I created a post recently asking everyone for input on what kind of bike would make the best commuter (see thread here: http://www.bikeforums.net/commuting/134982-help-me-pick-best-commuter-bike.html#post1533352). Much of the feedback I got advised I go with a touring bike (or light touring bike). After looking at some touring bikes as well as learning more about touring in general I'd like to get some feedback on this section of the board. Touring looks really cool. I live in San Diego and I know there are tours all the time in So Cal (as well as the big ones from Nor Cal). I'd like to buy something that I can use for my daily commute but that could also work as a great touring bike. I'd also like to buy from a indie bike company (hopefully in CA) if possible. So far I've heard of SOMA but haven't heard reviews on their bikes.
Also what's the best way to prepare for a tour and what are the essentials I would need to bring along?
As far as bike suggestions... I rekon that as many respondents as you get, there will be near that many suggestions -- and likely all with much merit.
After dabbling in a newer aluminum road bike, I find that steel frames are just more forgiving (on my old bones) over the long haul (urban commuting and touring).
I did commuting and touring years ago on 70's steel bike (Dawes/Azuki/Jeunet/Schwinn). There is something timeless about these beasts, and many of the new generation steel frames share much of their mojo. A lot of folks just modify a decent 80's/90's Steel Trek frame with newer components and do well.
I am currently breaking in a Jamis Aurora that was somewhat customized by the seller (NOS frame, lots of braze-ons, tricked out w/Fenders, slightly wider range cassette, bar-end indexed shifters, Cyclone Cranks, threadless headset/Stem). I am very happy so far, and even happier with the price I paid. I intend to push it deep into the cold season as a commuter and do some touring/light next spring/summer
I'm sure a few travellers can offer suggestions for custom/indie shops. Personally, I don't have tons of $$ to go custom, so I am happy with what I have.
Mad bike riding scientist
I love my aluminum Cannondale but it's not for everyone. Without a load it is stiff. Very stiff! With a touring load (40-50 lbs), it is a joy to ride. That stiffness is dampened by the load and it still remains stiff enough to not be whipping on fast down hills. But I am a large guy. It might not work as well for someone lighter.
Originally Posted by Sigurdd50
I bought my daughter a Fuji Touring this spring and she used it with me last month to do a section of the Lewis and Clark Trail. The bike performed flawlessly. We did replace the rear rack but other than that, we never had a problem. That includes 2 months of training with weight and the ride itself. She did say that it was a handful on down hills at over 35 but that's kinda a stupid speed with a touring load.
I do have an old steel touring bike but I don't use it for touring anymore. The Cannondale is just a better touring bike for me.
You can check out this bikes by Trek. Good value for the price, (life time warrenty) and can be used for touring with about +/- 80 $ more for mudguards and recks.
As for information on what to bring along on tour check out the book by...
Richard A. Levett ( The essential touring cyclist)
Soma is a California company, but their bikes are made in Taiwan. They are pretty much the west coast version of Surly. Bruce Gordon makes some pretty nice touring bikes (www.bgcycles.com) in California. And of course, there are lots of custom frame builders (Sycip, Soulcraft, etc.) but that is a pretty expensive option.
I would recommend the Bianchi Volpe, the Novara Randonee (only at REI), or the Trek 520 . All steel framed touring bikes that are reasonably priced. My main road bike is a Surly Cross Check which I love for its versatility - I have two sets of wheels and it can easily be converted from road bike to touring bike to cyclocross bike. It can also be a single speed, fixed gear, or 29er mountain bike with more extensive modifications. The complete bike version is in the same price range as the above bikes, but is not as suited for touring due to the lack of low gearing (I spec'd and built mine myself but that is a much more expensive option than buying a complete bike).
What's your budget, are you planning on loaded or supported tours and how's your mechanical ability? Those answers will go a LONG way to helping you decide. This is my touring bike: Photos of MY "new" tourer!
Originally Posted by sdsurfer
You have two approaches. One is to try to find a compromise bike, and the other is to buy a specialty bike, presumably for the use you take most seriously, and muddle through for the other use.
In this case I think it is easy. If you go to a touring bike, it should be fine for comuting, it would probably be better than many other compromises one sees out there. For instance, Mountain bikes are wonderful, and make good comuters, but if you comute on roads, you will pass a lot of mountain bikes on a touring bike, they tend to be a lot faster. If you go for a compromise touring bike, you may find it has some problems, like heel strike on the paniers, or a rough ride.
Another good compromise is MTB for touring. Not ideal for roads, but I don't know that you aren't planing to tour off-road. I have comuted on just about every style of bike known to man, and don't consider it a terribly demanding use. For one thing, you get to do the same trip day after day. So let's say driving up that gargantuan hill on nobby 2" MTB tires isn't ideal, after you have made it a few times, your body gets to know the route real well, and it isn't a big deal.
Anyway, figure out the use you really want to be styling for, and go all out on that one.
If you decide on a touring bike, Search here for "frame, build, surly, canondale, nashbar, 520" You should get lots of hits.
I have a Bianchi Volpe that I commute on practically everyday. I've done some offroad touring (on another bike) but I've always been curious how much abuse the Volpe could take from a loaded road tour. I know that the widest rear tires I can put on it is 32's *maybe* 35's. The steel frame has all the proper mounts for loaded touring and rides beautifully. Anyone know how rugged this bike really is?
Originally Posted by Thor29