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Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

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Old 05-26-08, 11:35 PM   #1
smurf hunter
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First weekend tour - retrospective

Last weekend I went on my first self-supported over night bicycle trip with a couple of friends. I didn't have a proper touring bike, but have been a long time commuter and decided to use my 2005 Kona Dew Deluxe for the trip. We brought all our own food and supplies and camped out in the bush. I did run into town to pick up extra water, beer and snacks, but we could've managed with what we carried.

The bike I took isn't really special, but I do have a nice set of custom Velocity deep Vs riding on 32mm schwalbe marathons. That may seem a weird setup, but I've been commuting on those for a few years and they are tough. I'm a big guy (6'3 210lbs) and have rode over all sorts of terrible pavement during my time commuting around Seattle. The front wheel is laced to a shimano dynamo hub. It's a heavy rig, but rides smooth and takes serious punishment.

We only went 30 miles each day, but there was a fair amount of climbing (almost 5000ft for the trip). The scenery and weather were great and it was very enjoyable.

Here's some things I learned.
1) it's not that difficult to carry 50lbs of camping gear if you ride at a reasonable pace
2) I really prefer drop bars for longer rides
3) my daily commuter saddle is lousy after 3 hours
4) after a few miles of dirt road riding, I can appreciate why some tourists prefer 26" wheels
5) I wouldn't mind friction shifters for this sort of riding

I'm now thinking about some possible upgrades to make my Kona more appropriate for touring. Here's a short list:

1) saddle - not totally sold on a Brooks B17, but I need something better
2) handle bars - maybe trekking bars, or even On One midge drop bars with bar ends and road brake hoods
3) crankset - thinking a nice Sugino XD-600 would be an appropriate range and shed a bit of weight at the same time.
4) front rack - some folks say front racks affect their handling, but this bike is very sturdy with a heavy duty Project2 fork for the disc calipers.

Am I wasting my time with the dirt drop bar idea for this bike? I was thinking of getting some old 8spd Ultegra bar ends and linear pull road brakes to work with my disc calipers. I really just want more hand positions.

Thanks
-Sean
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Old 05-27-08, 12:07 AM   #2
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Sounds fun!

The midge bars are really nice. I toured with them before, and had a good experience. They may be annoying with bar end shifters though. They flail out so much that it will be easy to bang the shifters. Otherwise bar end shifters are awesome. I use them with nitto noodles, and I am very pleased. Some kind of drops are definitely worth it though, imho.

Why change cranksets? The world wide web tells me your crankset is 48/38/28. The sugino is close to that. Why not just swap out your bottom chainring for a 26?
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Old 05-27-08, 07:59 AM   #3
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I don't know what a Kona Dew Deluxe is, but I'll comment on handling with a loaded front. Yes, it does affect handling to have a big load on the front, but it's only annoying at low speeds. When you first start out from a standing start you have to pay attention to balance and steering. I use platform pedals and find myself wandering a bit while I try to get the pedals right side up. I imagine it might be similar or worse if you were trying to clip into clipless. When I'm climbing a steep hill and am in my lowest gear and going 5mph or less I have to concentrate on keeping a straight line.

But none of those are really a problem. Once you get going, I hardly notice the difference. Sure, if I see a pothole or obstruction at the last minute and try to do a quick avoidance maneuver, it doesn't work so well. But overall, the advantages to distributing the load between the front and back far outweigh any disadvantage, at least in my book.

Be careful at first though. 25 years ago I convinced a friend that bike touring was the bomb. He had a bunch of money from his grandmother so he bought a complete outfit - new bike, racks, front and rear panniers, etc. He loaded it up for the first time to go on a weeklong trip to the San Juan Islands. He got on, waved goodbye to roommates and friends, started off, and promptly crashed in the street. He simply wasn't used to the load! No big deal - just some embarrassed laughter. He started again more carefully and had not further difficulty. It turned out to be an amazingly wonderful trip.
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Old 05-27-08, 08:56 AM   #4
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Sounds fun!

Why change cranksets? The world wide web tells me your crankset is 48/38/28. The sugino is close to that. Why not just swap out your bottom chainring for a 26?
The gearing is fine - in fact I recently wore out the middle ring and replaced it with a 36t. The problem was that I accidentally over torqued the left crank bolt and messed up the taper. It doesn't affect it functionally, but makes an annoying "pop" each rotation. I decided to buy a NOS left crank arm from eBay. It doesn't cosmetically match, but the price was right and it'll get me by.

Additionally this is my only bike that does not have 175mm cranks. I wonder if it'd be more comfortable.

Edit: - here's a photo of my bike loaded up that weekend
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File Type: jpg loaded_dew.jpg (98.8 KB, 44 views)

Last edited by smurf hunter; 05-27-08 at 09:17 AM.
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Old 05-27-08, 09:20 AM   #5
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Glad you had a nice ride, SH. Just wondering- what methods did you use to carry your load for this trip?
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Old 05-27-08, 10:07 AM   #6
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Glad you had a nice ride, SH. Just wondering- what methods did you use to carry your load for this trip?
I used 2 large "Epic" Performance house brand panniers, and tucked my sleeping bag and tent between them.
The rear of the bike was very heavy and I almost popped a few wheelies

The quality of my bags is pretty mediocre, but they were the biggest I had, so that's why I chose them.
For daily commuting and running errands I've got a pair of waterproof Axioms.
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Old 05-27-08, 11:24 AM   #7
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Smurf Hunter,

Everyone new to touring should do what you did, a short tour that allows you fully get a feel of all your gear and bicycle. You got to learn what works and what doesn't.

I will add that comfort means more than anything else on a tour, if you aren't comfortable riding, touring isn't fun.

Good luck!!!!
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