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  1. #1
    Speed Freak cordia75's Avatar
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    First time building a touring bike - recommendations

    Hey there,

    I am usually in the road race forum as I ride a road bike.

    Right now, am in the process of planning for and building a touring bike.

    Purpose of bike

    Able to do light to moderate (and even heavy) touring, with ability to go a little offroad or at least tackle a bit more difficult terrain than roads.

    These is the frame and components I have got :-

    54cm Cyclocross frame (wheel size 700c, BB width 68mm, R frame width 130mm)
    No fork at present
    52-40-42 triple crank and BB
    old Mavic 700c 36 spoke rims
    other generic parts from my road bike.

    Some questions:-

    1) What kind of fork would I need?

    2) Can i stick with the rims and build a wheelset with more knobbly tires?

    3) Am thinking of a flat bar with MTB style shifters/levers. How suitable is this with the road crank I have?

    4) Any other aspects I should take note of?

    I am almost a complete newbie to touring bikes, having more experience in road racing bikes, and little in mountain bikes. Thank you in advance for your kind answers.

  2. #2
    Senior Member NeezyDeezy's Avatar
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    1) LHT fork would work fine
    2) I would
    3) that will be fine, though I think you meant 32 as the small cog, which is still a little high. At the minimum you'd want a new cassette that is 11-34.
    4) um, I guess I don't like caliper brakes for heavy touring, so it might not be best to use your road bike's brakes.

  3. #3
    Speed Freak cordia75's Avatar
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    Hi NeezyDeezy,

    thanks for the quick response.

    1) what's a LHT fork?
    3) yes, i meant 32. I have a a shimano 9spd cassette 12-26. This is too small right?
    4) Yes, the frame has mounts for cantilever brakes but not for road bike ones. Is this ok?

  4. #4
    Senior Member NeezyDeezy's Avatar
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    http://www.surlybikes.com/forks.html
    click the top right one - LHT fork

    32 spoke is cutting it close... Most people recommend at least 36 for touring. How much do you weigh?

    In my opinion, the 12-26 would be bad because you wouldn't have anywhere near a low enough gear, especially with that 32 tooth small ring on your crank. You need an 11-34 or 12-34 if you're going to do loaded touring.

    Cantilevers are fine.

  5. #5
    Senior Member brianmcg123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cordia75
    Hey there,

    1) What kind of fork would I need?

    Some kind of steel fork with braze ons for racks and fenders. A Long Haul Trucker fork form Surly bikes would be great.

    2) Can i stick with the rims and build a wheelset with more knobbly tires?

    Get at leat 36 hole rims. You don't really need "nobby" tires, but at least 32mm wide in my opinion.

    3) Am thinking of a flat bar with MTB style shifters/levers. How suitable is this with the road crank I have?

    I would suggest getting a bar with more hand positions. A drop bar or trekking bar. Your hands may get tired of being in the same place all the time. Drop bars allow you to move them around to keep them fresh.

    4) Any other aspects I should take note of?

    Make sure you don't cut the steerer of the fork as soon as you get it. Put a ton of spacers on their even if your LBS protests. You won't really know how high you want your bars until you've been out there for a while. I have my bars on my Surly about 3cm above the heigh of the saddle. It will look funny to you coming from racing, as it did for me, but after 4 or 5, 100 mile days in a row you will be glad they are that high. I have read many stories of people that had to abort tours because of the extreme soreness in their hands, arms and neck. With all the racks and panniers and stuff on your bike its going to look funny anyway, no need to heed to the stem/spacer police.

    I am almost a complete newbie to touring bikes, having more experience in road racing bikes, and little in mountain bikes. Thank you in advance for your kind answers.

    Also don't get caught up in the weigh wennie stuff when it comes to touring. You want the stuff to be strong and last. There is a big difference having something break when your 20 miles from home and can call someone for a ride, or being 500 miles from civilization. Save the plastic and super light stuff for your race bike.
    Everyone's a roadie, they just might not know it yet.

  6. #6
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Building a touring bike falls under the KISS principle.

    **"Keep It Simple Stupid"**

    The simpler the bike is, the fewer possibilities for breakdown.

    I use an old 86 Schwinn Passage for touring, and use DT friction shifters.

    Wheels are 40 spoke rear and 36 front, in 27"X 1 1/4 because if all else fails, I can get a replacement tire at Walmart.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

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  7. #7
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    I should also point out that I am a confirmed retro grouch that loves old lugged steel frames and the simplicity of the older road touring bikes!
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant

  8. #8
    Speed Freak cordia75's Avatar
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    ok thanks y'all

    As i have read, the newer advice:-

    1) 36 spoke rims (actually i made a typo. The ones I have are 36spoke ones, kept thinking about my other mavic wheelset which is 32 spoke)

    2) a LHT fork with braze-ons, and long enough steerer tube.

    3) a bar with different hand positions - how about a TT basebar? It looks like a mtb with bar end bars.
    - i have a 40cm dropbar but it is slightly too narrow for me (i use a 42cm one now) - so not advisable to use this right?

    4) keep it simple and don't bother about weight weenie-ing

  9. #9
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    Since this is mostly a road bike, and you seem comfortable with drops, I can't see any reason for flat bars. If you need a wider bar for control offroad, first I don't think it is really all that big a deal, but I would still go for wide drops. There are several drops available out to 60cm, so you can have your cake and eat it too.

    The only problem with drops on a touring bike is that if you use road levers it creates some technical challenges for rigging the brakes, but we have all been there and eventually found something that worked.

    I think your crank gearing is far too high if you ever hit the noted combo of "even heavy) touring, with ability to go a little offroad". You want standard touring stuff for that which is 46-36-26, and 11/13-30/34.

  10. #10
    Speed Freak cordia75's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1
    Since this is mostly a road bike, and you seem comfortable with drops, I can't see any reason for flat bars. If you need a wider bar for control offroad, first I don't think it is really all that big a deal, but I would still go for wide drops. There are several drops available out to 60cm, so you can have your cake and eat it too.

    The only problem with drops on a touring bike is that if you use road levers it creates some technical challenges for rigging the brakes, but we have all been there and eventually found something that worked.

    I think your crank gearing is far too high if you ever hit the noted combo of "even heavy) touring, with ability to go a little offroad". You want standard touring stuff for that which is 46-36-26, and 11/13-30/34.
    on the bold-ed words, i don't understand. Think is because I am 'schooled' only in road bike stuff.

    I understand the brakes will be older mtb cantilever type, how about the deraileurs?

    ok, i understand the need for the gear ratios u guys recommend. perhaps i can try my hand with the cassette I have first, then source for the recommended gears after awhile. This bike i will be building myself, as opposed to my road racing one which i let my LBS mechanic do, so i guess it is part of the joy, challenge and trial n error of the journey I will be undertaking

  11. #11
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Miscellaneous items from the peanut gallery...

    Cross frame should be ok, and some folks like to use them for touring, I probably wouldn't use it for heavy touring unless you were using a trailer. Is the BB at a standard height off the ground, or higher?

    Re: tires, if possible I recommend you look into a folding tire. If you're on a longer tour (let's say, 2+ weeks) you may want to bring not just a spare tube, but a spare tire as well.

    32 x 26 (34 gear inches) is a little low for a touring bike; I've done it with 20 lb loads though, and it was OK. 32 x 32 (27") is better. If you do a test, make sure you load up the bike and climb a lot of hills.

    Handlebars: I use a flat bar with Ergon grips, grip shifter, bar-ends and cantilever brakes. Works pretty well for me, plenty of hand positions and comfort. Trekking bars are another good choice, it's probably what I'd use if I was building from scratch. From Wallingford Bikes (www.wallbike.com):








    Bullhorns might be OK, drops would be better. One extra option is to put in a 2nd set of brakes in the tops (like you see on lots of cross bikes). That way, you can sit upright a lot of the time and still have control.

    However, most tourers do not use brifters, they go for bar-end shifters instead. Most brifter setups will send the shift cables in between the drops, and a lot of tourers put a handlebar bag there.


    Brakes: IMO cantilevers are the way to go, the caliper brakes I've used so far don't have the stopping power you need with a load. If you want to use brifters with cantis, I believe you need to use a travel agent.

  12. #12
    Speed Freak cordia75's Avatar
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    Hi all,

    thanks again for the precious advice.

    I got myself Avid SD7 cantilevers for the brakes, but right now am stumped with the kind of brakes levers,shifters, rear and front deraileurs I would need.

    I have decided to use a bullhorn with an easton aerobar to be procured from my LBS. Some questions:-

    1) Can I use MTB-type deraileurs (Deore LX, XT) ? I have a triple road crankset and will be using the used SRAM cassette taken from my roadie.

    2) Can I fixed aero brake levers on the bullhorns, and also have MTB-type gear shifters on the straight bar portion of the bulllhorns?

    Thanks in advance.

    Tim

  13. #13
    cycling n00b Black Shuck's Avatar
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    1: If you want to use indexed road shifters you'll probably need to use a roadie front derailleur, people keep recommending the Tiagra triple. Rear derailleurs have the same cable pull for mtb and road, so you can use wichever one you like, but mtb RDs handle bigger cassettes.

    2: Yes.

  14. #14
    Speed Freak cordia75's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Shuck
    1: If you want to use indexed road shifters you'll probably need to use a roadie front derailleur, people keep recommending the Tiagra triple. Rear derailleurs have the same cable pull for mtb and road, so you can use wichever one you like, but mtb RDs handle bigger cassettes.

    2: Yes.
    So it is generally possible to use MTB deraileurs on my cyclocross frame with a road triple crankset and cassettes? That is if I use MTB gear shifters.

    I am able to acquire second hand ones cheaper, so my preference is for MTB deraileurs.

    I guess my main issue is confusion over compatibility between the road and MTB parts.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Exactly what frame do you have? Does it have rack mounts? What is the chainstay length?

  16. #16
    Speed Freak cordia75's Avatar
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    It's a cyclocross frame I got new from Ebay. Yes it has rack mounts. Chainstay length is 43.5cm.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cordia75
    It's a cyclocross frame I got new from Ebay. Yes it has rack mounts. Chainstay length is 43.5cm.
    You'll need to get a rack with a long top or a lot of setback, and panniers with heel cutout, to minimize heal strike.

    The Jannd Expedition or the Tubus Logo ( I use and one would highly recommend it), are two racks that come to mind.


    You also would want to get a mountain FD if you are using mountain shifters, but you'll be limited to a 48t big ring (FD-581). A road FD can be rather finicky with a mountain shifter, although Shimano also makes a flat bar road shifter if you really need that 52T ring.

  18. #18
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    cordia75,

    Take a look at these shifters.

    http://www.bikemannetwork.com/biking...SETSRAM/LD2680

    These shifters should work fine with any road bike parts you have, (FD, crankset, ect...) All you need a flat bar and you're set!

    Good luck on your project.

  19. #19
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    My understanding is that regular brake levers work fine with regular cantilevers, but if you have V-brakes you need special levers. I believe Dia-Compe makes some. Check on Sheldon Brown's site.

    I think 36 spoke wheels are obligatory on the rear (some people go with 40), but on the front 32 spokes would be fine. However, I'm also building a new tourer at the moment, and went with 36 and 36.

    Get as wide a gear range as possible, but pay special attention to hill-climbing. You'll want a really low ratio for long climbs (mountain passes) with a full load. I'd recommend a 26 tooth chainring and a large cog in back. I bought a "Cyclotouriste" cassette from Harris Cyclery that has a 34 tooth large cog.

    I'd echo what someone said about drop handlebars. Since you're used to them, why change to something else? However, since touring involves long hours in the saddle for many days in a row, comfort becomes more critical. Arm, wrist, and hand-soreness can be a problem. I've suffered numbness in my hands that didn't go away for weeks after a tour was over. For that reason I bought an ultra long stem so that I could raise my handlebars as much as needed - even higher than my saddle. That has helped a lot. The other thing that helps is the number of hand positions on drop bars, which is why I prefer them. I like being able to get down on the drops when pedaling into a headwind.

    I recommend bar-end shifters. They're mechanically simpler than brifters and will work in friction mode if necessary. I grew up with downtube shifters and when I first got bar-ends they felt weird. Now they feel totally normal. The downside is you can't switch both derailleurs at once like you can with downtube shifters and brifters. The good thing is that you don't have to remove one hand from the handlebars when shifting - you can grip the end of the bar as you're shifting. This helps maintain balance. Normally riding one handed (such as while shifting downtube shifters) isn't a problem, but there are those occasions when it can be unwieldy, especially when carrying a heavy load. Shifting bar ends offers a tad more stability.

    If you're concerned about braking while on the top of drop handlebars, you can always install those "auxiliary" levers. I'm going to try some on my new tourer.

    I'm dubious of wanting a tourer than can also go offroad. I think if you try to build a bike that can do everything, you may end up with something that doesn't do anything very well. The most common mechanical problem I've encountered is broken spokes on the rear wheel (cassette side). This is exacerbated by 1) a heavy rider; 2) a heavy load; 3) poorly built wheels; 4) road impacts (hitting a pothole, some other sudden jolt). The strategies to prevent breaking spokes include 1) losing weight (yeah, right!); 2) packing more prudently (and putting as much weight as possible in the front panniers); 3) pulling a trailer to take much of the weight off the rear wheel; 4) getting high-quality touring wheels hand-built by a pro who knows what he/she is doing; 5) getting fatter tires (I'm using 28s, but lots of people go much higher, and lots of people prefer 26-inch wheels.); and 6) paying attention to where you're going (I try, but my mind wanders during long days in the saddle.)

    If you get your bike set up for touring on roads, it won't be too good for much off road - maybe a little in a pinch. If you set your bike up for touring off road, it will be a bit slower on the road. However, if that's what you want to do, it can certainly be done.

    For me, I prefer to have my touring bike set up for roads only. Sure, there are occasional forays off road, but only very briefly, and I'm very careful. If I have to go far on uneven surface, I'll get off my bike and walk it. (This, of course, is when I'm fully loaded. With no load I have no qualms at all about riding on dirt, gravel, etc. roads, because it's sturdy.)

    If I were to take an off-road tour, I'd ride my mountain bike. I think I'd also consider a BOB Ibex trailer.

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