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  1. #1
    "Big old guy"
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    Components for my custom bike

    And the questions continue!! In review I'm really tall and heavy and I'm going to build a custom touring bike. We have already solved (I think) the bar problem, the Salsa bars look really good.

    Now for some other questions.

    Hubs I know Phil Wood hubs are the best, but I'm not sure I can afford them, any alternatives, I now use Shimano XT's and they tend to last about 3 years.

    Rims Sun now makes the Ryno Lite in a 29 inch model and I have good luck with them in the past, they are MTB rims could they be too wide, for touring?

    And finally (for now) brakes, the builder kind of likes mechanical disks, but I'm not sure I need the complexity or cost. Which is better suited for a touring bike, disks, V's, or cantilever?

    Thanks for all the ideas. Ted This is almost as much fun as the ride!

  2. #2
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    Stick with the choices that have worked for you in the past (XT, Ryno Lites, ect....)

    If the builder can set up a set of racks AND the disc brakes to work with panniers, I'd be ok with mechanica discl brakes. Personally, I'd go with Trektro cantilever brakes-- way cheaper.

    The first step is pick a set of racks and panniers and build the bike around them. I know this sounds backwards, but I've seen so many builds were the bike gets put together and the gearing is wrong, the racks don't fit, the bike is unstable carrying a load or some other disaster.

    Think about the end result.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
    Year-round cyclist
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoss10
    And the questions continue!! In review I'm really tall and heavy and I'm going to build a custom touring bike. We have already solved (I think) the bar problem, the Salsa bars look really good.

    Now for some other questions.

    Hubs I know Phil Wood hubs are the best, but I'm not sure I can afford them, any alternatives, I now use Shimano XT's and they tend to last about 3 years.

    Rims Sun now makes the Ryno Lite in a 29 inch model and I have good luck with them in the past, they are MTB rims could they be too wide, for touring?

    And finally (for now) brakes, the builder kind of likes mechanical disks, but I'm not sure I need the complexity or cost. Which is better suited for a touring bike, disks, V's, or cantilever?

    Thanks for all the ideas. Ted This is almost as much fun as the ride!

    Hubs. My single uses an XT hub. It has 20 000 km so far and still going strong. For the front hub, I'm very partial for the Schmidt dynohub. With it, you won't ever be out of light.

    Rims. My neighbourhood bike shops don't like the Sun rims at all. I had bad experiences with a Bontraeger Farlane asymetric (36 spokes, failed in less than 4000 km) and with two Velocity Dyad (40 spokes on a tandem, rear was repaired at 2500 km; front and rear failed at 4000 km). The three Mavic A719 rims I have stay true even when doing loaded touring in potholes, and one of these has 20 000 km. For foulproof rims, get 36 spokes.

    Brakes. Disc brakes are great for cyclocross and for commuting on wet streets like in rainy Seattle. But for touring, it's a solution in search of a problem. With disc brakes, you need:
    – a beefier fork which weights a bit more and won't dampen road vibrations as well;
    – special racks which have limited availability, cost more and/or weight more (Old Man Mountain and some Tubus models);
    – wear and tear on the pannier fabric (because the brake casing may rub).

    So the choice is really between V brakes and cantilever brakes. Both are equally good, equally effective and equally easy to maintain, with the following limitations:

    V-brakes. The only road levers directly compatible with them are the Dia Compe 287 V, which are sold 60-80 $ U.S. And they have a bit limited travel, which is not a problem if you like to bottom out the levers (I do). With ordinary brake levers like the 10 $ Shimano Exxage or with STI or Ergo levers, you need to add Travel Agents, which add 20 $ to the cost of each brake, and which have a reputation to eat brake cables.
    If you install bar-end or downtube shifters, then the 287-V levers and v-brakes make a very good setup. Very lean also.

    One caveat: unless you are positive you'll never want to tour with tires larger than 700x30 and will never want to use fenders, avoid the Tekto mini-V brakes, because they don't offer enough clearance for touring.

    Cantilever brakes. Between Avid, Shimano and Tektro, not sure which is best, and which squeals like mad. Wide profile brakes require a bit less force to apply, but make sure your feet or panniers don't interfere with them. Whatever model you buy, make sure you get one that uses threaded brake pads like these (and like v-brakes). Pads with threaded posts are much easier to adjust.
    Cantis are directly compatible with all brake levers including STI and Ergo, but you'll need cable hangers, and adjusting the rear brake on a smallish 17" or 18" frame can be tricky.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

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    That's good advice about the racks.

    My advice considering your weight, but also just what happens touring, is to go with double brakes. I mean your whole life is pretty much hanging by a tiny piece of aircraft cable and a nut. We are not talking swaged climbing gear, but the kind of thing that can rattle loose. So I would go with V or canti, and a disc on the front. On the back just a regular V or canti. You need an extra lever, up top which is comon with those cyclocross levers, so why not a small lever up there. This is on my to-do list. Though this is unconventional, I think it is important. The only problem for touring is you get a dished front wheel, and different length spokes due to the disc mounting. But MTBs hold up to the thrashing so it shouldn't be a problem. Carrying all those spokes is a bit of a bummer though.

    With the hubs, you should spend the extra money for a heat treated axle. That leaves you with Phils and DT Hugli, and a few others. I would go to the Hugli, because they are stronger and cheaper and have a lot of options for disc drag brakes, 135, 145. I would look into 40 or 48 spokes and Velocity rims, rather than just hoping something called rhyno is right for you. Think positive, you are now all about velocity not rhynonis (I'm trying too). More spokes is probably better for you and a deep rim, than the merely heavier Rhyno, and now that it's been lightened... The only bad thing about Huglis, by the way, is no sealed bearing, I believe. But that is not a real problem in most cases, My truck doesn't have sealed bearing and it sees a lot more road salt etc... than my bike. If you are going underwater, then maybe. But these things are designed for MTB use, and most touring is not so hard on seals.

  5. #5
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    Did the same bike shop make all those wheels Michel?

    There are some good points there in Michel's stuff. If you double the brakes I don't think there is the same problem with the fork because you are grabing the wheel both at the rim and the hub, so a lot of loads are mitigated. I think also that a lot of the reason for the disc is for special conditions like wet weather, or if one system fails so you don't need to use the disc unless the canti is underperforming. If you take the advice to plan from the paniers and racks back on a custom from, you should be able to work something out. The Canondale T2000 has discs, not sure how that works out.

  6. #6
    Sasquatch Crossing mycoatl's Avatar
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    A few thoughts on brakes. My local shop talked me out of disc brakes for a touring bike. Their main argument was that replacement hubs, rotors & pads might be difficult to find in a pinch. This shop is a large, well-stocked shop in Portland, a very bike-friendly city. However, they only stock limited disc parts because they're not that widespread yet. Something to think about if you go off the beaten path much or plan to tour in less-urban areas or overseas.

    On the Canti side, I've heard very good things about Paul Component's touring cantis--just another option to consider. http://www.paulcomp.com/

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoss10
    And the questions continue!! In review I'm really tall and heavy and I'm going to build a custom touring bike. We have already solved (I think) the bar problem, the Salsa bars look really good.

    Now for some other questions.

    Hubs I know Phil Wood hubs are the best, but I'm not sure I can afford them, any alternatives, I now use Shimano XT's and they tend to last about 3 years.

    Rims Sun now makes the Ryno Lite in a 29 inch model and I have good luck with them in the past, they are MTB rims could they be too wide, for touring?

    And finally (for now) brakes, the builder kind of likes mechanical disks, but I'm not sure I need the complexity or cost. Which is better suited for a touring bike, disks, V's, or cantilever?

    Thanks for all the ideas. Ted This is almost as much fun as the ride!
    What's wrong with wide rims for touring? I like to tour on fairly wide tires (26 x 1.75) for a smooth ride, less stress on the spokes, and it makes it easier to explore the occasional dirt road. Wide tires fit better on wide rims.

    V brakes are extremely easy to set up, but I think it's easier to fit canti brake cables around handlebar bags and whatever you've got piled onto the rear rack. Avid Shortys or the new Shimano canti brakes are pretty easy to set up, and work well. Panniers and disc brakes strike me as a nightmare waiting to happen.

    My last two tours convinced me that lights are a good thing to have on a tour, and a front dyno-hub is a great way to power those lights. The Schmidt ($205) has the least rolling resistance and is generally the best dynamo hub you can buy. The Shimano DH-3N71 ($90) is probably the best value for your money in this country.

  8. #8
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    Wide rims are fine if you run wide tires. Running wide tires slows you down on pavement, but is an advantage on loose gorund, so it's a depends on ones' use. A heavy rider does not have to run wide tires, and if he does he is just making things that much harder than they may need to be on pavement. Wide rims on narrow tires are a puncture problem. You can run the wider tires on the narrow rims but not the reverse.

    One has to look at the real issue, this isn't a mater of what brakes are the best for a touring bike, but what brakes are best for a guy over 300 (adding the gear). I know a lot of guys who weigh that kind of number and are really into sports, yet the bike industry tubing is designed for guys around 150 tops on the charts. over that you are going to need to go beyoind road tubing. So when you have a situtation that is more that 2x stock, you have to think out of the box. I do think parts are a real problem particularly for the serious expedition guy or someone who cycles in areas with small shops, but again with a redundant system it isn't a big deal because if the disc blows, you still have the V or canti.

    My first upgrade has been to move to the Paul brakes, however they are not all that special. What is special is the quality of the materials, no way to have a casting flaw. But the design is the same as many stock brakes out there, and in fact it puts bad loads on the canti braze ons, because the whole uint mounts about 3/8" further out there. I'm using mine now, but on my custom I am going to turn special boses, then I will have the best of both worlds, great brake and great mounts. However it is just a traditional canti, like from the 80s, it is not an eye popper like the first time one uses index shifting (whether you like it or not), just an incremental.

    I am still considering the disc. The fact is I just spent like 400 canadian to redo the brakes on my f-150 . New pads, calipers, and wheels bearings. I put in the best parts I could get, and did the work myself. One could be just as banged up if the brakes on the bike let go, so I am spending some coin on my custom bike. I've got 2 pairs of Paul, but I am so far only running them on the front, I like my Petersen self-energizing brakes for the back, and I may add an avid disc to the fork. I am also thinking of a friction brake on a hugli hub. I tried out the Shimano gear hub the other day with the drum fitted and it stops the bike like you dropped anchor. I just like the idea of some redundancy both from the mechanical perspective and the conditions perspective, so no mater what, the bike stops. I don't have that on dual canti, and i have been running that set-up for over 20 years, so I do know how to adjust it, but the road levers just aren't as positive. And on the wide bars, I will have room for the 4 levers, the regular drops and one or 2 2-ingers style on the top.

    On a motorcycle one caliper and disc of Paul quality, not to mention controls is 1000, I just don't see the point in going cheap, particularly on a custom.

  9. #9
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    Here is a slick option for the rear mount and keeping it away from the racks:

    http://www.frameforum.net/forum2/ind...topic=2110&hl=

  10. #10
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    Hey Hoss10,

    Well, you have a gotten a whole lot of advice-- much of it is really good, even if it's different. The truth is that there is more than one way to build a bike. The most important thing is to use quality parts and to make sure they all fit together and work.

    So draw a picture of your bike and list all the parts you going to use. Make sure everything is going to mesh together BEFORE you start. You're using a pro builder, (a good choice, even for guys like me who work in the industry) and maybe find a couple of other *bike people* to look at the plans and look for problems.

    The good news is, you're going to get a great bike. Keep with it.

  11. #11
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    My builder sourced a set of mountain bike tandem wheels from MTBtandems. They're 40 spokes with White Industries hubs rated to carry 400 pounds apiece so they should be able to handle this elephant okay.

  12. #12
    Macro Geek
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    This is not exactly a component question, but since you are springing for a custom bike, here is something to think about.

    I know two owners of custom-built touring bikes who grumble that the designer did not provide sufficient toe clearance. My understanding is that this has become standard practice for racing frames because it becomes possible to build more compact (and therefore lighter) bicycles. The configuration is not ideal for tourists because it can cause the toe of a shoe to touch the front wheel (or fender, if you have one) while pedalling at low speeds, which can result in loss of steering control.

    If toe clearance is an issue for you, consult your frame builder before he or she starts cutting the tubes!

    By the way, both of these owners enjoy their bikes despite the problem, but have said that they would do things differently next time.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoss10
    ...Hubs I know Phil Wood hubs are the best, but I'm not sure I can afford them, any alternatives...
    I've had good luck with DT-Swiss hubs. They're cheaper than Phil Wood hubs but they seem as durable.

    Quote Originally Posted by hoss10
    Rims Sun now makes the Ryno Lite in a 29 inch model and I have good luck with them in the past, they are MTB rims could they be too wide, for touring?
    I'm fond of Sun's rims. They look beefy to me. I'd think that width would be an asset, not a liability for touring.

    Quote Originally Posted by hoss10
    And finally (for now) brakes, the builder kind of likes mechanical disks, but I'm not sure I need the complexity or cost. Which is better suited for a touring bike, disks, V's, or cantilever?
    I've used Avid BB7 road discs (mechanical) and I've used V's and cantilevers. IMHO, the discs aren't worth the trouble of keeping them in adjustment. For my money, V's are the way to go. I'd avoid cantilevers at all costs if I were you.

    Good luck with the build and post pictures when you get it finished!

  14. #14
    "Big old guy"
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    Thanks for all the very good replies.
    MG Regarding toe clearence.I think you said you had a True North in an earlier post, Hugh I think will take into account my size 13 hoofs. I don't think weight (of the bike) will be of any consideration. After looking at me the guys showed me their "special" tubes which they save for "special" riders.

    MG how about a picture of your True North touring bike? Ted

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    I'd like to see that also.

    I echo the toe overlap issue. I had never had this problem until I left a wire a little long on my fenders, and damned if that wouldn't be an easy way to get run down by a car. I like to hover waiting for the traffic to clear and then dash across the road, probably not smart. Well if you go down doing that you can easily get nailed by following traffic. I found any really low speed turn was hazardous. At least it was easy to solve my problem. My new design has 70 degree head tube and 26" wheels. I wonder about the small wheels given all the 29er threads, big is back. Anyway, since I am making the frame I expect to have some things I want to change.

    If you are going to kick out some big bucks for a custom frame I would recommend sending away for Beckman's brochure, it's about 20 dollars. It's a series of newsletters, and it does cover a lot of issues relative to touring bikes in great detail. There really aren't any coherent answers since once you get to custom it really varies with each rider. He outlines the issues better than anyone else has, and he gives all his current component choices.

    I would also recommend buying a cheap frame like an LHT. I forget what you ride now, but if you can size to an LHT and haven't previously owned a real touring frame, then you probably should do it since it is better to practice on a cheap frame, you can always resell an LHT. If you are here in Ontario, there is a 60 at Urbane, at least there was on Friday. If in the US you can easily order one. I see all the mistakes I made with my current touring bike, none really serious, I could use it for ever, but at least it gave me real info to go custom. After one trip I knew I needed to try a few things differently. That lesson only cost me net 200 not net 2000, well I hope so, I haven't shopped the frame yet.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by hoss10
    MG how about a picture of your True North touring bike?
    I met these local residents in Ticino, the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. They were so intent to see my True North touring bike that they chased me through a meadow. When I felt hot breath on my legs, I ditched the bike and rolled under an electric fence to safety.

    They drooled all over my True North bike... literally!
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