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  1. #1
    Senior Member Spld cyclist's Avatar
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    Opinions of Bianchi Volpe for touring?

    I know people use the Volpe for touring, but I understand it's more of an all-around bike rather than a purpose-built touring bike. I have a 2005 and have enjoyed it a lot for commuting (with rack and rear panniers) and recreational rides. I don't have any specific plans to go touring in the near future, but I would like to give it a try sooner or later. For future reference, I was wondering if this would be a good one to use.

    My question stems partly from a couple reviews I have read online where people had concerns about the fork. The specific issue was front brake chatter with a front rack and panniers. It's difficult to know if better brake setup might have helped these people, but I know I had the same problem without adding a rack and additional weight into the equation. I finally added one of those silly-looking brake boosters (an aluminum horseshoe-shaped thing you clamp to the canti bosses to stiffen the fork). It helped a lot. That plus some other tinkering have mostly solved the problem.

    So anyway, is there a concern with the fork on this bike for touring? Aside from the fork issue, are there any other things that stand out as being good or bad from a touring perspective?

    Thanks!

    Jim S.

  2. #2
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    I have never ridden a Volpe, but from everything I have seen and heard they are fantastic bikes. Don't think you will have any problems at all touring with it. I have never heard anything about the brake chatter from front rack and panniers. I buddy of mine just picked one up and posted it over in the C&V forum, where others sang the praises of the bikes comfort and all around capability. When I find an older one for a good deal I plan to buy it. I would say to use it and maybe try an overnighter or weekend trip to test the waters and see how you like its performance when loaded. My guess is that you will like it a lot!
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  3. #3
    djb
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    just be aware that the gearing will be too high for really mountainy areas with steep hills, and high overall if it has a 52/42/30 Other than that, if you can put stuff on it and have fun and the wheels stay together, presto, its a touring bike and you can go on a trip with it.

    oh, and lets say you really wanted to put a crapload of stuff on it for a trip, a bike store could slap a brand new mtn bike crank 42/32/22 on for $40 (like an Alivio), installation and readjusting your front derailleur would be minimal, and presto, you now would have a touring bike you actually could ride up steep hills with a crapload of stuff on it. (maybe a new chain too, or shorten the original)

  4. #4
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    I have used my 2007 Volpe for a 3650 mile fully loaded cross country-ride, the Pacific Coast Route from Lund BC to San Francisco, and several other multi-week tours. It is a good touring bike. I also have a Surly LHT which is a good touring bike. The only reason I have the Surly is that I picked a new frame up at a ridiculously low price. Then I was forced to build it--right The Volpe is lighter, at least the way I have it set up, more agile and probably as sturdy. I have identical drive trains on both: 44/32/22 crankset with 11-34 rear cassette. Over time I have developed a good combination of components that work really well with STI shifters. We also have the same setup on my wife's bikes.

    I wouldn't hesitate to take the Bianchi anywhere I'd take the LHT. However, I did get a new set of wheels built with 36 spokes for the Volpe ( vs.the stock 32 spoke wheels), but they ended up on my wife's new bike I was building for her. I was having a little trouble breaking spokes, and wanted a little stronger wheels (Ultegra 36 hole hubs, Dyad rims and WS double butted spokes). Again, this was my own fault. I went shooting off a high curb fully loaded. It was raining, my glasses were fogged and I thought I was going down a driveway. At least that's my story and I'm sicking to it. Last summer I rode the LHT on a trip of similar length, but rougher conditions. I was happy with how it performed. I'm also happy to say that "my" wheel set on my wife's bike performed very well. I'm sure that if I had that wheelset on the Volpe it would have handled the trip equally as well. Our route included over 400 miles of unpaved dirt roads and trails, and over 500 miles of cobblestone and paver block surfaced roads and trails. It was hard on the bikes. I just sold one of my mountain bikes yesterday, and the money is going for a new wheelset for the Volpe. Fortunately, my wife does not have any other bikes that need wheels! This time I think I'll go with Tiagra hubs, mid range Mavic rims, and WS DB spokes. Lower priced, and probably adequate for most conditions.

    I've not had any brake issues, but have had a little front end shimmy on both bikes during fast descents. Again, this was my fault for being careless balancing the front panniers. Redistributing the load solved the problem on both bikes. I have changed our bike over to Kool-Stop Salmon colored pads, and have not had any problems. However on long trips, I've had to change pads; and have used whatever brand I could find. Still did not have any chatter issues.





    This is a nice clean way to mount the front rack.
    Last edited by Doug64; 12-06-11 at 10:19 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Spld cyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djb View Post
    just be aware that the gearing will be too high for really mountainy areas with steep hills, and high overall if it has a 52/42/30 Other than that, if you can put stuff on it and have fun and the wheels stay together, presto, its a touring bike and you can go on a trip with it.

    oh, and lets say you really wanted to put a crapload of stuff on it for a trip, a bike store could slap a brand new mtn bike crank 42/32/22 on for $40 (like an Alivio), installation and readjusting your front derailleur would be minimal, and presto, you now would have a touring bike you actually could ride up steep hills with a crapload of stuff on it. (maybe a new chain too, or shorten the original)
    Interesting idea. The small chain ring is a 28, but I was wondering if I should go lower for actual touring (current gearing is ok for unloaded riding). I would have to find out what bottom bracket is in it now. It came with a Sugino crankset....

    Jim S.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Spld cyclist's Avatar
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    Thanks, Doug. That's really reassuring. By the way, I have broken a couple of spokes on the rear wheel of my Volpe. I'm still using the stock wheels. I will definitely get nice new wheels before touring with it.

    Those yellow panniers look good with the green frame. By the way, I was ambivalent about the color when I bought it, but it has really grown on me. Now I wouldn't have it any other way.

    Jim

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    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    I was ambivalent about the color when I bought it, but it has really grown on me. Now I wouldn't have it any other way.
    Same here!

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    djb
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spld cyclist View Post
    Interesting idea. The small chain ring is a 28, but I was wondering if I should go lower for actual touring (current gearing is ok for unloaded riding). I would have to find out what bottom bracket is in it now. It came with a Sugino crankset....

    Jim S.
    yes, thats true, the axel length of the bb on your bike might not be the right length for a mtn crank, but in any case, as Doug points out, its quite doeable, even with the sti's.

    Doug, I recall you saying both your wifes and that bike of yours having those cranks, I hadnt realized it was a Volpe. The more I ride my mtn bike as a commuter, the more I see this type of crankset as very useful for regular riding at regular daily speeds with a bunch of stuff on the bike. I used to think it was undergeared at the top end, but I can still draft a truck at close to 50k or 30mph, and or top out at about this speed on downhills. I like my other bike for going faster downhills, but for everyday riding, even a downhill with wind will not see very much extended riding at 40+ kph so it doesnt bother me that much (and anyway, you have a 44 on it, which would be a bit taller)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spld cyclist View Post
    Thanks, Doug. That's really reassuring. By the way, I have broken a couple of spokes on the rear wheel of my Volpe. I'm still using the stock wheels. I will definitely get nice new wheels before touring with it.


    Jim
    It's worth replacing the rear wheel if it's already broken spokes in regular riding. Front and rear wheels don't have to be to be the same.

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    My 2006 came with somewhat lower gearing (48/38/28 up front, 11-32 rear) and mid-fork rack braze-ons. I noticed that the current model has higher end gearing, but still retains the rack mounts.
    1980 Motobecane Grand Jubile ~ 1986 Kuwahara ATB Drop Bar Convert (WIP) ~ 1991? Spec'zed Rockhopper ~ 2006 Bianchi Volpe

  11. #11
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    We have set up the same drive train on four bikes: Surly LHT, Bianchi Volpe, Cannondale T800, and a Co- Motion, Norwest Tour. It is a Sugino DX 500 44/32/22 crank set, XT ---34 casette, Tiagra front derailleur, LX rear derailleur, Tiagra 4403 shifters, and 103mm IRG bottom bracket (68mm BB shell). the shorter bottom bracket is important to keep the 45-47mm chain line with a mountain bike crank. IMO the Tiagra FD is probably the most versatile road derailleur. I arrived at this combination on the Volpe first. It worked so well that over time we set up all our touring bike with it.

    A 44 crank with an 11 tooth rear cog will spin out at about 28mph. This is fast enough for most of my touring needs. I'd need a heck of a tailwind or a downhill to go that fast anyway A 24 tooth inner chainring will fit on the stock Volpe crankset. This shoud work out to be something like a 48/36/24. It exceeds Shimano's recommended tooth spread (22 teeth), but I have used it and it shifts reasonably well. Combine this with a 11-34 cassette, and it is a good combination which does not require major component changes.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Spld cyclist's Avatar
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    Doug,

    Was the IRG bottom bracket you mentioned the stock one that came with the Volpe, and is it compatible with the Shimano square taper cranks?

    Jim

  13. #13
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    Typo--- IRD. No, it is not stock. I think the stock was a 110mm. The 103 is compatible with square taper cranks. Harris Cycles carries it. I'm not sure the Sugino DX 500 mountain crank is still available. If you switch to Shimano mountain cranks, you might have to experiment with the chainline. I haven't tried it with a Shimano square taper, but it may still require a shorter bottom bracket. I did try to replace a Shimano trekking crank with a mountain crank on an Octalink BB, and ran into the same chainline problem. The trouble with Octalink is that there only 2 sizes of bottom brackets. The solution was to switch the smaller chainrings over to the trekker crank arms. You can order the crankset, and try it with your existing BB. Measure the chainline and If it is outside the 45-47mm range, then order a BB that will bring it back in line. The reason for all these measurements is to keep your front derailleur swing in the range of your STI shifters. This is only an issue if you are using STI shifters and a road front derailleur with a mountain bike crank.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Spld cyclist's Avatar
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    One other thing that occurred to me. Are there any problems with racks and fenders sharing eyelets? You need to use a longer screw, obviously. Is there any concern with the screw failing? I think you would want the rack stays directly against the eyelets and then the fender struts further out. Otherwise, you would have a lot more weight bearing on the less-supported end of the screw.

    My Volpe has only one set on the fork and one on the frame. Looks like Doug64 did this - and put a lot of weight on that rear rack. However, many touring bikes have two sets of eyelets. I've also seen a rack or two with auxiliary eyelets for fenders. Any thoughts?

    Jim

  15. #15
    djb
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    spid, I have a cross bike with only one eyelet and it shares both. As you say, it makes sense to put rack close in and I have not had any problems with this setup (although havent had a full load on it for days and days)

    I think the main issue, when ones bike is loaded in general, is to check bolt tightnesses every so often. Over the years, I have seen my bolts needing a slight turn to tighten up once in a while, so I make it a habit when carrying stuff (and even when just commuting) to do a quick bolt check now and then and try to make this part of a regular look over. Im sure not noticing bolts getting loose is the main factor of eyelets or whatever being damaged as the working back and forth of a loose bolt will screw the threads, and put a lot more stress on a given point.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    djb
    I think the main issue, when ones bike is loaded in general, is to check bolt tightnesses every so often. Over the years, I have seen my bolts needing a slight turn to tighten up once in a while, so I make it a habit when carrying stuff (and even when just commuting) to do a quick bolt check now and then and try to make this part of a regular look over. Im sure not noticing bolts getting loose is the main factor of eyelets or whatever being damaged as the working back and forth of a loose bolt will screw the threads, and put a lot more stress on a given point.
    A big +1 on that!

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