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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 07-16-08, 07:53 AM   #1
inunnguaq
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Touring bike as your only steed?

Based on the type of cycling I'm interested in (utility, not racing, distance vs "speed at all costs") I'm strongly considering the Surly LHT as a good bike for me. Currently I'm using a Bianchi San Jose as my all-arounder; I even did some loaded touring on it. I've also got a road bike that's sized a bit too big for me but that I used extensively for a few years - that's how I realised what type of cycling I was interested in.

To afford a LHT, I'll have to sell the road bike. I'm using the San Jose primarily for commuting now, and it works well for that (single-speed simplicity). I may have to sell it as well to finance the LHT, patricularly since there seems to be some functionality overlap. How many of you are using your touring rig as your commuting/utility/go-everywhere rig as well? How many of you have a touring bike as your only bike?
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Old 07-16-08, 08:16 AM   #2
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The LHT is very popular around here as a commuter. I think it would be
a good move for you. I have a very hard time getting bikes to fit. If I ever get the chance to try one in my size, and it fits, I'd buy it. I have a bunch of spare parts in the cellar just waiting on a frame.
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Old 07-16-08, 08:17 AM   #3
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Based on other threads I've read, there are lots of folks who use just the LHT and are really happy with it. I, too, thought seriously about selling my bike (a Jamis Nova) and going with the LHT. I decided against it & for the moment I'm keeping my Nova and investing a bit of $ to dress it into a light touring bike.

I test-rode the LHT and liked it quite a bit. That said, for my intended purpose (weekend rides, some long distance, very occasional light touring) it was too much. The LHT is an amazing machine, but for my purpose I could stand to have something lighter and a little livelier. If I were ever to take off for a couple of weeks of loaded touring, I'd most likely plunk down the $$$ for a LHT. Till I have that luxury, it's the nova for rides and my SS for commutes.
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Old 07-16-08, 08:24 AM   #4
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LHT should work out fine since you're not gunning for speed.

Look into cross bikes as well, like the Bianchi Volpe or Surly Cross-Check, depending on how extensive your tours are. Non-racing cross bikes like those are made to be all-rounders, and will be a tad better for dirt & gravel roads (due to the higher BB). LHT stock will have lower gearing, though.

I wouldn't sell the SJ, just save up a little more cash. If you're commuting regularly, a backup bike is a good thing.

Didn't you get your economic stimulus check?
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Old 07-16-08, 08:31 AM   #5
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I use my converted hybrid "touring" bike for everything except organized centuries and other supported long distance rides. If your going to limit yourself to just one bike the Surly LHT is the bike to get. Here is a photo of my late 80's Specialized CrossRoads I use for 95% of my riding.

It's currently sporting a single pannier for commuter duty.
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Old 07-16-08, 08:32 AM   #6
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I recently went through the same decision process (two weeks ago). I had a road bike that I bought last year and I was mainly using it for commuting. I am also interested in touring/utility cycling and my road bike would not allow me to do that.

I sold that bike and invested in the LHT and my decision was swayed due to the fact that I can use the LHT both for commuting as well as for utility (grocery runs etc).
In addition, LHT is generally very well regarded (at least on these forums) as a really good touring bike.
The one thing you might want to consider is if you do any weekend rides with other road bikers. The LHT might be a bit slow to keep up with fast riders

Also, you can take this as an opportunity to learn some new bike building skills (assuming you don't have them now). You can take mostly any old road bikes (which you can find for pretty cheap) and convert to a FG later, when your finances permit.

Right now, my touring bike is my only bike, but I hope to add a FG (that I build) sometime.
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Old 07-16-08, 10:20 AM   #7
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I bought an LHT last year, and knowing that I was going to use it pretty much as a regular road bike, my LBS equipped it with 700 x 28 tires. I absolutely love it. I wanted a steel bike with a somewhat relaxed riding position, and got exactly what I wanted. I was also drawn to a touring bike, as I'm a big guy (6 -2, 260 lbs) and wanted a frame/fork/wheel combination that could carry my weight. I wasn't too concerned about the bike being super-light, as frankly, if I want to cut ounces I am better off to do it between the neck and the knees.

The only changes I made to the bike was to replace the saddle with a Brooks B17, and I recently swapped the huge handlebar bag I had on it for a rear rack and trunk bag.

I'm more of a recreational rider - I think of bicycling as an activity as opposed to a sport - and usually ride about 25 - 30 miles at a time at about 15 mph average, which includes climbing some pretty good hills. I have just about 1000 miles on the bike now, and just replaced the original tires.
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Old 07-16-08, 10:40 AM   #8
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It might be a good choice for you, but I really missed having a road bike when I tried to use a touring bike as my only bike. Everyone is different so only you can really say what will work for you.
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Old 07-16-08, 10:47 AM   #9
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I think the key is whether you usually ride alone or with others. If you are alone it doesn't really matter if you average 14 or 17 mph. If you ride with someone else who has a typical road rather than touring bike, who is at least as equally as strong as you, you'll either get dropped or seriously frustrate the other person.

Last week I sold my 16 lb carbon road bike and will henceforth ride my 23.5 lb Americano. By swapping out the 11-34 cassette for a 11-21 and the 35mm XR's for 28mm "racing" tires, my gear selection approximates a road triple with a 12-25 cassette and I save about a half a pound where it counts most in reduced rotational momemtum. OTOH, it will never be a quick bike, but I can still smoke mountain bikes, hybrids, and beach cruisers. Lower your standards!
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Old 07-16-08, 10:54 AM   #10
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+ 1 on the LHT. I have a fast ti ride road bike, but my LHT is a far more practical and comfy ride for commuting (and upcoming touring). Yes, the LHT is a bit slower and not as snappy, but that's to be expected. with an XT 11-34 and a 24-36-48 crank it's going to be a fine tourer and plenty fast enough for a commute. Extremely comfy ride and if I had to pick one bike to keep it would be a hard decision. My LHT is several pounds heavier, but as they say, steel is real.
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Old 07-16-08, 11:46 AM   #11
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Run this one by me again. One bike you say? I just don't get it.
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Old 07-16-08, 12:01 PM   #12
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As long as you don't already love the feel of riding a sporty road bike and you're not going to miss it, a tourer should be fine.

Be sure that's what you really want, though.

You know, it's very easy for any of us to say we're not interested in speed, but, is this really true? If you're riding for fitness, you will never achieve it just poking around unless you spend most of your days riding for great distances. Not to mention that any shorter trips will take longer. I think we all aim for the most speed we can get eventually, as we become more and more fit. And then, there are the guys (and I guess some girls too) on mountain bikes who delight passing what they see as road bikes. They pass you pedaling like heck, and then if you keep a steady pace and they don't turn off, you're eventually on their tail because they've run out of legs. I can't help it even at my age. Sometimes I just love to suddenly turn it on and give them a lesson :-)

But if you're really not interested in any of that, not interested in carving tight curves at speed and all that kind of sporty stuff, then a touring bike is a pretty good choice.
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Old 07-16-08, 12:57 PM   #13
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It isn't my only bike however, my Trek 520 is my primary bike. It definitely feels quick enough for me and its capacity to just "function" really fits my life. I bought it used and at a good price. I would seriously entertain a LHT someday, it may very well be my next purchase.
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Old 07-16-08, 01:00 PM   #14
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My only bike is a Novara Randonee touring bike:



She normally has a set of grocery panniers on the back for hauling groceries and other stuff.
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Old 07-16-08, 01:11 PM   #15
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For a while my Fuji Touring was my only ride. I augmented the collection with a fixed gear bicycle -- yep, I drank the Kool-Aid. The Fuji is still my workhorse and does a darned fine job of it: comfy, sturdy, reliable, and plenty fast as long as you keep the motor tuned.
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Old 07-16-08, 02:36 PM   #16
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i too sold my roadie (giant tcr zero) to get an LHT as my all-arounder, and have no regrets. I don't do any real racing, and its been fine for club rides. its been awesome for commuting, loaded errands, and long rides.

one important thing for me was to be able to remove the racks easily for the faster rides. i installed the fenders and racks independently so i could unbolt the racks easily.

here's a pic of it loaded up for a grocery run:

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Old 07-16-08, 06:25 PM   #17
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Last year my brother bought a LHT mainly for commuting, and now it's the only bike he ever rides. His Colnago hasn't left his room in probably nearly a year, and his mountain bike is in the back of the shed somewhere. Also, last year I got my Univega: my first real touring bike. All of my "fast" bikes have hardly been used since, and even my Nishiki, which had previously been my favorite bike, sits in my room unused nearly all the time now. Needless to say, if I could only have one bike, it would without a doubt be a touring bike.
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Old 07-16-08, 10:36 PM   #18
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I had a tough time deciding between the LHT, Crosscheck or a Bianchi Velope but eventually chose the trucker. It's not my only bike though and I might have chosen the Volope in that situation because it's just slightly less sluggish feeling and a little more fun to goof around on. I would try to ride all three of those bikes plus a few more.
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Old 07-17-08, 09:35 AM   #19
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If a person is only going to have a single bike, a touring bike would make the very best candidate.
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Old 07-17-08, 10:07 AM   #20
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If I had to have only one bike, it would be a touring bike.
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Old 07-17-08, 10:29 AM   #21
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My Trek 520 is the only bike I have, although I would like to get another

It can go fast, far, and carry heavy loads. I could put bigger tires on it and it could go off road. I couldn't ask for more.
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Old 07-17-08, 11:00 AM   #22
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I have two bikes -- and both are dedicated touring bikes that I use for everything (except off road riding).
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Old 07-17-08, 11:11 AM   #23
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No single purpose bikes here, don't have the money.
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Old 07-17-08, 11:17 AM   #24
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The question in the original post fits me to a T. I do fast club rides with my Bruce Gordon BLT by carrying less stuff and using thinner tires. The 700x43 tires go on for single-track. Back to 32s and a rack for commuting. I have other bikes, I just do not bother with them any more. Well except for the CounterPoint Tandem.
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Old 07-17-08, 11:42 AM   #25
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My LHT is my only bike and my primary means of transportation. It's fast enough for my needs (my math says I average ~15mph on the way to work), and it's super convenient because I can carry or pull anything I strap to the bike with not much difficulty. Best of all, it's comfortable.

I have ridden club rides on it, I keep up well enough. I have gotten the sideways compliment, "If you were on a road bike with real pedals and shoes, you probably would have beat me up the hill!"
(my answer: I made it up a lot faster than I was expecting, but last time I climbed like this I had a my tent, sleeping bag and dinner with me.)
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