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  1. #1
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    Want to help me build a touring mountain bike?

    Hey folks! I'm super new here, but I love all types of cycling and always love talking about bikes!

    So I love to mountain bike and I like to travel. I also like to live with as few possessions as possible, so I can only have one bike. I don't own a car either so I put a lot of miles on my bikes.

    I'd like something that I can tour with, nothing super crazy but at least across a couple state lines at a time. What do you guys think of using a 29er for touring? Anyone have any experience with that?

    I'd like to keep everything under $2000 if possible, $3000 if its really necessary and worth the extra investment. That's just in parts, the labor I can do myself or ask bike mechanic friends to help me do. But that is for everything, including racks, fenders, and panniers.

    I don't feel that disk brakes are absolutely necessary, I have gone mountain biking without disk brakes before and I have just as much fun! But I wouldn't mind having the option to switch to disk brakes down the road.

    Right now I'm leaning towards a fully rigid 29er. I test rode a Salsa Fargo and was not the biggest fan on the mtb drop bars, but I only rode it around for a short while.

    I'm not the best at doing regular maintenance on my bikes, so something super low maintenance would be nice. I do the work when its necessary, but I'd rather not HAVE to do anything.

    I have thought about picking up a complete Surly Karate Monkey and swapping in a decent Rohloff hub. is that a terrible idea for some reason?


    Thanks guys, and I look forward to being apart of this awesome community!

  2. #2
    Acetone Man
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    I know a bike shop owner who rolls on a Rohloff Karate Monkey with Big Apples which is a veeery nice ride. I think he runs discs but if you want to go with racks v brakes are better anyway. disc-specific racks like the karate monkey would need due to the seatstay mounted disc tab are a baaad idea for touring. Also consider an older Fargo frameset if you can find one; the older models had canti studs and if you get a frameset you can go with whatever bars you like.

  3. #3
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    Scroll down a bit to the "i'd love to see your mountain bike conversions" thread; it just inspired me to tour-out my old miyata.

    A friend of mine (who is a gigantic person) rolled on a fargo for a minute, and hated the geo. I mention that he is huge b/c the fact that he is a big guy on the biggest frame size might mean that your impressions of the geo might be markedly different. (Of course, the same may hold true even if y'all are similar sizes. ) The thing is, my buddy was verrrry enthused about the fargo build, and he thought he'd like it b/c the geo is similar to a jones bike, and he loves the jones bike's ride. So, that he was so disappointed came as a huge surprise to me.

    My take: the fork on the fargo looks weird, and i imagine that has to translate into some weird handling. But i digress.

    My recipe: find a hardtail that you like. Personally, i'd go 26" over 29", especially if you want to tour, but whatevr you prefer. The Surly KM would be a great choice,as would pretty much any older-style mtb. (I like steel, but do whatcha want.) Build it with v-brakes, a typical wide-ratio mtb-style drivetrain, and some bars that allow for multiple hand positions(so many to choose from; pick your preference.) I'd get 2 wheelsets, so you can run knobbies on one for singletrack, and slicks on the other for touring/gen bike purposes. Also, if the smallest cog remains the same, you could run different cassettes on each wheel to maximize ratios for the style of riding you're doing. Removing fenders for trails is highly recommended, but the racks can stay if you don't mind the weight. (The bags, on the other hand, might jiggle excessivley.)

    Enjoy your one bike with the dual personality. If you can't afford two wheelsets or it offends your minimalist sensibilities, you can just swap tires each time.

    hth
    -rob

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4thgenlude View Post
    So I love to mountain bike and I like to travel.
    I can only have one bike. I don't own a car
    I'd like something that I can tour with,

    I'd like to keep everything under $2000 for everything, including racks, fenders, and panniers.


    I'm not the best at doing regular maintenance on my bikes, so something super low maintenance would be nice. I do the work when its necessary, but I'd rather not HAVE to do anything.

    I have thought about picking up a complete Surly Karate Monkey and swapping in a decent Rohloff hub. is that a terrible idea for some reason?
    !
    for a $2000 package that's about a $1400 bike with $600 for accessories and modifications.
    Regarding maintenance if you're lazy about keeping tires pumped up you get to deal with the consequences, same with a maladjusted derailleur that throws chains. I'm amazed by the number of people who ride around with loose screws holding racks on or ball and cone bottom brackets that rattle they're so loose. It really won't matter what you get as long as you know when somethings loose or needs adjusting.

    I'd discourage putting money into a Rohloff for your sole multipurpose vehicle just from a cost standpoint. You could get two usable bikes for the price of one Rohloff wheel. No need for light wheels, make the rear wheel overbuilt.

    If you try and turn a bike that is nice to ride unloaded on dirt and road into a truck for carrying your worldly goods there will be some compromises on boths sides. If you're willing to cut your traveling load down and mail belongings you'll have an easier ride and longer lasting wheels. I'd be tempted to travel with an extrawheel trailer so that your sole vehicle can be a truck when needed with trailer and goods at a secure place but a nice unloaded riding bike when desired.

    I'd be inclined to go for 26" wheels but 700c will work as well.

    this fellows bike and style is worth checking out

    http://www.asanacycles.com/asana_cyc...out_bikes.html

    I'd be inclined to build up a Surly Troll given the ability to move the rear wheel further back than the Karate Monkey ( better to take rear rack loads and fenders) and put on 2.5" - 2.7" tires for dirt.
    Last edited by LeeG; 06-21-11 at 09:06 PM.

  5. #5
    George Krpan
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    You've got the idea perfectly, rigid 29er with WTB dirt drop. Get disks, they're much better brakes, they don't wear out the rims, disk pads wear 2 or 3 times longer than rim pads, they're unaffected by water, and they're not expensive anymore. Get mechanical disks such as the Avid BB7, they're just as good as hydraulic without the hassles and vulnerability.
    There are lots of racks nowadays that work with disk brakes. I like seatpost racks for the rear. They have many advantages, easy to mount, do better in a crash, the panniers sit higher, further away from the heels and ground and more behind your body out of the wind. And, of course, they're disk compatible.
    A Karate Monkey is a great bike.
    If you want something cheaper check out the Dawes Bullseye or Deadeye on Bikesdirect. They're sold as single speeds but they are "gear ready".
    The Bullseye, $379, is disk only. The Deadeye, $339, has rim brakes but is "disk ready".
    They are both use the same chromoly steel frame and fork.
    After adding gears it would be half the cost of a Karate Monkey.

  6. #6
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I have thought about picking up a complete Surly Karate Monkey and swapping in a decent Rohloff hub. is that a terrible idea for some reason?
    my 2 favorite bikes , have Rohloff hubs .. A 26" trekking bike , Koga Miyata WTR
    (sliding rear dropouts for chain tension).
    have Tubus racks and a Dyno hub powered wired head and taillight

    and a Bike Friday pocket llama, Have a front rack , use the Trailer hitch
    under the QR skewer on both..

    559 and 406 are the better world tour tire choice due to available spares,
    in remoter areas..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 06-22-11 at 09:07 AM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    If it was me I'd think hard about what kind of riding would predominate. I have a 29er and an LHT. They both use the same rims, so there is some overlap. The 29er is beefier and heavier because its intended use is off-road touring. I'm riding the Great Divide Route this summer. It has a suspension fork and big disk brakes, plus horizontal bars and Rapidfire shifters. The gearing is very low.

    My LHT is for road touring, carrying a load. It has stout tubing (stouter and heavier than my Allez), braze-ons for front and rear racks, fenders, three water bottles, and spare spokes. It can take very wide tires, but not as wide as the 29er. The gearing is also low, but not quite as low as the 29er, and the high gear is a bit higher.

    If I could only have one bike it would have to be a compromise. If I was going to be doing a lot of off-road riding, or taking a tour on the Great Divide, I'd go with something strong, like a 29er (and I'd at least have suspension in front, though lots of people say something with a rigid fork, like the Salsa Fargo, is perfect for this route.) It would have knobby tires and disk brakes. If I was spending just a little time on pavement I'd ride it the way it is (like I'll be doing this summer - 10% of the Great Divide Route is supposed to be on pavement.) If I was spending lots of time on the road (like taking a tour on the road) I'd put road tires on it.

    If I knew I was going to be riding mostly on pavement, including loaded touring, and occasionally off road, I'd go with the LHT. I'd use wide road tires (32?) for comfort and occasional forays off-road. If I was going to do a ride mostly off-road I'd get really wide tires - probably as wide as the LHT could handle - this is assuming that after the ride I'd be back on pavement predominately.

    If you can't afford multiple bikes, at least you can afford multiple tires, right?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thasiet View Post
    Also consider an older Fargo frameset if you can find one; the older models had canti studs and if you get a frameset you can go with whatever bars you like.
    The Fargo has always been disc only.

  9. #9
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    Oddly, how a fork looks typically has no impact on how it handles. The Fargo handles fine with the stock fork (even if you ride it for more than a minute). If the OP likes drop bars, it would be hard to pass up checking out the Fargo as a candidate. Old mountain bikes would also make good candidates as others have mentioned. Rim brakes make mounting racks less problematic (although to toot the Fargo's horn again, racks are no problem on a Fargo due to their smart chainstay mounted disc brake)

    Quote Originally Posted by surreal View Post
    A friend of mine (who is a gigantic person) rolled on a fargo for a minute, and hated the geo. I mention that he is huge b/c the fact that he is a big guy on the biggest frame size might mean that your impressions of the geo might be markedly different. (Of course, the same may hold true even if y'all are similar sizes. ) The thing is, my buddy was verrrry enthused about the fargo build, and he thought he'd like it b/c the geo is similar to a jones bike, and he loves the jones bike's ride. So, that he was so disappointed came as a huge surprise to me.

    My take: the fork on the fargo looks weird, and i imagine that has to translate into some weird handling. But i digress.

  10. #10
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seat_boy View Post
    Oddly, how a fork looks typically has no impact on how it handles. The Fargo handles fine with the stock fork (even if you ride it for more than a minute). If the OP likes drop bars, it would be hard to pass up checking out the Fargo as a candidate. Old mountain bikes would also make good candidates as others have mentioned. Rim brakes make mounting racks less problematic (although to toot the Fargo's horn again, racks are no problem on a Fargo due to their smart chainstay mounted disc brake)
    By minute, i mean more like a month, which is pretty brief for a bike you'd just bought a new frame and components for and lovingly built up. The thing is, my one buddy HATED the ride characteristics. That's just one guy, but he can't be alone; Salsa has revised the geometry for 2011.

    I agree that you can't always judge a book by its cover, but if one know *anything* about bicycle forks, one can usually guess some ride characteristics by checking out the rake, and comparing it to the head angle, which (among other things) affect the "trail" of the bike. One can see that the original fargo had some savage rake, and it looked weird with that head angle. The updated geometry is said to allow for the use of a 80mm suspension fork, with the rigid fork now being "suspension corrected" (read:longer) and the rake being less excessive (but still goofy at 45mm). I personally wonder if the change is more about accommodating suspension or addressing rider complaints? I'm just speculating; I don't have any insider information.

    So, yeah, I can look a bike's front end and decide that the fork looks "weird". If it does, I find it entirely not surprising that some users will think it handles oddly. (I was surprised that he abandoned the bike without trying a different fork or different stem first.) Same as I can look at an old bike with a bent fork, and mystically predict that it won't track well, even before I ride it. Amazing. =) I agree that you can't really say for sure until you've ridden a given bike, but with a little bit of knowledge and some observation, one can absolutely make some educated guesses.

    So, maybe seat_boy cannot predict how the visible attributes of a given fork will impact a bike's ride, but I can. =P

    For the record, old mountain bikes are way more affordable than the fargo, and aside from a comparatively high BB shell, there isn't alot of geometrical weirdness, unless we're talking about a nishiki alien here.

    -rob

  11. #11
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    get the rohloff, and a hebie chainglider for a very low maintenance ride. I change the oil, replace the chain, and adjust brake pads once a year. That is it.

    I built up a Tout Terrain silkroad w/dynohub for about your budget, and the KM frame is cheaper than the TT.

    I regularly swap between pre-cabled drops and flat-bars, and swap tires to either tour/commute or MTB/offroad tour. I use avid BB7 road disks, which work with road or cantilever levers.

    the Rohloff wheel was 1000 USD built by me. Its absolutely better than a 1000 dollar bike in my estimation. dependable. user friendly.

  12. #12
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    woah!

    That was a lot of information!

    I think I've decided to stick with v-brakes, and I might just pick up a nice older frame to save some dollars.

    Any recommendations on handle bars? I've tried the mtb drop bars and didn't like them, anything else you would try on a mtb with lots of hand position options?

    Thanks a lot folks!

  13. #13
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    I've tried lots of handlebar options on mountain bikes: On One Marys (big sweep), Titec H bars (big sweep plus more), various riser and flat bars, etc. My constant winner is a flat bar with bar ends. Lately, I'm liking my Salsa 17* sweep handlebar with bar ends. That's a nice combo. Nice too because all the controls from any mountain bike will switch straight over.

  14. #14
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4thgenlude View Post
    woah!

    That was a lot of information!

    I think I've decided to stick with v-brakes, and I might just pick up a nice older frame to save some dollars.

    Any recommendations on handle bars? I've tried the mtb drop bars and didn't like them, anything else you would try on a mtb with lots of hand position options?

    Thanks a lot folks!
    I'm trying discs on my new 29er. They're nice, but I'm not convinced that they're vastly superior to V-brakes. Don't regret the decision to go with linear pull. I think they're pretty awesome.

    I put Ergon grips on the 29er. It has flat bars and I wanted as much comfort as possible. I like them, although I wish you could adjust the angles of the grips and barends independently.

    I like the width and leverage of horizontal bars for off-road riding. However, I like drop bars better, so if I was building a bike for mostly road, I'd go with those. I've seen plenty of mountain bike frames that were converted to "road" bikes by putting on drops and road tires. It works fine. For a touring bike it probably works excellently. However, I've also heard it's a bit expensive, given the number of things you have to change. If I was building up from a bare frame, I'd go with what I wanted and not look back. If I had a mountain bike witih flat bars that needed converting, I'd price out the actual costs and see if I thought it was worth it.

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