We've recently began thinking about working up to a tour this summer for maybe as much as a few weeks somewhere here in Poland. We've lived here for over a year now but know that this would be an incredible way to really get a great view of an area that we haven't visited. But have some questions...
Currently the wife and I both have Schwinn "hybrids". I think they're 21-speed'ers...no suspension. They were semi-cheap ($250/ea) some 6 years ago. They're relatively uncomfortable (maybe just a seat issue) but we're trying to figure out if what we have could be used to go touring.
We've visited a local shop where they sell mostly Kelly, Giant, and Wheeler. After much talking, the salesman seemed to think that what we were looking for would be a middle-of-the-road Wheeler cross bike...like the 1600 or 2600. I have been able to find a deal for the 5600, though, for the same price as the 1600 (about $600US). You can see the Wheeler line here: http://www.wheelerworldwide.com/cross-5600m.htm
Just don't know if we should be thinking about changing bikes...or just sticking with the schwinns and changing tires, adding seat suspension (or something like that)...etc.
A couple things to add after a morning visit to the bike shop:
(1) Here's a link to the specs of the 1998 Schwinn Frontiers we're riding. We haven't changed/added/deleted anything. We haven't noticed any problems, per se, until today I was checking out our sprockets. Both bikes have worn down teeth and I noticed 3 or 4 actual breaks in the back-middle sprocket. These breaks are somewhat small between the two surrounding teeth. http://tinyurl.co.uk/7hlz
(2) Changing seats. Because our bums seem to be sure after every ride, I talked to the shop guy about changing seats and/or adding seat suspension. He said "No" for the need of seat suspension when touring. And added that we wouldn't want the wider (not big-time wide), more comfortable seats if we were talking about riding longer distances.
Just don't know if these bikes are worth outfitting if we need to change very much. Really would appreciate some insight as it's tough to get it in our position. If in the US it would be a lot easier to pop in a few bike shops and talk. But seriously...I know of one big, seemingly good shop in this city of near 700,000.
Your Schwinns seem to have the cheapest components installed, so they might not be very durable. But that doesn't necessarily mean they're going to fall apart on you right away - if you haven't ridden them much, they might have life left in them. I suspect that wheels might be a weak spot in such cheap bike. You could take them to a bike shop, see what they think. I'm not a big fan of buying a bike and upgrading everything, I'd rather buy a new bike and have two =). Saddle and pedals are exceptions - but if you're buying a new bike, they should give you a better deal on them.
As to new bikes, I've heard good things about Unibikes (http://www.unibike.pl/) - as bikes designed by cyclists rather than bean counters. But I've never seen one in person, so take it with a grain of salt.
If your heart is set on a Wheeler, I'd rather be looking at their trekking line - x700; I'd want rack and fenders.
As to comfort, I find that suspended fork / seatpost plus padded saddle / shorts work for me on short distances (20 miles?); past that I feel much better on a hard saddle and steel rigid fork. But that takes getting used to, and is very subjective in any case.
Below is the list of Unibike dealers in Poznan, taken from their website. I'm sure these shops sell other brands as well, so at least you should have some choice now.
Best of luck
Os.J.III Sobieskiego paw.bl.26
Tel.: 61/823-51-26 61/823-51-26
Great info. thanks. There are a ton of dealers in Poznan so I'll check out the unibikes.
I agree with what you're saying about our current bikes. Right now I'm trying to put together a list of "upgrades"/fixes that we'd need to purchase before setting out on any ride over 20 miles or so. I'm just not sure if in the long run it's worth putting a bunch of money into these bikes.
The big thing right now that's bothering me is seeing the cracks/breaks in both of our cranksets. Doesn't seem to be a good thing.
Anyone had any experience or heard anything about Unibikes? I think I'll check them out this week for fun. Turns out there's a shop up the street from us a bit...driven by it many times but had no idea it was there. "Signage" isn't the best in Poland.