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Old 05-05-12, 09:24 AM   #1
seamuslee
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Entry level touring bike on a tight budget? (400$)

I need a touring bike for 400$ or less. Motobecane Cafe Latte, or Windsor Wellington 3.0? Those are the two that caught my eye on bikesdirect. But if there is one that is better within that price range, please let me know. Im bit new to bicycling, but im a fit young guy and I want to get into long distance touring, with panniers, tent, sleeping bag, the whole nine yards. But heres the deal, i dont have a whole lot of money, only 400$ at the moment, and with no forseeable income in the future. My grandfather gave me 400 to plunk down on a bike, and thats what i intend to do. I want to stay away from bike shops however, they overcharge like crazy. I dont have a whole lot of experience wrenching on bicycles, but my father is a motor scooter mechanic, and i have a lot of experience with those, so im pretty sure i could get the hang of assembling and repairing a bike without the help of a bike shop.

So, Whats a good entry level budget touring/road bike? For doing centuries, biking coast to coast, etc.
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Old 05-05-12, 09:41 AM   #2
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Check out Ebay and Craig´s List. A lot of times people buy a bike on impulse (New Year´s Resolutions, lol) and then sell to get rid of it since it turned into an expensive hat rack. There are usually some great deals there and it sounds like you can always fix a few minor items yourself. Be cautious, but it´s worth a try.

Oh...another thought. Check out a local charity/thrift shop. A lot of good bikes get donated because the owners either upgraded and are doing a charitable thing (and the thrift shop often doesn´t even realize the value of what they have) or they did the NY´s thing and just want to write it off.
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Old 05-05-12, 10:14 AM   #3
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There are a fair number of threads on this topic.

First, the term road bikes encompasses touring bikes, but not all road bikes are designed to work well for loaded touring -- wheelbase too short, gearing too high, handling not as stable, chainstays too short, and wheels not strong enough. So if you are looking for a new entry level bike that's designed for touring, the Windsor Tourist probably is the cheapest option for a new bike at $599, although there are a number of reports of the rear wheels having spoke breakage issues. But I don't know if that's a systemic problem now (or if it was ever).

The 2 bikes you mention are not really designed for long distance loaded touring. Flat bars for most are bad for long days of riding (not enough hand positions) although bar ends can help a lot, and the gearing isn't low enough on either of those two bikes for loaded touring on hills, in my opinion. Chain stay length on the Windsor probably is too short, will result in your heels striking your panniers. Don't know about the quality of the wheel build

If I had $400 and no more to spend on a bike, and if I wanted to use the bike for loaded touring, I would look for a mid 90s rigid mountain bike like a Trek 970 or the like, put on narrower tires, and put on bar ends or trekking bars. The wheels would be strong, the gearing would be low, and they are rugged bikes that ride well and have a touring geometry. You can find them in the $100-$175 range where I live. The suggestions of dengidog are good, too. I picked up a fantastic touring bike for $120 at a bike swap a few years ago and am using it as my primary bike.

Yes, you can tour on any bike, but it's nicer to tour on a bike that will work well for the purpose.

Now if what you want is to simply ride unloaded, then many road bikes will serve that purpose, probably the Wellington 3.0 would be OK, assuming the wheels are OK. But you asked here about coast to coast touring, and that narrows the field.

One other thing: don't assume that bike shops "overcharge like crazy". What's your basis for that statement? Do you know how to evaluate the quality of a bicycle and how it has been assembled? Most people who have been bicycling for a while will tell you that a good bike shop offers **a lot** of value for what they charge.

Last edited by OldZephyr; 05-05-12 at 10:29 AM.
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Old 05-05-12, 10:25 AM   #4
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One other thing, the Cafe Latte, if it comes with the 11-32 cassette, would have gearing that might be low enough, although I would want lower gearing personally, and the chainstays are long enough most likely to avoid heel strike. I looked at the picture of the Wellington, and I don't see eyelets for fenders/racks on the front fork, and it's not clear if there is one on the rear dropout.
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Old 05-05-12, 10:38 AM   #5
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Consider a used mountain bike. You can easily get everything you need for touring (including racks and bags) for under $400.
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Old 05-05-12, 10:42 AM   #6
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"Touring bikes" is not necessarily a subset of "road bikes." Just a little quibble to make it known - there are touring bikes intended for off-road travel as well. Also, flat bars over long periods of time work a LOT better, in my experience, when you use Ergon grips. Otherwise, yeah, you're asking for numbness in your hands.

Otherwise, what Old Zephyr said is right.
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Old 05-05-12, 10:48 AM   #7
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Thanks for the advice. I did read a bit online about the fact that if you need to tour on a budget, converting a mountain bike is a good idea. I found this on my local craigslist for only 200$, could you guys take a look at it? Its a ralleigh alyeska http://cincinnati.craigslist.org/bik/2993526700.html

My thinking is that an older bike like this that was made for touring would be a better fit, especially since its half the price of the bikes i was looking at. I would have enough money leftover to probably upgrade some of the components, and perhaps change the tires if they are very old.
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Old 05-05-12, 11:13 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by seamuslee View Post
Thanks for the advice. I did read a bit online about the fact that if you need to tour on a budget, converting a mountain bike is a good idea. I found this on my local craigslist for only 200$, could you guys take a look at it? Its a ralleigh alyeska http://cincinnati.craigslist.org/bik/2993526700.html

My thinking is that an older bike like this that was made for touring would be a better fit, especially since its half the price of the bikes i was looking at. I would have enough money leftover to probably upgrade some of the components, and perhaps change the tires if they are very old.
If that bike is in good condition, that's a true road touring bike, and then you would have money to get all sorts of other stuff. Looks like a good choice to me, and maybe you could talk them down a bit. But that's a pretty big frame, make sure it fits you of course. I'd guess that would fit someone around 6'1" or so or taller. The old 23" frames fit me, and a 24" frame barely fit me, and I am just under 6".

It does have 27" wheels, but you can still find tires for those (even excellent touring tires like Schwalbe Marathons), and I have 27" wheels on my touring bike. When a tire went bad far from home, I was able to find an inexpensive replacement in a pretty small town.

Last edited by OldZephyr; 05-05-12 at 11:18 AM.
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Old 05-05-12, 11:14 AM   #9
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"Touring bikes" is not necessarily a subset of "road bikes." Just a little quibble to make it known - there are touring bikes intended for off-road travel as well. Also, flat bars over long periods of time work a LOT better, in my experience, when you use Ergon grips. Otherwise, yeah, you're asking for numbness in your hands.

Otherwise, what Old Zephyr said is right.
Jude, good point, I stand corrected.
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Old 05-05-12, 11:18 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seamuslee View Post
Thanks for the advice. I did read a bit online about the fact that if you need to tour on a budget, converting a mountain bike is a good idea. I found this on my local craigslist for only 200$, could you guys take a look at it? Its a ralleigh alyeska http://cincinnati.craigslist.org/bik/2993526700.html

My thinking is that an older bike like this that was made for touring would be a better fit, especially since its half the price of the bikes i was looking at. I would have enough money leftover to probably upgrade some of the components, and perhaps change the tires if they are very old.
I've seen a few MTB's from the 1980s/90s that might fit the bill better. Like an older Specialized Stumpjumper.
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?page_id=63905
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p..._id=64200&v=3a
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Old 05-05-12, 11:26 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seamuslee View Post
Thanks for the advice. I did read a bit online about the fact that if you need to tour on a budget, converting a mountain bike is a good idea. I found this on my local craigslist for only 200$, could you guys take a look at it? Its a ralleigh alyeska http://cincinnati.craigslist.org/bik/2993526700.html

My thinking is that an older bike like this that was made for touring would be a better fit, especially since its half the price of the bikes i was looking at. I would have enough money leftover to probably upgrade some of the components, and perhaps change the tires if they are very old.
If it fits GET IT!!

FWIW you can tour on anything. I "tour" on different bikes depending on the situation, none cost me over $400. All were purchased used and different things done to them to make them a bit more suitable. Here is my MTB conversion. I bought this bike new in 1989.

Aaron

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Old 05-05-12, 12:12 PM   #12
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I've never ridden the GT Traffic 4.0 but when I did research on bicycle parts for months and months, I looked up the parts on that bike when someone asked a question on hybrids. I really think it's a pretty good value for the money. (Note: the price may likely be lower than MSRP.)
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Old 05-05-12, 08:10 PM   #13
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This is a 1993 Trek 820. I just took it out of the original box last year. It has been ridden 6 or 7 times, and is virtually a new bike. This is a 23" frame, and is the largest frame they made that year. It is set up for a 6' guy with a 34.5 stand over height, who rode a 25" frame for a number of years. The picture of the bike you posted indicates that you are probably a tall person. There is safely another inch on the seat post and the stem. Maybe this type of bike would not work well for you, if you are really tall.

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Old 05-06-12, 09:51 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by seamuslee View Post
Thanks for the advice. I did read a bit online about the fact that if you need to tour on a budget, converting a mountain bike is a good idea. I found this on my local craigslist for only 200$, could you guys take a look at it? Its a ralleigh alyeska http://cincinnati.craigslist.org/bik/2993526700.html

My thinking is that an older bike like this that was made for touring would be a better fit, especially since its half the price of the bikes i was looking at. I would have enough money leftover to probably upgrade some of the components, and perhaps change the tires if they are very old.
It appears you're letting price guide your picking when it should be fit. Get a sense of a correct bottom bracket to seat height, prefered seat to handlebar distance, prefered seat to handlebar rise or drop and stand over height. Seat to bb and stand over should be something you should know before shopping. If you don't have a preference for handlebar height or distance from seat just be aware of their location trying out different bikes.
Knowing these dimensions you can fine tune any bike that fits the budget but if you get a bike that only fits the budget but is a llittle too tall or too small you'll be reminded of it every time you ride.
Everone's different but I've yet to make any straight bar comfortable even with bar ends. Any conversion to drop bars with new parts will eat up that $400 budget if you start with a $150bike and need to replace any of the drivetrain.

Bike shops don't overcharge. That they can't compete with mail order/internet shopping does't mean they over charge.
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Old 05-06-12, 12:43 PM   #15
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Fit is First, especially for hours/day, day after day. Buy as close as you can get to your size, ride it several hours one day. Tweek the fit to suit. Stem length, bar height, bar type, saddle, etc. Puncture resistant tires are very important. I like the moderately priced Maxxis Overdrives.

You should establish a relationship with a local bike shop, even if you're not able to buy the bike from them. A good shop will help you out, irregardless. Ask them about the finer points of fit and be specific that your interest is in loaded touring, not racing.

Good luck and consider journaling your ride on www.crazyguyonabike.com
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Old 05-07-12, 03:22 PM   #16
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To anyone that wants to know, i bought the Alyeska. It really was in superb shape, felt brand new. I took the shoe clamp thingies off, very annoying to deal with in tandem with trying to shift (Its got downtube friction shifters, sort of hard to deal with for a newb like myself, but i will get used to it.) and balancing on such a tall bike. I really like the bike, im able to go much faster than i was going on my last bike, a raleigh superbe. Its geared REALLY low, so hills are a breeze. I havent gotten to putting gear on it yet, but it looks like it has a lot of mounts for racks and panniers.

Bikes a little tall for me, but im only 15, by the time i reach adulthood it will probably be a perfect fit. Seat is not very comfy, im thinking of switching out the brooks b66 thats on my Superbe with it (Is that even possible? i guess ill find out), the b66 is much more comfortable than the plastic+padding thats on the Alyeska. The guy who sold it to me said that it was his neighbors who moved, and he had no desire for a bike so he sold it on craigslist. It was most likely the guy who owned it's regular rider, its in perfect shape, the tires are true, the chain is freshly greased, etc.

Rode 3 hours today with my dad in the park. Felt like i could do it again without trouble.
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Old 05-07-12, 04:39 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by seamuslee View Post
To anyone that wants to know, i bought the Alyeska. It really was in superb shape, felt brand new. I took the shoe clamp thingies off, very annoying to deal with in tandem with trying to shift (Its got downtube friction shifters, sort of hard to deal with for a newb like myself, but i will get used to it.) and balancing on such a tall bike. I really like the bike, im able to go much faster than i was going on my last bike, a raleigh superbe. Its geared REALLY low, so hills are a breeze. I havent gotten to putting gear on it yet, but it looks like it has a lot of mounts for racks and panniers.

Bikes a little tall for me, but im only 15, by the time i reach adulthood it will probably be a perfect fit. Seat is not very comfy, im thinking of switching out the brooks b66 thats on my Superbe with it (Is that even possible? i guess ill find out), the b66 is much more comfortable than the plastic+padding thats on the Alyeska. The guy who sold it to me said that it was his neighbors who moved, and he had no desire for a bike so he sold it on craigslist. It was most likely the guy who owned it's regular rider, its in perfect shape, the tires are true, the chain is freshly greased, etc.

Rode 3 hours today with my dad in the park. Felt like i could do it again without trouble.
I would bet that the B66 will be a better saddle as well for this bike. I don't know if the seatpost diameter is the same for the two bikes, but if it isn't, finding a seatpost that uses the old double rail mounting on the B66 won't be difficult at all. There are adapters available for the double rail Brooks saddles so they work with more modern seatposts: http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/saddles/brooks-b66.html

Or, go to your bike shop.

If you want even lower gearing, and assuming that the Alyeska has a freewheel system (rather than a cassette rear hub), there still are 6 and 7 speed freewheels available that have a very low "bail out " gear: http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/freewheels.html

If you have an old freewheel on the bike that doesn't have the ramps that are present in newer freewheels, a new freewheel would be a cheap upgrade ($20 for new freewheel) that would really make shifting a lot crisper. Here's an explanation why, and information about the difference between freewheels and cassettes: http://sheldonbrown.com/k7.html (scroll down to explanation of Hyperglide) and http://sheldonbrown.com/free-k7.html

I hope you enjoy the bike!
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Old 05-07-12, 04:41 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by seamuslee View Post
To anyone that wants to know, i bought the Alyeska. It really was in superb shape, felt brand new. I took the shoe clamp thingies off, very annoying to deal with in tandem with trying to shift (Its got downtube friction shifters, sort of hard to deal with for a newb like myself, but i will get used to it.) and balancing on such a tall bike. I really like the bike, im able to go much faster than i was going on my last bike, a raleigh superbe. Its geared REALLY low, so hills are a breeze. I havent gotten to putting gear on it yet, but it looks like it has a lot of mounts for racks and panniers.

Bikes a little tall for me, but im only 15, by the time i reach adulthood it will probably be a perfect fit. Seat is not very comfy, im thinking of switching out the brooks b66 thats on my Superbe with it (Is that even possible? i guess ill find out), the b66 is much more comfortable than the plastic+padding thats on the Alyeska. The guy who sold it to me said that it was his neighbors who moved, and he had no desire for a bike so he sold it on craigslist. It was most likely the guy who owned it's regular rider, its in perfect shape, the tires are true, the chain is freshly greased, etc.

Rode 3 hours today with my dad in the park. Felt like i could do it again without trouble.
Congratulations on your new (to you) bike!! Sounds like a great bike that will give you many years of fun and riding pleasure. A purchase like that is never "complete" here in the BF until you show some pics.

Try the Brooks B66 on this new bike. I have one but I use it on a city bike sitting very upright. This is the preferred sitting position on sprung saddles. Try it and if you don't like it you should consider a B17. Many people use the B66 for touring with positive results though.
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Old 05-07-12, 09:24 PM   #19
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sounds great. Do you have cone wrenches to check/adjust/repack the wheel bearings? You've started with a much better bike than I started my touring at age 16 with a Nishiki 10spd that I later rode from Los Angeles to Seattle when I was 18.
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