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  1. #1
    Senior Member Tyrell's Avatar
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    Eeny Meeny Miny Moe: Which of my bikes should I tour on?

    First, thank you all for being so forthcoming with such sage advice as I've found many great tips and ideas by just perusing some stickies and random threads that catch my eye. OK, now that the niceties are out of the way, I need some opinions...

    I've got alot of questions but I'll start with the most important issue first. I've got 2 bikes that I'm considering taking a short 2-3 day tour with (to try it out) followed by a longer week-long tour later. I'm trying to decide which is the better suited steed...

    About me: I'm 27 yrs old, in good shape, and adventurous. I bike commute to work on the Trek carrying ~10 lbs. in a pannier about 4 days/week on not-too-hilly country roads.

    About my intended touring locale: I plan to leave from and return to my doorstep just north of Austin, TX. I haven't planned anything yet but I'm thinking about heading down towards the Bastrop area for my short try-out tour and maybe around San Antonio-ish for my longer trek. I plan to stay on paved roads but sometimes GoogleMaps can be misleading.

    Here are the candidates:

    1) 1992 Trek 1420 Aluminum road bike
    http://www.vintage-trek.com/images/t...ikecatalog.pdf
    This is my regular commuter bike for an 18 mile round-trip commute w/ one pannier ~4 days/week
    Frame is a little small for me but it works ok (frame is 56cm...I need 58cm)
    Triple road chainrings and 7 speed cassette
    Stock configuration plus a rear rack and SPD pedals
    Currently running 700x23 Continental Gatorskin tires

    2) early 90s GT Talera rigid chro-mo MTB
    http://bikepedia.com/QuickBike/BikeS...lera&Type=bike
    Recently picked it up on Craig's List and gave it a good clean/lube/tune
    Currently using it as my "around town" bike
    Frame is the right size for me (20")
    Triple MTB chainrings and 7-speed cassette
    Stock configuration plus a rear rack (have spare SPD pedals I can install)
    Currently running 26x1.75 Kenda smooth-ish tires (I only see K-Shield on the sidewall, no model name)

    Thank you for your thoughts!

  2. #2
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    No offense meant but the Talera is not quite cut out to be a long distance bike IMO. The Trek 1420 seems to be some kind of really well equipped Sport/day tourer and if you do not need to take all that much stuff on tour that bike could be both fun and fast. A touring bike with a smallish frame might be a bad idea though, can you get a long stem with enough rise ?

  3. #3
    Senior Member ricohman's Avatar
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    Hmmm. I wouldn't tour on either.
    If I absolutely had to though I would use the Trek. Even tough the gearing is wrong and it would be mighty uncomfortable. If it's small now it will only feel smaller after a day in the saddle. But the 32 hole rims won't be doing you any favours.
    I would guess you may be pulling a trailer?

  4. #4
    succumbs to errata jaypee's Avatar
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    Two step process:

    1. Ask yourself which of your two bicycles are more comfortable to you? Pick one.

    2. Ride the one you picked on your tour.

    You state you're going out for a week at the most so you really don't need that much bike. You could conceivably tour on either so pick the one that's most comfortable and run with it.

  5. #5
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Which one do you want to ride for 6 to 7 hours each day of touring?
    Last edited by 10 Wheels; 01-20-09 at 08:31 PM.
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  6. #6
    D.G.W Hedges mrhedges's Avatar
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    take each one for a century. which ever is more comfy take.

    Can you mount fatter tires on the trek? that would make it a much more comfy ride i would guess.
    Last edited by mrhedges; 01-20-09 at 06:05 PM.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Tyrell's Avatar
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    Well, I was hoping it would be obvious to the touring vet's which bike I should rig-up but I guess I need to ride the GT more before I make a decision since comfort is a HUGE priority. I've ridden over 2k miles on the Trek but <50 on the GT.

    Suppose they're both of equal comfort for me...then which one would y'all recommend on strictly a "this bike would be better for your week-long tour than this bike" basis?

  8. #8
    It's as easy as riding a dannwilliams's Avatar
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    I have a 1989 GT mountain bike i can tour comfortably on. The saddle needs to be comfortable for the long days, but the gearing is already there and smooth street ires are all you need . just add racks and go.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Tyrell's Avatar
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    Thanks for the vote of confidence in my GT. After looking more at the two, I'm leaning towards the GT b/c of the potential comfort factor. Time will tell whether it's true or not though.

  10. #10
    succumbs to errata jaypee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrell View Post
    Well, I was hoping it would be obvious to the touring vet's which bike I should rig-up but I guess I need to ride the GT more before I make a decision since comfort is a HUGE priority. I've ridden over 2k miles on the Trek but <50 on the GT.

    Suppose they're both of equal comfort for me...then which one would y'all recommend on strictly a "this bike would be better for your week-long tour than this bike" basis?
    Really, bicycles don't matter all that much. You can tour on pretty much anything. I know of a guy who crossed America and eventually ended up in Baja on a single speed Surly 1x1 with platform pedals.

  11. #11
    Acetone Man
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    The problem is that neither one really seems ideal for what you want to do. The Trek would be fine if you can travel light and keep your weight down to 20-30 lbs max, but this is assuming it fits you comfortably for long rides. What is comfortable enough for 9 miles might not be for 90, especially given that you've said the frame is too small for you.

    The GT, otoh, has a frame which can probably handle the greater load, but the components can't. Modern Altus level stuff is actually perfectly adequate; components have gotten really good over the years. But twenty year old, used, low end stuff? Ehhhhh... And odds are the double wall rims on your Trek are actually stronger than the single wall rims on the GT. Absent cost-ineffective upgrades to the GT, I wouldn't want to tour on it either.

    If you can get your travel weight down, I'd say go for some long day rides with the Trek and see how you can handle it. You're young and fit so don't worry about a rigorous training regimen. Just do a couple of 50 milers, then a 75 miler, then a century. If you don't develop any unreasonable aches and pains you're good to go on the Trek. If you can, get a front rack for it, even a cheapie like a blackburn lowrider set will work fine. The designs with the hoop that goes over the wheel don't require low rider brazeons, and so will work with your trek's fork. The key is, even with a low pack weight, you want to get the distribution right. 15 on a front rack and 15 on a back rack is far, far better than all 30 on just the rear rack, especially if you like to stand up and sprint as I do.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Tyrell's Avatar
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    FWIW, I rode in the MS150 (180 miles from Houston to Austin in 2 days) on the Trek last year and will be doing it again this year. No major pains except my butt. Looking into a Brooks... That said, I think I can be comfortable enough on the Trek for it to work. The frame isn't ridiculously too small for me.

    I'll have to check this weekend to see what my load weight will look like and that will also help me to make a decision. If it turns out that the Trek will not work for the load weight, I have some options on the GT for upgrades to address component/wheel concerns:
    1) I can swap over my wheels from one of my MTB's for a lighter/stronger set. (32-spoke Mavic 517 on XT hubs or 32-spoke Mavic X221 on Specialized STOUT hubs). Both use rim brakes.
    2) I can upgrade the old 7-speed Altus stuff (cranks, cassette, der's, chain, shifters) to modern 9-speed XT stuff I've got either on one of my MTB's or as a spare.

    Both of these upgrades will require a good bit of wrenching work which I can do but I'm really wanting to just get out and try a tour to see if I like it before I do a bunch of work to commit a dedicated rig.

  13. #13
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Three different criteria need to be met:
    1. Is it comfortable. This one would heavily favor the road bike in my opinion. I hate flat bars when touring and like an aggressive posture on the bike. I like the bars low even on tour. I don't see where there is anything about touring that means you want higher bars. If a bike is comfy for a century it will be comfy for touring at least with regard to riding position. FWIW: I prefer smallish frames too.
    2. Will it carry the load reliably. Sturdy wheels are a plus unless you use a trailer.
    3. Is it geared low enough. I would say something close to a 20 or 21 inch gear is desirable if it will be hilly at all.

  14. #14
    Acetone Man
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    mavic 517s are not rugged rims. they'll be better than what you've got on the GT now, but those are extra light rims for XC racing. I think they're basically like 26" Open Pros. I have no experience with the X221s, but that may be an option.

    Re: unwillingness to commit. Those old aluminum Treks should have pretty stiff frames. You might be doing alright with just loading your weight on the back. I have an 59cm Univega basic lugged road bike, and when I did 15 miles on it with 35lbs between my two panniers, it was miserably noodley. My touring bike, a Trek 930 MTB, has oversized tubing, and does alright with that much weight in the back, even with nothing to balance it in front. The biggest benefit to using a front rack and panniers comes with climbing, where a bike loaded only in the rear can become dangerously squirelly. But as I understand there aren't really any hills around Austin.

    Point being, if you really want to just get out and go, just load the Trek up with the rear rack and panniers you already have. Whatever will fit inside, then sleeping bag, pad and tent bungeed on top. If it's not too noodley riding around, then keep going until you're somewhere you can sleep. That's all touring is.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Tyrell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thasiet View Post
    Point being, if you really want to just get out and go, just load the Trek up with the rear rack and panniers you already have. Whatever will fit inside, then sleeping bag, pad and tent bungeed on top. If it's not too noodley riding around, then keep going until you're somewhere you can sleep. That's all touring is.
    Yep, that's what I was planning on after thinking it over some more last night. Gonna weigh all my gear I plan to bring on tour this weekend (hopefully pare the list down a bit) and maybe load it up for a dry run to check the handling.

    Guess the GT will remain my "cruise around town" bike.

  16. #16
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I couldn't get the link for the GT to work, so I couldn't check it out. The Trek had a pretty high granny - 30. Can you swap that for a 24? The tires are too narrow, IMHO. I like at least a 700X28. Will those fit? I'm also guessing the wheels may not be strong enough for carrying a big load on tour. How many spokes? I like at least 32.

    A mountain bike usually is strong and has low gearing - good. However, there are fewer hand positions, which could be problematic. I'd have comfortable bar ends, or put on trekking bars (I've never used them, but people recommend them.) Can you fit panniers on the back without hitting your heels on them? Are the wheels good and strong? (They probably are.)

    Based on the limited information, I'd probably try and make the mountain bike work, based on the low gears and toughness.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Tyrell's Avatar
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    I got ahead of myself tonight and did some preliminary weight estimations for an overnight trip. Looking like ~30# including food and water. So 30# for the gear plus another 155# for me plus clothes I'm wearing and you've got roughly 185# on the bike...most of it on the rear wheel. I'm thinking the Trek will be fine. I know there are road riders >185# out there.

    Currently looking at some 700x28's to see if they'll fit.

    Yes, I can fit my panniers on the GT without heelstrike and I do have some bar-ends I could install. Still leaning towards the Trek though.

    Remember, I'm only looking to do a short 1 or 2 night tour to try it out to see if I like touring before sinking a bunch of money into it. Just trying to get by with what I have for the try-out.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Tyrell's Avatar
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    Bummer - can't fit a 28 in the frame. Looks like 25 is as big as it will allow. :-(

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