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  1. #1
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    Need to upgrade the components on a Trek 7.3FX for touring

    So after doing some further searching and fiddling, I went back to the Trek store to look at the 520. However, their base model was 1400 bucks, which is really just a lot more than I wanted to spend at once. So I was looking at the 7.5FX again and the Trek guy told me I want to avoid it because of the carbon fork and the inability to mount a rack or panniers on it if I plan on touring across the country (~3400 miles). He also mentioned the Nebula seat post, while nice for commuting, weighs quite a bit and isn't necessary.

    So what suggested was to get a 7.3 FX, and gradually change out all of the components over the next 8 months. He mentioned a few dealers he knows off E-Bay that sell only brand new parts for a pretty decent price, so since he was talking me out of spending more in his store he really genuinely seemed to be trying to help me rather than screw me (which is why I love my local Trek store). I really enjoyed the feel of this bike and felt very, very comfortable on it, so I can still train on it and commute to work and stuff, and by the time I'm leaving for my tour on it I can have the admittedly bad components all changed out.

    So, the guy suggested I get the following components switched out between now in August, in order of importance. What I'm looking for from you fine folks is suggestions on what specifics stuff to look for, for this model bike. http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/road/fx/73fx/

    Wheels: He said this is by far the important thing to get upgraded. From what I've read here, a 700c wheel with 36 spokes is what I'm looking for, right? That seems like pretty much it, this didn't seem too complicated.

    Saddle: I'm just getting a Brooks saddle. This seems like a no brainer from perusing the touring forums here.

    Front Crank: He said the one in the stock 7.3FX is more geared for the road and isn't all that great quality, and told me to find a better quality one that's geared better for touring. Any ideas what I'm looking for here?

    Rear Casette: He said get a 9 speed. My current one is an 8 speed. I'm also assuming the choice of cassette is going to dictated by what crank I get, right?

    Chain: He said get two chains, they're so cheap and not that heavy that it'd be better to have a spare in case one breaks in the middle of nowhere. He didn't specify, but are there different kinds of chains, or are bike chains pretty universal?

    Shifters: Since I'm switching from 8 to 9 speeds in the back, I'm assuming I'll need new shifters as well. I have no idea what kind to get.

    Front Derailleur: Right now the stock model is a C102. I'm assuming just switch it our for something a bit nicer because I have no idea where that is on Shimano's hierarchy. Front Derailleurs seem REALLY cheap for some reason, as well.

    So yeah, that's it. Since I'm basically swapping out everything other than the rear derailleur (a vanilla Deore one, which the guy said should be fine for this) I can basically build this thing any way I want. Suggestions are most appreciated!

  2. #2
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Y'know, I'm not sure your LBS guy knows a lot about touring... IMO you don't have to upgrade all that stuff.

    32 spoke wheels are fine, unless you're very heavy and taking 50+ lbs of gear.
    The gearing should be low enough for touring.
    There's absolutely no reason to switch from 8 to 9 speeds.
    I've rarely heard of a crankset or front derailluer breaking. You don't have to upgrade those parts unless they start to break, or happen to do a poor job of shifting etc.
    There's no need to carry a whole chain. Just get some spare links and/or master links instead of a whole chain.

  3. #3
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    Y'know, I'm not sure your LBS guy knows a lot about touring... IMO you don't have to upgrade all that stuff.
    +1. While I like the FX series Treks also, not sure I'd recommend one for touring, and certainly not loaded touring. Between the fact that it's essentially a flat bar road bike, the fact that it has flat bars is an issue with hand positions, and the stays are awfully short to run panniers without heel strike. Both could be remedied, by a bar change and good setback on a rack, but you're still working with an aluminum frame with a tight geometry ie: a harsher ride than steel.

  4. #4
    Senior Member xilios's Avatar
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    My wife has the FX7.2 wsd, we've changed some things around like tires, saddle, and lower gears.
    I agree with what Bacciagalupe says the guy at the LBS doesn't know much about touring.
    Check out our site for more details.

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    Hmm, all right. Well, I'm kinda stuck with this bike now. I can pull a trailer if need be and had planned to install some bar ends anyways for extra hand positions.

    I suppose you folks also shouldn't be too hard on my bike guy, he originally said I should stick with a 520 or maybe could consider a Portland, and I basically said "Well can it be made to work with this bike that's 800 bucks cheaper" because as a poor college student I'm extremely cash strapped (especially for a large purchase all at once rather than slowly adding stuff to it) and he said "yeah absolutely just change these things and it'll be fine for your tour"

    So, anyways, this is the bike I'm currently stuck with, so what can I change to make it as close as possible to acceptable. And the one person I know who's done this previously did it on a Specialized Alez pulling a trailer so I know it can be done with virtually anything

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by xilios View Post
    My wife has the FX7.2 wsd, we've changed some things around like tires, saddle, and lower gears.
    I agree with what Bacciagalupe says the guy at the LBS doesn't know much about touring.
    Check out our site for more details.
    Cool, well thanks. I never said the guy said the front crank was going to break or anything (I don't even see how it could break, really) he just mentioned the gearing wasn't great for what I wanted to do. (Cross the Rockies, tour across the US) and that I should consider upgrading the quality as well. Clearly there's some difference between C102 and Deore and Deore LX/XT, I just don't know what said differences are because I know basically nothing about bikes. So for example when you say you switched the front gears to X-X-X I don't know what other aspects of the front crank I need to worry about, and if X crank is compatible with Y Cassette and Z Chain and blah blah shifters, etc... If there's a "Bike Components 101" thread by all means point me in its direction so I can stop bugging you guys

  7. #7
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    Y'know, I'm not sure your LBS guy knows a lot about touring... IMO you don't have to upgrade all that stuff.

    32 spoke wheels are fine, unless you're very heavy and taking 50+ lbs of gear.
    Well the wheelset concerns be a bit. I just bought a 7.3 myself it it has very cheap machine made wheels.

    I am considering swapping put at least the rear one but I am not sold on that yet.


    I plan to use the FX on out upcoming GAP / C&O tour.


    I just added the same fenders that xilios has in his pic!
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

    Albert Einstein

  8. #8
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    I've been using a 7.3FX for a couple of years now as my touring bike. All I changed was the saddle and the chain rings (to 22-34-44). This year I also put on some trekking bars and a longer stem and like that better than the flat bar, but that's personal preference. I plan on using the same set up for a 3 week tour in France in June.

    All you really need to change on that bike is the saddle, and unless you are really strong, or credit card touring; the chain rings. You'll be fine.

    Edit: I just looked at the specs for this years, and it's not quite the same. Mine seems to have better rims and hubs, so you might have to do something with those too. I'm not familiar with the rim that comes stock on it this year.
    Last edited by TOLOCOMan; 01-11-09 at 05:53 PM.

  9. #9
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    I adapted a 7500FX for loaded touring and have had no problems what so ever with it; it's a good bike and works well for both commuting and touring.

    My 7500 FX was a 2000 model and as such had a co-mo fork, pre-drilled for mounting a front rack.

    I changed the drive train to LX - XT 9-speed mountain bike components: LX Cranks (22-32-44), XT FD, XT RD, gear/brake combo changers (LX-510), LX brakes, Mavic 36-spoke wheel set, Brooks B-17, fenders, etc.
    2006 Lemond Sarthe
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  10. #10
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bccycleguy View Post

    I changed the drive train to LX - XT 9-speed mountain bike components: LX Cranks (22-32-44), XT FD, XT RD, gear/brake combo changers (LX-510), LX brakes, Mavic 36-spoke wheel set, Brooks B-17, fenders, etc.

    What's left, change the frame?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by TOLOCOMan View Post
    I've been using a 7.3FX for a couple of years now as my touring bike. All I changed was the saddle and the chain rings (to 22-34-44). This year I also put on some trekking bars and a longer stem and like that better than the flat bar, but that's personal preference. I plan on using the same set up for a 3 week tour in France in June.

    All you really need to change on that bike is the saddle, and unless you are really strong, or credit card touring; the chain rings. You'll be fine.

    Edit: I just looked at the specs for this years, and it's not quite the same. Mine seems to have better rims and hubs, so you might have to do something with those too. I'm not familiar with the rim that comes stock on it this year.
    Okay, so forget the front derailleur, shifters, rear cassette and chain (I figured just having a few new links would make more sense, but what do I know). That leaves the saddle, wheels, and chain rings. So:

    #1. Are the chain rings and front crank the same thing? Can I just go into a bike shop and ask them to throw on some 22-32-44 chain rings and have that be compatible with my existing shifters, derailleurs, chain, and cassette and such? I want some REALLY low granny gears because whatever routing I take is going to take me over the Rockies. Everything I've read says you can easily have too high a gearing for touring, but it's tough to have anything too low.

    #2. Again, 36 spoke 700c wheels, right? I know to look for "touring" wheels but other than size and number of spokes I don't know what makes a "touring" wheel specifically good for touring. I don't want to mess around with this, I'm mechanically disinclined so whatever I can do to not have to fix broken spokes every hundred miles is what I want here.

    And having fixed those two things, and getting a good quality saddle and some bar ends or something to fix the flat bars, it sounds like I'm good to go? Awesome.

  12. #12
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agentbolt View Post
    Okay, so forget the front derailleur, shifters, rear cassette and chain (I figured just having a few new links would make more sense, but what do I know). That leaves the saddle, wheels, and chain rings. So:

    #1. Are the chain rings and front crank the same thing? Can I just go into a bike shop and ask them to throw on some 22-32-44 chain rings and have that be compatible with my existing shifters, derailleurs, chain, and cassette and such? I want some REALLY low granny gears because whatever routing I take is going to take me over the Rockies. Everything I've read says you can easily have too high a gearing for touring, but it's tough to have anything too low.

    #2. Again, 36 spoke 700c wheels, right? I know to look for "touring" wheels but other than size and number of spokes I don't know what makes a "touring" wheel specifically good for touring. I don't want to mess around with this, I'm mechanically disinclined so whatever I can do to not have to fix broken spokes every hundred miles is what I want here.

    And having fixed those two things, and getting a good quality saddle and some bar ends or something to fix the flat bars, it sounds like I'm good to go? Awesome.
    I've toured successfully with loaded rear panniers and a 28 spoke rear wheel. The route included gravel trails as well as paved roads. Oh, and I was 250 pounds. A 36 spoke rear wheel is nice, but not required to tour.

    Speak to your bike shop about what's required to change to a lower gearing. However, don't let them sell you on stuff like changing from an 8 to a 9 speed.

  13. #13
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
    Well the wheelset concerns be a bit. I just bought a 7.3 myself it it has very cheap machine made wheels.

    I am considering swapping put at least the rear one but I am not sold on that yet.


    I plan to use the FX on out upcoming GAP / C&O tour.


    I just added the same fenders that xilios has in his pic!
    Wheels seem to the cost-cutting, and perhaps corner-cutting, area lately.

  14. #14
    Decrepit Member Abacus's Avatar
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    Whether or not you can just change the chainrings or need a new crank sepends on whether the chainrings are rivetted to the crank (common on low end cranks) or bolted on.

    The Trek specs page says this bike has an M361 crank. It seems this uses bolt-on rings, so you should just be able to replace the rings.

    Go to this page:

    http://techdocs.shimano.com/techdocs...=1215352626357

    and click on the link to EV-FC-M361-2793. This will give you an exploded view of the M361 crankset and the part numbers for the available chainrings.

    Be aware that buying chainrings individually can be expensive, and you should weigh up whether it would be more cost effective to replace the entire crankset. A complete Sugino XD600 26/36/48 crankset can be had for around $100. However, this will only give you a 2 tooth advantage over what you have now.

    Try some test rides before you change anything. Your bike's 28 tooth granny is better than the 30 tooth that came on last year's 520, and if you are young and fit you might be OK.

    As has been said, don't bother changing from 8 speed to 9 speed unless you have money to burn.

    The front derailer question is simply one of whether the existing FD will play nice with the smaller chainrings. I would say try it and see. FDs aren't all that expensive anyway.
    Last edited by Abacus; 01-11-09 at 09:34 PM.

  15. #15
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    trekking bars

    I also put (nashbar) trekking bars on my 7.3 fx. I've found them to be much more comfortable than the flat bars. It's an inexpensive upgrade as well.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abacus View Post
    Whether or not you can just change the chainrings or need a new crank sepends on whether the chainrings are rivetted to the crank (common on low end cranks) or bolted on.

    The Trek specs page says this bike has an M361 crank. It seems this uses bolt-on rings, so you should just be able to replace the rings.

    Go to this page:

    http://techdocs.shimano.com/techdocs...=1215352626357

    and click on the link to EV-FC-M361-2793. This will give you an exploded view of the M361 crankset and the part numbers for the available chainrings.

    Be aware that buying chainrings individually can be expensive, and you should weigh up whether it would be more cost effective to replace the entire crankset. A complete Sugino XD600 26/36/48 crankset can be had for around $100. However, this will only give you a 2 tooth advantage over what you have now.

    Try some test rides before you change anything. Your bike's 28 tooth granny is better than the 30 tooth that came on last year's 520, and if you are young and fit you might be OK.

    As has been said, don't bother changing from 8 speed to 9 speed unless you have money to burn.

    The front derailer question is simply one of whether the existing FD will play nice with the smaller chainrings. I would say try it and see. FDs aren't all that expensive anyway.
    That'd been my original plan, to just buy a new crank and have the Trek store install it (or if it can installed fairly easily and not be a disaster if not done professionally, put it in myself.)

    So for example, what I'd probably do is just, say, buy this

    http://bicyclewarehouse.com/itemdetails.cfm?id=11138

    Then bring it and my bike to the Trek Store and tell them "Put it on". I'm just not sure if I can do that, I don't know if that crank, for example, is compatible with the rest of my bike. I saw several cranks with those 22-32-44 ratings that are only compatible with a 9 speed chain, for example. I'm having serious issues finding 22T chainrings OR a 22T-including crankset that's compatible with an 8 speed chain, which maybe is why the Trek guy tried to convince me to go 9 speed?

    I guess what I'm hearing is these are questions I should just ask the lbs, which is what I'll do. Thanks guys.
    Last edited by Agentbolt; 01-11-09 at 11:04 PM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Fueled by Boh's Avatar
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    ergon grips with bar ends would help solve your hand position problems. they do a lot to alleviate ulnar nerve compression.

    your crankset is probably fine. i would look into upgrading the bottom bracket though.

    if you are cash strapped, forget the brooks saddle and only upgrade the rear wheel. A stock 7.3fx should be able to make it across the country. I've seen a bone-stock 7100 multitrack make it. Think long and hard about what you need and what you want -- keeping in mind a buying a quick to set up tent, comfortable, light, compressible sleeping bag, and nice sleeping mat will improve the quality of your trip more than going from lx to xt or from a perfectly good traditional saddle to a brooks.
    Not going to bother with Antarctica

  18. #18
    Decrepit Member Abacus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agentbolt View Post
    That'd been my original plan, to just buy a new crank and have the Trek store install it (or if it can installed fairly easily and not be a disaster if not done professionally, put it in myself.)

    So for example, what I'd probably do is just, say, buy this

    http://bicyclewarehouse.com/itemdetails.cfm?id=11138

    Then bring it and my bike to the Trek Store and tell them "Put it on". I'm just not sure if I can do that, I don't know if that crank, for example, is compatible with the rest of my bike. I saw several cranks with those 22-32-44 ratings that are only compatible with a 9 speed chain, for example. I'm having serious issues finding 22T chainrings OR a 22T-including crankset that's compatible with an 8 speed chain, which maybe is why the Trek guy tried to convince me to go 9 speed?

    I guess what I'm hearing is these are questions I should just ask the lbs, which is what I'll do. Thanks guys.
    That would do the job.

    It uses a completely different BB setup to what you have (Hollowtech versus square taper), and the old BB will have to be removed. You should probably should let your LBS do this and install the new one as they will have the tools to remove the old BB and check whether the BB shell needs facing. They should also check that the chainline with the the new crankset is OK, and adjust it as required. They may also take a couple of links out of the chain.

    Only thing to consider is the crank length - BW only seems to stock 170mm. 170mm is probably fine, but if you are rather tall or rather short you might have to consider something else. How long are your current cranks (it should be stamped on them somewhere, overwise measure from the centre of the BB spindle to the centre of the pedal axle), and do they feel OK?
    Last edited by Abacus; 01-12-09 at 01:19 AM.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
    What's left, change the frame?
    Most upgrades were done over a period of years as the various components wore out, but yes there's not very much left of the original bike (frame, fork, handlebar, seat post). I still have the original Rolf Vector wheel set, but I had to replace the front hub when it wore out and rebuilt the rear wheel so I could use it as a training wheel on my road bike.
    2006 Lemond Sarthe
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fueled by Boh View Post
    ergon grips with bar ends would help solve your hand position problems. they do a lot to alleviate ulnar nerve compression.

    your crankset is probably fine. i would look into upgrading the bottom bracket though.

    if you are cash strapped, forget the brooks saddle and only upgrade the rear wheel. A stock 7.3fx should be able to make it across the country. I've seen a bone-stock 7100 multitrack make it. Think long and hard about what you need and what you want -- keeping in mind a buying a quick to set up tent, comfortable, light, compressible sleeping bag, and nice sleeping mat will improve the quality of your trip more than going from lx to xt or from a perfectly good traditional saddle to a brooks.
    Well I'm pretty cash strapped but this tour is 7 months away, so I can definitely afford to nickel and dime it together over that period of time. The stock saddle is definitely the best one I've had on a stock bike before (Nebula) but it starts to get uncomfortable after even 10 or 15 miles, so I definitely want to ditch that.

    Thanks for the tip on Ergon grips, I will look into that.

    My crankset's currently geared pretty high, I think. My lowest gear is, according to a gear calculator I just used, 23.1 inches. I'd like to have at least one super granny gear under 20 if I'm going to be taking it through the Rockies.

    And I do think I'm going to leave most of the componentry alone after that. I have no idea whatsoever of what the Shimano component hierarchy is, but from the posts here it looks like my bike isn't assembled from TOTAL crap at least. I will change the wheels. I'm less concerned about shaving off weight or upgrading everything to get an extra .5 mph, my main concern is to make everything as reliable as possible.

  21. #21
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    I've toured successfully with loaded rear panniers and a 28 spoke rear wheel. The route included gravel trails as well as paved roads. Oh, and I was 250 pounds. A 36 spoke rear wheel is nice, but not required to tour.

    Speak to your bike shop about what's required to change to a lower gearing. However, don't let them sell you on stuff like changing from an 8 to a 9 speed.
    I agree with some of that. but I would caution that on a long tour with multiple hundreds of miles between bike shops you may want to be more fussy about wheels. You (the OP) did say you were going on a 3000+ mile tour somewhere right? I the think that on the TA there was a section east of Pueblo where it was about 1000 miles between bike shops unless you went off route to find one. If I remember correctly the first one was in Carbondale., IL. Guess where your wheel will probably fail Of course there were always shops closer than 1000 miles if you went off route to get to them, but even then they can be pretty far.

    I would be inclined to go with a sturdy rear wheel if you are not traveling pretty light.

  22. #22
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agentbolt View Post
    The stock saddle is definitely the best one I've had on a stock bike before (Nebula) but it starts to get uncomfortable after even 10 or 15 miles, so I definitely want to ditch that.
    Contrary to what you may read here, the Brooks is not magical. It may be wonderful for some, but it is just a saddle. It will be great for some riders and others will find it lacking or worse. I didn't like the one I tried and I am not alone.

    I'd advise giving your current saddle at least several hundred miles of fairly high mileage weeks before changing saddles. I find that I can get used to most saddles (unless too wide or too soft) and happily rode across the US on the one that came with my Windsor Tourist. My two companions did the same and none of us had any saddle complaints. I would have been fine with any of the saddles that came on my several bikes.

    FWIW: I hardly saw any Brooks saddles being used by the other riders I met on the TransAmerica.

    My point is not to bash the Brooks, but to point out that it isn't automatically any better for you than what came on the bike and that many people have crossed the US on stock saddles. If you are convinced that you need one by all means buy one, but don't be too shocked if after you have it you find it isn't a panacea. Especially since you seem to be on a tight budget I would give the stock saddle a chance first.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    Contrary to what you may read here, the Brooks is not magical. It may be wonderful for some, but it is just a saddle. It will be great for some riders and others will find it lacking or worse. I didn't like the one I tried and I am not alone.

    I'd advise giving your current saddle at least several hundred miles of fairly high mileage weeks before changing saddles. I find that I can get used to most saddles (unless too wide or too soft) and happily rode across the US on the one that came with my Windsor Tourist. My two companions did the same and none of us had any saddle complaints. I would have been fine with any of the saddles that came on my several bikes.

    FWIW: I hardly saw any Brooks saddles being used by the other riders I met on the TransAmerica.

    My point is not to bash the Brooks, but to point out that it isn't automatically any better for you than what came on the bike and that many people have crossed the US on stock saddles. If you are convinced that you need one by all means buy one, but don't be too shocked if after you have it you find it isn't a panacea. Especially since you seem to be on a tight budget I would give the stock saddle a chance first.
    Cool, thanks for the tip. I've got plenty of time before I'd need to start breaking in a new saddle, so I can give this one a bunch of miles and then make the decision about whether to keep it or not. I'll admit I was mostly choosing the Brooks saddle due to multitude of threads I found while searching for info, where people compared it sitting on a cloud of happiness and sunshine.

    I am definitely, definitely going to replace both wheels. The ones I have on it now don't seem bad by any means, but I want maximum reliability from this bike (while keeping in mind it's not really a touring bike). I expect to pay anywhere from 150 to 300 bucks for good touring wheels, and if that's what I need to spend to make sure I'm keeping spoke breakage to a MINIMUM then that's fine with me (I will be doing this self-contained and will likely end up with a pretty heavy load). And to reiterate, this is for a 3500+ tour over the course of 2 months. San Diego to Boston.

  24. #24
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agentbolt View Post
    And to reiterate, this is for a 3500+ tour over the course of 2 months. San Diego to Boston.
    Oh yeah. I had forgotten which one of the recent posters you were.

    Don't take my comments about the Brooks product as a condemnation. It is a quality product and suits a lot of loyal users well. I just think it is way oversold here.

    In any case I hope you have a great trip and whatever saddle you choose works out well for you, Brooks or otherwise.

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    Senior Member Gordo Grande's Avatar
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    Contrary to what everyone else has said, I have to stick my two cents worth in.

    Get at least a 36 rear spoke wheel, if you can. If I had the money, I'd have a 40 spoke rear wheel built for my bike. Broken spokes are no fun, especially if you're a long way from home. Also, carry some spare spokes with you in the sizes you'll need. BTW, not only will you break less spokes, but your wheels will stay truer.

    JMHO, don't anyone flame me.
    Rip Van Winkle went to sleep for twenty years, and when he woke up, all the bicycles had changed!

    Santana Tandem, Cannondale racing bike, Centurion Super LeMans, Bianchi Limited, Nishiki International, Diamondback Ascent, CW Racing MTB, Schwinn Traveller, Union Flyer St. Croix, American Eagle Tourist 10, 2 Dahon folders, Equinox trailer

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