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  1. #1
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    Touring bike recommendations for LOADS

    I've finally (and reluctantly) concluded that my 60cm Klein Navigator is just a touch too large for me. I'm shopping for a touring bike suitable for loaded touring that I can test ride before buying (no frame-only, build-it-yourself projects). Cost target not to exceed approximately $2K, but load capacity is of paramount concern.

    I currently weigh 275, and since I like to ride with panniers AND like to ride dirt trails occasionally, I want 700c x 37mm tires. Any bike I buy will need to have lots of clearance for tires!

    What makes and models do youse gals & guys suggest?

  2. #2
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Waterford Adventure
    http://www.waterfordbikes.com/site/designs/t.php

    All Waterford bikes are custom, it will fit. I test rode an Adventure cycle once,
    it will handle the load easily.
    Last edited by late; 08-21-06 at 07:41 AM.

  3. #3
    It's true, man.
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    I recommend the Surly Karate Monkey.

    http://www.surlybikes.com/karatemonkey.html

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    There are plenty of small workshop/custom bike makers in the US but it is tricky bringing this under $2k. You should probably be looking at stock design.
    The Bruce Gordon BLT is a good benchmark for your style of tourer. It is built up pretty much as most experienced tourers would spec a bike.

  5. #5
    Zen Master Miles2go's Avatar
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    See if you can find a new Koga Miyata near you. Not saying it's the only game in town but these bikes have plenty of world expeditions under their belts. For instance, take a look at http://www.downtheroad.org/ Tim is a big guy, they carry big loads and ride all kinds of roads.

    Also check out the Cannondales to see if they'll take the tire size you're looking for. You should be able to test ride one of them.

    Good luck and have fun looking.
    Ron - Colorado
    The Loaded Touring Bike - Photo Gallery
    Touring bikes: Novara Safari, Cannondale T800, Rocky Mountain Sherpa, Pivot Mach 429 and BOB trailer. Past: Waterford Adventure Cycle, Co-Motion Cappuccino, Thorn Nomad, Trek 520, Bike Friday New World Tourist, Klein Attitude & BOB trailer.

  6. #6
    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by truman
    I recommend the Surly Karate Monkey.

    http://www.surlybikes.com/karatemonkey.html
    Well, in that case, why not the Long Haul Trucker? But the OP wants to buy a complete bike, not a frame.

    Does the Trek 520 have that kind of tire clearance? That might be a good one to look at.

  7. #7
    The Wheel is Turning The Figment's Avatar
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    Ummmm, have you thought of a Mtb? There are Lots of older Mt bikes with good ride geomerety that can be set up for touring at your LBS. this would keep the bike in your price range,give you the componets you want,and be strong as hell!
    I toured on a 23"91 Miyata trailrunner for years,beat the crap out of it,overloaded it,rain,mud,sand,gravel,rocks,pavement,snow,kids,cats and the occasinal Volvo were just some of the things that it took in stride.
    I'd still be riding it ,but some schmuck stole it three years ago,the bike I have now is nice (05 Novara Bonanza) but I miss the old school ride!

  8. #8
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Burley makes at least two steel touring bikes that fit your parameters. The Vagabond comes with a rear rack, 105 components, and cantilever brakes. I think it retails for about $1600. I rode on the other day and I thought it was a superior bike. Two neighbors have put 1000s of miles on them and loved every mile. You should confirm that it can fit a 37+ mm tire.

  9. #9
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    I'll second the Burley suggestion if it fits.

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    26" wheels would be my choice for what you describe.

    However the bike that just begs to be yours is the Comotion Americano. It's built to tandem specs in a 700 mm single touring bike, they have a good reputation for getting people the proper fit. Particularly people like yourself who already have some benchmark having had one or more frames. A test ride is probably not as accurate as a fitting since people can make mistakes and let circumstances influence them even when they are testing a bike.

    If you really want local and cheaper, get a Canondale 800 and use your budget to upgrade from the base model, perhaps adding some serious racks or some beefed up components like a CNC front brake, or discs.

  11. #11
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    I went by the LBS today and they recommended either a Specialized Crossroads or a Hardrock MTB. Comments?

    Also, nobody locally (or in the State, probably) sells Waterford, Surly, Cannondale, Koga, Burley, or Comotion. I'd for sure like to ride it before I buy it, so those (unfortunately) are probably out. The "other" bike shops in town sell Kona (some options there...), LeMond, Trek, and various other high-end racing bikes that aren't for me.

  12. #12
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Well ... do you prefer flat bars over drop bars?

    There is a long thread that discusses using a mountain bike for touring. So you can check that out to see whether the pros and cons are worth it. You will probably want to switch handlebars or add bar-ends to increase the number of hand positions. The aluminum frame can be uncomfortable over the long haul. Although my understanding is that some heavy riders appreciate aluminum's greater rigidity.

    You will save a lot of money going with the Specialized hybrid/mountain bike. Although you would be getting lower quality components. If that is the price range you are more comfortable with and you want drop bars then perhaps you should be looking at the Bianchi Volpe or Fuji Tourer (~$800-900). Trek has a touring staple designated as the 520 (~$1200-1300). All three of these bikes have a following.

    The Waterford and Comotion bike would be quite expensive. I have not looked at them in a while; but I think that they are about 25-50% more than the $2000 limit you mentioned earlier.

    Is it really the case that there are no Cannondale dealers in LA? I am shocked. Perhaps you should take a trip to Houston for a bigger selection if a test ride is mandatory. Cannondale's T-series of touring bikes have a strong following as well. I noticed that there are several places with the 2005 models on sale.

    Good luck.

  13. #13
    Banned. Bekologist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    I went by the LBS today and they recommended either a Specialized Crossroads or a Hardrock MTB. Comments?

    Also, nobody locally (or in the State, probably) sells..... Surly
    ask your local to let you see the QBP catalog (the one without the prices,) open it up. in the first 70 pages or so is the complete line of Surly frames, and gruppo packages preselected by QBP to be a good match to the frame....(you even get component choices) ... point at the Long Haul Trucker or the 26" frameset of your choice (karate monkey) and say,

    " I want to order THAT."

    I can't think of a bike shop that doesn't order from QBP, but an entire state could be filled with them, i guess. Around Seattle, at least 4 bike shops i know of have the LHT built up, but that isn't crucial, if you like drop bar bikes, it will treat you well as a touring bike.

    also the Co-Motion Americano is excellent advice, the Burleys, too. but those ARE genuinely hard to source....a trip north to Oregon, perhaps?

    a LBS that suggests a crossroads or a hardrock for loaded touring is blowing smoke up your nethers, my friend.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 08-21-06 at 08:23 PM.

  14. #14
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    Probably the comotion is overbudget, but I have no idea how serious that item is. With a Klein and now looking for a 2K bike there may be some further resources. I still think that if you rode off on the wrong frame size once (and who hasn't ever had doubts on that score) then you are probably no less likely to get the right bike by a custom order than a test ride. Test rides rarely are perfect comparisons, like you have all the sizes and component mixes and brands you want to try, and you get all the time and realistic conditions to do them. And the main point is that the local bike shop will always present you with a choice between differnt off the rack options, in the end none may be much of a fit.

    For instance my recent touring off the rack bike was set up as a fixed gear when I test rode it, and it had great standard geometry that doesn't fit me. It's a good bike that I could ride for ever, but I'm going custom since i can.

  15. #15
    Banned. Bekologist's Avatar
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    the Co-Motion americano is a SERIOUSLY built ride for the cyldesdale out there.... they use a heavier gauge tubing, used in their tandems, STOUT rim and hub choices spun into high spoke count wheels....i forget if they are full custom or partial off the shelf; i think the latter.....

    A great set of sturdy wheels is perhaps THE most important componentry on the bike. These are the crucial elements, i believe. Before even deciding on a bike or frame the OP could get a set of 36f/48r Phil Wood hubs built up on the 135-100 spacings to Sun Rhinolites, Velocity Dyads, or Mavic 717ers, and have the half of the bike build in the bag.

    most any off the shelf bike you buy, if you buy a not completely custom specced bike, will need a new, better set of touring wheels, in my opinion. even the Trek 520 comes with a lameish wheelset.....

  16. #16
    aspiring wannabe hoogie's Avatar
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    do they have to be 700C wheels?? why not consider 26" wheels ...
    try looking at tom teesdale and also a thorn nomad, which are heavily discounted right now ...
    thought for today: "Does my ass look fast on this bike?"

  17. #17
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    Co-Motion are great bikes but logistically may be difficult (Oregon), and they are pricey ($3K or so?).

    I second the vote for a Surly Long Haul Trucker, if you can get one built up by a good LBS.

    Another excellent rig for you would be a Cannondale T2000, which has a very strong frame for heavier riders. The T2000 also comes with excellent wheels and components, and will handle large tires.

    The LHT and T2000 are both outstanding tour-ready rigs, reasonably priced and warrant a serious look, even if you have to travel some distance to try one out. I would not buy any bike without a test ride and proper fit.
    Specialized Roubaix SL4 Disc, Cannondale T2000 (touring), Stumpjumper M5 (Mtn - hardtail), Cannondale Rize4 (Mtn - full susp)

  18. #18
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    In many cases, I'd agree with youse guys about the low value of a test ride. In my specific case, however, I've got the "what I want" dialed in to such a degree that I can probably make one or two in-flight adjustments and be able to tell "yes" or "no." My criterion is simple - If I can comfortably ride the bike with my hands an inch above the handlebars with only the slightest of tension in my lower back, then the bike fits. Otherwise, not.

    Having been down that road more than twice, I absolutely refuse to buy another bike mail order, regardless of how suitable the design or how attractive the price. I WANT TO RIDE IT FIRST!

    I've lots of experience swapping drop bars for flats, so that issue isn't a deal breaker. I've also got a deep enough spare parts box that component quality isn't much of an issue either. For me, it all comes back to whether or not the frame fits. FIT IS KING!

    Thanks for the replies and sage advice. I'll post photos when I choose.

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    Regarding your fit, if you ride a bike now and know what position you like, measure it. You can then figure out if you can transfer the points of contact (POC) to another frame. You dont need an exact match in geometry to duplicate POCs since you have some sdjustablity with seatpost layback and stem length.
    I measure in [x,y] using the bottom brackert as [0,0]. A pumb line and some tape to mark the top tube are handy.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW
    Regarding your fit, if you ride a bike now and know what position you like, measure it...
    You're right, MichaelW - this is a great strategy. Unfortunately, I got stupid & sold the bike that fit me before I measured it! Now I'm back to square one.

  21. #21
    Banned. Bekologist's Avatar
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    if you cannot test ride what you want, go get a diagnosis fit-forgot the actual name, no bike required - at a bike shop, that will cost some lucre, but will give you your ideal frame sizes for the riding position you want, etc.....

    Also, go get a set of custom wheels spun up (you're going to want to replace any wheelset that comes on a stock, sub 2,000 dollar bike unless it is extremely special....)

    and start taking trips out of state to try out bikes on test rides, if you cannot find a bike shop in the greater LA basin/ SoCal that has bikes suitable for your needs..... there are Long Haul Truckers available for test rides all around Seattle......

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    if you cannot test ride what you want, go get a diagnosis fit...Also, go get a set of custom wheels...and start taking trips out of state to try out bikes on test rides...
    Thanks, Bekologist - good suggestions all.

    My LBS fits for best efficiency - not best comfort (which is what I desire). Their "fit" on my current frame might have been the best for racing efficiency, but it left me aching after a mere 20 miles. Fortunately, being a valued customer, they charged me only a minimal amount for their efforts.

    I've already had Rev. Chuck make me some 36-spoke, three-cross wheels with Velocity Dyad rims for my 37mm tires. These should be fine for any 700c frame that has adequate clearance for them.

    I do travel out of town frequently, so I'll start test riding more and visiting less when I'm in strange shops.

    Thanks again for the feedback.

  23. #23
    Banned. Bekologist's Avatar
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    ...sounds like you are well on your way to that next touring bike!

  24. #24
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    At 270 lbs I would think that you'd need a custom bike but I just looked at the specs on that Waterford and I wouldn't hesitate to use that.

  25. #25
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    Burley's Hudson is their heavier tourer, and a decent value with a lot of good components. Co-Motion's Americano is an excellent bike, plenty heavy-duty with a 145mm rear dropout width to accommodate a tandem undished rear wheel, but over the budget you stated, though. Urbane Cyclist in Toronto has some very interesting shop brand cycles that might meet your needs.

    The Rivendell Atlantis is a heavy touring design, and could carry you with your loads without problems. With a decent build, though, it's over your limit unless you can find one used.

    I think the best bang for the buck, built up, is the Burley. If you want to do the build from ordered parts, then the Surly LHT is also good.
    Last edited by CHenry; 08-22-06 at 06:36 PM.

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