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  1. #1
    Lost in Nostalgia
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    Racing vs. Touring bikes

    Ever since day one, I've always rode bikes with a "racing geometry".

    This may be a broad question but generally, I'm wondering how different a "touring" (Soma ES, Surly LHT) geometry bike would be? what differences will I notice compared to the "racing" bikes?

    Thanks,
    knotty

  2. #2
    Senior Member lighthorse's Avatar
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    knotty,
    Pretty broad question. I will start with three items:
    a. Most touring bikes are heavier than road bikes.
    b. Most touring bikes have less responsive steering due to longer wheel base and other geometry differences.
    c. Most touring bikes have provisions for mounting racks while most road bikes don't provide front and rear mounts
    These are not good or bad items, just a difference between some road and some touring bikes.
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  3. #3
    tuz
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    Touring bikes have, compared to road/racing bikes
    -longer wheelbase to roll over obstacles but bigger turn radius
    -longer chainstays for wheelbase and pannier clearance but more flex when sprinting
    -slacker angles for different weight distribution and perhaps toe clip overlap
    -more trail for stable, but less responsive (and wobbly when sprinting) steering
    -plenty of braze-ons, heavier, larger clearances
    homebuilt commuter, mixte, road and track (+ Ryffranck road)
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  4. #4
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    In addition to the above, touring bikes typically have much lower gearing (as in MTB range), use wider tires, have more clearance for fenders, and a more upright position. Steel is still a common frame material.

    Compared to a racing bike, a touring bike is going to feel slow, stable, and smooth. It will also handle loads much better.

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    I guess that I'll add that a touring bike is built to carry a load, while a racing bike is built pretty light. Loaded touring will tear up a light racing bike.

  6. #6
    Lost in Nostalgia
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    Thanks for all the inputs, it gives me a good idea what to expect. I will go to the LBS and test ride a Surly LHT.

    Now that I'm getting into longer distances, I'm not sure if what I need a touring bike or maybe just a road bike with more shock absorbing qualities.

    knotty

  7. #7
    Woof! venturi95's Avatar
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    When I used to sell bikes I would tell people:
    Ask yourself what kind of riding do you envision doing in your dreams, then go from there. The ES and the LHT are distinctly different.

  8. #8
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    The LHT is a wonderful bike, but it's built for touring. I bought mine because I love to tour and having a really good touring bike is invaluable when you're touring (duh). It's comfortable for all-day (day-after-day) rides, it's stable with a load, it has room for my panniers, braze-ons for my racks (and extra spokes, and a third water bottle cage), and it's tough so I don't get stuck in the middle of nowhere with a broken something (not too many times anyway.)

    It also makes a nice bike for day-to-day riding and centuries, so that's cool. However, if all I was ever going to do was day-to-day rides and centuries I'd want something lighter and more suitable.

  9. #9
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    If you were to outfit a touring frame with all the exact same components as you would put on a racing frame, the differences might be hard to detect. They would weigh within a few pounds of each other. What makes the touring bike different is it's ability to do a great many more things, handle a wide range of tire sizes, securely bolt on racks and fenders so you can actually carry stuff and ride when and where you want to. Once you equip a touring frame with all the stuff that makes it more versatile, it will weigh several pounds more and it will feel different. And you might like it.

  10. #10
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    There is a range of touring styles.
    Light-touring/audax/club-racer: lightweight day touring.
    Club touring bike:A good all-reounder capable of camping style touring.
    Expedition bike: a specialist heavy duty ride.

  11. #11
    Senior Member tpelle's Avatar
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    I ride a Surly LHT set up as a road bike with 700 x 28 tires - I don't tour, but wanted a road bike with a long wheelbase (no toe overlap or heel strike), and a more "relaxed" upright geometry, as well as low gearing for the steep hills here in Kentucky. The LHT works GREAT for me!

    This past Saturday I was cruising along a country road - actually not going very fast because it was pretty cold, and if I got up over about 12 - 15 mph the wind chill was getting to me. I was passed by a group of about 8 or 9 roadies. After letting them pull a little way ahead, I upshifted and poured on the coals just to see if I could keep up. No problem, as it turns out. I kept pace with them for about a mile, but then turned at an intersection where they went straight.

    The LHT has plenty of speed on the flats. A "racing" bike is lighter by several pounds, and no doubt will walk away from me going uphill, but for this 55 y.o. the LHT is a lot more comfortable.

    As said before, buy the kind of bike that suits the kind of riding you do. I bet that a lot of folks who are on "racing" bikes would be better served by a "touring" bike instead.

  12. #12
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    A good touring bike will have a front end geometry designed to be stable at slow speeds with a load on the fork. It will have frame and brake clearance for wider tires than a racing bike. It will have longer chainstays so your heel doesn't bang into panniers. It will accept fenders without interfering with your toes. It will have rack attachments. It will have a stronger frame and wheels to handle the increased weight. it will have a more upright riding position for increased comfort on multiple successive long days. It will have lower gears to climb long grades with extra weight.

  13. #13
    Lost in Nostalgia
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    OK, thanks all. I also have a 1991 Schwinn Paramount MTB hardtail with 1.5 street tires. Would you say the touring type bikes would ride similar to the Schwinn MTB? it weighs about 26-27 pounds with tool kit, pump etc.

    I went to the LBS but the only Surly they had built up was much too big for me.

    knotty

  14. #14
    Jack of all (bike) trades
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    Another thing that hasn't been mentioned is that a proper touring bike will generally have a lower bottom bracket, which lowers the center of gravity (with you and your load) and increases stability, but allows less ground clearance. This means fewer turns which you can pedal through without scraping a pedal.

  15. #15
    Senior Member tpelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JSteiner View Post
    Another thing that hasn't been mentioned is that a proper touring bike will generally have a lower bottom bracket, which lowers the center of gravity (with you and your load) and increases stability, but allows less ground clearance. This means fewer turns which you can pedal through without scraping a pedal.
    Yes, I notice that with my LHT. I run old-fashioned toe-clips-and-straps, and when starting out with one foot clipped in, before I get my other foot in the clip, I frequently have that clip (upside down) scrape on the pavement. It's not really a problem, as the clip is "springy" enough to not cause too much drag, but you do hear it.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peaks View Post
    I guess that I'll add that a touring bike is built to carry a load, while a racing bike is built pretty light. Loaded touring will tear up a light racing bike.
    I have a little different spin on touring road bikes vs racing road bikes. Maybe my experience is unusual, but I don't think so. Currently I ride a TREK Madone 5.2 (-20lbs) and use it for long distance touring. I've been riding pretty much solo, self-contained rides for the last 20+ years, all on racing bike geometry. I buy a new bike every couple of years and have logged 66,000 miles without any frame problems. I must admit that I travel somewhat light, 35-40 pounds of gear loaded in a handlebar bag, two rear panniers, and a rear rack bag. I run on 700x23 tires too. I always travel to warm weather areas, so therefore need to haul much less clothing. In addition, I don't camp, so don't that extra weight. My current carbon fibre frame is stronger than a steel frame and is equipped with a triple chainring so that I have the necessary gearing to cimb. Granted, I can't install fenders, but get along just fine without them. Generally, I cylce on paved roads, but once in a while I will come upon a dirt track and then I do use more caution. The lighter overall weight of a racing frame= more distance traveled with less energy expended.

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    louarn, welcome to the touring forum, but please notice you have resurrected a thread that is more than a year old.

    Your touring style sounds interesting - how about an introduction and a picture of your loaded bike?

    valygrl
    ...

  18. #18
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    Look on the bright side valygrl............ at least he was using the search function.

    Welcome to the forums Louarn!
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  19. #19
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    I'm interested too, because I have a Specialized Roubaix that I really like for long distances but it can't carry much. How did you put a rack on the Madone? Does it have braze-ons?

  20. #20
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    I agree with 'louarn' that most racing-geometry bikes can serve fine for many types of touring. I've used my crit. geometry Cannondale for bike camping trips without encountering any real issues. No, it doesn't have clearance for regular fenders (but reasonably serviceable substitutes can be fitted) and it is limited to tires of about 25 mm (some brands of 28 mm will also work). So there are some places where I wouldn't take it, but I've found it to handle almost all paved roads and many gravel/dirt ones quite well. The picture below was taken on a camping trip down the Cal. coast on the McWay Falls trail off Hwy. 1. (And yes, all my camping gear for a week is in those panniers.)



    And most bikes without eyelets can still take a normal rack using vinyl-coated P-clips.
    Last edited by prathmann; 05-10-09 at 11:40 PM.

  21. #21
    Tinkerer since 1980 TheBrick's Avatar
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    no camping, warm places 35 -30 lb = light weight! Man I hate to see what you thought heavy weight was.
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  22. #22
    Slowpoach
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    Quote Originally Posted by knotty View Post
    Thanks for all the inputs, it gives me a good idea what to expect. I will go to the LBS and test ride a Surly LHT.

    Now that I'm getting into longer distances, I'm not sure if what I need a touring bike or maybe just a road bike with more shock absorbing qualities.

    knotty
    If you will be carrying lots of gear for a multiday tour look at a touring bike like the LHT.

    If you want a comfortable bike for unladen riding you may be better off with something like the ES you mentioned. Have a look in the Long Distance forum for some ideas.

  23. #23
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by louarn View Post
    I must admit that I travel somewhat light, 35-40 pounds of gear loaded in a handlebar bag, two rear panniers, and a rear rack bag. I run on 700x23 tires too. I always travel to warm weather areas, so therefore need to haul much less clothing. In addition, I don't camp, so don't that extra weight.
    Is that a typo? I have a hard time imagining how you can wind up carrying 35-40 pounds of gear traveling "somewhat light" in warm weather and not camping.

    Does your 35-40# maybe include the weight of the bike? Even that would not be traveling light, assuming your <20# bike, no camping and presumably no cooking, especially in the warm areas you mention.

  24. #24
    Senior Member mihlbach's Avatar
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    The technical differences, which may seem minor, truly do result in very different riding experiences. A racing bike, set up properly, makes me want to hammer and no matter how relaxed I want to be, I usually end up riding with my HR in the red. On the other hand, a touring bike, set up properly, makes me want to take it easy and enjoy the scenery. I usually ride my LHT 5 or more MPH slower than my road bike, even when unloaded, but not just because the bike is that much slower. I can go fast on it if I need to, but I almost never ride it hard like my road bike. It just sets a different mood.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    louarn, welcome to the touring forum, but please notice you have resurrected a thread that is more than a year old.

    Your touring style sounds interesting - how about an introduction and a picture of your loaded bike?

    valygrl
    I've just packed up as I leave for a ride in Southeast Asia in 3 days. I have some photos on: http://crazyguyonabike.com/touringbybike[/URL] where I have a number of my travel journals posted.

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