owner of a v.v cheap bike
I have an old racer that I picked up a few years back when I was keen on getting back into cycling. However, I've ended up as more of a tourer, so the bike really isn't ideal for the job (hard to control when loaded with 2 full rear panniers and a tent!) and I have also come to a final conclusion that the frame is a bit on the small side.
Whilst browsing online I came across quite a cheap frame, the "Kinesis crosslight" which seems to sell for around £250 and, whilst technically a cyclocross frame, it seems to be reasonably well kitted out for touring. It claims (can't find a pic that shows there are 2 sets though) to have eyelets for guards and a rack, and says that it actually makes a great tourer on their site. I was wondering if anyone has any experience with touring one, or words of wisdom from touring another CX frame?
Using a cyclocross for touring
I can't tell you anything about that specific frame, but I have used a cyclocross bike for touring in the past as presently does a buddy of mine. The main issue you may have is the shorter length of the chainstays. I was able to buy an extra long rear rack to set my panniers further back. My buddy also has to place his packs back as far as possible to keep from having his heels strike the packs. Personally, I'd recommend you also have a front rack with low rider panniers to balance the load. Your rear packs do not necessarily have to be as large since some items will be stored up front.
Newer cyclocross bikes do not necessarily have low climbing gears. If it has a double crankset, you may want to switch it to a triple which may necessitate a rear derailer with a longer cage. Compact doubles can also have a decent low gear. My low is a 1:1 ratio - some people prefer something lower than that.
You'll also want to check the wheels. Make sure they're beefy with a good spoke count on strong rims. Both my bike and my friends came with strong 32 spoke wheels - I'm using 36 spoke wheels on my current touring bike.
I thoroughly enjoyed using my cyclocross bike for touring. Some of the benefits were the excellent clearance for wide tires and the strong cantilever brakes. The bike rode well and felt faster than a full-on touring bike. I could switch to off road tires for moderate trail rides or skinny high pressure tires for fast unloaded road rides. Depending on the geometry, the Kinesis could work great. I'd think your local bike shop could probably let you know more if you were able to bring it in and get their opinion.
If you're looking at the frame only, realize you'll probably end up buying many of the components rather than swapping them from your other bike. (More than likely, you would be better off not using the wheels from your old bike too) I've found buying individual components for a bike a much more expensive than buying a complete bike, but much more fun!
Last edited by mtnbud; 07-25-11 at 10:31 PM.
Reason: added info
Kenesis are highly regarded as stock geometry, build-up frames for everyday use. The Five-T has a 43cm chainstay which is OK for touring but shorter than a standard touring bike. Longer chainstays allow weight to be located within the wheelbase, rather than out beyond the rear axle which makes the bike very light and skittish at the front.
I toured on a Cannondale CX bike for years. I toured on it with rear panniers only. I used a seatpost rack. It places the panniers higher so feet don't hit them.