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  1. #1
    Café Racer Devious Golden's Avatar
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    Building first tourer - need experienced advice!

    Hi everyone!

    I'm a year-round fixed gear commuter, and I'm looking into getting into the exciting world of touring.

    I'm a college student without a lot of money, but my girlfriend and I both work at shops, and can get our bike gear at cost. So my big question is, what do I need to look for when building a touring bike?

    I'm set on a Surly LHT frame, 50cm, with 26' wheels. I want drop bars, I'm not a fan of STI brifters, and I've got a beautiful green Brooks B17 to top it off with as soon as it's built. I'm planning the components out right now, so my questions - -

    1. What shifters are most suggested? The frame has downtube brazes, but I could also use bar ends. I've never used bar ends, and I'm wondering if many of your prefer them over downtubes.

    2. Are road levers compatible with V-brakes? I'm not too keen on the idea of fitting my bike with a rollamajig. If this is the case, do many of you use cantilever brakes, and do they work well for you? I have some canti's on an old MTB, and I feel they aren't grabby enough to really slow my bike well enough on steep descents. (could be the rock hard pads?)

    3. From my previous experiences, I want to stay away from Shimano gear if possible. I like Campy components, but even at cost, they'll be out of my price range for the most part. So as far as the drive train goes, have any of you tried SRAM, and if so, what SRAM groupset would you suggest for my LHT? (5.0? 4.0? X-7?) Otherwise, what's the semi-typical Shimano rig for touring? (105, Tiagra, Deore? Combo?) Can I expect the SRAM stuff to work fine with index bar-ends or index downtube shifters? (I know SRAM sells specific grip shifts and rapid fires.)

    4. I know that many tourists prefer wide, ergonomic, shallow drop bars. What bars are touring specific? I've heard of the 3T Morphe, and the Nitto Radoneur, but I'd like more suggestions before I choose.

    5. I'm accustomed to 700x23 tires. I want the most slender 26" tires I can get, while still being stable. Any suggestions on width, or possibly a specific tire recommendation? I'm sure I'll be using thorn resistant tubes as well.

    6. Any other advice is great. I want good solid front and rear racks. I've also heard that Jandd makes great panniers, but I'm open to other brand suggestions. What should I stay away from?

    My plan is to start small, with 30 mile rides, working up to a 90 mile this summer, and then working up to a bigger 725 mile tour next summer. By then, I should have all the stuff I need for a fully loaded tour. Thanks in advance for all of your help!

  2. #2
    serenity NOWWW! amahana1's Avatar
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    I have barend shifters on my tourer and love them and have put thousands of trouble free miles on them. Make sure you look at Kelly Takeoffs for shifters, I have heard good things about them. As far as racks go, make sure you look at Tubus, their cromoly racks are extremely well built and handle heavy loads very well. I built up my tourer from the ground up, just like your doing and if you going to use the LHT for some really serious touring, dont skimp on componants, buy the best you can afford. My set up is something like this:

    Mavic open pro 36H rims with schwalbe marathon tires, 28"s
    Shimano XT hubs front and rear
    Shimano XT Front and Rear deraileur
    TruVativ Elita Triple crank, 50, 42, 32
    Crank Bros Eggbeater pedals
    Sram pc59 chain
    Custom rear cassette
    Brooks B17
    Shimano Dura Ace barend shifters
    Shimano road brake levers
    Performance inline brake levers
    Avid Shorty Six brakes
    Chris King headset
    TruVativ GigaPipe Team Ti bottom Bracket
    TruVativ Rouleur Handlebar....(flatened top)
    TransX suspension stem....(new addition...not sure if i like it yet)
    Nokian brake and shifter cable set..
    1-X Racing seatpost

    This is all set up on a cannondale T800 frameset, and it has seen many many many miles of trouble free riding.

  3. #3
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Hi,
    my beater is an ancient touring bike with a green B17 and bar ends.
    Bar ends are great.

    You will want cantilever brakes. Avoid Avid, if you can't find an old Mtb bike you can scavenge, the new Shimano cantis are nice. Get good pads and you will have no problem stopping. I think cyclocross style brake levers, in addition to the usual ones, really help in traffic. Especially at the end of a long day.

    There are many ways to gear a bike. I have a 7 speed setup, and a Shimano 9 speed. The thing you want to have is a really low low gear. After that, it's as much personal preference as it is anything else. Camp is very expensive these days, truthfully, it's a Mercedes level style statement on a Hyundai.

    Start bar shopping. Grab onto a few at a shop, ask what they are. I have a Rithey Biomax, cost me $60, and I love it.

    I use Rivendell Ruffy Tuffy tires, 27c. Great tire.

    Because of the size of your bike, you may need a rack that allows you to slide your rear panniers back further than normal. That will cut your rack choices down a lot. I have used Jandd, good stuff, check the sale section of their website.

    There are handlebar pads, Specialized Bar Phat, Nashbar has one for only $10, and Azonic has one. I like them.

  4. #4
    serenity NOWWW! amahana1's Avatar
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    Avoid Avid? You must be high!! Im not alone when I say there just arent better brakes out there. Ive owened four sets of avid cantis and one set of Avid disc brakes.....I wouldnt use anything else!
    http://www.mtbr.com/reviews/Brake_Sy...ct_88595.shtml

  5. #5
    Café Racer Devious Golden's Avatar
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    Thanks for the quick responses! After some research, I've come to a few conclusions - -

    1. I'm gonna go with some indexing bar end shifters rather than downtube or ergo.

    2. I'm going with cantilever brakes. While the Paul touring brakes are just gorgeous, they're too pricey, even at cost. I'm looking at the Avid Shorty 4's, thanks to the input I've had. After working on enough sets of Avid disc brakes, I've developed an attachment to the brand.

    3. After chatting it up with a coworker, I've decded on a SRAM X-7 Rear derailleur, and an X-gen front derailleur. Can anyone tell me what bar end shifters will index properly with these components?

    4. The LHT stock built bike comes with Salsa Moto-Ace bars and stem, so I think I'm going to go that way. Wide and shallow, and possibly some in-line brake levers as well.

    5. Any suggestions on touring tires? I'm pretty keen on 1.5 as the size.

    Thanks again for the advice!

  6. #6
    serenity NOWWW! amahana1's Avatar
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    when looking at tires, look at Schwalbe, their marathon and marathon plus are just awesome tires. I have about 4000 miles on a set with no flats and have plenty of tread left on them.

  7. #7
    No one carries the DogBoy
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    Out of curiosity, why do you want to avoid Shimano? I was set to build up an LHT with campy mirage/volce 9-sp but there don't seem to be any campy compatible rear hubs in 135 mm, only 130. The only option I found was a very expensive cassette that made the whole thing not worthwile.

  8. #8
    Enamoured of bicycles Bizikleto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Devious Golden
    [snipped...] I've never used bar ends, and I'm wondering if many of your prefer them over downtubes. [...snipped...] Are road levers compatible with V-brakes? [...snipped...] some canti's on an old MTB, and I feel they aren't grabby enough [...snipped]
    Bar ends are the best possible choice for a touring bike. Road levers are compatible with V-brakes. In case of older bikes, neither cantis nor V-brakes do a proper job at the tail side because the cable routing is all the way from the lever to the brake itself within cable casing, and being this very compressible, no matter how strong you press on the levers, the force is lost along the long cable casing. Nowadays the cable routing is encased in the ends, the middle part running 'naked' between casings (your Surly LHT will have this setting for sure). In this case, both cantis and V-brakes are efficient and precise, and provide sure stopping power.

    Good trips and all the best to you and everybody else.
    Doubt is usually the beginning of wisdom. Scott Peck.
    There is no bigger signal of ignorance than that of believing impossible the unexplainable. S. Bilard

  9. #9
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    Regarding tires, the choices are better than ever. Continental Top Touring, Continental Gator Skin, Specilized Armadillo are among those I've used or heard excellent reports about. If I were on a budget, I'd look for a good, decently-priced tire with a kevlar strip.
    Dead last finish is better than did not finish and infinitely better than did not start.

  10. #10
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    Oh--one more thing. Don't neglect high quality, bullet-proof wheels. If you're doing loaded touring, a minimum of 36 spokes. Some would argue for more.
    Dead last finish is better than did not finish and infinitely better than did not start.

  11. #11
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    Again, why not Shimano hubs. They have a better design than Campy and are stronger for carrying heavy loads, esp with regard to axle breakage. The MTB hubs are all good enough for serious touring.

  12. #12
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    If you can get parts at cost, why not splurge for Phil Wood hubs?

  13. #13
    senile member
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    i like my downtube shifters, i got some of those silvers shown on rivendell site cheap from my LBS, they look fantastic on the frame and really easy to change.

    XT hubs have pretty good reputation, XT rear derailleur and 105/ultegra front derailleur is a nice setup. i like 1.75 tires.

    a note on tubus, when i was mounting the Cargo to my LHT (54cm) i found that it was too narrow, i forced it to clamp onto the frame and then i cross threaded the eyelet a bit. am trying to mount it from the inside, think that would somewhat ease the problem. by the way, i also have a green champion special on my LHT, so beautiful.

  14. #14
    Café Racer Devious Golden's Avatar
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    Thanks for the note on the Tubus rack. I'll have to find one in person and see if I can measure the width for clearance's sake.

    While I'm not the biggest fan of Shimano, nor and I boycotting their company, I've toyed with the idea of building a totally Shimano-free bike, which proves to be pretty tough. (so far, I've found very few readily available bar-end shifters, brake levers, and other similar priced hubs)

    So, I think I'll satisfy myself by running Sram for the drivetrain, and then probably look at some range of Shimano for the wheels. My coworkers at my old LBS always suggested the Rhinolite rims laced to Deore hubs or greater. I might look into building up a wheel with those rims and the best Shimano hubs I can afford.

    On a tangent, I have been drooling over a gorgeous pair of limited edition pink Phil track hubs at another shop my buddy works at. So hot.. and so expensive. Just for fun though, I may check at the new shop I'm starting at to see what I can get a pair for, since I do swear by half the other stuff Phil manufactures.

    As far as I tires, I run some bomb-proof Michelin Erilliums on my track bike that I swear by. I've also ran Armadillo's (heavy as hell), and Gatorskins (a bit slow) but these were all 700c. I'm new to the world of 26", so this should be a fun new endeavor.

  15. #15
    senile member
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    i just ordered a SRAM 7 speed cassette (12-32), partly because it´s cheap and partly because then i can have some spare room to mount the rack from the inside (or so i hope). the SRAM cassettes are cheap and i wonder why (i admit that i don´t have too much knowledge about them).

    as for the brake, i like cantis, they´re easier to adjust compared to v-brake. Xt hubs with rhyno lites make very good touring wheels, but they require a bit more work when mounting the tires.

  16. #16
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    The SRAM X-7 rear derailleur is SRAM 1:1 ratio I think. I don't think that there are any bar end shifters that work in this ratio if you are going to use indexed shifting. I use the X-9 on a flat bar touring bike but this is matched to SRAM twist grip 1:1 shifters.

  17. #17
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bizikleto
    Bar ends are the best possible choice for a touring bike. Road levers are compatible with V-brakes. In case of older bikes, neither cantis nor V-brakes do a proper job at the tail side because the cable routing is all the way from the lever to the brake itself within cable casing, and being this very compressible, no matter how strong you press on the levers, the force is lost along the long cable casing. Nowadays the cable routing is encased in the ends, the middle part running 'naked' between casings (your Surly LHT will have this setting for sure). In this case, both cantis and V-brakes are efficient and precise, and provide sure stopping power.

    Good trips and all the best to you and everybody else.
    Road levers are only compatible with v-brakes if they are designed for v-brakes. Diacomp makes a road lever that is compatible but there isn't anything else that is, as far as I know.
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  18. #18
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schumius
    i like my downtube shifters, i got some of those silvers shown on rivendell site cheap from my LBS, they look fantastic on the frame and really easy to change.

    XT hubs have pretty good reputation, XT rear derailleur and 105/ultegra front derailleur is a nice setup. i like 1.75 tires.

    a note on tubus, when i was mounting the Cargo to my LHT (54cm) i found that it was too narrow, i forced it to clamp onto the frame and then i cross threaded the eyelet a bit. am trying to mount it from the inside, think that would somewhat ease the problem. by the way, i also have a green champion special on my LHT, so beautiful.
    The Cargo adjusts from 3/4" to 3.5" wide. How wide are the seatstays on an LHT anyway?
    Stuart Black
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  19. #19
    I am a lonely visitor RegularGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    Road levers are only compatible with v-brakes if they are designed for v-brakes. Diacomp makes a road lever that is compatible but there isn't anything else that is, as far as I know.
    Dia-Compe 287V is the only v-brake compatible road lever I know of. I use them and like them.
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  20. #20
    Videre non videri
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    I ordered a pair yesterday, for my to-be tourer.
    I hope they work as advertised...

  21. #21
    Ride em all Gtscottie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackberry
    Regarding tires, the choices are better than ever. Continental Top Touring, Continental Gator Skin, Specilized Armadillo are among those I've used or heard excellent reports about. If I were on a budget, I'd look for a good, decently-priced tire with a kevlar strip.
    I would stay away from the Continental Top Touring. I had 2 sidewall blow outs. First was at 800kms and the next was at about 400 kms. The Gator skin seems better but the Specilized Armadillo is a good call

    My opinion only!
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  22. #22
    senile member
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    The Cargo adjusts from 3/4" to 3.5" wide. How wide are the seatstays on an LHT anyway?
    on a 54cm is 75mm. no problem there because Cargo´s got adjustable arms, it´s the eyelets on the chain stays. anyway, if the 7 cassette thing works then it´s ok.

  23. #23
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Hi,
    I use 165mm cranks. Your crank length in MM should be the same as your thigh bone in inches. Mine is 16 1/2 inches roughly.
    Avid cantis have a tendency to squeal.

  24. #24
    senile member
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    anyone has experience with maxxis over-drive tires? they look pretty good, but i wonder if they can handle the outback tracks.

  25. #25
    Videre non videri
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    Quote Originally Posted by late
    I use 165mm cranks. Your crank length in MM should be the same as your thigh bone in inches. Mine is 16 1/2 inches roughly.
    So, you should have 16.5 mm cranks then?

    No, you meant that the crank length in cm should be the same...


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