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    Turning a list of criteria into a touring bike choice - help

    So, it'll be a little while before I've got either the cash for a new bike, or the time to head out on a serious tour. At the moment I can do some light touring on my 80s road bike, but it's not cut out for heavy loaded tours, and the 12 speeds aren't what you'd want batting for you on any mountain passes. But what the heck, no harm in planning ahead.

    I know a fair number of people who have crossed the US on Long Haul Truckers, and they rave about them. Because it seems to be the most popular bike, I feel like I can't go wrong with it, but at the same time I have to keep wondering if there's something else out there that would make more sense. To that end, I put together a list of things I want from a touring bike, hoping to get some more ideas about some of the other bikes that are out there. Realistically, I'm probably not going much above the 1000-1500 range but for the purpose of suggestions, assume money is no object.

    -Obviously, comfortable no matter how many hours of the day I spend in the saddle.

    -Connected to that, a fairly upright position, so that I can easily look around me to admire the scenery. That's why I'm touring - I don't just want to hunch like on my road bike all the time.

    -I want the capability to handle dirt roads and 4x4 trails comfortably. No immediate off-road touring plans, but I'd like to have the flexibility to do that without getting a whole different bike.

    -I'm not sure if disc or rim brakes would be the way to go, but I lean toward disc for the functionality in wet and dirty conditions (see above about ability to head off road) and the stopping power on a heavy loaded bike. I don't know much about disc brakes, but assuming repairing them is something I can learn to do, I don't see that being a problem - unless they are prone to need replacements that I wouldn't be able to get in the middle of nowhere.

    -I've done a fair bit of backpacking and lightness is a big thing for me, so my gear loadout is getting progressively lighter. I don't anticipate having to carry too much weight even on a full-on tour, so the capacity to lug a huge amount of stuff is not a high priority. Still, the bike needs to handle well under a fair-sized load for obvious reasons.

    -No particular preference on shifters, but I do hate downtube shifters.

    -I assume any serious touring bike can take a front rack, even though I don't anticipate needing to use one (although I don't know how the best way to load a bike is - does it make more sense to divide the weight between front and back?)

    -Also obviously, a wide gear range with some very low granny gears, for obvious reasons.

    -I don't exactly know what distinguishes low, medium or high end components from each other, but durability is one thing that definitely matters. And I'd rather pay more up front for a bike than end up having to replace or upgrade a lot of the components.

    -At some point in life I know I want to tour outside North America, and again would like to be able to do that without having to pick up a different bike, so compatibility with 26" wheels is fairly important.

    -Finally, I'm not super bike savvy and as of now, am not capable of building up a bike from a frame (much less figuring out which components to use) and while that's a remote possibility, I'm also not that big on DIY and would rather just buy a stock bike where I have to replace a few parts at most, and can trust that it's otherwise ready for a tour when I roll it out of the store. I don't have to buy new, although I do like the idea of being able to test ride the bike first and have it properly fitted to me before buying. I do know I'll use a Brooks saddle, probably a B17 which I know I like, and would be ready to swap out tires and maybe pedals, but other than that I'd prefer to buy a ready-to-tour bike than make changes to it or build it myself.

    Anyway, I'm hoping this list can guide people to some suggestions accompanied by comments on those bikes and why they might work for me...also hope the thread can be helpful to other touring noobs who might be reading. Thanks!
    Last edited by Jude; 06-07-11 at 10:02 PM.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    http://www.tout-terrain.de/2/product...oad/index.html

    imported and built-up by Peter White cycles, in NH

    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/tout-terrain.asp

    they have a derailleur and an IGH frame,
    I like my Rohloff hub, after 25+ years on derailleur bikes.

    welded on rear rack Disc Brake optimized frame design
    Last edited by fietsbob; 06-07-11 at 10:21 PM.

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    Oh wow, that looks like the kind of thing I would buy in a second if I had three grand laying around. The Rohloff hub is a daydream of mine...Did you ride anything cheaper before you got this thing?

  4. #4
    Senior Member mulveyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jude View Post
    So, it'll be a little while before I've got either the cash for a new bike, or the time to head out on a serious tour. At the moment I can do some light touring on my 80s road bike, but it's not cut out for heavy loaded tours, and the 12 speeds aren't what you'd want batting for you on any mountain passes. But what the heck, no harm in planning ahead.

    I know a fair number of people who have crossed the US on Long Haul Truckers, and they rave about them. Because it seems to be the most popular bike, I feel like I can't go wrong with it, but at the same time I have to keep wondering if there's something else out there that would make more sense. To that end, I put together a list of things I want from a touring bike, hoping to get some more ideas about some of the other bikes that are out there. Realistically, I'm probably not going much above the 1000-1500 range but for the purpose of suggestions, assume money is no object.

    -Obviously, comfortable no matter how many hours of the day I spend in the saddle.

    -Connected to that, a fairly upright position, so that I can easily look around me to admire the scenery. That's why I'm touring - I don't just want to hunch like on my road bike all the time.

    -I want the capability to handle dirt roads and 4x4 trails comfortably. No immediate off-road touring plans, but I'd like to have the flexibility to do that without getting a whole different bike.

    -I'm not sure if disc or rim brakes would be the way to go, but I lean toward disc for the functionality in wet and dirty conditions (see above about ability to head off road) and the stopping power on a heavy loaded bike. I don't know much about disc brakes, but assuming repairing them is something I can learn to do, I don't see that being a problem - unless they are prone to need replacements that I wouldn't be able to get in the middle of nowhere.

    -I've done a fair bit of backpacking and lightness is a big thing for me, so my gear loadout is getting progressively lighter. I don't anticipate having to carry too much weight even on a full-on tour, so the capacity to lug a huge amount of stuff is not a high priority. Still, the bike needs to handle well under a fair-sized load for obvious reasons.

    -No particular preference on shifters, but I do hate downtube shifters.

    -I assume any serious touring bike can take a front rack, even though I don't anticipate needing to use one (although I don't know how the best way to load a bike is - does it make more sense to divide the weight between front and back?)

    -Also obviously, a wide gear range with some very low granny gears, for obvious reasons.

    -I don't exactly know what distinguishes low, medium or high end components from each other, but durability is one thing that definitely matters. And I'd rather pay more up front for a bike than end up having to replace or upgrade a lot of the components.

    -At some point in life I know I want to tour outside North America, and again would like to be able to do that without having to pick up a different bike, so compatibility with 26" wheels is fairly important.

    -Finally, I'm not super bike savvy and as of now, am not capable of building up a bike from a frame (much less figuring out which components to use) and while that's a remote possibility, I'm also not that big on DIY and would rather just buy a stock bike where I have to replace a few parts at most, and can trust that it's otherwise ready for a tour when I roll it out of the store. I don't have to buy new, although I do like the idea of being able to test ride the bike first and have it properly fitted to me before buying. I do know I'll use a Brooks saddle, probably a B17 which I know I like, and would be ready to swap out tires and maybe pedals, but other than that I'd prefer to buy a ready-to-tour bike than make changes to it or build it myself.

    Anyway, I'm hoping this list can guide people to some suggestions accompanied by comments on those bikes and why they might work for me...also hope the thread can be helpful to other touring noobs who might be reading. Thanks!

    My wife has an LHT, and I have a Raleigh Sojourn, and we both love our respective bikes. ;-) As it happens, we're also the same size, so we can swap as necessary.

    One of the reasons the LHT is so popular is that it's a perfectly competent touring bike at a good price point. The stock components on the "Complete" bike are good. The only thing we did with my wife's is to swap out the stock tires with Vittoria Randeneur Pro's - the originals got flats if you just looked at them funny. Of course, it's not truly "Complete" because you still need to buy racks, etc.

    Personally, I like my Sojourn better than the LHT. I find the ride is much more comfortable. The stock bike includes Tubus racks, a Brooks B17 saddle, etc, at pretty much the same price point as the LHT. The downside is that the bike is a couple pounds heavier, and I had to swap out the crankset ( for about $100 ) for one that was more appropriate for loaded touring. I've never taken the LHT off road, but the Sojourn has been on plenty of fire roads and all-but-single-track without any problems.

    You might also want to check out the www.crazyguyonabike.com site - it's dedicated to touring, and very popular. People are generally very happy to discuss their bikes. ;-)
    Knows the weight of my bike to the nearest 10 pounds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jude View Post
    I know a fair number of people who have crossed the US on Long Haul Truckers, and they rave about them. Because it seems to be the most popular bike, I feel like I can't go wrong with it, but at the same time I have to keep wondering if there's something else out there that would make more sense.

    I'm probably not going much above the 1000-1500 range but for the purpose of suggestions, assume money is no object.
    something out there that makes more sense, but money is no object.
    Sorry but that's conflicted right out of the gate since getting value for your dollar is sensible. Non-value criteria like custom fabrication makes sense if you've got an uncommon physiology. Durability of components won't come with higher end items. It's primarily whether the user knows how their stuff is working and whether it's being damaged. While there's lots of reasons for disc brakes I'd hate to be confined to having a wheel rebuild with the right spokes/rim if I was somewhere with a damaged wheel and the nearest shop only had conventional wheels and a limited spoke selection and I had a frame that could only take disc brake wheels.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Did you ride anything cheaper before you got this thing?
    I got a used Koga 04 WTR with a Rohloff, used for $2K.. It a stoke of luck
    because they are not even Imported to the US..

    Toured on a specialized Expedition, I got new, in the 80's, then changed the drivetrain.
    they shipped with half step chainrings , I went to an Alpine convention set.
    low 24t, [as small as would fit, +16, (40)+ 10 (50)
    and Bought Bruce Gordon's racks, and Robert Beckman's bags made to fit those racks

    then I wished I had a kickstand, so I got help and shop access
    to build a one of a kind cargo worthy frame, in 90.

    around the same sort of drivetrain 6 speed freewheel , Phil wood Hub.
    Ratchet friction bar end shifters , old campag MTB derailleurs ,
    from when the made any..

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    something out there that makes more sense, but money is no object.
    Sorry but that's conflicted right out of the gate since getting value for your dollar is sensible. Non-value criteria like custom fabrication makes sense if you've got an uncommon physiology.
    Again, I'm just fielding for ideas right now. I can't afford the Silkroad and probably won't be able to, but there's no harm in knowing what kind of stuff is out there. I don't think I have "uncommon physiology" other than comparatively long legs and a short torso, and yeah, I don't know the benefit of a much more expensive bike (besides, say, compatibility with Rohloff hubs which are also way beyond my anticipated budget)

    Durability of components won't come with higher end items. It's primarily whether the user knows how their stuff is working and whether it's being damaged.
    I do intend to know enough to keep an entire bike running - as of now, I know enough to keep it running for commuting, but with touring I figure I should know how to handle bigger problems since I'll be more in the middle of nowhere. If buying a more expensive version of a component (other than uber-light race-oriented parts) I'd generally expect more durability from it - is that not the case? In that case what do you get for more money spent in the parts department? I know that more expensive tires, among other things, are usually predicted to last several times more thousand miles than el cheapo ones - is the same not true of chains, chainrings/cassettes, hubs, BBs, etc?
    While there's lots of reasons for disc brakes I'd hate to be confined to having a wheel rebuild with the right spokes/rim if I was somewhere with a damaged wheel and the nearest shop only had conventional wheels and a limited spoke selection and I had a frame that could only take disc brake wheels.
    Is that the kind of thing that's fairly likely to happen, or more of an outside chance type of thing? Do disc brakes make wheels more prone to breaking? (I know basically nothing about them)

  8. #8
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    As mentioned, higher priced bicycle components, without more, tend to be less suitable for touring because they usually emphasize lower weight at the expense of durability. Where a high-priced component has proven durability (e.g. Rohloff drive train), a cheaper less durable alternative can be replaced several times at the latter's equivalent cost.

    So we're looking at "sweet spots" that will be different for every person.

    With a budget of $1000 to 1500, one is stuck with what one can get, and IMHO from my perspective yada yada, there is no way to start this conversation. Along with the LHT, look at the Fargo especially if you can find last year's model (triple) on sale. Not a 26", but... Or buy a used bike from an enthusist such as the folks on this forum.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclesafe View Post

    With a budget of $1000 to 1500, one is stuck with what one can get, and IMHO from my perspective yada yada, there is no way to start this conversation. Along with the LHT, look at the Fargo especially if you can find last year's model (triple) on sale.
    The Fargo is a very cool bike, and not outside the range I could probably handle. But I don't get why you think $1000 to $1500 is unrealistic; it seems there are a quite decent number of options in that range.


    I was just looking at a few bikes that caught my eye in that range, the LHT of course, the Novara Safari and the Raleigh Sojourn. They each have something big going for them: The LHT has the ability to take 700c or 26 inch wheels, and its big reputation and the fact that I know several people that have used it makes me think I kind of can't go wrong with it. The Novara Safari has the option for disc or rim brakes, which I like, and I really like the price, but it doesn't have the 26" wheel option and has some lower end components which makes me wonder if I'd end up just having to replace them soon/immediately. The Sojourn is very nice in that it comes with racks, fenders, a B17 and other things I'd be adding anyway, but it doesn't have the option for rim brakes or 26" wheels and the crankset seems large enough that I'd want to replace it right off the bat.

    So I guess the short version of that is, the ideal bike would have 26" wheels, with the option for 700c a nice bonus, the option for rim or disc brakes. Any other ideas of what to look at, whether they fit that standard or not?

  10. #10
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Only a drum or disc brake lets you run skinny 700c and fat 26",
    the 622 rim vs the 559 rim diameter, comes close in outside diameter

    ... unless custom with a brake boss mount for each wheel. ..

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    but a mountain bike with disc brake wheels has moved a long way down the pricepoints.

    a metal hardtail, and reselling the suspension fork when new, and fitting rigid fork , [reliable simplicity],
    will get you a core to build on.. Change bars, stem , saddle, seatpost to satisfy your needs.

    Add racks , and lights , etc. accessories.

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    Be careful with the 700/26" thing; you can get an LHT with either, but you can't swap wheel sizes once you've got the bike without also swapping out the frame and fork.

    If you're sold on 26" wheels, I'm not sure what other stock touring bikes are available. You can go custom (like Bilenky or Co-Motion) or semi-custom (like Gunnar) and maybe get the frame within your $1500 budget, but then you'll have to spend another $1k+ to build the complete bike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
    Be careful with the 700/26" thing; you can get an LHT with either, but you can't swap wheel sizes once you've got the bike without also swapping out the frame and fork.
    Ohhhh snap. This is good to know. I kind of assumed you could whimsically switch them up whenever you wanted. Can you tell I don't know that much about bike mechanics?

    The mountain bike conversion idea is one I have thought about some, though then I'd have to find one with at least rear rack and fender attachment points.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jude View Post
    The Fargo is a very cool bike, and not outside the range I could probably handle. But I don't get why you think $1000 to $1500 is unrealistic; it seems there are a quite decent number of options in that range.
    Yes, you can certainly buy a stock bike at that price, but as soon as you start talking about making it "better" - like adding racks - it'll cost ya.

    Be careful about the MB conversion idea. This may eventuallty cost you more than buying one of the stock bikes you mentioned. If you already had a MTB, then that's different...

    If money is an issue, why don't you just get a trailer for your road bike?

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    This is the best piece of advice I was given after searching for my bike of choice. I downloaded the excel spreadsheet and scoured through this (honestly, I probably spent hours doing so), use the link below and download the spreadsheet. Hope this helps.



    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-Touring-Bikes!!!

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    Thorn Ripio. Moutain/Touring bike, Touring/Mountain bike. 26" wheels, disc or v-brake, suspension or rigid fork, long chainstays, flat or drop bars, braze-on's galore. Normally sold as a frame only (it's a few hundred more than an LHT frame) but Thorn could probably build you one under budget.


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    Personall i think a mountain bike would fit every one of those requirements and could be adapted to just about all conditions youd need.

    - comfortable --- most of this has to do with your preference on bars, stem, seat, etc which can all be easily swapt out for whichever you prefer.. but most stardard mountain bikes are decently comfortable.. designed to handle a little bit of abuse and keep your body ticking

    - fairly upright position --- most mountain bikes as long as they arent xc racing have a decently slack sitting position which is comfortable

    - handle dirt roads and 4x4 trails comfortably --- no worries here

    - disc or rim brakes --- depending on what your spend will gets you different products here.. but i would reccomend a set of avid bb7's... they are mechanical disc brakes (no brake fluid), you dont have to worry about squeezing brake levers with the wheels off, easy to adjust, and more than enough stopping power with a load.. and they arent all that expensive to start.. much cheaper than hydros and still keep all the advantages of discs.

    -handle well under a fair-sized load ---load your gear properly and almost* any bike will suit

    -but I do hate downtube shifters. (unsure about what downtube shifters are) but trigger shifters are pretty standard... get mid range stuff... i like the sram 1:1 ratio but its personal preference.

    -can take a front rack --- swap out for a rigid for cheap... or get one that comes with one.

    -a wide gear range --- most mtb's come with 11-32or34or36... more than enough gear range to carry a load up hills

    - durability ---mtb frames are more durable than road frames..

    - 26" wheels --- pretty much standard on most mtb's...

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    Ultimately, I think the 2010 Salsa Fargo would be very high on your list (or any gen 1). The problem I had with the 2011 Salsa Fargo model is that they switched to a double crank which really hinders your gear changes. You can either get really low gearing, or really high. I had to decide against the Fargo because of this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nhorton View Post
    Ultimately, I think the 2010 Salsa Fargo would be very high on your list (or any gen 1). The problem I had with the 2011 Salsa Fargo model is that they switched to a double crank which really hinders your gear changes. You can either get really low gearing, or really high. I had to decide against the Fargo because of this.
    The Fargo is just about perfect except for the wheel size, actually. To the post above that, do you know of any mountain bikes with rear rack braze-ons? Also, I tend to think of mountain bikes as being set up for more aggressive riding than a slower "touring" pace that would be comfortable all day long; any thoughts on that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jude View Post
    The Fargo is just about perfect except for the wheel size, actually. To the post above that, do you know of any mountain bikes with rear rack braze-ons? Also, I tend to think of mountain bikes as being set up for more aggressive riding than a slower "touring" pace that would be comfortable all day long; any thoughts on that?
    You might want to look at the Salsa Vaya. It's $1500 complete. I'm not a 100% sure but I think it's a lighter duty, more affordable Fargo. Also, saving now for something is better than buying something you're not really happy with and wanting to upgrade down the road. Delayed gratification.

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    One thing I didn't mention is that I generally want to own as little stuff as possible, which is why if I get a touring bike, I want it to be THE touring bike that I own, so that I can take it on every trip I go on for the foreseeable future, if not the rest of my life. Because of that, I realized I should incline towards a bike with 26" wheels and probably with V-brakes or other rim brakes, for compatibility with worldwide bike part availability. (Of course, that situation could change for all I know, in the years before I actually end up biking the Silk Road or whatever). So I took a look at that spreadsheet and found that the only mass produced (i.e., lower price range) touring bike with 26" tires is the LHT. This could also change by the time I make a purchase; we'll see what the 2012 lineups end up looking like. Either way, good to know.

    Although this leads to another question - I'm assuming I'd be riding one of the larger sizes (plenty of bikes have 26" wheels for the smaller sizes only) because I've ridden 56 and 58 cm road bikes and been comfy. People told me the 58cm was too big a frame for me, but I found it worked just right (once I switched out the stem for one horizontally-shorter) because my legs are pretty long and my torso comparatively short. I don't know if the sizing on most touring frames is different enough that I'd somehow end up with one of the smaller sizes, but I doubt it. Is it generally equivalent to what I'd find with most other bikes?

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    I say take a serious look at the Salsa Vaya. The bike is getting alot of raves as an "all roads" bike, a commuter, and a solid long term rider.
    I recently toured a bunch of bike shops in the Seattle area, and without exception, the Vaya was highly touted by every shop that was familiar with the bike. It is in that $1500 range you were considering.
    "If life were logical, men would ride sidesaddle."
    Rita Mae Brown

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jude View Post
    The Fargo is just about perfect except for the wheel size, actually. To the post above that, do you know of any mountain bikes with rear rack braze-ons? Also, I tend to think of mountain bikes as being set up for more aggressive riding than a slower "touring" pace that would be comfortable all day long; any thoughts on that?
    The Fargo can be thought of as a mountain bike with braze ons and a drop bar for road comfort. The wheels that come with it are good. Someday you could upgrade to wheels that are better. The rear wheel is the most vulnerable bit on your bike so attention here is warranted. And that's the reason for the 26" preference. But if you have a truly bombproof 700c wheel, then there's less of a chance of replacing it in the hinterlands. Plus if you are stranded somewhere really remote, I bet you're sending away for parts anyway, so restricting yourself to 26" IMHO is kinda silly.

    Same logic for brakes. Mechanical discs are very easy to maintain and they are very reliable. Pads are a specialty item whether disc or rim, so again you're sending away if stranded. But don't you have several pairs with you anyway?

    Often in these threads the OP is operating off a list of criteria, but the items on the list are not weighted or prioritized. And that ties the OP in knots. The ideal bike is just not out there and compromises must be made.

    I dropped major coin on a custom IF Steel Deluxe for my off-road tourer the year before the original Fargo came out. There is no major aspect of my bike that is superior to it. I saw many of them last summer on the GDMBR, which is 90% gravel road.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daddy Wags View Post
    I say take a serious look at the Salsa Vaya. The bike is getting alot of raves as an "all roads" bike, a commuter, and a solid long term rider.
    I recently toured a bunch of bike shops in the Seattle area, and without exception, the Vaya was highly touted by every shop that was familiar with the bike. It is in that $1500 range you were considering.
    I'd be concerned about the high gearing. Of course, if one were extremely fit and/or carried very little gear it would work. Personal preference. Also, the BB5's are more difficult to keep set up properly.

    If it had a mountain triple it would be suitable for more touring cyclists....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclesafe View Post
    I'd be concerned about the high gearing. Of course, if one were extremely fit and/or carried very little gear it would work. Personal preference. Also, the BB5's are more difficult to keep set up properly.

    If it had a mountain triple it would be suitable for more touring cyclists....
    The Vaya has a LOW 28 inch gear...about the same as Jamis Aurora and Aurora Elite touring bikes. Most mountain bikes seem to have 22 to 26 inch gears on the low side.
    I would switch out the BB5 disc's for the BB7's.
    "If life were logical, men would ride sidesaddle."
    Rita Mae Brown

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