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Old 02-22-08, 12:14 AM   #1
carkmouch
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Help me choose a touring bike

I'm looking for a good touring bike. Although I have not toured before, it seems like something I would want to do often and possibly even embark on extended and overseas tours. I plan on towing a two-wheeled trailer for my first tours here in Missouri and possibly the Katy Trail, but I might want to use panniers some time down the road.

Here are some of my options so far:

Surly LHT $800~

http://stlouis.craigslist.org/bik/579789697.html
I've heard many good things about this machine, and it seems best prepared for upgrades and some serious touring.

Lightly used Trek 7.2fx $375

I'm attracted to this because of the price, and I've heard that hybrid type bikes can work well for touring, and with the lower price I would still have money for some handlebar or drive train upgrades. I think this would work well considering I'll be towing a trailer.
http://stlouis.craigslist.org/bik/579977971.html

New Fuji Touring Bike $760

I've heard good things about this bike, and the new price under 800 seems tempting.
http://www.touringcyclist.com/bikes/model_17873.html

And hey, what the hell...
Burley Canto recumbent $900~

http://stlouis.craigslist.org/bik/582128227.html

I know it's really up to me to decide, but I'd like some comments and suggestions.
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Old 02-22-08, 01:15 AM   #2
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Unless you love recumbent riding, forget it. It isn't just regular bike riding with a twist, it uses very different muscles, is much harder to ballance, almost to the point of it being impossible to restart on a hill. I have one and enjoy it, but it is almost like crosstraining to me.

Beyond that, fit, fit, fit...
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Old 02-22-08, 10:22 AM   #3
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Unless you love recumbent riding, forget it. It isn't just regular bike riding with a twist, it uses very different muscles, is much harder to ballance, almost to the point of it being impossible to restart on a hill. I have one and enjoy it, but it is almost like crosstraining to me.

Beyond that, fit, fit, fit...
+1!
I had the opportunity to ride a new recumbent. I hated it even while trying my best to like it. Some people are made for recumbent bikes and love them. Others like me just can't ride them and enjoy the experience. I did a tour once with several people riding recumbent bikes. All said hill climbing was never a problem as long as you were pushing it up the hill. The only recumbent bike I would consider now is a Tadpole trike. That would eliminate balance problems and hill climbing at very low speeds. I would buy one if they were not so expensive for a quality Tadpole trike.

Of the choices above, the LHT is the definite winner.
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Old 02-22-08, 10:32 AM   #4
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Surly LHT Complete

But get a fitting at a bike shop to determine your size. Since that bike prob
won't be your size, get a new one.

You're going to be spending thousands on your touring vacations... But if the bike doesn't fit it is more likely you won't be spending thousands on touring vactions because riding will be uncomfortable.

Last edited by late; 02-22-08 at 11:11 AM.
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Old 02-22-08, 11:02 AM   #5
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Recumbents limit the see and be seen element of safety, they are below mose vehical trafic.The (T)type handelbars on hybrids , MTBS and even what they now call comfort bikes, put your hands in a un natural position. This position is in the range of motion, but your hands and arms would never be in this position when relaxed. I realy like my LHT, it's the first time I've found room for my size 13 feet, and it handles my 230 lb. + fourty lb. load. I have had several older bikes that would be great for smaller folks.
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Old 02-22-08, 11:02 AM   #6
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surly.
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Old 02-22-08, 11:37 AM   #7
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If you're towing a trailer, you may as well get the truck. I hate to say it—Surly.
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Old 02-22-08, 11:52 AM   #8
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The three big kahoonas in touring bikes are the Trek 520, Surly LHT, and Novara Randonee. You'll see their merits debated back and forth on here quite a bit and all are fine bikes. The Surly seems to be liked the best around here. You don't see the Fuji discussed as much, not sure why, but I'm sure it is a good bike also.

REI runs a 20% single-item sale each spring, so with this discount and their generous return policy, I'd tend toward the Novara as the best value in a new bike.

Unless you have a specific reason to want a mtb-based tourer (flat bar, wider tires, off-pavement, etc.), I'd stay away from the hybrids for efficiency and comfort reasons. On a tourer, you want the ability to roll efficiently, carry a load, climb hills, and be able to find several comfortable handlebar positions. Hybrids are compromised to some extent in all of these areas compared to a dedicated road touring bike.

Recumbents are really a totally different bike and you really need to ride one extensively to know if you like them to ride, let alone tour.

- Mark
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Old 02-22-08, 11:57 AM   #9
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I've got two diamond frame [DF] touring bikes and two recumbents. The recumbents make great touring bikes and there are no issues with hill climbing, balance or visibility/safety. Having said all that recumbents are a totally different riding experience. You'd have to try it out to know if you like it or not. Keep in mind a 5 min test ride on a bent won't really give you a good idea of how you'll feel once you've had it a couple weeks. Most people adjust very quickly to the way they feel and handle. If it works for you the advantages are primarily comfort and having your head in a very natural position to take in the view from the saddle. If you are interested in bents go over to www.bentrideronline.com and ask a few questions - folks there will be happy to help you out.

One of my DF touring bikes is a Surly LHT and it is probably my favourite bike. It would be my first recommendation for anyone looking for a DF touring bike.
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Old 02-22-08, 01:37 PM   #10
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That bronze Fuji Touring is last year's model. There's not much difference between the '07 and the '08, aside from the new color being green, but the '07's might not be available very long.

The MSRP for a 2008 Fuji Touring is $950, so you're getting a good deal on the leftover if you act quickly.
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Old 02-22-08, 01:39 PM   #11
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Another who loves his LHT.
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Old 02-22-08, 01:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by late View Post
Surly LHT Complete

But get a fitting at a bike shop to determine your size. Since that bike prob
won't be your size, get a new one.

You're going to be spending thousands on your touring vacations... But if the bike doesn't fit it is more likely you won't be spending thousands on touring vactions because riding will be uncomfortable.
That one is a 56c frame, and I'm pretty sure that's about my size. So if I test ride the LHT and it fits should I go ahead and get it?

Thanks for the input guys, I think I might end up going all out and getting the Surly. It seems like the best all-around touring bike, plus its a Surly so it's got lots of "cool" .
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Old 02-22-08, 02:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carkmouch View Post
That one is a 56c frame, and I'm pretty sure that's about my size. So if I test ride the LHT and it fits should I go ahead and get it?

Thanks for the input guys, I think I might end up going all out and getting the Surly. It seems like the best all-around touring bike, plus its a Surly so it's got lots of "cool" .
The shop cost of one is only $985 or there abouts, so if this one is going for $850 I'd get on at the shop for the service and warranty that comes with it.
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Old 02-22-08, 03:35 PM   #14
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Lightly used Trek 7.2fx $375

I'm attracted to this because of the price, and I've heard that hybrid type bikes can work well for touring, and with the lower price I would still have money for some handlebar or drive train upgrades. I think this would work well considering I'll be towing a trailer.
http://stlouis.craigslist.org/bik/579977971.html
If you still want to consider the Trek 7.2 FX here is a picture of one fully loaded.
More details in the link below.
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Old 02-22-08, 06:46 PM   #15
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If you are towing a trailer, why not use whatever bike you already have, and then after a little while on the road, you'll know a lot more about what you want. I found that flat bars didn't work for me, and that I didn't like trailering, I like panniers lots more. But if you already have a bike and a trailer, just go!

If you don't already own a trailer (warning, i'm biased) don't buy one, just go straight for the drop-bar-style touring bike that fits you best and get racks & panniers.
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Old 02-22-08, 06:55 PM   #16
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If you are towing a trailer, why not use whatever bike you already have, and then after a little while on the road, you'll know a lot more about what you want. I found that flat bars didn't work for me, and that I didn't like trailering, I like panniers lots more. But if you already have a bike and a trailer, just go!

If you don't already own a trailer (warning, i'm biased) don't buy one, just go straight for the drop-bar-style touring bike that fits you best and get racks & panniers.
+1
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Old 02-22-08, 07:28 PM   #17
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I'm another Surly LHT guy. I haven't loaded it up and taken it on tour yet but I have every reason to believe it will be wonderful. It seems very well designed. When I was researching what new bike to buy, I found overwhelming recommendations that convinced me the LHT was the best choice for me. I like the Surly spirit. They seem to be people who are looking to fill the niches in the bike market, rather than trying to compete in the mainstream. Their touring bike seems to be one of the best thought-out, with few, if any, compromises to marketing. I also think they are a terrific value.

The Trek 520 gets high marks from everyone, except that the stock gearing seems to be too high. Most people report switching it out. It's also a few hundred dollars more than the LHT complete. The Novara Randonee also gets high marks. I don't recall reading any reports from people who bought one and didn't like it. If you get an REI discount, it seems to be an excellent value. The Fuji Touring also gets good marks, though not nearly as many people seem to have one. It's really inexpensive. Cannondale also makes a couple of good touring bikes. They're aluminum, which some people don't want in a tourer, but I've heard excellent reports about how they handle and perform with a load. A couple other well-recommended bikes are the Rocky Mountain Sherpa and the Co-Motion Americano (which is pretty expensive.) A cheaper bike for which I've seen recommendations is the Windsor Tourist from BikesDirect.com.

I don't have any personal experience with any of these bikes except the Surly LHT. But I read a lot of postings on this forum and others.
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Old 02-22-08, 09:07 PM   #18
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The Burley Canto is very slow bike. I wanted so badly to buy a couple of years ago but after testing two of them, there was no way I could shell out that kind of money. This bike is as fast as your slowest hybrid! Here's why.

The Canto was just too heavy and the frame flexed to much by design. You wanted to shift to a higher gear to get more speed but it was just impossible because it became hard to pedal! You would end up shifting to a low gear to make the bike move but this ment you travelled slowly.

I found dual 26' inch bents much faster.

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Old 02-22-08, 11:36 PM   #19
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Have you considered Robert Beckman [sakit] touring bikes. I've looked at them and decided when the money is right then its his bike i will go with he puts and offers so many more options than anything i've come across as of yet ie. intergrated lighting systems, racks,chain rings ect. the down side they are pricey [but then again sometimes you get wat you pay for] and there is a considerable wait but from the research i've done seems to be worth it just another consideration since i really dont read to much about his bikes on the forums glenn in phx
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Old 02-23-08, 12:22 AM   #20
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+1 Rocky Mountain Sherpa. I've ridden most of the bikes mentioned above. I'm glad I have the Sherpa. I understand they are hard to find... I'm glad I found mine. No complaints about the other bikes.. they are all good bikes. For my purposes, the Sherpa is just a bit better. Good luck... it's nice to know you can't go wrong with any of the bikes you are considering.
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Old 04-07-08, 05:19 PM   #21
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Robert Beckman Sakkit with racks



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Old 04-07-08, 05:41 PM   #22
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I really find that hard to believe -recumbents provide much greater ability for you to see around you. And yes, they are lower than the a regular diamond frame bike, and that can be a problem to be seen. However, the reality of it is that because you are so unusual, this is more than likely cancelled out (I think it's the novelty factor of it.)

Having said that, though I wouldn't hesitate to tour on a recumbent, I wouldn't make it a choice for commuting in heavy traffic for that reason, plus the issue of nasty pot holes that seem to plague urban areas. Then again, I think most people don't tend to tour in cities or built up areas anyway.

I'll ask my usual question whenever someone gives an opinion that I really find hard to believe: do you have first hand experience of this? Do you cycle on a recumbent?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tgbikes View Post
Recumbents limit the see and be seen element of safety, they are below mose vehical trafic.The (T)type handelbars on hybrids , MTBS and even what they now call comfort bikes, put your hands in a un natural position. This position is in the range of motion, but your hands and arms would never be in this position when relaxed. I realy like my LHT, it's the first time I've found room for my size 13 feet, and it handles my 230 lb. + fourty lb. load. I have had several older bikes that would be great for smaller folks.
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Old 04-07-08, 05:51 PM   #23
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I think you're writing off recumbents too easily -I think there are downsides to them, but I think the main issues are cost value ratio in relation to mass produced diamond frame bikes, transportation issues, probably extras you'll have to buy to support racks and not well suited to urban riding (though again, I have to say I avoid urban areas on tour anyway).

I think using different muscles is true, but so what? Wouldn't you train anyway and develop those muscles? Not a reason to not use a recumbent. Likewise, harder to balance, it's just different and you get used to it. I'll go out on a limb and say I don't think practised recumbent riders lose balance anymore than riders who use diamond frame bikes. Lastly starting off from a hill -I do agree it's harder, but personally, never not been able to. I'll admit my experience is limited to just my own recumbent so this may be a trait that other recumbents have -though this has never been shared to me by other people who ride recumbents of other manufacturers.

Interesting, I'm not recumbent evangelist (got one recumbent out of 9 bikes) but I'd love to do a cross USA tour on one. You'd see so much more -a huge part of touring and one huge plus of a recumbent.


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Unless you love recumbent riding, forget it. It isn't just regular bike riding with a twist, it uses very different muscles, is much harder to ballance, almost to the point of it being impossible to restart on a hill. I have one and enjoy it, but it is almost like crosstraining to me.

Beyond that, fit, fit, fit...

Last edited by Nigeyy; 04-07-08 at 05:57 PM.
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Old 04-07-08, 06:15 PM   #24
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+1 on the Rocky Mountain Sherpa 30. I LOVE mine.
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Old 04-07-08, 06:33 PM   #25
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One either likes or dislikes Marmite!

I rode across country on a old Lygie diamond frame with huge fender clearances and very comfortable ride. Now I have a Easyracer Goldrush (recumbent) and would easily select this for another major trip. I concur, recumbent novelty more than makes up for lower profile and you have a comfortable, heads up view; much safer. It is not difficult to load panniers so I'd avoid the trailer.
Having said that I ride centuries (not touring) on a Serotta Fierte (diamond frame) for it's nimble yet plush ride.

I reccomend ANT or Belinky for a great touring bike. ANT used to be at IF and has a devout following. I've great experience with Belinky and love their esthetics and S&S couplers for easy air travel.
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