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  1. #1
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    Casseroll + trailer?

    I'm planning my first new bike build right now. It'll be a bike mostly for recreationally riding paved paths, visiting relatives in the suburbs...and hopefully going on short (up to 1 week) on-road camping trips in the future. I'd travel light, using mostly backpacking-style gear, but still I appreciate that camping entails a much heavier load than credit-card or supported touring.

    But I have no touring experience, so here I am.

    I was considering the Salsa Casseroll frameset since it seems well-suited for the recreational road riding that will encompass a large percentage of its use. But Salsa's insistence that the Casseroll isn't for loaded touring gave me pause.

    I assume that the funky handling (or whatever would be the problem with loaded touring) comes from loading the frame with panniers. How would the bike fare with a trailer? I just want to see how far I could push the envelope with one bicycle.

    Many thanks.

  2. #2
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    If you're not looking to ride super-fast, a typical touring bike will actually work out fine for the recreational rides as well as the tours.

    The Casseroll would be fine for shorter tours though, as long as the gearing is low enough.

  3. #3
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    I haven't seen that much "insistence" as you say, but I would suggest it is not the best bike available for touring. You sure could do it – almost everything can be done with most bikes – but it would not be the best.

    Problems I see (for touring especially)

    – Short chainstays
    : it mostly means that you need to push panniers backwards; this in turns makes the bicycle a bit twitchier. Still not a huge problem, especially if you travel with moderate loads and split the weight between front and rear panniers.
    With a trailer, shorter chainstays aren't as much a problem, but from looking at the says (highly unscientific, I know) and knowing the rear wheel is spaced at 130 mm, you might find a single-wheel trailer doesn't handle as well as it could.
    Short chainstays also means you'll feel the bumps of the road. Very well indeed!

    Almost straight fork blades: which means less compliance and less comfort on a rough road.

    – Limited clearance for large tires: The data seems to contradict itself. They say you can put 32 mm Continental Contact tires (which are very narrow, by the way) with fenders, yet they install sidepull brakes that have only 45-57 mm reach. I suspect there is barely any clearance for any speckle of mud between tires and fenders!

    Very high and very tight gearing (on the complete bike): And with a 10-speed drivetrain, you're stuck with expensive parts to replace and no wide-range cassettes available. At the minimum, I would have the cassette replaced by a 12-28 or 12-30 (9 speed with a Shiftmate if necessary) and replace the granny with a 26-tooth one.


    Other choices
    I would recommend the Surly LHT which would be less sporty, but once you install lightweight 700x28 tires, you get a rather fast machine for recreational road riding.
    The Surly Crosscheck is also a very good option, as it is more nervous than the LHT and should compare to the Casseroll, yet it seems to be much more versatile. The only drawbacks are its higher bottom bracket (good for cyclocross, a very minor drawback for long rides and not as good for commuting) and the fact it comes only as a double. But if your LBS is willing to add a 26-tooth granny, then problem solved.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  4. #4
    fc_
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    I have both a casseroll and a LHT, and fwiw, here's my input.

    First off, you can tour on just about anything. I've seen huffy's with wire baskets, filled to the brim with gear touring the california coast. Not sure if they made it where they were going, but they at least made it to the big sur area, which has quite a bit of climbing along the way.

    I haven't used, or plan to use, a trailer for touring. I've been behind them and the tracking on most seems a bit disturbing to say the least. I've also read quite a bit about axle and spoke breakage in using trailers with heavier loads.

    The casseroll is a really nice frame, well thought out, and well executed. A very comfortable ride. It has braze ons for a rear rack, and for shorter tours where you didn't need to carry a whole lot of heavy gear, a rear rack, panniers, and handlebar bag would probably work out fine. I'd want to make sure the brake pads were the best that I could get, I'm fond of kool stop pads. Heel clearance may be an issue, due its shorter chainstays, but that depends on a bunch of factors such as the size of your foot, how big the panniers are, and how they're mounted in relation to your pedal stroke. Also, the casseroll has only two water bottle brazeons, so if you're going to be longer distances between places you can pick up water, you'd probably want to add another with the various devices that will allow another water bottle to be mounted to the frame (twofish, minoura, etc.)

    If I were only to have one bike, a touring rig it would be, the versatile suv/station wagon of the road. The LHT completes are a very good deal, imho (and I'm not trying to be a fanboy here, just my opinion), come geared well, and with good components.

    The choice, obviously, is yours. Depending on your needs, both a 'real' touring rig, and the casseroll (which I kind of think of as a modern 'sport touring' frame) could fit the bill.

  5. #5
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    Thanks a million, and keep it coming! I never knew about the issues with straight fork blades...indeed, it's the first bike I've even considered that didn't have some curve to the fork.

    Again, I'm committed to building up the bike myself from a frameset. I got into bikes rebuilding/refurbishing vintage bicycles, and my first new non-department-store bicycle will be a chance to try many things I've always wanted to try. Not to derail, but I'm planning on an internal-gear drivetrain (Shimano Alfine 8-speed) and another rear wheel with a fixed/free hub for shorter-distance and winter riding in the city. I know this is the subject of many a holy war, and that isn't my point here...

    Actually, what would you consider low enough gearing for the flat Great Lakes region where I live with backpacking (~30 pound) kit and spares/tools for the bike? My current hub-gear plans have the low gear at a 2.58 gain ratio/33 gear inches. I don't intend to hit the mountains, and if I ever plan to, a full-cloth touring bike at that point would probably be how I'd go.

    Would rear panniers on the Casseroll beat a trailer for this task (the Casseroll doesn't have front rack bosses)?

    Quote Originally Posted by fc_ View Post
    I haven't used, or plan to use, a trailer for touring. I've been behind them and the tracking on most seems a bit disturbing to say the least. I've also read quite a bit about axle and spoke breakage in using trailers with heavier loads.
    Could you clarify the part about the disturbing tracking?

  6. #6
    Senior Member tarwheel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Gagnon View Post
    Almost straight fork blades: which means less compliance and less comfort on a rough road.

    – Limited clearance for large tires: The data seems to contradict itself. They say you can put 32 mm Continental Contact tires (which are very narrow, by the way) with fenders, yet they install sidepull brakes that have only 45-57 mm reach. I suspect there is barely any clearance for any speckle of mud between tires and fenders!

    Very high and very tight gearing (on the complete bike): And with a 10-speed drivetrain, you're stuck with expensive parts to replace and no wide-range cassettes available. At the minimum, I would have the cassette replaced by a 12-28 or 12-30 (9 speed with a Shiftmate if necessary) and replace the granny with a 26-tooth one.
    .
    A lot of misinformation here. First, straight blade forks are NOT less compliant. A straight fork can be just as compliant as a curved one. It depends on the rake and type of steel, which has nothing to do with whether it is straight or curved.

    Second, the Casseroll will handle tires up to 32 mm. That is pretty wide in my book. It also uses standard reach (often called long reach) brakes, and has plenty of room for fenders. Take a look at the photos on Salsa's web site if you want proof.

    Third, you can put a triple on a Casseroll, and with a 12-27 rear cassette that would be more than enough gearing for most people. If not, you could use a mountain bike rear derailleur and smaller-geared crankset.

    The main issues with the Casseroll are: the tubing is not as beefy as a LHT for handling heavy loads; and the chain stays are not as long so you might get heel strike with panniers. However, the Casseroll does have horizontal drops and the rear wheel could easily be moved further back for more clearance.

  7. #7
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    I'll clear up a few things I've read about the Casseroll, since I just got one.

    My bike is small, a 47cm frame. all the chainstays are the same between sizes.

    The fender clearance is fine, even with the 32mm tires. (Which seem pretty stout to me, and at a max of 85psi are quite comfortable.)

    Maybe there are more comfortable bike's out there, but this thing is damn cushy! The fork is plenty compliant to provide a nice ride. (The roads here in Italy are fairly bad)

    I ride a bit down a dirt road, say 500ft or so. I will hear a small rock get picked up and drag through the fender, but it clears itself.

    Now, the rear brake...

    The rear brake is maxed out at it's 57mm of reach. This is with the wheel almost fully forward in the chainstay. I'm not sure how you could run a brake at all with the wheel any farther back. I wish I'd known this, I probably won't buy another semi-horizontal drop-out bike again.

    I don't think it's beefy enough for loaded touring, I wouldn't try it. I do have a Tubus on it, but haven't even gotten to ride it with my cheapy nashbar euro panniers. (I broke my collar bone the other day)

    I can take pictures of the setup this weekend if folks are interested though.

    Overall is a great bike for recreational riding, and commuting. I'm not super happy with the paint finish in a couple of areas, but the bike is a good value.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by smd3 View Post
    The rear brake is maxed out at it's 57mm of reach. This is with the wheel almost fully forward in the chainstay. I'm not sure how you could run a brake at all with the wheel any farther back. I wish I'd known this, I probably won't buy another semi-horizontal drop-out bike again.
    You can get bigger calipers (check out, for instance, the first item on Harris Cyclery's calipers page, with 55-73 mm of reach). The angle on the dropout is in fact partially chosen so that the brakes stay aligned as you move the rear wheel forward and back. But it's disappointing that the stock build comes so improperly spec'd...even if you parted out the stock calipers, you'd still lose money on the swap. I'll definitely choose this larger size of caliper if I decide to build up a Casseroll.

    Thanks for the info about your bike. Hope the collarbone is healing nicely.

  9. #9
    fc_
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    Quote Originally Posted by FLYcrash View Post
    Could you clarify the part about the disturbing tracking?
    Well, riding behind the two wheeled trailers that seem to be more common, you'll notice them oscillate from side to side during each wheel revolution. I think this has a lot to do with adding more stress, and therefore failures to the spokes and axle on the rear wheel that I've heard about. The single wheel trailers don't exhibit any real oscillation that I've seen, but still, the connections between trailer and bike seem to take their toll on the rear wheel as well. Not to mention being 20 or 30 miles from the nearest habitation and having your trailer connection break on you (i've seen it happen, fortunately just as we were pulling into camp, and we were able to ride a few miles more and have a replacement bit fabricated at a garage).

    For my money, I think racks and panniers are the way to go, if feasible for the frame.

  10. #10
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    Many thanks for your input, fc. Of course, the trailers vs. panniers debate rages on, but I'm starting to see that a majority prefers panniers. It's nice to see some reasoning behind this preference.

    I'm going to go for the Casseroll. Touring isn't even vaguely in my repertoire yet, so I'll go for a bike well-specialized for what I know I'll do (ride on roads for fun and transportation), and experiment if the touring bug bites. I'll probably start slow with credit card tours or single overnight trips, likely with the handlebar bag/rear panniers suggested. And if the Casseroll's insufficient for that, what better way to drop a grand than on a LHT, right?

    Thanks again. Just getting to bounce ideas off of all of you has really clarified my own riding plans. This forum rocks!

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