Hi there guys,
I'm brand new to the site and also brand new to touring. I'm currently looking into getting myself sorted with a tourer but I certainly don't have the cash to be spending on a shiny new one (alas I am a student). SO I was looking into getting a nice old (reynolds 531) steel framed bike and specing it up.
One problem I have encountered with this idea though is that a lot of the bikes I've been looking at, though with long enough chainstays are fitted with 700 cc wheels and cantilever brakes. I was hoping that someone would be able to tell me if I would be able to fit 26" wheels and V-brakes onto such a frame?
Also I am I right in thinking that I can get brazons put into a steel front fork for attaching a front rack?
Any info will be immensly well received.
It's certainly possible to do, but it's rarely worth the cost. Brazing on new cantilever brake mounts will be a fairly expensive process, and will also require a new paint job (the torch does wonders to paint). Same goes with the fork, although it will be even harder to find someone willing to mess with a fork (as a catastrophic failure is very dangerous).
Given this, I don't really think it's worth the effort you would have to expend. If you're just starting out, buy a nice old road bike, they usually came with relatively long chain stays and clearance for moderately wide tires. It won't be perfect, but it will be within your budget, and you can tour the hell out of it before spending more money.
Well, it's not a touring bike, but I recently did this with an old Lambert frame. The Lambert was a budget racing bike, built for 27" wheels; I built it up with 26" (MTB size) wheels. My reasons were: I prefer shorter crank arms, which means the saddle has to go up, so my center of gravity goes up; so by getting a bigger frame (62 cm; I normally ride a 60) and smaller wheels I was able to lower the BB and get the fit I wanted.
No rim brakes would fit, so I went with hub brakes; Sturmey Archer 5 sp hub rear, dynamo front, both with drum brakes built in. I'm pretty pleased with the result.
If you like the idea of shorter crank arms (I'm using 140's on this bike), then something along these lines may work for you; but if like most people you'll want normal length crank arms, I can't recommend changing the wheel size. At any rate, I would not recommend making costly changes to a good frame until you're quite convinced it's what you want. A better bet, if you want a steel frame with 26" wheels, is to find one that was built for it. There are a few 26" wheel touring bikes from the early 80's, and a lot of MTB's from the later 80's that will do very nicely.
nope, don't try and put 26" wheels on frames designed for 700 wheels. Nothing wrong with putting v-brakes on bike that had cantilevers just make sure the levers match. If you want cheap you're limiting your choices severely starting with the expectation of finding a 531 touring frame. If you want cheap you START with what is most common and in the last 20yrs that's mtn bikes and hybrid bikes. Any attempt to "spec up" an old bike with new parts gets you right into the territory of brand new entry level bikes that cost $500-$600. A cheap Specialized Hardrock made with no name CroMo could be better than a light 531 road bike depending on your use and load.
First off if you haven't ridden long distances or have a bike determine what your seat to bottom bracket height should be and what is a prefered seat to handlebar height and distance. If this is not something you KNOW you really should narrow it down before you hunt around for a bike.
Second determine if you have a preference for flat bars or drops. If you don't care you've got a lot of choices for old mtn bikes and hybrids. If you prefer drops then you better find a source for used bike parts or spend retail and get close to that new bike in parts as you try and adapt all the bar hardware to different bars.
The range of making do with found items or buying full retail can cover a huge range so be honest about your expectations and use. It would be very easy to get an old bike for $100 and put $500 worth of retail "spec up" parts when you could have just hunted around for a $600 bike. You can tour on an old road bike with caliper brakes, they work perfectly well.
If you're in an urban area check out freecycle or bike coops or develop a friendly relationship with a bike shop where you might be the recipient for cast off parts.
prioritize, what is your budget. If it's "I can't buy a new bike" then don't even think of building up an old one unless you have a pile of parts and the knowledge to match different diameters of parts to bars and frame. You simply find a cheap used one that is the right size and in good shape and use your limited funds for outfitting and the trip.
more thoughts, if you're thinking of brazing/welding on an old bike it better be something you're doing and are familiar with since paying for someone to do it shoots you into new bike prices. I'd rather settle for an old Schwinn LeTour with 27" wheels and centerpull brakes than constructing new parts on an old frame with limited budget.
1984 Bridgestone 400 1985Univega nouevo sport 650b conversion 1993b'stone RBT 1985 Schwinn Tempo
Take a look at the Classic & Vintage forum for some ideas. You don't say how tall a frame you ride now. For a frame larger than 55cm , 700c wheels work fine if there is enough fender-toe clip clearance. This may or not be true for a 52 cm frame(my size). For smaller sizes smaller wheels might be a better choice.
There is another possibility and that is 650B, a size intermediate between 26" and 700c. Some old bikes can be converted from 700 to 650, with long reach brakes. I would tour on 650B, but there might be problems finding replacement parts in case of wheel or tire problems.
If I were looking for a touring bike I would look for an old Specialized Expedition, a Miyata 1000, a Kogo Miyata, or a Miyata built Univega tourer. But there were lots of other Treks, Fujis, Bridgestones , Motobecanes, etc. that are probably just as good, and possibly better than most new bikes.
Cheers for all the super fast replies guys! You've given me a lot to think about (and really rather changed my approach).
I definitely want a bike with drop bars and I like the feel of riding a road bike over that of riding a mountain bike which is why I was thinking of getting an old one. Does anyone know how much I should be expecting to pay (in the UK) for a decent old Bridgestone or Dawes tourer. I only want the bike initially to go touring around France, so I think that 700 wheels would be fine for that, but after that I'm looking at going to India which is why I was thinking of 26" wheels.
Walmart supermarket bike in China, and a Schwinn Frontier GS 1999 in Australia
I know almost nothing of the original topic of your question. I applaud you for thinking ahead and keeping in mind your possible trip to India -- that's excellent forward-thinking. There's an argument for 26" wheels being stronger than 700 wheels, but it's an argument far from being definitively won! From what I've read and heard you might find parts easier to obtain for the 26" wheels in India.
But my advice here is to say don't get too far ahead of yourself! Make sure that first and foremost the bike you plan to tour France with is suitable for that purpose and performs as planned. You can always sell the bike when you return from your trip and put that money toward a better bike if you're still thinking of India (that would be an amazing trip).
I know nothing of the UK or French market for bikes. If you're only after a bike to do the trip around France, you could buy a bicycle in France when you get there. My feeling would be that whatever you decide, don't invest too much in your first bike and gear in case touring isn't for you. However make sure you get something suitable for the task and halfway enjoyable to ride so that you aren't feeling uncomfortable and don't enjoy the trip. I haven't been much help
1984 Bridgestone 400 1985Univega nouevo sport 650b conversion 1993b'stone RBT 1985 Schwinn Tempo
If you are based in the UK, you have a choice of different bikes than in the US. Dawes are more common over there. Look for an old Jack Taylor. Thorn also makes some nice touring bikes. The one thing not to do if you go to France is to ride 27" wheels without carrying spre tires, as replacements are hard or impossible to find. A lot of UK bikes still have 27' wheels. But you really don't need a pure "touring" bike to ride in France. A lot of regular bikes have been adapted to touring, even old roadsters. But then again if you go to the Alps or the Massif Central, a triple would be handy.(footy?)
As for the 26' size, it doesn't always mean the same thing. A 26" mountainbike has a 559mm rim diameter, and a 26" English roadster has a 590mm rim diameter. And to confuse things more, 650B tires for a 584mm rim are also labled 26" I don't know what 26" is most common in India, but I think it would be the 590.
Get on the UK CTC website, and the leeds CTC websites and have a look at the classifieds. Post want ads there. I got a complete 26" drop bar chas roberts roughstuff for 300 quid about 4 years ago. Admittedly, that was very lucky, but i would be surprised if you cant find a used Dawes, Mercian or Jackson for a reasonable price. Make sure to look for something with a triple- there seem to be a lot of audax bikes for sale in the UK- perhaps a bit more sporty than you want for touring. Try to hold out for something that is complete with racks/ fenders, has the proper gearing, and has cantilever brakemounts.... unless you want to be limited to credit card touring type of stuff.
Get something useful now, think about a bike for india later.