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Old 01-02-06, 08:40 PM   #1
mike_khad1
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Touring Bike Recommendation

Hi everyone - I'm a fat old man who is trying to be a skinny old man. I am pedaling to work (13 miles each way) on a 19 year old Bianchi Strada. I am looking for a good touring bicycle to commute with and to go on longer unsupported trips.

I am considering the Burley Hudson, Cannondale T2000, or Kona Sutra. Does anyone have experience with these bicycles? Any feedback? Any other models that I should consider? I willing to spend up to 3K max, including panniers, racks, etc.
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Old 01-02-06, 09:09 PM   #2
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I'll toss in my .02 for the Bianchi Volpe. I love mine, if I only could only have 1 bike, that would be it. Here are my reasons for the love.

1 The geometry is about 1/2 way between a 'fast road bike' and a true touring bike. Gives you a good responsive ride, without it getting twitchy on you.

2. Fairly light but not so light that strength is an issue

3. Plenty of braize ons, (3 water bottles, front and rear racks)

4. Perfectly functional mix of components, not flashy, but very functional

5. Geared fairly low, for those of us that don't have 500 watts hiding away in our legs for hills.

6. It's steel, and for a lot of people that is a major factor.

7. About 800 bucks or so.

8. Room for fenders

Downsides:
1. Canti brakes. They 'can' be a bit fiddly to adjust, but they work well

2. Some people don't like the tires that come with it, 700x32 AllTerrain-ASaurus. They are a bit noisy and the aggressive tread doesn't roll as smooth as I'd like. I've swapped mine out for Panaracer Pasela Tour Guard 700x28's.

3. The brakes mean that you really need a rear rack that mounts to both sides of the stays, but that's the way MOST are.

4 They are sold out right now. Most folks on the forum are saying that their LBS won't be getting in any till Feb or so.

I've got mine hooked up with a Tubus Vega from The Touring Store . It's like the Tubus Fly, but uses 2 struts going from the rack to the seat stays, rather than the 1 on the Fly. (with the canti brakes, a single front mounting point wasn't really doable.

Yea, I'm biased, but like I said, it's the bike I'd grab if the house caught fire. It's also the bike I plan on using to ride the Brevet series this year.

Steve W
Who would probably grab his cats in a fire.
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Old 01-02-06, 09:14 PM   #3
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I think you'll like the Kona Sutra. You also might consider building a Surly Long Haul Trucker, which could be done very nicely to your tastes for between $1500-2000, leaving you plenty for panniers, lighting, and other accessories.
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Old 01-02-06, 09:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike_khad1
I am looking for a good touring bicycle to commute with and to go on longer unsupported trips.
I'll throw my .02 in as well. I just did a bunch of reading and looking around to find a bike exactly like what you describe.

The Bianchi Volpe is a great bike but it is also out of the US shops until 1st quarter of 06. Steel makes sense for the type of riding I was considering and the type of riding you describe. I had nearly decided on getting a Surly Long Haul Trucker which is a phenomenal touring bike (http://www.surlybikes.com/longhaul.html) but I was bothered by the idea of having a bike that was such a great tourer (sturdy and rugged) that it would be less of a commuter (not so nimble).

In the end, I decided to go with a Surly Crosscheck (http://www.surlybikes.com/crosscheck.html) which is generally considered to be one of the most versatile bike frames you can get. It's a tourer, commuter, cyclocross bike which can be easily converted to a fixed gear for city riding if you make that switch. After all the looking I did, I just couldn't beat the mix of durability, versatility, reputation, affordability, and desirability.

As for how I like it... can't say. It's on order. However, when I was comparing bikes many detractors spoke of the Surly's lower end components (Tiagra - the same as the Bianchi Volpe). However, when ordering from your Local Bike Shop you can specify a higher quality group of components (105s) which is what I did. You can see that build up here: http://www.surlybikes.com/virtual_CrossCheck.html My bike should come in this week and if it does I'll report back to let you know my initial thoughts.

Good luck deciding. The only thing I've found more nerve-racking than trying to decide on the right bike is having decided on one and waiting for it to arrive!! ;-)

Last edited by burbankbiker; 01-15-06 at 12:16 AM.
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Old 01-02-06, 09:26 PM   #5
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My two bits? I'd have the bike shop install Shimano Ultegra 10 speed onto your Bianchi and then ride it to death. It is almost impossible to find a better bike then you already have for the commuting you're doing.

If the bike is beat up, have the bike shop strip it down and have it powder coated and then put on new components and a set of Mavic Equipe wheels. It will cost you about the price of a pretty good new bike but then if anything happens to the old frame you can just buy a new frame and use all of the components on it.

Last edited by cyclintom; 01-03-06 at 08:31 AM.
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Old 01-02-06, 09:30 PM   #6
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I had a buddy who bought a Volpe and was horribly dissatisfied. He rode it into the ground after about 1 year. The low end shifters and hubs(Shimano), bottom bracket and pedals all disintegrated. He had to abandon a TX to OR trip due to some failed part or another. He did ride it constantly (living car free and all that), but it certainly wasn't lack of proper maintenace that cause these early failures. The design idea is good, but the execution leaves something to be desired.
Although $200 or so more expensive the Trek 520 has a somewhat better parts spec. I especially dig the fact they use old school bar end shifters, which are immune to 'rattle' and aren't nearly as complex as combo brake/shift levers. Minimizing complexity is important in the long empty miles across the country one would hope to be riding.
If I were shopping I would definitely buy a used touring bike or frame. If you don't mind stripping a frame and replacing bearings/brake pads/ bar tape etc. the cost savings can be significant.
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Old 01-02-06, 11:03 PM   #7
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I have owned both a Surly Long Haul Trucker and a Crosscheck. They are both excellent frames. If the bike is going to be used mostly for touring, the LHT is the way to go. It is rock steady when full loaded. The Crosscheck is not quite as stable but still quite capable of carrying a full load of gear and much more versatile.

I wouldn't get an aluminum framed touring bike. (Sorry Cannondale).

You might also consider a Bruce Gordon (www.bgcycles.com).
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Old 01-02-06, 11:22 PM   #8
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The Long Haul's will also not be available til Feb '06, due to the new color schemes...
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Old 01-03-06, 12:04 AM   #9
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Here is another Oregon made bike, the Co-Motion Nor'wester. This is a wonderful bike with excellent design and workmanship, notice the braze ons for front and rear racks if you decide to take a trip. This one is made for you! Take a look:
http://www.co-motion.com/norwester.html
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Old 01-03-06, 12:15 AM   #10
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I have a Sutra which I built up as a flat bar commuter. As a commuter it is wonderful.

As a touring bike it lacks. I managed to crack one of the braze-ons for the rear rack. After a bunch of rigmarole with Kona Europe (they told me that over 20kg shouldn't be used on a rack mounted on the braze-ons and I was my fault that it broke...) they sent me a new frame. If this would have happened on a tour I would have been sunk.

I had to have a big shim machined to fit the rear rack on the drop out on the replacement frame. With this I should be able to carry a decent amount of weight. There is some real creative mounting happening on this bike.

Bottom line for the Sutra, in the city I love it, on a tour I wouldn't trust it.
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Old 01-03-06, 11:26 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike_khad1
Hi everyone - I'm a fat old man who is trying to be a skinny old man. I am pedaling to work (13 miles each way) on a 19 year old Bianchi Strada. I am looking for a good touring bicycle to commute with and to go on longer unsupported trips.

I am considering the Burley Hudson, Cannondale T2000, or Kona Sutra. Does anyone have experience with these bicycles? Any feedback? Any other models that I should consider? I willing to spend up to 3K max, including panniers, racks, etc.
Look at the Cannondale T800. It has a lower grade of components than the T2000 but it is also less expensive. Mine is a good stiff touring bike that handles well under load. It's a bit rougher to ride unloaded than most steel bikes but, for us big guys, it will handle everything that you can throw at it when going touring, including 200+ miles of dirt roads and trails out of a thousand!

One thing to consider when looking at touring bikes is that, especially for us "large" guys, you have to include the rider as well as the gear that you are going to carry. I've had steel touring bikes and they are dreamy to ride unloaded. But put up to 300 lbs of rider, gear and bike on them, and they can be a bit whippy. Not something you want on a high speed descent!
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Old 01-03-06, 11:49 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike_khad1
Hi everyone - I'm a fat old man who is trying to be a skinny old man. I am pedaling to work (13 miles each way) on a 19 year old Bianchi Strada. I am looking for a good touring bicycle to commute with and to go on longer unsupported trips.

I am considering the Burley Hudson, Cannondale T2000, or Kona Sutra. Does anyone have experience with these bicycles? Any feedback? Any other models that I should consider? I willing to spend up to 3K max, including panniers, racks, etc.
You could spend a lot less than $3k and get a nice bike or just stick with what you've got and upgrade it a bit. I ride a Bianchi Volpe now and its ok, the Trek 520 is more expensive, but I've heard good things about it, however, a new bike is always nice and for $3k you can get something really nice. Have you considered, Waterford, Heron or Rivendell Atlantis. You can get a frame for about $1400 and then spend a $1000 on a nice XT setup and some really good wheels.

I'm getting a new bike to replace my aging Volpe and I want it to last a lifetime so I'm investing just over $2k in it. I'm getting a custom touring frame and top of the line components, Phil Wood BB, Chris King headset, Sugino AT crank, XT gearing, White Industries hubs and Velocity Dyad rims. So you can get a real gem for the kind of money you're willing to spend, you just have to decide what level of bike you either want or need.
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Old 01-03-06, 02:23 PM   #13
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Cyclintom has a point there. The Strada's a nice commuting, possibly touring bike. If you do renovate it though, don't powdercoat it, paint it up in nice, bright celeste. If you have to get something new (which is always fun), first, definitely keep the Strada. Then it's going to depend on budget. I'm planning to get a Volpe when they hit USA shores, but then again, with the short trips I plan (most here would consider them an insult to the touring forum), a hub or derraileur crapping out just means the ride's over and I have to call the ol' ball-and-chain sag wagon. The Volpe's a great bike, and you can always switch out components. I like the Surly Crosscheck better, but to build it up the way I want it, it's out of my price range. The gearing on the Trek 520 is a little steep, and the Trek, Surly LHT, and Bruce Gordon's are going to be a little more sluggish (or stable, depending on how you look at it) than the Volpe or XCheck. When it comes down to frames, everything mentioned in this thread is nice stuff. It all comes down to intended use, price, and need for components.
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Old 01-03-06, 05:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wintermute
The gearing on the Trek 520 is a little steep...
That is so true, it has a true road triple front crank, making even small hills difficult when fully loaded. Trading that out for the much smaller chainrings of a mtb crankset is a must.
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Old 01-03-06, 08:38 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nateted4
That is so true, it has a true road triple front crank, making even small hills difficult when fully loaded. Trading that out for the much smaller chainrings of a mtb crankset is a must.
It works fine for CC touring and commuting, what many are used for. If you plan loaded touring have your dealer do the swap to a mountain crankset before you pick it up, most will do so for little or no extra charge, and with that the 520 is a great touring rig for the money..
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Old 01-03-06, 10:27 PM   #16
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I saw two Fuji steel touring bikes for sale on Ebay recently . . . one was for about 1K and the other was a little more because it had better components and even a <gasp> carbon fork. They even came with a rear rack. However, Trek's dedicated tourer--the 520--has the better frame angles: slacker and has a longer wheelbase too but the gearing isn't low enough. I'd be tempted to get the 520 but I'd want the shop to switch out the cranks with a triple XTR mtn. bike crank.
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Old 01-05-06, 03:07 PM   #17
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Speaking of Rivendell Atlantis, my new commuter/do it all bike will be here tomorrow! woohoo!

Here's the pics they sent me before they packed it up and gave it to the guy's in brown...


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Old 01-05-06, 04:49 PM   #18
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The most important thing I think would be to figure out whether your body type really leans you towards a custom. Go to one of the fitting sites, and find out if you get some info back like you need a 56CM for the legs but a 62 for the reach, or vis versa. If your body frame is normally proportioned, then you probably fit off the rack. If not I would find someone to make you a touring frame that fits, even if you have to move over some components for a while. I think the money needs to go into a frame first, then medium priced components, then inexpenssive bags and racks. For road touring that seems to be the best payoff. However if you fit off the rack, you can get a good frame for about 360.

From the description of what you do, I would only go for a full touring package, not some semi race, or cyclocross job. There are many subtle feature in the differnet frame types, and cruising along whether comuting or touring is what touring frames do, and they are plenty fast.

Are the Burley and Kona really touring bikes? I think I looked at those, but they are kinda crossovers. I think canondale would be good. And Surly too. Out your way you should look into some of the local custom makers just to get your mind in the game.
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Old 01-05-06, 05:34 PM   #19
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D2create - that is a seriously nice looking bike! Awesome!
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Old 01-05-06, 05:56 PM   #20
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Beautiful Atlantis, there.

Really like that color scheme.
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Old 01-05-06, 09:12 PM   #21
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Indeed, that Atlantis looks excellent.
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Old 01-05-06, 10:04 PM   #22
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Thanks guys, i'm super excited. It's the first/only black w/cream Atlantis. I'll take pics this weekend and i'll post them here as well as the commuting forum so you guys can see some of the nice details.
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Old 01-05-06, 10:39 PM   #23
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mike - what's wrong with your strada? i'm still touring on my '72 strada (luckily, i've stockpiled 5-speed touring freewheels). i know that the bike geometry of the strada has changed over the years. the newer models have a shorter chainstay and over-all wheelbase. the newer ones are more of a light-tourer. at 19 years old, you've got an "old" bike, but in another 5 or 10 it'll be a "classic". mine has nice lugs on it, which only top-of-the-line bikes have now adays. i had the whole frame chromed and professionally repainted some years ago, and it wasn't all that expensive. unless your frame has been damaged, i'd put a fraction of the cost of a new bike into replacing old mid-level parts with quality parts on an as-needed basis.
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Old 01-06-06, 08:25 AM   #24
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Mike, avert your eyes from the very pretty new Atlantis and stay focused on your Strada.

D2: that is one fine looking bike.
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Old 01-06-06, 11:51 AM   #25
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Many of you have suggested that I stay with the Strada. Other than the fact that purchasing a new toy is fun, I had a crash some months ago and bent and replaced the front fork and slightly bent the frame. I still need to get a better front fork with a more forward rake because now I have a toe overlap issue with slow speed turns where I didn't have that before. My plan right now is to get myself a christmas present touring bike and see what I can do to upgrade the Strada and keep it. I definitely want to change the gearing to be more "hill friendly". The ding on the frame is not major or even noticable but I can feel a crease on the back of the tube the front fork goes through. (I hit a concrete post head on - first the front wheel and then the top of my head - thank god I was wearing a helmet - Coasting without paying attention)
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