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  1. #1
    Senior Member bikexcountry's Avatar
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    Which bike should I purchase?

    Ok, so you've seen my other threads, I (was) going cross country now California. I did not win the auction on the bike I wanted (the sellers reserve was too high). So I still need a bike. I have not had any luck on craigslist. So I could use some help picking a bike. The lbs has no touring bikes. I have been to four. I wanted to stay under $1000, but I could go a few hundred dollars over. I was thinking about avoiding sora/2300 shifters because I have heard a lot of stuff about how difficult it makes life.

    The bikes I am looking at (sorry no hyperlinks- this is from my ipod):

    http://www.bianchiusa.com/bikes/road...rone-7-tiagra/ around 1200

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/tourist.htm. That is only 600.
    Also the more traditional trek 520, surly long haul trucker, and rei novara safari. Which has very interesting handlebars by the way.

    Also, will it be neccessary to upgrade the seat? I saw a lot about how brooks b17 saddles are the best. The bike i was bidding on had one

  2. #2
    Zoom zoom zoom zoom bonk znomit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikexcountry View Post
    Ok, so you've seen my other threads,
    Yep.
    You should certainly not buy something online.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bikexcountry View Post
    Wrong type of bicycle for touring.

    Quote Originally Posted by bikexcountry View Post
    Also the more traditional trek 520, surly long haul trucker, and rei novara safari.
    Surly LHT should be a safe choice for touring if you can afford it.

  4. #4
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    You could do worse than the Windsor Touring. Three of us rode them coast to coast together in 2007 and two of the three have done other long tours on them. They worked out pretty well. We did swap out the cranks for lower gearing, but other than that they were pretty much stock.

    I would buy the Novara Randonee before I would consider the Safari for the kind of trip you propose.

    I still have the stock saddles on both of the bikes I have toured on. The bike I plan to do my next tour on has a new saddle, but only because the guy I bought it from wanted to keep the saddle.
    Last edited by staehpj1; 05-16-12 at 06:39 AM.

  5. #5
    Neil_B
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    Saddles are a very personal item. Ride the stock saddle before you decide to replace it.

    I'm hesitant to buy a bike online because I'm hard to fit, but other than that the Windsor Tourist isn't a bad bike. I've seen staephj1's Tourist, and its a nice machine. I've seen a Randonee up close, and its a good bike too. The 520 and Surly LHT are both good choices. The Safari would work, but it appears to be set up for a more rugged sort of touring than you are contemplating. The other bikes would probably be more nimble.

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    I would not buy a new bike. Rather, I'd use an old bike I patched up or something given or lent by a family member. Something fairly sturdy with enough gears, not too worn out so it will make it to the end. Probably a mountainbike, preferably one with a stiff fork.

    Riding an old bike is cheaper and will tell you something about what you want, what your style is. This will help you pick a top-quality bike in the future. It would be a shame if you bought a new 26" frame but find out you'd rather have a 700c or even 29".

    With regards to all your equipment, I'd say your main concern is durability. Don't buy a brooks saddle. Really, at this point it is not worth the money. When I bought a saddle, I first measured the distance between my pelvic bones by sitting on a piece of cardboard. Then I measured the distance between the dimples I'd made. This seemed to fit a cheap saddle sold at Halfords. The saddle had a plastic cover and a thin layer of gel/foam. Never had a problem with it, not even during a three-month tour. I do wear chamois though, but at the big discount sports stores, this also doesn't have to be expensive. I like the decathlon chamois.

  7. #7
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikexcountry View Post
    Ok, so you've seen my other threads, I (was) going cross country now California. I did not win the auction on the bike I wanted (the sellers reserve was too high). So I still need a bike. I have not had any luck on craigslist. So I could use some help picking a bike. The lbs has no touring bikes. I have been to four. I wanted to stay under $1000, but I could go a few hundred dollars over. I was thinking about avoiding sora/2300 shifters because I have heard a lot of stuff about how difficult it makes life.

    The bikes I am looking at (sorry no hyperlinks- this is from my ipod):

    http://www.bianchiusa.com/bikes/road...rone-7-tiagra/ around 1200

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/tourist.htm. That is only 600.
    Also the more traditional trek 520, surly long haul trucker, and rei novara safari. Which has very interesting handlebars by the way.

    Also, will it be neccessary to upgrade the seat? I saw a lot about how brooks b17 saddles are the best. The bike i was bidding on had one
    Learning by asking for recommendations can be helpful up to a point, but learning from your own experiences is important too.

    Test ride, test ride, test ride, test ride.

    Find a bike you, yourself (not reviewers or LBS salespeople or people here or elsewhere, but you) really enjoy riding. It will help you enjoy the time you spend riding on tour.

    If you are leaning at all toward light or ultralight touring, that might affect the bike choice as well.

    Saddles ('saddles' is the more appropriate term than 'seats' for many) are highly individual; some like Brooks saddles, others don't at all, and find them heavy, uncomfortable, and behind the times. You can find long threads here and elsewhere, about different saddles, as well as many pages of reviews on different sites.

    At some point, though, it makes sense to pay attention to what works for you.

    Test and see.

    REI might be a good resource for you. They often have bike repair and maintenance classes. Their return and exchange policies are excellent.

    If you like the bars on the Safari, you like the bars on the Safari. You are the one best positioned to know your own preferences and what works for you.

    There ís a lot of individual varíation.

    If you are considering getting into off-road touring (and there is a lot to explore there), or mixed on-road off-road touring, then you might want to take that into account. The Safaris are designed for this, more so than most touring bikes. Terms like 'trekking bikes' and 'expedition bikes' are sometimes used.

    Ride more. Get offline more. Get more exercise and fresh air. Find some good rides in and near your area. Metrolink trains can extend the range of possibilities. Find the rides and ride them.

    This is among the most beautiful areas in the world for cycling. Learn about it, explore, make the most of it.
    Last edited by Niles H.; 05-16-12 at 01:10 PM.

  8. #8
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    Alex, looking at the Bianchi Via Nirone road bike gives one the impression you haven't learned anything from the responses so far. You posted a link to a road bike with no eyelets and probably can't take tires bigger than 25mm.

    Test ride the Bianchi Volpe instead.

    Strongly suggest you take some bike repair classes.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Since you're still discovering the sports, concur that finding a used bike from CL would be the way to go.

    If you insist in going new, find a specialized shop. Sometimes they are hard to find. While in San Diego last month, I discovered this new bike shop that specializes in bicycle touring. They carry several brands, including Surly. Do give them a call first to see if it's worth the trip, so have a list of questions ready.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikexcountry View Post
    So I could use some help picking a bike. The lbs has no touring bikes.
    What the heck are you riding now?*


    It's possible that you should make do with what you have and learn more about bikes before dumping money on something so quickly.

    You might find, with more experience, that you'll pick a bike that will work better for you.

    (* If you don't have any bicycle, you aren't riding, and the (old) idea of riding across country in a month makes even less sense!)

  11. #11
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    It would be ironic if he had a decent hard tail and just needed to install drops.

  12. #12
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    If you read my response to your other thread titled "Same Fit for a Touring Bike?" you will see that I said to go to REI. They do have touring bikes there, or at least at the Huntington Beach location. I see at at least two to three Novara Randonnee bikes every time I head there (that's the bike that you tried to bid on ebay). And they also have the Novara Safari, as other posters have pointed out. Head to REI and then you can actually test ride these two bikes and see if you even like the way they ride.

    That's the important thing here. You need to like the way the bike rides (or at least be okay with it), otherwise you'd be throwing your money away.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    It would be ironic if he had a decent hard tail and just needed to install drops.
    You don't need drops for touring.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathandavid View Post
    You don't need drops for touring.
    You don't need a touring bike for touring either.

    The OP was planning on 100 mile days across the country. Having (and using) drops would make him a bit faster.

  15. #15
    Senior Member simplygib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathandavid View Post
    ....Riding an old bike is cheaper and will tell you something about what you want, what your style is. This will help you pick a top-quality bike in the future.
    Yes, or you may just discover that the old bike is just fine for touring, as I did with my older mtb. As others have said, Alex, your number 1 priority should be how the bike fits you. You've got to ride them to find out. Buying something online without having ever ridden it is risky. There is only so much adjusting that can be done, and if it still doesn't fit right, you're stuck.

    And when looking, don't limit yourself to "touring" bikes. There are bikes out there labeled as "city" bikes or "commuters" that work great as touring bikes. My gf bought a Novara Buzz V from REI that is sold as an "urban" bike, and it works great for touring. Steel frame, 36-spoke wheels, mtb gearing, and an identical chainstay length as the Safari in her size. Best of all, it was much cheaper than the Safari ($600 cheaper - closeout sale).
    Last edited by simplygib; 05-16-12 at 12:52 PM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathandavid View Post
    You don't need drops for touring.
    I do

  17. #17
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikexcountry View Post
    Ok, so you've seen my other threads, I (was) going cross country now California. I did not win the auction on the bike I wanted (the sellers reserve was too high). So I still need a bike. I have not had any luck on craigslist. So I could use some help picking a bike. The lbs has no touring bikes. I have been to four. I wanted to stay under $1000, but I could go a few hundred dollars over. I was thinking about avoiding sora/2300 shifters because I have heard a lot of stuff about how difficult it makes life.

    The bikes I am looking at (sorry no hyperlinks- this is from my ipod):

    http://www.bianchiusa.com/bikes/road...rone-7-tiagra/ around 1200

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/tourist.htm. That is only 600.
    Also the more traditional trek 520, surly long haul trucker, and rei novara safari. Which has very interesting handlebars by the way.

    Also, will it be neccessary to upgrade the seat? I saw a lot about how brooks b17 saddles are the best. The bike i was bidding on had one
    REI might also be a useful resource for finding riding partners. If you ask various people in the bike departments at one or more REIs in the area (or even beyond), they might be able to help you directly, or refer you to bulletin boards or other resources and ideas. Some of the area LBSs would be another resource for this. Some REI bike departments have a resident touring expert who might be able to help.

    =======================

    There is another point that might be of interest to you, one that hasn't been covered much. Those who say you have to wait until you are eighteen are not quite right. There are other ways of doing it, and doing it sooner.

    One is to demonstrate increasing competence to one or both parents. You might start out with longer day trips, and setting up the bike properly for touring, and riding it that way. Find one or more riding partners. Do some overnighters or two-nighters. Refine your gear list. Get it together. Learn the ropes of finding good routes and using maps. Learn how to use Metrolink and Amtrak. (Metrolink takes bikes for free. Students get a discount. Their maps and their 800 number are on their site. If you say 'agent', the system will connect you to an agent who can answer any questions you might have. Their trains connect with Amtrak trains. Amtrak trains vary in their bike policies. With some trains, you can just wheel the bike on for free, just like Metrolink. With others, it's more complicated. Amtrak agents can answer questions about specific routes and trains.) This will enable you to extend your range of options considerably, for short tours.

    There is an Irvine station. (South is the Laguna Niguel station, north is the station in Tustin.) Prices are extremely reasonable. You can get to Ventura for 15.25, and to Lancaster for 16.50. Union Station is 8.75.

    The process of demonstrating increasing competence isn't necessarily a one-shot deal. It can be a progression. They will feel increasingly comfortable as you demonstrate that you are growing in competence, skill, and judgment -- and experience, and actual achievements. And they will probably agree to progressively more (progressively longer tours, for example, among other things).

    That's as it should be, it seems to me. They will have a sense of your readiness.

    They sound reasonably conservative, and their judgment on these matters may be just fine. They know you a lot better -- WAY better -- than anyone here. Even more than that: *far and away* better and more thoroughly than any and *all* of us put together.

    [My own views on early independence are perhaps a little on one side of the spectrum, partly based on my own experiences touring and going out on my own at fifteen and sixteen. But I remembered this morning some things my father said and did at that time, and later with my brother. He said that I was more adult at fifteen than my brother was at nineteen; this is what he saw, and he was in a very good position to see it. He always let me go out on my own, even before fifteen, and it worked for me. I loved my father's approach here, and appreciated him for it. But it isn't for everyone, and my positions are colored by my own experiences more than anything. (I also dislike the way childhood is extended for too long, for so many young people. Used to be that many people were out on their own a lot sooner, and were independent a lot sooner. Extended or overly extended infantilization and dependency seems unhealthy to me. And everyone [or virtually everyone] has a native instinct to leave the nest, explore the world for themselves, and gain in independence. It seems perfectly healthy and natural, even necessary in a way.)

    Different people move into that differently, though, and at different times. And your parents, along with you, are the ones who are in the best positions, or the legally ordained positions (there are cultures that have other processes, but this is not one of them) to deal with these matters.

    If you want to do it, you can prove yourself or demonstrate your readiness, for them to see, touch, and experience. Show them a together touring rig. Pictures of your trips might help as well, for them to see and understand more, and to make it all less foreign to them. People who have never bike toured often have attitudes and discomfort about it, attitudes and discomfort that change as they become more familiar and comfortable with it. So if you make it more familiar to them, it might help quite a bit -- especially if you do so via your own experiences.]
    Last edited by Niles H.; 05-16-12 at 02:41 PM.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by simplygib View Post
    My gf bought a Novara Buzz V from REI that is sold as an "urban" bike, and it works great for touring. Steel frame, 36-spoke wheels, mtb gearing, and an identical chainstay length as the Safari in her size. Best of all, it was much cheaper than the Safari ($600 cheaper - closeout sale).
    If I was on a budget for a load carrying bike that's the one I'd check out.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    I do
    That is a very different notion. I've noticed that whether or not one installs drops on one's touring bike very much depends on place of birth. It's a cultural thing.

  20. #20
    eternalvoyage
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    Alex,

    Metrolink will also get you to Oceanside easily. Irvine to Oceanside for 8.75, in a little under an hour (most trains). That would be an excellent way to get away from the traffic closer to Irvine, and it would be a great starting point [along with San Clemente (24 to 29 minutes, 6.75); and the other stations on that line] for a wide variety of possible rides.

    That part of the coast is beautiful, and there are many side roads up into the hills, with a variety of touring possibilities there. Bike clubs in that area could tell you a lot about the best local roads.

    Enjoy the rides.
    Last edited by Niles H.; 05-16-12 at 01:47 PM.

  21. #21
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    All you really need is a bike with braze-ons to mount a rear rack, dropped bars, and a bike that's the right size. All the rest of it doesn't matter much, in spite of all the discussion that goes on about this and that. The very fact that there is discussion means that most of it is a matter of personal preference, which you don't have and don't need to have. All you need to do is ride.

    I wouldn't think a used bike would be too hard to find. I see a whole pile of them right around me. Prices run from $350-$700. You don't need brifters at all. Bar-end or downtube shifters are fine. Too bad you don't know much about bikes or you could buy a Nashbar touring frame for $100 and build it up with cheap Nashbar parts and used stuff you could scrounge from a LBS.

    All that said, the Windsor sure looks like that bike. You need to know what size is all. If you've been bugging your LBS then you must already know what size? If not, get in there and get them to size you. You can pay them back by buying stuff that doesn't come on the bike: bottles, pump, pedals, shoes, probably a different length stem, possibly a different saddle, etc.

    The important thing is to get the frigging bike and start riding it, like now. Don't even think about a different saddle until you have a few hundred miles on the one that comes with the bike. It doesn't even matter how the bike rides. It sure as heck won't ride the same once you load it up. However it rides, you'll get used to it pronto.

  22. #22
    eternalvoyage
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    There are different approaches, Alex, as you can see.

    They have their pros and cons.

    You might want a bike that rides well both loaded and unloaded, and you might want to have some idea of how much you will be carrying. There are advantages to avoiding a heavy, bulky load. Lighter and more compact is better in many ways, and you can take enough without taking too much.

    Lighter loads will mean more enjoyable riding, especially on hills and mountains.

    You don't have to go extreme with this, just reasonably light.

    This also opens up more bike possibilities, and lighter bike possibilities.

    REI, for a variety of reasons -- some of them already mentioned in other posts -- might be a very good way to go for you. There are other ways to go, but this is a very good one, and you won't be stuck with a bike that you don't really like.

    Find something good that you like to ride, set it up, and get on out there.

  23. #23
    eternalvoyage
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    Drop bars are one of those personal preference things. Some people prefer trekking bars or butterfly bars, and there are additional possibilities as well.

    Personally, I moved away from drop bars.

    If you look up Heinz Stücke on the web, and look at the setup he had for many years, as he toured around the world, you'll see what can be done with flat bars or modified flat bars. (He was carrying a lot of photography equipment and other gear that you won't be needing to carry, and that is why his loads are so large.)

    You could try riding a Safari and see how you like those bars.

    It's individual.

  24. #24
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    This weekend REI will have all their Novarras at 15% off. That makes the Safari $765 and the Randonnee $1,020. Go try them. REI should be able to do a fit on you too -- at least they can do it here in Salt Lake. More than a few people have ridden cross country on the Safari.
    Seven Elium Race, Gunnar Roadie, Gunnar Sport, Surly LHT, Gary Fisher Genesis, Miyata 610.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris1548 View Post
    This weekend REI will have all their Novarras at 15% off. That makes the Safari $765 and the Randonnee $1,020. Go try them. REI should be able to do a fit on you too -- at least they can do it here in Salt Lake. More than a few people have ridden cross country on the Safari.
    The sale makes the price difference between the Windsor and the Safari quite small given the value of the setup from REI (and given that the gearing on the Safari is low and doesn't need additional tweaks, while the Windsor would need a new cassette or different chainrings to lower the gearing, which of course is additional cost). Of course the Safari has to fit the OP! But at least he can try it out.

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