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  1. #1
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    Confused As To Which Bike

    Hi Everyone.

    First post but I have enjoyed this site. I am in the process of purchasing a Touring Bike. I have a Cannondale Road Bike which I took on a tour with panniers/loaded and it was a mistake. I had to replace both wheeels when I returned because of flat spots. Cannondale's great for around town but I need something that can handle a self contained tour. I've come down to a Trek 520 - Rockey Mountian Sherpa 30 - Devinci Tosca - Norco GWest. Problem is everytime I go into my LBS someones trying to steer me into a Aluminum / Carbon Fiber cross bike. I am starting to wonder if I'm missing something here, isn't a steel frame what you want for long distance touring? Aren't tube end shifters better than STI shifters for touring? I am going to be doing 2000 mile tours with some gravel roads. The Trek 520 felt solid and seemed to fit well but I've been told the componants arenčt that great. Perhaps I'm over anylizing this but I don't want to make the wrong decision. Last time I didn't do my homework so but this time I am. I love touring, the longer the better. I plan on spending lots of time on my bike so any help from you Pro's would be appreciated. I am in Vancouver Canada.

    Thx

  2. #2
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    The problem is that you're looking for the kind of bike the shop probably only has one of and they have a lot more of the other types. Keep doing your homework. It's reasonable to ask for decisionmaking assistance from a salesman but honestly the best thing you can do is KNOW before hand what it is you want to buy and go in asking for it.

    You aren't overanalyzing things, unless you're saying you want a "do everything bike" a carbon forked cross bike isn't the right thing for dedicated touring.

  3. #3
    Junior Member Psykotic_Sheep's Avatar
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    I looked at several touring bikes – Devinci Caribou, Surly Long Haul Trucker, Trek 520, Raleigh Sojourn and Rocky Mountain Sherpa 30 – in the last month.

    My initial choices were the Devinci and Surly, but one had very high gearing and the other was way over MSRP. The Devinci shouldn't even be considered a touring bike. (high gears, aluminum frame) although it fit me very well. Surly LHT's MSRP is $1095 US but once you factor in the exchange rate, it should be around $1,170 plus 5% tax. Even with FedEx shipping, the price is less than what most of the LBS charge ($1600-$1700) in Vancouver. The Sojourn felt heavy/clunky and toe overlap killed it for me, although it has nice Brooks saddle and disc brakes, and very inexpensive ($1290). I liked the Trek 520, but it was more expensive at $1450.

    I ended up getting the Rocky Mountain Sherpa 30 because of the hand-made Reynolds 853 steel frame and nice components. Steel is preferred for long touring because it dampens vibrations and generally more comfortable for longer rides. The Sherpa has STI shifters, which I prefer over bar ends. I feel it makes for a good long distance touring AND around-town commuting bike. Bar ends are more reliable. Of all the things that can go wrong, you have to weigh whether you value reliability or convenience of the shifters. How often do shifters break down, not due to accidents? I chose convenience.

    Any touring bike will fit your needs, as that is their intended purpose. It comes down to stock components, LBS availability and what you can afford. It would be prudent to invest a little more in touring tires, a comfortable saddle and cromoly racks.

  4. #4
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    There is nothing wrong with the trek 520's components for touring.If you want a touring bike get one,I had alot of people trying to steer be in other directions too.I ended up getting a hybrid because the shops here didn't have touring bikes and they all said that would work just as well.They were wrong,they just sold me what they had.Since then I finally got a touring bike,a surly lht,and it is the way to go.

    That said alluminum can make good touring bikes,as long as they are actually designed to be touring bikes.Cannondale's are alluminum and there is at least one more I can't think of right now.The point is if you are planning on going hundreds of miles with some gravel or dirt roads on a loaded bicycle with all your camping gear and the kitchen sink don't let anyone talk you into something other than a touring bike.There are some cyclocross bikes that can work,none would have carbon fiber or alluminum,but a touring bike would be much better suited to handle the loads.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    Hi,

    You will get a wide range of opinions, but I'll start it off with some of mine -biased as they are!

    I believe that you are on the right track. The bike you mention are all good one's. You might add the Surly Long Haul Trucker and the Cannodale T1 and 2. The reason I mention the Cannondale, even though it is aluminum, is that from my wife's experience with hers, they are up to any tour. We have done an across the US and several other multi-week tours, and her bike has been great. Our bikes have been thrown in the back of construction pickups; loaded onto trains, busses, and ferries plus the usual banging around on tour. Ther is no difference between how my steel frame and her aluminum frame have held up. I don't think that aluminum frames should be discounted as not suitable for touring. However, cabon is another matter. Judging from the damage to our daugter-in-law's corbon bike after a relitively minor crash, I don't think I'd use one. I went the cyclocross (steel) route and rigged a Bianchi Volpe for touring. It serves me well. Having said that, If Surly was selling complete bikes instaed of just forks and frames at the time I purchased it; I would probably be riding a Long Haul Trucker now. Fit is probably the most important factor in selecting a bike. The only thing that I might do to improve it is get a little more sturdy back wheel. Most cross bike come with 32 spoke, or less, wheels. If it fits well and rides comfortably, almost anything else can be fixed.

    Another "unbiased" opinion is that I think most stock touring bike are not geared low enough for really tough conditions. I have changed out both of our drive trains to mountain bike ranges, e.g., 44/32/22 cranksets with an 11-34 rear cassettes. This combination gives us some serious climbing ability. The point is that you can always customize the gearing later, depending on your preferences, but fit and comfort sometimes can't be changed to match your needs.

    It sound like you are approaching this in a logical matter, and will come up with something that will serve you well. Good luck.

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  6. #6
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    The problem for me with the LHT is the size that fit's me has 26" wheels and I would rather have a the
    700's. Might not be an issue to some but it is for me. All these bikes are right in my price range so it just a matter of being comfortable with my pick. I have to say that so far I have felt the most comfortable on the Trek 520. I understand that their frames are made oversea's however I assume all these frames are made over sea's now, Correct?

  7. #7
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leftcoast View Post
    The problem for me with the LHT is the size that fit's me has 26" wheels and I would rather have a the
    700's. Might not be an issue to some but it is for me. All these bikes are right in my price range so it just a matter of being comfortable with my pick. I have to say that so far I have felt the most comfortable on the Trek 520. I understand that their frames are made oversea's however I assume all these frames are made over sea's now, Correct?
    Can you just drop down into Bellingham? They have the 520 downtown. How would they know on the border if you purchased it in the US? Just an idea... Maybe a bad one? I'm just assuming that your in BC. Throw some dirt on it and toss it on the bike rack.
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  8. #8
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    Hey Kayak, I just biked Whidbey Island aand really enjoyed it. I'm actually just across the boarder in White Rock and have thought about that but I would just declare it and be done with it. How much is the 520 in Bellingham?

  9. #9
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    I'm not sure. I was in getting my free stuff from the Trek wow promotion during the Tour. It's a great looking bike I will say that. It was at Kulshan cycles downtown. Looked like a 55 or 56 if I remember correct. I had never been in the shop but I will say they are some pretty nice folks. Nice store as well. Try giving them a call and see what they have maybe 360-733-6440.

    Glad you enjoyed riding the Island. I see a ton of tourists in the summer. We just don't have that many local riders... Seems so strange.

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by leftcoast View Post
    I understand that their frames are made oversea's however I assume all these frames are made over sea's now, Correct?
    The Sherpa frames are made in Canada. The Trek 520 frame is now made in Tiawan. The aluminum Cannondales are still made in the US (I believe).

    If you go with the Sherpa, realize that the smaller frame size may match a larger frame sizes for another bike (eg, like the LHT, with a straigher top tube).

    If you are planning on riding on gravel roads, keep in mind that you want clearance for wider tires (even more clearance if you want to use fenders too). The LHT has a lot of tire clearance. The Sherpa appears to be nearly as good (if it's not the same). Note too that wider tires increases standover height! (And you might want more standover height for rougher terrain).

    The Sherpa's triple is considered too high for loaded touring (but it works fine for day rides). That is something that could be changed.

    Brifters are more expensive to replace plus they put all of your eggs in one basket. They are quite convenient, though, especially when riding with a fast-paced group.

    The aluminum Cannondale touring has a very long pedegree as a touring bicycle. The Trek 520 is a bit different than the prior models but I'd be quite surprised to find out Trek "broke" it!
    Last edited by njkayaker; 08-04-09 at 03:43 PM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leftcoast View Post
    Hi Everyone.

    First post but I have enjoyed this site. I am in the process of purchasing a Touring Bike. I have a Cannondale Road Bike which I took on a tour with panniers/loaded and it was a mistake. I had to replace both wheeels when I returned because of flat spots. Cannondale's great for around town but I need something that can handle a self contained tour. I've come down to a Trek 520 - Rockey Mountian Sherpa 30 - Devinci Tosca - Norco GWest. Problem is everytime I go into my LBS someones trying to steer me into a Aluminum / Carbon Fiber cross bike. I am starting to wonder if I'm missing something here, isn't a steel frame what you want for long distance touring? Aren't tube end shifters better than STI shifters for touring? I am going to be doing 2000 mile tours with some gravel roads. The Trek 520 felt solid and seemed to fit well but I've been told the componants arenčt that great. Perhaps I'm over anylizing this but I don't want to make the wrong decision. Last time I didn't do my homework so but this time I am. I love touring, the longer the better. I plan on spending lots of time on my bike so any help from you Pro's would be appreciated. I am in Vancouver Canada.

    Thx
    I don't usually run across too many people in my local shops who have actually done any touring, but they should at least know something about it, or admit that they don't. If they start trying to steer you into a bicycle that isn't suitable, tell them "Whoa" and move on.

    Cyclocross bikes can be suitable for touring, but I think a cyclocross bike is best for cyclocross and a touring bike for touring. If you're going touring, get a touring bike.

    I don't think carbon fiber makes much sense for touring. Steel is the norm, but Cannondale's aluminum tourers are tried and true designs. I've heard great things about the Rocky Mountain Sherpa, and the Trek 520 is another tried and true model. I'm not familiar with the Devinci or Norco.

    I have an LHT and love it. It's heavy, but not so much that it's an issue to me for touring. It's rugged, comfortable, stable, and very well thought-out.

    Bar-end shifters are the standard for touring, but I've recently put STI on my other road bike and love it. I wouldn't have problems taking an STI equipped bike on tour. How likely is it that they'll break? My philosophy on breakdowns and touring is to be prepared for likely breakdowns - flats, broken spokes, etc - and be prepared to hitchhike if something freakish happens. The first bike I toured on had downtube shifters. Those worked fine too.

    Talking about Bellingham and Kulshan Cycles brings back memories. I went to Western in the 70's and again in the 80's. I really started my bicycling habit in B'ham. I knew the guy who started Kulshan Cycles - I think he did it with his dad. They were really nice people back then; it's good to hear that the shop is still doing well and still staffed by nice folks.

    I went swimming at White Rock once. There's a nice beach there, right?

  12. #12
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    White Rock / Crescent Beach are both good beaches. I took a look at a Cannondale Touring 2 today which has STI shifters and I am going to take it for a ride on Saturaday. Aluminum frame with a steel fork??

  13. #13
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    I remember when Cannondales came out with their touring bike in early 80's. Real comfy and more solid than any long chainstay steel touring bike at the time. The thing is you really don't get a sense of how well bikes like the Cannondale and LHT carry weight with unladen test rides but you'll get a sense of it's fit. Cdale is a good bike. I could imagine having two pairs of wheels for it, the stock ones and some super light ones. Putting fat tires on light wheels is kinda fun for riding over dirt roads without any load.
    Last edited by LeeG; 08-05-09 at 03:11 AM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    The thing is you really don't get a sense of how well bikes like the Cannondale and LHT carry weight with unladen test rides but you'll get a sense of it's fit.
    Good point. I had a Nashbar tourer I bought in 1992. It was an XXL frame with 1" tubing. It was a nice bike to ride unloaded, but when I loaded it up it shimmied like crazy when I got up to any speed at all. My LHT is a nice bike but not spectacular when unloaded. However, when I load it up it's as comfortable and rock solid as I could ask for.

    It seems to me I remember reading a similar report about a Cannondale tourer. The ride wasn't anything special until it was loaded up. Then it became a real beauty.

  15. #15
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    BBT, you know how you can remember the before and after feeling on bikes you've ridden in the past? That's what it was like loading the LHT up for a grocery run. Riding to the store empty, hoping off of curbs then loading it up then riding home. Solid both ways. My 26" custom touring bike that I really love has regular road size tubing in the main triangle and even though the rear triangle is made with heavy mtn gauge CroMo the top tube is just a bit bigger than 1". Still more solid than than some of the light touring bikes I've had but for loads above 25lbs with a 200lb rider there's flex in the frame that's NOT in the LHT. Thats why I like the Cannondale touring bike. Same feeling but a more dampened ride. When I had my shop I had a Specialized Expedition and a Cannondale touring bike. Even though I weighed 50lbs less then it was obvious the Cannondale was a much more solid load carrier, and lighter. And with light wheels you could fly up hills just like a road bike.

  16. #16
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    Well I picked up my Trek 520 yesterday after test driving it and the Cannondale T2. While the T2 was nice it still felt like an aluminum frame bike to me. The 520 hugs the road beautifully and seems to want run on it's own. Nice flex in the frame to absorb the bumps, great for climbing a long hill, love the shifters even though I have TSI on my Cannondale Synapses. Just seems like an all round great bike to take off for a month or 2 on. Glad I went through the process checking out everything else but this is the bike for me. Thx for your help.

  17. #17
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    Glad your happy,the trek 520 is a fine bike.I'm sure you will have alot of good rides with it.Load it up and go have some fun.

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