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Old 10-22-09, 12:13 AM   #1
rothenfield1
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How to upgrade Vintage for the Real World

Hello travelers. I'm not an experienced tourer, but I'd like to try a trip down the West Coast at some point in the future. Even if it's just an overnighter. I'm a pretty experienced camper, so I think I have that part covered. I'm also a fairly experienced bike rider, although I've never attempted the distances that a Tourer would put in per day. But, I have a bike in my garage that keeps winking at me! I'll post a photo, and maybe some of you will recognize it. If not. it's basically an old steel frame touring bike that is considered worthy in it's day. My questions is, what it needs to make it worthy of a long distance ride "today". What does a Tourer consider the important points of a touring bike. Upgrade the hubs, the BB, the rims, the shifters, the tires? The frame is sound. Where would you go from there if this was your bike?
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Old 10-22-09, 01:17 AM   #2
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I don't see anything about that bike (a Specialized Expedition?) that needs upgrading.

Assuming everything has been serviced and nothing is worn (tires, tubes, cable, brake pads), I'd roll it down the driveway and take off.

I personally prefer bar end shifters over down tubes -- that's a quick, inexpensive upgrade I can do on my own. I'd do that if it were my bike; others wouldn't.
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Old 10-22-09, 02:08 AM   #3
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You'll need racks and panniers to carry your stuff. Repack the hubs if it's been awhile, maybe a fresh set of brake pads and cables (cheap insurance), and you will be ready.
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Old 10-22-09, 05:48 AM   #4
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Have a look at your drive train, generally speaking you want to have a wide range of gears and it's hard to tell from the pic just what you have. 52 IMHO is too high on the front for pedaling with a load. 36 spoke wheels are recommended but not necessary if you pull a trailer. Down tube shifters are another thing you might consider changing to bar end. Other than that it's really up to how you like to ride and what your comfortable on for days at a time.
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Old 10-22-09, 08:16 AM   #5
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I would have a good wheel person check out the back wheel for tension and truing. I took a tour down the west coast many years ago and broke a bunch of spokes. It ruined the trip. How small of a granny does it have? I'd opt for at least a 24, if not a 22. It's a pretty cheap upgrade. There are some hills on the west coast.

I haven't had downtube shifters on a bike in many years. I think I prefer bar-end, but if I had a bike with downtubes, I don't know that I'd want to spend money on upgrading. But it's something to consider.
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Old 10-22-09, 06:01 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rothenfield1 View Post
...My questions is, what it needs to make it worthy of a long distance ride "today". What does a Tourer consider the important points of a touring bike. Upgrade the hubs, the BB, the rims, the shifters, the tires? The frame is sound. Where would you go from there if this was your bike?
If that bike is a Specialized Expedition, it should tour as good today as it did when new, provided the components are not worn and properly lubricated. Check each and every component for wear and replace if necessary. Tires and tubes should be new or almost new (regardless of vintage). Brake pads may need to be replace if they have harden. Spokes can get corroded over time but can be re-laced. Rims need to be true, etc..

Modern day touring bikes come with more gears and lower hill climbing range. Also STI shifters. But other than that, not a lot has changed. Those vintage bikes went around the world just fine in their day!
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Old 10-22-09, 08:16 PM   #7
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I toured the West Coast on a Specialized Expedition and never even needed the small chain ring. But then I was young and strong, skiing close to 150 days a year for the previous 3 years. No way I could do that now. You shouldn't need to change a thing on it if everything is in good shape.
I bought an old trashed Expedition to restore last year and instead chose to upgrade the entire drive train to Shimano XT. I also upgraded everything else and turned it into a dream build with gearing that will suit me now. All that is left are wheels and paint. I ended up not working for a few months this summer, so money had to be spent elsewhere. Hoping to have it done for Spring touring. Enjoy that great bike!

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Old 10-22-09, 08:38 PM   #8
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That's a good looking bike.

It appears to have mid-fork braze-ons in the front, which gives you lots of choices for nice racks. I've tried a few different ones and I'm thrilled with my Tubus Tara front rack.

If everything is in good working order, I wouldn't change anything until you logged some loaded touring miles. You'll have a better idea then if you're happy with the gearing and the comfort.

Let me say it again. That's a good looking bike to my eye.
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Old 10-23-09, 05:48 AM   #9
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If that was my bike I'd ride it. If the seat wasn't comfortable I'd get another, those seats were a bit wide in the nose for my anatomy. Are you comfortable with the angle?

If you anticipate riding through rain you'll appreciate fenders but I rode all up and down the Ca. coast without fenders.

How old are the tires? IIRC the Expedition had sealed hubs, you should have someone go over the rear wheel.

The only thing I'd do is add fenders, rack, spare tube/tools bag, pump and two more bottle cages. The configuration of racks and bags is up to you but less is better than more. My preference is bar end shifters.

I had one, there really isn't anything to "upgrade". The nice thing about long bikes like that is that you can strap a small spare tube/tool bag under the seat tube/seat stay cluster above the rear wheel (make sure it cannot come undone especially if you don't have fenders) instead of under the seat. If you have a pile of stuff on the rear rack it's nice to jam it as far forward as possible without interfering with your legs and have the spare tube bag accesible elsewhere.

Give it a checkup, is the head set adjusted right, seat post have grease, rim strips ok, pedal/cranks on snug. If it was ridden occasionally and not given the regular servicing as recommended you should have that done. If the tour trip puts on as many miles as you accumulated in all the years of ownership something might need a bit of adjustment halfway into the trip but it'll be minor and probably haunt you with changing sounds in the drivetrain that you think will indicate something is amiss but it isn't.
You could spend money replacing stuff but it would serve no purpose except to circulate money out of your wallet. You're more likely to have appreciative conversations riding it as is.
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Old 10-23-09, 06:02 AM   #10
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What size are the tires?
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Old 10-23-09, 11:02 AM   #11
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I wouldn't change a thing.That's a GREAT touring bike,then and now.Check it over good,service what needs to be done,put some racks on it and go.If you need to change the gearing,you'll know after your first trip.

I'd take that bike over an LHT everyday of the week.
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Old 10-23-09, 11:15 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Booger1 View Post

I'd take that bike over an LHT everyday of the week.
It's a flexier frame than a LHT but still a very good bike, for heavier riders the LHT is a better choice. That era of Specialized steel bikes was great. I had a Steel Sequoia that I rode up and down Mt. Haliakela in Maui

Last edited by LeeG; 10-23-09 at 11:22 AM.
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