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  1. #1
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    Need some help getting a proper touring bike

    Okay, so basically I've done several tours in Ontario on junky entry level roadbikes, the longest of which was about 1000km. I started touring on an old Eaton Road King that I got at a garage sale for $10. The 1000k tour was on a virtually identical ccm road bike that I got for $100 off craigslist. I've noticed that these bikes pretty much start to disentegrate around the 1500k mark, and require some extra investment just to get them that far. (new wheels mostly)

    Anyway, this summer I want to bike to BC. My friend and I are planning to go fully loaded from Toronto to the west coast and I think it would be extremely unwise to attempt this on one of these sub-par bicycles. I don't know a whole lot about touring bikes, but I know some of the things to keep your eyes open for, such as longer chainstays, front fork eyelets and the general frame geometry.

    I've heard a lot of good things about the Surly Long Haul Trucker, but I've also heard that it's overkill for most tours. The real issue with that bike is I can not for the life of me find a used one in Ontario. I found a couple retailers that are stocking them for about $1600 plus tax, and to be honest that's way more than I'm comfortable spending. The most I'm willing to spend is probably around the $900 mark. So it seems I'm gonna have to use something a little less ideal than the LHT.

    I have an ad up on craigslist asking for a "long haul trucker or similar touring bike" and I got a reply from someone with a surly crosschek. I check the surly site and it says right in their description that this is "not a touring bike per se, but will handle lighter touring loads." It looks to me like more of a touring bike than 95% of other road bikes though. Would this be a bad decision on my part to grab this?

    There's a catch too, this is part of the email he sent me:
    "I don't have any wheels, or a group, but the frame, fork, headset (cane creek), cranks (bontrager double), bottom bracket (pretty generic), a generic post, a choice of old saddles, a 120mm Ritchey Stem, Some 44 wide bars Ritchey or FSA, and some Tektro cantilivers that need new pads are yours for a decent offer. Around $300ish..

    Things are in good shape."

    I don't know much about parts, maybe someone with a little more experience could tell me if this is a suitable touring bike and how much it would cost me to make it one.

    I dunno, I'm just something of a noob, but I dearly love bicycle touring and i trust the folks on this forum more than any retailer or LBS or craigslist guy. (You're not trying to make money off me.)

    Any comments or advice would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Bicycles are for Children Jose Mandez's Avatar
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    Trek 520 is a pretty solid bike in my opinion, maybe not as renowned as some other big names I've seen thrown around, but it is built specifically for touring and it rides straight as an arrow even at slow speeds under load. I believe that it is the only touring bike that Trek still manufactures. A new one is a bit pricy, (well over $1000), but the vintage ones (from about 1986 or 1987 onward) have a reputation for being decent touring bikes. There is usually a vintage one for sale on ebay, and you can probably snag one for less than the $900 you mentioned if you're patient and willing to wait for the right frame size/price combination.

    Vintage ones like this are also easy to work on/upgrade (I'm not much mechanically inclined, but I've been able to install barend shifters and swap out the bottom bracket on mine). The major downside is that the vintage touring bikes like this usually have 27" wheels, and 27" tires are getting harder and harder to find; even mass retailers like Wal-Mart seem to stock 700c these days more often than they do 27" tires. (Finding a replacement tire on the local economy may become necessary if you should face catastrophic tire failure on your trip; it is probably not a bad idea to even carry a spare fold-up tire in one of your panniers). You could also just stick a 700c set of wheels on one, provided you make the appropriate brake adjustments, etc.
    Last edited by Jose Mandez; 01-21-11 at 12:06 PM.
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  3. #3
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    I've decided on the 700c route, the last 2 bikes I've had used 27" wheels and they are fragile and can only find used ones for replacements. I thought 700c were bigger than 27"? Didn't know they were interchangeable. I bought fenders for 700c that don't fit on my bike AT ALL, with its 27 inchers.

  4. #4
    Senior Member oldride's Avatar
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    TheDazed have you checked out the Windsor Tourist $599 at www.bikesdirect.com ? They don't ship directly to Canada but they do have options to get it to you. Check their shipping link.

  5. #5
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Oh well 80's hardtail, pre suspension fork mountain bikes make great tour bikes,
    .. change the components as needed
    handlebars are another personal choice.

    ETRO for 27" is 630. 700c is 622, its smaller,,

    now there are '29 ers' thats a fat tire on a 700c.

    Salsa Fargo is an adventure touring frame that can use fat tires too

  6. #6
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    I have an LHT and it's not overkill for what you are planning. Used mine in 2009 for a week-long trip in MT, BC and AB and I also use it for 3-day trips. It's also great for commuting, erands, etc. And as for "overkill" in general, you may want to do something later that requires "more" bike than you imagine you need for what you are currently planning.

    In any event, have you looked at the Safari from REI? It's in your price range. And if you don't like it they will take it back.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldride View Post
    TheDazed have you checked out the Windsor Tourist $599 at www.bikesdirect.com ? They don't ship directly to Canada but they do have options to get it to you. Check their shipping link.
    I found the bike there http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/tourist.htm

    Looks gorgeous and the price point is perfect. So what's the catch? This is the cheapest I've seen a new touring bike go for. Is there anything about it that might make me regret the at least $600 I'm saving?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    I have an LHT and it's not overkill for what you are planning. Used mine in 2009 for a week-long trip in MT, BC and AB and I also use it for 3-day trips. It's also great for commuting, erands, etc. And as for "overkill" in general, you may want to do something later that requires "more" bike than you imagine you need for what you are currently planning.

    In any event, have you looked at the Safari from REI? It's in your price range. And if you don't like it they will take it back.
    No I haven't. Part of the problem is I don't know too much about components and such, is there some reason I would be better off with the Safari over the Windsor Tourist oldride linked me?

  9. #9
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Best to learn mechanics first. as you will have to fix stuff out in the middle of nowhere.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Best to learn mechanics first. as you will have to fix stuff out in the middle of nowhere.
    The only thing I haven't had to fix, and thus don't know how to, is crank problems. I can true wheels and tweak derailleurs like a champ though.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDazed View Post
    I've decided on the 700c route, the last 2 bikes I've had used 27" wheels and they are fragile and can only find used ones for replacements. I thought 700c were bigger than 27"? Didn't know they were interchangeable. I bought fenders for 700c that don't fit on my bike AT ALL, with its 27 inchers.
    27" rims are slightly larger than 700c, but tires are NOT interchangeable. The only thing you can use on both are inner tubes. If you're going to get a used frame for touring, definitely build it with 700c as you indicate. If you ever decide to take the bike to foreign destinations you won't have problems getting replacement tires with 700c (you will with 27"). The Surly Cross Check sounds like a good frame and I know some people use it for touring. Just remember that building a bike from just the frame is going to cost you a lot more than buying one fully built. If you are also going to be relying on a bike shop to do the labor for you, then the final price may not be worth the actual value of the bike. The one thing you'll get is the satisfaction of having a bike built with all the components of your choice which is something you may actually very much enjoy. You may be doing tons of research choosing components and buying parts at a good price. Consider 2-3 months to get the bike fully built.
    Last edited by Chris Pringle; 01-21-11 at 01:19 PM.

  12. #12
    In the wind mercator's Avatar
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    You might want to check out the Nineteen Seventy One at MEC.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mercator View Post
    You might want to check out the Nineteen Seventy One at MEC.
    I just checked it out on their site. It looks nice but has an aluminum frame. I seem to recall hearing that this is a no-no because aluminum is so fragile. Thoughts?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDazed View Post
    I've noticed that these bikes pretty much start to disentegrate around the 1500k mark, and require some extra investment just to get them that far. (new wheels mostly)


    I have an ad up on craigslist asking for a "long haul trucker or similar touring bike" and I got a reply from someone with a surly crosschek. I check the surly site and it says right in their description that this is "not a touring bike per se, but will handle lighter touring loads." It looks to me like more of a touring bike than 95% of other road bikes though. Would this be a bad decision on my part to grab this?

    There's a catch too, this is part of the email he sent me:
    "I don't have any wheels, or a group, but the frame, fork, headset (cane creek), cranks (bontrager double), bottom bracket (pretty generic), a generic post, a choice of old saddles, a 120mm Ritchey Stem, Some 44 wide bars Ritchey or FSA, and some Tektro cantilivers that need new pads are yours for a decent offer. Around $300ish..

    Things are in good shape."

    I don't know much about parts, maybe someone with a little more experience could tell me if this is a suitable touring bike and how much it would cost me to make it one.

    I dunno, I'm just something of a noob, but I dearly love bicycle touring and i trust the folks on this forum more than any retailer or LBS or craigslist guy. (You're not trying to make money off me.)

    Any comments or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    the Cross-Check is a suitable touring bike depending on how much you plan to carry. Don't load it rear rack only. Put some weight forward.
    My $.02 is that you'll pay out more with the $300 Cross-Check frameset and parts than the BikesDirect or other suitable bikes costing $750. The only reason to get that frameset is if you have 90% of the parts already sitting at home.
    Your experience is right on, old bikes with old wheels that were never really trued right and maintained from day one will start breaking spokes with a load. You could have taken any of those old beater bikes and put on good wheels and they'd be fine.
    Whatever bike you get make sure the wheels are up for it. I'm guessing the Bikesdirect wheels are machine made and need to have a human go over them before riding much and loading the bike up.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDazed View Post
    I just checked it out on their site. It looks nice but has an aluminum frame. I seem to recall hearing that this is a no-no because aluminum is so fragile. Thoughts?
    bicycle rims are made out of aluminum, some are more durable than others but no one is making them out of steel. In other words bikes made for a non-fragile use are not fragile, no matter what the material is.

  16. #16
    Senior Member exile's Avatar
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    I would check out the Surly CC. Wheels can be as expensive as you want them to be.

    Without knowing your area there are a lot of touring/ sport touring bikes to choose from. Cannondale T2, Surly LHT, Trek 520, Windsor Tourist, Novara Safari, Rocky Mountain Sherpa, etc. are considered Touring bikes. Sports Touring you are looking at the Surly CC, Jamis Aurora, Bianchi Volpe, etc..

    There are arguments both ways for frame materials. A lot of it is more conjecture than fact. Since you have a lot of time do some shopping around and ride as many bikes as you can. Regardless of the name, get something you are comfortable on.
    lil brown bat wrote:
    Wow, aren't other people stupid? It's a good thing that we're so smart. Yay us.

  17. #17
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    My 2 pennies check reviews on LHT,crazyguyonabike.com also bicycle quarterly

  18. #18
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    ah,but steel is real{frames**

  19. #19
    Senior Member EKW in DC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDazed View Post
    I just checked it out on their site. It looks nice but has an aluminum frame. I seem to recall hearing that this is a no-no because aluminum is so fragile. Thoughts?
    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    bicycle rims are made out of aluminum, some are more durable than others but no one is making them out of steel. In other words bikes made for a non-fragile use are not fragile, no matter what the material is.
    LeeG is right. Don't let the aluminum frame scare you off due to a fear of weakness. I have put about 5,000 miles on an aluminum hybrid frame. I weighed in excess of 300 pounds when I started cycling on it. It's my only bike, and I use it as a regular commuter/grocery getter, so in addition to my still sizable self it also almost always carries a rack trunk and panniers full of clothes, lunch, groceries, etc. IOW, aluminum can be strong.

    The bigger issue w/ aluminum would potentially be ride characteristics. Some say that the ride on an aluminum frame is very unforgiving, that it doesn't help to soak up the little vibrations and bumps along the road. Some say that's more just a function of the fork, and that a steel fork mated with an aluminum frame is just as good as a steel frame and steel fork. I can't speak to this w/ any authority, and it's a matter of some debate, so I'll leave that aspect alone other than to mention it's out there.

    For cheapest options, I like the idea, already mentioned, of looking for an old steel MTB frame, non-suspension fork and use the balance of your budget to make sure that all the other components are in good shape.

    The LHT is available as a frameset only (i.e., frame and fork). MSRP is $430 US. Nashbar also has a touring frame and fork. It's even cheaper than the LHT. Not sure of shipping Canada, though. You could build up one of these frames, perhaps even with some of the components from your other bikes depending on their specs and the qualitly of the components on them now...

  20. #20
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    I've been shopping around all day and I'm sortof drawn to this bike.

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...an_turismo.htm

    Does anybody have experience with the gran turismo?

  21. #21
    Senior Member skilsaw's Avatar
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    You don't have a lot of time to shop for a bike. 2 months, 3 months tops. You want some time to grow accustomed to whatever you get before your tour.

    Here is a list of touring bikes... What to look out for second hand.
    http://www.examiner.com/bicycle-trav...uring-bicycles

    If you end up with a new LHT, you won't be disappointed. You will really appreciate the low maintenance of a new bike that is properly set up. That said, you probably have good wrenching skills from your experience with your previous bikes.
    The one who has the most bikes wins.

  22. #22
    Senior Member simplygib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Oh well 80's hardtail, pre suspension fork mountain bikes make great tour bikes,
    .. change the components as needed
    +1

    If money is a factor, it's hard to go wrong with an older hardtail mountain bike. Lots of people are touring on them, me included. I'm sure you would never regret buying an LHT or similar, but you will have to pay for it.

    My brother gave me this Specialized Hard Rock MTB for Christmas in 1998. It was right at $300 new. I commuted on it and rode it recreationally for 10 years, then put roughly 3,000 miles on it touring loaded. Doing another tour on it this spring. No special components were necessary, except I eventually did upgrade the tires and seat, and added fenders. It's been rebuilt twice, but with standard components. The original front wheel is still on it (26", 36h). Chromoly frame, built like a brick ****house. Fell off my car at 65 mph twice (bike rack broke) and the frame is still straight.


  23. #23
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simplygib View Post
    +1

    If money is a factor, it's hard to go wrong with an older hardtail mountain bike. Lots of people are touring on them, me included. I'm sure you would never regret buying an LHT or similar, but you will have to pay for it.

    My brother gave me this Specialized Hard Rock MTB for Christmas in 1998. It was right at $300 new. I commuted on it and rode it recreationally for 10 years, then put roughly 3,000 miles on it touring loaded. Doing another tour on it this spring. No special components were necessary, except I eventually did upgrade the tires and seat, and added fenders. It's been rebuilt twice, but with standard components. The original front wheel is still on it (26", 36h). Chromoly frame, built like a brick ****house. Fell off my car at 65 mph twice (bike rack broke) and the frame is still straight.

    Really nice set up there! What racks do you use and how do you like 'em? PM me so we don't hug this thread.

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    Lovely set up, I tried touring on a cheap mountain bike and it almost put me off of cycling entirely. Seems energy is conserved a lot better and you can go farther, faster, easier on a road bike. Perhaps the bike I used was just a lemon though... Arashi Comet, I believe it was.

  25. #25
    Senior Lurker, mostly. DW99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDazed View Post
    I've been shopping around all day and I'm sortof drawn to this bike.

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...an_turismo.htm

    Does anybody have experience with the gran turismo?
    I do not have experience with the Gran Turismo, but I see why you are drawn to it. It seems to be equipped with pretty nice components for that price. I ride a Fuji Touring and love it, but this Gran Turismo looks pretty nice. Maybe others that are more tech savy than myself will comment on it.
    "My psychiatrist told me I was crazy and I said I want a second opinion.
    He said okay, you're ugly too." -Rodney Dangerfield

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