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  1. #1
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    Touring bike frame question?

    Assuming it is not a "?mart" bike. Do bike frame really break that often? Can't a $400 bike from the LBS be built into a "loaded tourer", wheels and components not withstanding...........Sam

  2. #2
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    I don't think frame breakage is the issue. What is very difficult to find is a $400 bike that has suitable touring geometry and all the brazeons for front and rear racks, 3 bottles, and fenders. All of these can be rigged, of course (except the geometry).

  3. #3
    Senior Member xilios's Avatar
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    My wifes, Trek 2006 7.2 WSD, less than $400. Geometry very close to the 520.
    42-32-22 with 11-32 8 speed, brooks saddle, tubus racks and butterfly bars.

  4. #4
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    For a lot less money you can pick up a suitable, old rigid mountain bike and turn into a full tourer with some tinkering....
    Last edited by roadfix; 11-29-05 at 01:24 PM.
    .cinelli.olympic.surly.long.haul.trucker.kona.ku.surly.steamroller.
    .litespeed.classic.litespeed.firenze.bianchi.pista.dean.colonel.plus.more.

  5. #5
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    If you want a touring frame on the cheap, avoid the department stores and buy a Kona Dew. If you add drop bars and DiaCompe 287V levers with some bar-end friction shifters, you've got a well made, durable, comfortable tourer for about $400 (after you sell the stock MTB bars, shifters, and brake levers on e-Bay).

  6. #6
    Senior Member metal_cowboy's Avatar
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    Last edited by metal_cowboy; 11-29-05 at 02:06 PM.
    Rivendell Alantis, Rivendell Rambouillet, Klein Adroit, Co Motion Big AL

  7. #7
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    I keep hearing that steel is the way to go with a touring frame. Myth or truth?

  8. #8
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    Quote Originally Posted by ellenDSD
    I keep hearing that steel is the way to go with a touring frame. Myth or truth?
    Both myth and truth! Steel is an excellent material for bicycle frames, but design plays a larger role than materials in final performance.

    I could buy a steel "water pipe" frame from a department store and (despite being steel) the frame wouldn't be half as good for touring as a well-made aluminum frame.

    Good touring frames can be made from any material commonly used for bike frames - steel, aluminum, titanium, carbon fiber, or any mix of the above. It is the design that makes for a good touring frame.

    What design characteristics are desired? That is a debatable question, but IMHO, the following are important:

    1. Sufficient strength for loaded touring - many "racing" frames are built with little or no safety factor in terms of the load they can bear without failure. A touring frame must be robust enough to tolerate anticipated loads with a generous safety factor.

    2. Relaxed frame angles - Most road bicycles built today (and for the past decade or two) have head-tubes and seat-tubes built with extremely upright angles relative to the horizontal. These bikes with 73 and even 74 degree tube angles will steer extremely "fast" which is of advantage to a racer trying to avoid a pile of spilled riders in front of her/him. The lack of "hands-off" stability of such upright angles make for a very twitchy ride when trying to do loaded touring, however. Fast steering is a menace to the touring rider, who is better served by 71.5 to 72.5 degree frame angles.

    3. Generous wheelbase - Most road bicycles built today (and for the past decade or two) have extremely little fork rake and very short chain-stays (typically 41 or 42 cm). The short wheelbase that these design choices produce again provides twitchy steering that does not serve the tourist well. Longer chain-stays allow panniers to be fitted without the risk of heel-strike, also.

    4. Adequate fittings for panniers, multiple water bottles, front racks, and (preferably) spoke-holders - Most road bicycles (as mentioned repeatedly above) come with a complement of fittings that are appropriate for racers - not tourists. The additional fittings should be part of the frame construction and not bolted on as an afterthought.

    If I were to specify an ideal touring frame for myself (may not apply to you at all), I'd want the following:

    71.5 degree head angle
    72 degree seat angle
    48 cm chain stays with generous fork rake
    carbon fork and seat stays
    titanium tubing for the main triangle

    Such a bike is NOT the best choice for most tourists. Since I have "clown feet" (size 13) the extra-long chain stays are needed to avoid heel strike on panniers. The laid-back angles accommodate riding on both paved roads and gravel/dirt. The carbon fork and seat-stays (hopefully) provide some flex at the expense of power transfer to provide a supple ride while maintaining light weight.

    Your money - your choice.
    Last edited by FarHorizon; 11-29-05 at 02:47 PM. Reason: spelling

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    Both myth and truth! Your money - your choice.
    Thank you for the information - a great help

  10. #10
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    Quote Originally Posted by ellenDSD
    Thank you for the information - a great help
    And worth every penny you paid for it! Jest aside - happy shopping & try before you buy!

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