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Road Test/Bike Review (1984) Loaded Touring Bikes (Berto)

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Road Test/Bike Review (1984) Loaded Touring Bikes (Berto)

Old 08-27-20, 12:58 PM
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Road Test/Bike Review (1984) Loaded Touring Bikes (Berto)

This article is packed full of information and includes reviews of CANNONDALE ST-500, SPECIALIZED Expedition, and TREK 720. There was a winner.
I rearranged the pages a bit so all of the bike specification tables appear at the end. Each page stands on its own so a two-page view wasn't required. Hopefully it makes for easier reading.

The main table of Loaded Touring Bike Specifications included BERTIN Pro-Tour, BIANCHI Randonneur, BIANCHI San Remo, CANNONDALE ST-500 Sport Touring, CENTURION Pro Tour 15,
CENTURION Elite GT, DAWES Super Galaxy, DAWES Galaxy, FUJI Series V, FUJI Series IV, FUJI Series III, LOTUS Odyssey, GITANE Grantour, KHS Special, MIYATA 1000, MIYATA 610, MOTOBECANE Grand Touring,
NASHBAR ST Toure, NISHIKI Seral, NISHIKI Cresta, PANASONIC Pro Touring, PANASONIC Touring Deluxe, PEUGEOT Le Vagabond, PUCH Royal Force, RALEIGH Portage, RALEIGH Kodiak, RALEIGH Alyeska,
RALEIGH Wyoming, ROSS Signature Touring, SCHWINN Voyageur SP, SCHWINN Voyageur, SCHWINN LeTour Luxe, SHOGUN 2000, SHOGUN 1500, SPECIALIZED Expedition, TAKARA Challenge,
TREK 720, TREK 620, TREK 520, TREK 420, UNIVEGA Specialissima, and UNIVEGA Gran Turismo.

Custom-built and Small Production Bike specifications were shown in a separate table that included CLAUDE BUTLER Dalesman, EASY RACER Tour Easy, FASTAB Tomaso, FASTAB Mura, FASTAB Eagle,
BRUCE GORDON Chinook Tour, BRUCE GORDON Chinook Tour EX, KLEIN Stage Tour, KLEIN Elite Tour, MEDICI Gran Turismo, MERCIAN Vincilore, MERCIAN King of Mercia, PERFORMANCE Blue Ridge,
RRB Custom Special Tourer, RICHARD SACHS Touring, and WOODRUP Giro Touring.



















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Old 08-27-20, 01:43 PM
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Very neat article reviewing touring bikes from what was the golden age of vintage touring bikes. There is a lot of data here and a detailed review of 3 top dog touring bikes. It is interesting that the Trek 720 got the top billing from all 3 reviewers. I suspect today many C&V people might disagree and give the Specialized Expedition or the Miyata 1000 top billing. They can each run a little fatter tire and that is a plus in their favor.

I rode a 1983 Trek 720 across the US in 1997. I also own and ride an 1982 Trek 720. Unlike Frank Berto, I think the bike handles weight well even going down a hill. I certainly had no problems going down mountainsides on my tour at high speeds.

I also don't agree with his assessment of the Cannondale ST 500 either. I own and ride a 1985 Cannondale ST 400 which has the same frame geometry. The bike rides great and is not, IMO, overly harsh. But yeah you want to use the fattest tire that can fit which is likely a 700 x 32c.

Two last points. (1) The frame geometry on the 1980s Trek 720s and the Cannondale ST 500 and 400s from the 80s are very similar. Both are 42 inch wheelbase bikes with 18 inch stays. The 'Dale is stiffer and is a more responsive bike. My guess is that the Trek is a better long distance tourer because there is more give on the frame. (2) This is around the time when Blackburn did his tests on bike racks and how best to distribute weight. I've toured with and without lowrider and IMO the low riders made a real positive difference in terms of how the bike handled.

And, of course, what's the point of a post without pictures:



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Old 08-27-20, 08:12 PM
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Enjoyed the article. Thanks for posting!
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Old 08-28-20, 06:15 AM
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Thanks for posting this.
I relate to this statement from the article big time!
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On my first bike tour loaded way too heavy on a Litespeed Blue Ridge bike I had a
24T x 34T low gear also and found myself also looking back to see if I was really in my lowest gear.

On my next two tours I was on a 1983 Expedition I changed up a lot.

On the Expedition I had a 22T x 34T low gear which helped me slowly grind up the long steep mountain passes at 4 to 6 mph.

Any slower and it would be hard to stay upright and one might as well get off and walk.
Again I was loaded too heavy with at least 60 pounds of gear.

In hindsight I think it was a mental thing with me just thinking I really needed all that stuff.

If I ever tour again I will also use 22T x 34T
but limit the load to about 40 pounds.

Regarding my 1983 Expedition, it lived up to it's reputation. I don't know what more I could have asked from it.
It performed admirably.
I miss that bike.

Oh, the joys and challenges of the open road on a self contained bicycle tour!
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Old 08-28-20, 06:55 AM
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Thank you for finding and posting this article. The tables at the end are amazing, in terms of the detailed information they put together in one place! Here's a PDF of the whole shebang, for ease of downloading and saving.

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Old 08-28-20, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by cooperryder View Post
Thanks for posting this.

On my first bike tour loaded way too heavy on a Litespeed Blue Ridge bike I had a
24T x 34T low gear also and found myself also looking back to see if I was really in my lowest gear.
You're welcome. As are all others every time!
What issues, if any other than load weight, did you have with your Blue Ridge?
If the set-ups had been equal, how do you think the Blue Ridge would have compared to the Expedition?
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Old 08-28-20, 01:53 PM
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Great stuff. Thanks.
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Old 08-28-20, 09:39 PM
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Guess this means I need to buy and ride a 720 now! Several ST's and none felt harsh, only race bike quick on out-of-saddle efforts, with great in-saddle ride and handling manners. Definitely want another one. Expeditions are lovely and lively, a real riding partner (unloaded, haven't tested it loaded).
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Old 08-28-20, 09:52 PM
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Interesting that he includes an Easy Racers Tour Easy recumbent. That may be the first "production" recumbent to receive equal time in Bicycling magazine.

Back before I went mostly recumbent, I had a first-year Cannondale ST500. I liked it a lot except for the fragile Suntour Superbe Tech-L rear derailleur.
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Old 08-29-20, 05:23 AM
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Originally Posted by SpeedofLite View Post
You're welcome. As are all others every time!
What issues, if any other than load weight, did you have with your Blue Ridge?
If the set-ups had been equal, how do you think the Blue Ridge would have compared to the Expedition?
I was pretty much a touring novice when I started my tour on the Litespeed Blue Ridge.

After 2500 miles on it over 50 some odd days I learned a lot.

I think it was a worthy tourer that did not let me down although somewhat flexy loaded heavy.

That tour on the Litespeed started on the coast of Oregon and after reaching Portland I recall Joe Kurmaskie, The Metal Cowboy, kindly putting us up for the night.
Joe's an 'off the charts'
touring guru and author.

He helped me go through my gear advising on the stuff I did not need.
I think I shipped around 13 to 14 pounds of stuff home.

In hindsight I think the Expedition was a more stable and less flexy bike loaded and unloaded.

Perhaps the geometry was also a bit more relaxed on the Expedition.

I'm not sure I can quantify it very well.
The Expedition just clicked with me more and seemed a better load carrying bike with my tendency to carry too much.
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Old 08-30-20, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by cooperryder View Post
I was pretty much a touring novice when I started my tour on the Litespeed Blue Ridge.

After 2500 miles on it over 50 some odd days I learned a lot.

I think it was a worthy tourer that did not let me down although somewhat flexy loaded heavy.

That tour on the Litespeed started on the coast of Oregon and after reaching Portland I recall Joe Kurmaskie, The Metal Cowboy, kindly putting us up for the night.
Joe's an 'off the charts'
touring guru and author.

He helped me go through my gear advising on the stuff I did not need.
I think I shipped around 13 to 14 pounds of stuff home.

In hindsight I think the Expedition was a more stable and less flexy bike loaded and unloaded.

Perhaps the geometry was also a bit more relaxed on the Expedition.

I'm not sure I can quantify it very well.
The Expedition just clicked with me more and seemed a better load carrying bike with my tendency to carry too much.
I've chatted with Joe "The Metal Cowboy" Kurmaskie a couple times here in Portland. He's a wonderful storyteller.
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Old 02-04-21, 10:53 AM
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This is great
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Old 02-06-21, 06:15 PM
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Great comparison- and it's great in context with the time. And those charts are fantastic- I was kind of surprised by the differences in the prices.
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