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  1. #1
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    One Bike Does All?

    I've been doing research and looking to replace my cheapish mountain bike with my first "real" bike, to use as an all-around bike and also for some long tours. I've decided to look for something steel so I can have S & S couplers installed, to allow me to fly to various "exotic" locations (hopefully) to explore. I can see myself doing both road touring and off-road, but I'm a little unsure whether to go the mountain bike route or more of a real touring frame. I was just at a LBS today and was checking out the Burley Runabout, which is a steel commuter bike with integrated rear rack and rigid front fork with lowrider mounts standard. I think Burley could probably install the couplers right at the factory, too. Is there any reason I couldn't tour on something like that, or should I look more towards the Long Haul Trucker or even the Burley Hudson touring bike? Would the real touring bikes be able to take me through Baja or the Great Divide route (bypassing the really rough stuff)? I was originally thinking that a 26" wheeled bike might pack down smaller for travel, but I'm not really sure about that. So many questions.... Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    X-Large Member Istanbul_Tea's Avatar
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    26" is a smart choice for sure... wider tires for more varied terrain, easier to find tires & tubes in 'exotic' locales and is slightly smaller for packing concerns.

    Any reason Burley is preferred? Lot's of choices out there for an 'expedition' cycle... custom, semi-custom and stock.

    Keep in mind if you go stock on the frameset the S&S couplers cost more for a retro-fit.

  3. #3
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    I had just run across the Burley Runabout today and was impressed that it had all of the rack mounts and steel frame that I was interested in. There doesn't seem to be many steel framed production mountain bikes around, much less with rack mounting points. There are more such choices in the touring catagory (I like the LHT, Mercian, Atlantis kind of style with 26" tires) but I don't know how much they would limit the off-pavement travel. I figured that it would be less expensive to get a "production" bike and retrofit with couplers than a custom bike, but I could be wrong there. I don't need anything super-fancy but don't want to skimp, either. I live in Bob Brown vicinity, by the way, but that would be in the super-fancy camp from what I've seen of your rig!

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    I'm a newbie tourer so I don't have much to offer in the way of advice, but doesn't the Great Divide trail require a true mountain bike, preferably with suspension of some kind? If you're doing offroad, wouldn't you want to go with a MTB?

  5. #5
    senile member
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    yeah, a mtb would be a good choice too, although it might be slower on the road, but you can just go off road without second thought.

    btw, istanbul, how´s the new ride so far?
    Last edited by Schumius; 12-21-04 at 10:44 PM. Reason: addition

  6. #6
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Check out Rodriguez bicycles and R&E cycles in Seattle. They make an Ultimate Travel Bike with S&S couplers and 26" wheels. Pretty darn nice. I think you get a bike suitcase to put it in too, or one is available. I think rodcycle.com is their website; otherwise, google 'em.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 12-21-04 at 11:24 PM.

  7. #7
    Steel is Real. markw's Avatar
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    LHT only comes in 26" at 54cm and below I believe. 29" MTB's are 700c wheels with knobbies so you could go with a 700c wheel and something like a 40mm + tire. I'm very happy with my LHT, and the thought of S&S couplers has crossed my mind.

  8. #8
    senile member
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    i somehow don´t quite fancy the idea of couplers, thinking it might not be so stable, but i could be wrong because i don´t know much about them.

  9. #9
    SAB
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schumius
    i somehow don´t quite fancy the idea of couplers, thinking it might not be so stable, but i could be wrong because i don´t know much about them.
    I have a Surly CrossCheck with the S&S Couplers installed - a retrofit, of course. These things are every bit as good as they say they are. The frame is stiff as ever and tracks straight. No problems at all with the couplers; when you're riding you don't even know they're there. There is no creak or flexing from the couplers. They do not come loose. Packing is straighforward and the size of the suitcase enables you to take your bike easily on a taxi, bus, train, etc... The airlines do not charge extra for your bike, because the case is not oversize luggage. It also makes for easy storage at home. I've traveled with a full-size bike case and this is so much easier...

  10. #10
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    I don't think it is possible to have one bicycle that performs "perfectly" under every condition. Choosing a bicycle (and selecting components) is an exercise in compromising. With each decision you make, there are advantages and disadvantages, costs and benefits, things you love and things you would rather do without.

    To illustrate: I opted to forego the possibility of serious off-road riding when I chose my touring bicycle. I love the speed and feel of skinny tires, and have no interest in self-sufficient touring. I WISH I could ride on beaches or head down mountain paths, but because I value zippiness over versatility, I picked a fork that can handle a maximum tire width of 28 mm. I feel stable enough when riding on gravel roads or loose shoulders, but for the most part, I stick to paved surfaces and live with the compromise.

    Ditto for the shifters. The idea of having non-serviceable parts on a touring bicycle strikes me as verging on lunacy, but in the end, I chose STI over bar end shifters. To me, STIs are mechanically elegant, beautiful to behold, and a pleasure to use. I rationalized my decision because I am rarely more than a bus-ride away from a bicycle store. I also realized that I could carry a spare set of down-tube shifters. Another compromise based on both rational and irrational factors.

    So if you intend to take your next bicycle into the heart of the wilderness, a mountain-bike-like design is probably best. You will not be able to zip along like a racer on a paved road, but hopefully, your bike will perform well for the kinds of riding that you like to do.

    Alan

  11. #11
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    As long as you don't plan on keeping up with a 20mph road cycling group AND expecting to jump 30 foot hills on a bicycle, a hybrid can do nearly everything. Just not the extremes.

    Cheers,
    GPSBlake

  12. #12
    Steel is Real. markw's Avatar
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    20mph is uphill speed.

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    I consider my MTB to be my "do it all" bike. I commute with it and have done both road and off-road (rail-trail) touring, and of course using it for mountain biking. I just swap out the tires and add bar ends if I want to do a road tour. It has front suspension and I know most cycle tourers don't think too highly of that, but I'm not concerned about speed/performance when I'm touring and I've always managed to fit everything with just the rear rack. I've thought about getting a true touring bike but I don't see much upside and want to keep my MTB anyway.

  14. #14
    Long Live Long Rides
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    Tough decision when looking for an "all around" bike. I've toured on a touring bike, MTB, cross bike, and road bike. I enjoyed every tour and every bike. Right now I have a 1989 Rockhopper comp converted for touring. Scott AT4 Plus bar, front and rear racks, 26x1.75 tires. Slower going than a 700c tourer but I still like it. I think if you like the bike and can ride it several hours in a day....most any bike can do the trick (w/panniers or trailer). Find a bike that feels good when you ride it. You'll know it when you get on! Test ride LOTS of them.
    Jharte
    Touring...therapy for the soul.

  15. #15
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    Macha,

    I took a quick look at the Roundabout, but couldn't load the specs, so maybe my worries aren,t founded. But here they are:

    - What tire size does it accepts? You need to be able to use relatively narrow tires (700x32 or 37) when you ride on asphalt, but for "real" rough-terrain rides, 700x35 to 43 knobbies work best. Since it's hard to find knobbies narrower than 700x37, make sure you can fit them.
    I think that 26" wheels might be better unless you are tall, but again, since narrow 26" tires are hard to find, check to make sure you can fit them. Even though 26" x 2.25" are not your favourite, you sometimes have to compromise if you buy tires on the road...

    - I would not go with a Shimano 7-speed internal gear hub. Not well sealed for off-road conditions and you can't optimise the gears the same way you would do with a derailleur.

    - My sort of "ideal" bike for what you plan would be something like the Bruce Gordon BLT-X, which has drop bars (but you can get it the other way), uses 26" tires and is designed as a low-gear touring bike which accepts fairly wide tires. You could do something like that with one of the Surleys, but also with one of the Urbanites from http://ucycle.com
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  16. #16
    formerly cycletourist HunterBee's Avatar
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    Look at Rivendell. They have a 26" wheel touring bike that might just be what you want.
    http://www.rivbike.com

  17. #17
    Senior Member halfspeed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Macha
    I had just run across the Burley Runabout today and was impressed that it had all of the rack mounts and steel frame that I was interested in. There doesn't seem to be many steel framed production mountain bikes around, much less with rack mounting points. There are more such choices in the touring catagory (I like the LHT, Mercian, Atlantis kind of style with 26" tires) but I don't know how much they would limit the off-pavement travel. I figured that it would be less expensive to get a "production" bike and retrofit with couplers than a custom bike, but I could be wrong there. I don't need anything super-fancy but don't want to skimp, either. I live in Bob Brown vicinity, by the way, but that would be in the super-fancy camp from what I've seen of your rig!
    If you like Mercian, call them and tell them what you're thinking. They can probably build what you want based on either their touring or MTB design and it'll cost a lot less than a Bob Brown.

  18. #18
    Macro Geek
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    Quote Originally Posted by jharte

    I've toured on a touring bike, MTB, cross bike, and road bike. I enjoyed every tour and every bike...

    ...I think if you like the bike and can ride it several hours in a day....most any bike can do the trick...

    ...Find a bike that feels good when you ride it...Test ride LOTS of them.
    Wise words! Touring is about pleasure. If you can go where you want to go, and you feel comfortable and happy while riding and at the end of the day, it does not really matter what kind of bike you have, whether it's touring, hybrid, mountain, fixed gear, unicycle, or something else!

    Take the time to get to know what does and does not work for you. That knowledge will help you find an appropriate bike.

  19. #19
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    Thanks for all of the replies! I know I need to get more seat time under my belt to really know what I do and don't like in a bike. I'm leaning towards the drop bar/touring bike style frame to start, since the mountain bike I have hasn't ever been comfortable for me (mostly because of the wrong sizing) and I want to try the drop bar setup. I'd like to use the 26" wheels, though, and a fair amount of MTB components to make a pretty durable bike. Then I could always get a real offroad bike at some point, if I feel the need, and a lot of the parts would be interchangeable. I have a several more months of winter ahead of me before I'll be doing much riding, anyway, so I have plenty of time to do research and try out a few bikes. I didn't know "squat" about bikes a month ago but have already learned a lot from this forum.

  20. #20
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    Don't spend too much money until you have a lot more experience to base your decisions on. Take all of our opinions as discussion fodder only. Money won't answer all your questions but time probably will.

    FWIW, I think you should get a real good handle on position issues, long before you buy an expensive, or custom bike. Although I have enjoyed using Mercian and Bob Jackson tourers, I've also had great vacations using a five-speed mountain bike; the toughness and relative simplicity can be a real advantage in some situations. An important factor is that my position on each of these bikes is identical.

    A tourer must be comfy and easy to ride all day, sometimes with a heavy payload. You want it to be reliable (the best wheels you can afford)and user-serviceable, if at all possible. Aesthetics and lightness come somewhere lower down the priority list.

  21. #21
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    I got my "last bike" (at least that is my story now) in August, 2004 from Co-motion, a custom Nor'wester Co-pilot(installed S+S). The Nor'wester is described as a 'tweener bike and I had mine outfitted with a touring kit. Co-motion is in Eugene and they are the biggest users of S+S. I love the ride and the service I received from both Co-motion and my LBS. For me, this bike could be used what I do including touring, t-shirt event century rides, and riding here in the Hill Country of Texas.

  22. #22
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    A well fitted mtb will have a comfortable ballance orianted posture=easy for long riding.
    It will have a gearset suited to climbing=riding with added weight.
    It will be built to stand weight stress.
    A cromoly frame of high quality can run a non-suspension fork and still feel very smooth=lower weight.
    Mtb are almost always triples.
    Mtb can run with many tire size\types=small slick 1.5's or 2.5 treaded monsters.
    Mtb can be light, racing frames anyway are, but the will not have the brazed mounts for front pannier=swap out the fork for one that does.
    My 7-8 spd cromoly mtb is 20.- something lbs and is set up well enough that I can ride comfortably for as long as I want (6 hour rides often).
    For real touring (have not done much) I'd get a nice trailer=no panniers and I can unhook easily to explore offroad trails.

    Go mtb. The ATB.

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