Comotion NorWester or Americano
I have an ongoing argument with my Dad. He wants to get either a Comotion NorWester or Americano. He wants the Americano, but I think the Norwester Tour would be a better choice. I know the Norwester would would handle everything he wants to do, so I think the Americano would be overkill. Since the Americano is built for heavy touring is it overbuilt for everyday riding? The extra strong tandem tubing and the longer chain stays in the Americano make it seem to be a bit slow accelerating and a little stiff for unloaded riding. Whereas the Norwester would be a little quicker and more forgiving, but still handle loaded touring if needed. Looking at the specs from CoMotion they seem to be the same weight for the frames.
He likes the fact that the Americano is would be bulletproof with its tandem wheels so no there is no breaking spokes on rides (which has happened lately since his Ksyrium wheels on his light go fast bike have broken a couple spokes). Which I counter that with a good traditional 36 spoke wheel on the Norwester would have no problems with anyway. He rides at least 5000 miles a year and keeps it up all year long, even the coldest winter days.
Here is what he wants in a bike.
Able to accept larger tires for comfort and dirt road riding.
Able to hold a rear rack for carrying loads so he can carry food and extra stuff.
He may do some loaded touring, but I don't think he would do anything real serious.
He will ride it almost every day, especially when he retires.
He rides routes that link pavement and dirt roads.
Supported rides like the Ride the Rockies and local Utah and Arizona organized centuries.
Basically I am asking what are your thoughts on these two bikes. If you have ridden one or both bikes please add your opinion.
If he was breaking spokes on the same wheel, chances are he should've had all the spokes re-done. Even if the wheel is true, whatever cause the initial breaking may have thrown the whole wheel off, and thus continued to stress the remaining spokes.
Originally Posted by Rico
FWIW, I picked up a Surly Cross-Check for very similar purposes. With the stock setup, it's perfect for road & off-road uses. Very easy to swap the gearing to either compact double or triple. I run mine with 700 x 25c's, and while it isn't as fast as a road bike, it's close and is still very comfortable. Best of all, it's 1/3 the price of a Co-Motion. A bargain even if you swap out the shifters for STI.
Originally Posted by Rico
Otherwise it's a tough call, mostly because neither of those bikes are specifically set up for offroad use. I'd definitely go for some kind of a cross bike though, since he's riding regularly on dirt roads.
We had mavic rebuild it last year because of pothole damage to the rim. I sent it to Mavic and they replaced all the spokes and rim. I am going to send it back again to get rebuilt if one more breaks. Its cheaper then a new wheel.
I have a Surly LHT that I use for touring and that type of riding. I like the Surly, but would love a CoMotion.
The off road riding is just dirt roads so its not that bad, in fact I think any of the bikes we are talking about are perfect for it. Any real off road stuff we just use mountain bikes.
Personally, I am lusting after a Nor'Wester. That may not be the perfect bike for me, but part of the equation is the "lust". You've got to take the lust into account!
Has he ridden either of these bikes?
I am the proud owner of a new Americano, so let me give you my impressions.
First, I'm 6'1" and about 208. My other ride is a Cannondale CAAD8 R800.
My Americano has 10 speed STI shifters, rim brakes, Tubus racks and an Ortlieb medium handlebar bag. Sitting like that, it weighs in at 29.5 pounds. I've added another10-12 lbs. with a trunk bag with some tools, a D lock and a cable lock. I can feel the mass of the bike when starting up and, unlike my CAAD 8, I have no urge to sprint away from stops while on the Americano. In spite of the increased weight, the bike is very pleasant to ride. It is quite responsive, very smooth and comfortable, and just rolls along. It's shown no sign of any instability running down hill at 30+ mph.
I find that I'm about 10% slower on the Americano riding a 30 mile route with lots of rolling hills. I just shift down and keep spinning on the climbs, all very pleasant.
I'd say that if your father has any aspirations of loaded touring and if acceleration and speed up hill are not a priority, then go with the Americano. If light touring is the toughest workout the bike will get, the the Nor'Wester with the touring package might be a better choice.
Give Co-Motion a call. They're nice folks and will try to help your dad chose the bike he'll be happiest with.
I like the Americano because it seems to push the touring thing a certain degree. The reality is that even heavy riders with gear, won't break or be uncomfortable on most of the stock frames out there if they fit. So if you buy a custom touring bike, it should be good for something other than what is already available for 400 bucks. Sounds like he is an active rider and possibly fits off the rack, so what is the point of the norwester when just about every company already makes that bike? Sporty light tourer is not a difficult thing to find on the stock market. Tandemized heavy tourer is only available from a few builders.
"He likes the fact that the Americano is would be bulletproof with its tandem wheels so no there is no breaking spokes on rides (which has happened lately since his Ksyrium wheels on his light go fast bike have broken a couple spokes)."
Stoutly built 36 wheels are bombproof, but at the same time if you are going custom why not go all the way. Buy Peter White for the best wheels. Though anyone can get pretty close with care.
" Which I counter that with a good traditional 36 spoke wheel on the Norwester would have no problems with anyway. He rides at least 5000 miles a year and keeps it up all year long, even the coldest winter days."
You are right as far as unloaded touring is concerned, but the 40 spoke wheel isn't going to do any harm, it's something different. I wouldn't buy a touring bike with Phils, and not also beef up the wheels
Here is what he wants in a bike.
"Able to accept larger tires for comfort and dirt road riding."
This is just a mater of the rim, which I'm sure you can spec as you want for either bike. Don't overdoo it on tires, anything over 1.5" is starting to be a pig. It can certainly be required by the terrain, but it starts to sound like an MTB thing after a certain point.
"Able to hold a rear rack for carrying loads so he can carry food and extra stuff."
THis is evry non-extrem bike in america. A touring bike should do this at a much higher level than the average bike. Stronger, better fits, clearance for mudguards, etc...
"He may do some loaded touring, but I don't think he would do anything real serious."
He should really think about it, with his mileage and love of cycling and location he is missing a great opportunity.
"He will ride it almost every day, especially when he retires."
The only issue here is whether he needs a customg fit frame. Go for it.
"He rides routes that link pavement and dirt roads."
This is kinda where you get into adventure touring style bikes, and before he drops a dime he should look at the Bruce Gordon Rocky Road and BG custom cycles, Sakkit (best info package out there, a little confusing but it does cover everything), and the whole Thorn cycles thing, they really do build on/off road touring bikes. He should be looking at 26" wheels, with the exact same spec as a 700c wheel just better. All the above bikes offer that as an option or their only thing.
"Supported rides like the Ride the Rockies and local Utah and Arizona organized centuries."
He still has his fast bike right?
"Since the Americano is built for heavy touring is it overbuilt for everyday riding?"
Sure, however let's not exagerate. Built like a tandem is not really all that big a deal... THe lightest tandem chain stays are not all that different from touring wieght one, in all of weight, a few ounces at most, and the main tubes are kinda in MTB range, and nobody complains about those. One thing that would go into your build consultation would be what is the all up weight. I would probably say 220 for me, and 60-80 for gear, so 300. My wife might say 140. It isn't going to be the same bike for each, even if tandemized. Just as if a tandem were ordered by a pair each of whom weighed 300, or 140. If his main ambition were a responsive ride, maybe this wouldn't be the way, but he wants to ride fat tires on dirt half the time. Probably isn't going to miss much.
" The extra strong tandem tubing and the longer chain stays in the Americano make it seem to be a bit slow accelerating and a little stiff for unloaded riding."
Well again nobody complains about the extra stout tubing on MTB comuters, and the long chainstays are probably a net good thing. Jobst Brandt, one of the few engineers who has written a noted cycling text. a light tourer, and high speed cyclist, has the longest chain stays you can get on his bike, uncut. Those would be enormously long possibly 3-4 inches longer than average touring. No problem on his daily climbs or 55 MPH decents. That's what I heard anyway. If you add the drops length to an uncut CS it's really long. People sometimes seem to confuse the way bikes are set up for racing, with what makes for a fast bike in general. A lot of that is what works for cycling in a crowd.
Thanks for all the good advice everyone. He is riding a modified mountain bike with drops that I built for him for this type of riding. I think going with the Americano would still be a lighter and faster bike for him a fit him 100% better.
I went down the same road as your father and ended up ordering a Bilenky Tourlite with an extra .5 inches on the chainstays (for heel clearance) and a tubing upgrade to keep it light. I'll see it this week. Finally. It is essentially the same class of bike as the Nor'Wester, which was where I was headed until I took a hard look at Bilenky.
What a great choice to have to make! Either bike seems like a wonderful option. I've long thought the Americano to be a "I'd sure consider one of those if I ever had the money" bikes.