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  1. #1
    Senior Member Bike-a-Boo's Avatar
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    Touring Bikes Not Made Anymore??

    Hi All,

    I'm in the early stages of shopping for a new bike for touring. At one LBS, I was told that they no longer carry touring bikes. I could order one from them (Trek), but I wouldn't have the opportunity to test ride it.

    And LBS #2, I was told that the model they used to carry (Giant) are no longer manufactured. The guy also went on to say that many manufacturers are no longer offering a touring model.

    What gives? Are touring bikes really falling out of favour? If so, what's a new tourer to ride instead?

  2. #2
    Cheesmonger Extraordinair natelutkjohn's Avatar
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    Bike shops just don't like us self-reliant types - it was like pulling teeth to get a Trek 520 from my local shop 4 years ago - haha

  3. #3
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    I called Trek 2 weeks ago, and the person I talked to said, they only sell about 1, Trek 520, every 3 years.
    George

  4. #4
    Senior Member robo's Avatar
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    The vast majority of bike shops just stock the type of bike they think they can sell fast to people who walk in the door knowing nothing about bikes. The current thing seems to be 'anything made of carbon fiber'. Previously, the 'thing' was mountain bikes, and before that, believe it or not, touring bikes.

    Unfortunately very very few bike shops cater to educated, interested cyclists... because they are the tiny minority and therefore the money lies elsewhere, with the masses.

  5. #5
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    I would say that touring bike are seeing an upswing in popularity. The touring bike is never going to be as hyperpopular as mountain bikes or the latest carbon fiber unobtainium race bike but it has it's place. The popularity of the Surly LHT has almost single handedly reenergized the market. As little as 3 years ago, you had the choice of 4 'real' production touring bikes (not cross bikes repurposed for touring). Those were the Trek 520, Cannondale's two bikes - the T800 and T2000, and the Fuji Touring.

    The problem with the touring bike market - and I'm guilty of this as anyone - is that we touring bicyclists tend to be skinflints! We hang on to these bikes for far longer than we should...like 20 years... and don't go shopping for new ones. My first true touring bike I bought in 1983. I bought my second one in 2003. In the same time period, I bought 18 other bikes - most of which were mountain bikes. The technology changes, and improves, so much for them that you really need get a new one to keep riding.

    Another part of the equation is marketing. Bicycle companies want to market race bikes and race technology in either mountain biking or road biking. It's sexy. You can go very fast for a couple of hours and get lots of excitement. It's testosterone charged! You can have the very same bike that ____ (place your favorite racer's name here) rides! Get out there and buy one now!

    With touring bikes you have to sell the idea that you are getting a bike that is heavier and you are going to put more stuff on it. Not an easy sell. If the marketing departments were smart...and not filled with exracers or racer wannabees...they'd market the touring bike as a perfect commuting vehicle - which it is. "Go green and here's how" kind of thing. They make much more sense than a cross bike since they are designed to carry stuff and last forever.

    Touring is a thinking person's sport. You aren't beating the competition...you are the competition! It takes more mentally and nearly as much physically, to ride a bike over long distances carrying your tools of survival as it does to race day in and day out but you don't have the support system that the racers do. Real touring - letting go of your safety net, going it alone, depending on your own wits and skills- scares the crap out of most people! In 2005, my daughter and I did 3 weeks along the Lewis and Clark. When she got back to college, the racer dudes were more then impressed by her trip. They never would have thought of doing it! The questions she got were along the lines of 'How could you ride all day like that?' And this was from guys who think nothing of doing a 60 or 70 mile training ride...but they do it with a coach and a support van.

    The one other thing to consider is that tourist don't necessarily fit the emaciated racer look (think Triplets of Bellville) that is oh so sexy. We tend to be more middle age, middle class, 'clydy' if you will. Who wants to sell recreational equipment to 'those people'
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Shemp's Avatar
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    Besides popularity and trends as an issue, how many people buy a second touring bike or upgrade touring bikes? A mountain biker may go from a $400 hardtail to an $1000 hard tail to a front suspension to a full suspension bike. A roadie may go from an aluminum bike to a aluminum carbon mix to all carbon fiber. Once you buy a touring bike, you're pretty well set. People ride a touring frame forever, and short of buying a different brand, you can't buy a higher end tourer through most. Components may change, but how different is today's 520/T800/T2000 from the same ones made a decade ago?

    When I was shopping a few years back, the local Trek dealer told me to make the 4 hour round trip drive to the Trek Store in Wisconsin to try it and then come back and he'd order it.

    I more or less stumbled into another shop out of town that had a T2000, in my size no less, sitting on the floor. Wasn't there to look for a tourer, but it caught my eye. Granted it had sat there for two years, but that's how I found mine.

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    I would look around other shops. My LBS maintains some interest in touring so they usually have a Fuji Touring around and will now order Surly LHT (either frames or complete) for customers. While never a huge market, some shops still look at bikes for other things than racing. I lucked out and bought a 20-year-old Fuji Touring from Craigslist before I was completely seduced by a new Fuji Touring. I held out from doing a test ride on the new Touring because I knew I would be hooked. Now I have a very similar bike for a whole lot less money -- its the best of both worlds!!
    God grant me the serenity to accept the hills and winds I cannot change;
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  8. #8
    GJD
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    I think what these arguments are missing the fact that quality LBS make their money on service, and not selling the bikes. It becomes even more lucrative when a buyer returns their bike regularly for servicing. An LBS that caries one or more touring bikes is a sign that they place an importance on service since they know that not only will they own this bike for a long time but can return for regular servicing. In my region, the best LBS have many good touring bikes to offer. One even builds their own (Bertrand).

    Sounds to me Bike-a-Boo that you need to shop for the right LBS first.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Shemp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GJD
    I think what these arguments are missing the fact that quality LBS make their money on service, and not selling the bikes. It becomes even more lucrative when a buyer returns their bike regularly for servicing. An LBS that caries one or more touring bikes is a sign that they place an importance on service since they know that not only will they own this bike for a long time but can return for regular servicing. In my region, the best LBS have many good touring bikes to offer. One even builds their own (Bertrand).

    Sounds to me Bike-a-Boo that you need to shop for the right LBS first.
    That's a bit (quite a bit) unfair for most shops. Most shops aren't exactly high profit, so judging a shop by whether it can afford to have a few thousand dollars of stock on the floor that may or may not sell in the model year, and may not even be the right size for the right buyer is a little harsh. I don't like that and found it frustrating, but I understand that.

  10. #10
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    There are plenty of touring bikes. You just need to do a little more research. Since touring bikes are a bit of a niche in the cycling world, you should look at more than the biggest three or four manufacturers.

    Some places to start:

    REI (Novara brand)
    Surly
    Bruce Gordon
    Rivendell

    Many other small custom or semi-custom builders.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Shemp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by supcom
    There are plenty of touring bikes.
    But there aren't plenty for a shopper to try out first.

  12. #12
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    Old touring bikes are practically a dime a dozen and fantastic.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Bike-a-Boo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shemp
    But there aren't plenty for a shopper to try out first.
    That's the thing. I'm new to this and I definitely want to try out as many as I can. This is the advice I hear over and over when it comes to buying a bike.

    Maybe I will have to look into the used market. The idea makes me a little nervous, since I don't know a whole lot about bikes (I'm learning!), but maybe it is the way to go, anyway.

  14. #14
    59'er Mariner Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BostonFixed
    Old touring bikes are practically a dime a dozen and fantastic.
    That's were I'm going. I'm on the hunt for one right now.

  15. #15
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by Bike-a-Boo
    That's the thing. I'm new to this and I definitely want to try out as many as I can. This is the advice I hear over and over when it comes to buying a bike.

    Maybe I will have to look into the used market. The idea makes me a little nervous, since I don't know a whole lot about bikes (I'm learning!), but maybe it is the way to go, anyway.
    Bike A Boo, I tour on a 20 year old Schwinn Passage.....it holds up well, and is simple. The Passage is a purpose built touring bike, by the way.
    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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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mariner Fan
    That's were I'm going. I'm on the hunt for one right now.
    I gots 4 in my basement right now..
    Last edited by BostonFixed; 05-18-07 at 12:24 PM.

  17. #17
    59'er Mariner Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe
    Bike A Boo, I tour on a 20 year old Schwinn Passage.....it holds up well, and is simple. The Passage is a purpose built touring bike, by the way.
    Yea, thanks to you I've got the bug to get one of my own!

  18. #18
    Look 4 Tour Companions
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    Tour bike last forever

    The problem with tour bikes is that once you buy one you won't buy another because they last forever. You might upgrade components but not the entire bike. Go to the TREK site--TREKBIKES.com and see if you can find another LBS or one within reasonable distance that has your size in stock. There are other bike manufactures that have touring models (Surly, REI, etc.) but for the money, in my opinion, the Trek 520 is the best value.

  19. #19
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by Mariner Fan
    Yea, thanks to you I've got the bug to get one of my own!
    Good!
    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

  20. #20
    Let's Coast! shakeelium's Avatar
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    I just recently bought my first "serious" touring bike, and saw the same thing. Most bike shops don't really know touring at all. More than once a salesperson at a LBS tried to sell me an aluminum road frame when I described what I was looking for.

    On the flipside, you're probably one of the very few people looking for a touring bike in any single locale. That means that you don't have to worry about someone else snapping up that tourer you found. I was able to get a great deal on a 2005 Fuji World that had literally sat in stock at a LBS for more than a year and a half before I picked it up last week. I asked why it sat so long, and the sales guy said that "No one goes touring anymore or wants a heavier touring bike."

    I figure that Surly will probably up production on the LHT over the next several months/years. When I initially tried to order an LHT, the LBS was shocked that they were out of stock at QBP. Word gets out quick!

  21. #21
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    Geez, tell me about it. I can't find any shops with touring bikes on the floor except REI where I live

    And the attitude is generally, "We don't stock those on the floor because they take too long to sell." So, the only time I ever find a touring bike is from either:

    1) stores that specialize in selling touring-based equipment (I've only found a grand total of ONE store in SoCal so far, and that was in HOLLYWOOD, of all places!)

    or

    2) somebody putting in a deposit for a tourist and never showing up. This happened recently for a 2007 Trek 520 that the customer never came to pick up. Unfortunately, it was 2 sizes too small for me. 1 size too small...I could probably wing it. 2 sizes too small? Fahgettaboutit!

  22. #22
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    I didn't realize that I was so lucky to go to my LBS and get to try not only one, but two touring bikes. Granted they were both 520's but different sizes. The one that fit me was even already sold! Never occured to me that they were difficult to come across.

  23. #23
    Luggite bsyptak's Avatar
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    Realistically, they should probably start to call them commuting bikes. There are far more bicycle commuters than tourers, though the ideal bike is virtually identical. Market them with racks, fenders and panniers. But only sell them as basic bikes. Let people buy the racks, fenders and panniers as they choose. The marketing taglines should read something like, "this is the replacement for your car" or something similar. I'm sure the touring market would be OK with this new naming convention and marketing angle, probably even welcome it if it would result in more "commuting" bikes in the shop.

    The commuting bike is similar to the touring bike. Nothing fancy, but purposeful. Able to take everyday use and abuse. Last forever.

    One thing I'm surprised about is why every shop doesn't carry at least one Surly Cross Check or LHT. They are available from QBP (parts catalog every shop orders from), so everyshop could carry one. It's a solid bike and one that would suit many a would be commuter. Put fenders, rack and panniers on it and see if anyone bites. Come on, those bikes rock. I went into a shop the other day that specializes in steel road and city bikes. I asked them why they don't carry at least one Surly Cross Check. They said they are too heavy. Come on, these guys also had the Jamis Satellite and Aurora in there. The bikes are virtually the same weight. But Surlys are obviously more desirable.

    Whatever. Maybe the only Surly owners are the ones on this forum. Maybe I have it all wrong.

  24. #24
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    You're Canadian ... buy Canadian!!

    Surely you can find some Marinoni dealers in your area!

    http://www.marinoni.qc.ca/EN/Bikes/index.htm
    http://www.marinoni.qc.ca/EN/Bikes/Touring/Turismo.htm
    http://www.marinoni.qc.ca/EN/Bikes/Touring/Fango.htm


    Or contact Mariposa:

    http://www.mariposabicycles.com/


    Or maybe Devinci:

    http://www.devinci.com/9786_an.html


    Think outside the Trek/Giant box.

  25. #25
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsyptak
    Realistically, they should probably start to call them commuting bikes. There are far more bicycle commuters than tourers, though the ideal bike is virtually identical. Market them with racks, fenders and panniers. But only sell them as basic bikes. Let people buy the racks, fenders and panniers as they choose. The marketing taglines should read something like, "this is the replacement for your car" or something similar. I'm sure the touring market would be OK with this new naming convention and marketing angle, probably even welcome it if it would result in more "commuting" bikes in the shop.

    The commuting bike is similar to the touring bike. Nothing fancy, but purposeful. Able to take everyday use and abuse. Last forever.

    One thing I'm surprised about is why every shop doesn't carry at least one Surly Cross Check or LHT. They are available from QBP (parts catalog every shop orders from), so everyshop could carry one. It's a solid bike and one that would suit many a would be commuter. Put fenders, rack and panniers on it and see if anyone bites. Come on, those bikes rock. I went into a shop the other day that specializes in steel road and city bikes. I asked them why they don't carry at least one Surly Cross Check. They said they are too heavy. Come on, these guys also had the Jamis Satellite and Aurora in there. The bikes are virtually the same weight. But Surlys are obviously more desirable.

    Whatever. Maybe the only Surly owners are the ones on this forum. Maybe I have it all wrong.



    I have an LHT and it rocks my world! I can't think of anything I'd rather commute on. Really, if you're not actually racing, I think weight is a non-issue.

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