Hey all, I am new to this site.... it rocks! Anyways, I am just starting to plan a trip recreating a bike trip my father made on a ten speed in the 70's. Its a five thousand plus mileage trip that starts in washington, goes down the west coast, up the rockies into canada, then down thru penn. down the east coast back to my home town in alabama. I realize that there is a lot of planning, and me and my father have been pouring over his old maps and things but my main question is what would be a dependable bike for the trip? Thanks
Self-supported? Carrying all your gear? Camping all the way? Cooking all the way too? With front and rear panniers?
What's your budget? If your budget allows, buy a touring bike. Any bike on the market sold specifically as a touring bike will do. Adventure Cycling has a list on their web site of such bikes, and the lastest issue of their magazine has a buyers guide. ACA will even give you a free issue if you request one.
There are a lot of bikes capable of a trip like this, especially if you're willing to use a trailer. The optimal choice is a true touring bike: Surly Long Haul Trucker, Trek 520, Cannondale Touring, REI Randonee, Jamis Aurora. Basically they're made for touring comfort, low gearing, wide tires, fenders, stable handling while loaded.
If you want something that feels a little faster, a cross or sport touring bike (preferably but not necessarily with a trailer) is an option. Bianchi Volpe, Surly Cross Check, Salsa Casseroll, Masi Speciale Randonee, lots of others. You could even go for a more standard type of touring bike, as long as you set it up with low gearing.
Overall though I wouldn't worry too much about the bike. Get something comfy and with low gears, then spend your time getting in shape....
Have a read through the newbie guide, tips&tricks, kenkifer.com, etc.
Ride a few bikes of various types at a local shop.
Find the biggest and smallest bikes you can fit on and ride them for a while. Then try to find one that fits properly and is comfortable.
You will need a bike that is comfortable, reliable and can carry a lot of gear; the commonest choices are drop-bar touring bikes, or touring/commuting hybrids (same type of bike but flat bars rather than drops). Basically heavier versions of road bikes or flat bar road, that can take racks and wider tyres.
You should probably plan on running front and rear racks (4 panniers).
OK, go test ride some bikes and come back with specific questions. There are plenty of beginner threads to browse through!
Sorry, I forgot to mention... the bike I have now is a KHS Flite 220. I've had it for about 4 months and I like it pretty well. If I got racks for it, do you think the bike could handle it? Otherwise I'll be searching for a touring bike Also, I do plan to camp the whole way, cook my own foods 90% of the time, and I want to carry all my gear as well. I really dont want to do a trailer because my father didn't, but you never know, I might end up w/ one. I'll have more q's for ya later. Thanks for the replies!
Cyclesafe, I do plan to do a lot of riding when I get back, mostly day trips and stuff probably, but I like to mix things up, so I don't know what all types of riding I'll be doing.
Probably not the best choice for fully loaded touring. Reasons?
-the back wheel only has 28 spokes. You'll want something with 36 or at least 32 spokes.
-it has a carbon fork, not the most durable for heavy touring over 5k miles.
-the fork has no eyelets for racks and fenders
-the gearing is too high. the lowest on this bike is 30 front with a 26 on the rear, you'll want something like a 26 or 22 on the front and a 34 or 32 on the rear for climbing those hills with all of your gear.
I'd suggest getting a touring bike for a little bit more, you'll be glad you spent the extra money. I, and many people on this board, use a Surly Long Haul Trucker. It's a dedicated touring bike that is beefy, comfy, and will handle a full load like a champ. It's one of the good touring bikes on the market now.