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  1. #1
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    Bleriot or LHT for loaded touring?

    I will be going on a 4 month tour of Europe starting in July and am looking at purchasing a good touring bike which can handle a moderate load (up to 40 lbs). Most of the riding will be on paved roads, but I would also like to be able to handle some dirt trails. I need a frame in the 51-53 cm range and am considering the Bleriot because I've read a lot of good things about the 650b wheelsize, especially for smaller frames. I weigh 155 lbs. Do you think the bike can handle 200 lbs of weight on a tour? I have recieved conflicting advice. Some say it can only handle about 20 lbs. That seems quite low. I'm under a bit of a time crunch so I can't go custom. The other bike I'm considering is the Surly Long Haul Trucker, but I wanted to avoid having to use MTB wheels. There seems to be limited options in the smaller size frames other than using MTB wheels. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Paul

  2. #2
    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    What's wrong with "MTB" wheels?

  3. #3
    Dances a jig. Mchaz's Avatar
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    What's wrong with 26" wheels? You will have very few options for tires with 650b. I don't see your problem with 26" wheels as there is only few millimeters of actual difference in diameter between the two wheel sizes once the tires are mounted. There are a few 26" tires available in a 1" width, and a lot of options from 1.5" wide and up. If you shred a 650b tire out on tour, good luck finding a replacement quickly. On the other hand 26" is one of the most widely used sizes.

    There seems to be limited options in the smaller size frames other than using MTB wheels.
    Are you talking about the LHT? All of the LHT sizes have the same braze-ons, features, etc. The only difference is the jump to 700c wheels at 56cm.

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    The Riv. especially in a small frame. Smaller frames lend themselves particularly well to smaller wheels,it's in the geom. 650b wheels are much more common abroad for that reason and it helps with the rareness factor of the wheels too. That's a nice fame. Go with the larger size. Larger by 2cents. than you would with a 700 or 27,that too is in the numbers. Weight is no problem with you or your payload I'm sure. I have not riden either,I do plan to get a Bleriot,a very unique bike. It has inherant advantages as it is.

  5. #5
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    650b is flipping foolish. you want to tour like the Europeans, tour on a 26" bike.

    Bleriot, get serious. 650B are 'poseur' bikes. A joke on the bike community.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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    OK a poseur bike,if you say so. Wrong about the wheels though, 650B's are much more common in Europe. I don't think they use the 26" we use to the degree we have them..again if availabilty of spares is a consideration. You may want to check on that.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by old and new
    OK a poseur bike,if you say so. Wrong about the wheels though, 650B's are much more common in Europe. I don't think they use the 26" we use to the degree we have them..again if availabilty of spares is a consideration. You may want to check on that.
    You sure about that? I've seen lots of MTBs in the UK and in Greece (and Vietnam and Tahiti and New Zealand and USA and Dubai and Australia and Egypt). Never a 650B. My impression was that 650B was pretty specific to France, and even there 559 (26") is far more common.

    Lots of people tour on 26". In fact, most people tour on 26" these days, at least in Europe.

    I suppose if you're really concerned about the smaller wheel size you could go with a 29er or cyclocross tyres on a strong 700c wheel, they would give you enough grip for gravel. You might have trouble finding a frame that fits well; the LHT (and also the Rivendell Atlantis, BTW) uses 26" in smaller sizes.

    Why don't you test ride a bunch of 26" and 700c bikes to get a feel for things. Compare drop bars to MTB/barend or trekking bars.

    If you decide you like one of the 26" bikes, whack on some Schwalbe Big Apple tyres which are frickin' HUGE and give you a wheel similar in diameter to a 650B with 28mm tyres.

    If you do go 650B make sure you know where to get parts and how to get them delivered. Also google "650B conversion", you might be able to try things out for a bit cheaper than the Bleriot. Other options are the Kogswell, and a bike from Chain Transit Authority in Sydney.

  8. #8
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    I was thinking about France by the way, you mentioned other places,I don't know. I didn't know about Kogswelleither, I'm going to check on that for my own sake. 26"to me, meant mountain, I've considered a fat tire bike, roadlike NOT mountain,live and learn. I'm nuetral about Surly though,just my taste.THANKS

  9. #9
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    As previous posters have pointed out, 26" wheels are common size for touring bikes in europe.

    650b has a bsd of 584mm, vs 559mm on 26" - so there's a whopping 12mm difference in bsd. A 26x2.0" tire has approximately the same outer diameter as a 650x40b tire (about the largest tire you can get for a 650b rim). I don't see the difference, and i've never understood why riv and kogswell didn't just go ahead and use 26", considering the far greater availabilty of tires, in many more sizes, and at lower cost. I presume its because 26" has a stigma of being a mtb or juvenile tire, suitable only for kiddie bikes.

    The riv cost 750 as a frameset, lht is 420. The riv is prettier, built with real riv lugs, bb etc, and nice paint job. The lht is tigged and powdercoated. The riv has 44.5cm chainstays, the lht has 46cm chainstays. The riv uses a 1" threaded fork, the lht uses 1.125" threadless fork WITH mid-fork bosses for rack.

    I have read of quality control issues on both bikes (apparently taiwanese workmanship is on the decline).

    20lbs payload is not much for a touring bike. I suspect this is not true - if it is, riv should not be selling the bleriot as a touring frameset, and you shouldn't buy it.

    The riv is a prettier, potentially more classy. all-rounder bike. It costs more, and you'll end up putting prettier, more costly parts on it, so it'll cost even more built up. BTW - 1" threaded stems are hard to find with more limited selection.

    http://www.cyclofiend.com/cc/2006/bleriot/index.html

    The lht is a more utilitarian, dedicated touring bike. More common tires, rims, stems, headsets (meaning cheaper). Better fork for front rack mounting. Longer chainstays so your feet less likely to hit bags. Third water bottle mount.

    My vote goes to the lht for above reasons.

    Paul, if you're leaving in july you better order your frame and parts right away.
    Last edited by seeker333; 05-16-07 at 01:13 AM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    650b is flipping foolish. you want to tour like the Europeans, tour on a 26" bike.

    Bleriot, get serious. 650B are 'poseur' bikes. A joke on the bike community.
    +1

    Where will you find spare tires, tubes, or god forbid a rim in 650b size? The Bleriot is one of the worst bikes for touring I've ever seen.

  11. #11
    Senior Member brianmcg123's Avatar
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    The Bleriot is not mean to be a full on touring bike. Its more of a commuter, rough stuff, day rider. Maybe a weekend credit card tour at the most.

    If you want to tour on a Riv then get the Atlantis. If cost is of concern then get the Long Haul Trucker.
    Everyone's a roadie, they just might not know it yet.

  12. #12
    Matthew Grimm / Flunky Kogswell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333
    I don't see the difference, and i've never understood why riv and kogswell didn't just go ahead and use 26", considering the far greater availabilty of tires, in many more sizes, and at lower cost.
    This year we've added 26" and 700C wheels to the P/R lineup. For now there only available on the 59cm frame size. But other sizes will follow as demand increases.

    Keep in mind that bikes designed for 650B wheels can also be used with 650A wheels without modification. And if there's one tire (and tube) size that you can find everywhere, it is 26 x 1 3/8. We stock the Panaracer Col de la Vie in 650A (590) and there are other very nice tires like the Marathon from Schwalbe.

    650A, for those who don't know it well, is the ISO 590 size also known as 26 x 1 3/8. Every English 3-speed uses it, it's the standard tire dimension of Japan and Columbia made a couple million 650A bikes here in The States.

    Sun sells a 650A version of the CR-18 rim. And Bell distributes a 590 tire. They're $10, very nice, and no harder to find than a Walmart.

  13. #13
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    I'd buy a porteur if it were available in 26", kogs. trying to push an wheel size from the annals of bike history was and is absolute tomfoolery.

    why did you guys try that? cachet???? Nostalgia? Grant trying to see if he can still 'throw' his weight around in the bike manufacturing world?
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  14. #14
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Hi there,
    I just finished building a Bleriot for my wife, and I am also a big fan of
    Surly bikes. You should also look at the Surly Pacer; it can tour; but
    is a lively copy of a Rivendell bike. I think it is their best bike.

    Here's my take on the situation. MTB slicks tend to be heavy, and that
    gives them a rep for being slow. They aren't all heavy, but then if you are touring
    you want a fairly substantial tire anyway....

    If you have other objections to the 26 inch wheels, tell me.

    I think the Bleriot is a fabulous bike. It's good looking and better made than the Surly bikes.
    But if you tour with it I'd bring a spare tube and tire. Which is not a big deal, I've done it.
    You should also consider getting another tube and tire, boxing them up, and give it to a friend or relative.
    They can Fedex the sucker if you get into trouble.

    Any of these bikes can handle the weight easily. All have relaxed geometry.

    Since they can all do the job, I'd worry about fit. Do you know what top
    tube length you need? That is crucial.

    And just as a FYI... I am thinking about building up a Bleriot for myself next year.
    I am very impressed. We got ours from Spicer Cylces for $600.
    http://parts.spicercycles.com/page.c...nsearch=Search

    But check out the QBP parts kit, they offer a cost effective means of getting the parts for your frame
    whichever one you pick.

  15. #15
    Retro-nerd georgiaboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by late
    Hi there,
    I just finished building a Bleriot for my wife, and I am also a big fan of
    Surly bikes. You should also look at the Surly Pacer; it can tour; but
    is a lively copy of a Rivendell bike. I think it is their best bike.

    Here's my take on the situation. MTB slicks tend to be heavy, and that
    gives them a rep for being slow. They aren't all heavy, but then if you are touring
    you want a fairly substantial tire anyway....

    If you have other objections to the 26 inch wheels, tell me.

    I think the Bleriot is a fabulous bike. It's good looking and better made than the Surly bikes.
    But if you tour with it I'd bring a spare tube and tire. Which is not a big deal, I've done it.
    You should also consider getting another tube and tire, boxing them up, and give it to a friend or relative.
    They can Fedex the sucker if you get into trouble.

    Any of these bikes can handle the weight easily. All have relaxed geometry.

    Since they can all do the job, I'd worry about fit. Do you know what top
    tube length you need? That is crucial.

    And just as a FYI... I am thinking about building up a Bleriot for myself next year.
    I am very impressed. We got ours from Spicer Cylces for $600.
    http://parts.spicercycles.com/page.c...nsearch=Search

    But check out the QBP parts kit, they offer a cost effective means of getting the parts for your frame
    whichever one you pick.
    The Bleriot takes 650b wheels? Which wheels are you using, where did you get them?
    Would you like a dream with that?

  16. #16
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by georgiaboy
    The Bleriot takes 650b wheels? Which wheels are you using, where did you get them?
    Hi,
    I got NOS XTR hubs from bike shops. The front one was an Ebay purchase, but the seller was a bike shop. They don't actually match but what the heck. I then had my bike shop get the lighest rims and build them up with brass nipples. I think the rims are Velocity.

    The prebuilt wheels are fine, but this will be her last bike. In a few years we will both be 60; and I
    wanted to do the best job I could. I must say the xtr roll as smooth as a baby's bottom, light and sexy.
    I am jealous.

  17. #17
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by georgiaboy
    The Bleriot takes 650b wheels? Which wheels are you using, where did you get them?
    Hi,
    I got NOS XTR hubs from bike shops. The front one was an Ebay purchase, but the seller was a bike shop. They don't actually match but what the heck. I then had my bike shop get the lighest rims and build them up with brass nipples. I think the rims are Velocity.

    The prebuilt wheels are fine, but this will be her last bike. In a few years we will both be 60; and I
    wanted to do the best job I could. I must say the xtr roll as smooth as a baby's bottom. They are light and sexy.

    I am jealous.

  18. #18
    Senior Member NealH's Avatar
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    I never understood re-commercializing the 650B wheel either. Between the 700C amd 26" Mountain wheel, of which there are unlimited types and configurations (tires and hoops) for riding on any surfaces short of on water and, under most any condition, all bases appear to be covered for both large and small riders.

    My advice is to reach deeper in your pocket and get the Atlantis. It'll come with 26" wheels, will be tour good and not care about load, it will ride good, it will go about anywhere a mountain bike can go, and it looks excellent.

    The Bleriot is a nice bike and, I am sure it rides good and does it's job just fine. But to me, that job is merely cruising around the farm on a niche wheel. I don't know of anything one can do on this bike that can not be done for probably less, and arguably better and with more options, on a 700C or 26" wheel.

    Having said that, go for what you want. That is part of the fun. As has been stated, just be sure of 650B availability. Contact people or shops where you will be riding and get real world answers.

  19. #19
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rnhood
    I never understood re-commercializing the 650B wheel either.
    I can tell you aren't 5 feet two with eyes of blue...

  20. #20
    Retro-nerd georgiaboy's Avatar
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    Would you like a dream with that?

  21. #21
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by georgiaboy
    I think that's the same rim. It has alloy nipples; I prefer brass.
    But it looks like a fine wheel. If you decide to go with a 650b,
    you should first see if QBP has a kit for it.

  22. #22
    Matthew Grimm / Flunky Kogswell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    I'd buy a porteur if it were available in 26", kogs. trying to push an wheel size from the annals of bike history was and is absolute tomfoolery.

    why did you guys try that? cachet???? Nostalgia? Grant trying to see if he can still 'throw' his weight around in the bike manufacturing world?
    We have some 26" P/Rs coming, but they're just about sold out. But we'll make more.

    I disagree about 650 tires, sort of.

    650B is just silly. One rim and a handful of tires?

    650A is fine. Lots of rims. Lots of tires.

    The best thing about 650A is that you can use fat tires and fenders and not have toe clip overlap. You can do that with 26" too, but the 650As are bigger and offer a better ride. And Walmart sells a very nice 650A tire (also called 26 x 1 3/8) for those times when you have a blowout in the middle of Wyoming.

  23. #23
    The Rock Cycle eofelis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by late
    You should also look at the Surly Pacer; it can tour; but
    is a lively copy of a Rivendell bike. I think it is their best bike.
    +1 on the Pacer.

    I have been riding a tiny 42cm Pacer for the past 4 years. It takes 700c wheels. It's my road bike, but I consider it more of a sport touring bike. It's not blazing fast, but it sure is comfortable. I like it a lot! It would also work very well as a supported touring/light touring/credit card touring bike.

    Even though the Pacer uses caliper brakes and has shorter chainstays, I could see it with a front and rear rack and panniers all around to tour on in a pinch (such as, if you didn't already have an LHT!)
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