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Thread: mtb for touring

  1. #1
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    mtb for touring

    I am doing a 2 week tour in the summer through France/Spain.

    I have a Claud Butler D27 2007 with road tyres on (http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/catego...h-d27-07-14054)

    I paid 450 for this 2 years ago. My question is

    Should a buy a touring bike for the trip and other tours to follow in the future? I can have a budget of 600-700 with the sale of the current MTB or can I upgrade this bike for 200-300. I also use this bike to commute to work daily (20 mile round trip). Can I even get panniers on this MTB, I will be taking a light load with me.

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    If you think the bike will be comfortable over long distances, and there are no practical barriers to riding it, I don't see why not. Purpose-built touring bikes tend to be built to go long distances with loads, and most people prefer them, but fit is the most important part of the equation and if your bike fits you may not want to mess with it. Remember that mountain bikes actually take some heritage from touring bikes (along with a healthy dose of balloon-tire cruisers).

    You might want to get a rigid fork, which will be lower maintenance, lighter, and possibly stiffer, but that's not really necessary. The one real advantage of a rigid fork would be greater ease in mounting a front rack, although Old Man Mountain makes racks that will mount to unmodified suspension forks.

    The review in your link says that your frame has rack mounts, so a rack and panniers on the rear will be quite easy to install.

    If you're not sure about how the bike will handle under load, buy an adjustable or one-size-fits-all rack. That way, if you turn out to want a proper touring bike, you can reuse it to upgrade whatever you end up getting.

    Edit: OOohhh... I missed the part in the review where it says your bike has hydraulic discs. If you're going to be touring with access to bike shops, that probably isn't something to worry about, but hydraulics are pretty hard to service on the road. Switching to cable-actuated discs might make sense, in which case you'll need new levers and calipers.
    Last edited by alpacalypse; 01-21-09 at 06:54 AM.

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    I remember thinking when I bought the bike that it was fantastic but the more I started commuting to work the more I realised that I should not have really bought a MTB hence me putting some thinner tyres on instead of the wide gripped ones.

    This has now lead me to the position I am in. With regards to the disc brakes, they are good, they are my favourite part of the bike but If I have to remove them for touring, I'd rather just sell the bike and get another. The bike I would be after would be to commute to work via road and touring but also with the exception of a bit of off road. Reading this forum, I have come across Speciailed bikes that seem to fit my purpose but I have read a lot of mixed reviews. I can only probably afford the Specialized Tricross Sport but the stories about the brakes put me off a tad.
    I like light bikes, I have seen these Dawes Galaxy that look like they might fit the bill but I am concerned about the weight.

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    Senior Member Nigeyy's Avatar
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    I'd say use this bike. Sure, if the brakes give trouble then you might have some difficulty, but realistically, are they likely to give you trouble over 2 weeks? Yes, it would be preferable to have cable discs or traditional brakes, but again, you have to look at the reasonable probability (and let's face it, there's a probability you might get struck my lightning, run over by a car, etc, etc) or else you'd never do anything!

    Although..... you mention some touring bikes.... I might be getting the vibe you really want an excuse to buy a tourer -if you can afford one, go for it! No such thing as having too few bikes y'know. And of course, that mtb is entirely unsuited for touring, you do know that don't you?

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    +1 on previous comments. Looks to me as though your current bike could easily be used for the tour you have in mind; I have been using a very similiar set-up in very similiar ways the past four years/haven't yet (apart from 'bike lust', which would just result in my obtaining a flash, custom-built version of what I have now) found a good reason to change. As said above: does the bike fit/are you finding it comfortable over distance? If so, it'll work. FWIW, I wouldn't worry overly much about the hydro discs for now; if your intended tour is in France/Spain you'd likely be able to get repair/replacement in the unlikely event you needed to. More important would be to do some extended/even 'loaded' local riding to work up to 'daily distance' -- the earlier the better to ensure that you do find the bike comfortable with extended saddle time.

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    I like the way you use doublethink, your first sentence telling me that the MTB is ok and the last telling me it's not. You are right about the vibe, you sensed it. My eyes keep getting pulled to this bike http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Specialized-Tricross-Comp-2007-bike_W0QQitemZ170294687293QQcmdZViewItemQQptZUK_Bikes_GL?hash=item170294687293&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14& _trkparms=72%3A1298|66%3A2|65%3A12|39%3A1|240%3A1318
    I will keep monitoring the price but its 54cm and I am 6ft and don't they say you should go to the next size up rather than down for touring bikes.

    The MTB I have is a 20" frame and 54cm works out out 21" although I seen a website reccomending that I would fit a 56 frame.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Nigeyy's Avatar
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    Hard to tell without doing some more detailed measurements, but my guess would be a 54cm with an approx 55cm top tube or effective top tube is too small for some one at 6ft. I think you're in the UK, so what about the Dawes Galaxy range? You might also be able to go to a bike shop and test ride one to get a better idea of fit too.

    I think if you are going to get a tourer, be aware that you need the right size(!) so ebaying might not be a good idea unless you are really, really sure it's a good size for you. A bargain is not a bargain if it's not usable. Also, be sure you know what you want the bike for -if you think you might do the occasional off roading, a touring bike might not be the best choice, whereas a converted mtb can be (at least I think) generally used for touring with less problems. Both, in my opinion, can be more than suitable for a 20 mile roundtrip commute.

    I suppose it's all about opportunities -*if* you can sell your current bike for a good price, and *if* you find a good tourer for a good price and *if* it fits you well, then obviously that's the way to go (and of course if you can't use your current mtb for touring, and want to go touring, that might simplify your options). However, for a cheap but potentially effective way of touring, you can convert that mtb -and if you are patient you could then still go touring and save up for that tourer you really want (and I know in your head you've thought of a bike model you'd really like, haven't you?

    Unless there is a real problem using the mtb for touring, panniers will usually fit your mtb, though the disc brakes complicate the rack mounting a little. Axiom makes a disc specific rack (not sure if they are sold in the UK, but google disc specific racks) -and even if you don't have rack mounts, you can use p-clamps. Or you might consider a seatpost rack that does not require mounts near the dropouts -caution on this one though; the seatpost mounted racks are only intended for light loads, but I did notice you said you were going lightly loaded. All these solutions shouldn't cost you that much, as well as the addition of trekking bars and a handlebar bag if you want to.

    Good luck, and have a great tour!

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    Hiya,

    That bike will be fine! Unless you're going waaaay off the beaten track I think the hydraulic brakes will be okay. I changed to cable-operated disks for my trip through the Himalayas, but in France & Spain you'll never be too far from a bike shop which will be able to fix any disasters. As has been said above, it can be a bit of a faff to fit a rear rack when disks are installed, but it's perfectly do-able; I'd definitely get a 'proper' rack though, rather than a seatpost job. For the front, I heartily recommend a Tubus Swing, which mounts your bags above the active part of the suspension, isolating them from vibration and making a very smooth ride. If you can be bothered, there's a picture of the bike I took to India near the bottom of this page:

    India 2008

    As long as the components you have are in good shape and you find your saddle comfy for full-day use, then you have nothing to worry about and no need to spend any money on upgrades. You'll have a blast! Enjoy!

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    Brilliant and inspirational photos. If they don't make you want to go out and ride there must be something wrong. I am still toying with the idea of buying a new bike or taking the one I have, If I keep the one I have, I may purchase a rigid fork.
    Just off the subject a bit, chain lube: All I use is gt85, would a tin of that be fine for my trip and how often should I use it (cycling about 50-60 miles per day).

  10. #10
    Tinkerer since 1980 TheBrick's Avatar
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    That's a bit like asking how much water do I need to drink or how much food should I eat.
    Travelling without inertia

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    http://www.londonfgss.com/

    Lets make this happen.

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    For a 2-week tour, just fit a sturdy new chain and make sure it's well oiled before you go, and then forget about it. If you can find a 100ml bottle of wet lube, take it along (as well as a 35mm film tube full of grease), but save as much weight and space in your panniers as you can. I certainly wouldn't carry a big aerosol can.

    Do a search on the forum for 'packing list' - there are many different philosophies, but it's great reading, and will become an obsession in the weeks before you leave! It's one of my favourite things about touring - the anticipation! My hands have gone all sweaty just thinking about it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBrick View Post
    That's a bit like asking how much water do I need to drink or how much food should I eat.
    yeah very helpul and a waste of a post, like this, good work

  13. #13
    Tinkerer since 1980 TheBrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by insurin View Post
    yeah very helpul and a waste of a post, like this, good work
    My oh my aren't we sensitive.

    It is a useful reply if you have any sense.

    I'll put it another way, the question is like saying how long is a peace of string.
    Travelling without inertia

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    Lets make this happen.

  14. #14
    jcm
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    To the OP:

    If you choose to get an old school MTB, here are some things to look for:

    1) Frame should be Cro-Moly. A bike with 3 main tubes and fork of Cro-Moly will weight about 28 to 29 pounds. The stays will be Hi-tensil steel. Nothing wrong or weak about Hi-Ten, but it will add weight. You may want to avoid bikes that are all Hi-Ten because they will weight about 31+ pounds and will have a very harsh ride. Examples of quality Cro-Mo are Trek True-Temper(Trek's version of Reynolds 853), Tange, etc.

    2) Look for a touring type fork with slender, tapered blades that have a rack boss mid-fork. The non-tapered blades began to appear in the early 90's, and there's nothniog wrong with them except they began to get away from the 'touring' influence and more into the off-road style. A bit harsher ride that you will notice on the long haul. You can just deflate your front tire a little.

    3) Many MTB's came with the oft-maligned (by the ill-informed,IMO) BioPace or OvalTech chainrings. Trust me, this was no gimick. For loaded climbing, it's a real hill-killer. Look for it.

    4) Shimano Deore and DeoreXT were very good quality systems back then. Today, Deore seems to be the low-end stuff. I've never had a single problem with old school Deore - ever. Rugged and reliable, and off the shelf.

    4) Look for double eyelets front and rear so you can have seperate mounts for racks and fenders. Always a good idea. Late 80's bikes usually have them. Again getting into the mid 90's they seem to have been budgeted out, like the taperd forks.
    Last edited by jcm; 01-23-09 at 08:45 AM.

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    This post started with me leaning towards buying a new bike but the further it goes on, I am leaning back towards keeping my MTB and maybe a few upgrades. I am going to price up a carbon fork as JCM advised, maybe a carbon seat post or anything where I can make the bike lighter but not compromise too much on strength

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    Carbon? Probably better value to leave the bike as strong and versatile as possible, and spend the money on making your luggage lighter. It's more fun too! Get a titanium spork, dude.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Nigeyy's Avatar
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    Yes, I wouldn't bother with carbon -just more expensive and I don't think it will save that much weight. Plus touring is about quality parts that have longevity -steel fits the bill nicely.

    I still think this comes down to if you really have your heart set on extensive (questionable word I know as to how you interpret it) future touring, then get a touring bike. But if you've never been touring before, try the mtb first as you'll need only a relatively small investment (I'm not even sure I'd change forks). I'd be inclined to do that -particularly since you are talking about only a 2 week tour at first. You could use this as a learning experience to save you mistakes that will cost you money in the future -if and when you decide to go for a purpose built tourer.

    It's no good investing all your money into a bike to find out that you really don't like touring. One last thing, I do see where the comments by the Brick are coming from, but you're probably better off directly asking "what do you mean by that?" rather than being critical -I think that would have given Brick a chance to explain a little more fully his comments. Online forums are a hard place to judge the tone of a post.


    Quote Originally Posted by insurin View Post
    This post started with me leaning towards buying a new bike but the further it goes on, I am leaning back towards keeping my MTB and maybe a few upgrades. I am going to price up a carbon fork as JCM advised, maybe a carbon seat post or anything where I can make the bike lighter but not compromise too much on strength

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    I did a short tour using a full suspension carbon fiber mountain bike with 140mm fork, 5.5" of rear travel, 180mm disc brakes, etc. and a BOB trailer.

    I wouldn't recommend it but that was the only bike I had at the time.

    FWIW, I'll probably use my 20lb scandium hardtail with 100mm fork, disc brakes, etc. for my cross country tour this summer.

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    ok, I am going to go ahead with the MTB unless I see a real good bargain before I go. thanks for all the input. I have learned a lot off this forum over the last week. I will have plenty more posts before I go so I will look forward to more sound advice.

  20. #20
    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by insurin View Post
    ok, I am going to go ahead with the MTB unless I see a real good bargain before I go. thanks for all the input. I have learned a lot off this forum over the last week. I will have plenty more posts before I go so I will look forward to more sound advice.
    Re-read my response. I didn't mention carbon. Stick with the strong, reliable touring type forks I wrote about. Look for Cro-Moly tubes and forks. There will almost always be a sticker on the seat tube describing the frame material. Cro-Moly steel (chromium-molybdenum) is not carbon fiber - that's different. Simply put, it's resin impregnated carbon fiber weave - rather like a fishing rod, and more suited to ultra light road bikes. Nice stuff, but I'd leave it at home if I had another choice for touring.

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