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  1. #1
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    What tires for touring?

    I am biking across the United States in August from San Diego to Maryland. I am not using a touring bike. I am going on a Trek 1500. I added a Topek handle bar bag and a Trek trunk (rear bag) for storage. On top of my trunk I am going to carry a sleeping bag and tent (secured with bungee cords). I weigh 175 lbs and since I am traveling light my gear will add about another 25 lbs (200 total). As of now I am planning on putting on a set of 23cm for my tour. I am wondering if this is not a good idea. The Trek 1500 can fit up to 28cm tire but since I am not loading my bike up with a lot of weight I figure...why put on a tire that will slow me down and waste my energy when I am climbing the Rockies? Do I have the right idea or should I reconsider going with 25cm or 28cm tire? I so why? Thanks

  2. #2
    livetotour
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    where to begin - you are going to cross the country on a non-touring bike? You must be a masochist - said with concern, not jabbing. That is a long way to ride on a bike not designed for comfort. I have done the same in my younger years, but can tell you with great certainty that a touring bike is, slower, yet much less painful. As for the tires - you again are causing yourself some pain. They won't last as long as touring tires that are wider, will be much more cruel to you in vibration, but will go quicker. Given that I once toured on a racing bike (20 c tires), I would recommend continentals if you are going to do it - they are one of the more confortable tires to use despite smaller sizes. However, I really wouldn't consider anthing less than the 28 for myself after becoming older and wiser - it aint going to make that much difference in speed given the type of event you are going to be doing. Trade a little speed for a little comfort - otherwise you will arrive at your destination realizing that your body hurts and you stared a lot at the road, not the scenery. Hope this is helpful. Happy touring.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by zippeddedoda
    On top of my trunk I am going to carry a sleeping bag and tent (secured with bungee cords).
    As for the tires, your comfort will suffer but it's not such a big deal to go with what you have.

    My choice would be 28mm, but if you don't want to spend the money now, just ride the 23's until they wear out (cross-country, you'll definitely wear through one or two sets). When you go to replace 'em, then you'll have a better idea on what to get.

    If you have the money and the inclination, put on 25's or 28's now and save the 23's for future around-town riding. Or bring 'em as spares (you should seriously consider this -- it's a long ride between towns).

    I agree with ahemmelg about comfort (both wider tires and "tour vs. mtn bike"), but why not judge for yourself. Your weight and load isn't that much for those tires. One thing to be aware of is your rim width; if you have very narrow rims (which you might, with 23's mounted), they might be problematic with wider tires. If these are the stock rims, I'm sure they're OK (for width -- I don't know about strength).

    As for "a rack bag with tent etc. on top with a bungee cord": major mistake. A tent sitting directly on the rack might be OK with a bungee cord, but teetering that weight on top of a trunk bag is inviting gravity to wreak havoc. Bungee cords notoriously let things shift around, and having things slip off or into the rear wheel would not be a pretty sight. Carrying things piled vertically like that adversely affects your center of gravity -- but that's your call. At the very least, use cinch straps to attach your load (like the kind you find with the backpacks in a camping store).

    -- Mark

  4. #4
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    Why not do a shakedown ride to see how your idea works.
    Load up the bike with all the luggage, food and water you expect to carry on the longest sections. Add some ballast if you dont yet have the kit. Ride a few small loops to make sure the luggage stays in place then try some hills and rough roads.
    People have toured on stripped down bikes with minimal luggage in the most hostile conditions but you need to know what you are doing.

  5. #5
    ChainringTattoo
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    I'm using a Trek1000C cross-country this summer (no, it's not ideal--but if I spend $ on a touring bike, I won't have $ for the trip--yes, I looked for some used ones). I went with 28s (Conti Gatorskins). They've worked fine for training with gear--I have to deflate the tire partway to get them through the calipers (also not the greatest for touring--oh well), but they are light on tread and haven't slowed me down--seriously, over the course of the whole country, I figure it's not going to make THAT much of a difference, but I'm not super speedy anyway and am going with a full load, too. My old 23 will probably coming along as a spare. I also put a stem riser on so I can sit up straighter, and aerobars for another hand position. I don't just want to tolerate the days in the saddle, so I've modified some things to make my ride more comfortable. Do that for yourself, and you should be ok.

  6. #6
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Get some touring tires, as big as will fit. You want it to weigh over 500 grams. Good news is you can run the pressure under 100 pounds, although if you have a big load you may need 100. You want to add air until it doesn't squish when you sit on the bike. No more. Comfort and reliability are life savers when you spend all day every day in the saddle.

    Schwalbe makes a good touring tire.

  7. #7
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    the big question should be how comfortable is your bike? yes?, then it good to ride around the world, forget this a touring bike is better than a pure racing bike, if my road bike wasn't comfotable to race 150mile road race then it was because it was set up wrong. I've ridden 100s of thousands of miles on 23c tires with no problem raced over cobbles on 23c and 25c tires, adding a little bit of wieght shouldn't make that much diffrence unless you intend ridding off road then i'd asume you'd not be considering a road bike any way?

  8. #8
    bificurated RiotBoi's Avatar
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    Hey man, I'm with you on the not riding a touring bike. I'm not even putting rack(s) on my bike, just gonna throw my gear in my messenger bag . I'm about 145 and carrying maybe 20(hopefully less) pounds with me, and I'm gonna roll on Specialized Armadillo 23s, I just rode them loaded for 40 miles(in under 2 hours with breaks ) and they flet great to me, very comfy to ride on. Also held well on a STEEP, wet descent where I was prolly somewhere in the 40+mph range taking hard corners.
    Split Tongue Drunk Hammer Weilding Death Merchant

  9. #9
    vintage tourer
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    people tour on all kinds of rigs, and most usually they get accustomed to it and think it suits them to a T.

    in your case, here's my 2 cents:

    emmceebee is totally right about not packing a tent & sleepingbag on top of a rack trunk. it may be there isn't anything in there that you won't mind getting smashed (plan to carry any food?), but a trunk only has a thin wall of foam for support, and anything large you strap on is likely to start sliding off to the side, bungee cords or straps notwithstanding. also, as you're bringing a tent and sleeping bag, i'd imagine you'll be wanting a sleeping pad too. will all this stuff have to come off every time you want something in the trunk? in addition, all that stuff piled high will be affecting your stability. you'll be likely to have to slow down considrably on long descents to avoid shimmying and be extra careful on tight (wet?) turns.

    that leads in to your tire width question. personally, i'd say 28's are, if not TOO thin, then thinner than i prefer. comfort issues aside, major concerns would be 2. first, even pumped to the max, there just isn't a lot of air in a 23. sounds like pinch flat paradise. how fast are you at fixing a flat. one flat will probably negate any time you might gain by using a 23 instead of a 28. secondly, more rubber on the road equals more stopping power, hitting pot holes at slower speeds and less chance of having your bike slip out from under you on higher speed turns.

    also, you've got what, about 20 or so spokes per wheel? most people who tour use 36, considering 32 spokes substandard. are you good at changing spokes and truing up a wheel well enough to get to the next bike shop? just trying to give you a heads up on this.

    lastly, 25 lbs. or so of gear is "going light" only in comparison to what some people bring. in addition to your gear, are you figuring in the weight of water. there are stretches where you'll be wishing for 3 liters. thats nearly 7 lbs. right there.

    recommendations: definitely go with the 28's if you can't fit 32's, and seriously consider at least some mid-sized panniers and a new set of wheels. i'm sure you'd be a happier camper

  10. #10
    Senior Member kesroberts's Avatar
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    If you're going light, 28's are gonna be OK and I think you'll be happier with them than 23 or 25. I couldn't/wouldn't do it, but I've seen others get along just fine touring on skinny tires, including my wife who rode the transam with me on her bianchi eros. If your bike is a typical road bike, you won't have clearance for all 28's. Eg, panaracers fit the eros just fine, but specialized armadillos were too fat. I've also tried some Huthinson 28's on a road bike and there wasn't enough clearance.

  11. #11
    livetotour
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    I meant no offense meant to anyone touring on a nontouring bike - I own all types of bikes, raced for many years, and am older now. When I was twenty I could have ridden a unicycle across the nation and not noticed the difference. In my mid forties, I am telling you that you clearly can tell a difference between a racing bike, touring bike, and mountain bike - with each being set up correctly. The first is just plain fast, the latter is just plain slow - poor positioning of body to crank for road efficiency (great for getting weight off the front wheel for downhill), and the latter is just plain designed to give some speed while taking the pressure off your arms, kneck, triceps, ect. If you are young and don't feel the difference - I know I didn't years ago - go for it on the fastest bike you can find.

    someone mentioned pinch flats - ah yes, I have never had one on my touring bike - ever. T

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