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  1. #1
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    Road bike or Mountain Bike for cross country tour?

    Hi all. I will be embarking on my first ride across the country on June 1st of 2008. I won't lie. I'm a definite newbie at the touring side of biking, but i've been riding most of my life. I currently own a Giant Iguana Mountain bike with pretty much everything stock accept slick tires and custom handlebars so I can adjust height for my bad back. I'm 25 (go figure, I'm this young and I have a bad back) and I'm really stoked for this trip.

    One thing I am having a hard time concluding is whether or not I should use my current bike, which I do like and is confortable for me, or if I should get a road bike which seems to be a little more practical as far as speed, weight, etc. I went to my LBS and the person who has been helping me reccomended I get the Fugi Cross Pro. It wieghts a meesly 17.5 lbs and I took it for a quick spin today and it seemed like a pretty nice bike. Next week I plan on taking it out for 30 or 40 miles to give it a real test drive. It has a thinner mountain bike type tire on it with the larger wheel and will set me back about $1100.

    I guess what I'm asking is, what are the advantages and disadvantages of riding a mountain bike vs a road bike? I will be taking the bikecentennial route across the states from West to East Coast. I'll be carrying a B.O.B Trailer behind me with possible panniers on the front of the bike. Any suggestions on whether i should take the trip on my current bike or go for the fuji? If not the fuji than what would you reccomend around the same price? I'm obviously a little lost as far as what exactly is going to get the job done the best, but I'm determined to go on this trip no matter what. Hope you can help!

  2. #2
    Senior Member m_yates's Avatar
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    What about fenders, racks, and panniers? I think the Fuji Cross Pro would not be good for carrying stuff. You would be better off with a Fuji Touring. It would even cost less.

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    Senior Member m_yates's Avatar
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    Also, you might want to take a look at this: http://www.nordicgroup.us/bikerec/#Touring It gives a brief summary of what to look for in a touring bike with some specific recommendations. Moderately priced bikes in that class include the Fuji Touring, Novara Randonee, Surly Long Haul Trucker, and Windsor Tourist.

  4. #4
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    This question comes up a lot in these forums, do a search (top right corner of the Touring page) for something as simple as "bike" or "touring" and you will get a bunch of older threads on this exact topic. My other tip is to scroll back through the history of threads and see which ones got the most views/responses...and read those. I posted a handful below, just to get you started.
    Best of luck!
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    http://bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=370682
    http://bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=336030
    http://bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=394966
    http://bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=301387
    http://bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=255686
    http://bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=371014
    http://bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=391760

  5. #5
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by m_yates View Post
    Moderately priced bikes in that class include the Fuji Touring, Novara Randonee, Surly Long Haul Trucker, and Windsor Tourist.
    You could do it on your existing bike if you are comfortable on it. Personally I would want drop bars on any tour that long, but people have done it on flat barred MTBs. If you want a dedicated touring bike, the choices recommended above are all reasonably priced alternatives that have a proven track record of successful cross country tours.

  6. #6
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    Also, consider your present gear ratios of the MTB to a touring, and I would prefer 700 tires vs, the 26".

    Frame geometry is different, and better comfort and better fit may also be obtain via a tour set-up.

    JMHO, wish you all the best, enjoy the ride.

    Are you doing this as part of group, or self planned?

  7. #7
    Tinkerer since 1980 TheBrick's Avatar
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    Hi I think you may be a little confused as to what a road bike is. All bikes with drop bars are not equal. In terms of weight going up and speed going down it would go something liek this

    1. Road / racing bike. 23 -25 mm tyres, tight clearances light weight no rack mounts dual chain ring set up.

    2. Cross bike similar but room for bigger tyres canti brakes, slightly higher b.b, slightly slacker angles, frequently still a double chain ring setup.

    =2. Audax bike / winter trainer. Closer to a racing bike but with a little more room on the tyre clearance for larger tyres and mudguards mounts. Some times a double sometimes a trip chain ring set up.

    4. Touring bike. Slacker angles more tyre clearance canti brakes, fittings for racks and mudguards triple chain set.

    Many bikes of course fit in between these basic classifications but that should give you a rough idea that all bike with drops are not the same. As you go down the list the bikes tends to be heavier and have more relaxed angles with more clearance and more braze ons.
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    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    It really depends on how comfortable the bike is to ride loaded up, day in and day out, 5 to 10 hours a day. If the bike isn't comfortable, the tour won't be fun.

  9. #9
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Generally speaking, for a TransAm I recommend a real touring bike. Remember, this is a trip that can take 10 weeks, and (in theory) you'll be doing, oh, 60 miles a day for 6 days a week. Riding 30 miles once, unloaded, is not a thorough indicator of how comfortable that bike will be on tour.

    However, if you are confident that you will use a trailer, I recommend you do the following.

    1) Get the trailer
    2) Attach it to your MTB
    3) Load up the trailer with the stuff you think you'll need for your tour
    4) Do at least a 3-day tour with that setup, 60 miles a day

    See how you feel after the short tour. If the bike works out, you'll have a better indicator of its utility for the TransAm. If you have issues, try to figure out if they can be addressed by minor mods (e.g. not enough hand positions = use trekking bars).

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    the giant iguana is a top notch mountain bike and built like a flippin' tank. It would work well for touring. Slap some trekking bars and a rack on there and you'll be good to go.

    If you are set on a new bike, get something like a novara randonee or LHT which are both highly recommended bikes for touring.

  11. #11
    Senior Member foamy's Avatar
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    Bad back? Consider a used recumbent. Just a thought. Otherwise, Bacciagalupe's advice is sound.
    None.

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    Thanks for the advice everyone! I think the more one looks into touring across the country, the more confusing things can get. But it seems to me that the best bet would be to spend a little more time finding a touring style bike. I'm sure I can use it for commuting and smaller adventures once this trip is done. I need to act fast though, as I will be leaving June first of 08. To answer your question, unfortunately I have found no one that can come with me. Most anyone that I know are around my age group and are either in school, dont have money or time to plan, wife and kids, etc. Is there a thread on this site that helps people find others who are also planning trip around the same time or same routes? Thanks again for your great info!

  13. #13
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    You mentioned you have your bike using custom handlebars and that it is comfortable. Could you post side pics of your bike? I think since you are getting a Bob trailer anyways, just use your bike that you are comfortable on...but like mentioned above, go on a short tour, at least 50-60 miles a day and see how it works out.

    Also I saw a post that showed the Nashbar trailer on sale for 99 bucks, might be one way to save more money for other stuff. Probably not as strong as a Bob, but it's less than half the price.

  14. #14
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucas Kirby View Post
    Thanks for the advice everyone! I think the more one looks into touring across the country, the more confusing things can get. But it seems to me that the best bet would be to spend a little more time finding a touring style bike. I'm sure I can use it for commuting and smaller adventures once this trip is done. I need to act fast though, as I will be leaving June first of 08. To answer your question, unfortunately I have found no one that can come with me. Most anyone that I know are around my age group and are either in school, dont have money or time to plan, wife and kids, etc. Is there a thread on this site that helps people find others who are also planning trip around the same time or same routes? Thanks again for your great info!
    What route are you taking and in what direction?

    If you will be on the TransAmerica you can probably meet others to ride with for portions of the way. You will meet lots of other tourists on that route and to a lesser extent on other Adventure Cycling routes.

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    you can post a companions wanted ad at www.crazyguyonabike.com (free) or www.adventurecycling.org (must be a member) - but don't let the lack of a companion stop you.

    the 'usual suspects' for tour bike purchase:
    REI Novarra Randonee
    Surly Long Haul Trucker
    Trek 520
    Cannondale T800

    and if you don't already have a trailer, consider racks & panniers. some people strongly prefer (me) so like the trailer better.
    ...

  16. #16
    Senior Member acupuncture Doc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bizzz111 View Post
    the giant iguana is a top notch mountain bike and built like a flippin' tank. It would work well for touring. Slap some trekking bars and a rack on there and you'll be good to go.

    If you are set on a new bike, get something like a novara randonee or LHT which are both highly recommended bikes for touring.
    +1 on the Iguana.

    I have two that are tricked out very differently. One is a 95 and the other is a 96, both fully rigid. This is one of the most comfortable frames I have ever ridden, and they are rock solid.

  17. #17
    No Heroes EvoFX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBrick View Post
    Hi I think you may be a little confused as to what a road bike is. All bikes with drop bars are not equal. In terms of weight going up and speed going down it would go something liek this

    1. Road / racing bike. 23 -25 mm tyres, tight clearances light weight no rack mounts dual chain ring set up.

    2. Cross bike similar but room for bigger tyres canti brakes, slightly higher b.b, slightly slacker angles, frequently still a double chain ring setup.

    =2. Audax bike / winter trainer. Closer to a racing bike but with a little more room on the tyre clearance for larger tyres and mudguards mounts. Some times a double sometimes a trip chain ring set up.

    4. Touring bike. Slacker angles more tyre clearance canti brakes, fittings for racks and mudguards triple chain set.

    Many bikes of course fit in between these basic classifications but that should give you a rough idea that all bike with drops are not the same. As you go down the list the bikes tends to be heavier and have more relaxed angles with more clearance and more braze ons.
    is there anything else i should look for in a touring bike? i going to a bike exchange in a week and want to be able to tell the difference between a road and touring.

  18. #18
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    A touring bike typically has one or more or all of the following attributes. I'm not saying you necessarily need all of these, but they all help.

    - fenders
    - longer wheelbase for comfort
    - longer chainstays for heel clearance
    - shorter top tube for more upright position
    - more steel, less carbon
    - more fittings for racks
    - more fittings for water bottles
    - wider tires
    - wider fork and seat stays to allow those fenders and wider tires
    - more spokes (usually 36 per wheel, sometimes more)
    - low gearing (often MTB components, usually a triple with a 22 to 26 small chainring & a 32-34 cog in back)
    - MTB pedals (if they come with any pedals at all)
    - some come with a rear rack already installed
    - many have bar-end shifters (rather than STI, both for simplicity and so that the cables don't get in the way of the handlebar bag)

    Like a road bike, most touring bikes have:

    - 700c wheels (although many have 26" wheels)
    - drop handlebars
    - fairly skinny seat (not the cushy town-bike seats)

  19. #19
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    There is absolutely no reason to buy another bike unless you feel the need to blow a fist full of money. Mountain bikes are the preferred touring machines in Europe. Here in the states one quick look at CGOOB finds many mountain bikes criss crossing the country. And now a newer phenom is to find a first generation mountain bike, like the Trek 900 series hardtails, buy them for pennies on the dollar and refurbish them into first class touring machines. All up cost is less than half what you'll spend for a new budget tourer and it will be equipped exactly the way you want it. No trade offs.

    So yes you can spend $1100 or $1200 for a new touring bike and there is nothing wrong with that or you can modify your existing bike to do the trip for a fraction of the cost. The question is: which type of bike would you rather ride? There is no wrong answer.
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  20. #20
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    Lucas Kirby;

    Simple answer, ride the bike you are going to be comfortable riding day in and day out. Everything else & I mean everything else is secondary. If you aren't comfortable riding the bike, you're trip is going to be hell. If buying a new bike, break it in first before a long trip, you'll be thankful you did.

  21. #21
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Lucas, does your bike have a suspension fork? If so, you're going to have a hard time fitting a front rack.

    With that caveat, mountain bikes make for fine touring machines. Particularly steep hardtails.
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  22. #22
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by neilfein View Post
    Lucas, does your bike have a suspension fork? If so, you're going to have a hard time fitting a front rack.

    With that caveat, mountain bikes make for fine touring machines. Particularly steep hardtails.
    Didn't Lucas ride this tour last year? His post is dated April 2008.

  23. #23
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    You need to get some weekend touring in to see what works for you. Dont spend lots of money until you know what you want. I would suggest use your MTb and see how it fares over shorter tours.
    Lots of people use MTBs for touring but some are more suitable than others. Does yours have a full set of rack and/or fender threaded eyelets?
    One major disadvantage of MTBs is that the forks are not built for the job. Ridgid forks are often overly stiff and transmit every shock to your wrists, suspension forks have more to go wring and front luggage can be an issue. You can get touring oriented forks for MTBs.
    Most serious MTB-tourists use flat bars with a variety of positions, either the treking/butterfly style or some add-on aerobars.

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