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  1. #1
    going downhill fast maximusvt's Avatar
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    Some questions on setting up my touring bike...

    Hi all, I have been flipping through this forum for awhile and have recently gotten way into the idea of doing some touring. I'd like to do a few-day trip to montreal, camping on the way, this fall. Then see if I can get some longer trips in after that.

    I have been riding my Trek Mt Track 820 for over a decade and I am very comfortable riding it. It is in good shape and almost everything on it (brakes, cassette, cables, tires, rims, hubs etc etc etc) has been upgraded/overhauled over the years, some out of necessity, some just 'cause I felt like it. The frame is good cro mo steel and I have semi-slick tires on it. I know a lot of people prefer to tour with road bikes but this one really is like an extension of my legs, and I think shelling out enough cash for a good fitting road bike, getting a feel for it and getting it set up, would cost too much and take too long to make a tour feasible anytime soon. So, a few questions that have been lingering in my mind:

    1- I have never ridden with toe clips or straps or whatever. Always just used the regular old pedals. Does anyone tour without them? Should I get some?

    2- My frame has braze-ons but I think it has shorter rather than longer stays. Will this become a problem with heel/pannier clearance? Is there a rack or panniers that fit better on short stays?

    3- I still need to get racks and panniers for this thing. All the racks I see online say "load limit 25 lbs" at the most, but then I hear all you guys talking about loading your bikes up to 100lbs... am I missing something or are you just ignoring the load limit?

    Thanks in advance for all your help folks.

  2. #2
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    Pedal retension systems are a big improvement over plain platforms.
    Many people think that modern clipless systems are the only way to go but toe clips are still useful for non racing applications. They are quite cheap to try out but make sure you use them correctly:
    -get the right size clip
    -a stiff, pref leather strap
    -do NOT cinch the strap tight.
    Toe clip users can benefit from a stiffer soled cycling shoe but you can also use trail shoes or anything else.

    The 820 is perfect for touring. A std rack will be fine but make sure that the panniers have a heel cutout shape rather than a square profile. Look for one with modern quick-release locking mounts rather than hook and elastic.

  3. #3
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    If you are worried about heel clearance the Jandd expedition rack is longer than normal and has a load capactiy of 50lbs.

  4. #4
    going downhill fast maximusvt's Avatar
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    Sweet. Thanks for the advice guys, I ordered the Deuter Rack Pack #2 which has heel cutouts and looks like a pretty nice setup. Also bought a "bike positive" rack from Nashbar, 44lbs capacity and not expensive at all, and some toeclips to try out.
    I think I'll forgoe front panniers at this point as the trip to montreal is short and I will probably be travelling with a buddy. I'm still looking for a handlebar bag but it's tough to find one that won't look like a man-purse when I remove it from the bike to carry around. Maybe there's a way I can turn my backpack into a handlebar bag........

  5. #5
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    I think 44lbs is too little for a rear rack for serious touring.
    Even if you keep it under the weight, you have less safe room. I've had problems with 50lb racks carrying 50lbs's stays bending on rough roads.
    Breaking bike parts for more than 20 years
    Titus Racer-X AL/Trek 520 (Cracked)/Trek 930

  6. #6
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    I can't comment on the stiffness of the rack you bought, but please don't load yourself down with 40lbs on gear. Go light weight and you'll have more fun and you won't break your bike/rack.
    safe riding - Vik
    VikApproved

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    I'd get the front racks also, much more useful than the handbag. That way you can spread your load, often the bulk of things is harder to deal with in the fall than their weight.

  8. #8
    going downhill fast maximusvt's Avatar
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    I can't imagine that I would need 40 lbs of gear for a short trip like this. But if 44 lbs isn't enough for serious tours, what do all you guys use? The one I got carried as much as anything else nashbar offered and the only racks I could find that carried more were made by Tubus or Old Man Mountain, and they are a lot more expensive for not a lot more carrying capacity. It would be nice to have one of those though...
    Anyway, I only spent like $13 on this one so it's not a tragedy if I end up getting something different. Maybe I will look into the front rack and panniers after all.

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    Well he did mention it wasn't enough on "rough roads", and that can be a problem particularly over long distances. But a week of touring on regular roads shouldn't be a problem at all. Just get out there and by the time you come back you will probably be jazzed and have a lot of opinions about what you like and don't like for the next time. If you splash out on and expensive rack you may find it isn't exactly right for you. And still end up changing it.

    What I like about front racks is you will have better weight distribution, and more space. In the fall I carry one sweater type garment and it can take up half a panier. There are smaller things to wear, but I'm big, and I like this old Patagonia jacket, it's very versatile, That is just one example of a space hog. Another half panier item is a loaf of bread, you don't need one but it isn't crazy, what about a carton of juice.

    With four bags you can average about 6-8 pounds each, plus a tent, and water and food. All of a sudden you're at about 40% of what you rack carries, and no problem at all. My temperatures ran about daytime 90s-50s, so one day I needed a ton of water, the next day I was wearing all my clothes in my sleeping bag.

    Anyway, you have your bags, attach them to your bike and see whether you can get your gear in there... That's the basic issue.

    Navigation has always been a strength of mine. I really screwed up getting into Montreal. I think it may be easier to go there from the south, since one of the bike friendly bridges appears to be south easterly. There are a lot of guys here who seem to know the tricks. Driving across Montreal by car on a regular basis was no preparation.

  10. #10
    The Observant One
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    Just a word on the toe clips.
    I tried them on my LHT with fenders and had to take them off because of clearance issues.
    I went with big platforms. Wellgo B-25's and took some of the pins out because I had problems with shifting my feet around from the pins grabbing the sole of my shoes a little too much.
    "Go! You have yet time to clean the rust from your sword." - Theoden

    "Life happens. Everything else is Attitude." - Nemesis

  11. #11
    going downhill fast maximusvt's Avatar
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    Okay, so the rack arrived today. I set it up on the bike, but found that the smallest cog of the rear cassette is so close to the braze-on that you can't get a long screw all the way through it and through a nut without it running into the chain when it's in 7th gear. The rack came with shorter screws and the thread of the screw matches the thread inside the braze-on, so I put some locktite on it and screwed it together. Is there some kind of spacer or something that would allow me to get a whole screw plus nut in there, or should I just not worry about it?
    It feels pretty sturdy and has three supports on each side, but we'll see what kind of a load it can carry.

  12. #12
    Slow Rider bwgride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maximusvt
    Okay, so the rack arrived today. I set it up on the bike, but found that the smallest cog of the rear cassette is so close to the braze-on that you can't get a long screw all the way through it and through a nut without it running into the chain when it's in 7th gear. The rack came with shorter screws and the thread of the screw matches the thread inside the braze-on, so I put some locktite on it and screwed it together. Is there some kind of spacer or something that would allow me to get a whole screw plus nut in there, or should I just not worry about it?
    It feels pretty sturdy and has three supports on each side, but we'll see what kind of a load it can carry.
    Use the short screws and buy a couple extra from hardware store in case they break or work out while riding. Also, I recommend what others have said -- buy a cheap front rack to help distribute weight both front and rear of bike. Nashbar has a front low rider rack for $12.99 that works for me.

  13. #13
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    Std rack fitting is a washer and an M5 allen bolt long enough to protrude a couple of threads..
    The nut is not essential.

  14. #14
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    Things to take with you.

    Chain lube
    Extra spokes
    Extra bolts for the rack and bike
    New cable (brake and shifting)
    Multitool
    Spoke wrench.

    A word about your rack-- I bet it will work fine. I've only seen a couple of welds fail on racks, but I've seen lots of bolts fall off. Check for tightness often. Check your spoke tention, pinch bolts on all the cables, stem bolts, chainring bolts, crank bolts, hub tightness, ect....

    Check everything!

    Your trusty old 830 will be fine if it's in good repair when you start out. I've seen touring newbies buy top end bikes/gear only to have some crap like the rear derailer bottom pulley bolt fall out and ruin everything.

    And check out powerstraps at Nashbar, Performance, ect... Great product for riding in street shoes.

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