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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 12-15-04, 10:26 PM   #1
hoss10
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Mountain Bike the best touring bike for me?

I'm a really big guy (6'5" about 300 pounds), I have been riding for years on mountain bikes, presently a Cannondale Killer V with Marz. Z2 shock and Thudbuster seat post. This bike has done me well for the last 5 years but my riding has changed, I now do mostly road riding (a lot of gravel roads) and some rail trails. I ride a fair bit almost 4000 km this year. I have slicks on the CDale. Which brings me to my question, I would like to get into some long tours maybe across Canada (using a BOB trailer to get the weight off the bike) How much faster, better, more comfortable would a true touring bike be? My son and others are all trying to talk me into getting a road bike. Would a stock road frame be up to my weight, am I looking at custom or should I stay on the Mountain bike. Thanks for the Help. I'm new here this is a great forum.
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Old 12-16-04, 01:49 AM   #2
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From '84 to '88 I toured on a road bike - then switched to a mountain bike (Trek 8000 - I think their first year out). I would NEVER consider switching back - I have probably 100,000+ miles on "Lucy" - a lot of them dirt. This bike has taken me anywhere and everywhere - all over Canada, the NWT, Yukon, and Alaska without a worry. Road bikes just are not cut out of the same cloth. Unless you want to stay tied to the pavement - stay with your mountain bike.
Best - John

Last edited by jamawani; 12-16-04 at 11:23 PM.
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Old 12-16-04, 04:54 AM   #3
MichaelW
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In 88 you could easly get good quality tourable mountain bikes. These days everthing is suspension this and suspension that. I can't think of any major production MTBs which are easily convertable. A few boutique oufits still make old school mtbs to high quality.
Touring bikes are made for touring. You can get them in 700c or 26" wheel size. I'm not sure it makes a big difference. Some of the 700c bikes can take fat tyres (over 35mm).
The benchmark for touring bikes in terms of quality, components and price is probably the Bruce Gordon BLT. Check out the components mix and compare to any other bike you consider.
The Cannondale tourer is especially good for larger riders Despite being Al, they have a sound reputation for not breaking, and a big frame needs every bit of stiffness that the fat tubes deliver.

A road racing bike would not be suitable for a continental tour.
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Old 12-16-04, 07:45 AM   #4
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I went through the same scenario a couple of years ago and settled on a cross trek. I have a Claude Butler U200, which I modified from a 21 gear to 24 gears. I am 5.11 and weigh 12.5 stones, I always travel with full camping equipment, normally 20-22 kg in total. The Cross trek was a huge difference from the mountain bike in speed. To give an example I visit a friend on the other side of London from me. The distance is about 12 miles its mostly a big downhill to him. In the mountain bike it would take me 1'40'' there & 2'20'' back. On the cross trek 45'' there & 1' back. You see the difference. With the cross trek I can still go off road so no loss there. A cross trek will take your build as they are sturdy bikes. You could always go for a tourer and a trailer as this keeps the weight off the bike and if carting a trailer around is not a problem for you as in getting on planes or trains frequently then that will also work for you too.
Good luck let us know what you decided.
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Old 12-16-04, 09:14 AM   #5
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I am a great fan of using a mountain bike for touring. Especially if you plan on doing any tours in far flung locals. To begin with, mountain bike frames are built to take punishment. The 26" wheels are stronger than 700c wheels (all things being equal) and tires and tubes are available worldwide. You can use any type of handlebar configuration you want, not limited to just a flat bar. Mountain bikes can still be had that have the necessary braze ons and eyelets for racks and fenders. There are even racks made to work with suspension forks. Also because they are more popular and mass produced, a comporable mountain bike will nearly always be cheaper than a touring bike.
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Old 12-16-04, 07:35 PM   #6
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Ridden a few great 2 week tours on my '85 Rockhopper, including long spells of off- road meandering. I am a lightweight camper, so can't really contribute on the subject of ultimate load bearing. My Raleigh touring frame is a bit quicker in favourable conditions...but who's keeping score? Old-school MTB's inspired confidence because they felt bomb-proof, not because they were especially swift on the tarmac. The Rockhopper is still a great bike. I have set it up as a single-speed/ fixed gear loper at the moment; it's a nice challenge;-)
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Old 12-16-04, 08:15 PM   #7
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Hi!

During my recent bicycle tour around Lake Huron I had the priviledge of meeting about 14 Cross Canada riders at different points of the northern portion of my circle. The vast majority of the riders were using mountain bikes with either a trailer or everything piled on the rear rack.

During my 2003 Round Lake Erie tour I met numerous Cross US/Northern Tier riders during the southern portion of my circle. Those riders were almost all using touring bikes with four saddlebags and a map holder.

I found the equipment differences interesting and somewhat surprising especially since both groups were touring on similar terrain!

On my website there are several different touring bicycle case studies in the "Bike Stuff" section. You will see that people have succesfully toured long distances using everything from Pennyfarthings, unicycles and singlespeed rickshaws all the way to mountain bikes, recumbents and road bikes.

Both mountain bike case studies mention the easy conversion ability of older pre-suspension mountain bikes as someone else mentioned in this thread. A common comment from the Cross Canada mountain bike riders was how rear end heavy their bikes were. In every case the ones making the comment were riding with front suspension and rear racks only.

Touring bikes generally have non-suspended front forks and the ability to easily carry a front rack. The front rack gives you to the option of moving some of your gear forward and therefore balance the weight better resulting in a much easier ride. I typically have about 60 percent of my gear on the front rack. You can also obtain replacement forks for a suspended mountain bike and largely eliminate this difference too.

Having ridden medium distance tours already and looking forward to my future Cross Canada tour I fully intend to continue using my Trek 520 for my touring bicycle of choice. I may try an offroad tour with a mountain bike and trailer this year just to see what I think.

By the way when you say road bike I am thinking that you mean a touring bicycle with it's ability to carry a lot of weight and provide clearance for your heels. I am not thinking of a lightweight, fragile kind of roadbike.

If you can take a few test rides that might going a long way towards helping you decide. Just to make it more complicated I've noticied that my Trek 520 has a much nicer ride fully loaded then it does when it's unloaded.

~Jamie N
www.bicycletouring101.com
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Old 12-16-04, 11:22 PM   #8
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P.S.
Yes - I have on older Trek 8000 with racks both front and back to even the load - see pic above. I also have drop handlebars with a stem shock which gives me a little relief on washboard roads.
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Old 12-16-04, 11:38 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by jamawani
P.S.
Yes - I have on older Trek 8000 with racks both front and back to even the load - see pic above. I also have drop handlebars with a stem shock which gives me a little relief on washboard roads.
I noticed your seatpost extension on your converted Mtb/tourer, leading me to believe it is a large frame for your size. I basically did the same thing when I picked up a NOS mtb frame to build as a tourer. I normally ride 15 inch mountain bikes with plenty of seatpost extension and standover height, but as a tourer I intentionally went with a large 19 inch frame which is close to my road frame sizing. With racks and all, it doesn't look like a typical mountain bike and fits me well with ultra short stem, moustache bars, and barend shifters.
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