Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: New Orleans, LA
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I wouldn't change a whole lot to start with. Try changing as little as possible initially. As you actually use your bike for touring you will probably get some ideas of your own. I will list a few basics that you will need to do before you can do much of anything.
1. As you mention, slick tires as narrow as your rims will accomodate, maybe 1.5-1.75 inches. You can go to sheldonbrown.com to read about tire widths. If you know the brand and model rims you have you could go to the mfr website to see what tire widths are recommended or you could measure the inside width of your rims then go to Mavic's website and find the recommended tire widths for a similar size rim.
2. Racks for mounting panniers. If you are lucky, your frame may have threaded eyelets on the rear dropouts for mounting a good solid rack. If you have rear suspension, things get more difficult because you can't mount a good solid rack only a clamp on of some type that have a VERY limited weight limit. Ditto for the front. Some bikes have eyelets for mounting front racks also, but suspension forks present problems. Tubus makes racks for both situations. If you have full suspension, you may have to get racks for front and back to spread the load in light bits. Wallingford Bicycle Parts (wallbike.com) and Peter White Cycles (peterwhitecycles.com) both carry Tubus racks. If you have a hardtail that has eyelets for front and rear racks, you can use more basic racks like Blackburn Expedition 2.
3. Something to carry it all in. You can use panniers or a trailer. There are many brands of excellent panniers - Ortlieb (all waterproof), Carradice (also waterproof), Jandd, Arkel. Some are waterproof as is, some require rain covers. There are a variety of features. You can do all right with any of the better brands, just plan to spend a little money. Cheap panniers will fall apart (I know). If you have a full suspension bike, you may consider a trailer. A BOB trailer costs less than a rack and a good set of panniers, about $250-270. Since it comes with a big waterproof bag, you don't need rack and panniers. A BOB is rated for about 70 lbs. Since the BOB is no wider than the bike and has a single wheel that tracks straight behind, it can go anywhere the bike goes and you don't have to worry about a tire dropping of the shoulder of the road to throw you off balance. Many people prefer the BOB to panniers and say that it is easier to pull a BOB than ride with heavily loaded panniers front and back.
Obviously, you need camping gear, etc., but I am limiting my remarks to the absolute minimum you need to do to your bike - slick tires and something to carry gear in. If you plan to do extended touring, you might consider a different bike, but don't run out and buy one until you have tested the waters and feel pretty sure you are ready for longer trips.
If it ain't broke, mess with it anyway!
Last edited by RainmanP; 11-29-01 at 09:18 AM.