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  1. #1
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    Bike questions from a newbie tourer

    Hey all, I just got into the idea of Touring really recently, but the idea of it strikes a huge chord in my head; I'm 16 right now, and I plan on doing a relatively minor trip, especially compared to the accomplishments I've seen on these forums! Anyways, a couple of guys and I are planning our first-ever tour, from Toronto to Buffalo and back. It's going to be about 4-500 km total, with the longest days seeing us bike about 160 km. We plan on packing very light, a knapsack and small rear panniers at most, as we're not going to be roughing it out. With this mind, let me explain the situation:

    All of us are looking at buying bikes suitable for this ride, as we've only ever really been mountain biking and therefore have unsuitable bikes for the trip. I had a conception that we would all need to get tour bikes, but after reading a couple of threads, I'm wondering if heavy duty tour bikes are actually necessary, and what difference would it make (either for better or worse) if we looked at road bikes instead. In a nutshell, what kind of bikes are necessary for this trip? If anyone can suggest particular models as well, it would be greatly appreciated.

    (BTW, we are all on very low budget, most likely would have to buy secondhand, not able to spend more than $500, 600, tops.)

  2. #2
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    You're 16 ? and presumably still growing ?. So whatever bike you buy now might not fit in 2 years, so I'd be very cautious investing money into a new bike .

    Unless your mt. bikes are 40 lbs downhill machines, I'd use what you have for the first tour. If dual suspension, then either lock out the suspension or re-tune to stiff to avoid bob. I'd also put on a set of slick tires, do a shift and brake tune up, buy a seat post rack and some inexpensive commuter panniers and a large handle bar bag. . Then stuff as much as possible into those bags, using a Camelback for other stuff and go with that.

    If you find you like it, then maybe buy a used cross bike that has eyelets for racks. Then after you've hit the body size (you stop growing, so 18-20 ?) go an buy a new bike.

    SB

  3. #3
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    If you do go for newer bikes, and plan to only carry light loads, a road bike (maybe with some fatter tires on the rims) would be fine. You'd have to look at the gearing and the terrain on your planned route to make sure it's low enough, and also check to make sure there wouldn't be any rear pannier/heel collisions.

    I've been playing around with DIY small panniers from plastic food containers or wastebaskets lately. They have the advantages of being inexpensive and absolutely weatherproof if they come with lids; not that much of a factor here in sunny San Diego, but in other areas, much more so. Plus you can sit on them if necessary.

  4. #4
    Senior Member rekmeyata's Avatar
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    Find a used bike, there are some really nice touring bikes they made back in the 80's that some have seen very little miles. And as a bonus their easier to fix on the road then new new ones are, and for that money you can get top end components from back then which truly were bullet proof. Even a MTB will work and those are found cheaper then road bikes. In Toronto there are these to consider, just make sure they fit and there's no frame damage; see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ix2sNGhXJ2c This next one is a rare find, and it appears to be in really good condition and comes with fenders which you could keep on or take off, it would be great for short touring where the touring load weight would be fairly low; see: http://toronto.en.craigslist.ca/tor/bik/3273387321.html

    If you have a good friend who lives in Detroit, or some other close American city/town you could go on to Bikes Direct and look at their touring bikes, but Bikes Direct will not ship to Canada without shipping charges. But anyway this is the bike I would recommend from them: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/tourist.htm If you don't have a friend you can pick up the bike from in America you can use Bikes Direct shipping, not sure how it works because it seems weird to me, anyway see this: http://www.bikesdirect.com/canada/

  5. #5
    Fraser Valley Dave
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    Would help to tell us what type of mountain bikes you all have....my first several tours, much longer than what you're planning, and with more gear, were on an old fashioned rigid 18 speed mountain bike. I got advice from a bike shop and switched my sprockets to get higher gearing but retain my low, and I put on thinner street tires to lower resistance enough to allow me to use the higher gears more often. Even with 22 kgs of gear, being only a recreational rider, and 45 years old, I sometimes went only 80 kms in a day, but more often I went 130-190 kms a day.

  6. #6
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    Hey, thanks for all the replies. For those who want to know, I've got a Schwinn Graft that I picked up new from a Canadian Tire a couple months ago... I had assumed it completely not an option at all... but I suppose anything with two wheels and a chain will take you places. My beef with it is that it's an extremely heavy, (40 + lbs, I think) Dual Suspension thing that seems opposite the touring type bikes people use. For further information, I've had my major growth spurt already, and am currently 5'9... will not be growing too much more, that's almost certain. Even if I do miraculously put on a few more inches, any bike I invest in at this point will be an adult size, and likely to stick with me, so. Another thought that I'm having is that I DO plan on doing longer tours in the future for sure, at which point a good touring cycle will be needed, but for now my concern is that I have more of a selection at this point in time if I'm not just limiting bike possibilities to touring cycles. I think now though it seems clear that any decent road or tourer will do for this journey?

    On that note, my step dad has a 2001 or 2002 Mikado Radisson, which he says is a tourer, although I haven't been able to pull much information about it. What I have read about it seems mostly negative (i.e. too flexible a frame) which, in addition with the knowledge that it's not actually my bike, had seen me discard it as an option entirely. At this point I'm wondering however if anyone knows anything about this model, and if I ought to just ask to use that instead.

  7. #7
    Senior Member chriskmurray's Avatar
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    I think you would be better off finding a quality used older mountain bike from a bike shop quality brand (giant, trek, specialized, etc) and learn the basics of working on it yourself. You could probably find a nice bike for $100 or less that will do much better than your current bike.

    A great place to start learning to fix bikes is Parktool.com.

    Some bikeshops or even bike co-ops if you are lucky enough to have one can sell you a quality used bike and show you the basics of working on it.

    Good luck on your trip, sounds like a good time.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahmyin View Post
    Hey, thanks for all the replies. For those who want to know, I've got a Schwinn Graft that I picked up new from a Canadian Tire a couple months ago... I had assumed it completely not an option at all... but I suppose anything with two wheels and a chain will take you places. My beef with it is that it's an extremely heavy, (40 + lbs, I think) Dual Suspension thing that seems opposite the touring type bikes people use. For further information, I've had my major growth spurt already, and am currently 5'9... will not be growing too much more, that's almost certain. Even if I do miraculously put on a few more inches, any bike I invest in at this point will be an adult size, and likely to stick with me, so. Another thought that I'm having is that I DO plan on doing longer tours in the future for sure, at which point a good touring cycle will be needed, but for now my concern is that I have more of a selection at this point in time if I'm not just limiting bike possibilities to touring cycles. I think now though it seems clear that any decent road or tourer will do for this journey?

    On that note, my step dad has a 2001 or 2002 Mikado Radisson, which he says is a tourer, although I haven't been able to pull much information about it. What I have read about it seems mostly negative (i.e. too flexible a frame) which, in addition with the knowledge that it's not actually my bike, had seen me discard it as an option entirely. At this point I'm wondering however if anyone knows anything about this model, and if I ought to just ask to use that instead.
    The Mikado Radisson is actually an excellent steel touring bike distributed by a Canadian Quebec company. It was in direct competition at that period with the Norco Alteres and Norco Terrene. I personally would had bought the Radisson, but the market for Mikado is bigger in Toronto than out in the West where I am as Norco is bigger here. The Radisson if it fits you puts most of the cheap MTB bikes to shame and is very similar in configuration as my current Masi Speciale CX which is also a steel bike.

    See this from a guy who actually toured with it.

    http://www.damianrogers.com/day1.html

    If your step dad lets you have it; I'll definitely take it and invest in nicer racks and panniers. $500 should just about cover it if you shop wisely.
    Trek 5000 carbon road bike
    Masi Speciale CX touring bike
    Dahon Mu SL (performance hybrid road bike)
    Dahon Speed Duo (slow poker shopper or coffee getter bike)

  9. #9
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    I would agree with others that MTBs are fine for touring. Personally I do not find them comfortable for much over 50 KM day, but I'm over 50, and I have to have everything perfect then I can do a 160 km day, now and then. Even the bike you are using is doable. Are you credit carding it? The first thing I do with an MTB in Toronto is swap out the tires for slicks, 1.5". MEC usually has something. This turns them into a different bike, and the switch back to dirt tires is labout 15 minutes.

    Check out what these guys did with a crap bike:

    http://www.rayjardine.com/adventures...Bike/index.htm

    Page 42 is where the biking starts.


    Bikes are the most efficient means of moving around on dry land. As a result, any bike is hugely better than no bike. Therefore any bike no mater how inappropriate is great compared to walking. But road/racing bikes, touring bikes, and MTBs are radically different tools. You can always get someone to tell you that X bike will be great, as I partially did with the MTB above. But riding over and down mountains or offroad in general, is radically different than what a loaded tourer would do,unless riding the same trails. If I had an unlimited budget I would buy the loaded tourer for the trip you are proposing rather than the racing bike. I've owned both and toured on them. I would buy the touring bike even if I did not intend to do loaded touring. They ride great, and do not have the features that are designed for the race course, and riding in a tight group. Now if one wanted to get a custom bike for doing long civilian solo races (rondoneur), credit card tours, etc... It would not be a loaded touring bike. But I would take the loaded touring bike, in the absence of any such custom, or if I wanted to be able to carry a load at a latter date, mount fenders, ride rail trails etc..

    Two other small points, I prefer the ride to Montreal the big HWY is a lot further north, and the scenery and riding is great by the lake. No Niagara, but you have probably seen that more than once. Also, what makes it possible to do 160 is less being super studdly, and more being able to stay comfortable while riding long hours. I can ride anything for 40 miles, but 80+ miles a day, day after day, is all about comfort for me. MTBs, ad race bikes are not designed for that.

  10. #10
    Senior Member rekmeyata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahmyin View Post
    On that note, my step dad has a 2001 or 2002 Mikado Radisson, which he says is a tourer, although I haven't been able to pull much information about it. What I have read about it seems mostly negative (i.e. too flexible a frame) which, in addition with the knowledge that it's not actually my bike, had seen me discard it as an option entirely. At this point I'm wondering however if anyone knows anything about this model, and if I ought to just ask to use that instead.
    That's a capable enough bike for how you'll be using it, if it fits and he will give it to you then why not? The flexy part you read came from the crappy wheels they used and when they flexed repeatedly they snapped spokes. You would have to upgrade the wheels, but that's cheaper to do then a new bike! as long as you don't go crazy, but a good 36 spoke touring wheels from Velocity Dyad built with Shimano LX hubs, DT Competition double butted spokes, and brass nipples should do the job superbly and at a low cost. Depending on your LBS if you can get the Wheelsmith double butted spokes their less expensive then the DT's. With the DT's and LX hubs they should cost around $350 for the pair. If you want to upgrade the wheels a bit simply built them with Shimano XT M760's instead; these might cost around $400 for the pair. Or if you want to save more money use Sun ME18's with the LX hubs; this should cost around $270 for the pair.

    Here's a site about a guy that toured on that bike, and lives in your area, are you related? anyway see this: http://www.damianrogers.com/cycling_frame.html

    And here's one review: http://www.roadbikereview.com/cat/20...7_1612crx.aspx

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