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Unloaded touring bikes: ride quality

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Unloaded touring bikes: ride quality

Old 06-21-18, 07:13 AM
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belacqua
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Unloaded touring bikes: ride quality

I've been enjoying this 620 lately--I like to have one "no-kit" rider on hand--and it's got me wondering: does anyone prefer riding a touring frame to a road/racing frame?

Or if there's anything that you particularly do or don't appreciate about the ride of an unloaded tourer?

Trying to refine my sensibilities. Thanks.

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Old 06-21-18, 07:26 AM
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I really like riding my Centurion Pro-Tours unloaded, comfortable rides, not twitchy nor sluggish.
My Cambodia version a 1981
DSC02402 by Bwilli88, on Flickr

My American version a 1983
Proof of concept build for my Centurion Pro-Tour by Bwilli88, on Flickr
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Old 06-21-18, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by bwilli88 View Post
I really like riding my Centurion Pro-Tours unloaded, comfortable rides, not twitchy nor sluggish.
My Cambodia version a 1981

DSC02402 by Bwilli88, on Flickr

My American version a 1983

Proof of concept build for my Centurion Pro-Tour by Bwilli88, on Flickr
I like those centurions
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Old 06-21-18, 09:09 AM
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I like touring bikes but an old school touring bike is a bit of a boat when unloaded. If looking for a somewhat different ride quality--one that splits the difference between a touring and a racing bike--you may want to check out what used to be called a sports touring bike (although frankly most racing bikes from the 70s would qualify as well). These are bikes that can take reasonably fat tires (32c) but are more nimble than a classic touring bike (a little shorter wheelbase usually, perhaps the geometry has been tweaked as well). I know there is a real difference in how my 1982 Trek 720 (the touring bike) and my 1984 Trek 610 (designed and sold as a "sports" touring bike) ride.

Here is a thread on sports touring bikes that might give you some ideas:

Show your classic sports touring bicycle
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Old 06-21-18, 09:15 AM
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Tube diameter increases some builders opt for a bit bigger for a touring design 1" to 1.125"

1.125" to 1.25"..

add a little wall thickness increase and they are less noodly , when loaded up.



I often use my touring bike for grocery runs , bringing back food in my bags,

my road bike has no mudguards , either , so rarely gets out of storage..





....

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Old 06-21-18, 09:28 AM
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My '94 RB-T is a great rider unloaded or hauling groceries. I haven't used it as a full-blown tourer, however.
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Old 06-21-18, 09:50 AM
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Errr ... If I'm 30-50 lbs overweight, does that sort of mean my unloaded tourer is equivalent to a normal sized person's loaded tourer?
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Old 06-21-18, 10:09 AM
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Once I had a Miyata 210. It was nicely made and very "stable". There was nothing wrong with it, but I didn't find it especially fun to ride. I realize there is potential hazard in generalizing about an entire class of bicycles from a single model, but for general riding, I prefer a sports-touring geometry or a "racing" geometry.
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Old 06-21-18, 10:12 AM
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Miyata 1000, handles great unloaded, really fast and nimble for a touring bike.
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Old 06-21-18, 10:23 AM
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For me, sports touring is indeed the sweet spot. A really old (e.g. ca. 1960) road racing frame will serve much the same purpose.

The key is sufficient clearance for 700C x 28 to 35mm tires, a slightly relaxed frame geometry, and good manganese moly steel. Fortunately, in recent years we have seen a re-emergence of this concept from some of today's manufacturers, although I still prefer the look of a classic bicycle, with a horizontal top tube, nice-looking lugs, and 32 or 36 cross-laced spokes per wheel.
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Old 06-21-18, 10:32 AM
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I love riding my Motobecane Grand Jubile. The ride is nice and plush, yet decently lively. The stock gearing is perfect for the hilly area that I live in. It's super-comfortable for distance rides, which I normally do. The bike is just an absurdly smooth ride, akin to softly flowing water. Tracks well too.

It's is a tad heavy overall, but the momentum seems to make it easier to keep going at a steady pace, once I've gotten up to speed.

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Old 06-21-18, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by John E View Post
For me, sports touring is indeed the sweet spot. A really old (e.g. ca. 1960) road racing frame will serve much the same purpose.

The key is sufficient clearance for 700C x 28 to 35mm tires, a slightly relaxed frame geometry, and good manganese moly steel. Fortunately, in recent years we have seen a re-emergence of this concept from some of today's manufacturers, although I still prefer the look of a classic bicycle, with a horizontal top tube, nice-looking lugs, and 32 or 36 cross-laced spokes per wheel.
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.
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Old 06-21-18, 10:39 AM
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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.
By today's standards a PR10 is arguably sports touring, rather than racing. Great bikes -- I really liked my 1980 PKN-10, which is bascially the same thing.
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Old 06-21-18, 10:49 AM
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I have a 1989 Cannondale ST600 touring bike that I like a lot. There are comments in the Cannondale thread that suggest ST should actually be SST (Super Sport Touring). The Cannondale frames are usually fairly stiff, so not noodly at all. For some, that's a negative, For others it is a positive. I'm running Compass 35mm tires and the ride and handling are very good. Can't speak to riding it loaded, so far it's just been me.

Maybe I just haven't ridden enough bikes with different geometries, but I don't notice a major difference.
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Old 06-21-18, 10:53 AM
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For ride comfort and quality, I definitely prefer the feel of a touring bike, such as the one I keep and ride in Jamaica, as pictured at my absolute favorite watering hole on the planet...


I do, however, love riding my racing bikes also, be they from the fifties or nineties. But the racing bike(s) is not as comfortable as my touring bike(s).
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Old 06-21-18, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by sloar View Post
Miyata 1000, handles great unloaded, really fast and nimble for a touring bike.
......Nimble for a touring bike.
Essence of the debate.

one manís nimble is anotherí s twitchy.
one manís stable is anotherís sluggish.

What kind of man (person) are you?

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Old 06-21-18, 11:15 AM
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I guess I should’ve said in my own opinion.
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Old 06-21-18, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by sloar View Post
I guess I shouldíve said in my own opinion.
i quoted you but the question was for the OP, or thread participants more generally.

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Old 06-21-18, 11:29 AM
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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.
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Old 06-21-18, 12:46 PM
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The French solved this decades ago, many are rediscovering their design.

Don't load the back of the bike and you can design a bike that rides well with or without a load. If you rear-end load a frame, you really need to stiffen it up in the back. Doing so has the downside of making the bike feel sluggish when there's no load. The Surly LHT is the modern epitome of this design.

How do you carry everything you need for touring in the front?

Large handlebar bag and lowriders. Low trail so the extra weight in front doesn't negatively afffect handling. If need be, a saddlebag for bulky, light items can be added.

8 out 10 of the bikes in the following picture were kitted up as described, above, and travelled from Portland, Oregon to Carson, Washington to camp out for the 2016 un-meeting (BQ's Jan Heine annual get together).



After camping overnight, the next day was 90 miles of fast paved/gravel riding. Gear and bags were removed.
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Old 06-21-18, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by speedevil View Post
I have a 1989 Cannondale ST600 touring bike that I like a lot. There are comments in the Cannondale thread that suggest ST should actually be SST (Super Sport Touring). The Cannondale frames are usually fairly stiff, so not noodly at all. For some, that's a negative, For others it is a positive. I'm running Compass 35mm tires and the ride and handling are very good. Can't speak to riding it loaded, so far it's just been me.

Maybe I just haven't ridden enough bikes with different geometries, but I don't notice a major difference.

I've never owned/ridden a 'dale until now. I picked up a 1985 cannondale ST 400 that I'm rebuilding. I'm really looking forward to getting it on the road.
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Old 06-21-18, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
The French solved this decades ago, many are rediscovering their design.

Don't load the back of the bike and you can design a bike that rides well with or without a load. If you rear-end load a frame, you really need to stiffen it up in the back. Doing so has the downside of making the bike feel sluggish when there's no load. The Surly LHT is the modern epitome of this design.

How do you carry everything you need for touring in the front?

Large handlebar bag and lowriders. Low trail so the extra weight in front doesn't negatively afffect handling. If need be, a saddlebag for bulky, light items can be added.

8 out 10 of the bikes in the following picture were kitted up as described, above, and travelled from Portland, Oregon to Carson, Washington to camp out for the 2016 un-meeting (BQ's Jan Heine annual get together).

After camping overnight, the next day was 90 miles of fast paved/gravel riding. Gear and bags were removed.
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.
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Old 06-21-18, 01:13 PM
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I've been meaning to write something up about this- this is at least a good start...

My daily riders are pretty much all tourers.

I've never been into racing. When I started getting into bikes- riding was about getting moving, getting away and kind of not dominating. To me, the idea of "riding" is getting out and seeing and smelling and an overall pleasant experience. Tourers have that willingness to be upright to enjoy the scenery, the desire to ride comfortably, and the dichotomy of being graceful and beautiful crossed with the rugged burliness of ATB parts. My experiences with "go-fast" bikes are very limited- to a Trek 400 Elance and a Trek 730. Nothing European or modernly hot rod-dy.

We talked a little about this when you were trying to decide what to do with your rack. Tourers are generally not "fast" or "quick" or "nimble." They're generally heavier- the tubes are generally thicker to resist the effects of touring loads. The bikes are generally longer; longer chainstays, longer seat stays- physically more metal. The longer wheelbase gives you foot clearance with panniers- I think it helps smooth out the road/ride, adding stability, but at the expense of the maneuverability.

I've been meaning to write something up about this- this is at least a good start... If you're into that car thing- tourers like the 620 are like a 1972 Cadillac Eldorado. It's long, it's luxurious- it can get going on a straightaway, but it's about that smooth cruise while lookin' good. And you feel good riding it.

I've had my Trek 620 since 2011 and my Voyageur SP and 720 since 2014, and now my Miyata 1000LT since last year. I've been riding the 720 more often than the other bikes- but my opinions about them have kind of changed. They do all ride differently, despite having relatively laid back angles and longer wheelbases. I used to think the 620 was the heavier of the 620 and 720- I do think the 620 feels lighter- as a frame- than the 720. It could VERY well be the build- but it's just something in the way you feel the bike move that makes it feel inherent to the bike. A lot of what you think about the bike colors how you experience it. Yeah- I know the 720 is the much more expensive sibling to the 620- made with "better" tubing and components- so therefore it's lighter and a "better" bike... It's obvious, isn't it? I've got many, many more miles on the 620 in the past 7 years than I have on the 720 in 4 years- and over the past few months, I've been really re-evaluating how much I REALLY like the ride of the 620- it actually feels more lithe than the 720. I've always thought that the longer chainstays contribute to a smoother, supple, evened out ride. The 620 and 720 both have that characteristic- the Miyata 1000LT is a heavier bike with shorter chainstays- it also rides very smooth, but I assume that damping is coming from the mass and stiffness of the frame rather than the flex of the longer wheelbase- the ride of the Miyata is very different than the 620 and 720.

So for as rambly and non-sequitur-y as that is- the overall gist is that I prefer the smooth, stable ride of a long tourer to the more responsive ride of a shorter, quicker, stiffer go-fast bike.
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Old 06-21-18, 01:20 PM
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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.
Think bikepacking, pack light and in bags that fit on the frame rather than on a rack. You'll save a lot of weight that way.

https://www.cyclingabout.com/what-is...epacking-bike/

A carradice camper longflap holds 23 liters and you can easily strap your tent poles to the outside. Saving the weight of a rear rack is substantial. The longflap can hold tent, cooker, sleeping bag, mattress, tools, rain coat.

Upfront you can rig a dry bag of some type to hold your clothes. If you need more stuff, get something that mounts directly to your fork, https://cleavelandmountaineering.blo...hing-bags.html

You can save a significant amount of weight if you lose all the racks.
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Old 06-21-18, 01:23 PM
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I love riding my '90 Schwinn Voyageur touring bike. It is so stable, smooth, and quiet. A pleasure to ride where I feel the difference between it and the Norco Indie I commute to work on. The Norco is competent, but I don't get the ride smile from it the way I do with the Voyageur, loaded or unloaded.
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