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  1. #1
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    hardtail mountain bike or a road bike style tourer?

    alright...so i posted my surly long haul trucker sizing problem thread recently...

    well...while trying to figure out how to put together a worthy touring bike, i saw pictures of many peoples bikes. among them, i have seen three basic styles of bikes: 1) road bike style bikes like the trek 520 or surly LHT or bruce gordon bikes, 2) hardtail mountain bikes with front suspension, and 3) looks like mountain bike frames with a rigid front fork. i have seen a couple full suspension touring bikes but from what i have read this is not recommended.

    so here's my question...

    what makes the best platform for unsupported touring?

    thanks!

  2. #2
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    There's no "absolute best" but the best for touring should be a... touring bike! However, if you're touring in less "civilized" areas of the world, a hardtail mountain bike may be better because of parts availability in the case of a breakdown (700c wheels are hard to find in many parts of the world).

    Personally, I'd go without the suspension fork, but that's just me. Never had one so maybe I just don't know what I'm missing. Unless you plan to tour off-road, a suspension will only add weight and complexity.

    If you look a touring bike's frame closely, you'll notice that they have much in common with 1980s to mid 90s CrMo mountain bikes in terms of materials used and geometry. I have a 1988-ish Specialized Rockhopper, and if it wasn't too small (and incomfortable for rides longer than 1-2 hours), I would have probably used it to ride instead of ordering a new touring bike.

    So, in a nutshell, your best bet is a touring bike if you plan to ride in north america and europe. If you want to go in asia, africa, etc. you might want to consider a hardtail MTB. Of course, if you already have a hartail MTB, you can stick with that and save money!

    As with many questions asked around here, this is one with no definitive answer and you'll probably get different answers from everyone you ask.

  3. #3
    bicycle tourer Johnrs2117's Avatar
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    I have both a Surly LHT and a Trek 520 for touring. My trek is better for good road and med loads. However, I set my LHT up with a 44/32/22 crank and 26 x 45 tires so that it can handle rougher roads (eg dirt, loose dirt, gravel and poor roads like I see out west and in Europe). So I use it more like a hybrid mountain/touring bike. It has worked perfectly for me. The 26 inch wheels works very well on very poor roads.

    These bikes may not be perfect for you like they are for me, but the biggest problem I found for a mountain bike frame for touring is the longer (common) top tube which I don't like on a touring bike. I do like the 26 inch wheels on mountain bikes for rough road touring. Unfortunately, most touring bikes in the US use 700c wheels, unless you look at some European touring bikes (which are very expensive).

    A lot of people modify mountain bike frames for touring and they work out great if you choose the right component. However, I don't think a stock mountain bike, especially with suspension forks make a very good touring bike. If the geometry of a mountain frame fits you, then just switch out the components, change out the knobbies for high quality touring tires, and set it up for more upright touring posture.

    Check out this link for info about touring bikes, mountain bikes and what you may want to a change out:

    http://www.bicycle-touring-guide.com...-bicycles.html

  4. #4
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    has anyone ever heard of putting 700c wheels on an old mountain bike frame? Im eyeing up a couple of old specialized and trek chromoly frames with the intention of making them tourer. the reason, there really cheap, 50 euro or so. Im planning a trip across europe, so almost everywhere will be paved. I'd love a LHT but, need to keep some cash for the trip! anyway im wondering if anyone has any experience of making an old chromoly mtb frame into a LHT type of beast.. they seem very similar in geometry to look at?

  5. #5
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    You can't put a rack on a suspension fork, at least not one that will hold any kind of weight.

    Has anyone been able to get a rear rack on a full suspension MTB?
    Tour Journals, Blog, ride pix

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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by neilfein View Post
    You can't put a rack on a suspension fork, at least not one that will hold any kind of weight.

    Has anyone been able to get a rear rack on a full suspension MTB?

    http://www.oldmanmountain.com/Pages/FAQ.html#3

  7. #7
    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neilfein View Post
    You can't put a rack on a suspension fork, at least not one that will hold any kind of weight.
    Another example why to doubt much of what you read on this or any forum for that matter. The Old Man Mountain Sherpa will work just fine and so will this one. I've owned both and still own the Sherpa if that means anything.


    http://www.deltacycle.com/product.php?g=28



    Last edited by robow; 04-25-08 at 03:05 PM.

  8. #8
    Bike4Peace Vernon Huffman's Avatar
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    Please don't tour with a suspension fork. My traveling partner did that and her bike got so squirrelly that she crashed. It's easier to ride on highways without shocks and much safer.
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  9. #9
    a critical mass of one
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vernon Huffman View Post
    Please don't tour with a suspension fork. My traveling partner did that and her bike got so squirrelly that she crashed. It's easier to ride on highways without shocks and much safer.
    I've toured lots with a suspension fork, and it has not caused me to crash.

    If I were buying a bike specifically for touring, I wouldn't bother with suspension. But the bike I have is a hard-tail, and that doesn't keep me from riding it to far away places.
    "Le souffle des quatre vents décuple ma puissance."

  10. #10
    The Wheel is Turning The Figment's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vernon Huffman View Post
    Please don't tour with a suspension fork. My traveling partner did that and her bike got so squirrelly that she crashed. It's easier to ride on highways without shocks and much safer.
    I Don't find touring with shock forks to be much of a problem. I don't mind the weight, the shocks save my hands a lot of abuse and mine have a "Lockout" feature that gives them only about 3mm of travel when locked out, making it very muck like a rigid fork.

  11. #11
    Scott n4zou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpmartineau View Post

    If you look a touring bike's frame closely, you'll notice that they have much in common with 1980s to mid 90s CrMo mountain bikes in terms of materials used and geometry. I have a 1988-ish Specialized Rockhopper, and if it wasn't too small (and incomfortable for rides longer than 1-2 hours), I would have probably used it to ride instead of ordering a new touring bike.
    Here is an example of this very true statement.



    The above bike is a late 90's Specialized CrossRoads hybrid bike. I added racks, fenders, and Nashbar trekking bar to convert it for touring and grocery getting requirements.
    [SIGPIC]http://www.bikeforums.net/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=57360&dateline=1197386754[/SIGPIC]
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  12. #12
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by celerystalksme View Post
    what makes the best platform for unsupported touring?
    This is certainly a matter of personal preference. Do you like drop bars, flat bars with bar ends, moustache bars, etc.? Do you prefer 700 wheels or 26"? Do you have money to buy exactly what you want, or do you want to cut costs?

    In my humble opinion, the best platform for unsupported touring is a touring-specific bike such as a Surly LHT (what I own), Trek 520, Novara Randonneur (sp?), Cannondale Tourer (T800?), Bruce Gordon, Fuji Tourer, Co-Motion Americano, etc. I like drop bars, panniers, I need plenty of heel clearance for my size 14s, and I want at least a 24-tooth granny.

    If I was touring off-road or in a 3rd world country, I'd consider 26" wheels.

    If I was cutting costs I'd consider a rigid mountain bike from the 80's, like a Rockhopper or Stumpjumper. I have an old Stumpjumper that would be great. My wife has an old Rockhopper that would also suffice. They both have strong frames and the heel clearance seems really good. They both have brazeons for rear racks, and I'd use P-brackets for the front, or buy a front Old Man Mountain.

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