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  1. #1
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    bianchi volpe... a touring bike?

    I'm in the process of looking for a touring bicycle. Not hardcore off road touring, but mostly on paved roads, and not necessarily fully loaded (but would like that to be an option later on down the line if I really get into it.) Anyway, I've been riding an aluminum frame Specialized Allez Elite triple with ultegra components and actually had fenders (real tight fit) and a rear rack installed so that I could use the bike as my commuter. This bike doesn't have all the necessary braze-ons for these things to be installed properly... and, my heal keeps hitting my panniers even though they are moved back as far as possible. Sometimes the panniers get "bounced" off if I hit a speed bump because they are sitting so far back on the rack.

    Anyway, I want to do touring and commuting right. I've been looking at three bikes Trek 520, Bianchi Volpe, and Jamis Aurora. I had pretty much decided on the Volpe until, much to my surprise, the 2007 model doesn't have braze-ons on the front fork for low-riding panniers. The 2006 model has them, but doesn't have the newer Tiagra STI shifters and my LBS doesn't have the 2006 in the frame size I need. Is a bike without braze-ons on the front fork truly considered a "touring" bike? I'm thinking it's more cyclocross now.

    I do like the trek 520 but it's a few hundred dollars more. Plus, I like the STI shifting vs. the bar end and I understand it's quite pricey to switch out some of the components to make the 520 work with STI. So, right now, the Jamis Aurora is my number one choice... unless you guys have some better suggestions.

  2. #2
    Patria O Muerte!
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    Quote Originally Posted by trace22clawson
    I'm in the process of looking for a touring bicycle. Not hardcore off road touring, but mostly on paved roads, and not necessarily fully loaded (but would like that to be an option later on down the line if I really get into it.) Anyway, I've been riding an aluminum frame Specialized Allez Elite triple with ultegra components and actually had fenders (real tight fit) and a rear rack installed so that I could use the bike as my commuter. This bike doesn't have all the necessary braze-ons for these things to be installed properly... and, my heal keeps hitting my panniers even though they are moved back as far as possible. Sometimes the panniers get "bounced" off if I hit a speed bump because they are sitting so far back on the rack.

    Anyway, I want to do touring and commuting right. I've been looking at three bikes Trek 520, Bianchi Volpe, and Jamis Aurora. I had pretty much decided on the Volpe until, much to my surprise, the 2007 model doesn't have braze-ons on the front fork for low-riding panniers. The 2006 model has them, but doesn't have the newer Tiagra STI shifters and my LBS doesn't have the 2006 in the frame size I need. Is a bike without braze-ons on the front fork truly considered a "touring" bike? I'm thinking it's more cyclocross now.

    I do like the trek 520 but it's a few hundred dollars more. Plus, I like the STI shifting vs. the bar end and I understand it's quite pricey to switch out some of the components to make the 520 work with STI. So, right now, the Jamis Aurora is my number one choice... unless you guys have some better suggestions.

    Jamis Aurora is a sweet, sweet bike. Except for the fact that it doesn't have a third bottle cage braze-on, it's a pretty capable tourer/commuter. I'd go for it, except my eyes are set on the Surly LHT. Right now it's only available as a frameset, but the complete bike should be released soon enough(spring?).
    Check it out.
    Make sure to change the gearing on the Aurora though, if you take that path - it's too high for fully loaded touring. And you can't have a low gear that's too low.

    Good luck.
    When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.

  3. #3
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    There's been some discussion recently on the REI Novara Randonee. Steel Frame etc. $950 new but I think REI members get a 20% off coupon in March. Might be worth a look.

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    What bike shop do you like the most? All the bikes you're looking at are quality rides--- pick the shop you think you'll get the best service from. Commuter/touring bikes often need a little reworking and fine-tuning to fit the rider. A good shop will do this for free, or cheap, becuase a bike commuter=lots of future sales.

  5. #5
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    Aurora is nice. I had no idea about the Volpe not coming with braze ons for a front rack this year. That's a pretty poor choice for Bianchi, I'd say. You could get another fork, maybe the one they use on the LHT, but it's nice to be able to get a bike that has everything you want to start with. The nice thing about all your choices is that they are quite versatile--especially with the Volpe and Aurora you can slap some skinny tires and do some road rides, or thicker ones and do moderate trail riding, and though I haven't ridden the 520, the Aurora and Volpe would be great commuters (in Portland Volpes and their single speed cousins are becoming quite ubiquitous).

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    Surly Cross Check. You won't regret it.
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  7. #7
    nun
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    Surly LHT is probably the best bet in a well priced frame. I'd buy a frame
    and some kick ass wheels and then assemble the bike yourself
    or get the LBS to do it.

    The Trek 520 is a classic, but if you get it change the gearing and go with something
    like 48/36/24 rings as the Trek's stock gearing is a bit high for touring

    If you want to spend a bit more loot (and don't mind a wait) look at Rivendell's
    A Homer Hilsen, Atlantis or Bleriot (cheaper frame takes 650b wheels).

    If you want some class with little or no wait look at Heron Wayfarer

    PS I have an old Volpe and it worked well for me as a light tourer before I
    got a Rivendell Rambouillet which I dearly love and ride with up to 30 lbs
    of gear.

  8. #8
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    If you want a truly solid full-on loaded touring bike that can be used for fun rides and reasonable singletracking go to www.bgcycles.com . Yes, it is above the price range of those other bikes, but you get what you pay for.
    This space open

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    I have to chime in here. I'm pretty much a beginner as far as bikes go but I just bought a new Jamis Aurora about a month ago and I absolutely love it. It feels like a high quality piece of equipment. Feel free to ask any questions.

    By the way, I also rode the Volpe and it was pretty much a no brainer for me.

  10. #10
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Assuming that price is an issue, other than the Auroura take a look at ...

    Fuji Touring
    Cannondale T800
    REI Randonee

    With a little effort, you should be able to find a model to test ride. Often you can find an 06 model at a discount. Good luck.

  11. #11
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    You need to look at the geometry of the bikes to really determine what is suitable for a touring bike rather than just the braze-ons. Of the bikes mentioned so far, the Trek 520, Cannondales (two models) ,Surly LHT and, of course, the Bruce Gordons are longer more classic touring bikes. A new entry into this field of lower priced production touring bikes is the Rocky Mountain Sherpa (two models) which is on a par with the 520 and the T800 in terms of component level and price. All are good bikes with long wheelbases and long chainstays. What you want to look for is something with chainstays of over 17.7" (45.0 cm).

    The other bikes listed (including the Volpe) are starting to move away from touring and more into the area of sport touring. They will work for loaded touring but they will ask for compromise. For example, the Volpe has 42.5 cm chainstays which are pretty short (look at the space behind the seat tube) and similar to your Specialized. The bikes with 44 cm chainstays (17.3") have almost workable chainstay length.

    I'd say look at the longer wheel base bikes, especially since you already have problems. Any of them are good, well designed touring bikes.
    Stuart Black
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  12. #12
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    OK.. so I took the Jamis out for a test ride today. It felt awesome! The bike I ride now has 40.5 cm chainstays. The Jamis Aurora has 44 cm chainstays. I'm interested in cycocommutes recommendation of bikes with chainstays 45 cm or longer. What other advantages are there to the chainstays that are longer than 45 cm? If I don't have the "heel hitting the panniers" problem on the Jamis with the 44 cm chainstays are there other advantages to having a chainstay that is 10 cm longer? I've heard that bikes with longer chainstays track better? or maybe it was bikes with a longer wheel base?

    The surly LHT sounds real interesting though... and if they are going to have one that comes ready to ride out of the box maybe there will be a price break on the components. I'm not having much luck on finding out info on the Rocky Mountain Sherpa... what can you tell me about it?

  13. #13
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trace22clawson
    OK.. so I took the Jamis out for a test ride today. It felt awesome! The bike I ride now has 40.5 cm chainstays. The Jamis Aurora has 44 cm chainstays. I'm interested in cycocommutes recommendation of bikes with chainstays 45 cm or longer. What other advantages are there to the chainstays that are longer than 45 cm? If I don't have the "heel hitting the panniers" problem on the Jamis with the 44 cm chainstays are there other advantages to having a chainstay that is 10 cm longer? I've heard that bikes with longer chainstays track better? or maybe it was bikes with a longer wheel base?

    The surly LHT sounds real interesting though... and if they are going to have one that comes ready to ride out of the box maybe there will be a price break on the components. I'm not having much luck on finding out info on the Rocky Mountain Sherpa... what can you tell me about it?
    A few advantages, none of them huge but still advantageous:

    1. More heel clearance...if you need it. My T800 has 45.7 cm stays which are an inch longer than the Aurora. I can't come close to the bags...unless I take my feet out of the pedals and try to kick it

    2. Longer stays give a bit more cushion to the ride. Those stays are your springs (a leaf spring actually) and the longer the spring the better the frame soaks up vibration. This is probably more important on large tubed aluminum bikes than on steel bikes. The larger tubes are stiffer to begin with so more spring gives a bit more comfortable ride.

    3. More of the load can be moved further forward over the axle or inside the axles and still not be kicking the bags. Having weight cantilevered off the back of the bike makes handling twitcher.

    I've toured on a bike that had less than 44cm stays and it was a handful, especially on mountain descents...something hard to avoid around here My current bike is much more stable all around. Fast downhills are nice and stable. The bike handles a load well without shimmy or wandering on the road even up to 45 mph. Part of that is a stiff frame but part of it is a good stable platform to begin with.
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  14. #14
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    Bianchi Volpe ?

    Well I hope the Volpe is a good bike as I'm heading off to Southern Spain next week to cycle from Gibraltar to the top of Scotland on one.
    I believe that this bike is GOOD.
    I've never had any problems with it so far and I'm sure I will have many years of service from it.


    BUY IT.

  15. #15
    Zoom zoom zoom zoom bonk znomit's Avatar
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    I do like my volpe but I have to agree that heel clearance is an issue. I have to be smart about loading my rear panniers, if they are bulging at the front my heels do touch them. I assume moving the rack back will create handling problems?

  16. #16
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    OK.. I've narrowed it down to a Jamis Aurora and a Cannondale T800. My concern with the T800 - No LBS here is an authorized Cannondale dealer. I think REI is a Cannondale dealer... but not all the REI's show up on the Cannondale website as authorized dealers. The closest REI is about 25 miles away... I've called all the Cannondale authorized dealers in a 50 mile radius... not a single one has a T800 in stock.

    The Jamis Aurora is a steel frame. Should that be a concern in a rainy climate? Any special care for a steel frame? The T800 is aluminum... but I haven't heard anyone complain about the ride on this bike vs. the Steel frame. Let's see... what else?? OK, what is the weight of the T800 of the shelf? I can't find any info on that. The Jamis is about 25 lbs.

  17. #17
    Senior Member greenstork's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trace22clawson
    The Jamis Aurora is a steel frame. Should that be a concern in a rainy climate? Any special care for a steel frame?
    No, steel is not a concern in a rainy climate. About once a year, if ridden regularly in the rain, you should treat the inside of your frame with J.R. Weigle's Frame Saver.

  18. #18
    Papa Wheelie Sigurdd50's Avatar
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    +5 for the Jamis Aurora

    I have an '02 Aurora Frame
    with some different stuff on it:
    Barend shifters
    Wide range 8 speed cluster
    Vuelta wheels
    Conti Gatorskins
    Brooks B-17
    Nitto Technomics Stem
    Nitto Randonneur bars
    Easton Stem

    But the deal is the steel frame. The Jamis is really comfortable
    I've done a couple tours on it and commuting, and it just goes and goes and is mellow
    2 water bottles is enough for me
    Plenty of room for heel clearance with some old panniers on back
    I just really like what Jamis is doing with steel
    My brother has a Jamis Satellite, which has a bit less tour-worthy stuff on it, but he came along on a week long supported tour, kind of a newbie rider, and he did really well (the Satellite doesn't have much room for bigger tires and such)

    Cannondale is aluminum... meaning a stiff ride over a long tour. I rode a Felt for a week tour... was pretty sore at the end

  19. #19
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    OK... after I was convinced that I should go Jamis, I did more research, went up to Vancouver and road a Rocky Mountain Sherpa 30--- no comparison guys, this thing blows away the Jamis Aurora, the Bianchi Volpe, and the the Trek 520.

    I bought the bike! It looks like all dealers are having a difficult time keeping these in stock. The dealer in Vancouver has been selling 2-3 of these a week. He has 3 left now, and said he won't get anymore until May or June. That's the same thing I heard from the dealers in Washington state... and I only found one dealer in the state that actually had a bike - 58 cm.

    The bike is SOLID. I see no problem loading this thing up for touring. Thanks cycocommute for turning me onto this bike!

  20. #20
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trace22clawson
    OK... after I was convinced that I should go Jamis, I did more research, went up to Vancouver and road a Rocky Mountain Sherpa 30--- no comparison guys, this thing blows away the Jamis Aurora, the Bianchi Volpe, and the the Trek 520.

    I bought the bike! It looks like all dealers are having a difficult time keeping these in stock. The dealer in Vancouver has been selling 2-3 of these a week. He has 3 left now, and said he won't get anymore until May or June. That's the same thing I heard from the dealers in Washington state... and I only found one dealer in the state that actually had a bike - 58 cm.

    The bike is SOLID. I see no problem loading this thing up for touring. Thanks cycocommute for turning me onto this bike!
    Congratulations. The Sherpa looks like a great bike.

  21. #21
    Papa Wheelie Sigurdd50's Avatar
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    cool bike
    I like a horizontal TT, but otherwise... it looks good
    It looks a little like the Jamis Satellite

    Waht did you pay for that puppy?

  22. #22
    Zen Master Miles2go's Avatar
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    Here's a photo that is more useful than what RMB has on their website. This is my wife's 2006 Sherpa shown completely stock except for the saddle.



    I'm not surprised that they are selling these so fast. I can't imagine someone looking at the Sherpa and the Trek 520 and going with the 520, unless it came down to fit or individual taste in this or that color.

    You can see more images of our 2006 (some close-ups of interest) in the Rocky Mountain Sherpa 30 thread.

    Congrats on your new touring bike! Now it's all about getting out there on it!!!!
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  23. #23
    nun
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sigurdd50
    cool bike
    I like a horizontal TT, but otherwise... it looks good
    It looks a little like the Jamis Satellite

    What did you pay for that puppy?
    I'm sure the bike will perform well, but if you intend to do some serious touring it
    suffers from the same over gearing as the Trek 520. I don't really understand
    why manufacturers sell touring bikes with such big chain rings.

    I've seen the Sherpa speced with 52/42/30 rings which is just stupid
    and also with a sensible touring set up of 42/32/22 which did you get.

  24. #24
    Zen Master Miles2go's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nun
    I'm sure the bike will perform well, but if you intend to do some serious touring it
    suffers from the same over gearing as the Trek 520. I don't really understand
    why manufacturers sell touring bikes with such big chain rings.

    I've seen the Sherpa speced with 52/42/30 rings which is just stupid
    and also with a sensible touring set up of 42/32/22 which did you get.
    --------------------

    Good point and one that was covered in the other tread but this bike is one that's worth spending an extra $50-100 bucks on to swap either rings or the crankset. This is a hand-built frameset made with 853 tubing, with a lifetime warranty. Hand-built wheels too.

    I spoke at length with folks at RMB about having them put a more suitable crankset on it for 08 and they were very open to the idea. I think all it's going to take to make that happen is a little more feedback from actual tourers. I intend to give them another call this year.

    Interesting that you've seen the bike with a 42/32/22, it most likely didn't come that way from RMB.

    Cheers,
    Ron - Washington
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  25. #25
    Papa Wheelie Sigurdd50's Avatar
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    42/32/22
    I agree with this observation...
    Why sell a touring rig with road-performance gears?

    hmm that seems silly low gearing
    I can see needing a good granny gear... but that's like Himalayan gearing
    Last edited by Sigurdd50; 02-14-07 at 03:27 PM.

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