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  1. #1
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    Recommendations for good value bikes for commuting and light touring?

    I'm looking for a touring bike with a forgiving ride and no suspension (to avoid adding weight) that would be good for short few mile city commuting on mostly flat streets and weekend light road touring rides of about to 20 miles/day where I may sometimes bikepack with very lightweight overnight gear.

    Would you recommend an all chromoly frame and fork for a more forgiving ride or aluminum frame with chromoly fork?

    Which models would you recommend?

    Has anyone had any experience with the Bikesdirect chromoly frame and fork models or their aluminum frame and chromoly fork models? Just scroll down to the touring models: Save up to 60% off Road Bikes, Free Ship 48, Schwinn, GT, Kestrel, Fuji, Motobecane and more Road bikes. Authorized dealer for Schwinn, GT, Kestrel, Fuji, Motobecane, Mercier, Gravity, Dawes road bikes. Shimano Carbon Road Bikes, Titanium Road Bikes,

    For light touring like this of relatively short weekend distances not beyond 20-25 miles/day, with very light 1-2 night lightweight backpacking loads, would I be able to stretch an urban fitness hybrid road bike to do the job, like a Marin Muir Woods 29er or Trek 7.2?

    I'd sincerely appreciate your advice.

    At a later date for heavier duty touring of longer trips with longer rides I'll be looking to build a Surly LHT from the frame up. For now I'm looking for something less expensive that will also work for city commuting, or a quick city commuter that will do double duty for light weekend touring.
    Last edited by mountainwalker; 02-26-15 at 11:48 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainwalker View Post
    I'm looking for a touring bike with a forgiving ride and no suspension (to avoid adding weight) that would be good for short few mile city commuting on mostly flat streets and weekend light road touring rides of about to 20 miles/day where I may sometimes bikepack with very lightweight overnight gear.
    It seems your needs are quite modest, so either alu or cromoly would work for you. The only issue is finding a model that fits you properly.

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    Sam, will there be no difference in ride feel between an all cromoly frame and fork and an all-aluminum bike? Won't the cromoly be more forgiving on pavement bumps without a suspension fork?

    Also can you recommend any models? What I'm thinking about is something in geometry like a Surly LHT, but less expensive. I saw Bikes Direct has a Motobecane Gran Turismo for $699 which seems like a very good value: Save Up to 60% Off Touring Bikes | Commuting | Commuter Bikes | Motobecane Bikes - Gran Turismo for touring the country there is nothing better

  4. #4
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainwalker View Post
    For light touring like this of relatively short weekend distances not beyond 20-25 miles/day, with very light 1-2 night lightweight backpacking loads, would I be able to stretch an urban fitness hybrid road bike to do the job, like a Marin Muir Woods 29er or Trek 7.2?
    IMO, there's no stretching involved here. I tour and commute on hybrid and/or CX bike all the time. What you're describing can be done on most any bike. I too would forego any suspension systems, especially at lower price points. Not only for the added weight, but also for added maintenance. The winter hybrid I bought a couple of years ago came with a completely useless suspension seat post. I have no idea why anyone would want that. The only advantage is, it's easy to replace.

    There are many variables that play a role in ride comfort, not just frame material. Fork geometry, saddle, fit, tyres, handlebars to name a few. Since the "feel" of the ride seems important to you, it might be a good idea to concentrate on bikes you can test ride before deciding.

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  5. #5
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    mountainwalker, Whether steel or aluminum the CX, adventure and touring bicycles are stiff. Whether bounding across a rutted field or carrying a load there is a need for a robust design. IME this is easily controlled via air pressure in the tires.

    Brad

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    I would recommend the Trek cromoly touring bike. Used to be the Trek 520; not sure if it is still called that.

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    Recommended city riding pressure for 700c wheels for more forgiving ride?

    Quote Originally Posted by bradtx View Post
    mountainwalker, Whether steel or aluminum the CX, adventure and touring bicycles are stiff. Whether bounding across a rutted field or carrying a load there is a need for a robust design. IME this is easily controlled via air pressure in the tires.

    Brad
    Thanks Brad, I wanted to go with 29er/700c tires, which will probably have top pressure ranges of around 90 PSI, and I was thinking I could lower pressure when not carrying any significant load during short city commutes, but could lower pressure could possibly mean more flats? At 175 lbs, what pressure would you run for city riding? For a rider 125 lbs, what pressure would you run?

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    One thing you need to consider is service. Finding a bike shop that has good customer service is very important. They can help with most everything from sizing, finding the right bike to service etc...

    If I had to start all over again I'd spend a lot of effort in finding the right bike shop.

    What area do you live in? There may be some people here that could recommend a good shop.

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    ++ 100 there . Pick the shop first then the bike brand amongst the lines they sell. Trek's 520 is still their good steel touring Bike.

    You may be OK with the Bikes Direct stuff when you are more knowledgeable , since they have no Local Dealers to back you Up.


    A wider tire has More volume at a lower Pressure , but if you want to Tour on a road race Bike , fine .. People have done that too..

  10. #10
    Senior Member gregjones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainwalker View Post
    would I be able to stretch an urban fitness hybrid road bike to do the job, like a Marin Muir Woods 29er or Trek 7.2?
    The main problem with an urban hybrid bike is that it is rather rare that they come with a solid fork. Companies that do sell want may better suit you, including Bikes Direct, will call what I would look for a "flat bar road bike".

    If you are not mechanically inclined your best bet might be to find a local bike co-op to help you with a BD bike. Most bike shops around here will be happy to accept delivery, assemble and adjust your selection from Bikes Direct and your ready to go. I would figure something around $100 for that service, but that is shop specific and you would need to ask around in advance. Then you can learn simple adjustments and minor repairs from multiple services----you'll need to know them before you go on even a weekend tour. You could be quite a push from help if you can't bail yourself out on the side of the road.

    Good luck.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainwalker View Post
    Sam, will there be no difference in ride feel between an all cromoly frame and fork and an all-aluminum bike? Won't the cromoly be more forgiving on pavement bumps without a suspension fork?

    Also can you recommend any models? What I'm thinking about is something in geometry like a Surly LHT, but less expensive. I saw Bikes Direct has a Motobecane Gran Turismo for $699 which seems like a very good value: Save Up to 60% Off Touring Bikes | Commuting | Commuter Bikes | Motobecane Bikes - Gran Turismo for touring the country there is nothing better
    What size frame are you looking for? The moto you link to is only available in 43 and 54 cm sizes.

    Also, what is your budget?

    I think the wider tires of touring bikes tends to offer a cushier ride compared to standard road bikes. You can also go with fatter handlebar tape if the wider tires and lower tire pressure still don't offer enough comfort. A cushier saddle and even some form of seatpost suspension such as a short travel thudbuster can easily negate any minor edge in comfort from a steel frame.

  12. #12
    Clark W. Griswold
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    Don't buy from Bikes Direct. Go to your local shop and find something there. BD tries to sell lower quality bikes as higher quality by highlighting random "nicer" parts. They list the Gran Tourismo as having Dura-Ace in the mini title for it and that is only because they use bar-end shifters and Shimano only makes one kind of 9 speed bar-end shifters.

    Plus with BD you cannot really try out the bike and you will still have to go to a shop to get it built up and properly tuned. People do think they can build it themselves but without the proper tools and grease and some know how, it doesn't turn out well. If you have built bikes than you will be fine but if not you will be spending more money to get it built when you could have just bought a bike from them in the first place.

    Some shops offer free or discounted maintenance or discounts on accessories and things like that which BD cannot give you, plus they have the knowledge to help get a bike that will fit you and work for your purposes. Plus by buying from your local shop, you are helping keep them in business which is good for everyone (except maybe the online retailers who could care less about them or you or I, they only care for money). The more shops that close down the fewer places you have to get repairs and advice.
    @Greg, plenty of urban hybrids come with rigid forks, it is usually just the lower end and mountain hybrids that have suspension forks.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainwalker View Post
    Thanks Brad, I wanted to go with 29er/700c tires, which will probably have top pressure ranges of around 90 PSI, and I was thinking I could lower pressure when not carrying any significant load during short city commutes, but could lower pressure could possibly mean more flats? At 175 lbs, what pressure would you run for city riding? For a rider 125 lbs, what pressure would you run?
    I'm 180 lb. and when riding my touring bike with 32 mm tires unladen I fill the tires to ~70 PSI. 125 lb. can go with less.

    Brad

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    Senior Member FlatSix911's Avatar
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    Based on your requirements, you should be fine with a bike from BD ... no tax and free shipping
    Take a look at the Touring Travel/Commuting bikes listed below... they should all meet your needs.
    Don't listen to the naysayers about BD, you will get a much better value than you local retail shop.

    Save Up to 60% Off Touring Bikes | Commuting | Commuter Bikes | Motobecane Bikes
    Shimano Deore XT 27 Speed Touring Gran Turismo $699


    Save Up to 60% Off Disc Brake Road Bikes - Motobecane Turino Disc
    Shimano 105/ Claris STI 24 Speed Carbon Forks, Disc Brakes, Aluminum $699


    Quote Originally Posted by mountainwalker View Post
    I'm looking for a touring bike with a forgiving ride and no suspension (to avoid adding weight) that would be good for short few mile city commuting on mostly flat streets and weekend light road touring rides of about to 20 miles/day where I may sometimes bikepack with very lightweight overnight gear.

    Would you recommend an all chromoly frame and fork for a more forgiving ride or aluminum frame with chromoly fork?
    Which models would you recommend?

    Has anyone had any experience with the Bikesdirect chromoly frame and fork models or their aluminum frame and chromoly fork models? Just scroll down to the touring models:
    Save up to 60% off Road Bikes, Free Ship 48, Schwinn, GT, Kestrel, Fuji, Motobecane and more Road bikes. Authorized dealer for Schwinn, GT, Kestrel, Fuji, Motobecane, Mercier, Gravity, Dawes road bikes. Shimano Carbon Road Bikes, Titanium Road Bikes,

    For light touring like this of relatively short weekend distances not beyond 20-25 miles/day, with very light 1-2 night lightweight backpacking loads, would I be able to stretch an urban fitness hybrid road bike to do the job, like a Marin Muir Woods 29er or Trek 7.2?

    I'd sincerely appreciate your advice.

    At a later date for heavier duty touring of longer trips with longer rides I'll be looking to build a Surly LHT from the frame up. For now I'm looking for something less expensive that will also work for city commuting, or a quick city commuter that will do double duty for light weekend touring.
    Quote Originally Posted by mountainwalker View Post
    Sam, will there be no difference in ride feel between an all cromoly frame and fork and an all-aluminum bike? Won't the cromoly be more forgiving on pavement bumps without a suspension fork?

    Also can you recommend any models? What I'm thinking about is something in geometry like a Surly LHT, but less expensive. I saw Bikes Direct has a Motobecane Gran Turismo for $699 which seems like a very good value: Save Up to 60% Off Touring Bikes | Commuting | Commuter Bikes | Motobecane Bikes - Gran Turismo for touring the country there is nothing better
    Quote Originally Posted by mountainwalker View Post
    Thanks Brad, I wanted to go with 29er/700c tires, which will probably have top pressure ranges of around 90 PSI, and I was thinking I could lower pressure when not carrying any significant load during short city commutes, but could lower pressure could possibly mean more flats? At 175 lbs, what pressure would you run for city riding? For a rider 125 lbs, what pressure would you run?
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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Touring is an activity, what bike you do it on Does Not Matter (much) . It just has to be something you are willing to ride every day ..

    and carry your stuff, somehow..


    At the end of a Transamerica route, I See all sorts of bikes used, that have finished crossing the US.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 03-02-15 at 09:31 AM.

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    One vote for the Surly Cross check.

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    Quote Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
    Don't buy from Bikes Direct. Go to your local shop and find something there. BD tries to sell lower quality bikes as higher quality by highlighting random "nicer" parts. They list the Gran Tourismo as having Dura-Ace in the mini title for it and that is only because they use bar-end shifters and Shimano only makes one kind of 9 speed bar-end shifters.

    Plus with BD you cannot really try out the bike and you will still have to go to a shop to get it built up and properly tuned. People do think they can build it themselves but without the proper tools and grease and some know how, it doesn't turn out well. If you have built bikes than you will be fine but if not you will be spending more money to get it built when you could have just bought a bike from them in the first place.

    Some shops offer free or discounted maintenance or discounts on accessories and things like that which BD cannot give you, plus they have the knowledge to help get a bike that will fit you and work for your purposes. Plus by buying from your local shop, you are helping keep them in business which is good for everyone (except maybe the online retailers who could care less about them or you or I, they only care for money). The more shops that close down the fewer places you have to get repairs and advice.
    @Greg, plenty of urban hybrids come with rigid forks, it is usually just the lower end and mountain hybrids that have suspension forks.
    I don't see BD as trying to sell lower quality bikes as higher than actual quality. I see their bikes as options with a pricepoint that is typically lower than similar spec'd LBS offerings.
    Using your example, the Motobecane Gran Turismo isnt listed as just DuraAce.

    DuraAce/Tiagra/DeoreXT
    Touring CrMo Bike
    Motobecane
    Gran Turismo
    SALE $699



    It shows Tiagra and DeoreXT as well right there on the main page. And if you click on the bike, the components are clearly listed. That sure doesn’t seem like an attempt to make it seem like the bike is all DuraAce.
    And after looking at the components, I would say that is actually quite a nice stock setup for the money. I know I wouldn’t find anything comparable in my area for that price.



    I completely agree with you on not having a chance to try the bike out. That could be a negative. And if someone isn't able to put the bike together properly, then they will need to pay for that service, which eliminates some of the savings. But still, its cheaper than anything I would find around me with those specs, even after paying another $100 for an LBS to assemble.

    As for buying local and supporting regional shops- that's an ideal, but I don't see it as so important that its a top priority. Panniers I bought a months ago were $25 more locally. The rack was $10 more. 2 rims I am working on were $12 more per rim. Tires- well tires are just nuts I don't even try anymore. Bar tape is consistently $5-10 more than online.
    etc etc etc.
    Ive picked up some tubes, a kids bike seat, and a freewheel tool from a few local stores in the last few months because the pricing is similar or I just want the item right away. Other than those two reasons, its tough to justify the prices.

    Oh, I did by my spokes locally since they figured out the lengths. That was $50 more than online. $50!! For 72 spokes! But they did do the calculations and more important I knew they would be correct vs an educated guess on my part.

  18. #18
    Clark W. Griswold
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
    I don't see BD as trying to sell lower quality bikes as higher than actual quality. I see their bikes as options with a pricepoint that is typically lower than similar spec'd LBS offerings.
    Using your example, the Motobecane Gran Turismo isnt listed as just DuraAce.

    DuraAce/Tiagra/DeoreXT
    Touring CrMo Bike
    Motobecane
    Gran Turismo
    SALE $699



    It shows Tiagra and DeoreXT as well right there on the main page. And if you click on the bike, the components are clearly listed. That sure doesn’t seem like an attempt to make it seem like the bike is all DuraAce.
    And after looking at the components, I would say that is actually quite a nice stock setup for the money. I know I wouldn’t find anything comparable in my area for that price.



    I completely agree with you on not having a chance to try the bike out. That could be a negative. And if someone isn't able to put the bike together properly, then they will need to pay for that service, which eliminates some of the savings. But still, its cheaper than anything I would find around me with those specs, even after paying another $100 for an LBS to assemble.

    As for buying local and supporting regional shops- that's an ideal, but I don't see it as so important that its a top priority. Panniers I bought a months ago were $25 more locally. The rack was $10 more. 2 rims I am working on were $12 more per rim. Tires- well tires are just nuts I don't even try anymore. Bar tape is consistently $5-10 more than online.
    etc etc etc.
    Ive picked up some tubes, a kids bike seat, and a freewheel tool from a few local stores in the last few months because the pricing is similar or I just want the item right away. Other than those two reasons, its tough to justify the prices.

    Oh, I did by my spokes locally since they figured out the lengths. That was $50 more than online. $50!! For 72 spokes! But they did do the calculations and more important I knew they would be correct vs an educated guess on my part.
    When you put Dura-Ace as the first thing in the title, it is very misleading, so is Tiagra when the only thing is cassette and only because I believe that might be what you can get in that gear ratio in 9 speed for Shimano. It is mostly a lot of lower end components but they don't put that in the title. Plus they are trying to compare a hand made Rivendell or Co-Motion to their cheaper bikes.

    If it was $699 MSRP than I get it but at the discounted price it is much lower grade than similarly priced bikes but some of those in the similar price point can actually be bought at bike shops and aren't an old name used for a new completely different company.

    I am glad we can agree on testing out bikes, some people like to try and slide by without doing that and can get royally screwed. Granted I guess I am buying a bike semi-online without testing it but I have enough knowledge to know what I am getting and how it will fit, since I kind of do that for a living.

  19. #19
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    You still take issue with DuraAce being listed, even though i pasted the actual info and it clearly lists multiple components and not just DuraAce? And its now because they list DuraAce first? Well come on- its the 'best' component. You really take issue with a company listing the nicest part of their product first? I bet you hate on a lot of companies if you are consistent.
    Ok, so they dont list the lower end components in the title. How long are you expecting this title to be? They listed 3 different component types, are you looking for them all to be listed?

    You mention there are a lot of lower end components but they dont list them in the title. Again, show me a company that advertises their product's cheapest features in the title.
    But also- what are the 'lot' of cheaper components? Yup, it has a Sora FD. In that price range thats typical. Its typical for more expensive bikes in shops around me, actually. But what other components are so cheap that there are a lot of them? Levers are fine, canti brakes are fine, crankset is fine, cassette is fine- nothing premium there but its all nice, reliable, and serviceable. The frame has front and rear rack brazeons, spoke holder, and is full cromo.

    I just dont see how the bike is 'mostly a lot of lower end components'.

    I did laugh that you take issue with them mentioning Riv and CoMotion along with Windsor(another of BD's bikes) as some of the few options for touring bikes. How dare a company project itself as an option compared to well regarded boutique companies! Ha, talk about nit picking. Again, you must hate on a lot of companies in life if you are consistent.

    You mention $700 total will get you better grade bikes that can be purchased at bike shops. What bikes? What shops?
    Surly LHT, Fuji Tour, Trek 520, Novara Randonee- all are $200-400 more.

    I must genuinely be unaware of multiple touring bikes that are sold thru bike shops for less money with better components What bikes are you speaking of?

    ...I dont own a BD bike, for the record. I just dont follow your thinking since it seems inconsistent and inaccurate.

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