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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 05-11-07, 01:24 PM   #1
cyclingmonkey
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best touring bike for newbie?

I am new to touring but was hoping to get in some short trips this summer. I am wondering what the best bike would be preferably for around or under $1000. I have been looking at the Novara Randonee as REI is having it 15% off sale this week (so it would be $800). I don't want to jump into a purchase but like the idea of being able to return the bike after my first tour if it is not to my liking. They also sell Cannondale in some stores though I am not sure what model. I was looking at the T800. A big difference btw the T800 & the Randonee seems to be the aluminum vs. steel frame. Any thoughts? Also, I hear that the T800 doesn't ride well without a load. I would like this bike to double as a commuter so that is not as appealing. I see there are other bikes for around the same price point--Bianchi Volpe, Fuji World, Jamis Aurora, etc. Someone suggested the Surly LHT to me but the smaller versions (I am 5'3") only take 26'' wheels. I thought of getting the Novara Safari but the REI salesman discouraged it unless I was going to do third-world travelling (which I won't be anytime soon). Anyway, let me know what you think!
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Old 05-11-07, 01:46 PM   #2
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Surly LHT complete, if you can score one.
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Old 05-11-07, 01:53 PM   #3
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A Randonee for $800 is an outstanding value. I would have bought one if I hadn't found a Trek 520 at another LBS for a great discounted price.

Either the Safari or Fusion would make great commuting bikes. A Randonee of course could be used for commuting once you get fenders and rack/panniers on it.

Have fun shopping -- and buy at REI before end of day on Sunday! I have to get over there to grab a training wheel bike for my 4 yr old :-)

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Old 05-11-07, 01:54 PM   #4
Niles H.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclingmonkey
I am new to touring but was hoping to get in some short trips this summer. I am wondering what the best bike would be preferably for around or under $1000. I have been looking at the Novara Randonee as REI is having it 15% off sale this week (so it would be $800). I don't want to jump into a purchase but like the idea of being able to return the bike after my first tour if it is not to my liking. They also sell Cannondale in some stores though I am not sure what model. I was looking at the T800. A big difference btw the T800 & the Randonee seems to be the aluminum vs. steel frame. Any thoughts? Also, I hear that the T800 doesn't ride well without a load. I would like this bike to double as a commuter so that is not as appealing. I see there are other bikes for around the same price point--Bianchi Volpe, Fuji World, Jamis Aurora, etc. Someone suggested the Surly LHT to me but the smaller versions (I am 5'3") only take 26'' wheels. I thought of getting the Novara Safari but the REI salesman discouraged it unless I was going to do third-world travelling (which I won't be anytime soon). Anyway, let me know what you think!
26" wheels are fine for touring, and more versatile. They are probably a better choice for anyone under 5'8". Surly and Rivendell both put 26" wheels on their smaller (and even medium) sizes. They do this for very good reasons (which one or both of them explain on their websites).

I strongly r e c o m m e n d finding a bike you really like (vs bikes others think are best for you). Test rides help a lot. You're the one who's going to be spending a lot of time on this bike; pay attention to the ride quality for you (not in others' eyes or experiences, but in your own experience).

Fit is extremely important. The Rivendell website has a good article about achieving the right fit. It is much much more important than most noobs tend to assume. It's not rocket science, but there are a handful of important points to pay attention to.

You might be interested in searching for other threads that talk about the Safari. That salesman may not have known (and probably did not know) as much as some of the owners on these threads. (You can do a bikeforums.net search using Google, by clicking on 'advanced search' (next to Google's search window), then typing in bikeforums.net for the (only) domain, then searching for Safari. You can find discussions of many other bikes in the same way.)

***
There are many many many many many many opinions out there, and they often conflict and cause confusion.

Any of these bikes, in the right size -- and set up to fit well -- are good. Different people lean toward different bikes, and when you read or listen to them you can get a little confused.

***
One thing about the Rivendell fit philosophy: some like to go with larger frames (Rivendell is among them); others lean toward more moderate, medium frame sizes; still others (like bgcycles (see website)) lean toward smaller, or even compact sizes. (you could do a bikeforums.net search for Eddy fit and French fit)

Again, different people have different preferences. IMHO smaller sizes have overlooked advantages and more versatility, and you'll probably be happier in the long run with small to medium.

Last edited by Niles H.; 05-11-07 at 03:50 PM.
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Old 05-11-07, 01:57 PM   #5
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One other note: on test rides, tire pressure makes a major difference in how a bike rides. Trying out the same bike with a few different tire pressures will give you a feel for this.
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Old 05-11-07, 02:51 PM   #6
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If you're a member at REI you can use a 20% off coupon while this sale is going on. Little better than the 15% off they're advertising on that bike. (Not sure if you can use the 20% coupon with that specific bike but worth checking into.)

By the way, I love my Jamis Aurora. Check it out if you have a Jamis dealer close by.
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Old 05-11-07, 02:55 PM   #7
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The Fuji Touring is also a decent ride. On the other hand, I don't know of anyone who makes a truly bad touring bike. As long as the chainstays are long enough, whichever bike you enjoy riding is the best.

And personally, I think the Safari is an excellent touring bike (though I would put 1.25-1.5 slicks on it unless you're off-roading, instead of those massive 1.9" tires). Those trekking bars give you plenty of hand positions, and that's really what matters.
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Old 05-11-07, 02:58 PM   #8
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Consider the Trek 520, a thread was posted yesterday. There are other ideas there too but the thread has a man that has one posting a good over-view and great pictures
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Old 05-11-07, 03:01 PM   #9
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If you're a member at REI you can use a 20% off coupon while this sale is going on.
No, I don't think you can. Not this sale. The fine print says excludes bikes.
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Old 05-11-07, 03:43 PM   #10
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No, I don't think you can. Not this sale. The fine print says excludes bikes.
Yep.
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Old 05-11-07, 06:29 PM   #11
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And personally, I think the Safari is an excellent touring bike (though I would put 1.25-1.5 slicks on it unless you're off-roading, instead of those massive 1.9" tires). Those trekking bars give you plenty of hand positions, and that's really what matters.I am too trying to decide between the Safari and the Randonne for light touring, commuting, long distance rides, or just leisure riding. An employee of one of the local REIs critized the Safari as not being either a mountain bike or a touring bike. Since I had wrist surgery in the past, I am interested in the trekking bars for the same reason above.
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Old 05-11-07, 07:52 PM   #12
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I'd bet the REI employee who critized the Safari isn't much of a bike rider. After all the hype and endless talk about bikes, the Safari stands tall. I'd guess it's maybe the highest bike out there in customer happiness. Those who ride the Safari love the bike!
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Old 05-12-07, 04:59 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Niles H.
26" wheels are fine for touring, and more versatile. They are probably a better choice for anyone under 5'8". Surly and Rivendell both put 26" wheels on their smaller (and even medium) sizes. They do this for very good reasons (which one or both of them explain on their websites).
+1
26" wheels are becoming popular for tourists of all sizes but they are esp suitable for smaller riders. 5'3" is at the boundary for reasonable use of a 700c size. You can certainly get smaller 700c frames but the geometry has to be bodged to fit the large wheels into a small frame.
If you have a choice of 26" vs 700c then I would recomend the 26" version.
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Old 05-12-07, 06:31 AM   #14
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surly.
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Old 05-12-07, 08:40 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Niles H.
One thing about the Rivendell fit philosophy: some like to go with larger frames (Rivendell is among them); others lean toward more moderate, medium frame sizes; still others (like bgcycles (see website)) lean toward smaller, or even compact sizes. (you could do a bikeforums.net search for Eddy fit and French fit)

Again, different people have different preferences. IMHO smaller sizes have overlooked advantages and more versatility, and you'll probably be happier in the long run with small to medium.
From a fit perspective, a compact frame is =not= necessarily smaller. While the seat tube is shorter, and thus the measured size seems smaller, a Bruce Gordon bike will fit like a much larger frame. Here's what Bruce says about it:
http://bikeforums.net/showthread.php...67#post2869067
http://bikeforums.net/showthread.php...68#post1693768

So while Bruce may not be advocating Rivendell fitting, he's not suggesting anything unusually small.
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