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Old 01-20-13, 05:57 AM   #1
KirkBeiser
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New touring bike critique before purchase

I'm not a bike guy (long distance hiker) so I want to make sure I'm not missing an important detail when I buy my new bike. http://www.spinburn.com.tw/performer...roducts_id=155 edit - this bike is completely out for the reasons listed below - I've moved on to probably doing a Surly build

Touring setup and plans
Probably 40 lbs max of gear but hopefully closer to 30lbs. I have too many electronics to go significantly lighter for a long trip. I will be really light on short trips.
Camping w/ Ortliebs front/rear
probably aiming for 60-80 km/day with additional time spent hiking and sightseeing
I will be on some rough roads but I won't be going completely off road.
Hokkaido for 2months - summer 2013
Taiwan circle tour - 1 month spring 2014
All over japan for 4-5 months in 2014

I'll have 30-40 lbs of gear on the bike plus myself (170 lbs).

I prefer flat bars and they will swap them in the build. My understanding is that it's easy to change to a trekking/butterfly bar later if you start with flat bar shifters. Or should I just try a trekking bar at the beginning?

Is the 50/34 and 12-30 low enough for going up mountains? edit - definitely not

I will probably get a Brooks saddle because they seem to be the way to go.

I've been to several of the dealers in my city but none of them have had any models on display and even if they did it would probably be too small anyway. I'm bigger than the average Asian. I have ridden/owned several 56cm bikes so that seems like it would fit but I'll let the bike store measure me.

Of course this whole transaction will be done with a language barrier.

Last edited by KirkBeiser; 02-08-13 at 08:11 PM. Reason: new info
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Old 01-20-13, 06:23 AM   #2
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KB, The gearing isn't quite right for climbing with a load, but that's common for off the shelf tourers. If you can have a mountain bike triple crankset or a treking triple crankset substituted, that would be better.

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Old 01-20-13, 08:09 AM   #3
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KB, The gearing isn't quite right for climbing with a load, but that's common for off the shelf tourers. If you can have a mountain bike triple crankset or a treking triple crankset substituted, that would be better.
+1 on this. Also, I used to prefer flat bars when I was first starting out 4 years ago. However, now that I've been riding for awhile I've switched over to drop bars. The drop bars did take some getting used to but now I prefer them for touring and road riding.
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Old 01-20-13, 08:39 AM   #4
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IMO, the first thing you would need is another set of wheels. I count 20 spokes both front and rear, and I think 32 is rediculously low for a loaded tourer. I'd look elsewhere...
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Old 01-20-13, 09:25 AM   #5
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The mavic wheels are 20 spoke, I would want more spokes personally. The fork also appears to not have a mid blade eyelet, that is nice to have for mounting a variety of front racks. You could always mount an old man mountain on the front but eyelets are nice for versatility.

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Old 01-20-13, 09:42 AM   #6
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It appears that you have a few bike shops in your town, go and talk to some of the shops.

A lot of steel touring frames sold in the US are made in Taiwan...
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Old 01-20-13, 11:01 AM   #7
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+1 FAIL
The TT is 20mm too short also.
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Old 01-20-13, 11:15 AM   #8
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I don't understand the preference for flat bars. Drops give you the same hand position as flats but with the option to put your hands in other positions as well. You aren't stuck in one place. If braking is a concern, there are some really nice in line lever options that work well.
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Old 01-20-13, 11:34 AM   #9
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Quote:
Is the 50/34 and 12-30 low enough for going up mountains?
depends on the mountain and the stud-muffin in the saddle..

For Me, it's a less than 1:1 ratio.. but people like those 50 34 doubles these days..

good luck .. you can always get off and Walk if you wear the sensible shoes..
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Old 01-20-13, 12:11 PM   #10
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Yes, the wheels and the crankset belong on a race bike, but are not right for loaded touring. I'd pass.
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Old 01-20-13, 03:38 PM   #11
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If you can get up to Taichung, seems like a shop there, Famous Cycles, would be worth the while. If you plan lots of riding and carrying 40 pounds of stuff, strong wheels and low gears are worth some searching!
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Old 01-20-13, 08:51 PM   #12
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Great feedback. The wheels are the biggest no-go but I would also have to swap out to a triple. I am not a stud muffin in the saddle but I'm not against walking. The frame sizing is a bit more problematic though. Bike shops simply do not carry many touring bikes in this price range in Taiwan. If they do it is usually 2 sizes too small but perhaps a trip to Taichung is in order.

The preference for flat bars or probably a trekking bar is that I don't use the drops. Maybe that will change but this bike will most likely have a flat/trekking bar.
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Old 01-20-13, 10:25 PM   #13
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"My" preference is for much lower gearing. I'd be looking for a triple on the front with a 22 tooth chain-ring.
For the rear I'd be wanting the lowest gearing (biggest chain-ring) available, say 34T or 36T (definitely 36T for 700c rims).
A spoke count of 36 minimum is what I'd consider ideal for myself.
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Old 01-21-13, 08:36 AM   #14
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The preference for flat bars or probably a trekking bar is that I don't use the drops. Maybe that will change but this bike will most likely have a flat/trekking bar.
I have drops, and I find that I never use them as a "position of comfort". I unconsciously switch between the tops and the hoods, and move back and forth a bit on the hoods when I tire of a single position. With that said, there is no better option than the drops when fighting a headwind, and I am damn glad that I have them when I need them.
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Old 01-21-13, 12:59 PM   #15
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But reaching to the far grip position on trekking bars, in a headwind and bending your elbows,
Is Good Enough.

It's not about the bars , but bending over more so you don't present as Much Chest area into the Air.

but Different Strokes, etc.
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Old 01-21-13, 08:50 PM   #16
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The Giant CT102 looks like it might be a nice and economical touring bike and probably easy to find though getting the right size is probably a challenge if you are not yourself sized like the typical customer!

http://www.giantcyclingworld.com/web...e-e9e01d6f2d1a
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Old 01-21-13, 09:47 PM   #17
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I'm not really looking for a $150 touring bike with Shimano Tourney gearing. It would be a nice town bike (theft is common) but it's very similar to what I already have.
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Old 01-22-13, 10:20 AM   #18
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I am surprised you can even get 35C tires on a racing wheel like that.

OP: Nothing ruins a tour quite like wheel problems. And with designer spokes like that, you would need to carry several with you.

I would pass for that and for gearing reasons alone.
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Old 01-22-13, 04:05 PM   #19
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If you can fit a rear rack on this it looks like a fun doitall bike.
http://www.giantcyclingworld.com/web...6-f29c0aedb6e7
It has a 46-36 cyclocross crankset with an 11-32 cassette, you would of course be better off with a triple.

http://www.bikerumor.com/2012/10/11/...uy-in-america/

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Old 01-27-13, 02:28 AM   #20
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I talked to a friend last weekend and he told me about two bike shops that I should visit. One (or both?) can order order Surly, Salsa and possibly other frames but this bike will probably have to be a build since it's extremely unlikely they will have anything in stock. My friend said he had an incredibly frustrating experience getting a similar bike 7 yrs ago. Nearly every shop told him to just get a mt bike because they didn't really understand the concept of loaded touring. So that explains why there is nearly nothing available in their shops.

The Giant Anyroad is a pretty cool bike but there isn't even mounting for a rear rack AFAIK so it's out. I would also prefer not to have such a cool looking bike since it looks much more expensive than it is. My friends Surly (from France) honestly looks like a standard crappy town bike from a distance and would be significantly less likely to get stolen. Nothing against the looks of a Surly though.

Now I'll just need to go through a bike build with a broken English speaker.
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Old 02-08-13, 12:55 PM   #21
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Okay so I've talked briefly to a local dealer (a referral) and he actually speaks decent English. I will probably just get a Surly LHT frame since it for sure works and I'm not interested in any issues getting lost in translation. I'm still not sure what level of components I will get but it will likely be Sora/Deore/Tiagra. My understanding is that the Sora would be a 9 spd bike, Deore just switched from 9 to 10 and Tiagra would be a 10 spd unless old parts were found. Sora was recommended by my friend with a surly that did his own build several years ago here.

I have read up a lot on gearing (double vs triple thread) and now I have some idea what I want.

current bike gearing - Shimano Tourney 48/36/28 with a 14-28 rear cassette. This has a 25-85 gear inch range and a nice 9-11% gear difference where I typically ride (in the middle of both rings). This is not even close to low enough for loaded climbs of course.

I've found that setting up a 9 spd 12-34 cassette requires either a 15% difference (20-23 cog) in the middle of my riding range or a 21% jump into the granny gear. Is it possible to alter my riding/shifting to tolerate this granny gear jump or is that going to constantly aggravate me? Some gearing options that seemed reasonable using Sheldon Brown's calculator - 48/36/24 with a 9 spd 14-34 cassette (19-93 gear inches with 9-11% in the right spots), 42/32/22 with a 9spd 12-32 (19-95 gear inches and 9-11%) or a lot of options with a ten spd cassette and a triple. The budget on this is not unlimited on this and I'm already scared of the price tag but whatever.

I looked at doubles and the gearing worked (give up a little top end) but I would typically be on the big front ring and the wrong half of the cassette (or vice versa). I would also need to do multiple shifts when going between the front gears. So that definitely seems out as was already suggested.

Now I just need to figure out what good wheels are (other than 36 spokes) and if it's worth upgrading to disc brakes (probably 6-10,000km/yr). And probably a few other things...
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Old 02-08-13, 02:44 PM   #22
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If you really want flat bars for touring, I know bikexperts.com in Germany has trekking frames. I read that the Nashbar touring frameset was designed for drop bars but some say flat bars are acceptable. You could also check chainreactioncycles.com for the Ridley frames. Some were designed for flat bars (Tempo I think) and eyelets for backracks. The forks don't have eyelets though. If you want 26 inch wheels and the possibility of putting a suspension fork, Surly Troll.
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Old 02-08-13, 05:10 PM   #23
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OP: Really don't see much in that bike that smells like a good loaded touring bike... You will end up footing the bill for all the changes needed to adapt it and in the end you would still have a not-quite-right bike.

Recommend looking at some of the bikes that are purpose built for touring. Risking box of derision from the LHT haters, but you might consider that Surly, at least to weight the attributes it expresses. Bikesdirect.com has quite a few interesting ones.

Nashbar.com has some complete nice bikes and separate frames if you want to do it ala carte -- saw their aluminum touring frame in your size for USD$99 yesterday.

http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...39_-1___202337

Fork to match for $34;

http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...46_-1___202337

At USD $133 for a well built frame...kinda hard to go wrong. Most of the build stuff is also on sale right now. Check ebay for triple cranks and bottom brackets as there are a zillion new ones up right now for cheap. Most have buy it now also so you don't have to screw around in bidding games.
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Old 02-08-13, 08:16 PM   #24
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ksisler - I've moved on from the original bike that i was looking at. Pretty much every component was wrong (front rack, wheels, gearing). I'm probably doing a Surly or comparable frame (Salsa or ?) build. If I was in the US I would look more closely at bikesdirect or doing a nashbar build.
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Old 02-08-13, 09:46 PM   #25
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Oh, you're in Taiwan. In that case maybe you could take a look at zestbicycleshop on eBay. I bought one of their frames. Haven't built it up yet, but it looks very nice in person (WD Cycle Elite frame). They have frames from a bunch of manufacturers.
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