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Old 09-11-12, 10:40 AM   #1
tmiranda
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Touring Bike Recommendations

I'm a fairly new cyclist. I started riding about a year ago and absolutely love it. I currently have a Trek racing bike that I inherited from a family member who used to race. I can't remember the model specifically, it is a carbon fiber frame and is about 8-9 years old I believe. The bike is ideal for most of the riding I do currently I live in a part of Kansas where it is mostly flat - windy but generally flat. I'm now starting to get very interested in doing some touring. Just this past weekend I did a ride in the Gypsum Hills in Kansas. It is very hilly. I quickly realized that my current bike isn't going to cut it in hills. It isn't geared for it for one, plus it isn't made to tour. I don't think I can put panniers on it and load gear on it. It just isn't made for it. I've been thinking of buying another bike so I can start doing some 2 or 3 day rides and gradually work my way up from there. I want a bike that can make it up hills but one where I can also load it with 40 or 50 lbs of gear if I want to do a longer ride. I'd like to stay under $1k if possible.

Just looking for some suggestions...


Thanks!
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Old 09-11-12, 11:06 AM   #2
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Can't go wrong with a Surly Long Haul Trucker. It's a little over $1,000 but it's worth every penny.
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Old 09-11-12, 02:29 PM   #3
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Where do you live? [OK Kansas what City is nearest?]
what brands of bikes are sold by the favorite LBS.

do they have a QBP account? Surly is a owned brand of theirs.


Trek 520 is also a good one. importing a Thorn from UK gets you a fine frameset,
I'd get it built up locally..

KC Mo has some frame-builders to make a just-yours..

maybe Wichita KS too..

NB: rebuilding older rigid fork MTB hard-tails make great touring bikes.

Last edited by fietsbob; 09-12-12 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 09-11-12, 02:43 PM   #4
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Do you have a local REI? Sometimes they have their Novara Randonee on clearance (right now actually) for around 800. It's speced closer to 1000 dollar bike, and it's a pretty standard light touring rig. If you don't have a membership, get one and get 20% off the clearance price too when you join up ; )

beyond that I would consider your weight. I would even suggest a windsor tourist (bikes direct) for folks who are in the 150 lb range. The wheels leave much to be desired for heavier riders, but if you're light that can make a difference.

the other one I like is the specialized sirrus. Great solid bike for the money, but it's a flat bar. Could put bar ends on to give you another hand position or two, or swap out for a touring bar.

All of those still leave you with a little budget for bags and racks. ; )

I have an LHT but build mine up. . . you don't want to do that unless you know what you want and are willing to spend a lot more.

LHT is a solid build but will run you at least a few 100 more than the ones above.
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Old 09-11-12, 02:44 PM   #5
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Another option is to get the nashbar touring frameset and build it up. This can go on sale for 100 or 200 bucks, but I would only do that if I already had many of the parts. You could use a donor bike from craigslist or something.
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Old 09-11-12, 02:54 PM   #6
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Tanks for the recommendations. I am 6'4" about 205 lbs so a sturdy, large bike is a must. I was looking on nashbar today and saw this one . Hard to beat that price and seeing as its steel I would think it would easily support my weight + gear. My main concern is that it is steel though lol. It sounds heavy. Is it pretty common for touring bikes to be steel framed?
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Old 09-11-12, 03:06 PM   #7
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Yea, steel is generally the choice, though there are a lot of aluminum bikes that are design for touring as well. I prefer steel, and to be honest, the difference is negligible for actual touring. You're talking a 2 or 3 lb difference. The gear you carry is a larger consideration. Any comfort I can get out of my bike (or strength) is a good thing, even if it adds weight.

That looks to be a great deal. It does look like it's not intended for heaving touring just from the gear choices, but it has a freehub and not a freewheel and 36 spoke wheels which immediately tells me that at least considered that people would tour with it. I would choose that over a windsor tourist for sure. Nice price for 105 components too.

Your main focus with a touring bike is comfort, not weight. You have all the time in the world (or day) to get there. The enjoyment is what you're looking for.

If you want a faster, lighter bike and care to carry less gear I think you would be looking at a cyclocross bike or something along those lines.

Don't expect a touring bike to feel like your carbon super-bike : P It's a different world and to maintain those speeds you'd really have to work up a sweat.


My opinion: weight matters when i carry my bike up and down stairs, if it's less than 40 lbs, it's ridable and I'm happy
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Old 09-11-12, 03:11 PM   #8
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Thanks for your input. I figure it could be a good starter touring bike anyway. If I get serious and want to do some long x-country rides I may look at something else. For now, 2-3 day rides will be max for now. I'll keep looking around, but this deal is looking good.

I guess I never thought of it that way, don't worry about speed, just enjoy the ride . I tell you though, I got the bug on this last ride. Its hard to explain, but that feeling of being out in the middle of nowhere, by yourself, looking down at a valley and you can see the road stretch for miles and miles knowing you are about to conquer it. Awesome.
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Old 09-11-12, 04:02 PM   #9
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If you're starting small, there's nothing saying you can't start out by bringing a few repair items, some food, and a hammock (or credit card) to do short trips even on your carbon bike. Credit card touring can be really fun if you have the money. you can usually get some biking friends to go on shorter trips too which curbs the cost and makes for some great riding stories. You don't always have to ride strictly beside each other, so you can still get that feeling even riding in a group of 3 or 4.

I remember my first time I got that feeling. Out on the silver comet trail on my single speed langster with a bookbag strapped on top of a rack with a bungee net (made the bike horribly unstable). Still one of my favorite rides ever.
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Old 09-11-12, 08:35 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by tmiranda View Post
Tanks for the recommendations. I am 6'4" about 205 lbs so a sturdy, large bike is a must. I was looking on nashbar today and saw this one . Hard to beat that price and seeing as its steel I would think it would easily support my weight + gear. My main concern is that it is steel though lol. It sounds heavy. Is it pretty common for touring bikes to be steel framed?
The 50/39/30 crank isn't really ideal for hauling loads uphill. Make sure the crank allows you to swap chain rings or plan to replace it. For steep hills and a light (~25lb) load, I like a 48/38/26 trekking crank. With a heavier load you'll want a 44/32/22 mountain bike crank. The quill stem and 1" fork are a bit dated, but should be fine if the geometry of the bike works for you.

I, personally, love my aluminum Nashbar touring frame. It's light and stiff and rides like a dream on 700x32 or larger tires. Can't really understand all of the excitement around steel...
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Old 09-12-12, 10:02 AM   #11
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There's about a dozen production touring bikes on the market, from $800 to $1500. The frustration is trying to find one, in your size, and test riding it.

Adventure Cycling has a good list of what's available at http://www.adventurecycling.org/feat...uyersguide.cfm -- start from there, pick a manufacturer, find local dealers (within 200 miles?) from their web page, and start calling.
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Old 09-15-12, 06:43 AM   #12
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Think about used and vintage...

Posted elsewhere , but I still like the older touring bikes. Swapped for this at a local pawn shop , a Schwinn Passage made from Columbus Tenax Steel and has step and a half plus granny gearingand touring braze-ons . a very light , capable , and efficient tourer .

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Old 09-15-12, 07:34 AM   #13
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I also have a Surly Long Haul Trucker and it's a great bike and worth the price. Very comfortable and handles a load well.
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Old 09-15-12, 08:46 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tmiranda View Post
Tanks for the recommendations. I am 6'4" about 205 lbs so a sturdy, large bike is a must. I was looking on nashbar today and saw this one . Hard to beat that price and seeing as its steel I would think it would easily support my weight + gear. My main concern is that it is steel though lol. It sounds heavy. Is it pretty common for touring bikes to be steel framed?
If you want to enter into touring, this is a good value. It isn't quite geared for expedition level touring, but many of us change gearing around anyways so I don't see that as much of an issue. If you're accustomed to using integrated shifters, this will be a treat. If a 64 cm frame is what you need, you are in luck.

Touring bikes are heavier than road bikes in order to control and support whatever is loaded onto them. As mentioned above, the bike's weight isn't so much of an issue. My own experiance was a bit of surprise the first time I hefted my touring bike with it's noticeable difference to one of my roadie's weight. It doesn't ride heavy if I take it on a distance ride, I just don't accelerate as quickly as on the road frame. A touring frame is also engineered for stability, so you may notice that a tourer will be less of a corner carver.

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Old 09-15-12, 08:49 AM   #15
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Check out a Surly Disc Trucker - Long Haul Trucker with disc brakes. Discs will revolutionize your world.
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Old 09-15-12, 09:35 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by tmiranda View Post
I'm a fairly new cyclist. I started riding about a year ago and absolutely love it. I currently have a Trek racing bike that I inherited from a family member who used to race. I can't remember the model specifically, it is a carbon fiber frame and is about 8-9 years old I believe. The bike is ideal for most of the riding I do currently I live in a part of Kansas where it is mostly flat - windy but generally flat. I'm now starting to get very interested in doing some touring. Just this past weekend I did a ride in the Gypsum Hills in Kansas. It is very hilly. I quickly realized that my current bike isn't going to cut it in hills. It isn't geared for it for one, plus it isn't made to tour. I don't think I can put panniers on it and load gear on it. It just isn't made for it. I've been thinking of buying another bike so I can start doing some 2 or 3 day rides and gradually work my way up from there. I want a bike that can make it up hills but one where I can also load it with 40 or 50 lbs of gear if I want to do a longer ride. I'd like to stay under $1k if possible.

Just looking for some suggestions...


Thanks!
If you've got a Trek carbon bike of 8 to 9 years of age, that could probably be a Trek 5000 or 5200. Then, I've got the same bike as yours and I used it then for racing but today as a light touring bike.

The Trek gearing is made to climb hills, because you will have a triple. The lowest gear on that bike with a 50/39/30 is 30" which to a strong rider would allow him or her to climb up to a 16% grade without having to resort to walking. The lowest touring gear then in the 1970s is around 27", but today the lowest of the lowest is around 16" to 20" which is really walking speed. Plus, climbing hills help with a lighter load and the Trek 5000 has one of the stiffest and comfortable frame made for that purpose anyhow.
You can actually customize your gearing to accept lower gears. You can swap your triple 30 teeth gear to a 24 teeth easier and install a chain drop guard. On the rear, you can swap your Ultegra rear derailleur to a Deore long cage mountain derailleur and slap in a 11-34 SRAM cassette. With a conversion like this, you'll be able to ride your Trek carbon bike fast by itself as you preserve the higher gears and still tour with it when you want to.

If you are planning to carry 40 to 50lbs weight, the best option for you is to tow a trailer, especially a 2 wheel trailer. I've toured my Trek 5000 modified with low gears with panniers or the Burley Travoy no problems.
The Burley Travoy is nice because you can detach it and drag it like a carryon luggage or fold it into a size of a brief case. It comes with 1 bag already, but you just need to buy a rain coat for it and 1 bag or use the straps to strap on your stuff no problem. With the cost of mods and the trailer, this should not cost you more than $500. Then the extra $500 can be used to buy a nice lightweight tent, sleeping bag and XPED mat to keep your base weight low!
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Old 09-15-12, 09:55 AM   #17
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Tanks for the recommendations. I am 6'4" about 205 lbs so a sturdy, large bike is a must. I was looking on nashbar today and saw this one . Hard to beat that price and seeing as its steel I would think it would easily support my weight + gear. My main concern is that it is steel though lol. It sounds heavy. Is it pretty common for touring bikes to be steel framed?
You sure want to ride a cheap end bike after you rode a Trek carbon bike which isn't at the cheapest end of the price scale 8 to 9 years prior?

All steel touring bikes are heavy for a reason. The tubes are made oversized and heavier to resist torsional loads of the heavy panniers, so the base weight of any touring bike can be in the range of 28 to 34lbs! Compared to a Trek which can be in a range of 20 to 22lbs. If you start adding racks to the heavy tank, the final base weight can easily approach 38 to 40lbs without you even attaching a single pannier. So if you are planning to carry 40 to 50lbs load on top of your bike, what makes you think that even with lower gears, you'll have an easier time climbing hills with a total 205lbs of your weight plus bike and plus load which can easily equal to 300lbs+.

Touring bikes started with steel and were actually lighter than the tanks of today like the Surly Trucker. When the 80s came along, the bike boom was over and the mountain bike era started. It's not until the mid 90s or so when touring bikes came into a revival with aluminum bikes. But then, that got shot down because people perceived them to be harsh riding that's due to the stiffer construction employed then. Today, we're back to steel thanks to the marketing genius of QBP which owns both Surly and Soma and that pretty much killed the aluminum touring bikes including the infamous Cannondale T-series which had stood the test of time until it was bought by Dorel Industries of Canada.
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Old 09-15-12, 10:22 AM   #18
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Lets see - Triple crank, long cage, tall FUJI CroMo frame, Freewheel with 34T bailout, 3 cans of paint, some gettocals, foam grips on the drops, big azz tool pouch... Man there might be a Touring bike siting around the garage that you don't even know about... At least thats how it goes with some on this forum...

But get one already made and then go for the one you want to have - Often it requires you to build it up yourself either for the fun of it or because of funds... Have fun and ride ride ride either way...

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Old 09-15-12, 11:57 AM   #19
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Cannondale , and Dorel Industries.
A combination for our times .
Cannondale did make some
great American made touring bikes ,
back in the day .
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Old 09-15-12, 12:00 PM   #20
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A great place to start is this thread pinned above:

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-Touring-Bikes!!!
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Old 09-15-12, 02:50 PM   #21
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I think this bike is better equipped then the Performance job, but you decide, it's just another option: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...an_turismo.htm
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Old 09-15-12, 06:32 PM   #22
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Tanks for the recommendations. I am 6'4" about 205 lbs so a sturdy, large bike is a must. I was looking on nashbar today and saw this one . Hard to beat that price and seeing as its steel I would think it would easily support my weight + gear. My main concern is that it is steel though lol. It sounds heavy. Is it pretty common for touring bikes to be steel framed?
Read the reviews, it looks like the wheels are machine made and marginal. also the size jump from 58cm to 64 cm is huge. Looks like you can anticipate $250 upgrades in the first year. I suggest going straight to a $1000 bike, REI or shop offering a deal. The Performance deal looks like it'll cost.

I'd pick this over the Performance bike

http://www.rei.com/product/808781/novara-buzz-bike-2012

Or this

http://www.rei.com/product/816068/no...onee-bike-2013

Last edited by LeeG; 09-15-12 at 06:41 PM.
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Old 09-15-12, 07:33 PM   #23
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I'm 6 foot tall with a 34 inseam and I can ride from a 57 to a 60cm frame; a 64 frame is only 1 1/2 inch difference from a 60, so if his inseam is close to 36 then there should be no problem with a 64 frame. But he should try a 64 at an LBS and see if it does fit first.
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Old 09-16-12, 06:17 AM   #24
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tmiranda, There's also this available in 64 cm from Bikes Direct. Despite it's low price it's had some pretty positive reviews. Wheels sometimes have needed retensioning/truing, but the price points on any of the bikes listed so far dictates a machine made wheelset.

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/tourist.htm

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