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Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

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Old 07-12-11, 09:31 AM   #1
k_allison510
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mountain biker looking to go on a tour

Hi guys. I have been wanting to get a road bike. I was looking at getting a regular road bike until I realized that tour bikes were a whole different machine. I have a budget of $2k but dont neccesarily need to spend it all if I can find a nice bike for less. The only one that I have looked at is the Trek 520. I like the Trek but wanted to see if there were better options for less/more. I would probably only be using the bike to get around town and go out riding on the weekends but I like the idea of being able to load it up and hit the road.
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Old 07-12-11, 09:48 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by k_allison510 View Post
Hi guys. I have been wanting to get a road bike. I was looking at getting a regular road bike until I realized that tour bikes were a whole different machine. I have a budget of $2k but dont neccesarily need to spend it all if I can find a nice bike for less. The only one that I have looked at is the Trek 520. I like the Trek but wanted to see if there were better options for less/more. I would probably only be using the bike to get around town and go out riding on the weekends but I like the idea of being able to load it up and hit the road.
Jamis, Surly, Bruce Gordon (BLT) and Fuji have nice bikes also. Bikes Direct has a couple of bikes that you'll need to perform final assembly on and by this time of the year the more popular sizes are sold out.

Brad

PS I forgot to mention that older full rigid mountain bikes often have a second life as commuters and tourers.

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Old 07-12-11, 10:08 AM   #3
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Figuring out the kind of touring that appeals to you will help you narrow your choices. For example, I like to tour on and off road, sometimes on the same tour, so I wanted a bike that could take fatter tires for off road, gravel roads, mud, sand, etcetera, but not be overbuilt and clunky on pavement like a modern mountain bike can be.

I carry a light load, but not an ultralight load, and hover around 200lbs myself, so I wanted durability, but in a frame that was not so stiff unloaded that it would beat me up on my daily commute. If I loaded out heavier, I'd have chosen a beefier frame, knowing I'd take a hit in comfort when not loaded. I also wanted disk brakes for easier setup over cantilever brakes and good control in wet and steep environments.

Make a list of bikes in your price range, and a list of places you want to go, and note how comfortable you care to be getting there, then start eliminating bikes from the roster. When you get as short list, start test riding the remainders, and figure it out.

Or, just go the 520 and correct from there. You could do a lot worse.
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Old 07-12-11, 10:31 AM   #4
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A steel 29er with a rigid fork will allow you to tour on or off road and carry the the heaviest loads comfortably.
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Old 07-12-11, 10:33 AM   #5
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Surly LHT is the current favorite touring bike for many. About $1200. The 520 has been around forever and will certainly get the job done. It may be a little lighter than the Surly, and reportedly has frame flex issues with a heavy load being pedaled by a stong rider. OTOH, it may be a bit more nimble than the Surly. Probably just splitting hairs.

Getting further from the 'road' bike concept is the Trek 7.3 fx. More along the lines of the ridid MTB mentioned by bradtx. Comfortable geometry suitable for around town and light touring. Much less expensive than most dedicated touring bikes. The flat bars are a negative for touring, but that can be fixed.

Make sure that whatever you decide on is as close a fit as you can get. Then, with experience, you can modify the components to suit your personal preferences.
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Old 07-12-11, 10:36 AM   #6
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A steel 29er with a rigid fork will allow you to tour on or off road and carry the the heaviest loads comfortably.
So will a Salsa Vaya or Salsa Fargo.
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Old 07-12-11, 11:47 AM   #7
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Not sure if you WANT to spend $2K for another bike (in which case the suggestions above are fine), but if you want to save some money, see if your MTB works as a tourer (>= 1050 mm wheelbase, >= 440 mm chainstay, braze-ons for rear rack, low gearing [shouldn't be a problem for a MTB conversion]). If so, then you can switch out knobbies for MTB slicks (Schwalbe is the way to go) and even consider spending a couple hundred to switch out flat handlebars for drops, trekking, mustache bars, etc. Just remember that if you switch to drops you'll need to get brake levers that work with your brakes and bar-end shifters.

This is just an idea if you want to save some money on the bike and use that extra money on accessories like a trailer, panniers, cycling clothes, bike lights, etc.
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Old 07-12-11, 11:49 AM   #8
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So will a Salsa Vaya or Salsa Fargo.
Put a dirt drop such as the WTB Mountain Road, Salsa Woodchipper, or Soma June Bug on a 29er and you have essentially the same thing. But, it will be better on the dirt and every bit as good on the road at a much lower price. The Dawes Deadeye and Bullseye are good examples.
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Old 07-12-11, 12:38 PM   #9
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You could just modify the bike you have 26" wheels are fine with the right tire ,
rather than the knobbys for dirt riding, and racks , panniers and so forth , with that $2K,
camping gear, sleeping kit, etc..

Rigid fork, hard tail MTB's work well ..
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Old 07-12-11, 12:56 PM   #10
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Just rode my Surly LHT, which I also commute with, on a 460 mile tour in SW Montana. Everything stock. Racks and panniers and a pretty good load on it. The route included over 50 miles of unpaved roads, some of which were pretty bumpy in places. The bike performed beautifully. This was taken after 20 rough, unpaved miles:



The discerning eye may notice a potentially catastrophic condition. I mounted the racks at a riverfront park in Missoula five days earlier. A rain storm began to move in and I finished the job quickly. Right after this photo was taken, I noticed my front rack was askew. When I checked it, I realized that the one of the eyelet bolts had worked itself loose had fallen off. The second one was half way towards the same fate. In the words of Foghorn Leghorn "or occasions rare, I carry a spare."

Don't forget to check your rack bolts.
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Old 07-12-11, 02:15 PM   #11
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Put a dirt drop such as the WTB Mountain Road, Salsa Woodchipper, or Soma June Bug on a 29er and you have essentially the same thing. But, it will be better on the dirt and every bit as good on the road at a much lower price. The Dawes Deadeye and Bullseye are good examples.
I think you need to look at the Fargo a bit closer before you make that statement. Steel frame, disc brake, rigid or suspension fork long chainstayed 29'er. It was designed from the ground up as a dirt tourer

The Deadeye is an aluminum framed singlespeed (without discs), and The Bullseye is closer but still singlespeed and chock full of crap parts. . Both aren't even in the same ballpark.
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Old 07-12-11, 02:29 PM   #12
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There's a host of decent touring bikes, as well as MTB conversions and cross bikes that have the braze-ons for racks. I'm mildly surprised that nobody has mentioned the Kona Sutra. my tastes generally run to European tourers, but I like Kona bikes, and this is a bike that is fun to ride when unloaded as well as a capable tourer. Well withIn your budget and, in my view, more enjoyable than a LHT.
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Old 07-12-11, 02:54 PM   #13
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I don't know if you are in a small town, or a city, but the most significant issue in the internet purchase of my touring bike was size. Once it arrived, I realized I would be better off with a size larger. If you don't have a selection where you live, it is worth phoning the shops in the nearest city to see if they have your size in the bikes you want to test ride. Then make the two or three hour drive on a nice Saturday.

One more bike you might consider is the Cannondale t1 and t2. They were discontinued in 2011 but a dealer may have a couple in stock.

The main thing is not to get overwhelmed by all the choices. It is supposed to be fun. Once you have the basic attributes - 44 cm chainstay, granny gear, dropped handlebars, braze-ons for fenders and racks - the rest is academic.

Enjoy!
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Old 07-12-11, 04:25 PM   #14
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I currently ride a Trek Marlin 29er. It is a hard tail but does have a fork lock out for road use. How hard would it be to put racks on it? And I have never even ridden a bike with drop down bars so I guess I do not know what I am missing but is it really that important to have them? I went to my LBS's today and looked. The trek/gt dealer did not have anything but full on road bikes or mtb. The other place is mostly a Kona dealer with a few cannondale/rocky mountain. They did not appear to have anything instock either. They did have some commuters though.

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Old 07-12-11, 04:43 PM   #15
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I think you need to look at the Fargo a bit closer before you make that statement. Steel frame, disc brake, rigid or suspension fork long chainstayed 29'er. It was designed from the ground up as a dirt tourer

The Deadeye is an aluminum framed singlespeed (without discs), and The Bullseye is closer but still singlespeed and chock full of crap parts. . Both aren't even in the same ballpark.
The Deadeye and Bullseye both have the same CrMo steel frame and fork. They're sold as singlespeeds but are gear ready. The Bullseye has Avid disks and the Deadeye is disk ready.
Fargo $1650, Vaya $1499, Deadeye $339, Bullseye $379.
I could build up a pretty nice Deadeye or Bullseye for less than half of a Fargo or Vaya. The wheels on the Deadeye/Bullseye are very nice, 29er rims, good hubs, 36 spokes, are great touring wheels. They have a very nice Gravity crank with an Isis bottom bracket.
All the other parts on these bikes are plenty good and usable.
If you've never seen these bikes I can't blame you for assuming they are junk, but they are not.
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Old 07-12-11, 04:54 PM   #16
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I am really only wanting something to ride around town and go out on the highway on the weekends. I figure it will be atleast a year before I am fit enough to be able to put in substantial miles. I have thought about buying a cheaper bike to help me get to the level were I need to be and then go get something better. Right now, I only go riding on the weekends and have to drive about 25 miles down to the canyon. I might go a little in the evenings with my kids but that really does not count. I would like something that I could jump on in the evenings and ride about 10 to 15 miles. Should I just try and do this on my mtb? If not, suggestions on what to get. Thanks again for all the replies and opinions. I really appreciate it.
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Old 07-12-11, 05:22 PM   #17
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A NICE folding bike will be easy to move about, with, and on, and are, just fine to ride.

I like my Brompton, temporarily have 2, shedding 1, soon, M3R
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Old 07-12-11, 06:39 PM   #18
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I currently ride a Trek Marlin 29er. It is a hard tail but does have a fork lock out for road use. How hard would it be to put racks on it? And I have never even ridden a bike with drop down bars so I guess I do not know what I am missing but is it really that important to have them? I went to my LBS's today and looked. The trek/gt dealer did not have anything but full on road bikes or mtb. The other place is mostly a Kona dealer with a few cannondale/rocky mountain. They did not appear to have anything instock either. They did have some commuters though.
Your Trek Marlin is fine for touring. Of course, you'll want to run smooth, narrower touring tires, they'll fit fine on the 29er rims.
You do not need a drop bar. Many people have them but few ever ride in the drops. A wide mountain bar will give you better leverage for climbing.
Check out Old Man Mountain racks. I used to have one that worked on a suspension fork.
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Old 07-12-11, 08:39 PM   #19
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Never even thought of using my Marlin and I like the sound of it. It saves some serious cash as well. Do you think that I would need to change the gearing at all. I struggled a bit a few weeks ago in Colorado on some hills. They were not real steep like a pass, but were not ant hills either. I never had to stop but damn sure wanted to a few times and if I would have had any gear loaded, I would have had to do the walk of shame.
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Old 07-12-11, 09:53 PM   #20
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Never even thought of using my Marlin and I like the sound of it. It saves some serious cash as well. Do you think that I would need to change the gearing at all. I struggled a bit a few weeks ago in Colorado on some hills. They were not real steep like a pass, but were not ant hills either. I never had to stop but damn sure wanted to a few times and if I would have had any gear loaded, I would have had to do the walk of shame.
No, you won't have to change the gearing, your lowest gear is as low as it gets.
Climbing is an art, there's a lot more to it than stuffing it in the lowest gear and "gearing" your way up.
It's about getting the maximum leverage at the cranks and this is done by very carefully adjusting your bike fit.
It can take years to get it and some never get it.
If it feels better to walk, walk, why suffer? Or, even better, sit down in the shade, breath in the air, and take in the view.
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Old 07-12-11, 10:48 PM   #21
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I ended up doing just that. I put it in low and sat down and just crawled up at about 3-4 mph. How much difference would it have made if I would have had thinner tires? Is it a big advantage over my 2.10's?
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Old 07-12-11, 11:04 PM   #22
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Converting a Gary Fisher (made by Trek) mountain bike now... Not a 29'er though. If yours has disc brakes make sure you get a rack that will work with them (passing along what I learned on here). Check out the Ergon grips, love the ones I just put on my bike. You can adjust the grips and bar ends independently of each other to get a fit you like. No need to change brake handles or shifters (although you might have to move them a bit on the bars) I haven't ridden my first tour yet... but before I got my road bike I put a LOT of miles on my mountain bike (with semi-slicks) on it. My only regret.... I wish I would have had the Ergon grips!!

Still don't know what I'm doing...... but still I'm having fun doing it....
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Old 07-12-11, 11:29 PM   #23
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I ended up doing just that. I put it in low and sat down and just crawled up at about 3-4 mph. How much difference would it have made if I would have had thinner tires? Is it a big advantage over my 2.10's?
You're not going to revolutionize your climbing prowess by BUYING anything, including smoother/thinner tires.
It takes practice and thought to improve, neither of which can be bought.
But, smoother/thinner tires will save you a lot of energy over the course of the day leaving you more energy for climbing.
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Old 07-12-11, 11:33 PM   #24
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Converting a Gary Fisher (made by Trek) mountain bike now... Not a 29'er though. If yours has disc brakes make sure you get a rack that will work with them (passing along what I learned on here). Check out the Ergon grips, love the ones I just put on my bike. You can adjust the grips and bar ends independently of each other to get a fit you like. No need to change brake handles or shifters (although you might have to move them a bit on the bars) I haven't ridden my first tour yet... but before I got my road bike I put a LOT of miles on my mountain bike (with semi-slicks) on it. My only regret.... I wish I would have had the Ergon grips!!

Still don't know what I'm doing...... but still I'm having fun doing it....
Yeah, those Ergon with the built-in bar ends are great. You can really generate some good leverage for climbing with bar ends.
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Old 07-12-11, 11:49 PM   #25
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I'm not real worried about the climbing now. I was on vacation then but I actually live in the Texas panhandle. Which just happens to be one of the absolute flattest places in the us. The only hills around here are the highway overpasses. I am just trying to learn the pro's and con's of the different set ups. Has anyone had any experience with the Bruce gorden BLT. It seems to be a nice bike for a good price. Is there anything that compares to it in the same price range?
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