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  1. #1
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    Touring bike speed

    I was surfing the web ,and looking at touring bikes,I was surprised to read that the highest speed you can get on a flat road would be 15 or 16 mph.I know you can go faster down hill and you want to take it easy anyway but that seems slow.The guy said it had a gear that wouldn't let him get over 16.I was wondering about the gearing in the Novara Randonee which is 26/36/48.I just ordered that bike and I really don't know if I made the right choice or not. I took it for a ride in the parking lot and it felt real good.I'm 66 and I just wanted to take it kind of easy,but I times I like going fast as well.I just started riding 3 months ago and I have a FX 7300 which I like, but I wanted something a little faster and smoother.I really don't want a road bike because I have Rheumatoid arthritis and I wouldn't or couldn't ride that long in a dropped position.I was looking for comfort and a little more speed than the Trek FX 7300.I still have time to cancel the order,but what I read about the bike I thought it would really fit the bill. Any help will be greatly appreciated,thanks George
    George

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I'm guessing that because you've posted this question in the touring forum, you plan to do touring with the bicycle. And if that is the case, I'm guessing that you are probably planning to carry a bit of a load ... even with credit card touring cycle-tourists have a bag or two on the bike with tools, clothing, and other supplies.

    If that is the case, you are not going to be moving all that fast out there. On my tours, I'm lucky to cycle at about 10 mph, while my unloaded cycling is somewhat faster than that.

    Just something to keep in mind.

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    The bike will be able to go faster than 16mph on flat road. The gearing should be good for around 25mph with a brisk cadence. It really depends on how fast you are capable of pedaling, and if you want to try and go faster.
    If you use the top gear and only go 15mph, your legs will be turning pretty slow, which isn't recomended, especially since you have arthritis. Keep the pedal effort light by using the easy gears.

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    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    I kind of knew I would be slower with a load,but when I'm not touring I wanted to move out a little brisker and both of you have answered my question. Now I can sleep tonight.I really liked the bike a lot,thanks George
    George

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    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by George McClusky
    I was surfing the web ,and looking at touring bikes,I was surprised to read that the highest speed you can get on a flat road would be 15 or 16 mph.I know you can go faster down hill and you want to take it easy anyway but that seems slow.The guy said it had a gear that wouldn't let him get over 16.I was wondering about the gearing in the Novara Randonee which is 26/36/48.I just ordered that bike and I really don't know if I made the right choice or not. I took it for a ride in the parking lot and it felt real good.I'm 66 and I just wanted to take it kind of easy,but I times I like going fast as well.I just started riding 3 months ago and I have a FX 7300 which I like, but I wanted something a little faster and smoother.I really don't want a road bike because I have Rheumatoid arthritis and I wouldn't or couldn't ride that long in a dropped position.I was looking for comfort and a little more speed than the Trek FX 7300.I still have time to cancel the order,but what I read about the bike I thought it would really fit the bill. Any help will be greatly appreciated,thanks George
    The gearing won't limit your speed, your legs, your lungs and your load will.

    Good luck with the RA. I know all too well the challenges you face from that and I'm glad to see you're riding.

  6. #6
    o.O Seggybop's Avatar
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    Semi-related,
    What is it about "touring geometry" that supposedly makes touring bikes (unloaded) slower or somehow less efficient than bikes with "road geometry" ? If I lower the handlebars all the way, I can make my bike as aero as any normal road bike. What's going on?
    mi yu mi yu

  7. #7
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seggybop
    Semi-related,
    What is it about "touring geometry" that supposedly makes touring bikes (unloaded) slower or somehow less efficient than bikes with "road geometry" ? If I lower the handlebars all the way, I can make my bike as aero as any normal road bike. What's going on?
    Long wheel bases... and it is not an issue of "less efficient," but slower responding. A long wheel base bike tends to track better, but at the same time doesn't exactly slalom great. If there are any other factors to make a touring bike a touch slower it is their weight... these bikes are built to be loaded, not to just carry a 145lb rider while sprinting... so some aspects of the bike may be "beefed up" to carry the mass of touring bags and gear.

  8. #8
    cycling fanatic Ken Brown's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seggybop
    Semi-related,
    What is it about "touring geometry" that supposedly makes touring bikes (unloaded) slower or somehow less efficient than bikes with "road geometry" ? If I lower the handlebars all the way, I can make my bike as aero as any normal road bike. What's going on?
    I think the two main things are weight and tire width.

  9. #9
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    Having just taken possession of my 62-cm Surly LHT with 700/32 Armadillo tires, I can attest that 'slowness' is relative. At this point with just a rear rack on it, it feels pretty fast to me and a helluva lot more comfortable than my aluminum crossbike.

    Yes, it steers cleanly, rides smoothly, doesn't start off from traffic lights like a VW Beetle but it seems to follow that adage: "built for comfort, not for speed".

    Riding over the watershed ridges of the Frio, Dry Frio & Sabinal Rivers last weekend in west Texas, the LHT was up to 35-40 mph on the downhills. Plenty fast and felt really stable even at that speed. But my average was probably around 10 mph for the 34 miles, a comfortable velocity on a comfortable bike - after the ride I was not 'beat-up' or sore, simply pleased that the long wheelbase and touring geometry matches my desired riding style.

    And it weighs in at 28 lbs unloaded, lighter than my steel MTB bike at 35+ lbs.
    centexwoody
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  10. #10
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    centexwoody,I couldn't believe how smooth the steel bike is compared aluminum.I must say that you got me thinking again though.The biggest bike they make is a 59cm I hope it fits. They measured me up and said that's what I needed. I'm 6'2" with a 35.5 inseam. The Trek I have is only a 57cm and it seems to fit OK. If it doesn't fit they get it back.I really hope it goes well,I really like the bike.Thanks for all the replys,George
    George

  11. #11
    Tinkerer since 1980 TheBrick's Avatar
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    They may also mean average speed of 15 - 16 mph unloaded which is pritty darn quick. The fastest I can do my commute is at an average speed of about 17 mph on a road bike (just worked out from the map and clock no actual computer), that is unloaded and alot of the time I am running level with cars on clearish roads so must be getting close to 30 mph when powering along the lengths. I would think averaging 15 -16 mph for hours on end touring would be a blistering pace.

  12. #12
    Velo Tourist
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    Touring bike speed

    I have the Novara Randonee. I can reach speeds of 22-25 on flat ground. Average 15.0 mph on 494 mile ride on Cycle North Carolina 2006. Rode without panniers, but did have about 10 lbs on the bike with a handlebar bag and mule bag. For loaded touring, 15-18 mph speeds are typical top end, with average at 10-11 mph. Does that help? [Age 59, male, 225 lbs]
    www.peregrino.crazyguyonabike.com

  13. #13
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    Thanks Bruce that sounds good enough for me and I like hearing it from someone with the same bike that I have coming.Thanks everyone and have a good day,George
    George

  14. #14
    My bicycle is fixed Brian Sorrell's Avatar
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    George, I assume that they mean average speed, because 16mph is not a particularly fast top speed. I'm no touring tank, so my average speeds are around 12-16mph, including brief stops to soak in the world. But top speeds are significantly higher. For example, on a flat trip to the beach on my Trek 7200 FX with 25lbs. of gear, I cranked up to 27mph for a short while. Again, the average was much lower though -- I was just pushing to see what I could get up to. From what I've seen, the Randonee should be at least as capable as the Trek and probably more comfortable in the long haul.

    This said, if you're touring, don't worry about those speeds. Take it all in and enjoy

    The size that you say you're getting is probably ok too. I'm 6'2" with a 33" inseam (I'm all torso according to the wife) and I have a 58cm Fuji Touring. Fits great -- once you dial it in to your reach and fiddle with the handlebars and such. No worries.

  15. #15
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by George McClusky
    centexwoody,I couldn't believe how smooth the steel bike is compared aluminum.I must say that you got me thinking again though.The biggest bike they make is a 59cm I hope it fits. They measured me up and said that's what I needed. I'm 6'2" with a 35.5 inseam. The Trek I have is only a 57cm and it seems to fit OK. If it doesn't fit they get it back.I really hope it goes well,I really like the bike.Thanks for all the replys,George
    George,
    I am your height and inseam range, medium build at 190#. A big part of the fit will depend on how you ride. On a touring bike I like the handle bars up ala the Rivendel's. I also like to stretch out on the bike and typically use a longer stem than comes stock. I typically ride 60-62cm frames, but can ride a 59 if it is set up correctly. And I much prefer steel over anything else. Stems are relatively inexpensive and fairly easy to swap out. I have had touring bikes up to around 40mph on downhills so I don't think they are necessarily slow. My average over the road speed on tour is between 10-12mph. I tour to enjoy not for speed. I have had days with average speeds over 16mph when we had wicked tailwinds across the plains.

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    Last edited by wahoonc; 10-27-06 at 10:49 AM.
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    Member wolf_river_mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by George McClusky
    The guy said it had a gear that wouldn't let him get over 16.I was wondering about the gearing in the Novara Randonee which is 26/36/48.
    Hi George, I have this same gearing on my bicycle with an 8 speed rear cog 11/34, I believe. 21-22 mph on flat roads is reachable without feeling like I'm going to throw myself off the bike. I don't travel with touring loads, just standard, tire changing stuff, water bottles, extra clothing etc. and around 235 lbs of mike on the bike. 16 mph is way off.

  17. #17
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    Mike I've gone 25 on the bike already and I was trying to get an average of 16 and it seems I cant get there.I was just wondering if I could expect more with the bike I ordered.Thanks George
    George

  18. #18
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    It sounds bogus that a bike won't go over 16mph. Who would want a bike like that? I think when it's flat with a tailwind, you're limited by your highest gear ratio. Once your little legs get turning as fast as they can go, that's about it. My touring bike doesn't have a very big large gear ring. I top out between 25 and 30 mph. That's fast enough for me. But I would never buy a bike if the top speed was 16 mph. That would be stupid!

  19. #19
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    I was trying to get an average of 16 and I cant break an average of 15.That's what I was hoping to get with the new touring bike,not loaded.
    George

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    I have Psoriatic Arthritis and have several bicycles. My favorite bicycle is an older specialized crossroads hybrid setup for loaded touring. It has a Shimano BioPace crank which I have found is very easy on the legs and joints. I also have a road bike and use it for the roadie runs three times a week but it's painful compared to the hybrid bike. As for speed, when I do that I select the road bike but when I am out just ridding my bike I always take the specialized crossroads hybrid as I can ride it all day long without pain. My normal speed is around 12 MPH touring load with about 30 lbs of gear and 15 MPH loaded for a single day trip of between 75 and 100 miles and about 5 lbs of stuff. If I were limited to a single bike it would be the specialized crossroads hybrid setup for touring. IMHO, you have made the correct choice. Also, don’t be shocked when you stop taking all pain medications for your Arthritis.

  21. #21
    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by George McClusky
    I was trying to get an average of 16 and I cant break an average of 15.That's what I was hoping to get with the new touring bike,not loaded.
    Hi George,
    I think that people who can push out 23-25mph on a Randonee are pretty strong. Remember that you have a 48 top ring, which is a mountain gear, not a road type per se. Ya gotta be in good shape to sustain even 21 for any length of time. Trying to achieve an average of 16 over, say, 10 flat miles along a river road requires alot of sprints at top speed. Easy for advanced riders but alot harder for the rest of us.

    I have a Trek 520 tourer, but it has a 52 top ring and is quite fast as a result. Most dedicated road bikes have a top ring of similar tooth count. Unloaded, I can sustain 20-22 for about 5 miles before I have to let off the gas and let the air in. That's with up right North Road bars like a 3-speed so there's some wind resistance to consider. The bike weighs 27 lbs with the steel bars, fenders, a heavy brooks B67 and an empty Trek rear rack. Over a mostly flat 33 mile training route, I somehow only average about 14-15. Normal comfortable cruising speed on the 520 is 17.

    Machka is right about loaded bike speed. 10 mph is pretty much what I do as well.

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    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by n4zou
    I have Psoriatic Arthritis and have several bicycles. My favorite bicycle is an older specialized crossroads hybrid setup for loaded touring. It has a Shimano BioPace crank which I have found is very easy on the legs and joints. I also have a road bike and use it for the roadie runs three times a week but it's painful compared to the hybrid bike. As for speed, when I do that I select the road bike but when I am out just ridding my bike I always take the specialized crossroads hybrid as I can ride it all day long without pain. My normal speed is around 12 MPH touring load with about 30 lbs of gear and 15 MPH loaded for a single day trip of between 75 and 100 miles and about 5 lbs of stuff. If I were limited to a single bike it would be the specialized crossroads hybrid setup for touring. IMHO, you have made the correct choice. Also, donít be shocked when you stop taking all pain medications for your Arthritis.
    I also love Shimano BioPace and it's licensed copy Sakae OvalTech for the same reasons. It's like magic. I wish I could find a road set in BioPace. I'd be tempted to try it on the Trek 520. Now building an old Trek 930 mtb for road/touring work using OvalTech off my broken 830. I'm sure it will become my favorite as well as the old one was.

  23. #23
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    Thanks evertbody for all the answers. I THINK I have a good idea what to expect.I wanted an unloaded bike to give me an average of around 16 and touring around 10.If I can get that I'll be pretty happy.
    George

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    Senior Member Joe Padilla's Avatar
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    Train and you can get 20

    I have a 2011 Trek 520 and I average 20 mph in the city even with a fully loaded pack on my rack. I can average 25 in the country and plan to average 100 miles a day on my cross country trip this summer. If you want a fast average on your touring you really just have to focus on training. Have a high cadence and good power. Learn proper foot position to use the proper muscle groups, and keep that leg speed high. I plan on getting at least 18-20 mph average this summer on my cross country trip. Ive hit 41 mph on the down, and can keep a 30 average on the flats for around 5 miles with my pack on my rack. Build your core and learn good riding techniques and who knows what you can do!

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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    I was surfing the web ,and looking at touring bikes,I was surprised to read that the highest speed you can get on a flat road would be 15 or 16 mph.I know you can go faster down hill and you want to take it easy anyway but that seems slow.The guy said it had a gear that wouldn't let him get over 16.I was wondering about the gearing in the Novara Randonee which is 26/36/48.I just ordered that bike and I really don't know if I made the right choice or not. I took it for a ride in the parking lot and it felt real good.I'm 66 and I just wanted to take it kind of easy,but I times I like going fast as well.I just started riding 3 months ago and I have a FX 7300 which I like, but I wanted something a little faster and smoother.I really don't want a road bike because I have Rheumatoid arthritis and I wouldn't or couldn't ride that long in a dropped position.I was looking for comfort and a little more speed than the Trek FX 7300.I still have time to cancel the order,but what I read about the bike I thought it would really fit the bill. Any help will be greatly appreciated,thanks George
    George,

    When people start claiming they can tour with an average speed of 20-25mph fully loaded (front and rear panniers with tent etc..), it's either they are full of B.S or they are way stronger than Lance Armstrong or Alberto Contador that they should instead join the peloton of the TDF. The gearing has little to do with speed, though having a bigger chain ring helps, but aerodynamics and weight both play a major role in slowing you down on a tour. I say this because most bike stores sales people really have no concept of bike touring cause when they frown upon you changing the stock 50-39-30T crankset to a Sugino 48-36-24T and that they said you don't need it.

    First, lets distinguish the difference between light and heavy loaded touring. With light touring, say on a carbon bike with nothing more than a Carridice Long Flap at the back and a handle bar bag at the front, you can easily average 20 to 25mph assuming you are a relatively strong and fit rider. Recreational riders average just a tad less. You won't carry a heavy load; just enough clothes, money and snacks or food. We call this credit card touring. I use a Trek Carbon road bike with an Axiom DLX rack and Race Blade fenders and avg just over 21mph.

    A heavy loaded touring bike usually is a bit heavier with the top tube reinforced to reduce the effect of fish tailing to the heavy rear end loads. A carbon or light weight bike DOES NOT (main difference) have reinforced top tube. Secondly, you'll be carrying 3 to 4 times the load being the tent and cooking stuff as the heaviest of the load. Unless of course you're rich and can afford either the top end Henry Shires Tarp Tent etc.. With these weight and to sustain an average of 20 to 25mph with hills of 8% grade or higher, I would be really really impressed to see people climbing with a 52 chain ring on a 12 cassette with 50 to 80lbs of camping stuff strapped on your bike -- most people drop to grannies (24 front 34 rear) and spin up. You will also be carrying bigger panniers which stick out like a sore thumb or a parachute and pose a significant aerodynamic drag. It is this drag that will start to be noticeable when you are riding above 12 to 15 mph hint hint. You have to work a lot harder to achieve the same average speeds that you could easily do on a road bike. A combination of both and you'll be cruising on avg 10-15mph. When you're touring for long periods of time, there is no such thing as a windless ride, especially out in the open highway. You either get a head wind straight on for hours or a tail wind. Head wind will always lower your avg speed for sure. Keep in mind you are pretty well shielded from the wind in the city with tall buildings, so be careful to judge what you could do in town compared to out there in the open.

    My avg touring speed is around 10-12mph on a folding bike or on my Raleigh Sojourn, but really I'm more interested in smelling the roses and see things crystal clear rather than a blur.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by pacificcyclist; 03-27-12 at 09:08 AM.
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