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Old 05-03-09, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by southbound123 View Post
My 16 year old son will be doing a cross country supported tour this summer - Portland, OR to Savannah, GA in 30 days. Average day is 115 miles and the peak is 150.

Last summer he went unsupported on a Cannondale T2000 (now called Touring 1). He outgrew the bike and also doesn't need to carry weight this time.

We are looking for advice on a suitable bike. It was recommended we get a relaxed geometry road bike, non-carbon frame, 32-36 spoke wheels (700 x 23/25), bar end shifters, triple chainring, Brooks saddle. The non-carbon frame has a chance of being repaired in the field. Bar end shifters instead of STI, which are not repairable. The support van will stock Shimano parts.

We looked at the Cannondale Six-5 and the Specialized Roubaix (which has a carbon frame, but it was a proxy for the Sequoia, which was not in stock). My son felt comfortable on the relaxed geometry bikes and prefered the Specialized Roubaix. Concidentally, he fits perfectly on my two year old entry-level Specialized Roubaix Triple which has a carbon fork and a chrome-moly frame.

1) If you believe we should avoid the carbon frame, shouldn't we also avoid the carbon fork?
2) My Roubaix wheels are 24 spoke (front) and 28 spoke (rear). Would we need to change out one or both? If so, where does one begin to look?
3) How likely is it the STI shifter will break?
4) Do you agree on the triple chainring versus a compact double? There will be lots of mountains.
5) Are there other bikes under two thousand dollars that we should consider?

One advantage of getting him a new bike, instead of giving him mine, is that we can ride together at home.

Thanks in advance for all your advice.

From what you have said about the tour, the Roubaix sounds like close to an ideal bike. I have had one for three years, and it has been great. I use it mostly for day rides and the occasional race, and its not a touring bike by any stretch of the imagination (no braze-ons anywhere). However, the long-distance ride quality is excellent, so it could be great for your purposes. The main reason I can think of to go with something else is if he were to do some unsupported touring in the future.

1) I don't think you should necessarily avoid the carbon frame. The main reason not to tour on a carbon bike is because carbon frames can't carry panniers. Yes, they cannot be repaired properly, but the chances of anything catastrophic happening to it are very low. Repairing aluminum frames will also undo the heat treating, so if frame failure is a legitimate concern, you should probably go with steel. And yes, if you want to avoid a carbon frame for repair reasons, you should also avoid carbon forks/stays.

2) 32- or 36-spoke wheels are a very good idea, mostly because they are easier to true should they be damaged.

3) New STI levers are not going to break unless you abuse them. I still prefer bar-ends myself, but that isn't so much for reliability as because they are compatible with almost any drivetrain components. Caveat: stay away from Sora, get 105 if you can afford it. I would also recommend using 9-speed rather than 10-speed, because the 9-speed chains are stronger, and because it is compatible with MTB cassettes if you need a granny gear.

4) The gearing will depend on fitness level. I think a compact double with a 12-27 cassette would be fine, but I'm not the one riding this tour. Your call.

5) You might look at cyclocross bikes.
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