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Unloaded touring bikes: ride quality

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Unloaded touring bikes: ride quality

Old 06-21-18, 01:24 PM
  #26  
bargainguy
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I recently refurb'd this 25.5" 1982 Trek 720. Took it out for a few spins. The ride was very softly sprung, quite nice actually. I kept wondering if that same ride quality would also be present in the smaller frame sizes, or is it just that more pronounced in the largest size? As far as a daily rider, yes, absolutely.
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Old 06-21-18, 01:43 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
Plenty of 70s era racing bikes can take remarkably fat tires. My 1972 Fuji Finest is rocking 27 x 1 and 1/4 tires. It could go fatter still with 700s wheels. My mid 70s Peugeot PR 10 can take a 32c no problem.
I put some some 32mm 700C tires on my 73 Finest and there was all kinds of room for wider tires. I really like the way it rides.

If I'm being honest though I'm not really sure what people mean when they talk about stuff like "sluggish", "lively", "responsive" or any of the other adjectives I've seen used. The closest I've seen to "noodly" is an 86 Fuji Del Rey that gets some rubbing in the front derailleur when pedaling hard.

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Old 06-21-18, 03:19 PM
  #28  
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Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post


......Nimble for a touring bike.
Essence of the debate.

one man’s nimble is another’ s twitchy.
one man’s stable is another’s sluggish.

What kind of man (person) are you?
this does seem to be the crux of it--my favorite riders right now are an 89 Circuit, an 83 Trek 760, a 95 Torelli, and an 88 Trek 400. And the 620 I mentioned. The funny thing is, I don't know exactly how I'd rank them. Certainly my 87 Ironman is nimble compared to the 620, and I think I prefer the Circuit, Torelli, and the 760 to the Ironman and the 400. But the jury is out on the 620.

I often daydream about which bike to ride next--this post comes out of that question. Do I feel like the 620 or the 760 tomorrow?

I guess the 400 counts as sport touring, speaking of sport touring. Maybe I'll ride that one.
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Old 06-21-18, 04:06 PM
  #29  
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Another factor that I think should enter the debate but often doesn't: all my 63cm French fit road bikes feel more stable than the 60cms.
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Old 06-21-18, 04:37 PM
  #30  
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I've toured my Mooney with LowRider panniers containing the heavy dense stuff and the bulky stuff in the rear (front-sized) panniers and on the rack. Bike rode very well. My rule is to not put more in back than I am willing to muscle with my wrists and forearms when I get out of the saddle and rock the bike. Not being able to climb out of the saddle or having to guide the bike along the straight and narrow (and upright), for me, just sucks.

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Old 06-21-18, 04:58 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
My '94 RB-T is a great rider unloaded or hauling groceries. I haven't used it as a full-blown tourer, however.
I also have one and it works fine for most riding. However, I was disappointed to discover that it's not at its best as a fully loaded touring bike. During my TransAm attempt I had the opportunity to try it in both "four-pannier" configuration and when pulling a B.O.B. instead. In either mode it exhibited the same disconcerting wobble on fast descents that plagued my old Batavus and my old 531-framed Trek 710, although it was fine in all other conditions. The wobble was less bad with the trailer but still perceptible and it killed the buzz of a well-earned downhill. The Trek's parts are now on my Paramount. I'd trade the 62cm RB-T frameset for an '80s tourer. Here it is shortly after its arrival.
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Old 06-21-18, 05:22 PM
  #32  
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Given this is C&V, (and this has been noted before), race bikes from the 70’s ( and maybe earlier) have some aspects of touring bikes - tire allowance, center pull brakes, long dropouts, frame angles, etc.

On my Basque manufactured Zeus, early 70s, the fork has what I call that French touring curve. More curve toward the forkends. Rides like a floppy tourer at slow speeds, more racy at speed.
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Old 06-21-18, 11:09 PM
  #33  
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My rain bike would be my best full-on tourer if I undertook that task.
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Old 06-21-18, 11:39 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
Yes, but where do you fit a tent, or more specifically the tent poles? I'm not asking rhetorically. I really don't know.
I've always been kind of scared of the idea of lowriders on dirt paths. It seems they'd snag an stuff and endo the bike. Do you find it's a problem in practice?
I can imagine that the low trail thing would help with ease of handling when riding on rough and gravel roads at lower speeds. This whole low trail thing is still on my list of things to try.
FWIW my arguably rear load biased touring bike isn't sluggish feeling. It ain't no LHT though.
Here's my old International (now part of @Sir_Name's fleet):




The tent's on small rack in the back. Another way to do this is to separate the poles from the rest of the bag. My panniers can easily expand to put the tent in it, as well as the sleeping bag, ground cover, and inflatable pad. The poles can be tied to the top of the lowriders.

These lowriders are a bit too low, I'd rework the bags so they hang a bit higher. As long as you stay on gravel roads without deep ruts, you're good. My buddy Tim Clark uses smaller panniers that load higher (Swift Jr. Rangers), here shown at the base of the Bridge of the Gods:


I believe he strapped his tent poles to his seat stays.

Flying down the curvy Gorge road next to the Columbia River, the front loaders had advantages both up and down hill: climbing, we could stand and keep the bike going straight (as has been mentioned by @79pmooney already) Going downhill it was easy to slalom. The rear end didn't want to wander around.

Lastly, on a credit card tour you can leave the panniers at home and just add a medium saddle bag. As long as you keep the load in the seat bag light, it doesn't mess with the steering too much.

So, it's not racing quick and light, but it's definitely not Surly LHT heavy and sluggish.
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Old 06-22-18, 07:50 AM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
Here's my old International (now part of @Sir_Name's fleet):




The tent's on small rack in the back. Another way to do this is to separate the poles from the rest of the bag. My panniers can easily expand to put the tent in it, as well as the sleeping bag, ground cover, and inflatable pad. The poles can be tied to the top of the lowriders.

These lowriders are a bit too low, I'd rework the bags so they hang a bit higher. As long as you stay on gravel roads without deep ruts, you're good. My buddy Tim Clark uses smaller panniers that load higher (Swift Jr. Rangers), here shown at the base of the Bridge of the Gods:


I believe he strapped his tent poles to his seat stays.

Flying down the curvy Gorge road next to the Columbia River, the front loaders had advantages both up and down hill: climbing, we could stand and keep the bike going straight (as has been mentioned by @79pmooney already) Going downhill it was easy to slalom. The rear end didn't want to wander around.

Lastly, on a credit card tour you can leave the panniers at home and just add a medium saddle bag. As long as you keep the load in the seat bag light, it doesn't mess with the steering too much.

So, it's not racing quick and light, but it's definitely not Surly LHT heavy and sluggish.
Great pics and + 1 on the low riders. They definitely improve a bike's handling when carrying a load.
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Old 06-22-18, 09:07 AM
  #36  
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Starting in 1981, my only bike was a 1974 Raleigh Professional, which we would classify as a racing bike. For a while after that I also had a Windsor racing bike, but I didn't have it very long.

In the spring of 1983 I got the Trek 720, which was at that time about the most hardcore touring bike you could get. I still have the Trek. I built it up to use on a cross country tour I had planned for late that summer, and for the early part of the summer of 1983 I rode both bikes about equally, consciously (but not scientifically) trying to learn their distinct characteristics. Sometimes I loaded the Trek up to emulate the way it would ride on the tour, and sometimes I rode it unloaded.

Well, this probably says more about the rider than about the bike, but I really couldn't tell the bikes apart by their ride quality. I'm not saying they were the same, merely that I couldn't tell the difference.

I now have three bikes that I have used for fully loaded tours in the last ten years: the Trek, the Holdsworth (there's a thread about it on this forum) and a 1984 Counterpoint Opus II tandem. The Holdsworth was originally a frame very similar to my now departed Raleigh Professional, but a previous owner had modified it with all the braze-on fittings that distinguish a touring bike. So when I toured on it, it was basically a touring bike with what in 1976 passed for racing bike geometry.

The Counterpoint Opus II tandem is a pretty unique design, very sturdy and stable, and it rides differently from any other bike, so hard to compare to the others. But as for the Trek and the Holdsworth, as fully loaded touring bikes, again, I can't say I'm aware of any difference. I'm sure there are riders who would find them different, but I do not.
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Old 06-22-18, 09:35 AM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
Here's my old International (now part of @Sir_Name's fleet):




These lowriders are a bit too low, I'd rework the bags so they hang a bit higher. As long as you stay on gravel roads without deep ruts, you're good. My buddy Tim Clark uses smaller panniers that load higher (Swift Jr. Rangers), here shown at the base of the Bridge of the Gods:
I made an interesting discovery while touring on my RB-T. Wanting a front racktop bag for tools and spares, I was using an early Blackburn front rack and front lowriders that clipped to the stays of that rack instead of using the wheel hoop you normally see on lowrider installs. What this did was permit me to mount the front bags either low on the lowriders or high on the racks rails. This would enable you to have the clearance you want in certain conditions and the stability promoted in the original Blackburn literature in other conditions. Pic below shows us on a shakedown ride with full loads. Nearest bike is mine and front bags can be moved up for high mount if needed.

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Old 06-22-18, 10:19 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
Here's my old International (now part of @Sir_Name's fleet):


The tent's on small rack in the back. Another way to do this is to separate the poles from the rest of the bag. My panniers can easily expand to put the tent in it, as well as the sleeping bag, ground cover, and inflatable pad. The poles can be tied to the top of the lowriders.


These lowriders are a bit too low, I'd rework the bags so they hang a bit higher. As long as you stay on gravel roads without deep ruts, you're good. My buddy Tim Clark uses smaller panniers that load higher (Swift Jr. Rangers), here shown at the base of the Bridge of the Gods:



I believe he strapped his tent poles to his seat stays.


Flying down the curvy Gorge road next to the Columbia River, the front loaders had advantages both up and down hill: climbing, we could stand and keep the bike going straight (as has been mentioned by @79pmooney already) Going downhill it was easy to slalom. The rear end didn't want to wander around.


Lastly, on a credit card tour you can leave the panniers at home and just add a medium saddle bag. As long as you keep the load in the seat bag light, it doesn't mess with the steering too much.


So, it's not racing quick and light, but it's definitely not Surly LHT heavy and sluggish.

First, thanks for sharing the cool pics. It must've happened. I see that there's a substantial number of people and bikes belonging to this cult...


So the solution to tent poles is a custom made extendable rack? Easy. I forgot about that rack, from a couple years back I think. Very cool. Clearly the same thing could be accomplished with a light small rack like the VO constructeur, albeit with not as much style.


I do have a big Ostrich saddlebag. Simply strapping the poles to the bag crosswise as @bikemig suggested is an option too. That'd be fine for fire roads. I'm slightly concerned about making a too wide profile when riding on road shoulders and single track.


I get the impression that mostly these bikes get used for credit card mini tours and overnighters. That's fine too. Probably more realistic for my actual situation. I have a job etc and 3 week+ camping tour adventures aren't really on the horizon.


Rear bias mainstream touring bikes do tend to wag if you get out of the saddle. However, it's actually pretty easy to avoid this. Contrary to popular opinion, it is possible to ride a loaded touring bike out of the saddle. I learned how BITD on camping trips with my Univega framed touring bike. Basically you have to use a straight up and down pedaling style, kind of like a stairmaster. No side to side motion. By halfway through the first day of my first trip, I had it mastered. Very helpful for comfort to be able to get out of the seat occasionally.


I'm still curious on how a low trail front loaded bike handles out of the saddle. I get the picture that it's more forgiving of a bit of side to side movement.
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Old 06-22-18, 10:59 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
First, thanks for sharing the cool pics. It must've happened. I see that there's a substantial number of people and bikes belonging to this cult...


So the solution to tent poles is a custom made extendable rack? Easy. I forgot about that rack, from a couple years back I think. Very cool. Clearly the same thing could be accomplished with a light small rack like the VO constructeur, albeit with not as much style.


I do have a big Ostrich saddlebag. Simply strapping the poles to the bag crosswise as @bikemig suggested is an option too. That'd be fine for fire roads. I'm slightly concerned about making a too wide profile when riding on road shoulders and single track.


I get the impression that mostly these bikes get used for credit card mini tours and overnighters. That's fine too. Probably more realistic for my actual situation. I have a job etc and 3 week+ camping tour adventures aren't really on the horizon.


Rear bias mainstream touring bikes do tend to wag if you get out of the saddle. However, it's actually pretty easy to avoid this. Contrary to popular opinion, it is possible to ride a loaded touring bike out of the saddle. I learned how BITD on camping trips with my Univega framed touring bike. Basically you have to use a straight up and down pedaling style, kind of like a stairmaster. No side to side motion. By halfway through the first day of my first trip, I had it mastered. Very helpful for comfort to be able to get out of the seat occasionally.


I'm still curious on how a low trail front loaded bike handles out of the saddle. I get the picture that it's more forgiving of a bit of side to side movement.
Did you see the comment by @gugie about strapping tent poles to a chainstay? That seems like the easiest method, although his custom racks are lovely.

Mark modified my ‘79 Miyata 912 fork for a front load including reraking, brazed-on centerpull posts, and a bunch of eyelets, as well as all the racks, enabling it to be the “travel bike” with the add-on modular front pannier rack. With just the big rando bag, its quite adept at errand runs of any length. That big front bag is incredibly handy, although I found that it didn’t work as well as I’d hoped, handling-wise, on my mid-trail Marinoni. The first major travel excursion on the Miyata will be next year.

I’ve been amazed at how pleasant it is to ride out of the saddle (and in the saddle, too!). I’d say that it isn’t merely forgiving, but it almost seems to encourage such behavior. The only thing to note is that a single loaded pannier on the front is not the best situation.



(Yes, the pannier rails are actually horizontal)
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Old 06-22-18, 11:22 PM
  #40  
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On the OP’s original subject, my ‘one and only’ bike for over 35,000 miles and 11 years was this ‘92 Klein Performance model, shown here part way through our 3-week (credit card camping) trip around central Italy in 2001. It had been equally nice on the 3-week honeymoon trip in France in 1998, and many, many centuries+ and group rides. Like the very similar Cannondale ST’s mentioned in this thread, it didn’t give up anything in terms of enthusiastic behavior and I would never have called it the least bit sluggish. I do wish that: 1) we’d had the benefit of fat supple tires back then; and 2) I hadn’t let myself get talked into this bike a size too small. My son enjoys it now with a steel fork I retro-fitted (that CF fork was not magic) and it fits him better.

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Old 06-22-18, 11:23 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by Dfrost View Post
...although I found that it didn’t work as well as I’d hoped, handling-wise, on my mid-trail Marinoni.
I think she takes offense to having any of her beautiful paint hidden by such pedestrian things as a handlebar bag, and misbehaves accordingly.

;-)
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Old 06-22-18, 11:30 PM
  #42  
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A few thoughts after reading through the posts.


(1) My 1994 Trek 520 is decidedly blah riding - not much fun as a daily rider. But put a load on it, it really comes into its own.


(2) I've always used panniers, rear-only (and a small handlebar bag) in the 70s and 80s, including a cross-USA trip (didn't have the 520 then), front and rear panniers (low-riders up front) in the 90s, including a Mt. Shasta to Yosemite trip. Rear-only is hard on rear wheels, especially if you are a big boy like I am. Front low-riders should as centered on the front hub (up-and-down and fore-and-aft) as possible. Low riders have very little impact on steering, and the more centered you can get them, that little impact gets reduced to virtually nothing. That is a good thing.


(3) Some of the bikes discussed here - the RB-T, for example - were not designed to be fully-loaded tourers, and as such really are not responsive to the OP's original question. They are fine bikes, but not germane to the issue of how purpose-built fully loaded tourers ride unloaded.


(4) Most racing frames from about 1973 or so on will be lousy touring bikes; that's about the time when the Uber-stiff, unber-tight crit bike fad came into full force. Most decidedly not what you want to tour on. It can be done (my very fist tour was on a Bob Jackson racing frame), but the ever-so-slightly higher bottom bracket, the shorter wheel base and shorter chainstays, the steeper angles, all make for a harder day because it always takes just a little bit more effort to hold a line and just a bit more road buzz is transmitted into hands, feet and butt. At no one moment is it intolerable or even that big a deal, but over the course of an eight or ten hour riding day, it adds up. At least, that we my experience.
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Old 06-23-18, 07:05 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
I use my Mercian touring bike as a daily rider. Works for me. Most of the roads I ride on are pretty terrible. It's made from a modern OS Reynolds tubeset, and it's actually more spritely than my old racing bike, but the ride is more smooth.

I had for a long time I had a Univega Specialissima, which is the same frame as a Miyata 1000 with different decals. That bike was pretty sporty as well. It was very nice as a daily rider as well as a packed tourer, as some of you have discovered. I got it when I worked in a shop that was a Trek and Univega dealer. Some of the Trek touring bikes tended to have a more truck-like ride by comparison, ie the 720. Maybe nowadays I'd like that. 620 is more sporty.

Anyway, yeah touring bike for regular riding can be nice.
My Bob Jackson world tourist is similar with os 631 and it's a terrific all around commuter. Ymmv. If I had to have one bike it would be an old school touring bike. Comfortable and fast enough.
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Old 06-23-18, 07:40 AM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by salamandrine View Post
first, thanks for sharing the cool pics. It must've happened.
:d
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Old 06-23-18, 10:35 AM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
I'm still curious on how a low trail front loaded bike handles out of the saddle. I get the picture that it's more forgiving of a bit of side to side movement.
Low trail front loaded allows you to ride your bike pretty much the same way loaded or unloaded. Climbing you can stand and waggle side to side if you want, it'll keep a straight line. If anything it seems to a bit better downhill, goes right where you want it to go.
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Old 06-25-18, 11:40 AM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by sloar View Post
Miyata 1000, handles great unloaded, really fast and nimble for a touring bike.
+1 I prefer the smooth ride of any of my touring bikes (that's why I've kept them over the years) but my 1000 feels the fastest and least like a tourer. My 1990 Cannondale ST400 would probably come next in that regard.
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Old 07-01-18, 04:26 PM
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Sir_Name 
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
Here's my old International (now part of @Sir_Name's fleet):

So, it's not racing quick and light, but it's definitely not Surly LHT heavy and sluggish.
Thanks again, gugie! At this point this bike is my main ride year-round. I have a fairly lightweight handlebar bag that stays in place for just about every ride. Many times it just holds the usual wallet/phone/tube/multi-tool, sometimes I grab some groceries on the way home. The bike handles very well loaded and unloaded, though it was re-raked to ~low-trail so not exactly typical touring bike geometry throughout. I've been on the lookout for some front panniers for a camping trip that a friend and I are roughing out for later this summer or fall, it'll be interesting to compare the ride with more of a touring/camping load. I also have a frame bag that'll be used and will keep the weight centered and within the plane of the frameset. When riding mostly unloaded the bike is nice and sprightly. It's not the same as my racing bikes, but it doesn't feel like there's much penalty either. The longer chain stays and wheelbase, fatter tires, more laid-back geometry does provide a different experience from the racing bikes, but I wouldn't call it sluggish. More relaxed, but certainly not slow.



Loaded front end:


The bike that got me back into cycling in was a ~'83 Centurion Pro Tour 15. I rode it unloaded for a couple of years before some frame damage left it as well art. I had the same experience there, nice plush ride that didn't feel slow.

Granted, both of these bikes have lighter tubesets and aren’t of the tank-ish touring bike variety, but I’ve found that unloaded touring bikes can make for great road bikes assuming the design meets the needs, more or less. No big surprise there. I suppose it helps that I’m not the smallest, lightest rider on the block. In addition, I’ve found that touring bikes can be more cushy and have pretty good manners offroad.

Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
I'm still curious on how a low trail front loaded bike handles out of the saddle. I get the picture that it's more forgiving of a bit of side to side movement.
That's been my experience. I have a Motobecane Grand Touring that I used to have built with a rear rack that would get loaded up from time to time. That bike with weight over the rear was very much an example of 'the tail wagging the dog.' I have a bunch of short, punky hills in my area that are fun to sprint up. Riding with a front load on the ~low-trail Raleigh is much more forgiving when standing on the pedals and pointing up; it takes little correction or adjustment versus riding without a load. As the front wheel bobs left and right the load follows, it doesn’t counteract or exaggerate. The added weight doesn't have much of a lever on the steering axis and contact patch. The rear end moves around freely and unencumbered, and feels the same as when climbing out of the saddle unloaded -- because it is. In addition, I like to ride some local MTB trails on this bike. They’re tight single track with rocks and roots and the low-trail front end does great maneuvering the terrain at lower speeds.

Last edited by Sir_Name; 07-01-18 at 05:15 PM.
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