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Old 01-05-14, 12:23 PM   #1
captaincarrot
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Touring bike help - Build, Adjust, or Rent?

This summer my friend and I are planning a 3.5 month, 5000 mile bike tour through the Western U.S to celebrate his college graduation. This will be our first tour and we are doing everything we can to get trained, prepped, and ready for this trip. Equipment and gear wise we are planning pretty meticulously to be as lightweight and efficient as possible- except for the most important part- our bikes. As relatively poor college students we don't have proper touring bikes. He has a decent intro Triathlon bike (can't remember the model/brand) and I have a Giant Defy 2 Road bike. Both are excellent bikes for there respective purposes but I have a feeling they will be unsuitable/too fragile for such a long intense journey. So here are my options for the trip right now; I'm hoping you guys can weigh in on this.

1) Modify- Is there a way to modify my current Defy 2? It has an aluminum frame on it and I have attached a rear rack system but it doesn't have a front rack mounting system. The wheels/tires would also obviously have to be replaced to be stronger and more durable for more rough road conditions. The fork is also carbon fiber and I'm skeptical to out any extra strain on it with front panniers Is it possible to change out the fork for a wider, steel one? If anyone has any experience in this, let me know please!

2) Mountain Bike- My dad has an older Giant Mountain bike he bought in the 80's. Pretty sure its all steel and its incredibly durable. He has kept it in very good condition and maintenance over the years and rides it frequently to work most days. The only thing I don't like about it is that obviously heavier and it has a straight handlebar system whereas I would prefer a drop system. But all in all it is a very solid bike.

3) Build- A friend of mine who toured from Georgia to Texas one summer has offered to sell me his touring frame for $250. He has worked in a bike shop for a number of years and knows his stuff pretty well and has told me if I buy all the parts to build a new bike from scratch he would do all the labor setting it up for free. I like this option a lot except that I am currently saving all my money for this trip already and I am not sure if I will have enough to buy food/supplies/gear on top of a frame and new bike parts for $1000+ or so.

4) Rent- This is where you guys would come in. I've been wanting to do a tour for a number of years and now and I finally have the chance this summer. The only thing is after it is completed, I will go back to being a student for a while and won't have a lot of time to do any tours in the near future after this summer and hence why I am skeptical of forking out an extra grand on a bike I might not get to use. So if anyone living around me (Texas- Dallas, Houston, Austin, S.A) areas wouldn't mind making an arrangement with me where I could rent your bike for this summer tour I would greatly appreciate it. Obviously I know this seems sketchy to ask a bunch of strangers on the internet to borrow their bike, but if will I'm sure we could reach an agreement that is both fair financially and respectful to your equipment.

Thanks guys, let me know what y'all think!
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Old 01-05-14, 12:28 PM   #2
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What is the $250 frame?

I think you can find a ready to ride tourer on Craigslist for $3-400 with diligent searching. You can also build one up for that money from a cheaper frame.

I got a frame + new headset for $120 over in Brooklyn, and am building the rest of the bike up with parts taken from old mountain and road bikes. There are cheap-ish ways to do this.
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Old 01-05-14, 12:38 PM   #3
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If the frame fits option #3 looks like a good idea. Instead of having your friend do all the work, do it with his guidance. Think of the invaulable knowledge you will gain. An option if you want to use youer current bike is to use a trailer. Check here for a small sampling of bikes people have on used tour. http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?..._id=8000&v=3w1
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Old 01-05-14, 12:39 PM   #4
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a hybrid if you're on the short side:
http://collegestation.craigslist.org...265235128.html
put a butterfly bar on it and you're good.

wheels:http://collegestation.craigslist.org...265511944.html
put these on whatever old frame you find...

sick tourer, from what looks like a CL dealer (caveat emptor, also offer him less...)http://collegestation.craigslist.org...248777665.html

$100 hybrid. Replace the front fork with a $40 Dimension 700c rigid fork (suspension corrected) Roll out. http://collegestation.craigslist.org...238649795.html

$$800 'Cross Bike: http://collegestation.craigslist.org...245759057.html
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Old 01-05-14, 12:43 PM   #5
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If the frame fits option #3 looks like a good idea. Instead of having your friend do all the work, do it with his guidance. Think of the invaulable knowledge you will gain. An option if you want to use youer current bike is to use a trailer. Check here for a small sampling of bikes people have on used tour. http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?..._id=8000&v=3w1

I would definitely be there building it with him. I just know he is a pretty damn good mechanic and his knowledge and skill would certianly help me out. The fact that he is will to do it for free is just a nice perk.
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Old 01-05-14, 12:44 PM   #6
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Throw a Triple on this Univega (friction shifter will work with it.) http://collegestation.craigslist.org...235213991.html

This guy is selling a trailer, which is another option: (I don't like trailers for distance, personally...)http://collegestation.craigslist.org...229223259.html Note that he used an aluminum road bike with it.

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Old 01-05-14, 01:07 PM   #7
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Your road bike may not have the braze-ons for attaching rear rack or front ones. 2013 model does not.
Building a bike from parts is quite more costly than getting one. Upgrading a part or 2 is OK but getting all the parts for a frame will be hefty.
So, budgetwise, the best bet may be to use the MTB. Also, being simpler in design due to age, it will be easier to fix, too.
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Old 01-05-14, 03:49 PM   #8
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Building up a bike with your friend would enable you to get to know the bike and repair it if, by chance, it needs a repair far from a bike shop. Many years ago before my first long tour, I disassembled everything and built new wheels. I wasn't worried by equipment failure. Even if it might cost mo,re it is a good long term investment.

Last edited by ironwood; 01-06-14 at 03:58 AM. Reason: spelling and punctuation
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Old 01-05-14, 06:43 PM   #9
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What kind of frame does your friend have for sale? It better be pretty nice at $250 for just the frame. I picked up my 90s Trek 520 frame-set for $60. I see the Nashbars(not bad for a frame buildup) for ~$75 somewhat regularly in my area.

Also, rather than building up from new, you might want to consider using used parts or stripping a donar bike or two. You'll most likely come out a Lot cheaper that way and still end up with a very decent set-up.
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Old 01-05-14, 07:55 PM   #10
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2 guys from Sweden passed thru here just before 11-28, on normal bikes

Shimano 8sped IGH, and step thru frames.. they had already ridden down the Al-Can highway from Anchorage,AK..
and thru Yukon and BC and WA.. on their way to FLa..
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Old 01-05-14, 09:54 PM   #11
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Some other options:

Look at the Windsor Tourist at Bikes Direct for $599. Several folks on this forum have done a lot of touring on them. They are a solid bike, and would not cost much more than a bunch of modifications that would turn a nice road bike into a marginal touring bike.

Look at Craig's List. I picked up a pristine, like new, 2010 Cannondale T2 for less than a third of the new price. It had been ridden for only 3 months then put into storage. If you buy a decent bike, you can always sell it when you return. I know I could sell the Cannondale for quite a bit more than I paid for it.

Check out some of the Ultra-light enthusiasts threads on the Forum. Those folks seem to use stock road bikes. My experience with the few people that I met riding stock road bikes said that they have had wheel problems. However, I've had problems when I was using relatively sturdy cylcocross wheels, so that may not be an issue. The point is: use your road bike and go light.

Good luck!

Last edited by Doug64; 01-06-14 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 01-06-14, 12:36 AM   #12
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if you are considering frames, i've got the single speed version of this, and it's my favorite frame.
http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...39_-1___203318

ya, it's really 99.99, i think it may be 10 dollars cheaper at Performance Bike.

you could even temporarily use some of the components off your current road bike...
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Old 01-06-14, 01:29 AM   #13
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1) Modify- Is there a way to modify my current Defy 2?

sure. but you gotta buy a front rack, perhaps replace the rear rack depending on what
you currently have, or buy a trailer. and with the extra weight, you probably also need
to change your gears.....add a triple, new cassette....can the derailleurs handle the new
rings? steel fork? how bout chainstays? have you had full-size panniers on that rack
yet? cheaper to buy a used touring bike.


2) Mountain Bike- My dad has an older Giant Mountain bike he bought in the 80's.

bestest option in my opinion. change the bars (maybe brake levers also). do you really
want to tour on an mtb with drop bars? maybe bar ends will be enough, or perhaps a
brahma bar.

3) Build- A friend of mine

many money.

4) Rent-
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Old 01-06-14, 04:05 AM   #14
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If to go to the Classic and Vintage Forum there is a thread entitled "Craig's list and e-bay find... Are you looking for one of these?" Often, there are some great touring bikes.
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Old 01-09-14, 08:58 PM   #15
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I would not consider using the Defy 2 for a trip like this. There was a guy on here using a Cervelo RS but he was staying in hotels all the way so his load was considerably less then yours will be. The carbon fork IS NOT a candidate for anything to be attached to it. The fork will break if stressed with clamps/weight. Finally the frame on the Giant will not allow the use of anything over a 28c tire. 28c tires may be to big for it, forget any fenders. I would consider using the mountain bike. Its durable can use larger tires and already has a triple chainring setup. Sounds perfect for this type of tour. Lose the nobby tires and grab some more streetable ones and you should be ready to go. If weight is a consideration with this bike simply pack wisely. The difference most likely can be made up between the 2 bikes by reducing the load.
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Old 01-09-14, 10:09 PM   #16
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being on a Bike-tour Ride through town , we see all sorts of bikes ..

adding a bike trailer lets people ride road bikes , because the gear is not on the frame ..

it's been done ..

1976 the specialist touring bike didn't really have much sales availability.

People crossed the continent on what they Had.
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Old 01-10-14, 05:53 AM   #17
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Equipment and gear wise we are planning pretty meticulously to be as lightweight and efficient as possible
How light are you going? I have found that as my gear gets lighter and lighter my bike preferences go more and more toward a road bike. Somewhere around 20 pounds of base gear weight, I definitely start preferring to not ride the touring bike. It is quite possible to camp and cook on well under 20 pounds of gear without resorting to really high dollar cuben fiber stuff.

I have found that I can get to the 10-12 pound range if using a bivy and other minimal gear. In a lot of the west I slept on top of the bivy much of the time and only climbed in if it got windy, wet, or cold. Where the bivy doesn't work well is where it is hot and buggy and for places I expect that I take a bug bivy and a very light tarp.

If I take my tent (~$100 Eureka Spitfire 1), it is harder to go really light, but below 20 pounds gear weight is still possible.

Going very light can be quite comfortable and pleasant for those who are so inclined. I know that I enjoy the unladen bike, the lack of stuff to dig through when looking for something, and the generally simplified lifestyle that results. That said it isn't for everyone.

If you pack a bit heavier than your rear racks alone can safely accommodate, a trailer is an option. If this is a one time thing you could sell it after the tour.

If you are going really light you definitely will not need front and rear racks, one or the other will do. Some even manage with a saddle bag and handlebar bag.
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Old 01-10-14, 06:02 AM   #18
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There was a guy on here using a Cervelo RS but he was staying in hotels all the way
I do not believe that Nun stays in hotels the whole way. Additionally there are others using road bikes and carrying lighter loads. The defy 2 looks like it has a reasonable spoke count and would be well suited to touring for those who pack light enough and prefer a sportier ride. I did my last road tour, the Southern Tier from San Diego to Pensacola, on a 1990 Cannondale Crit bike with 25mm tires and found the choice fine for camping and cooking.
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Old 01-10-14, 07:04 AM   #19
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What is the touring frame your friend is willing to sell to you? And what is it's geometry; the important thing is fit.
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Old 01-10-14, 09:03 AM   #20
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captaincarrot, A first tour often carries what can appear as an insane price tag for the touring gear. IMHO there's nothing wrong with using your Defy and tugging a small trailer if need be. Most roadies can cope with 20-25 lbs. of touring items and depending on the number of riders a load split can work within that parameter.

A pre owned hybrid or rigid mountain bike can be a cost effective heavy hauler and either has the advantage of being a versatile extra bicycle after the tour. The European style trekking bar is usually an inexpensive plug and play item on a flat bar bike and is garnering advocates in N. America. Don't worry too much about overall bicycle weight. My touring bike is 6 lbs. heavier than my distance roadie. Heavier tires and wheels along with a generally heavier construction are the main reasons and the difference is fairly transparent when comparing the two unloaded. If you fall in love with touring you can spec a bike from all that you learn now.

If you're going to use a bike other than your Defy, now is the time to purchase it so all fitment and maintenance items are taken care of well before the trip.

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