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  1. #1
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    Which mountain bike components on touring bike?

    Hello,

    If you were building a touring bike (and you're 220lbs+ like I am), which components on your bike would you prefer were for mountian bikes, and which for road bikes? I have a rear XT derailleur I will be using, a cassette from Harris, and 105 shifter/levers. [Frame is an OCR touring 2003]. If you were building from scratch, of the remaining components, of which would you get ultegra/105 and which might you get lx/xt/xtr? Should I buy a road crank, or is a mountaiin bike crank be better for a touring bike? For brakes, I was thinking about getting 105 brakes, and maybe add a rear disc brake later. For hubs, I was thinking about getting a dynamo hub for the front, and a 105 rear (good/bad?).

    This bike is just something to work on, never done this before. If anyone has any links to articles on various aspects of assembly it would really be appreciated. (I will probably end up taking the bike to a shop to check alignment on the derailleurs and other areas of the bike)

    Thanks a lot

  2. #2
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    I'm putting together my new touring bike right now. A few thoughts:

    - I went with MTB hubs (Shimano XT) -- those are the ones with the 135mm spacing you need on a touring frame. I'm not sure you can find 105 hubs in 135mm.
    - I used a Sugino crank. It's really purdy and dirt cheap compared to most road components. Otherwise I would recommend a MTB crankset because it gives you real-world touring gears. My "other bike" is a 53/39 ultegra 10spd double which I really enjoy but I didn't think twice about going to a 46/36/24 for the tourer.
    - I opted for Cantilever brakes, but you'll enjoy the disc brakes too. I like the classic look of the canti's and I've never had trouble with stopping power.

    My wife has the 2004 OCR touring bike. She likes it fine although it was hard to find a rack that fit well (she's a really small frame) and the rack/bags do come very close to interfering with the disc brakes. YMMV because of frame size differences, etc.

  3. #3
    Evil Genius capsicum's Avatar
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    The bike frame has to be disk compatable, if you ever want to put a rear disk brake on it. The reason to have a disk on a touring bike is for long steep down hills that would put to much heat on the rim.(to hot to touch, hot)

    Where you will be touring will determine whether you need a road[30/42/53 or there about] or MTB triple crank[24/34/46Tooth or something close]. MTB front derailer with MTB crank and Road with road.

    Are you 220lb big and lean, 220 round and squishy, or something in between?

    26 inch MTB wheels are a bit stronger than 700c wheels for the same basic design, spoke count, and build quality, but tire selections and widths are different and your bike frame requires one or the other.
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    If you want to put fenders on it, you might have problems with the road brakes.

    If you're full loaded touring, mountain bike cranks will let you get lower gears. I had road cranks on my first tour bike, and switched to mtb cranks for my second one. Check for compatibility with the 105 levers - don't know if they pull the right amount of cable.

    At your weight, you will want really strong wheels, with a high spoke count. I rode with a guy who was 210, he was carrying a big load, and he broke a few spokes.
    ...

  5. #5
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    Thanks a lot everyone

    Capsicum: How do I determine a road or mtb crank? I haven't been touring for a while but will be touring around NY next month (not with this bike). I do medium weight touring at my own pace. I'd assume that I am doing it at a more recreational level than most of the posters on here.

    I'm something in between big and lean and round and squishy.

    The frame takes 700c wheels.

    I also need to buy a fork for this frame, so if anyone has any specific recommendations (I dont have the frame yet, so I don't have any details on it being threaded, or not, etc).

    If the mountain bike triple crank is going to give me a lower gear, I think I'll probably opt for that. I need something for the inclines.

    Thanks again everyone

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    >How do I determine a road or mtb crank? I haven't been touring for a while but will be touring around NY next month (not with this bike). I do medium weight touring at my own pace. I'd assume that I am doing it at a more recreational level than most of the posters on here.

    Most of use are just cassual too. The first few days are usually the hardest so most long term guys just don't stop cause it's too difficult to start again.

    I'd like to know all the answers on the MT vs. road cranks also. A lot of serious voices say NOT to use the MT cranks, but a lot of people do because they are available and easy to get small enough drive rings on. I;m not too sure what is better about road tripples. Last time I looked it wasn't the weight.

    >The frame takes 700c wheels.

    MT wheels tend to be stronger given the size but they also tend ot have 32 spokes rather than 36.

    >I also need to buy a fork for this frame, so if anyone has any specific recommendations (I dont have the frame yet, so I don't have any details on it being threaded, or not, etc).

    The main issue is 1" vs. 1.125" stem I don't prefer threaded, but as long as you have the right headset who cares.

    >If the mountain bike triple crank is going to give me a lower gear, I think I'll probably opt for that. I need something for the inclines.

    You get the right road crank you are fine.

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    You can get down to a 26 tooth granny gear on a 105 triple crank, down to a 22 tooth granny gear on a mtb crank. If you plan on carrying camping gear and there are any hills over 5% grade where you might ever go, I would get a mountain crank. I rarely wish for a higher gear but frequently for a lower one. If you are only going flat and/or only carrying a very light load (<20lbs) then road crank would be OK. IMO of course.

    Fork considerations:
    mid-fork rack mounting braze ons if you're going to use front panniers
    correct brake mounts for whatever brake you decide on
    rake and trail for good handling - i don't know how you're going to figure this one out, but it's the most important!
    clearance for fenders and fatter tires (plan on 28 mm tire minimum, 35 would be better)

    Capsicum, why do you ask about this guy's build, what difference does that make in components?
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1
    >How do I determine a road or mtb crank? I haven't been touring for a while but will be touring around NY next month (not with this bike). I do medium weight touring at my own pace. I'd assume that I am doing it at a more recreational level than most of the posters on here.

    Most of use are just cassual too. The first few days are usually the hardest so most long term guys just don't stop cause it's too difficult to start again.

    I'd like to know all the answers on the MT vs. road cranks also. A lot of serious voices say NOT to use the MT cranks, but a lot of people do because they are available and easy to get small enough drive rings on. I;m not too sure what is better about road tripples. Last time I looked it wasn't the weight.
    The only downside to a mountain crank is the length. I'd prefer 170mm but those are harder to find in a mountain crank...not impossible but just harder. The benefits are you get a super low gear. Most of them come with a 22 tooth inner ring but you can get a 20 and an 18 tooth cog (if you could find one) would fit. Matched with a 34 tooth rear gear that will give you a 17 inch gear, a 16" gear or a stump puller at 14"

    The high gear will be limited however. A 44/11 combination gives you a 108" (which is respectable). A 46/11 combination (easily obtainable) 112" gear. For comparison, 15 years ago, a 108" gear was what elite pro riders used. For loaded touring, the 112" gear is a little high but, since we do most of our riding without a load, it's a nice gear for everyday.

    The other benefit of the mountain crank is that it shifts a little better than a large chainring very wide range road crank. The ratios are just a little closer and tighter.
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    I like MTB hubs for touring, and their 135mm dropout width is more suitable, along with 9-speed cassette hubs. The range of MTB cassettes is better suited, that or using a custom setup like the Cyclotouriste that Sheldon Brown builds and sells through Harris Cyclery. For the heavy tourer, 26 in MTB wheels are best unless the bike frame is very large. Road bars. Road shifters. Road or touring cranksets and bottom brackets.
    Road fenders. I prefer MTB derailleurs an have different reasons to like both top normal and low normal RDs.

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    Thanks Stuart. Why do you think the Rivendell guys and Beckman say only use the road. The odd thing in Beckman's case is that his prefered high ring is 44 so getting a big gear is not his concern. I think I prefer even lower gears than you do Stuart, I don't try to grind down hills and could do without the larger ring almost entirely, except as you say when the paniers come off.

  11. #11
    Evil Genius capsicum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl

    Capsicum, why do you ask about this guy's build, what difference does that make in components?
    Strength for gearing mostly, and will he be loosing much weight.

    Now all about the crank:
    Road crancks tend to be a little bit slimmer/more ergonomic, than MTB cranks, MTB cranks are slightly more robust for the jumping and whatnot.(Full body weight is landing on the cranks in a jump, just the same as if the bike was still and you jumped on to it.) You won't break either touring.


    Standard [widely compatible and availible] triple cranks have one of four bolt circle diameter(B.C.D.) combinations, and these are:
    110mm/74mm five arm(touring, older MTB, and tandems);
    130mm/74mm five arm (full sized road triple);
    104mm/64mm 4 arm (new MTB);
    94mm/58mm five bolt ("compact").

    The larger B.C.D. number is for the outer and middle chain ring the small is for the granny ring.

    130mm BCD is also the standard road double and has a minimum of 38T(39/42 52/53 are standard sizes) and the sky is the high limit(58T+).

    110mm BCD has a lower limit of 33(Rare. 34/36/38 are common) and the high side is generally 44-48T(50T can be had but not quite as common) or in the 60T-70T area(for tandems). 110mm is also used for the "compact" double.

    104mm BCD 4 arm can go as low as 32T(common size) and I'm not sure of the upper limits of what's availible, somthing like 46T or 48T. (Little help here.)

    94mm BCD is a "compact" five arm and can take a 29T ring, but I don't know much about compacts other than that.


    For the granny rings

    74mm BCD five arm can take a 24T(Availible, but many are 26T or 30T stock). I tried a 24T on my MTB and found I like 26 better.

    64mm BCD 4 arm can go as low as 22T for sure. (I've heard of 20T but not sure)

    58mm BCD "compact granny" five arm can go down to 20T


    NOTE: You can not go to both extemes with any crank. ie. no 24T/44T/58T combos the derailer can't take it and even if it could, shifting would be a clunky chunky nightmare. For good shifting, depending on the exact derailer model, I wouldn't go more than a 22T total spread (like 24T/34T/46T or 30/40/52T), 24T spreads should be tested and adjusted very well.
    Also smaller chain wheels tend to wear out chains and sprockets at both ends slighty faster, because they put more tension on the chain and encourage the use of the cogs with less teeth.(More force spread between fewer teeth) It's not going to cut drive train life in half by any means, but the life will be a bit shorter. That's aboout the only down side to having gearing that's too low, as touring down hills tend to be an energy saving coast-o-rama anyway.

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  12. #12
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    Thanks for all the information everyone, I've got a lot to think about. For the reasons above I'm going to go with a mtn crank. I read the article over on Peter White about determining a crank length. I used a measuring tape and from the floor, to what I think is the top of my femur measures around 38" (965mm), 18.5% of this would give me 178.5mm. I will most likely be getting a Shimano crankset - if, for example, I get an XT crank, I have the option of 175mm or 180mm, the LX only goes to 175mm I guess. Keeping my precious knees in mind, which generally results in more comfort - a somewhat shorter, or longer crank?

    I will be ordering a 13-34 9spd rear from Harris. Front will be 44-32-22 (LX,XT or XTR). Rear derailleur XT (long cage-which I already have-is it ok?), front will get the same as crank. Assuming all that, what chain should I get - any recommendations?

    The whole fork thing is bothering me, I can't seem to do any planning until I have measured the frame. Doesn't Giant always use the same stem size (1" or 1.125"?). What is the headset? If I can find out the stem size, without knowing if the frame is threaded or not, can I order any 1" or 1.125" fork. After I get the fork, then I can get an idea about the wheels (will use an XT rear hub, SON front, marathon tires as wide as possible for the fork and frame, I don't think 35 will be a problem).

    I don't know which rims to get, I know to get 36 spokes. Any suggestions? If both Peter White and Harris have the rim I want, I'd like to ask Harris to build the rear wheel and Peter White to build the front. So I'm looking for a good, common rim that will easily take 32-35c tires.

    Brakes will be Shimano 105, there is a used pair at the LBS. The frame is disc brake compatible, and I would like to have the extra stopping power maybe in the future (see how it goes). How difficult is it to have both brake systems on the same bike (overkill and chunky?) I won't be doing the disc brake thing now, just curious.

    That's about it. Thanks a lot for explaing the whole gear thing to me everyone! I understand it much more having read this.
    Last edited by guruguhan; 09-27-06 at 10:02 PM.

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    Building up a bike from a frame isn't an easy, or cheap way to go. You might wish to just spend a $1000 or so and buy a nice touring bike (Trek, Jamis, Novara, Fuji and for a bit more, Cannondale)

    Your current project will cost you a lot more than that....and the bike not really work all that well.

    Trust me.... buy a Trek 520 and be happy.

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    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tacomee
    Building up a bike from a frame isn't an easy, or cheap way to go. You might wish to just spend a $1000 or so and buy a nice touring bike (Trek, Jamis, Novara, Fuji and for a bit more, Cannondale)

    Your current project will cost you a lot more than that....and the bike not really work all that well.

    Trust me.... buy a Trek 520 and be happy.
    I built up a Trek 520 lookalike from a NOS 80s touring frame and lightly used parts... for $325. The only substantive difference in my opinion is that mine has a threaded headset, and my hubs aren't as good for touring (they're 105).
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    Thanks guys. Could you tell me why the bike won't work that well Tacomee? I do know that the bike will be more than the bikes you listed (I looked at all of them online, and I use a borrowed Cannondale T800-what I'll be riding in NY- but none are in stock at any LBS). I have a bike for immediate use. Comparing components, I do believe this bike should also be better than the $1000 bikes and of course a closer customization. I'm not saying I disagree with you (as I don't know enough to, and you didn't say why), but I would like to know why this bike won't work that well in your opinion.

    The Cannondale doesn't go as low as this bike will go to, I'm looking forward to that. And the dynohub, and... Ask me after the bike is built if I'm happy

    Thanks again
    Last edited by guruguhan; 09-27-06 at 09:04 PM.

  16. #16
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    Here goes
    I use Deore LX (7spd) on my tour bike. I have 175mm cranks. I don't worry about top gear because I coast down long hills. IIRC it is something like a 98" or a 102". Bottom gear is a low 18". I am currently running brifters, but will probably go back to bar ends. Loaded touring is not about going fast. I use Canti's because that is what came on the bike. Low rider mounts on the fork are a plus and I use a full front rack. I use a steel frame, personal preference. The longer crank will supposedly spin a bit slower but is supposed to be better on the knees for a given leg length. I have ridden 165, 170, 175 and 180's I feel most comfortable on 175's. I usually spin in the 85 rpm range, but can top 110 for short bursts. I have had a tour bike with a drum brake on the rear in addtion to the canti's. I used it as a drag brake on long down hills. If I were to build a new tour bike I would consider the discs, but only for their massive stopping ability. I am still not convinced that their complexity is not going to cause problems out in the middle of nowhere, as well as rack mounting issues. I use full fenders and 35 width tires. I probably could get 38's on my bike but haven't seen the need for them. I have toured on tires as narrow as 30, but don't reccomend it. To me touring is all about comfort and enjoying the trip.

    Enjoy the ride!

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    Thanks a lot Aaron...can I ask how long your foot to top-of-femur length is? (if you have it handy of course) haha

    I'll probably go with the 175 as you said.

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    I agree with a lot of what Aaron said.

    "Road crancks tend to be a little bit slimmer/more ergonomic, than MTB cranks, MTB cranks are slightly more robust for the jumping and whatnot.(Full body weight is landing on the cranks in a jump, just the same as if the bike was still and you jumped on to it.) You won't break either touring."

    That sounds right, and it may all be the aesthetics, but I did look at the crank weights and the mountain cranks with the really bionic arms are hollow and weigh often less than the road, or the same neighbourhood. The often have sharp edges that won't slip the wind as well. Beckman categorically says "we never use mountain compact-drive cranks". I have heard similar things from other touring builders. Oh well it could just be aesthetics.

    guruguhan Go for your own build. You can get everything you want. Wwhile price is a thing people can all agree on, they agree something is more or less expensive where they might not agree qualitatively. Yet this often ends up in a person who bought half a dozen affordable bikes and never got all the right parts once.

    "The whole fork thing is bothering me, I can't seem to do any planning until I have measured the frame. Doesn't Giant always use the same stem size (1" or 1.125"?). What is the headset? If I can find out the stem size, without knowing if the frame is threaded or not, can I order any 1" or 1.125" fork. After I get the fork, then I can get an idea about the wheels (will use an XT rear hub, SON front, marathon tires as wide as possible for the fork and frame, I don't think 35 will be a problem)."

    Moutain bike are basically all the larger size. Touring bikes are sometimes one or the other. They really don't need to be anything bigger than 1" unless you are planning a lot of really bad abuse, but for road it is fine to have 1". 700c forks should fit fairly well any frame as long as the head tube angle is a standard angle of 73 degree, or 72. If it's a 1.125, and that should be in the bike's spec sheet, then you can probably fit either the Surly forlks for the LHT or something else, or the Nashbar forks. In touring forks it can be harder to find a 1" fork replacement, or at least I haven't found one I like for my bike.

    The headset is the bearing in the "stearing bearing" this assembly determines whether you need a threaded type fork or not, not the frame. Of course a threaded fork also determines the headset type you need. In a threaded fork you screw the headset to the fork, and adjust preload without the stem or handlebars needing to be there. With the threadless, it is the act of clamping the stem to the outside of the fork tube that sets the bearing tention (along with a loading screw on top of the stem). You can't attatch or tension the fork to the bearing without the stem in place. I like threadless, less tools to attach it and maintain it. Stronger. It's all real simple to do when you have the stuff in front of you.

  19. #19
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    Boy you're dropping a lot of $$ for the XT Shimano mountain crank/BB combo. Do a bit of research into alternatives I think you'll save yourself a lot of money and have a more attractive + better quality touring crank.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1
    In touring forks it can be harder to find a 1" fork replacement, or at least I haven't found one I like for my bike.
    The QBP catalog has both threaded and threadless 1" steel forks with canti braze-ons, as well as 1" disc forks (with no canti braze-ons ). You can find 'em at bikeman.com
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    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by db122
    Boy you're dropping a lot of $$ for the XT Shimano mountain crank/BB combo. Do a bit of research into alternatives I think you'll save yourself a lot of money and have a more attractive + better quality touring crank.
    Yeah, I agree. I'm perfectly happy with a square-taper BB, and I prefer the 48/38/28 rings of a touring triple to the lower mountain bike gearing. Nashbar sells a 48/38/28 crankset for about $70 that takes ISIS BB. Anyone used it?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1
    The headset is the bearing in the "stearing bearing" this assembly determines whether you need a threaded type fork or not, not the frame. Of course a threaded fork also determines the headset type you need. In a threaded fork you screw the headset to the fork, and adjust preload without the stem or handlebars needing to be there. With the threadless, it is the act of clamping the stem to the outside of the fork tube that sets the bearing tention (along with a loading screw on top of the stem). You can't attatch or tension the fork to the bearing without the stem in place. I like threadless, less tools to attach it and maintain it. Stronger. It's all real simple to do when you have the stuff in front of you.
    Thanks Peterpan. I believe the OCR Touring frame takes a 1" fork [http://www.giant-bicycles.com/cn/030...003&model=9865 I'm still confused about the headset. Do I just decide if I want threaded or threadless and then buy a threaded or threadless fork (1", 700c and compatible with the brakes I'll be using) and get a headset to match?
    Last edited by guruguhan; 09-27-06 at 11:58 PM.

  23. #23
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guruguhan
    Thanks Peterpan. I believe the OCR Touring is 1.125 now. I'm still confused about the headset, is the steering bearing located inside the frame where the fork inserts? I think I know what you mean by threadless. Do I just decide if I want threaded or threadless and then buy a threaded or threadless fork (1.125", 700c and compatible with the brakes I'll be using) and get a headset to match?
    Modern touring frames are pretty much always 1-1/8". There's no good reason besides asthetics to use a threaded fork/headset these days. Threadless headsets are easier to adjust, and there's a greater variety of threadless forks and stems available today (at least in the western world).
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    Quote Originally Posted by moxfyre
    Modern touring frames are pretty much always 1-1/8". There's no good reason besides asthetics to use a threaded fork/headset these days. Threadless headsets are easier to adjust, and there's a greater variety of threadless forks and stems available today (at least in the western world).
    Sorry Moxfyre, looks like I edited while you were typing. It's a 1", not 1-1/8".

  25. #25
    cyclist/gearhead/cycli... moxfyre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by guruguhan
    Sorry Moxfyre, looks like I edited while you were typing. It's a 1", not 1-1/8".
    Ah, well that's okay too.

    Not so many 1" forks meant for touring available today (Nashbar has a nice steel fork with disc AND canti braze-ons, but it's 1-1/8" only ) but they're not super hard to find either. 1" threadless headsets are easy to come by, as are 1" stems (or you can use a simple shim to put a 1-1/8" stem on a 1" fork).

    As for other components:
    I would pick mountain components over road for a touring bike (except for cranks, I personally prefer a 52/40/30 road triple). LX/XT derailers are excellent and durable, and LX/XT hubs are *much better sealed* than 105/Ultegra hubs. I wouldn't choose road hubs for a touring bike. Also, you should probably use canti or V-brakes rather than 105 caliper brakes, since modern caliper brakes usually don't work with tires larger than 25 mm or so!!! Lastly, go for 36 spoke wheels, not 32. They're supposed to be something like 20% stronger, all else being equal, so for a touring bike for a big guy it's a no-brainer.
    Last edited by moxfyre; 09-27-06 at 11:44 PM.
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