Low gears, because it can't possibly be said enough.
Practice setting up your tent over and over, until you can get it up in minutes. Between rain, mosquitos, and having to ride 3 miles past my endurance point searching for a campground that wasn't where it was supposed to be, quick tent set up was the handiest survival skill I ever learned the hard way.
I second Nashbar panniers. I have the regular multipocket version that run about $25-30 per pair on sale that are great for short trips and commuting, and picked up some waterproof ones for touring, about twice the price but worth it. I kept meaning to buy more expensive ones when they finally fell apart, but they haven't.
I highly recommend a camp sink. I got a collapsable sink for $10 that doesn't weigh much, folds flat, serves as an all purpose sink and bucket, and with a little light rope holds all my food high in a tree nicely. Someone gave me a shower kit for my Platypus and now I wonder how I got along without one.
Bring all the ziplock bags you can possible stuff into your packs. Lots of rubber bands. And the biggest roll of good electrical tape that you can find. And twice as many socks as you think you need. Clean, dry socks and a box of baby wipes can drastically improve morale.
TO SUSAN BB
We just returned from our first weekend tour with my wife on her 52 cm. Volpe. It's a fabulous all-around bike, and like the LHT, a great value. The Volpe and the LHT are not directly comparable, because the LHT is designed as a touring bike, and the Volpe is a compromise. Most riders spend most of their time on day rides and errands. The volpe, with shorter chainstays and a higher bottom bracket, also makes a competent cyclocross bike. Check the components carefully: bar end shifters or sti? The built LHT offers the former (which I prefer) and the Volpe offers the latter (which she prefers). She's long of leg and short-waisted. The Volpe was a perfect fit out of the box.
Try before you buy!
Worthless trivia: The Volpe is painted in the original Celeste green. The color was developed by Bianchi's founder in the 1800's after he was asked to build a bike for the queen. He painted it to match her eyes. Her bike is just sooooo sexy. I even like the little fake leopard patches on her saddle.
One bit of advice: lose the cyclo tires asap unless you intend to be off-road a lot. You'll be glad you did.
All the best and (have I said it before?) try before you buy!
Terrible experience and it shows my vanity and stupidity. For Father's Day, son and his wife took me on short 3 day camping trip. They only had road bikes so the gear went on my trailer/touring bike and off we went. Now we're talking 2 young (late 20's), very athletic folks who just couldn't understand why we weren't doing 20 - 22 mph as we zipped along the highway. Long story short, with just over 80 lbs, a fairly flat ride, 126 miles later at an average speed of just over 13, yours truly could not move! Moral of the story.............vanity is still alive and well at 60+ or more simply put.........stupidity knows no age limits. 5 days later and I just now feel like I have some energy to ride.
So what is the wisdom on touring and brakes? I just purchased a 1998 Eros frame to tour with (I know its not a touring bike but oh well, its what I could find cheap) which I plan to load lightly on the Pannier end but heavily with a Bob Yak trailer attached. I'm putting together the componentry now and I need some advice as this will be my first serious tour. So far I've got.
105 triple dr in front
deore lx in back
dura-ace bar ends
Other than that I havn't yet made up my mind on components. I know very little about what an appropriate touring brake would be, especially that would fit on this somewhat racier frame. Any recommendations?
Hey Thanks for all the advice...especially the info about the colors of the Bianchi! I enjoyed it...
My 2 choices that I had been looking at were specifically those 2...Volpe and LHT but after some research and advice from people like you on BF...I ordered a new Surly, LHT...what sucked in me most about the Bianchi was...you guessed it...those colors...what can I say...the surface of the bike is important too...but I await my new Surly with open arms...
About Camping and other things:
Sweden has something called "Everyman's Law". You can camp anywhere (and I mean anywhere) you want to, so long as you are gone within 48 hours. You may have to clean up your litter as well... (but since I do anyway, this was never a problem) Now since neither you nor the owners are usually too enthralled about camping on the front lawn or in the bull's pasture, as dusk approaches (and it will approach; unlike the rest of Europe, distances in Sweden between towns/municipal campgrounds/etc. are like those in rural Canada - 70 km of bush between villages is not unusual.) the easiest thing to do is stop at a farmhouse and politely ask where people go to camp locally. They will be only too happy to tell you, and you may get good conversation, be able to buy (or be given) farm fresh eggs/produce cheap, and have a nice experience all in all.
Danish drivers are extremely courteous to cyclists... but watch out for the beer.
Get good maps: I recommend the high resolution Michelins; if it won't show you the 80 yard offset in a crossroad, it's not big enough. (and yes, they do)
Watch out for cobblestones and (Holland) brick cycle paths; the pounding you take is incredible.
This Fuji toouring was on the list as a budget touring bike. Is it a reliable frame with components that will stand up? Obviously Lexus's are nicer than Chevies, but both have reasonable longevity outlooks. Can a Fuji rider expect to come back from a tour with few breakdowns?
Are there components on this bike the MUST be upgraded from purchase to be both rideable and reliable???:D
Yew ourta git a speel chicker!
Just a tip on stems that I had to learn through trial and error --
Gloves will help and provide some support on your wrists, but if your stem is too short or long for you then you will continue feeling discomfort. If you decide to go for more rise, it's not a bad idea to go a little longer as well to compensate for that rise. For example I started off with a 100mm 7 degree rise stem and it killed my hands within a few minutes and swapped it for a 110mm 25 degree rise. This is definitely much better. I have seen touring bikes with the Ritchey adjustable stem and I've heard some people who like it a lot and some people who hate it. The idea of carrying a heavy handlebar bag and putting your body's weight on the handlebar all at the same time would make me feel just a little uneasy that one screw is holding the stem in that position. You can also adjust your handlebar too by just tilting it slightly so that the drops angle more. Doing this will place your hoods and your drops in a different position. The key is making sure that your wrists are straight though. On road racing bikes, the easy test is to get in the drops and look down. If you can see your front hub then this is typically an indication that you have the wrong size stem on your bike. However, the fork on touring bikes have more rake on them and therefore they are not as straight as a road racing fork so the same test is a little more fickle. I complained so much about how my wrists hurt and everyone told me "Use gloves". At the end of the day, a stem replacement which is painless and inexpensive is what was really necessary. I built my own bike so I didn't have someone sizing me, but if you are getting sized make sure that you play around a lot with your saddle position (not just height, but tilt and placement on the rails) and your stem.
I just want to say thanks for all this info. Just starting touring ( most every weekend ) but have had my Trek 520 for 16 years. Love it but trying to decide if I need a newer one? It's a '91
We touring cyclists are our own worst enemy. We buy one bike and ride it for the rest of our lives. When we want a new one or find someone who wants to share our sport, they can't find a bike. The reason? There's no demand for them and companies don't build what they can't sell. It's too bad too. Touring bikes make far better commuting bikes than cross bikes. They can do everything a cross bike can do...and carry much more stuff with far less hassle!
Originally Posted by Krystal
I'm as bad as anyone else. I had a touring bike from 82 which I replaced in 2003. That's too long. In the same time I've owned 27 other bikes - mostly mountain bikes. And I'm glad I did get a new bike. Stuff has changed since 1982. Frames are different, components are different, metallurgy is different.
So, yes, please. Buy a new bike. Splurge. The investment that you made in 1991 has paid you back handsomely. It's time to make a new investment. And look at more than Trek. There's lots of new (and some old ones) out there that are just as good. Cannondale, Surly LHT and Rocky Mountain Sherpa all top the list of really good production touring bikes. A Bruce Gordon BLT would be great too. A little more expensive but a classic bike.
I would not rush into buying new bike. Take your time. Learn the material by continue riding every weekend and reading this forum. This will help you know what you want from your bike and how to get it. Touring bike is very personal, because you will ride it all day long, so its better be good and comfortable.
Originally Posted by Krystal
Your bike will suffice for now, and you will find that you will need to spend more money on other stuff, like panniers, racks, saddle, tent, sleeping bag, stove, cloths etc...
Wish you good luck and enjoy your riding.
This is excellent advice. There are a whole bunch of us on this forum who spend all our time perfecting the perfect touring bike . . . and never touring. Getting out on the road on the saddest, silliest bicycle trumps all of us in that regard. In your case, you actually have an excellent bike and enjoy the best of both worlds. Congratulations!
Originally Posted by kipibenkipod
Misc. Accessories and thoughts:
Sunglasses that sit flush on the bridge of your nose. Any gap (such as found on Ray-bans) will give you an unsual and uncomfortable stream of air into your eyes, and can produce a lot of tears.
A trowel. For those long country rides. It's good manners not to leave evidence that you were there....
Keep clean. I used to scrub off with a wash-mit twice a day, and my collar was never cleaner. Which meant a lot less washing of clothes.
Do not carry anything that is not essential. Such as books or big lenses for your camera... and try to avoid carrying anything on your back.
Just saw a new Trek 520 today, very nice bike. A few things I would change - would get a 48-36-26 crank and add fenders. That about all I can think of.
The only thing I don't like is the color, I wish it was a light tan, light gray, light green or ?
Anyway, it is a pretty nice set up from the get go.
On the other hand. I found that glasses that don't have enough air flow fog more and are much hotter. I know that when I changed glasses from my close to the face wraparound sunglasses to my regular glasses with small lenses that I felt 10 degrees cooler (when it was 106F).
Originally Posted by ripponfalls
It can be a balancing act. I wish my sunglasses had some ports that opened and closed or something, so I could fine tune the airflow for the conditions.
Originally Posted by Takara
Grin. Like you said. I once apologized to the builder of my touring bike for getting it dirty and scratched doing no more then commuting. He said he wold far rather see his high strength bikes in regular use then hung up on a wall for show. When people buy a bike for touring they need to realize they can and should use it for more then that. I wear out cloths, tires and panniers, the bike goes on and on.
i decided to splurge on a new surly. at the ripe old age of 19, i've weighed my options... realized i didn't have a mortgage, kids, debt, or a car. woohoo!
Expert tourers. Please help a newbie out and tell me what you think of this deal. I'm only 5'10" and av. weight so doubt I need a super bike.
Excellent post. Thank you. I found your thread on a thread search for Fuji touring. I am comparing three bikes for touring. The Novara Randonnee, a 2007 Fuji touring and a Trek 520. I have a mountain bike now, a Giant Iguana. I think I'll experiment with it on a tour and see what happens.
does anyone have the weights of some of the most popular touring bikes? I've found that many of the sites don't list the weight. thanks.
Hope you find a good bike fit. I wanted a 520, but money entered into the equation and settled for the Fuji Tour. I find it delightful in every way and the fit seems comfortable indeed. It doesn't have bar end shifting, so if there is ever a problem on the road in boonie country, I would be sol.
It does everything well and I have carried some quite heavy loads.
ok now you people have gt me thinking. i just might have to try bike camping this year. i have quite a few campgrounds within 40-50 miles of me. i have a mid 90's giant innova hybrid that i just might try this on. but i think i will installl a new trekking bar and different brake levers, just dont like the plastic ones it has now. plus i will pick up some new tires 38's cause right now i have some 25's i bought to train for my first triathalon that never happened and probably never will. i hate to run. guess its time to start cruising web sites for things.
I'm building up my LHT and wondering what is the best tires to put on? Any recommendations?
All the info thus far is great but nothing about tires. I was thinking about Schwalbe Marathon Cross but that is a fellow tourer who recently posted he suffered 10 punctures with that that tire.
Zillion thanks! OnF :)
Try the Schwalbe Marathon Plus, riding all over Europe 15000kms plus and never had a flat, ever.
Originally Posted by OldiesONfoldies