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  1. #1
    Senior Member DuckFat's Avatar
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    Help design a touring bike for production.

    I've been posting here for a while and greatly admire the level of expertise and range of opinions here. I have a small business set up and I'm looking to produce a top-notch touring bike. I have some bike building abilities and know where to find great people in my area but I don't want to trust the design to just one or two "experts" because everyone comes with their own pre-conceived notions of how to build a bike. So, taking inspiration from Open Source software design I am opening up the design phase to you all.

    I've set up a website with a small forum specifically for discussions about the bike design and to help us hack out the best solution given all factors (cost, reliability, serviceability, performance, etc).

    It's at MojoBike.com .

    I hope you all will come over and participate in the discussions about each part of the bike. If you are an expert on brakes then there is a board for that, the same with frames, lighting, etc.

    I realize that some of the discussions there will duplicate discussions on BF but the difference is that on the MojoBike forum we have a goal of making a producible bike with all the parts fitting together. We'll have polls to decide various elements of the bike and probably some heated debate when one component doesn't work with another. It will be fun.

    I am serious about getting this bike produced and sold via the Internet (and maybe local shops eventually). I'm already working on getting discounts from vendors for parts. There may even be awards given to top contributors (buy a bike at cost).

    Please note, I'm not looking to take people away from BF. The forums on MojoBike will close once a final design is worked out.

    (Note, the website is so new that it may not appear for all people right away.... give it a day or so if you can't see it).
    Last edited by DuckFat; 02-01-08 at 08:30 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member foamy's Avatar
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    If you need design and graphics, I'd be glad to help. These samples are old, but I haven't gotten any worse. They just happen to be what I have on hand. I'd dig doing some bike graphics.

    I try something in my spare time.
    Last edited by foamy; 02-01-08 at 02:20 PM.
    None.

  3. #3
    Senior Member DuckFat's Avatar
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    Very nice. The bike company name is Mojo but the bike can be named anything we like. I was trying to think of something semi-related to BikeForums without using that name itself. Maybe some word with B and F in it?

  4. #4
    nun
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    Will the bike be distributed according to Open Source too, if so I'll have one

  5. #5
    Senior Member DuckFat's Avatar
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    Heh... Well, the design specs obviously won't be a secret but we're looking to make a little bit on the bike. Steep discounts for people that contribute in a meaningful way are anticipated though.

    Seriously though, I'm more motivated by making something that is respected and something that you can recommend to people when they ask about what bike to buy.

    Maybe all we get out of it is a parts list for a complete bike that people can build themselves but I hope to work out some quantity discounts with suppliers so that we can offer a complete bike for about the same or less than you'd spend building it yourself. After all, most people can't put a bike together from scratch. I'm anxious to see what we come up with.
    Last edited by DuckFat; 02-01-08 at 10:02 AM.

  6. #6
    nun
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    Quote Originally Posted by DuckFat View Post
    Very nice. The bike company name is Mojo but the bike can be named anything we like. I was trying to think of something semi-related to BikeForums without using that name itself. Maybe some word with B and F in it?
    Nice site and a great idea. Have you narrowed down the style of the bike yet, is it going to be a sport tourer, something like a LHT or a MTB/expedition tourer like a Thorn Nomad or Exxp. Maybe it will be something new.

  7. #7
    Senior Member DuckFat's Avatar
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    The only decision so far is that it's to be a serious touring bike and of a standard two-wheel design (sorry recumbent fans). I'd like it to notch above the LHT and I personally like the idea of a Rohloff-equipped bike but that's not set in stone yet either.

  8. #8
    nun
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    Quote Originally Posted by DuckFat View Post
    The only decision so far is that it's to be a serious touring bike and of a standard two-wheel design (sorry recumbent fans). I'd like it to notch above the LHT and I personally like the idea of a Rohloff-equipped bike but that's not set in stone yet either.
    What about a Rohloff equipped XO-1ish frame but with slightly longer chainstays.

  9. #9
    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    How about a tourer w/26-inch wheels?

    There have been a series of threads over at "crazyguyonabike" for the past few months for a an American-made, steel-framed tourer suitable for loaded and/or expedition-style touring but with 26-inch wheels.

    The Surly LHT has 700c wheels in larger sizes; there are custom builders who do it (expensive); bikes like Thorn in Europe (expensive).

    The consensus over there seems to be that your best option is to get a steel-framed mountain bike and convert it to a tourer. Would be nice to see you think about something that offers at least the option of 26 inch wheels in larger sizes at a cost that could compete with the Surly LHT (or a "notch" up, as you say, without going up to the range of other custom frames -- which seem to be about $1400 to $1600.
    Last edited by BengeBoy; 02-01-08 at 10:35 PM.

  10. #10
    Scott n4zou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DuckFat View Post
    The only decision so far is that it's to be a serious touring bike and of a standard two-wheel design (sorry recumbent fans). I'd like it to notch above the LHT and I personally like the idea of a Rohloff-equipped bike but that's not set in stone yet either.
    I posted my ideas on the site. It's a nice looking site without flash trash and thanks every so much for that!

    You would need special dropouts for a Rohloff hub. this would necessitate Rohloff frames and standard frames. They only come with 32 holes for spokes. I would rather have a standard 26" wheels and "get parts anywhere" drive train. 40 spoke Tandem hubs and rims for bullet proof reliability is another option. Busting a spoke on the rear wheel is about the worse mechanical breakdown to fix on a tour.
    [SIGPIC]http://www.bikeforums.net/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=57360&dateline=1197386754[/SIGPIC]
    It's easier to pick a Yankee tourist than a bail of cotton.

  11. #11
    Senior Member DuckFat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    How about a tourer w/26-inch wheels?

    There have been a series of threads over at "crazyguyonabike" for the past few months for a an American-made, steel-framed tourer suitable for loaded and/or expedition-style touring but with 26-inch wheels.

    The Surly LHT has 700c wheels in larger sizes; there are custom builders who do it (expensive); bikes like Thorn in Europe (expensive).

    The consensus over there seems to be that your best option is to get a steel-framed mountain bike and convert it to a tourer. Would be nice to see you think about something that offers at least the option of 26 inch wheels in larger sizes at a cost that could compete with the Surly LHT (or a "notch" up, as you say, without going up to the range of other custom frames -- which seem to be about $1400 to $166).
    Yeah, I am thinking that a European-style tourer for North America is the direction to go. Please enter your thoughts over on the MojoBike site so we can debate it thoroughly. There is already a thread for 700C vs 26" there.

    I have already contacted Thorn and they are looking to be very easy to work with.

  12. #12
    nun
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    Quote Originally Posted by DuckFat View Post
    Yeah, I am thinking that a European-style tourer for North America is the direction to go. Please enter your thoughts over on the MojoBike site so we can debate it thoroughly. There is already a thread for 700C vs 26" there.

    I have already contacted Thorn and they are looking to be very easy to work with.
    OK I'll go over to Mojo, but a final idea here what about a 26" wheel, Rolhoff equipped bike similar to the new Bombadil

  13. #13
    Crazyguyonabike
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    Great idea! My wish list includes:

    1. 26" geometry available for all sizes - more easily available abroad.
    2. Long wheelbase - rumored to be good for stability
    3. Long chainstays - for heel clearance on panniers & stability
    4. Steel frame, nice thick tubing, stiff frame for less flex under load
    5. Lots of eyelets for racks, fenders etc
    6. Keep It Simple - try to avoid making this yet another high-end multi-thousand dollar Uber touring machine with all the cool stuff like Rohloff. Make it a straightforward thing that uses standard parts that can be easily replaced anywhere - that's what a real touring bike should be like, in my opinion.

    There are quite a few good 700C touring bikes out there (Surly LHT, Trek 520, Novara Randonee etc) but very few, if any, non-high-end, purpose built-for-touring, 26" "expedition" bikes available in the USA. So I think you'd actually be filling a niche if you did this.

    Also, check out what Kogswell have to say about the rake on the fork - they favor the French style of front loading, and this is something I find very interesting. Not saying it's better, just worth taking a look at if you're designing a bike from scratch.

    Just my $0.02...

    Good luck!

    Neil

  14. #14
    Senior Member DuckFat's Avatar
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    Very good points, Neil. A custom frame is a possibility but there are a lot of perils with going that route. Let us discuss it on the MojoBike forum because that is where the decision needs to be worked out. Please post your thoughts there Neil. I value your opinion. Maybe we can find a good frame or a good (cheap) custom frame builder.

  15. #15
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    Stock, production touring bikes for very large and very small people are thin on the ground.
    Thorn from sjscycles have pioneered the production of 26" and Rohloff tourers. Worth a look to see what UK riders are using.

  16. #16
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeilGunton View Post
    Great idea! My wish list includes:

    1. 26" geometry available for all sizes - more easily available abroad.
    2. Long wheelbase - rumored to be good for stability
    3. Long chainstays - for heel clearance on panniers & stability
    4. Steel frame, nice thick tubing, stiff frame for less flex under load
    5. Lots of eyelets for racks, fenders etc
    6. Keep It Simple - try to avoid making this yet another high-end multi-thousand dollar Uber touring machine with all the cool stuff like Rohloff. Make it a straightforward thing that uses standard parts that can be easily replaced anywhere - that's what a real touring bike should be like, in my opinion.

    There are quite a few good 700C touring bikes out there (Surly LHT, Trek 520, Novara Randonee etc) but very few, if any, non-high-end, purpose built-for-touring, 26" "expedition" bikes available in the USA. So I think you'd actually be filling a niche if you did this.

    Also, check out what Kogswell have to say about the rake on the fork - they favor the French style of front loading, and this is something I find very interesting. Not saying it's better, just worth taking a look at if you're designing a bike from scratch.

    Just my $0.02...

    Good luck!

    Neil
    Neil you described at LHT if you can fit on a 54cm frame or smaller. If you need a bigger frame then you can get a Thorn Sherpa which meets all your criteria. I ordered mine as a frame set and it arrived within a week from the UK to Canada. It costs more than a LHT, but you get a great deal of touring bike design and testing experience from Thorn as well as a solid company to deal with any warranty/support issues.

    I also own a 58cm LHT [great bike] and wish Surly would make a 26" wheel touring bike in all the sizes. Who knows now that the Big Dummy is being produced and they have some free R&D time they might just tackle this idea next???
    safe riding - Vik
    VikApproved

  17. #17
    Crazyguyonabike
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    Quote Originally Posted by vik View Post
    Neil you described at LHT if you can fit on a 54cm frame or smaller. If you need a bigger frame then you can get a Thorn Sherpa which meets all your criteria. I ordered mine as a frame set and it arrived within a week from the UK to Canada. It costs more than a LHT, but you get a great deal of touring bike design and testing experience from Thorn as well as a solid company to deal with any warranty/support issues.

    I also own a 58cm LHT [great bike] and wish Surly would make a 26" wheel touring bike in all the sizes. Who knows now that the Big Dummy is being produced and they have some free R&D time they might just tackle this idea next???
    Hi Vik,

    Yes, I've already investigated the Surly Long Haul Trucker. In fact I own a 56cm, which is the smallest of their 700C sizes. My bike shop guy talked to Surly as to whether I would also be able to fit the 54cm, since the top tube on the 56cm seems on the long side for me (I have fitted a very short stem), but surprisingly they came back saying no way would it fit. Something about not being able to get the bars high enough, not exactly sure.

    Interesting thing is, the Rivendell Atlantis is still 26" in their 56cm size. So obviously the Surly LHT is not an exact copy as some people seem to claim. I don't know why Surly went to 700C for the 56cm - I get toe overlap with the front wheel, which is kind of annoying. I think that bike would be more natural in a 26", personally. In any case, the Atlantis in a 56cm might be good for me, but I haven't done a detailed fit on that.

    On the Thorn front, I've pretty much discounted going to them because of the horrendous exchange rate that currently exists between the US dollar and UK pound. Also, they are quite expensive wherever you live. It's true that they seem to make really nice bikes, but I decided to try and find other possibilities which are more "native" to where I'm living currently.

    In fact, the Novara Safari (which I also have) is turning out to be a very nice bike to ride. Also people on crazyguyonabike have been pointing to various stock bikes which exist (e.g. the Diamondback Transporter) which are quite cheap and yet would seem to have the right kind of geometry for what I'm talking about.

    I don't think a bike like this should have to cost thousands, or even much more than $1000 really. I'd like a no-frills design that I'm not afraid to ding around and really use. If I pay thousands for a bike then I feel like I'm more likely to sit at home cooing over it than take it out to get scratched up!

    In any case, it's not an urgent matter, more of an ongoing interest. The Safari is great for now, and I may even try to convert my Kona Lava Dome to be more "expedition" ready - put a Surly Instigator fork on there to replace the current suspension fork, and it should be pretty decent.

    Neil

  18. #18
    Senior Member DuckFat's Avatar
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    A good possibility is to take the Thorn frames and build them up with domestically sourced parts. This is what I am leaning towards doing with the MojoBike project. We would only be dinged on the exchange rate for the frame and not all the components. Of course, we could also take an LHT frame and build that up as well. Or we could look to have a frame made for us to our specs. I noticed that Neil made it over there but I really want the rest of you to come over and hash it out on the project website.

    I love brainstorming stuff like this and I'm sure collective wisdom will come up with something cool.

  19. #19
    rwp
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeilGunton View Post
    Hi Vik,

    I don't think a bike like this should have to cost thousands, or even much more than $1000 really. I'd like a no-frills design that I'm not afraid to ding around and really use. If I pay thousands for a bike then I feel like I'm more likely to sit at home cooing over it than take it out to get scratched up!

    Neil
    The customer base for touring bikes is very diverse about their wants. Some are willing to pay big bucks for the best and others will get by on cheap equipment. Most everyone has different priorities about what's necessary on a touring rig.

    I believe a successful design should be flexible. That's why the LHT frame proved so popular. Everyone could build it up the way they wanted. It would be even more successful had they provided the option of 26" wheel sizes on the larger frames.

    I'd like to see bikes sold with a lot of options as far as gearing, wheels, shifters, etc. so that people who don't necessarily like to swap parts on their own can get what amounts to a 'custom' setup. Customer A orders the 56cm frame with 40 spoke wheels, low gearing and barends for loaded touring while customer B can get the same bike with 32 spokes wheels, road bike gearing and brifters for credit card tours. You can do this already if you have a good LBS but it usually costs extra and is a pita. I'd like to see it as a simple 'check the boxes while ordering' type of thing.

  20. #20
    Crazyguyonabike
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    Just a thought: You mentioned in your first post that "the forums on mojobike will close once the final design is worked out". It's difficult enough to get people to go over to regularly checking a new website for updates and getting over that initial "ghost town" feeling where nobody's there (so nobody goes, because nobody's there etc ad infinitum). But it takes a certain amount of time and effort to go use a new site, and build up the community for that... but then you're going to close it down, which doesn't sound very enticing. I certainly have my work cut out just checking a few sites for updates every day. For me there's bikeforums, reddit, slashdot, and some other minor sites, and of course crazyguyonabike. I have some experience in trying to kickstart websites, and it's definitely not a case of "if you build it, they will come". You need to give them a good reason to come, and stay, and invest their time and energy getting into something worthwhile. If you say that the forums will just be closed down, then that is a bit of a wet blanket... also, do you really think something like this will ever really be "done"? I think it'll be a constant work in progress, as frames and components change and new stuff becomes available... plus, you will always be getting new suggestions for improvements to the bike. So if you're hoping to get people over there, I would sell it as being more of a new thing that you're starting, something that will be here for the long haul (haha) and isn't going to just go away.

    Neil

  21. #21
    Senior Member DuckFat's Avatar
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    Good point. I have launched websites as well some successful, some not. I made that statement because I didn't want the community here to think I was trying to pull them away from BF. What will probably happen is the "design" forums would close for new posts and then we'd add support forums and community forums for the bike. I wouldn't chase people off the website if a community actually develops around this project.

    I don't want to compete with BF for a userbase and I want good relations with the community here. The expertise here is what has inspired the project. I already priced out advertising on this site so my support will be more tangible in the future if this pans out.

    The purpose for creating a new forum is just to focus people on creating a bike as a whole integrated piece. Naturally I could take the handlebar discussions and the shifter discussions and the brake discussions from BF and try to work something out but the handlebar choice affects the brake choice which influences the shifter options and it's hard to do that here with a lot of other noise. I don't want to take over BF with this rather focused discussion because a lot of people aren't interesting in it for various philosophical reasons.

    So if you are interested in influencing a real bike build project then please come over to MojoBike.com. If not then that's cool too. I'll talk about the MojoBike here and probably on other forums as well. I'm looking for a diversity of opinions about the bike in order to maximize our collective expertise.

    If all that's created in the end is an online parts list for a bike that all fits together which we can refer people to when they want to buy a bike that will be okay. I'm going to definitely try to get the bike built but if it doesn't work out it won't be a waste of time to at least brainstorm this for a while.

  22. #22
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    Would this only be available as a complete bike, or would customers have the option of buying frame and fork, or frame/fork/headset, or frame/fork/headset/bottom bracket?

  23. #23
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rwp View Post
    The customer base for touring bikes is very diverse about their wants. Some are willing to pay big bucks for the best and others will get by on cheap equipment. Most everyone has different priorities about what's necessary on a touring rig.

    I believe a successful design should be flexible. That's why the LHT frame proved so popular. Everyone could build it up the way they wanted. It would be even more successful had they provided the option of 26" wheel sizes on the larger frames.

    I'd like to see bikes sold with a lot of options as far as gearing, wheels, shifters, etc. so that people who don't necessarily like to swap parts on their own can get what amounts to a 'custom' setup. Customer A orders the 56cm frame with 40 spoke wheels, low gearing and barends for loaded touring while customer B can get the same bike with 32 spokes wheels, road bike gearing and brifters for credit card tours. You can do this already if you have a good LBS but it usually costs extra and is a pita. I'd like to see it as a simple 'check the boxes while ordering' type of thing.
    I generally agree with most of this. The idea of being able to "check the boxes while ordering" appeals to me.

    The one thing that I doubt is the assertion that the LHT would sell better if it had 26" wheels in all frame sizes. I am pretty sure that offering it only in 26" would be risky at best. Offering it as an option is almost like coming out with another whole bike. So yes they would sell some with 26" wheels in the larger sizes, but enough additional sales to warrant stocking two different frames in most of their sizes? I think that is far from a sure thing.

    Some disagree, but I think the advantages/disadvantages between 700c and 26" are kind of a wash for most uses and to depart from the norm the advantage should be clear cut. Third world expedition style touring is the only place where there is a major advantage for 26" in any but the smaller sizes IMO.

  24. #24
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeilGunton View Post
    Hi Vik,

    Yes, I've already investigated the Surly Long Haul Trucker. In fact I own a 56cm, which is the smallest of their 700C sizes. My bike shop guy talked to Surly as to whether I would also be able to fit the 54cm, since the top tube on the 56cm seems on the long side for me (I have fitted a very short stem), but surprisingly they came back saying no way would it fit. Something about not being able to get the bars high enough, not exactly sure.

    Interesting thing is, the Rivendell Atlantis is still 26" in their 56cm size. So obviously the Surly LHT is not an exact copy as some people seem to claim. I don't know why Surly went to 700C for the 56cm - I get toe overlap with the front wheel, which is kind of annoying. I think that bike would be more natural in a 26", personally. In any case, the Atlantis in a 56cm might be good for me, but I haven't done a detailed fit on that.

    On the Thorn front, I've pretty much discounted going to them because of the horrendous exchange rate that currently exists between the US dollar and UK pound. Also, they are quite expensive wherever you live. It's true that they seem to make really nice bikes, but I decided to try and find other possibilities which are more "native" to where I'm living currently.

    In fact, the Novara Safari (which I also have) is turning out to be a very nice bike to ride. Also people on crazyguyonabike have been pointing to various stock bikes which exist (e.g. the Diamondback Transporter) which are quite cheap and yet would seem to have the right kind of geometry for what I'm talking about.

    I don't think a bike like this should have to cost thousands, or even much more than $1000 really. I'd like a no-frills design that I'm not afraid to ding around and really use. If I pay thousands for a bike then I feel like I'm more likely to sit at home cooing over it than take it out to get scratched up!

    In any case, it's not an urgent matter, more of an ongoing interest. The Safari is great for now, and I may even try to convert my Kona Lava Dome to be more "expedition" ready - put a Surly Instigator fork on there to replace the current suspension fork, and it should be pretty decent.

    Neil
    Neil I feel your pain with the exchange rate as I lived through a period where a $1USD=$1.5CDN...

    I have to say that I'd scratch the Safari from my list of potential expedition touring bikes because off the disc brakes, as you noted in your earlier post simple and easily repairable the world over is what you want in an expedition touring bike. Plus disc brakes require a stiff fork that ends up not providing a nice comfortable ride like the steel forks on the LHT or Thorn bikes.

    I also agree $1000 is a good price to shoot for and you certainly can do it IF you have the volume Surly does with the LHT AND you have the buying power of QBP behind you as Surly has to provide low cost OEM Parts. As soon as you start talking lower volumes and you don't have a parts supplier like QBP I don't see how you'd meet a $1000 price point for a business venture.

    If you don't fit a 26" wheel Surly and you don't want to go the Thorn route you can certainly get rolling on 26" wheels with a number of other bikes. However, I think the many small and not so small touring design tweaks you get in a LHT or Thorn make a noticeable difference in how they ride.

    Quote Originally Posted by DuckFat View Post
    A good possibility is to take the Thorn frames and build them up with domestically sourced parts. This is what I am leaning towards doing with the MojoBike project. We would only be dinged on the exchange rate for the frame and not all the components. Of course, we could also take an LHT frame and build that up as well. Or we could look to have a frame made for us to our specs. I noticed that Neil made it over there but I really want the rest of you to come over and hash it out on the project website.

    I love brainstorming stuff like this and I'm sure collective wisdom will come up with something cool.
    I think the Thorn Sherpa is a great bike that fits the bill perfectly for a 26" wheeled expedition touring bike that isn't stratospherically priced, but you can buy the frame sets now and build them up. Perhaps if you buy in bulk you can get the price down for sale in North America? Honestly I would be cautious about tweaking a refined design like this unless you want to spend a 12-24 months testing the new ideas and validating they actually work.

    You could also talk to Surly and Novara about making a full range of 26" wheeled expedition touring bikes. Both companies seem okay with tackling some of the smaller niche markets. Surly in particular might get jazzed about selling a full-on expedition touring bike like the Thorn EXP. It would fit right into their "style".

    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    The one thing that I doubt is the assertion that the LHT would sell better if it had 26" wheels in all frame sizes. I am pretty sure that offering it only in 26" would be risky at best. Offering it as an option is almost like coming out with another whole bike. So yes they would sell some with 26" wheels in the larger sizes, but enough additional sales to warrant stocking two different frames in most of their sizes? I think that is far from a sure thing.

    Some disagree, but I think the advantages/disadvantages between 700c and 26" are kind of a wash for most uses and to depart from the norm the advantage should be clear cut. Third world expedition style touring is the only place where there is a major advantage for 26" in any but the smaller sizes IMO.
    +1 - the only place where having a 26" wheel is really important IMO is for an expedition touring bike where getting parts internationally is an issue. The problem as you note is this is a really small market. Only a few people really need a bike like this and a bunch more would ride one because they are cool, but you aren't taking a huge sales volume.
    safe riding - Vik
    VikApproved

  25. #25
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    If you don't mind thinking outside the box the Surly Big Dummy could make an interesting expedition touring bike. It takes rim brakes or disc, can carry a lot of weight, takes fat tires, 26" wheels and the long wheelbase makes it stable & provides some passive suspension. Youc an even add S&S couplers if you wanted to make it easier to ship/transport.

    The complete bike is going to be in the $1600 range, but you get a lot of utility out of it so perhaps you can justify the cost that way?

    The Pleasant Revolution guys are touring Mexico as we speak on Big Dummies.

    safe riding - Vik
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