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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 07-25-08, 04:56 PM   #1
xnihilo
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Is a touring bike what I want?

Hi Gang,
I'm new to cycling and even newer to this forum. Looking forward to learning what I can, and looking more forward to meeting new friends!
I presently have a Cannondale R1000 with really tall gearing that I struggle with on the local roads due to hills. I plan to change out the crank with a compact set soon. However, I wonder if a touring bike may be more of what I'm looking for. I'm an avid motorcyclist who loves long-distance touring and camping. I've admired those bicycist on the road with packed panniers off to....? Incredible strength and courage!
When I bought my Cannondale, I asked the salesdude about touring bikes. He replied, "They're boring...you don't want one of those." Being a beginner I was at his mercy. I took his advice, but now wonder if that was the right choice. I don't feel comfortable on a "race" bike, don't plan to race, and not concerned about shaving off few precious minutes of my ride time. I feel like I'm more of a zen-type rider just comfortably and steadily pedaling along over a long distance.
I wish I could find a dealer who stocks touring bikes. Every place I've contacted says I have to commit to purchase. I'd at least like to straddle one to see what they are like. I know they have more comfortable ergonomics, but is there a big difference in the ride due to the weight gain? What else can I expect from these bikes? I'm looking at the Cannondale T2. Good choice? Don't want to make another $1300 mistake. Thoughts, opinions, and expertise are relished.
Peace!
-David
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Old 07-25-08, 05:04 PM   #2
brianmcg123
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Yes, you want a touring bike.

If price is not an option check out www.rivbike.com
Also be sure to read all of the stuff in the "READ" section there. Just a different take on bicycling that I think you will like.

If price is an option check out the Surly Long Hault Trucker
www.surlybikes.com

Many people say the Surly is a poor man's Rivendell.

To answer some of your questions. I came from a strictly "roadie" background, every bike I owned was a hardcore race bike. Tires no wider than 23mm, very bent over ride. After reading some stuff over at the Rivenedell site I decided my next bike would be more comfortable. I got a Surly Long Haul Trucker and kitted it out like a Rivendell.

A couple of things about my new ride:
1) The higher bars allows you to see around without having to look up. It is much more comfortable over the long haul.
2) I use much wider tires now with more volume and at lower pressures (35mm tire at 75psi). The amount of comfort you can get with some cushy tires is amazing.

Sure you may go a little slower, but you will be able to go much, much further and more often.

Last edited by brianmcg123; 07-25-08 at 05:13 PM.
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Old 07-25-08, 05:18 PM   #3
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I think the T2 is a great bike and I almost bought one, but the salesman kept saying list and that's final. Anyhow it was 1300 plus tax. I wanted it for 1300 out the door. He wouldn't budge, so I walked.
I have a Jamis Coda Elite I use for touring and I think it's a great bike as well. So I really didn't need another touring bike.
After I left the guy at Cannondale I stopped at the Specialized store and picked up a Roubaix and I love it. It has 3 rings and sometimes down here in Texas it gets pretty windy so I'm glad I got the extra ring. It doesn't weigh that much and I really don't care about weight anyhow.
So I have one bike for touring and the other for racing around when I feel like it. I think if I were you I'd leave your other bike a lone and get a touring bike. Whenever you have a urge to race around or tour just grab the one you want.
I'm 68 years old and I do like riding the Roubaix, but there's times when I'm out there pounding the pavement, I have a longing for the Jamis.
Anyhow, not sure, but I think you could pick up that Cannondale on sale in Oct when most other bikes go on sale. Good luck, I think you made a good choice.
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Old 07-25-08, 05:47 PM   #4
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Sounds like you would be better off with a touring bike. And it's not like you can't still go fast on one if you are so inclined, it's just that most people don't ride like that all the time. Yet the market and, apparently, bike shop employees continue to push racing bikes onto buyers who would be better served with something more practical. My brother and I both have classic Italian road bikes with all the go-fast goodies, yet they never get ridden. Our touring bikes are 80% as fast but 100% more useful and many times more comfortable. They really are the ultimate all-around bicycle, IMO.
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Old 07-25-08, 11:25 PM   #5
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I have to go against the grain here a little bit- a touring bike MIGHT be better suited for you. It certainly wouldn`t be a bad idea, but what exactly is wrong with the Cannondale you have now? Are you comfortable on it? Other than the gearing, do you like it? You might be perfectly happy with the bike you`ve already bought after you swap in a compact crank. My suggestion: if you think your current bike will keep you rolling happilly along with lower gearing, don`t waste your money on a new bike; if you think a touring bike is really what you heart desires, don`t waste your money on a new crankset. .02

Yeah, touring bikes seem to be kind of elusive in the shops sometimes. Out of curiosity, where in CA is Green Valley? You might have to go out of town to find a touring bike you can test drive. That`s what I`m going to have to do since none of the shops in Reno stock any in my size. Also, I don`t know about you, but I sure don`t want to shell out that much money on a purchase that I THINK will fit me and I HOPE I`ll like. Better to find out for sure first in my opinion.
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Old 07-26-08, 09:12 AM   #6
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Hi Gang,
...He replied, "They're boring...you don't want one of those."...
Boring, eh? I love catching up with a racer on my 54cm Surly LHT which, with its 26" wheels and 1.75" wide tires, kind of looks like a mountain bike at a casual glance. Once inside the draft it can be pretty hard to shake .
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Old 07-26-08, 09:44 AM   #7
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If you're really going to get into touring and you have the money, yes, you want a touring bike. If you're not sure if touring is for you and you don't have enough money to buy another bike, tour with what you have, if possible, and see how you like it.
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Old 07-26-08, 05:21 PM   #8
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You can tour on just about anything so I would look around for a used bike you could outfit with a rear rack and try touring before you spend a lot of money on it. I've been out on tours with people that enjoyed cycling but were miserable with the camping aspect of it or just did not like being on the road for days at a time even when vehicle supported and staying in motels. My first "touring" bike was a Mountain Bike with a rear rack and 26" tires. My second and current touring bike is an old Specialized CrossRoads Hybrid from the mid 90's that I've outfitted for touring. I've thought about purchasing a Surly LHT or a Windsor Tourist but my old Specialized hybrid does such a nice job I really can't bring myself to retire it. I also use it as my commuter and grocery getter as well. Here's a photo of it.
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Old 07-26-08, 10:29 PM   #9
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I love my Long Haul Trucker, a solid touring bike that handles well under heavy loads, is comfortable to ride, and is fairly fast and efficient. A touring bike is a good all around machine for loaded touring, commuting, and grocery/beer runs.
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Old 07-26-08, 11:24 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by xnihilo View Post
I presently have a Cannondale R1000 with really tall gearing that I struggle with on the local roads due to hills. I plan to change out the crank with a compact set soon. However, I wonder if a touring bike may be more of what I'm looking for. I'm an avid motorcyclist who loves long-distance touring and camping. I've admired those bicycist on the road with packed panniers off to....? Incredible strength and courage!
When I bought my Cannondale, I asked the salesdude about touring bikes. He replied, "They're boring...you don't want one of those." Being a beginner I was at his mercy. I took his advice, but now wonder if that was the right choice.
The Cannondale R1000 looks like a bike built for performance and speed. For competitive or fast recreational riders, it would be ideal but for others, it would be all wrong. When you mentioned touring, it should have tipped off the bike shop sales person that this would not be the best bike for you. A touring bike, commuter or an innovative hybrid would have been better.

Start by talking with the staff or management at the shop that sold the Cannondale. Explain to them what you've told us here. Ask about your options all options for carrying a load and ask about your options for changing the gearing. Also, while you're talking with the bike shop people, ask about the wheels and tires you've got, particularly if you're planning to do any riding on gravel, dirt or bad pavement. They may be able to help you get a more suitable bike this time.
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Old 07-27-08, 10:55 PM   #11
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Hi Gang,
...
I presently have a Cannondale R1000 with really tall gearing that I struggle with on the local roads due to hills.
...
loves long-distance touring and camping. I've admired those bicycist on the road with packed panniers off to....?
...
When I bought my Cannondale, I asked the salesdude about touring bikes. He replied, "They're boring...you don't want one of those." ... I don't feel comfortable on a "race" bike, don't plan to race, and not concerned about shaving off few precious minutes of my ride time. I feel like I'm more of a zen-type rider just comfortably and steadily pedaling along over a long distance.
-David
Hi, everyone, Welcome David.

Can I suggest:
1. The main requirements for a bike to tour on are carying capacity (strength and low gearing), reliability and comfort. You often lose out a bit on weight (ie. heavier) and agility (ie. steers slower but easier to control with a load on). You don't need a touring bike, it's just that they're the traditional "roadie-shaped" bike that meets the requirements.

2. What are you going to use the bike for most of the time?
3. What is the most extreme use the bike will regularly get?
ie. if you mostly do recreational day rides and do a couple of supported tours a year, you don't need a touring bike and will be lugging around extra weight most of the time; but if you commute with a load, do your shopping for the week on the bike, and go cycle camping several times a year, then yes a tourer is ideal.

On the other hand if you do a lot of off-road stuff you're probably better off with a cross-country hardtail mountain bike with barends/trekking bars and road tyres.

The other sorts of bikes to consider include flat-bar road (but usually they're no good for touring) and MTB-style hybrids like a Cannondale Terra (no longer produced) or a Thorn xTc (British and exxie). Also non-racing cyclocross bikes eg. Crosscheck. Also relaxed-geometry road bikes eg. Soma Smoothie.

4. I think it's a good idea to test-ride, then go away and think about it, then ride your own bike, then test-ride some other bikes, then try your dream bike, then go away and think about it again, then make your decision, then talk to someone about your decision.

If you haven't got any touring bikes in your area, test ride whatever is available so you get the feel of different bikes and get an idea about what you find comfortable and fun to ride. Then take a weekend and go to a place that has some bike shops with touring bikes, test ride a few and by then you'll probably have a good idea of what riding position, wheel size, handlebar shape, bike weight and tyre width you like. You can then make a more informed decision about bikes you see advertised or on internet shops.

Good luck!
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Old 07-27-08, 11:02 PM   #12
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BTW the Cannondale tourer (I have a T800) is at its best when you are carrying a load (stable, reliable, comfortable); without a load it is a pretty similar ride to the $400 Shogun Metro flat-bar hybrid that I had before it (comfortable position, moderate pace and weight). A lot of the extra cost goes into nice materials and workmanship and parts that last, rather than wildly different performance or comfort.
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Old 07-28-08, 05:54 AM   #13
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I'd go with a good steel touring bike. Surly LHT is a good bike. Also have a look at the Novara Randonee. http://www.rei.com/product/744804 Not bad for the price. They have 15 to 20% off sales sometimes on them.

I ride a Trek 520 http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/2008/road/520/520/ it works very well for me and I would buy one again. I did drop 6 teeth on all three chain-rings for better gearing. Other then that it"s all stock.

Test ride some (touring bikes) and see what would fit you best.

Last edited by tim24k; 07-28-08 at 06:17 AM.
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Old 07-29-08, 10:17 AM   #14
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+ 1 on the LHT. The more I ride mine the more I love it- - -it's fun in ways my spiffy road bike isn't. With 700x28 Panaracer T-Servs I roll comfortably through and over crap I would avoid on my road bike.

RE: converting a road bike for touring- - -
getting true touring-low gearing will require a triple crank, new chain rings, new cassette, new rear derailleur, new chain. Also, road caliper brakes will limit the tires you can run. For example, the older Cannondale R600 I'm working on for a friend has caliper brakes that can't handle 700x28 tires so will be limited to 700x25.
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Old 07-29-08, 11:02 PM   #15
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LHT is the cheapest of new touring bikes and is of equal quality as the trek and cannondale, and might even come built with options you would prefer over those more expensive models. But your bike with smaller chain rings might be fine. I did a my first tour 2500 miles on a cheap racing bike with a just a rear rack, and camped the the whole time. It was amazing and didnt think once about what I should have brought, equipment, bike, etc. I didnt go gear crazy until I came back (and got a job). Makes me think sometimes the less you know the better off you are enjoyment wise. But anyway, go crazy reading everything on the internet you can find about touring. In a couple of weeks youll know everything about geometery, equipment, brands, etc; people's experience of gear on sites like this will gradually let you know what would suite you best, and journals of tours will give you a good idea of what its like to tour on a bicycle
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Old 07-30-08, 12:12 AM   #16
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If you're new to cycling as you say, why don't you just ride what you have for a while until you have enough experience to better define your needs to yourself. A touring bike isn't going to give you any more than you have now unless you actually do some loaded touring. It's not a matter of ergonomics, but a matter of load-carrying capacity and handling when loaded. Don't spend too much time on cycling sites. You can never catch up with everything you might have bought, nor with all the possible upgrades, or the new models, or people's postings about the great bike they just bought. As the great Eddy Merckx is quoted as saying, "don't upgrade, ride up grades". If you want lower gearing, it should be possible to change that.
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Old 07-30-08, 11:09 PM   #17
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I'm a long distance roadie and commuter with dreams of touring.

On a recent ride I carried a friends Long Haul Trucker on my roof rack. Jeezelpete I could hardly lift it. No load, just the bike. YIKES!

Do touring bikes have to be crazy heavy? It weighed more than my ancient Gitane Tour de France.
Are there reasonable Touring bikes? Or is that just life?
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Old 07-31-08, 07:54 AM   #18
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I'm a long distance roadie and commuter with dreams of touring.

On a recent ride I carried a friends Long Haul Trucker on my roof rack. Jeezelpete I could hardly lift it. No load, just the bike. YIKES!

Do touring bikes have to be crazy heavy? It weighed more than my ancient Gitane Tour de France.
Are there reasonable Touring bikes? Or is that just life?
Like any bike it depends on what components you put on it. I can take any LHT and make it a sub 20lb bike with the right components. Although, I wouldn't want my bike like that as the components would be crazy light and not very dependable on an around the world trek (which is what the trucker is designed for).

If all you do is credit card or fully supported touring then you can do it on anything.

My bike unloaded weighs less than 25lbs.

Maybe you need to work out more.
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Old 07-31-08, 10:03 AM   #19
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Makes me think sometimes the less you know the better off you are enjoyment wise.
Ignorance is bliss. When I think what we toured on in the mid-70's (didn't know front panniers existed), I wonder how we ever made it to our destinations while having so much fun
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