I am looking to purchase my first touring bike for my first tour (Cross-country tour)! I've found a great deal on a Raleigh Sojourn at a Bike shop near me. Can anyone provide any reviews on their experience with this touring bike?? I've read mixed reviews. I imagine I'll carry a load of 55 - 70 lbs for the tour.
If it is one of the older models that is left over I personally would avoid it. The newer one can be recognized by it's 36 spoke wheels (the older model had 32). Personally neither is my cup of tea, but the newer one is a big improvement. I don't see Brooks saddle, leather bar tape, and disc brakes as pluses. If you do it might be the bike for you.
On another note, I started the TA with a bit less than the lower end of the weight range you mention. I found that I was carrying way too much and sent stuff home numerous times during the tour. Even considering that I carried too many spare parts, a 4 man tent to accommodate myself and my two companions, a DSLR and lenses, and just generally a lot of stuff, I still managed to get down to more like 40 pounds by the end of the tour. On hind sight I would carry a lot less.
On my spring tour the gear load was down to 30 pounds including panniers and didn't use a lot of the stuff I carried. On hindsight 25 pounds would have been enough stuff. That is what I am shooting for this Summer for the Sierra Cascades route.
I really recommend rethinking carrying 50-70 pounds unless you are including the bike in the count. A reasonably light load makes the whole experience more pleasant in my experience.
Note that my numbers do not include bike, racks, water, or food. Water and food are usually replenished every day and vary widely depending on where you are, so I don't count them. Buy food daily and late in the day when possible.
The Sojourn is a nice looking bike, while I ride a LHT, I know of a few people in my area that ride and like the RS very much. My suggestion is ride the bike and if it fits you then it's the bike for you. If you're like most cyclists, once you buy a bike you will spend some time tweaking and making changes to suit your personal tastes in a bike. Many people ride Bike Fridays on long tours, would that be my choice? not at all...but those that do ride them seem to be very happy with them and the limitations that a bike with 20" wheels has. If the fit is good and you decide it's a bike you can ride for long periods of time and the price is right, buy it. You personally will most likely have more limitations than the bike will.
As staehpj1 mentions; you may want to get that weight down. I travelled with about 30-35 lbs.—more than enough. Next time around I'll be lighter yet. My experience with "stuff" was very similar to staehpj1's.
The Raleigh seems like a competent enough bike. I don't know a lot about it other than what I've read. Contrary to most folks, I don't think 32 spoke wheels are too light for touring (but they would be if you had 55-70 lbs. on them) as long as they're of good quality and well-trued. My wheels are 32's. I had no problems. The bike's style is nice. The disc's don't do anything for me, but other folks are quite taken with them—whatever you like in that case.
If the price is right, and it fits you and you're comfy on it—go for it. Below is the only thread I found on the Sojourn (2008).
Cycle Year Round
I have ordered a Sojourn (2010) but will not start the tour until August on it.
I have Avid mechanical disc brakes on my commuter bike and really like them over rim brakes, especially in the rain.
That and the fact that if you put a front rack and panniers on the bike, you are ready to go.
Con is that it is heavier than other touring bikes (about 8 pounds over a Trek 520).
I assume that because your getting a great deal, you are looking at a 2009 (for about $900), which is a 32 spoked wheel bike. That is why I ordered a 2010 that has the 36 spoke wheels, list is like $1250, but you can find LBSs that will sell it for less.
Also consider that you may not want to break-in the Brooks saddle on tour. I plan on shipping the Brooks home for the commuter bike and touring on my old commuter saddle that I know how it feels.
I've had my 2009 Sojourn for about a year. My only complaint is that it's geared too high - I'll be swapping out the crankset this month.
Originally Posted by stewbart13
As for the negative reviews - I'll bet that they're invariably from people who a) Think the 32 spoke wheels are a bad idea, or b) Hate disc brakes. Well, my 32 spoke wheels are doing just fine, even with my needs-to-lose-30-pounds physique going over bottomless-pit potholes, and I'll never go back to rim brakes. :-) The people who actually ride the Sojourn seem to love them.
My wife bought a LHT. After outfitting it with lower-quality racks, fenders, etc, it still ended up more expensive than a new Sojourn. Don't get me wrong - it's also a great bike, but the Sojourn is great out of the box. I haven't ridden her LHT enough to get a truly good comparison, but I think the Sojourn is a more comfortable bike overall.
I don't understand the people who complain about disc brakes. They are insanely easy to adjust - FAR less fiddly than canti's or v-brakes. Give the adjustment dial a 1/4 turn every 300 miles, and you're golden. When you need to replace the pads, back the dial out a couple of turns, and you're done.
The Sojourn is a couple of pounds heavier than many other touring bikes. A lot of that is simply because it comes with so much "stuff" already. The stock Tubus rack is probably twice as heavy as the middling-quality rack we bought for the LHT. It's also rated for higher weight. In the end, it all balances out.
Like you, I recently got my first touring bike. A nearby bike shop had a '09 Raleigh Sojurn for $900. The bike has a very comfortable ride and it seemed like a good bike for touring. A friend of mine has a vintage Raleigh Super Tourer that he still rides and loves it.
I got a 520 instead, mostly because the Sojurn didn't fit me well. Test ride the bike and see how it fits you.
I just today picked up my brand new 2010 Raleigh Sojourn. So far I've only taken it out on one short 15 mile ride (pretty much just peddling around town after picking it up). So far I'm really liking it. The weight really wasn't a problem at all, and the disc brakes have already come in handy when I noticed a red light about 10 feet ahead of me. I still have the stock platform pedals on it because I haven't gotten my SPD shoes yet, but oh well. I haven't used bar-end shifters before, but they're pretty easy to get used to. A couple more rides and I think I'll be completely fine. The roads here in Worcester, MA are miserable and the bike goes through those potholes I couldn't avoid like a champ.
I'm also planning my first tour for this summer, and, like you am going cross-country, so I'll keep you updated on how things go as I prepare for it. I am planning on adding a front rack to the bike and switching out the pedals as I mentioned, but other than that I think I'll be keeping everything else as it is.
Raleigh Sojourn - from the perspective of an owner
I read a lot of chatter on these forums about this feature and that and how real touring folks would never have this or that component. Let me give you a little unbiased info about the 2009 Sojourn from an owner.
I Purchased mine in May of 2009 new, equiped it with a front rack, changed the small chain ring to a 26 tooth, changed the saddle because the brooks was killing me (a week or two into using it) and began the last 7 weeks of training before heading off to ride west to east from Sacramento, CA to Narragansett, RI, fully self supported. We were on our own.
This was the first big tour my wife and I had done so we talked to all the experts too. They all had their opinions: Use a trailer, use paniers, there's no way you're going to ride more than 50 miles a day fully loaded, Nevada is so hilly you'll end up walking some of the hills. For the most part these experts were wrong and I wonder if they had ever toured or if they just read about it and then expouse what they assume. Take everything with a gain of salt, I learned that quickly once out on the road.
I left with a bike weighing 93 lbs all up; water, clothes, camping gear, repair parts, first aid, computer, GPS, self defense device, Etc. My wifes' came in at 80 until we loaded 4 liters of water on the back every day in the desert. While at first I was very unhappy that I couldn't get the weight down more, after about 5 days on the road I never thought about it again. 3 lbs one way or the other was going to make NO difference. I was not out here trying to finish a century in 5 hours, I had 14 hours per day of sunlight and nothing else to do but ride and enjoy.
My first impression of the bike out on the road was that it was too much for smooth american roads. Then we hit a bit of dirt road and I was happy for the extra heft. I did pick up a click in my bottom bracket out in the middle of Utah. This required bottom bracket replacements in Grand Junction, Co. (they were completed under warranty, no questions asked), That was it for mechanical issues, 32 spoke rims and all. One other slight issue was coming out of the Sierra into the Carson valley it was steep and the wind was blowing hard behind me, the brake disks got hot. I was wishing for the next size up, but this was the only time it happened even coming out of the rockies; Whew what a ride!
In the end we rode about 1000 miles of training on these bikes and another 3700 miles across the US in 51 days averaging 71 miles a day with a peak day at 110. We rode ~600 miles on dirt roads and stone dust bike paths. We arrived 4 weeks ahead of schedule and enjoyed everything about these bikes. When I returned to my 17 lb racer it felt wrong.
Take a look at the record of our trip at http://www.greatisland.net/biketour/
So just to give you an idea on personal bias, I ride a campy record equiped bike regularly so I thing anything except campy is junk and love to ridicule shimano for their creaky pedals and crappy shifters. I hated the idea of bar end shifters: when I got back I kept reaching for them on my road bike.
Let me provide one piece of advice; unless the person you are taking advise from has experience with the equipment and others of similar type and purpose and has done the ride mission you are going to do, they are full of ##it!
If it's a good deal and you like it.... Go for it. The only nit i'd pick is the rear wheel spoke count but plenty good enough for the front. I'm not picking on the rear wheel because it's only 32 spokes.. I'm picking on it because you plan on hauling a ton of stuff. About twice what I tour with and nothing wrong with it if..... the rear wheel can handle it. Maybe you weigh 130lbs... Based on most of the touring cyclist on BF.... that isn't the case.
As for the above poster mentioning that if you don't own it you can't have an opinion..... I don't have to own the bike to know how a 32 spoke rear wheel would make me feel during a tour. If something is going to break on tour.... 9/10 times it's going to be the rear wheel...... trust me.
The links don't work on your trip record site for the blog and the gallery. It would be great to see them. The tour blog comes up with this link - file:///L|/Webs/blog The photo gallery comes up with this - file:///L|/Webs/gallery
The Sojourn is turning out to be a pretty good bike. Many have been sold over the last couple of years and I don't see them having problems after 5000+ miles that other bikes don't have. It is a tad heavy however, and getting a 26 tooth granny gear on the crank isn't a bad idea. The Brooks saddle is cool....and you ask the shop to trade you for something else (Terry Liberator?) at the time of sale if you hate it.
Sorry about the broken links they are repaired... again. I fixed these on the road in Colorado when someone else pointed it out. Not sure how it was broken again. Anyway the map is actually the menu and the links at the bottom are for the web crawlers.
Originally Posted by Trueblood
So my intent is not to pick on KayakDiver but to illustrate why his reply to my post is a great example of exactly why I say "take advice with a grain of salt". I am not trying to cause an argument.
Originally Posted by kayakdiver
I never said you can't have an opinion, what I did say is "you need experience with the type and purpose and the same mission profile". In other words you need to be able to back it up with first hand facts not feelings. So In my world I want to hear why 32 spoke wheels are not sufficient from a credible source; Do you have first hand experience with them failing multiple times? give me the parameters of the failure. Are there stats out there from mutliple riders with similar Failure modes? Give me the link. Does the manufacturer quote engineering specs that are below what we are carrying? Show me. If 9/10 times a failure is going to be a rear wheel show me the parameters surrounding the failures. How much weight, what wheels, how many miles, Etc. "I won't feel comfortable about the wheels" is not clear evidence that 32 spoke wheels are insufficient for fully loaded touring.
I am not saying that I am an expert in anything, but I can say from real experience that the Sojourn with 32 spoke wheels worked flawlessly for me
to accomplish my mission under the conditions I encountered. Can I extrapolate from that experience? Maybe.
Last edited by smccormick; 05-24-10 at 02:07 PM.