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  1. #1
    Headlights are diamonds. diwhy?'s Avatar
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    I own a Schwinn Varsity from Walmart. It's actually ok.
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    This may sound redundant.

    I started an earlier thread about touring on a Wal-Mart bicycle for a tour of about 1,700 miles. But now I'm considering just travelling around the United States on a bike for a couple of years. I am now currently reconsidering taking a Wal-Mart bicycle on this trip. I definitely want to upgrade. The problem with not buying a new bicycle in the first place was budget, but I figure if I save more and extend the start date I could possibly afford a brand new touring bike. I'm currently looking at the Surly LHT complete bike. Would this hold up?

    Basically, what I'm asking is, will this bike hold up with minimum problems for 2-3 years of touring with a load? And if not, then what will?

    P.S. This message board has been extremely helpful in planning a tour and just getting advice on what I'm getting myself into. Thanks to everyone for not treating me like a total idiot. I'm 18. I'm young. I gotta get out there and live!!

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    If you're on a budget, consider a used steel mountain bike from the 90's.


    An LHT would definitely be a great choice, so would a Randonee or a Safari, or a Bianchi Volpe, etc.

  3. #3
    Senior Member xilios's Avatar
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    I second the steel mountain bike option. They are rugged and can be replaced quickly in case something goes wrong like demage or theft.

  4. #4
    Has opinion, will express
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    Third... but qualified.

    It's not quite as simple as it seems on the surface. You have to look at the condition of the bike, and whether the critical components such as wheels (including hubs) and gears, plus bottom bracket are all in good, low-use condition. If not, you then have to look at what your options are to build the bike back up into a reliable unit. And that might include increasing the dropout width at the rear to take advantage of later-model freehubs.

    Unless you have bits and pieces lying around from previous bike projects, then purchasing the parts for an MTB conversion requires patience, a stash of cash, and tools. EVen before that, you'll need to have some knowledge of how those bikes were built in those days so you don't end up with a "waterpipe" clunker instead of something with a butted steel tubeset.

    The real advantage is that you will learn about your bike.

    I am a keen follower of the principle that a little bit missing from my bank account each week/fortnight/month will eventually work out to a well-equipped, self-built <insert your choice of item>... and that includes bikes. In other words, spend a bit each week on components and build your own.

    I'll refer again to my latest project, building up an MTB, for MTBing as opposed to touring. The frame is bare. I have spent quite a bit of time researching all the bits and pieces I want to put on it, including front suspension fork, and disc brakes. It's taken about three months to acquire the bits and there has been a fair degree of opportunism in the process. But I know the requirements for seat post diameter, headset, BB, brake mounts, etc, etc. By the time I finish that bike, I will now it initmately and it should serve me well for my type of off-road riding.

    It seems to me as though you are in a limited cash situation based on this and your previous thread. I would suggest that you look at something like the Surly as a bare frame, and slowly build it up as your resources become available. That way you aren't stressing the finances too much, you can take advantage of various bargains on Performance/Nashbar and eBay, etc, and you will indeed know your bike so well that if something goes wrong, you'll know how to fix it. And on a two or three-years continental expedition, things will go wrong as bits wear out. The frame, however, is unlikely to wear out.

    I'd normally stand back from recommending any particular sort of bike because I have experience in few of them on a comparative basis, but the enthusiasm for Surly isn't misplaced judging by the fans on here. And the company does sell bare frames for you to play with.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  5. #5
    Senior Member slowjoe66's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    Third... but qualified.

    It's not quite as simple as it seems on the surface. You have to look at the condition of the bike, and whether the critical components such as wheels (including hubs) and gears, plus bottom bracket are all in good, low-use condition. If not, you then have to look at what your options are to build the bike back up into a reliable unit. And that might include increasing the dropout width at the rear to take advantage of later-model freehubs.

    Unless you have bits and pieces lying around from previous bike projects, then purchasing the parts for an MTB conversion requires patience, a stash of cash, and tools. EVen before that, you'll need to have some knowledge of how those bikes were built in those days so you don't end up with a "waterpipe" clunker instead of something with a butted steel tubeset.

    The real advantage is that you will learn about your bike.

    I am a keen follower of the principle that a little bit missing from my bank account each week/fortnight/month will eventually work out to a well-equipped, self-built <insert your choice of item>... and that includes bikes. In other words, spend a bit each week on components and build your own.

    I'll refer again to my latest project, building up an MTB, for MTBing as opposed to touring. The frame is bare. I have spent quite a bit of time researching all the bits and pieces I want to put on it, including front suspension fork, and disc brakes. It's taken about three months to acquire the bits and there has been a fair degree of opportunism in the process. But I know the requirements for seat post diameter, headset, BB, brake mounts, etc, etc. By the time I finish that bike, I will now it initmately and it should serve me well for my type of off-road riding.

    It seems to me as though you are in a limited cash situation based on this and your previous thread. I would suggest that you look at something like the Surly as a bare frame, and slowly build it up as your resources become available. That way you aren't stressing the finances too much, you can take advantage of various bargains on Performance/Nashbar and eBay, etc, and you will indeed know your bike so well that if something goes wrong, you'll know how to fix it. And on a two or three-years continental expedition, things will go wrong as bits wear out. The frame, however, is unlikely to wear out.

    I'd normally stand back from recommending any particular sort of bike because I have experience in few of them on a comparative basis, but the enthusiasm for Surly isn't misplaced judging by the fans on here. And the company does sell bare frames for you to play with.
    Everything Rowan says here has merit, and I don't want to argue his points, but there are two sides to every story. Firstly, you don't need to know everything about your bike intimately to enjoy a good long tour. If you do, that's great and thats a plus, but it's not required. Some people who bike tour don't work on their bikes much at all save an occasional flat repair, so you don't need to use this point as a stumbling block. A Surly LHT would be exactly what you need, but there are also other bikes that would serve you very well, including the previously mentioned steel mtb.

    If you go the Surly route, you will be completely set except for racks and pedals. My suggestion to you if you want to go the cheaper route on the steel mtb would be to watch the pawn shops. I see lots. Look for steel, the correct size, be sure it has at least a 7 cog rear cluster (8 or 9 is fine) and a triple crank up front, ideally without any suspension. You can always dicker with the pawn shop price. Then get yourself some slick Armadillo type tires, a saddle that makes you happy and take it to your LBS and have them tune it up (tell them your touring plans) and check it out, and then discuss racks with them. If you go with panniers, you can certainly buy them cheaper online than you can in the bike shop. Those are easy to put on. I could see you easily outfitted in this fashion for under 500 bucks. Cheers.
    I don't have a solution but I admire the problem!

  6. #6
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by diwhy? View Post
    I'm currently looking at the Surly LHT complete bike. Would this hold up?

    Basically, what I'm asking is, will this bike hold up with minimum problems for 2-3 years of touring with a load? And if not, then what will?
    If you buy a LHT there is no reason you shouldn't be riding it 10 years from now. However, if you are touring on it non-stop for 2-3 years you'll wear out tires, tubes, rims, brake pads, cables and whole drive trains. This will be the case on any bike you ride extensively. You'll have to overhaul or replace the components with bearings in them - hubs, pedals, headset & BB.

    Get a bike maintenance book and learn how to keep your bike in good shape. That will minimize your problems and keep things working well for as long as possible.

    You'll have a great time and you can learn as you go so don't feel you need to get everything dialed 100% before you leave.
    safe riding - Vik
    VikApproved

  7. #7
    Senior Member Lt.Gustl's Avatar
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    I've got a nice Specialized Expedition touring bike I got for less than the cost of a LHT frame, it's so nice I probably won't be touring on it in fact. Pretty much brand new condition, as much as everyone who gets a touring bike intends on using it, just like any other bicycle most in this country spend very little time on the road.

    Spending a little bit of time scouring the usual sources for used bikes one will find something that will last just as long as a newer bike while saving some more which sounds good for this extended tour you plan.

    Just keep reading here and on other resources available and you will be able to decide what will be best for you.

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