulized geek MsMittens's Avatar
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    I can see why paying over, say, 2 grand for a race bike *might* sense- weight is important at the edge of human performance and ultralightweight bikes need some serious engineering. A tourer, in the other hand, just has to be well designed and strong.
    Womble, you've never priced a Bruce Gordon, have you?

    I just paid over $3,000 (CDN) for my new tourer. IMO, the best serious touring bike you can get is a) one that fits you to a T b) steel without disc brakes. This is particularly true if you are going into areas that may not have shops with the "latest and greatest". You want to have a bike that you can recover in worst case scenarios (and assume that the worst case can happen) as well as can handle a load (good racks can help -- Old Man Mountain Racks look very strong). Additionally, consider what kind of terrain you intend on riding on -- road, gravel, create your own path (?). This can help decide what kind of bike you need and, if you travel with one, what kind of trailer.

    I personally, when I get to the point of doing multiple week tours, will be getting a front rack and panniers and load everything on my bike. I don't like the idea of a trailer for touring but that's me.

  9. #9
    Senior Member biodiesel's Avatar
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    check out the xtracycle website.

    A different approach to load hauling, very functional for loaded touring and usable with different bike styles. Great with odd sizes and expanding loads (ie large water needs or food transport)

    Love the bikes at Rivendell too, the folks at the shop are super and great to talk to, will help with packing lists etc.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by womble
    Yeah, I've found airline travel to be okay on my bike structurally, but it sure has messed up the paintwork. .
    If you cover your entire frame with foam tube pipe insulation, found at any hardware store cheap, you can avoid the hassles of paint damage. Also wrap loose articles like handle bars, pedals, and seat post, and you can even wrap components if your really concerned with bubble wrap.

  11. #11
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    Bruce Gordan makes an excellent bike, but when I compared Bob Beckman Designs and his Sakkit Expedition 26 it appeared to me that the Sakkit was a better thought out design. BUT there is no way to compare the two frames with each other to find out which is better design. Bruce Gordan welds his frames together while Bob Beckman uses lugs which I personally think is the better way, and he uses OverSize top and down tubes. Both builders are into touring and are very knowlegeable in that area, but compare the two and see what you think because obviously choosing a bike is a personal thing...IF you go this route of course. http://www.coinet.com/~beckman/bikeframes.html

  12. #12
    No longer in Wimbledon... womble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MsMittens
    Womble, you've never priced a Bruce Gordon, have you?

    I just paid over $3,000 (CDN) for my new tourer. IMO, the best serious touring bike you can get is a) one that fits you to a T b) steel without disc brakes. This is particularly true if you are going into areas that may not have shops with the "latest and greatest". You want to have a bike that you can recover in worst case scenarios (and assume that the worst case can happen) as well as can handle a load (good racks can help -- Old Man Mountain Racks look very strong). Additionally, consider what kind of terrain you intend on riding on -- road, gravel, create your own path (?). This can help decide what kind of bike you need and, if you travel with one, what kind of trailer.

    I personally, when I get to the point of doing multiple week tours, will be getting a front rack and panniers and load everything on my bike. I don't like the idea of a trailer for touring but that's me.
    I had a look at that site a couple of days ago. Yeah, I know that you can buy great tourers for that much money. I just don't think that they deliver all that much more than bikes that cost a lot less. The ability to successfully tour, IMO, is based more around personality and resourcefulness than on the bike.

    Yeah, the ability to handle front racks is a given with good tourer. Trailers do suck for gravel and hills, and front panniers add a huge amount of stability. They make air transport simpler too.

  13. #13
    No longer in Wimbledon... womble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by froze
    If you cover your entire frame with foam tube pipe insulation, found at any hardware store cheap, you can avoid the hassles of paint damage. Also wrap loose articles like handle bars, pedals, and seat post, and you can even wrap components if your really concerned with bubble wrap.
    I've taken mine to places where hardware stores, bubble wrap or foam padding are nonexistant. I also view scuff marks as a rite of passage for a bike- a babied bike is a bike that has limited my travelling

  14. #14
    Virtulized geek MsMittens's Avatar
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    The ability to successfully tour, IMO, is based more around personality and resourcefulness than on the bike.
    True to a degree I find. I used to use my DeVinci Patriot MTB for tours (Toronto-Montreal, Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal, PEI X 2, Shediac to Fundy to Shediac to Halifax to Digby). I believed very much as you did -- I didn't see what was so special about a bike I was already using versus an "expensive" touring bike.

    My SO suggested that I look into a serious touring bike after a few issues with my last tour and given that I was doing more touring each year. I wanted to get another DeVinci since I had liked their MTB and it seemed to fit me. But what I found, as a shorter person, was that many of the off-the-shelf frames just didn't work for me. Going a custom model (I got a Gunnar Rock Tour custom) worked far better. I've found in the short time since I've had the bike that the rides are far more enjoyable, I can last longer between breaks and I go a bit faster (helpful on hot days when looking for cool spots).

    Now, my bike ended up $3K CDN including taxes, rack, components, etc. along with a custom paint job. The frame alone would be around $1200USD (I think the paint job I requested -- Waterford paints -- adds another 2-300 to that price). If you already have decent components you can get a good frame and then move the components over.

    So.. in the end, I do find it does make a difference.

  15. #15
    No longer in Wimbledon... womble's Avatar
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    I'd agree that if you have serious issues with bike fit, then spending more for a custom frame is a good idea.

    The Gunnar looks kind of interesting- it has disc brake and suspension fork options. Is it supposed to be convertible between a mountain and touring setup or something?

  16. #16
    Virtulized geek MsMittens's Avatar
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    Is it supposed to be convertible between a mountain and touring setup or something?
    Not sure. I actually went with a rigid Surly fork and cantilever brakes. I also have 105 with LX (mix of road/MTB) and will eventually upgrade each of those to higher level components, particularly the LX to XT.

  17. #17
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    I recently purchased a Koga Miyata World Traveler and love it. www.kogausa.com
    They just started selling them in the U.S. XT all around, quality rims, tires, comes with
    racks, lights, brooks conquest saddle (which is almost broken in finally) and a bunch of
    other gadgets. The ride is really comfortable. I rode a steel bike for 11 years and was a little
    worried about the aluminum ride but they have designed this bike just right. I'd encourage you to check
    them out and take one for a spin!

    Best of luck...

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jakus237
    I recently purchased a Koga Miyata World Traveler and love it. www.kogausa.com
    They just started selling them in the U.S. XT all around, quality rims, tires, comes with
    racks, lights, brooks conquest saddle (which is almost broken in finally) and a bunch of
    other gadgets. The ride is really comfortable. I rode a steel bike for 11 years and was a little
    worried about the aluminum ride but they have designed this bike just right. I'd encourage you to check
    them out and take one for a spin!

    Best of luck...
    I saw this bike upclose and it's the best tourer I've ever seen. It's a solid product all the way around and all components were top of the line including the tires. You can't even compare the Trek 520 or the Cannondale bike to this one because it's off the shelf made for touring and no modifacations are needed. Unfortunately, the price puts it higher than any other tourer on the market. You can tell right away this bike was thought out for touring.

  19. #19
    cyclotourist
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    I'd get an Atlantis. Okay I've already got one.

    Steel frame, long chainstays, lots of tire clearance- set it up any way you want, flat bars, drop bars, moustache bars, whatever. Any kind of racks, tubus, nitto, bruce gordon, whatever. Put low gears on it for hauling those big loads up the high passes, and fenders cause its gonna rain sometime.

    I'd stay away from aluminum frames, too many durability issues, and don't get a bike friday unless you want to be part of a cult.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by skookum
    I'd stay away from aluminum frames, too many durability issues, and don't get a bike friday unless you want to be part of a cult.
    The distributor of the Koga told me the frame had an excellant warranty and they never had one fail. If you saw the thickness of the tubs and the heavyness of the frame, I doubt unless you intend to do "Down Hill" type riding that you'll brake this frame.

    As for the Bike Friday, yes it is a cult! However, while your lugging a bike box to the airport these Friday owners will be already sitted and drinking their Starbucks coffee!

  21. #21
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    The Atlantis looks like a good frame but the Surly Karate Monkey looks to be just as versitile a frame for building up a nice touring bike, but for less $.

  22. #22
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    The Atlantis looks like a good frame but the Surly Karate Monkey looks to be just as versitile a frame for building up a nice touring bike, but for less $.

  23. #23
    Senior Member gregw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by womble
    I can see why paying over, say, 2 grand for a race bike *might* sense- weight is important at the edge of human performance and ultralightweight bikes need some serious engineering. A tourer, in the other hand, just has to be well designed and strong. "Well designed" doesn't necessary mean high R&D costs that need recouping. "Strong" quite often means thicker tubes, which should be relatively cheap. Workmanship comes into it, but after a certain point, workmanship gets into beautiful lugs or artistic powdercoating and doesn't contribute to the longevity of the bike.

    If you've got an upper limit of 4 grand, how about spending half that and keeping the rest as an emergency reserve if you ever destroy the bike?

    Mmm.... Rivendell. That company's marketing fits me to a T Yeah, I've found airline travel to be okay on my bike structurally, but it sure has messed up the paintwork. Were I to get a dedicated tourer, I'd look carefully into the S&S couplers that some of the custom makers offer- they could make travelling so much easier.
    "If you've got an upper limit of 4 grand, how about spending half that and keeping the rest as an emergency reserve if you ever destroy the bike?"

    This makes the most sense so far, a cannondale t-2000 is about $1500, with a few minor changes and additions it will still be under 2K and then you have a whole bike contingency. On the other hand if 4K for a Litespeed Blueridge (probably pulling a BOB trailer) is not a money issue, than go for it. As it has been said, you will pay an extra 2K for titanium, but when money is not an issue, it is the ultimate bike frame material (The fatigue strength of steel and the weight of aluminum, forget the yarn of welding your steel frame in bfe). If price is not an issue you will not lay awake at night worrying about anyway. Unfortunalely the Litespeed blueridge is not a pure touring bike, it would work fine with a trailer, but the geometry is still more of a cross bike, in my opinion.

    Touring is not about the bike, its about the journey, pick any of the bikes mentioned in this tread, for whatever reasons and enjoy yourself. There is not a bike mentioned above that I would not jump on and take off in a minute, on any length tour.

  24. #24
    cyclotourist
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    The distributor of the Koga told me the frame had an excellant warranty and they never had one fail. If you saw the thickness of the tubs and the heavyness of the frame, I doubt unless you intend to do "Down Hill" type riding that you'll brake this frame.

    As for the Bike Friday, yes it is a cult! However, while your lugging a bike box to the airport these Friday owners will be already sitted and drinking their Starbucks coffee!
    Aluminum as a material has durability issues that you can't get away from, no matter what the distributor says. I would never buy a long distance touring bike with an aluminum frame.

    As far as I am concerned Starbucks is a cult too, so the bike Friday people will fit right in.
    Who am I to talk? Rivendell is one of the biggest bike cults going and I have bought into that one.

    You can tour on any kind of bike and I think people get too hung up on is this bike better than that bike when the differences between them are pretty minor. The important thing is to just go.

  25. #25
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    Sure the Bike Friday owners are sipping coffee...they have to do something while they wait days for their odd ball parts to get shipped to wherever their at!!!

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