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  1. #1
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    Looking for a new frame for international touring

    Hey guys and gals,

    Well. I successfully biked 3949 miles across the US this past summer, and of course I am already on to planning my next trip. I heard about the assisted tour from cairo to cape town and thought.....i could do that.......self supported. SO that is what I am going to do. Along with a friend that went with me across the US, we will be riding 7500 miles from Cairo to Cape Town starting June 2014. It will be about a 7500 mile journey over about 150 days.

    I road a 1989 trek 520 across the US, and while i LOVE that bike, there are some very obvious draw backs. Primary issues: 27" wheels, horizontal drop outs, and past problems with cracking drop outs. Obviously cycling through third world countries, 27" wheels are completely impractical. I am unbelievably sick of my wheel popping out of the horizontal drop outs, and the last thing I want is a cracked drop out in the middle of the sahara (this has happened before, minus the sahara).

    So I began my search. These are some of the options that I have come up with:

    Surly LHT
    Soma Saga
    Kona Sutra
    Salsa Fargo
    Bruce Gordon BLT

    Obviously I am around the $500 mark for the Frame & Fork. I am going to have a set of wheels built by a local shop that I have worked with in the past. But I would appreciate some recommendations towards these or other frames. I know this might not line up with all of the before mentioned bikes, but I also want canti brakes. I have a really great set of cane creek cantis and brake levers that I am going to transplant onto the new frame. At this point I am leaning most towards the Soma Saga. I would prefer 26" wheels for versatility, but 700c wheels for the sake of ignorant preference. Do you think 26"ers are COMPLETELY necessary?

    ALSO: I want this to be the last touring frame I buy. I want to do other cross-continental rides, so consider that in terms of off-road-ability. Over the 7500 miles across Africa, there are supposedly about 600 unpaved miles.

    Let me know what you think! If there is any additional info needed, I will edit this post appropriately.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Well, of course the 26'ers are not COMPLETELY necessary, but imho, what you should go with, both for strength and availability. But you know that already. I darn sure would not set out across Africa on 700's, facing 600 miles of unpaved.

    Any of those bikes will do you just fine once fine tuned for fit.

    When you say 'assisted', just how much assisted?
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  3. #3
    __________ seeker333's Avatar
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    The Soma Saga does not take as big a tire as their website claims. According to various posters on this forum, IIRC, 700x38-40 is max, not 47 as stated. This may also apply to 26" sizes, but I dunno. I looked closely at the Saga, decided to pass once I heard about the tire limitation.

    Take a look at the Surly Disc Trucker. Geometry identical to the LHT, but with disc brakes. You can get any size with 26" wheels, or >56cm with 700c. I'd lean towards 26" tires for the trip you described, although with the LHT/DT you can mount up to 700x45 tires. 26x >1.7" is probably better for unpaved roads, and they are available worldwide, whereas 700c tires are hard/impossible to find outside major cities. I bought a Disc Trucker frameset a few months ago for $356 shipped. That deal is gone for now, but you can still get one for <400 now.

    I have Cane Creek levers and cantis too on my LHT, they are good, but not as good as Avid BB7s and any brifter/lever, which I've also used for years and have on the DT.
    Last edited by seeker333; 01-12-13 at 09:07 PM.

  4. #4
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    I would find mev's journal on the organised Tour d'Afriqu and examine closely what he says about bikes that he and others use.

    This is the link.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    I would find mev's journal on the organised Tour d'Afriqu and examine closely what he says about bikes that he and others use.

    This is the link.
    Iv ready quite a few blogs on the Tour d'Afriqu and while there is definitely some useful knowledge, my needs are fundamentally different because I will be non-supported. Iv heard of people doing it on everything from a Cross Check to a full suspension MTB. Nonetheless I will look into it!

    I should also note that on our trip across the US we had about 530 miles of unpaved trail. We took the Katy, GAP, and C&O. I know its not africa, but my trek 520 with the 27" wheels did pretty good I would say. I never really thought "oh my gosh this handling is terrible and this ride is miserable

    The tour d'afriq is fully supported with a fleet of trucks and vans. It also costs about 13,000 and that doesnt include airfare.

    To answer the question about support: as I just said, it will be me, my friend, and our bikes. Well, and a GPS.
    Last edited by dwhenry; 01-13-13 at 01:42 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
    The Soma Saga does not take as big a tire as their website claims. According to various posters on this forum, IIRC, 700x38-40 is max, not 47 as stated. This may also apply to 26" sizes, but I dunno. I looked closely at the Saga, decided to pass once I heard about the tire limitation.

    Take a look at the Surly Disc Trucker. Geometry identical to the LHT, but with disc brakes. You can get any size with 26" wheels, or >56cm with 700c. I'd lean towards 26" tires for the trip you described, although with the LHT/DT you can mount up to 700x45 tires. 26x >1.7" is probably better for unpaved roads, and they are available worldwide, whereas 700c tires are hard/impossible to find outside major cities. I bought a Disc Trucker frameset a few months ago for $356 shipped. That deal is gone for now, but you can still get one for <400 now.

    I have Cane Creek levers and cantis too on my LHT, they are good, but not as good as Avid BB7s and any brifter/lever, which I've also used for years and have on the DT.
    Hmm.... I will keep that in mind about soma. I mostly just like it because that british racing green is beautiful.

    But I'd really rather not switch my braking set up. I absolutely love it and have spent a decent amount of money on it. It is so easily adjusted that I'd really rather not switch to a foreign set up. I also dont want to risk bending a disc in a place where you definitely cant find a disc. Honestly, if i found a new LHT for 356 bucks I would probably buy it right away. That's a screamin deal.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Jim Kukula's Avatar
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    The Thorn Sherpa might be worth a look. Also here is a journal from somebody who did a ride like what you envision:

    http://takeonafrica.com/

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwhenry View Post
    if i found a new LHT for 356 bucks I would probably buy it right away. That's a screamin deal.
    Well, they're $358 here and now (you apparently did not explore the link in #3). They go up at midnight to regular price. Seller discounts on weekends only.

    http://www.modernbike.com/search.asp...04831&SCPK=607

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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
    The Soma Saga does not take as big a tire as their website claims. According to various posters on this forum, IIRC, 700x38-40 is max, not 47 as stated. This may also apply to 26" sizes, but I dunno. I looked closely at the Saga, decided to pass once I heard about the tire limitation.

    Take a look at the Surly Disc Trucker. Geometry identical to the LHT, but with disc brakes. You can get any size with 26" wheels, or >56cm with 700c. I'd lean towards 26" tires for the trip you described, although with the LHT/DT you can mount up to 700x45 tires. 26x >1.7" is probably better for unpaved roads, and they are available worldwide, whereas 700c tires are hard/impossible to find outside major cities. I bought a Disc Trucker frameset a few months ago for $356 shipped. That deal is gone for now, but you can still get one for <400 now.

    I have Cane Creek levers and cantis too on my LHT, they are good, but not as good as Avid BB7s and any brifter/lever, which I've also used for years and have on the DT.
    I have a soma saga and I tried running 700x47 tires and they just barely fit. I'd say it's safe to run at least 700x45s. I might be the only guy on this forum who'll say that you'll be fine running 700s, unless youre a clydesdale who packs tons of stuff. 700s can be built plenty strong for off road riding and loaded touring. You can carry a spare tire or two. The folding ones don't take up much space. Check out bikepacking.net for setup ideas.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
    Well, they're $358 here and now (you apparently did not explore the link in #3). They go up at midnight to regular price. Seller discounts on weekends only.

    http://www.modernbike.com/search.asp...04831&SCPK=607
    Oh snap. I accidently glanced over the fact that there was a hyperlink in post 3. This is a crazy deal. I only wish LHT's came in better finished. The Silver isnt really doing it for me.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by niknak View Post
    I have a soma saga and I tried running 700x47 tires and they just barely fit. I'd say it's safe to run at least 700x45s.
    Thanks for the correction. I wonder if Soma revised the frame, since a couple others have reported the smaller tires issue. I contacted Soma CS a few times about the Saga, and they never impressed me with their product knowledge, which left me with some doubt.

    Quote Originally Posted by niknak View Post
    I might be the only guy on this forum who'll say that you'll be fine running 700s, unless youre a clydesdale who packs tons of stuff.
    I think 700s are fine too. However, as you've pointed out, there are a lot of bicyclists choosing 26" over 700c, and I don't really care to argue the point.

    I've no doubt 700c is the way to go for paved roads, since they have lower rolling resistance and simply go further on a given amount of power input. My 2009 LHT has 26" wheels; my 2012 DT has 700.

  12. #12
    __________ seeker333's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwhenry View Post
    Oh snap. I accidently glanced over the fact that there was a hyperlink in post 3. This is a crazy deal. I only wish LHT's came in better finished. The Silver isnt really doing it for me.
    Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

    Walmart sells spray paint for $4/can.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwhenry View Post
    Oh snap. I accidently glanced over the fact that there was a hyperlink in post 3. This is a crazy deal. I only wish LHT's came in better finished. The Silver isnt really doing it for me.
    Better finish? Get out the paint brushes. Unless you have needs for Troll or Thorn Sherpa like bikes the 26" wheel LHT is a no brainer.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    +1 on a 26" LHT. If the 600 miles are on rugged terrain (do you know?), you might be more comfortable on a Troll (also 26" wheeled) as it's a mountain bike.

    BTW, I hardly put the above $500 touring framesets in the "last one forever category." If that's what you're after, you will find yourself quickly wanting a custom frameset for some obvious reasons: perfect fitting, desired frame geometry for on/off road, S&S couplers, color options, braze-ons for different kinds of brakes and other features, etc. If you're thinking of doing lots of international touring, personally I think two sensible requirements are 26" wheels and, believe it or not, S&S couplers. The latter will pay off if in just 2-3 international trips ($400 per R/T) and will allow you to fly your bike on puddle jumpers, take trains and buses.

    Surly offers the 26" LHT frameset with S&S couplers for $995. Many wish they offered a disc brake option. It's the best deal out there for someone who is serious about international touring in the coming years. Just something to think about!
    Last edited by Chris Pringle; 01-13-13 at 05:40 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
    +1 on a 26" LHT. If the 600 miles are on rugged terrain (do you know?), you might be more comfortable on a Troll (also 26" wheeled) as it's a mountain bike.

    BTW, I hardly put the above $500 touring framesets in the "last one forever category." If that's what you're after, you will find yourself quickly wanting a custom frameset for some obvious reasons: perfect fitting, desired frame geometry for on/off road, S&S couplers, color options, braze-ons for different kinds of brakes and other features, etc. If you're thinking of doing lots of international touring, personally I think two sensible requirements are 26" wheels and, believe it or not, S&S couplers. The latter will pay off if in just 2-3 international trips ($400 per R/T) and will allow you to fly your bike on puddle jumpers, take trains and buses.

    Surly offers the 26" LHT frameset with S&S couplers for $995. Many wish they offered a disc brake option. It's the best deal out there for someone who is serious about international touring in the coming years. Just something to think about!
    I looked into the LHT S&S but was not completely convinced. I didn't like the idea that they loosened and the bike could flex and things like that. But that was mainly me being scared off by the additional price tag. On the website that was posted earlier in this thread it it linked to an S&S coupler LHT for 800, which isnt too bad. But for 800 I think I would rather get the Thorn Sherpa and just deal with it. And I agree with you on the "last one forever". Lord knows ill be hankering to build a new one in a few years. I just want something that will last me a long time and if i choose to switch it wont be because its fallign apart but because I have new preferences. Know what I mean?

    In response to the Troll: I don't think I would want a bike so MTB specific. I know there is non-paved terrain, but honestly I handled pretty well on an 80's touring bike with 27" wheels on unpaved and wouldnt want to sacrifice the pros of having a more road appropriate frame. I think.

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