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Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

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Old 01-23-07, 12:33 PM   #1
legot73
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Touring on the bike I have

I was getting myself excited about a leftover Novara Randonee, then justified the LHT complete to myself, then I came to my senses. I should start out with a summer of touring on the bike I have.

I have a 2006 Kona Jake, which is my daily 3 season commuter that already has a rear rack and full fenders. This bike sees no salt, I have a winter bike for that. I'm comfortable on the bike for long distances, and ride it loaded regularly with 15 - 40 lbs in rear panniers. If my first year of loaded touring will consist of 3-4 rides lasting 3-5 days each, any reason not to just use what I have, even though I've got the bug to buy a touring bike?

For touring use, I'd consider swapping in a higher rise stem, clipping on a front rack/panniers to dist weight, and somehow add a handlebar bag. I wouldn't change the gearing or shifters.

Here are some pros and cons that come to mind:

pro:
heel clearance with panniers is fine.
geometry is relatively slack, and handling isn't "twitchy"
strong, true Sun rims with Deore hubs that have held up to potholes for a year now.
comfort and fit are very good

con:
gearing is 30/42/52 front, 8speed 12-25 rear, which I like for fast commuting and use the high gears.
I can only fit 28mm tires under my fenders
center of gravity is high compared to a more traditional bike, which might be fatiguing
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Old 01-23-07, 04:55 PM   #2
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If the money and storage aren't a big deal to you... Sounds like you can easily justify a real touring bike. You are planing on spending as much as 2-3 weeks touring this year, and that's the maximum most employed people can probably swing, so that makes you a tourer and you deserve a touring bike. You will have to add or change enough stuff to your current bike that you are probably throwing a way a little money doing it since it isn't guaranteed you will recoup as much when you do move to the touring bike. Let's say you buy good touring tires will they at 28 be the ones you ultimately want. And it's a hassle configuring and re-configuring. Some things don't swap back all that well, like crimped cables don't always go back through the parts, so if you tour one weekend then comunte for a bit, then toor, etc....

Now if your concerns were quite naturally mostly expense; or if you really wondered whether touring was for you; or if you just wanted to pursue the question of whether your current bike could be used for touring; I think you could reasonably come to different answers.
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Old 01-23-07, 05:52 PM   #3
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I don't see anything wrong with touring on your Jake. I toured many times on my Cannondale cyclocross albeit with 36 spoke wheels, MTB crank and cassette. You say you've toured with as much as 40 lbs. on the back. Have you had any wheel problems? I think the 32 spoke front wheel will hold up fine even with a rack and panniers on the front. The back wheel MIGHT be fine, just as long as you're prepared for spoke breakage and you know how to replace a spoke and true the wheel. You can take a cassette ******* or get some kevlar spokes. I have had the occasion to use kevlar spokes, they really work. If you use kevlar you don't need a cassette ******* or spare steel spokes. I toured many times on my Cannondale, rear panniers only, with a seatpost rack. I had the kind of seatpost rack with the loops for panniers. I'll bet I had as much as 40 lbs. on that rack and never had a problem. I used a Thomson seat post which is superlight but is also super strong. Look down the barrel of one. You'll see it is oval on the inside. Thicker on the front and back, thinner on the sides. That setup puts the weight higher than a regular rack and it feels funny at first but you adjust to it quickly. A benefit to this is that your panniers are behind you, out of the wind. There is no heel rub with this setup.
You could use a Old Man Mountain rack as your front rack. It attaches to the cantilever studs and wheel skewer. I noticed that the Jake fork has no provisions for a rack.
If your touring in the summer and you want to run fatter tires how about taking off the fenders? I live in SoCal and have never used fenders for obvious reasons.
If you don't want to change the crank, how about changing the cassette to an 11-32? It's cheap and easy to do and undo.

Last edited by GeoKrpan; 01-23-07 at 08:27 PM.
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Old 01-23-07, 06:22 PM   #4
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I'd start out with the current bike. If you're doing an extensive tour, just tune it up thoroughly / take it to your LBS first.

I wouldn't change the gearing unless you already have the parts, plan to re-use the parts, and/or plan to climb the Stelvio.

If it turns out that you enjoy touring, then you should consider investing either in a more tour-optimized bike and/or a folding bike (if you fly frequently).
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Old 01-23-07, 09:21 PM   #5
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It would be nice to have a front rack & panniers. I know what putting all the weight on the rear does to handling on my roadie, it's probably worse with the higher BB on you cross bike. You should be able to clamp a front low-rider rack on. Is your fork carbon or does it have bosses? You could also go with an old man mountain rack designed to mount to canti studs.
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Old 01-24-07, 11:45 AM   #6
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I am planning to do a cross continental ride on my Soma Double Cross. Apart from a brooks on it and adding more comfy bar tape, I plan to raise the stem to saddle level and slap some Tubus racks on it. The Tubus logo rack has the benefit of offering the option to mount the rear panniers further back, lessening the problem of short chainstays and heel run inherent in the shorter chainstays of CX bikes.

I say go for it. Once of the things I like about being on a CX bike is that I can ditch all the extra weight and take it down some singletrack for the afternoon. This will be very nice as we plan on touring through some mountain bike 'mecca' areas. We are planning on crossing the rockies, so I am running a 12-32 XTR cassette, and a 38/46 double in front. I may change this gearing down a little bit, but we will see.

If you like the bike and it will suit the kind of riding you want to do, stick with it. I have an extra bike that is essentially redundant and I feel bad I don't ride it enough and essentially wasted money on it.
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Old 01-24-07, 12:47 PM   #7
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"For touring use, I'd consider swapping in a higher rise stem, clipping on a front rack/panniers to dist weight, and somehow add a handlebar bag. I wouldn't change the gearing or shifters."

Obviosly your gearing is way off the mark for touring. That may still be wonderful for you, but if so you are the exception. We had a thread a while back where this guy was young and strong and figured he could just blow off standard touring gearing. He finally loaded his bike went for a long ride one day, and came back and admited he had been wrong. But then you carry 40 pounds on your bike, no toruble, and that can certainly be configured to cover extended trips if you pack light.

Here you are on 700x28:

66.9 93.7 116.0
61.8 86.5 107.0
53.5 74.9 92.8
47.2 66.1 81.9
42.3 59.2 73.2
38.2 53.5 66.3
34.9 48.9 60.5
32.1 45.0 55.7


Here is a standard touring wide range with 32 and 38 tires:

63.8 88.4 112.9
54.0 74.8 95.5
46.8 64.8 82.8
41.3 57.2 73.1
35.1 48.6 62.1
30.5 42.3 54.0
27.0 37.4 47.8
20.6 28.6 36.5


64.6 89.4 114.2
54.6 75.7 96.7
47.4 65.6 83.8
41.8 57.9 73.9
35.5 49.2 62.8
30.9 42.8 54.6
27.3 37.8 48.3
20.9 28.9 37.0

Your granny is 54% higher.
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Old 01-24-07, 05:25 PM   #8
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Thanks for all the feedback.

First off, the 2006 Novara I had my eye on is already gone, so that decision is made, since an LHT Complete costs the same as a 2007 Novara and is a much better bike IMO.

I compared the geometry of the LHT to the Jake, and found that I'd only gain 1" heel clearance, and otherwise have a very similar frame. The suggestions for overcoming the other significant disadvantages were great, from the new cassette to the naked tires. Kevlar spokes, for sure.

The fork is actually a pretty heavy chro-mo tube vs. carbon. It has no lowrider bosses, but does have fender mounts. A clip on or canti mount front rack is high on my list, and should work fine. I haven't actually toured with 40 lbs, but have commuted 22 miles round trip with 50lbs in the rear, and about 20 on a daily basis. Although I could live with that, I don't want to risk more spokes in the rear, so I'm going to balance my gear forward. I do have 32 spoke wheels, but they're still true after taking a beating under load for a year, and I'm not too heavy.

I don't expect killer hills, as most of my plans are along Lake Michigan. I've carried that 50lb load up some 8-10% grades, and while it's not enjoyable, it is feasible.

For now, I'm going to resist my conditioned consumer behavior, and use what I've got. I still think I'll end up with an LHT within a year, but will be more confident that I'm putting the right priorities on equipment after having some trips under my belt (waistband?). Until I'm official, I'll continue fantasizing about a long commute to a beautiful site each morning, and occasionally tap this forum on the shoulder.

Thanks!
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Old 01-24-07, 07:17 PM   #9
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I'm in the same boat. My old rig is a Nashbar Touring bike I bought about 15 years ago. It still works fine. I've upgraded the rear wheel to be able to resist spoke breakage. I have Blackburn racks front and rear, and a set of front and rear panniers with matching handlebar bag from REI (all 15 years old.)

I really want a new bike, and I've got my eye on the Surly LHT. However, I have a limited budget, partly due to the fact that I'm a school teacher, and partly because I have a daughter who's starting school at an expensive private college in Arizona.

I could perhaps swing the LHT. But then I get to thinking. I'm planning a Northern Tier tour this summer, starting in Seattle and heading east to somewhere in Montana (when I get tired of the trip, or run out of money, I'll catch an Amtrak back to Seattle.) I won't have tons of money for this. If I buy the LHT I'll be on a nice bike but will barely be able to afford tuna fish. If I don't, I should have enough reserve money that I can actually get a motel room if it's raining, or I'm tired and need a bath, etc. Maybe I can even afford several motel rooms! I can eat in restaurants and not worry about the budget (not so much PB & J.)

So, as much as I want a new bike, I think the prudent thing is to ride my old faithful one more season. On the bright side, my old Nashbar is so ugly and faded and old that no one is ever likely to steal it. If I bought a new LHT and outfitted it the way I'd like, I'd have to watch it every second!
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Old 01-24-07, 09:54 PM   #10
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Hi All,First post, although I've been lurking for quite some time

I have done a couple of short (4 or 5 day) tours on a Jamis Nova. Front and rear panniers, about 50 lbs of gear including panniers and racks. Tent, pad , sleeping bag etc, but no cooking gear. Both tours involved 2 mountain passes in Southern British Columbia. First one with stock gearing,(30, 42, 52, 12-25 9 speed), second one 28,38, 48, 11-34 9speed. 25c tires once 28c second time. no flats either time, I'm about 185 lbs so not light. Both trips fun, second one a lot easier on a 50 yr old body. Bike handled fine, much smoother then my tri bike. I say ride what you got, seriously consider some lower gearing.

Hope this helps, just my .02$ worth
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Old 01-25-07, 12:00 AM   #11
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Obviously, there are many options of touring bikes. I won't belabor the options available if you want to get something different on the cheap. WIth that said, touring is a journey. Go on a tour with your current bike. If your gearing isn't low enough, get off the bike and walk up the hill. Re-evaluate when you get home. Remember, it's the journey. If you enjoy it and learn lessons to apply to future tours, it's all good. Just have fun, and your current bike will serve.
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Old 01-25-07, 01:39 AM   #12
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BigBlueToe, How do you like that Nashbar frame. In your case I probably wouldn't be running out to buy a new bike either. How do you like the Nasbar frame? Was it aluminum back then also? I remember thinking of buying one back then, but not doing it for lack of funds.

While the LHTs are nice it's not a step up from the normal standard touring fare. I'm trying to break out of the cycle of just buying and re-buying stock stuff that deosn't represent any real improvement every decade or so.
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Old 01-25-07, 09:39 AM   #13
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I loved the Nashbar frame when I bought it, but only because it was so big! I picture Arnie Nashbar as a big guy, since his other company sold volleyball equipment. I'm 6'4" tall, and a former volleyball bum. My previous bike was an old Raleigh Gran Prix. The seat was considerably higher than the handlebars, and I think the top tube was shorter because I just felt cramped. The Nashbar came in a 26.5" frame. I can really stretch out on it and I liked that. On the downside, the tubing is all 1" diameter, and it gets really "whippy" when fully loaded. Once it gets up above 20 mph with a load there's a natural resonance that starts the thing oscillating from side to side uncontrollably. Of course, some of that may be caused by the handlebar bag. When I carefully balanced the load in my panniers this wasn't a problem. When it's unloaded it's a very comfortable, stable ride.

For what I paid for it ($600 or so in about 1993) it has been a great investment. It has been reliable and it's still going strong. Of course, the factory wheels that it came with weren't that great, even though they were 36H. I broke a lot of spokes on my first big tour. Before my next big tour I went to my LBS and told them to build me a bullet-proof rear wheel. I didn't break any spokes on the next tour.
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Old 01-25-07, 09:40 AM   #14
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I loved the Nashbar frame when I bought it, but only because it was so big! I picture Arnie Nashbar as a big guy, since his other company sold volleyball equipment. I'm 6'4" tall, and a former volleyball bum. My previous bike was an old Raleigh Gran Prix. The seat was considerably higher than the handlebars, and I think the top tube was shorter because I just felt cramped. The Nashbar came in a 26.5" frame, steel, double-butted, and with all shimano components (a mix of mid-level road and mid-level mtb.) I can really stretch out on it and I like that. On the downside, the tubing is all 1" diameter, and it gets really "whippy" when fully loaded. Once it gets up above 20 mph with a load there's a natural resonance that starts the thing oscillating from side to side uncontrollably. Of course, some of that may be caused by the handlebar bag. When I carefully balanced the load in my panniers this wasn't a problem. When it's unloaded it's a very comfortable, stable ride.

For what I paid for it ($600 or so in about 1993) it has been a great investment. It has been reliable and it's still going strong. Of course, the factory wheels that it came with weren't that great, even though they were 36H. I broke a lot of spokes on my first big tour. Before my next big tour I went to my LBS and told them to build me a bullet-proof rear wheel. I didn't break any spokes on the next tour. all Shimano components (a mix of mid-level road and mid-level mtb.)
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Old 02-12-07, 10:29 AM   #15
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The current bike is just fine. Don't even mess with the gearing unless the "3-4 rides lasting 3-5 days" get extra hilly (or just plan on flatter routes for the first couple of rides). Fiddling with equipment is fun, but just getting out and touring is funner.

You say you're comfortable on the bike for long distances -- well, that's 95 percent of what you need to worry about. Enjoy your rides!
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