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  1. #1
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    Trip planning and equpment recomendations

    Hello!

    I put together a thread in the charity forum(read it here) describing a trip I'm trying to put together. With that plan in mind, I would like to get as much information, anecdotal and expert, as I can regarding equipment and route planning for a cross country tour of the US. I don't quite know what questions to ask so I guess if people can just start firing opinions away at their leisure it would give me a jumping off point.

    Currently I only have a mountain bike that I am doing daily rides on, so I'll need something more appropriate for distance. My budget is limited and being new to road bikes and touring I'm not sure what to look for.

    I would like to travel light, I'm no stranger to hitchhiking with a sleeping bag and a bivy-sack so I don't know if a trailer is necessary or if I can get away with some type of saddle-bag system.

    Route planning: I am currently in North Carolina(though I could leave from Southern Maine, just over the border from NH, as well since I have family and friends there too) and my destination is Santa Barbara, California. I've heard of something called bikecentennial? I did a search for it on google and found a webpage that sold maps but they were more localized rather then in atlas form. It didn't seem to be much help unless you knew specifics waypoints already...

    Please also share any other sage advice you might have!

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Shemp's Avatar
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    adventurecycling.org for pre-planned, reasonably safe routes without guessing.

    As for questions, you'll have to offer up a better description of what a "limited" budget entails. While a touring bike might offer benefits, it's not unreasonabl to consider your mtn bike depending on equipment.

    How light are you wanting to go? What comforts are you willing to go without for 10-12 weeks? Are you cooking your own or eating out?

    If the search is working, you can read all you want about trailers versus panniers. Numerous threads about "lightweight" packing. Search for pack lists. See what items you will need, have or can live without.

    By the way, that's one heckuva a story in the newspaper!

  3. #3
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    @Shemp: Thanks for the response! Unfortunately the Mountain Bike belongs to my step-brother, so I doubt taking it is going to be an option. It has a front shock but it's not the type you can adjust the firmness of and it's pretty soft at that. I'm looking at having about $500... maybe $700 that I can spend on a bike and related gear. I figure my best bet is something used, my first few searches through craigslist haven't turned up anything in my area though.

    As far as food goes, I plan to make most of my meals(I have an MSR XGK stove and MSR Blacklight pot set for anything that needs to be cooked) and stay in hostels when I need a shower and laundry. I really don't need much for comfort except a clean change of cloths and a beer on rest days.

    Thats for the search tip, I'll see what I can find with that.

  4. #4
    VWVagabonds.com Losligato's Avatar
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    Hey Omless,

    Beginning with two thrift-store bicycles we added all second-hand and ebay/craigslist purchased gear to create two touring bikes that have taken us through the west coast of the U.S. and Southeast Asia.

    Here is a link to our gear and equipment page.

    Some tips:

    1. Create a google alert for all craigslist pages for the gear you need, for instance "site:www.craigslist.org ortlieb pannier". Google will send you an email when the parts you want are for sale. Then you can email the person and, if they are trusted, have them mail it to you after you pay.

    2. Create an ebay alert for the items you want. Use a snipe program to bid at the last second (a good free one is www.justsnipe.com.)

    3. Sign up for warm showers, (www.warmshowers.com). A great site! Cycle tourers all over the world have signed up to offer a free bed (or backyard for tenters) for fellow cyclists.

    4. Green or brown tent for free camping.

    Good luck.
    www.VWVagabonds.com
    Mexico, Central America, South America & Africa in a Volkswagen

    By bicycle West Coast of the U.S., Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Malaysia

    India by Royal Enfield

  5. #5
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    I've been researching equipment to try and put a bike together for this trip and I have a few questions...

    First, I went down to my LBS and aside from not being very helpful because all he wanted to do was sell me a new bike, he told me that anything aside from 700c tires would not fit in a shimano 105 or compairable breaks. He also had no idea what I was talking about when I mentioned '1.5' and '1.75' as width. (it's a sorry little LBS I have here...) Anyway - is there any truth to that? Would I be able to use schwalbe tires with any road group's brakes or do I need something else?

    Do I have to worry about grounding out on the bottom swing of the crank if I use a 26" tire instead of a 700c? What part of frame geometry should I look at to avoid this if it is a possibility?

    @Losligato: What sort of groupset do you guys have on your bikes? Your webpage says that they're 1980's style but I'm curious what you're using for mechanics. Great story as well, what a way to make your dreams happen!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Shemp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OmlessWanderer
    First, I went down to my LBS and aside from not being very helpful because all he wanted to do was sell me a new bike, he told me that anything aside from 700c tires would not fit in a shimano 105 or comparable breaks. He also had no idea what I was talking about when I mentioned '1.5' and '1.75' as width. (it's a sorry little LBS I have here...) Anyway - is there any truth to that? Would I be able to use schwalbe tires with any road group's brakes or do I need something else?
    If you were looking at a road bike (which you must have been since you were talking about 105 brakes), in all likelihood it was equipped with 700c wheels, then he indeed would be perplexed by you referencing 1.5" and 1.75" tires. If you're looking at a road bike, I believe you're going to be looking at 700x28 at the largest between the 105 brakes, and that's only if the frame fits tires that wide. If you're looking at a road touring bike, then you can look toward 700x35 or 700x32 (or larger or smaller) and they'll have cantilever brakes (v's or center-pulls).

    If you want an 1.5" or 1.75" tire, then you need to make sure you're buying a road touring bike designed for 26" wheels or a mountain bike.

    I think you can get the Schwalbe Marathon in 700x25 if you want a road bike instead of a touring bike for some reason.



    Quote Originally Posted by OmlessWanderer
    Do I have to worry about grounding out on the bottom swing of the crank if I use a 26" tire instead of a 700c? What part of frame geometry should I look at to avoid this if it is a possibility?
    Either you buy a frame designed for a 26" wheel or one designed for a 700 wheel, so it's not a worry.

  7. #7
    nun
    nun is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shemp
    adventurecycling.org for pre-planned, reasonably safe routes without guessing.

    As for questions, you'll have to offer up a better description of what a "limited" budget entails. While a touring bike might offer benefits, it's not unreasonabl to consider your mtn bike depending on equipment.

    How light are you wanting to go? What comforts are you willing to go without for 10-12 weeks? Are you cooking your own or eating out?

    If the search is working, you can read all you want about trailers versus panniers. Numerous threads about "lightweight" packing. Search for pack lists. See what items you will need, have or can live without.

    By the way, that's one heckuva a story in the newspaper!
    The best value in new tourers now is the Surly LHT, I've seen a complete one go for $900. If that's too much pick up a tourer or solid road bike from ebay or craigslist.

    It will definitely be possible to do your tour with a saddle bag, something like a Carradice Nelson or Camper
    check out this link for inspiration

    http://milly.org/rambouillet/

  8. #8
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    I was thinking about getting the touring frame from Nashbar and getting the rest of the parts from ebay... People seem to like to bid the parts up so high even though they start so low, it's a bit frustrating! As far as buying a bike new, the LHT is definately more then I can afford right now. It seems like the minute you go below seven or eight hundred dollars you must get a straight bar, no matter what, even if you want a steel frame. Is the consensus that a steel frame is really what you want, or is an aluminum(aluminium for our English friends ;P) frame fine, especially with a carbon fork?

    I guess I don't really know how to add it up either because aside from the groupset, I don't know what little bits and peices I will need. I've been researching, wikipedia and elsewhere, but nothing I have found seems to have a definite list of "this is what you need to have a full bike." I just know how to push the peddals! Does anyone have a good resource I can look at for those critical details?

    I was looking on ebay at SPRTYMAMA's bikes and aside from having no-name frames, they're inexpensive and customer reviews on both dealing with her and specifically the bikes alone seem positive from what I can find. Obviously I can never tell if these reviews are simply trolls, but hey... if they've got a brand name gruppo then at least I'm pointed in the right direction. It seems like the only real issues people have with the bikes is they're just slapped together so they need to be taken apart and properly greased and oiled when they're received. Anyone else have an opinion on that?

  9. #9
    Senior Member Shemp's Avatar
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    Ask yourself - "Do I go as cheap as I can with my climbing gear and buy no-name stuff?"
    Last edited by Shemp; 05-06-07 at 07:05 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shemp
    Ask yourself - "Do I go as cheap as I can with my climbing gear and by no-name stuff?"
    I understand what you're trying to say and I'm going to be a little bit long winded trying to show you where I'm coming from in return.

    Thats not really a fair question, since all the mechanical parts of the bike are name brand shimano but mostly because every time you use climbing gear it is meant to save your life. Yes I will go as cheap as I can with my climbing gear and buy something with a brand name I'm not familiar with because climbing gear is regularly reviewed by major publications. So even the cheap stuff gets a credible review, it's not shunned by the elite because it's not this years stuff or it's too heavy or what ever. Climbers go nuts over cheap stuff partially because so many of them are so broke(because if you're climbing you're not working...) that they're trying to live out of their car and off of sardines, bagels and tomato soup made from ketchup packets they snagged from the cafeteria near the ranger station or at McD's.

    They can go nuts over cheap stuff and feel safe about it because there is a stamp on the side of every carabiner and every wired-nut and every cam shaft that tells you how many kilonewtons of force the given device can take and in which orientations. I hope I'm just missing something, but so far it seems like there is a complete void of that sort of information in the bike world. I'm hoping I can find something other then price tag and brand loyalty to back quality! What am I missing here?

  11. #11
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    btw, Shemp thank you for all the attention, care and feeding you supply. Not just for me, but searching through the forums I see that you give lots of attention to each of the people at my level who come through here asking for the world. Thanks.

  12. #12
    VWVagabonds.com Losligato's Avatar
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    @Losligato: What sort of groupset do you guys have on your bikes?
    My bike has Shimano Deore LX and Amanda's Has Deore XT. Both from the 1980s

    As for expensive bikes being more reliable or better, a few points:

    - We've met two groups of cyclists on the road here in Southeast Asia who had custom made touring bikes with top of the line components and have had lots of mechanical difficulties. (not to imply that one caused the other)

    - Many new top-of-the-line components are made with weight a priority, not durability. A cheap shimano set will work just fine in my opinion.

    - Here is a link to a website about a couple who have ridden around the world on self-shifting infomercial bikes. Yes, infomercial bicycles!

    - It is often tempting to believe you can "buy" yourself out of difficulty. The things I learned while building up our bikes have helped me (a mechanical idiot) to keep them going and the fact that they were not particularly expensive allows me to take a wrench to them without worry of doing more harm than good.

    -We met a nice girl who purchased a Chinese bicycle in Vientiane, Laos for $100, strapped on her backpack and pedaled to Vietnam.

    - Most Important: There are some for whom the best is a necessity. Rightfully so. But for most of us, good-enough will do. The problem lies in the fact that many will not make a journey without the best equipment and others will be unable to afford the trip after buying the best gear.
    www.VWVagabonds.com
    Mexico, Central America, South America & Africa in a Volkswagen

    By bicycle West Coast of the U.S., Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Malaysia

    India by Royal Enfield

  13. #13
    Senior Member Shemp's Avatar
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    No doubt, buying a full DuraAce or XTR bike is totally unnecessary, but why build up an unknown frame from scratch using the cheapest components when there are good used bikes with known parts for sale out there? My wife's tourer came used off E-bay, and my tourer was deeply discounted as it was 2 model years old when I bought it. The nice part about buying a name brand frame is you can buy it for a decent price used and if you get out of biking, you can unload it for a fair amount too.

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