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  1. #1
    Gone, but not forgotten Shiznaz's Avatar
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    Chainstay length question

    Sorry if this has already been asked...

    My friend and I are planning on doing a coast-to-coast cross-Canada bike ride next spring/summer. I don't really have a suitable bike at the moment (3 track bikes, a BMX and a cruiser), so I have been looking for one.

    I'm currently debating the pros and cons of cyclocross bikes vs. true touring bikes. I've got to the point where I think I would prefer a cyclocross in most ways, except for chainstay length. I have been informed by several people that the chainstays may be too short on a cyclocross bike and that I may hit my heels into the panniers when riding.

    When comparing the geometry of the frame I have in mind (Soma Double Cross) vs. a common touring bike (trek 520), I don't see all that much difference, except for the soma having chainstays 2.5cm shorter. I have attached a chart with some touring and cross geometries for reference.

    I know this is a hard question to answer, and is really on a case by case basis, but: Do you think I will hit my heels into the panniers when touring on a cross bike?

    Numbers:
    170mm cranks
    Size 11 feet
    425mm chainstays
    46L cut-away panniers mounted as far back as possible


    To be safe I would say my heels extend 215mm behind the pedal spindle, so during a rotation my heel would extend a total 385mm past the bb, leaving a slim 40mm between my heel and the rear axle. Surely I would hit my foot into the panniers? The trouble is that I can't really test it out before hand... Using all the same calculations the trek 520 would give me 65mm of heel clearance towards the axle, but this doesn't seem that significant given the other numbers...

    If itís hopeless I will consider buying a BoB Yak but I hate to think going across the prairies without being able to draft with my buddy properly.

    Thanks for your advice!
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  2. #2
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    I don't know if this is the kind of problem that will succumb to math... but the Tubus Logo rack is designed to mount the panniers farther back to improve heel clearance. Available from TheTouringStore.com, and Wayne is super cool to work with.

    Can you take your racks and panniers to the store and do a test fit?

    You're not going to buy a touring bike without a test ride, are you???
    ...

  3. #3
    Gone, but not forgotten Shiznaz's Avatar
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    Well, my main problem is that I don't have the bike, the racks or the panniers yet so its all just hypothetical... I will unfortunately not get a test ride on the bike I'm looking at because it lives in your neck of the woods (bay area) and I live in Toronto! However the frame is my size and if the deal is good enough I can sort out fit issues later and I have been reccomended the frame by a few people. Were I to get the tubus logo rack with special adapters that you reccomend I think that would probably make up for the 2.5cm shorter chainstays on the Soma... Who knows!

  4. #4
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    My experience is that if you are willing to mess around with a variety of racks and panniers you'll probably get something to work on a cyclocross bike, but:

    - it may result in poor handling because the panniers are way back of the rear axle
    - you may not get the size and type of panniers you want
    - you may not get the rack you want
    - its going to be a lot of hassle

    Some other options are:

    - use a BOB
    - buy a used touring bike use it and sell it
    - buy a new touring bike use it and swap the parts over to a cyclocross frame when you get back
    - buy a Surly Cross Check, buy a Long Haul Trucker fork for it, use front panniers and either none or small rear panniers, when done the tour switch back to the Cross Check fork
    - buy a cyclo cross bike & buy an Old Man Moutain Cold Springs Front rack, use front panniers and either none or small ones on back

    To give you a real world data point I am riding a Surly LHT 58cm frame Old Man Mountain Red Rock rear rack and Ortlieb Bike Packer Classic rear panniers with 175mm cranks and size 45/46 (~US11) shimano SPD sandals. With the cranks at horizontal and the panniers set midway on the rack I have 2.5cm of clearance. I do have room on the rack to move the panniers back about 4.4cm, but that is going start causing some problems with handling - particularly if there is no front panniers.

    Good luck on your trip - you'll have a blast!
    Last edited by vik; 09-14-06 at 09:50 AM.
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  5. #5
    Steel is Real. markw's Avatar
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    If your looking at framesets and it sounds like you have the parts, just pick up the LHT. They have 46cm chainstays so you don't have to worry about heel strike. Just take a look around the touring forum, and on touring lists, they're very popular for the low bb, long chainstays, and extra mounts for bottles, racks, etc.

  6. #6
    qqy
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    Hey shiz - it'll be no problem with the right panniers. I have size 14 feet AND 175mm cranks and I had no problem with 42.5cm chainstays on my cyclocross bike when I toured Europe this summer. I used these panniers. That said, they were pushed all the way to the back, but I had no problems with handling, even on twisty mountain decents. Those MEC panniers should work too. Worst case scenario: you have to buy longer arms that attach to your seatstays and the rack. I believe MEC still sells them...

    The BOB trailers work too, but really affect the handling. I fnd they also tempt you to carry too much weight as they're so spacious. The more I toured, the less I carried in my panniers. When you hit Alberta, you'll understand.

  7. #7
    qqy
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    By the way, if you're building up a cyclocross touring bike, I cannot stress enough the usefulness of cross lever brakes. I used them more than my STIs as after about 4 hours in the saddle, your back will want the most upright position possible.

  8. #8
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    where's the bike?
    ...

  9. #9
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    A Canadian C-C may need more luggage than a Euro tour. If you need full size panniers then longer chainstays will help the bike handle more easily with more of the weight inside the wheelbase.

    Note that when panniers are fully loaded the profile tends to bulge and round out so you can only check heel clearance by experience not calculation.

  10. #10
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    I have no answer. But I have size 13 feet, 175 crank arms. on a Volpe with 435 mm cst. and a rack that goes back 15 in. from the seat stay braze on. I can clear Nashbar MTB panniers or Jandd lg mtn . bags. Jandd 's expedition rack goes back 18 in. from the braze on. so this would give you even moore room, than I have. Good luck with your rear spokes!
    A child learns what the village teaches!

  11. #11
    LHT Commuter wsexson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markw
    If your looking at framesets and it sounds like you have the parts, just pick up the LHT. They have 46cm chainstays so you don't have to worry about heel strike. Just take a look around the touring forum, and on touring lists, they're very popular for the low bb, long chainstays, and extra mounts for bottles, racks, etc.
    +1 on all counts. My LHT is just so awesome.

    Not only are the long chainstays nice for no pannier heel strike, but you have a lot less "cross chaining" problems. I can realistically use all 9 rear cogs with all 3 front rings with no grinding at all.

  12. #12
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    One of th nicest frames around is the Ubane cyclist touring frameset. They sell some LHT also, and their frame is made in the same factory, so they basically solved some of the problems with the LHT and made a better all around frame. I just mention it not to start a discussion most people can't get into, but you are in CAN.

    Anywhoo. One thing about chainstays is that along with wheelbase it is one of those fictional numbers that they just throw in what they think you want to hear to buy the bike. in other words will the smallest frame and the largest frame really have the same length CS and the same length of wheelbase. Of course not. They just know the person buying the bike is going to read some book that says get this WB and CS length, so those are the lengths in the tables, while all the other numbers are different for every frame size. Try to plot some of those in CAD, if you want some fun. SO... The chainstay length differential will be even larger, in most cases, on real bikes above the median size, which may interest you if you are average height or more. It may vary slightly more than 2.5-4cm

    OK if you really want a cyclocross bike, then there is no talking to you, I mean if you are going to have a pro career in CC after this is all over... But generally you don't want to be stuck on anything else than a real touring geometry road or MTB style bike for a cross canada. You will get to the rough sidings in parts of NB or most of Norther Ontario and just shoot yourself for whatever trendy reason you had to throw away the cadilac ride of the touring bike. Meanwhile, the ride advantage of a real touring frame is massive vs the weight pick-up of the extra length, which is about the weight of a few quarters. Now maybe the whole frame will weigh more but then you may want that too when it comes to carrying you, and all your gear. I like the ride of my touring bike better than my road bike, handling is another mater. But believe, me you can keep up with the twists in the road coming across manaitoba, your real issue is the road surface, ride position, load carrying, pannier ride, heel interferance.

    Also, I happen to like sandals, as do a lot of tourists, and they are way larger in footprint than the average race style shoe, which really calls for some heel clearance.

    Also, "out there", the cool factor is pretty pro-touring. I joke not that every cycle tourists, or racer on an outside the city limits training ride, that passed me on my green tig welded stock touring bike, all tricked out, commented on how cool it was. In the magazines or on the net, all sorts of wild cool factor gear gets the nod, but my bike that would have put me to sleep back in the 70s, is all cool again out on the open road.

  13. #13
    Gone, but not forgotten Shiznaz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vik
    options are:
    - buy a used touring bike use it and sell it
    - buy a new touring bike use it and swap the parts over to a cyclocross frame when you get back
    - buy a Surly Cross Check, buy a Long Haul Trucker fork for it, use front panniers and either none or small rear panniers, when done the tour switch back to the Cross Check fork
    - buy a cyclo cross bike & buy an Old Man Moutain Cold Springs Front rack, use front panniers and either none or small ones on back
    Given the deal I could get on the complete used cyclocross bike, It would be best to buy the 'cross bike, test it out over the winter, and if the ride isn't good enough, find a nice old touring frameset on the cheap and swap all the parts... The cross bike is tange prestige tubing, Chris king/mavic open pro wheels, ultegra/dura ace components, nice bar/stem... I really don't want to buy a new off-the-shelf touring bike because I feel like I would want to swap out all the lower quality parts right away.

  14. #14
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    So just buy the frame. Nice parts are cool, but some of the racier parts are a little pared down for reliability. For sure if the tubing is designed for your weight in a responsive racing set, it is going to be too light for you and your gear.

    As a guy who weighs 220, in a world where the average chic weighs 140, it's interesting to note that in the True temper line, the heaviest tubing choice Henry James the distributor sells, on a shorter stay basis than a touring bike is for someone who weighs 150 pounds. They are all chic bikes, look it up yourself the tubing catalog is online. Of course if you weight 120 that's a whole other story. Touring is it's own juicy technical specialty with it's own requirements. Presumably people who even know what a Chris King/mavic yatta yatta are, are into bike gear in a big way. So why would you sellect something that totally doesn't match your intended ride for possibly one of the longest in the saddle stints you will undertake? I don't know what the average CC race looks like but it probably isn't all that mcuh like a loaded bike on the shoulder of the Trans Canada...

    Anyway, people do this trip on Walmart bikes so anything that strikes your fancy might work. Though Wally bikes at least have the advantage of dealers, and supllies stretched out across the country. When my fancy Schwalby tire blew it's casing, I limped into a town that night that had both a Wally and a Canadian tire, and not a single 700C tire though.

  15. #15
    Gone, but not forgotten Shiznaz's Avatar
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    Well, I come in on the light side at 145lbs... plus I travel light (we are going for an ultralight philosophy on this ride)... In reality, apart from this trip, I mainly see myself racing around the city on this bike, training on snowy streets throughout the winter. I know I'm asking for advice and not really listening to it, and a few of you have realized I've already made up my mind but this is all very valuable information to me regardless. I will have the whole winter to see how suitable this bike is and I'm sure I'll change a few things around.. Thats why I have a job! Anyways, thanks for all your input, I very much appreciate it.

    Also very true about people crossing canada on walmart/canadian tire bikes. As well as very young and old people, and people with cancer and missing limbs and all kinds of other heroic feats. Lets not forget to mention the maniac on the boneshaker who does cross-continental rides. I think a strong young buck like myself (22yrs) and my buddy should be able handle the 7800k between oceans on whatever bikes we happen to be riding. So I really may as well just buy what I want.

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    Yes but...

    1) I would really recomend against doing that unless/until you have at least riden a good touring bike. Run don't walk to the Urbane Cyclist right downtown a few yards from City TV, take one of their touring bikes out for a ride. They make them up in a number of different formats but they should have one made up in most sizes, you might not get drops in every size, but close enough to test out the format. If you really don't like it, then I agree with all your other points and have fun, but at least do it from an informed basis. A lot of people after they ride a touring frame actually prefer them just for running around on. Disreagard if you have alaready done this...

    2) You like this CC bike right now, but your whole world view will change on the road, your perception of what is hot and what is not, so be sure you are satisfying a durable desire... I'm not here to denigh you a CC bike, just so long as you are going to be happy with it on the road, and many people have, it's pretty close.

    145 is a whole lot better weight to be coming at this from, but that still puts you at the upper limit of their tubing and you haven't taken on any weight. I'm certainly not suggesting you will break the bike! Just getting at how different a world this kind of thing is designed for, though some CC frames are real rugged and a lot of guys tour on the Surly CC. I'm just trying to give you a point of reference.

    I do the ultralight thing too, but it still added up to about 35 pounds plus tarp, sleeping bag, food and water. I have all the lightweight gear, and I left behind all sorts of stuff like stove, only took a cup and a spoon, camera, ipod, etc... etc... I carried only minimal tools, and spares (and this bit me in the end when I left without the folding tire I wanted because I couldn't find one) I started with Ray Jardines packing list for backpacking out of 10 pounds gear + plus food, and yet it still added up. The trips I have done so far have just turned out to always have a big food store at least once a day, so I haven't had to carry multi day food.

  17. #17
    Gone, but not forgotten Shiznaz's Avatar
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    I rode around a beautiful Fuji Touring bike for years and loved it. After that bike, I started to ride track bikes and love their aggressive geometry, and in the mean time the fuji was converted to a single speed as the compnentry gave out. The frame was since messed up by a taxi cab and now I only have agressive frames.

    I like the touring ride but honestly found the fuji (s-10-s for reference) to be too long and spongey.

    I bought the cyclocross bike for quite a bit less than any of the touring bikes I was looking at at the LBSes. Cheap enough to more than cover a used touring frame should I feel the CC is not sufficient. I will have to do some testing with borrowed racks and panniers over the next few months. If its hopeless I may just break down and buy a BoB. Again, thanks for all your informative input. You've raised questions I may never have asked myself.

  18. #18
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    Good deal, if you have riden all the different options then you know your way around. Often people can't get on a touring bike that easily so it's guess work. Things will probably work out ok as far as bags are concerned, or at least reasonable size ones. I use my touring bags around town, on an old short stay mountian bike and while I get a little interference, it's not bad, and those stays are really short. For the lightweight touring I use seratus bags which are the forerunners of the current MEC bags, I gues one would say their cheap ones. Those are pretty small and you shouldn't have any problems either getting the gear in, or out of the way on the bike.

  19. #19
    Senior Member kesroberts's Avatar
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    I have a double cross for touring and love it. Chainstay length not a problem for me. It's not as sturdy (i.e. flexy with huge loads) as the T2000 that I had, but the fit and ride are better.

  20. #20
    Gone, but not forgotten Shiznaz's Avatar
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    So here is the bike I have been talking about:

    saddle and headset not included

    Wheels:32 hole Chris King road hubs 3x laced to mavic open pros with double butted spokes
    Tires: Vittoria Cross XG pros.
    Front brake: Shimano Deore LX Cantilever
    Rear brake: Avid Shorty 6 cantilever
    Front Derailleur: Shimano 105
    Rear Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra
    Cassette: Shimano Ultegra
    Chain: Sram
    Crankset: Dura Ace with 38 / 46 FSA chainrings
    Bars: 46cm wide flare Salsa oversized clamp Bell Laps
    Shifters: Shimano Ultegra 9 speed (with some extra downtube shifter levers on my keychain)
    Cables: Nokon and Yokozuna
    Seat Post: Dura Ace
    Headset: Cane creek S-2
    Saddle: san marco rolls or italia flite
    Pedals: Look Keo carbon

    I will of course put on more suitable tires, but apart from that (and touring accessories) I don't think I need to do much to this bike to make it more suitable for cross canada duties. I of course defer my knowlege to you fellows. Do any of these parts strike you as completely misfunctional for touring? Thanks alot! I'll make sure to post some photos of once I have it built up to spec and loaded because I know thats what you guys like best!

  21. #21
    Senior Member howsteepisit's Avatar
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    Also, a lot of true cyclocross bikes have a high bottom bracket, which is less stable than a lower one on touring bikes. I also think that since a lot of cross bikes now have carbon forks that thay are not a good choice, as I want a bike that if crashed (or when) is more able to withstand a impact load that carbon fiber can. I pick steel.
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  22. #22
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    You're probably going to need some lower gears. Trek 520's low gear is a 30x32, and that's too high IMO. I run MTB gearing - 22x32.
    ...

  23. #23
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    For what it's worth my wife has a Surly Cross Check which she can comfortably ride with Ortleib BackRoller panniers using a Jandd Expidition rack. She uses 170mm cranks and wears size 36 shoes.

  24. #24
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    Take a trailer instead?

    Some panniers, like my Ortliebs, can be tilted on the rack to give more heel clearance.

    Also, my SPD clipless pedals prevent my heels from hitting the panniers by keeping their motion consistent.

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    I like the look of 3x3 spokes is it as strong as cross three? It is supposed to be harder to change a broken spoke, but if you use a flexy spoke maybe it doesn't mater.

    Fenders?

    32 spoke wheels in 700c is lightweight. I've never broken a 32 wheels spoke, but I have only had them on 26s. I'm not saying it will be a problem, and it probably won't be if you are light.

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