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  1. #1
    nbh
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    Specialized Tricross Sport vs. Surly Long Haul Trucker

    Hi there,

    I'm in the market for a new touring bike. I've done some touring before, most notably in 2008 when I rode 1280 km around Taiwan over the course of 11 days, but I've never had a touring bike. My current bike, a 21-inch Giant XTC with 26" wheels, is too small for me (I'm 6'2", or 188 cm if you prefer the metric system) and has gotten uncomfortable to ride, not to mention it's not designed for touring.

    Anyway, here in Taiwan, there aren't a lot of touring bikes available, especially for tall guys like me. So far the only one I've been able to find is a 2011 Specialized Tricross Sport, which I actually like a lot. It's pretty much either that or a Surly Long Haul Trucker, which I can pick up when I go home to the States for Christmas this December.

    Both of these bikes have what I want: a relatively upright riding position, drop bars, 700c wheels, pannier mounts in both the front and the rear, and a reasonable price. As I see it, the main differences are steel vs. aluminum, the fit (I haven't ridden either bike yet, so I don't know which one I'll like better), and the availability (I could buy the Tricross this week but I'd have to wait three months for the Surly). Also, I suppose there's the issue of portability: I've heard that the Trucker offers S&S couplers that would make it easy to take the bike on a plane. Should I take this into consideration?

    Anyway, you guys know exponentially more about touring than I do, so I'd love to hear your thoughts.

  2. #2
    HomeBrew Master! Gus Riley's Avatar
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    No doubt, S & S couplers are a good option if you're traveling (flying, train, etc.). I ride a LHT and love it. It is built, well, for the long haul. Once dialed in, it is extremely comfortable, and steady as the Rock of Gilbralter. And...it is a bit heavy, but that hasn't bothered me...until I pick up one of my tour partner's Tricross, which feels at least ten pounds lighter. He does very well on it. He has only done a bunch of short tours, and so far has never had a problem. I have recommended that he put some beefier wheels (more spokes) on it, and some wider tires. However, he has yet to "fully load" it for longer tours, so he isn't carrying full weights. But he keeps plugging along on it, no problems.

    The steel of the LHT can be easily be repaired, while the Tricross aluminum would be far more of a problem if a weld were required. My LHT is equipped with 26" wheels, I have heard they are the favored wheel of the world. The Tricross is 700 equipped.

    The LHT has bar end shifters, while the Tricross is brifter equipped. Bar end shifters are simplier and less prone to tour stopping malfunctions. And if they were to malfunction, they (rear only has this dual option) are designed with an option to use in a detent mode or if the detent has problems, it sports an option to use in a friction mode.

    He seems to be comfortable on his Tricross.
    Last edited by Gus Riley; 09-19-11 at 09:15 AM.
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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    I think you'd be fine with the Tricross. People toured on cross bikes for years before the recent advent of touring-specific bikes. The S&S frame adds at least $1200 to the cost of the bike, so that requires many flights just to break even.

    If you want to tour and/or ride a bike that actually fits properly in the next ~3 months, I'd get the Tricross.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nbh View Post
    As I see it, the main differences are steel vs. aluminum, the fit (I haven't ridden either bike yet, so I don't know which one I'll like better), and the availability (I could buy the Tricross this week but I'd have to wait three months for the Surly).

    the main difference is handling and load carrying capability. TriCross is more responsive, LHT is more of a straight line riding bike for carrying heavy loads. Unloaded the Tricross will be more responsive. If you said 80% of your riding was unloaded with 20% lightly loaded I'd go for the TriCross, if 80% was loaded or 20% HEAVILY loaded I'd go for the LHT. If the LHT was made in aluminum and the TriCross in steel the differences would be the same. One is a cross bike, one is a touring bike for heavy loads.

  5. #5
    nbh
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    Thanks, it's good to hear the Tricross would make a good tourer. My instinct is to go with aluminum over steel because it's lighter and won't rust in the humid climate here. Also, though I may potentially do heavily loaded extended touring at some point in the distant future, right now I can't imagine myself going out for longer than a month, so it's not like I need to buy a tank.

    I didn't realize the S&S couplers were so expensive! I guess that rules out that option. Also, they require 26" wheels, and I'm told that larger wheels are better for touring, although I wouldn't know because I've never had anything but 26-inchers. I read on another thread that 26" wheels are easier to find in most countries, but again, I don't see myself pedaling across sub-Saharan Africa anytime soon, so I don't think that really matters.

    As I write this, the only XL Tricross in Taiwan is on its way from the warehouse to the local Specialized shop. If it fits, I think I might just have to snap it up!

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    nbh
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    By the way, another reason I like these two bikes is that they'd make good road bikes. (Otherwise, I'd be very, very tempted by the Salsa Fargo, which looks totally badass.) In the past, I've only had mountain bikes, and that doesn't really make sense for a guy who hardly ever rides off-road. I don't need shocks, I prefer a flat top tube, and I'd really like to try the drop bars that everybody says work well for long rides because of the variety of hand positions they allow. Plus, I want to go faster! Even with smooth tires, mountain bikes are slow.

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    nbh
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    If you said 80% of your riding was unloaded with 20% lightly loaded I'd go for the TriCross, if 80% was loaded or 20% HEAVILY loaded I'd go for the LHT.
    When you say HEAVILY loaded, how heavily do you mean?

    Most of the time I'll be unloaded or lightly loaded. However, I have been wanting to do a month-long tour of Hokkaido one of these days. Not sure how much gear that would require, but I doubt it would be more than 40 pounds. Do you think the Tricross could handle that?

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    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    I wonder when the LHT with disk brakes comes out. Then you could throw 26" or 700c wheels on it and be good to go whenever, no?

    But it really depends on what type of riding you're going to do most of. If you do a lot of fitness riding with little/no weight, go with the sportier tricross. If you're going to do more loaded commuting/grocery getting, full on touring for most of the miles, the LHT might be better. Personally, I've wanted to try brifters and mainly do commuting/recreational rides (with a few heavily loaded grocery trips - but those are rare), so I'd probably go with the tricross if it was me.

    Edit: whoops, your reply beat me to it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nbh View Post
    When you say HEAVILY loaded, how heavily do you mean?
    Weight on the rear tends to reduce the apparent "wheelbase" (making steering more sensitive). Weight on "low rider" front racks tends to make the steering less sensitive. A bike with a longer wheelbase to start with will generally handle rear loads better. And a longer wheelbase will provide more room to position rear panniers so your heels don't strike them but will still allow the weight not to be too far back.

    Quote Originally Posted by nbh View Post
    Most of the time I'll be unloaded or lightly loaded. However, I have been wanting to do a month-long tour of Hokkaido one of these days. Not sure how much gear that would require, but I doubt it would be more than 40 pounds.
    Keep in mind that people use touring bicycles unloaded (for just riding around). Some touring bikes are so tuned to carrying weight that they aren't optimal for doing that. But others can be quite fine for that.

    People also use all sorts of bicycles for loaded touring. Short wheelbased bikes (like racing bikes) tend not to be great for that and they also tend to have wheels that are too light.

    Quote Originally Posted by nbh View Post
    Do you think the Tricross could handle that?
    Yes. The "lower end" models come with front racks on the front forks. Somebody here loaded a Tricross up for a tour in Asia (Thailand?).
    Last edited by njkayaker; 09-19-11 at 11:02 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nbh View Post
    By the way, another reason I like these two bikes is that they'd make good road bikes. .
    The LHT is a good touring bike. It's not a particularly good "road bike" as in unloaded road racing bike that is nimble and responsive. The 26" wheeled LHT is better handling IMHO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nbh View Post
    When you say HEAVILY loaded, how heavily do you mean?

    Most of the time I'll be unloaded or lightly loaded. However, I have been wanting to do a month-long tour of Hokkaido one of these days. Not sure how much gear that would require, but I doubt it would be more than 40 pounds. Do you think the Tricross could handle that?
    40lbs or more, 25 on rear 15 on front. Sounds like the Tricross will meet your needs better. TriCross will be more enjoyable with 25lbs than 40.

    If you wanted a responsive fat tired touring bike the 26" wheeled LHT is a good choice. It handles more like the Cross-Check than the 700c LHT. Either way the LHT feels like a tank compared to the TriCross.

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    chain stay length important

    Make sure the chain stay length will accommodate your panniers and your feet. The LHT has 460mm chain stays 20mm longer than the Tricross. If you are 6'2" I am assuming you have pretty long feet. Heel strike is always an issue. Long chain stays part of the solution!

    Pushing panniers way back on a rack to get them clear of your heel can make the load sway a bit more than usual.

  13. #13
    HomeBrew Master! Gus Riley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sedges View Post
    Make sure the chain stay length will accommodate your panniers and your feet. The LHT has 460mm chain stays 20mm longer than the Tricross. If you are 6'2" I am assuming you have pretty long feet. Heel strike is always an issue. Long chain stays part of the solution!

    Pushing panniers way back on a rack to get them clear of your heel can make the load sway a bit more than usual.
    My experience with the Tricross says there is plenty of chain stay length. Probably no problems there.

    At 40 pounds of gear (including panniers), plus your weight, water, maybe fenders, underseat tool bag, and a handlebar bag the stock wheels may be too lightly built. IMHO a month tour is really not a "short" tour. The stock wheels may not stand up to that length of a tour. Point is, I think the Tricross can be a great full up tour bike, but it needs stouter wheels.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    I think you'd be fine with the Tricross. People toured on cross bikes for years before the recent advent of touring-specific bikes. The S&S frame adds at least $1200 to the cost of the bike, so that requires many flights just to break even.
    Maybe $600 extra, not $1200 but yeah there's a lot to be said for instant gratification too.

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    I'm 6'3", and I found the XL Tricross a bit small for me:

    The carbon steerer (on the higher end models) limits how high you can get the bars--they only recommend ~40mm of spacers under the stem.

    I much prefer my Fargo!


    I find it a very capable road bike, but also a competent mountain bike:

  16. #16
    djb
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    nbh,

    My opinion is biased partly because I am a very happy owner of a Tricross Sport that I bought last summer for similar reasons you are thinking of one. I have done a fair amount of touring on a steel touring bike that I bought in 90 or 91. I used that bike for everything, trips, commuting, fun rides, etc. I then had a mtn bike (a 98 that I bought in perhaps 2001 or 2002) that I ended up using nearly all the time, and eventually put slicks on as I so rarely needed proper knobbies.

    Last summer when beginning to look at ideas for a new bike, I was looking for something similar to how you describe what you want--not a pure road bike, as I wanted a rack on it, fenders, low gearing like a touring bike (triple crank) something tougher than a road bike, so tougher wheels---but I knew I would rarely be fully loaded (bags front and back etc) so I really did want something faster and lighter than my touring bike.

    This is when I began being intrigued by cross bikes, ability to take a wide range of tire widths, room for fenders, and sometimes low touring ish gearing. Lots of them out there, but many really aimed at cross racing often had double cranks as well as tighter range rear cassettes (often 11-25 teeth) I knew I wanted a triple, and the Tricross Sport had the bread and butter 50/39/30, as well as a long cage rear derailleur with a 11-32 cassette. That meant it had a reasonable low gear (though not low enough for true loaded touring in hilly areas) which could be lowered further by changing the granny to a smaler one than 30 (26 or even a 24 perhaps)

    So gearing was what I know I wanted and needed, it has brifters (which I found intriguing and are fun to ride with) and 32 spoke wheels which are tougher than a road bike, but probably not tough enough for fully loaded.
    In the end, I knew that teh bike would be used like you are thinking, 80% unloaded or light to med loads, and maybe sometime with more stuff on it.
    I switched the tires out to road slick 28s and between that, the reasonable weight (stock it was 25lbs, not light by any means, the higher up models are lighter) and the fact that it is a nice stiff frame that is still not overly stiff (carbon fork, rear stays shape helps with vibrations) means that it is a fun fun bike to ride fast.

    I ride mostly unloaded, but have often had two full rear panniers on it, and it rides fine with easily 20-30 lbs on it. I am 5'10.5 but the 54cm frame fits me perfectly. I only weigh 140lbs so this certainly helps with the wheelset not being overstressed, and I ride fast over rough roads all the time here in Montreal and all is well.

    I also ride regularly on steep stuff, so having the cassette than goes to 32 teeth at the back, and the 30 granny is great. That said, it would have to lowered some if I were to put 40lbs plus of stuff on it, but that is fairly easily done and not very expensive either (granny gear change would be the easiest way)

    As I said, 25lbs stock is nothing light light, and anyway, its really closer to 30lbs with my rear rack, fender, bottles, pump and seat bag minimum with a tube and repair stuff in that. It has fork holes to put on a lowrider front rack, it has three water bottle spots. My 54cm handles a rack and my Ortlieb bags without any issue (but I have size 42 feet, or about 9)

    Given that you think you will ride mostly unloaded, this sort of bike will be much more enjoyable if you like going at a good pace, and for climbing. One can always make a cross bike even closer to a road bike with a lighter wheelset, and even narrower tires such as 25s or 23s. I could do that, and change the cassette to a 12-25 for tighter ratios and that would be even better for fast riding, but I like the wider range of gears for when i have more stuff in a pannier and hit steep stuff.

    A LHT or any true true tourer will always be better for full on touring. Yes the tricross is alu, so in the wrong circumstances could be an issue with damage, the carbon fork would be more susceptible to damage as well, birfters are expensive if damaged too-- I certainly wouldnt suggest it for someone doing a non-first world tour---but for the type of riding you are describing, this cross bike is in my opinion, a great inbetween a tourer and a road bike. I also really like having the top bar extra brake levers, really like em now. (especially after putting on softer brake pads that improved the cantis braking power)

    As I said, I have a bias to the tricross, especially because of the gearing (just about all the other cross bikes I looked at did not have as low gearing, usually short cage RD and 11-25 max rear cassettes) and often they had compact double cranks (50-34 type of thing, I knew I wanted a triple for sure)

    I think it would be prudent to say that if you know you are going to be treating your bike quite roughly, perhaps a steel frame would be better, or not with brifters, but going from how you describe things, you would be okay with alu and such. My tricross is a 2010. Things may have changed with the newer ones.

    good luck with your deciding and/or looking at other ideas.

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    nbh
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    Thanks for the pictures, seat_boy! If the XL Tricross was small for you, I'm afraid it might be small for me too. When the one I'm thinking of buying comes into the shop, I'll take a picture of it and post it here.

    djb, it seems like we have a lot in common in our riding habits despite vast climatic differences. :-) Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the Tricross! I'm pretty convinced that it'll do what I want it to do, but I have to make sure it fits before I can buy it.

    I've never had a touring luggage rack before, so I've never had problems with my heels hitting my panniers. I have occasionally managed to hit the chain stays on my current bike, although that's probably because the bike is too small. Incidentally, I don't have a problem when I clip in.

    How did I tour without a luggage rack, you ask? Like this (you have to click the pics to see them clearly):


    This is my old 22" Fuji that got stolen in 2008. Not knowing any better, I just got a rack that attached to the seatpost and loaded it up with whatever I needed. That worked just fine on flat ground, but when I added camping gear and did some serious climbing, the bike looked like this:


    I had to get off and walk up the steeper hills or the bike would tip over backward. Technically I wasn't supposed to load more than 10 kg of stuff onto the rack; fortunately the seat post never snapped. I still have the same rack and panniers today, mainly because my bike doesn't have mounts for front OR rear luggage racks. That needs to be remedied. I have to think it would be easier to climb loaded if more of the weight was in front.

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    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    as far as front racks, I'm a fan of my Jannd Extreme (not my source as I got mine on ebay from what appears to be bf user FBinNY or at least someone who sent me a sample of his Chain-L) and that comes with a lot of mounting hardware for if you don't have eyelets on the front of your rack. You just may need a different bolt or washers depending on your bike, but the clamps are included and it's rated for 40 lbs.
    Last edited by himespau; 09-20-11 at 06:18 AM.
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  19. #19
    djb
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    30+11-32.pngre cross bikes, the main appeal for me is that they are designed with the idea of bouncing around on grass, dirt, whatever, so they are tougher than road bikes, and the front forks and rear part of the bike is set up so that larger tires can be put on. On my bike, especially as I put thinner 28 slicks on, there is a ton of space for much much larger tires, which could be really handy if the roads you are going to be on are very rough.
    Cantilever brakes make it easy to fit on fenders (many touring bikes have these type brakes)

    The 2010 Tricross , while listed as a cross bike, is more shaped like a tourer--in comparing it to my old touring bike, they both have the same wheelbase, chainstay length (so I knew I wouldnt hit my heels on my panniers, which was never a problem) and in the end, while I was concerned that it might be a very fast steering bike, it steers quicker than my touring bike, but is not twitchy at all, and is entirely comfortable for all day long rides, day after day (have done a six day trip on it)
    I know Specialized brought in a diff true "cross racer" model ( the Crux?) which has more aggressive geometry. Some other cross bikes are like this too, so shorter chainstays etc so more potential issues with heelstrike on bags, and/or not having eyelets at all for racks.

    About fit--again, I went looking at bikes with my tourer dimensions as a baseline, I knew I wanted a slightly shorter toptube and "seat to handlebar" distance than my tourer (it had had always a bit too much reach) , so it was easy for me to "know" what would fit me properly. I was lucky in that the stock handlebar stem on the Tricross was bang on for the reach for me, but you being taller, remember that if the frame is fairly close to fitting you well, it is easy to change the stock stem to a longer one, or shorter. In a good bike store, they will change this out free of charge and it takes literally minutes to do.

    From you photos, you probably do hit steep hills, so I would be very wary of bikes with not low enough gearing. Check out the Sheldon Brown gear calculator to see what gearing you have on your present bike to get an idea of what you are used to, so you can compare other bike ideas with their gearing--

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/index.html

    --change "wheel size" to your size, and change "gear units" to "gear inches" and then fill in your front and rear gears to get a graph showing the "gear inch" amount for each gear. The tricross with a 30 granny gear and a 32 rear largest tooth gives about 25 gear inches. For really steep hills and a whole load of crap on your bike, you would want lower, like 21 ish, but unloaded, this 25 gear inch is not bad.

    By using this gear calculator, you can directly compare bikes with a "X" number of gear inches of the lowest gears (or highest or whatever) and like I said, if you do this for your present bike, you will have a real world idea of what you use, and what you need. Attached is my Tricross gearing chart.

    There are perhaps other light touring bikes out there that would be appealing to you, with gearing that would be low enough for your uses, for less money than a Tricross, which would leave you more money for racks, panniers etc. Mine btw cost nearly $1400 Canadian. One thing for you is that if you ship a bike from the states back to Taiwan, there will be an extra fee , plus you do have to make sure it is packed properly and there always is a risk of damage travelling by air (I mean there always is, but its another factor to consider, plus transport in Taiwan to where you live etc)

    cheers
    Last edited by djb; 09-20-11 at 09:11 AM.

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    nbh
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    Tricross pics

    When I revisited the Specialized shop today, they were just putting the Tricross together. It looks like this:


    Overall, I like it. My two main quibbles are that the 58-cm frame seems a tad small and there aren't enough mounts to add both a fender and a luggage rack in the back:


    The shop employees say I can come back on Sunday and take the Tricross for a test ride, so that's what I'm going to do.

    Any thoughts?

  21. #21
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    People toured on cross bikes for years before the recent advent of touring-specific bikes.
    You have it backwards. People cyclocrossed on touring bikes long before the advent of cyclocross specific bikes. Touring-specific bikes have been around a very, very, very long time. They also do a far better job of carrying a load than a platypussed cross bike.
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    djb
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    Quote Originally Posted by nbh View Post
    Overall, I like it. My two main quibbles are that the 58-cm frame seems a tad small and there aren't enough mounts to add both a fender and a luggage rack in the back:
    Any thoughts?
    as I said, Im 5'10.5" and the 54 fits me really really well (for my torso arm dimensions). A 58 if you are 6'2" I dunno.
    yes there is only one eyelet at the back, but really its a non issue as I just put the bolt through both my rack and fender, works fine.

    OH, I forgot, we cant see the rear derailleur or cassette properly, you will want to make sure that it isnt a short cage derailleur, and a cassette that only goes to 25 teeth max. My RD is a Deore LX , cassette is 11-32 teeth.
    Last edited by djb; 09-23-11 at 06:13 PM.

  23. #23
    djb
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    You have it backwards. People cyclocrossed on touring bikes long before the advent of cyclocross specific bikes. Touring-specific bikes have been around a very, very, very long time. They also do a far better job of carrying a load than a platypussed cross bike.
    yup about tourers used for cross, absolutely (road bikes were and are limited to max tire widths, road brakes gum up with mud, slower steering better in truly crappy conditions)

    and yes, a true tourer is always going to be better for loaded touring....BUT as I always say with this topic, for someone who might only tour a little bit, a bike like a tricross, or any number of other bikes that are lighter than a tourer,more responsive, will be more fun to ride in the 90% of its riding lifetime.
    This is of course up to the buyer to decide on how much touring he/she will do, how much stuff they will be carrying, what sort of places they will be going to etc etc. I admit freely that I knew that I really didnt need a heavy duty tourer, so a bike like the Tricross is good for my needs. I also honestly believe that compared to my 20 yr old Kuwahara tourer, the tricross would handle just as well loaded as the old bike (and the tricross being quite a lot stiffer, might very well be better handling)

    Ideally NBH would be able to test ride a bunch of light tourers, steel framed ones too, as my understanding of his needs are that a light tourer would be more fun for him to ride in all the non-touring times...
    that said, test riding some "real" tourers would also be a great idea to get an idea of how all the various bikes actually feel.
    Heck, perhaps a bike like the BD tourer at $700 would be an interesting choice (is it teh Motobecane?)

    other ideas of bike suggestions for him?--especially ones with cranks smaller than 50/39/30, given the descriptions of the hilly terrain he did with his nutso over-rear-loaded mtn bike?
    Last edited by djb; 09-23-11 at 06:15 PM.

  24. #24
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    Never trust a stranger sizing you on the internet, but I bet it will be too small. My Tricross above was a 61cm, and at 6'3", I found it a bit small.

    Quote Originally Posted by nbh View Post
    When I revisited the Specialized shop today, they were just putting the Tricross together. It looks like this:

    Overall, I like it. My two main quibbles are that the 58-cm frame seems a tad small and there aren't enough mounts to add both a fender and a luggage rack in the back:

    The shop employees say I can come back on Sunday and take the Tricross for a test ride, so that's what I'm going to do.

    Any thoughts?

  25. #25
    djb
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    seat- Fargo looks neat, why did you change out the crank to a single chainring, just curious. As per your Tricross, did you ever look into a longer stem, by perhaps 2cm? (if it always felt a bit too small)

    As you say, its tricky with sizing, even in a store with an salesperson either not being knowledgeble, not giving a rats patooee, and/or wanting to get a bike off the floor. I have had to change to shorter stems on a few of my bikes, I know numerous people sold bikes with too much reach. As I said, it helped immensely for me when shopping for a new bike last summer by having my old tourer as a baseline of measurements, knowing a bit shorter reach would make the world of difference.

    ps, your Fargo "train" must give you a darn good workout.

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