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  1. #1
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    Howdy,

    Recently did a short three hundred mile tour up the coast of California on a crappy, Toys R' Us steel bike with a borrowed trailer and after actually surviving (and beating the living hell out of the bike) I have decided that I need a new bike for a long distance US tour this summer (three months, from Southern Cali to Florida and back up the Trans America route).

    I've read the forums for a bit but am still utterly confused...

    I have $600 for a new bike (needs to be capable of touring, commuting and everything implied) and... HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO GET

    Different gears scare me, as do sizes, handlebars, Panniers, wheels, lights, saddlebags and especially DIFFERENT BRANDS. I have this incessant fear of walking into a bike shop and being completely fleeced because I have no idea what the heck I'm buying.

    Ya this bike thing is completely new to me (started about a year ago on the same, crappy bike (heh, the gears were rusted to) but have been doing the stationary bike thing at the gym and.. Well..

    What kind of bike should I get? (Thats under $600..) And... All these posts about comparing bike's and equipment is utterly confusing.

  2. #2
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marska
    Howdy,

    Recently did a short three hundred mile tour up the coast of California on a crappy, Toys R' Us steel bike with a borrowed trailer and after actually surviving (and beating the living hell out of the bike) I have decided that I need a new bike for a long distance US tour this summer (three months, from Southern Cali to Florida and back up the Trans America route).

    I've read the forums for a bit but am still utterly confused...

    I have $600 for a new bike (needs to be capable of touring, commuting and everything implied) and... HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO GET

    Different gears scare me, as do sizes, handlebars, Panniers, wheels, lights, saddlebags and especially DIFFERENT BRANDS. I have this incessant fear of walking into a bike shop and being completely fleeced because I have no idea what the heck I'm buying.

    Ya this bike thing is completely new to me (started about a year ago on the same, crappy bike (heh, the gears were rusted to) but have been doing the stationary bike thing at the gym and.. Well..

    What kind of bike should I get? (Thats under $600..) And... All these posts about comparing bike's and equipment is utterly confusing.
    Look at a roadie from Giant or Trek. Basic good bike, light and strong and you are in the range of a reasonably good touring frame with that amount.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


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  3. #3
    Crawlin' up, flyin' down bikingshearer's Avatar
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    Where are you located? I bet someone on the Forums can direct to a shop near you that will not fleece you and will set you up with what you need.

    Also, about how big are you? Perhaps someone has a used machine that would do the job.

  4. #4
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    Welcome to the Touring forum, and congratulations on your tour efforts so far. First I would suggest that you do a search in this forum for "budget touring bike" - you will get at least a dozen threads since the first of this year alone, and many more going back further. It is a constant topic of discussion and there are a ton of suggestions and thoughtful comments by forum members.

    Second, I would personally recommend one of the following: either a used touring bike, which is a type of bike that is good for many general purpose types of riding, and which will be at the top of your budget range for one in good shape. Or a high-end steel frame mountain bike (rigid fork) from the early 90's, which are rugged and can be made into excellent touring bikes for well within your budget. If you take the latter approach you will probably even have enough left over for racks and panniers, should you decide to go that route instead of the trailer. Both type of bikes will have durable components and wheels, proper gearing, and mounts for racks - all necessary for touring long distances.

    Take a look at the threads I mentioned and have fun!
    Specialized Roubaix SL4 Disc, Cannondale T2000 (touring), Stumpjumper M5 (Mtn - hardtail), Cannondale Rize4 (Mtn - full susp)

  5. #5
    Doomsled funbun's Avatar
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    Buy this book:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/007...Fencoding=UTF8

    The first 3 chapters are about equipment and gear. Everything from tyes of bike, gearing, wheels, tires and tubes, stems, cranks, saddles, toe clips, how much you should spend, helmets, gloves,clothing. and that's just the first 3 chapters.

    You can look at the first 15 pages or so online. Even that will give some solid info for what you need.

    The book is pretty complete.
    Check it out:

    Blog The Travelogue

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    you basically have to ride the differnet bikes that you're thinking about. There's no way to really tell if something fits and if you like it without riding it. You need to make sure you feel comfortable and safe riding it, and you can really only tell by riding it.

    When comparing bikes, you might want to reduce your choices to dichotomies that way it's easier to decide which style you like best without making it overly confusing. Like ride a bike with flat handlebars (mountain bike style) then a bike with drop bars (curvy road bike bars) and see which you like better. Then you can narrow your search to bikes that come with that type of bars. Then you can decide what type of shifters you like. then make sure that the bike has the eyelets and such to attach racks/fenders (you might want to do this first). In most bike shops, the handlebar and shifter questions will narrow your search a lot then you can compare the bikes' overall feel and fit.

    I went through this last night with my wife and we ended up getting a bike that she likes and really suits her needs. As she rode bikes, I'd show her what was different about this one versus the last one and ask her which she likes better. We narrowed it down pretty quickly. She ended up with a Fuju Absolute. It'll take rear rack or fenders but not front. It's ok though because if we ever tour together I'm sure i'll be carrying most of the gear.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by funbun
    Buy this book:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/007...Fencoding=UTF8

    The first 3 chapters are about equipment and gear. Everything from tyes of bike, gearing, wheels, tires and tubes, stems, cranks, saddles, toe clips, how much you should spend, helmets, gloves,clothing. and that's just the first 3 chapters.

    You can look at the first 15 pages or so online. Even that will give some solid info for what you need.

    The book is pretty complete.
    I've never heard of that book, thanks for the link. My library has it, so I'll ride over there and pick it up.

  8. #8
    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marska
    Howdy,

    Recently did a short three hundred mile tour up the coast of California on a crappy, Toys R' Us steel bike with a borrowed trailer and after actually surviving (and beating the living hell out of the bike) I have decided that I need a new bike for a long distance US tour this summer (three months, from Southern Cali to Florida and back up the Trans America route).

    I've read the forums for a bit but am still utterly confused...

    I have $600 for a new bike (needs to be capable of touring, commuting and everything implied) and... HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO GET

    Different gears scare me, as do sizes, handlebars, Panniers, wheels, lights, saddlebags and especially DIFFERENT BRANDS. I have this incessant fear of walking into a bike shop and being completely fleeced because I have no idea what the heck I'm buying.

    Ya this bike thing is completely new to me (started about a year ago on the same, crappy bike (heh, the gears were rusted to) but have been doing the stationary bike thing at the gym and.. Well..

    What kind of bike should I get? (Thats under $600..) And... All these posts about comparing bike's and equipment is utterly confusing.

    What does that $600 include? Just the bike or does it have to cover racks, panniers, lights and everything else?

    If the former, it's very doable. If the latter, you're buying used.

  9. #9
    Doomsled funbun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by halfspeed
    What does that $600 include? Just the bike or does it have to cover racks, panniers, lights and everything else?

    If the former, it's very doable. If the latter, you're buying used.
    Or he could buy used and make his own gear like I do.

    A good 1990 ridged frame MTB from a pawn shop will make a good touring machine. I make my own panniers. If your good with a sewing machine you can make all your own panniers and shorts anstuff. Even your own sleeping bag and tent or camping hammock, or your own stove. If cost is the thing then buying used and/or making your own gear is a good way to go.
    Check it out:

    Blog The Travelogue

  10. #10
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    I'm from Lake Forest, California and am a rather big guy - 6 foot, 185 pounds and wide shoulders.

    $600 is bike only - Bike = handlebars, gears, and wheels. I'm willing to spend another $200 on decent equipment (or just make my own, Kenkifer.com had a good section on that).

    At this point I'm up for anything (that god damn bike's gears had become a chunk of rust by the time I was done with it, literally threw it off a cliff once I got to my destination) that is even somewhat managable. A clown bike with streamers would of been better although it was an interesting trip.. Kinda just grabbed some junk and winged it for a few days.

    Camping equipment - this is a whole other budget (and I've had good expierence with the Penny Stove. hehe.... Heineken's fun!) and the planning is always easy for me, even the execution, but I didn't have too many points of reference for the main component - the BIKE!

    Regardless, I'm looking forward to this summer and kicking ass on the trail east ("Go east young man")

  11. #11
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    Look at the rei novara rondone threads.

    If you want a new bike, I think you might want to throw 2 hundred more in the purse if you could, for that, you would have a far wider choice of actual bikes you would not have to upgrade or replace.

  12. #12
    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marska
    I'm from Lake Forest, California and am a rather big guy - 6 foot, 185 pounds and wide shoulders.

    $600 is bike only - Bike = handlebars, gears, and wheels. I'm willing to spend another $200 on decent equipment (or just make my own, Kenkifer.com had a good section on that).

    At this point I'm up for anything (that god damn bike's gears had become a chunk of rust by the time I was done with it, literally threw it off a cliff once I got to my destination) that is even somewhat managable. A clown bike with streamers would of been better although it was an interesting trip.. Kinda just grabbed some junk and winged it for a few days.

    Camping equipment - this is a whole other budget (and I've had good expierence with the Penny Stove. hehe.... Heineken's fun!) and the planning is always easy for me, even the execution, but I didn't have too many points of reference for the main component - the BIKE!

    Regardless, I'm looking forward to this summer and kicking ass on the trail east ("Go east young man")
    This is a '98 Trek 520 I bought off Craigslist a month ago for $550. It is in mint condition. They list for about $1,150 around here new. It's a well built touring bike and I got all the bells and whistles already on it. It came with drop bars and very good brake levers. I'm also a big guy at 6' and 225lbs. I got rid of the drop bars and the saddle and fitted the bike the way I wanted it. In the month I've had I have ridden over 700 miles with no problems. I would only say that the gears are a bit too high. The Brooks saddle, h'bars, grips, and quality mtb brake levers cost $140 extra.
    There are other bikes out there in this class. You can get a great bike used. I second the opinion on using a good mtb for long trips also.
    http://i2.tinypic.com/r22kra.jpg

  13. #13
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    It is probably a good idea to see some examples of trans-continental touring bikes. One of the best (but higher than your budget is the Bruce Gordon BLT.
    The usual benchmark model for tourer is the Trek 520 but it does need some modifiation to bring it up to expedition std (lower gears, better racks).
    Fuji and REI make/(made) excellent budget model.
    The Cannondale models are Al and are a bit stiffer so more suited to big guys but totally sound and well proven.
    Surley LHT is a std model for custom build-ups.

    Tourers generally have steel frames with all the braze-on attachments, plenty of room within the long weelbase for luggage, strong and well integrated rack and fenders. The gearing is generally MTB but the bars are road style. Wheels are high spoke count and built for strength rather than low weight. Some bikes are designed for 26"MTb wheels, others for larger 700c. Unless you are small it makes little real difference except for the availability of spare rubber in remote locations.

    You can turn some of the old school steel MTBs (Trek 950) into good tourers if you can still find these frames.

  14. #14
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    First off stop being afraid to look stupid. Walk into a bike shop and start asking questions. Ask anything you like to know and if you don't like the answers go find another bike shop. You might discover that the first guy was telling you something that you weren't ready to accept.

    You AREN'T going to get screwed in a local bike shop. The worst you could do is pay a little more for a little more bike than you needed and in the end that bike won't be enough.

    If you're financially challenged you can still get information and knowledge from your local bike shop. If that's what you're looking for don't interfere with their other customers or take up their time when they could be working on someone's bike and making a little dough. But most shops are happy to help you learn about the sport.

    And then you could head for the Salvation Army or the St Vincent DePaul and you MIGHT find a really nice bike for miraculously cheap.

    A guy brought in a Schwinn World into the local shop. It looked much better than new. The chrome was perfect and most of the cheesy components had been replaced with much higher grade equipment. Now the World wasn't the lightest thing around but I wouldn't have though a second time about buying this bike for a hundred and fifty. He got it from the local thrift store for $16.50. The tuneup cost more than the bike did!

    He now has it for sale with a $275 tag on it.

  15. #15
    Doomsled funbun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclintom
    First off stop being afraid to look stupid. Walk into a bike shop and start asking questions. Ask anything you like to know and if you don't like the answers go find another bike shop. You might discover that the first guy was telling you something that you weren't ready to accept.

    You AREN'T going to get screwed in a local bike shop. The worst you could do is pay a little more for a little more bike than you needed and in the end that bike won't be enough.

    If you're financially challenged you can still get information and knowledge from your local bike shop. If that's what you're looking for don't interfere with their other customers or take up their time when they could be working on someone's bike and making a little dough. But most shops are happy to help you learn about the sport.

    And then you could head for the Salvation Army or the St Vincent DePaul and you MIGHT find a really nice bike for miraculously cheap.

    A guy brought in a Schwinn World into the local shop. It looked much better than new. The chrome was perfect and most of the cheesy components had been replaced with much higher grade equipment. Now the World wasn't the lightest thing around but I wouldn't have though a second time about buying this bike for a hundred and fifty. He got it from the local thrift store for $16.50. The tuneup cost more than the bike did!

    He now has it for sale with a $275 tag on it.
    He's right, why would an LBS insult you? You are a potential customer. They want to help yo because in the end you are gonna help them buy buying a new bike.
    Check it out:

    Blog The Travelogue

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by funbun
    He's right, why would an LBS insult you? You are a potential customer. They want to help yo because in the end you are gonna help them buy buying a new bike.
    Yes, but the LBS is also motivated by revenue and sales. So if they don't have the perfect bike in stock, they might recommend something that they have on the sales floor that might not be the best. I've experienced this a couple times when buying a bike. If you go into the shop knowing what to look for you'll be much better off.

    When I went to buy my first road bike, I went to the shop with the requirements of drop bars, will accept fenders and at least a rear rack under $1000. They had only 1 bike that fit the description. Luckily it was in my size and I really liked it. The shop was great and I never felt any pressure. I got a Specialized Sequoia Elite. It has 3 water bottle mounts, carbon fork and chainstays, but otherwise aluminum. I've got a rear rack and full coverage freddy fenders on it now. The drawbacks to this bike is that I don't think you could go much wider than 25C tires with fenders. Even without it'd be tough. I had 32C tires on it and had to deflate them to remove the wheel so that they'd clear the brakes.

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