Background: 52 years old and starting to pick up a new past time in the touring arena. Do a lot of backpacking on the AT, but ankles are giving out, but still want to enjoy the adventure of being outdoors.
Current Needs: I want to do some small trips near the Tidewater area of VA to test out if I can really get into this overnight bike / camping thing. I have a couple of garage sale bikes that I picked up a couple of years ago. I do, however, know the value of having the proper equipment for the task and have been looking at a Surly LHT for a permanent ride. Prior to that, I want to check out how my endurance and nerves will serve me on the open road. I am thinking of using one of these garage sale bikes and a trailer for my initial trips. I like the Maya Trailer and that will be one of my first purchases after Christmas is over with.
The questions I have are on this bicycle. It is a 12 speed bike that was sold by Montgomery Ward some years back. It is a Open Road 1200 GT. I did some research to find out if this would be an okay ride and came up with the fact that Huffy built most of these bikes with Murray building a few. The only serial number I could find was under the crank set (A881U14929). Some reviews of Huffy have revealed that these are the only chain store bike that can be dangerous. Anyone ever had any experience with these bikes coming apart and causing issues with health?
Before I spend $1500 on a Surly, I really want to gauge my long term interest in this new passion. I love to backpack the Appalachian Trail, but the ankles are giving me a fit. I am thinking the touring lifestyle might afford me the sense of adventure without the impact to my body parts. So if I can make what I have do...for the local trips, I would like to pursue this strategy. But not if the bike will come apart once loaded. And when I mean loaded, most of the weight will be on the trailer, not the bike. If I graduate to the Surly later on, I will then have some experience with a trailer to determine if that is indeed better than panniers.
Now the other question. This bike is a 12 speed. I have another Jamis mountain bike that is a 21 speed and has a 22/32/42 front crank set (bought at the same garage sale). From my research, I am gathering that a 22 tooth granny gear is a good thing. Can these crank sets / gears be swapped out on the two bikes? The MW bike has a Shimano front deraileur of unknown type and a Shimano Tourney on the back. The Jamis bike has a Acera rear deraileur. Both bikes have tire sizes of 26 x 1.95"
If anyone can help, I am open to suggestions. - Thanks