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Old 08-30-15, 11:03 PM
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Medic Zero
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Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Vancouver,Washington
Posts: 2,286

Bikes: Old steel GT's, for touring and commuting

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Originally Posted by NormanF View Post
Schwalbe Big Apple 26 X 2.0 will make a huge difference in riding comfort and you can ride fast compared to knobbies.

That and upgrading to a rigid fork will make your MTB feel right at the home on the streets.

I tried Big Bens for 3,000 miles recently on my converted MTB commuter, and went back to 1.5" tires, the Vittoria Randonneur Pro's I ran for the previous 6,000+ miles. I have Vittoria Rando Pros on my converted MTB tourer as well. Superb tire, good value, and regularly on sale at Nashbar online, sign up for their e-mail alerts.

One of the reasons I went away from the Big Bens, was that even with the biggest fenders I could find (P65's?) the fenders weren't as effective in the rain as good fenders with 1.5" tires. Fenders are essential to my riding year 'round.

I run my front tire at about 75 PSI and my rear at 90, and while it is true the fatter tires like Big Apples and Big Bens were a little more comfortable over the rough roads here, I don't think they were worth the penalty in handling and speed. Someone mentioned Continental Town & Country's, I used to like these when they were available in 1.75" and I think they were slightly different in compound and tread, but I don't think they're a good tire in larger sizes than that. The Big Ben is a much better ~2" tire. BTW, I was glad I went with the 2.15" size, the 2.35" wouldn't have fit under fenders at all.

Good 1.5" tires don't limit my riding whatsoever, I still jump on and off curbs, happily ride fist sized railroad balast gravel roads, dirt roads, and the occasional light singletrack, usually while carrying a bit of a load in a bag, or even more on my MTB tourer. Smaller MTB tires can be very limiting in the riding you do in them. My 1&1/8th Conti Gatorskins pinch flatted if I even attempted to set the front wheel down off a curb.


You might consider a handlebar with more rise and sweep.

If you are riding in traffic, I highly recommend having an Airzoundz horn.

All bikes should have a bell. Nothing beats a brass bell for penetrating tone and distance. Origin8 and Crane make some great ones.
Get a rack and a pannier or trunk bag or a large saddlebag to haul your gear. I've been eyeing the click-fix system for this, but really like my large saddlebag on a QR saddlebag support. If heel strike is an issue with a rear pannier, the Jannd Expedition and some other racks put the load back further and solve this.


For lights I like an expensive Cree knockoff small flashlight, rechargeable batteries, and a flashlight holder on the handlebar for seeing potholes and being seen by cars. I also run a Cateye Reflex as both a reflector and a flashing front light. There are a variety of good helmet lights out there, I can't recommend having a helmet light enough, just make sure it isn't too powerful, I find a .5 watt headlamp is enough and wouldn't go much stronger. I think having a rear helmet light is a good idea too, it gets seens sooner, especially in hilly areas, and helps ID a bicyclist. There's a number of good options out there for this, but I like the Planet Bike 3-H as it is self leveling and so should always be pointing straight back, and I run rechargeable batteries, so a single AAA is good for me. Lots of great rear lights out there, I like rack mounted Planet Bike Superflash and Mars 4.0 strapped to a seatpost or saddlebag. I like running one steady rear light (the Mars) so that cars can judge my distance, and the Superflashes zzzPOPzzzz pattern gets drivers attention early, but mounted low on a seatstay or to a rack mount helps keep it from being too blinding.

Last edited by Medic Zero; 08-30-15 at 11:31 PM.
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