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Decent road frames with lots of tire clearance

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Decent road frames with lots of tire clearance

Old 10-08-20, 08:10 AM
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Marylander
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Decent road frames with lots of tire clearance

So, I'm thinking of dipping my toes into the C&V world and am looking for something good quality with lots of tire clearance (I've got a set of 38mm panaracer gravelking slicks ready to go although I wouldn't mind a little more clearance perhaps to be used for fenders). I will almost certainly just use the frameset of any bike that I buy. I've got some long pull calipers (tektro r559) although I'd be ok with going cantilever too. I know there are loaded tourers out there that'd fit the bill but I'm not really looking for something so heavy duty, something more in the sport-touring end of things would be nice. The bike will be for general use or what they're calling "gravel" nowadays... A relatively short top tube would be great too although not essential since I could just put a tall stem on a smaller frame.

Any recommendations?
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Old 10-08-20, 08:20 AM
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Perhaps something like an early Trek that was originally 27" wheeled. Ive converted a couple, plenty of room for fenders to.



Last edited by Mr. 66; 10-08-20 at 08:25 AM.
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Old 10-08-20, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Marylander View Post
So, I'm thinking of dipping my toes into the C&V world and am looking for something good quality with lots of tire clearance (I've got a set of 38mm panaracer gravelking slicks ready to go although I wouldn't mind a little more clearance perhaps to be used for fenders). I will almost certainly just use the frameset of any bike that I buy. I've got some long pull calipers (tektro r559) although I'd be ok with going cantilever too. I know there are loaded tourers out there that'd fit the bill but I'm not really looking for something so heavy duty, something more in the sport-touring end of things would be nice. The bike will be for general use or what they're calling "gravel" nowadays... A relatively short top tube would be great too although not essential since I could just put a tall stem on a smaller frame.

Any recommendations?
To go that wide, you'd probably be looking at either a 650b conversion, or something like this old Trek, but I'm still not sure if there would be room for fenders too.



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Old 10-08-20, 08:43 AM
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I had an 84 Trek 500 and 82 Trek 61x. Both would take 700x35 without fenders or 32's with fenders so be choosy when you look at Trek's. Both could handle 38's with fenders when converted to 650b.
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Old 10-08-20, 08:46 AM
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My 1971 Raleigh Super Course takes 700c 37mm tires with only a little coaxing. The Super Course was made in large volume, so finding one should not be hard. It's a bit on the heavy side, but everyone who rides one says it feels lighter than it is.


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Old 10-08-20, 08:57 AM
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Another vintage Raleigh to consider would be the Competition Mk. II as built c.1973-76 with the sloping fork crown and the rapid-taper chainstays. Mine (shown in fixed-gear mode running a Surly Dingle) has room for 35 mm tires and I bet I could get fenders in there, too. 38s would probably fit, but that would be the upper limit for 700C wheels.

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Old 10-08-20, 09:04 AM
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i spent $80 on a '84 TREK 420 with 27in wheels. with 700c the chainstays clear 35mm (or maybe 37mm) tires barely. I was gonna sell it last spring as complete with updated components, but I couldn't get takers at my price point. So now it's literally hanging out at my inlaws 5 hours away.... i'd like to get it home and ride it.
i have a SCHWINN Super LeTour 12.2 frame that clears 700c x 32mm tires with fenders just Super LeFine. it might go up for sale in the spring. possibly. not sure yet.

PS: did you say "decent"? i'm not sure what "decent" means. like they say: "one man's decent framseset is another man's gas-pipe garbage frameset"



25mm tires I think, and long reach TEKTROs.

with skinny 25mm tires, I think

Super LeTour with 32mm tires and MAFAC Racers

Last edited by mrv; 10-08-20 at 09:12 AM.
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Old 10-08-20, 09:30 AM
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Wow, quite a list already. I'll do some searching.

I suppose I should qualify "decent". I've had 753 and 531 frames before and something along those lines or roughly equivalent works for me.

Starting with a 27" wheel bike and switching to 700c does look to be a possibility.
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Old 10-08-20, 09:42 AM
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I have a Super Mondia Special 1973 that takes a pretty wide tire. Who ever owned it prior to me changed it to 27" tires and I put some Michelin 27" x 1 1/4" Pro Tek tires on it . When inflated they check 1 3/8" wide! and they clear but not by much. It has Reynolds 531 tubing and nice Nervex lugs. I use it if I have to go over any gravel or dirt . If this bike still had its 700c wheels I am pretty sure your tires would work. I do have to deflate the rear tire to get the wheel off .


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Old 10-08-20, 10:09 AM
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Early 70's Raleighs have very long legs. Forks rarely have clearance issues, chainstay width is almost always the limiting factor. I've fit 700c x 35's (caliper measured width, don't trust the label) on some. Indented chainstays make a big difference.



38's might fit on a Super Course, Gran(d) Sport(s) or Competition.

I'm running 700c x 35's on my Centurion Pro Tour



These are frames I have personal experience runniing wider 700c tires. Early 70's Motobecanes probably would have the same results, but I've only put 650b x 42's on them.

Other's have mentioned 650b conversion, that's a deep rabbit hole to drop into. Since you're just dipping your toe into C&V, I'd recommend not going that route, at least for now.
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Old 10-08-20, 10:12 AM
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I was able to fit 700 x 38's on my '76 Raleigh Competition (Reynolds 531). But they just barely cleared on all sides, and if you went through any patch of dirt, the front and rear and brake calipers would instantly clog up with dirt and tires would start rubbing. 700 x 35 are the largest practical tire i can use.




And yes, I'm aware my chain is stretched, it was only a test setup.
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Old 10-08-20, 10:22 AM
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Be careful if you go the cantilever route. Some frames may be problematic when converting to 700c. Not saying it can't be done but it is something to keep in mind.
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Old 10-08-20, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Marylander View Post
Wow, quite a list already. I'll do some searching.

I suppose I should qualify "decent". I've had 753 and 531 frames before and something along those lines or roughly equivalent works for me.
- the TREK 420 (and I suppose other TREK's of that era) labeled the bike tubing as MANGALLOY 2001 (I think). I did a bit of research and it was a lower strength steel, so thicker wall. But TREK could use a more efficient manufacturing process. A lower temp braze I think. And the steel would retain a higher percentage of strength after brazing. I'm going by memory from google research over a year ago, so I might have some things ackbasswards. I like the bike pretty well. I'm planning on keeping it as my road bike, since it take a 32mm tire real easy, and it's got some rack bosses and what not.
- I think the SCHWINN Super LeTour 12.2 is a double butted 4130 chrom-mo. I'm going to build it up over the winter. I'm debating if I want to spend the cash to get "period correct" components on it. That'll put me into a $50 frameset for what.... $300? Maybe more not sure. And I'll have a nice bike I can sell for what, $150? Probably less? Maybe I'll just build it up and hang it at my in-laws for so I have a Thanksgiving / Christmas visit bike to ride. . . ugh, these first world problems!
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Old 10-09-20, 07:53 AM
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Currently running 35's gravel kings on my 1971 Stella. Another possibility would be a classic touring bike like my Specialized Expedition. At present it has 28's gator skins but could fit much larger tires. Don
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Old 10-09-20, 08:54 AM
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+1 on the early Raleigh Competitions. Mine has "700x38" that caliper at 35mm, with a few mms left at the chain stays - moving to the back of the dropouts might allow a true 38 even. Still oodles of space above tires for fenders, front and back.
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Old 10-09-20, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Marylander View Post
So, I'm thinking of dipping my toes into the C&V world and am looking for something good quality with lots of tire clearance (I've got a set of 38mm panaracer gravelking slicks ready to go although I wouldn't mind a little more clearance perhaps to be used for fenders). I will almost certainly just use the frameset of any bike that I buy. I've got some long pull calipers (tektro r559) although I'd be ok with going cantilever too. I know there are loaded tourers out there that'd fit the bill but I'm not really looking for something so heavy duty, something more in the sport-touring end of things would be nice. The bike will be for general use or what they're calling "gravel" nowadays... A relatively short top tube would be great too although not essential since I could just put a tall stem on a smaller frame.

Any recommendations?
Two very common frames on the used market are Raleigh Grand Prix (not Super Grand Prix) and Super Course. As gugie stated, the early 1970's models had long wheel bases and clearance for 27" wheels, wide tires and fenders. Top tube lengths are about 565mm center of seat tube to center of head tube. I also have a couple of early 1970's Falcons that are very close in geometry to the Raleigh's, I'm wondering if this was a British trend at the time. The later Super Grand Prix and Super Course, 1977 and later, had tighter wheel bases so not as much clearance.
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Old 10-09-20, 09:51 AM
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It would require some wrenching (drop bar conversion) but a Trek Multitrack from the early to mid 1990s might fit your needs. The frame is ripe for a drop bar conversion and has clearance for wider tires than most typical road specific frames. For more weight savings and a modern feel swap out the wheels and drivetrain. The 750 and 790 variants are harder to find than the lower 700 models, but have slightly better frame quality.
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Old 10-09-20, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
I was able to fit 700 x 38's on my '76 Raleigh Competition (Reynolds 531). But they just barely cleared on all sides, and if you went through any patch of dirt, the front and rear and brake calipers would instantly clog up with dirt and tires would start rubbing. 700 x 35 are the largest practical tire i can use.




And yes, I'm aware my chain is stretched, it was only a test setup.
Earlier 70's Competitions have a bit longer chainstays than yours. I've done 650b conversions on several model year Competitions, late 70's typically need a bit of chainstay denting for good clearance. There's enough variation on vintage Raleighs that one should always do a wheel test fit before doing any modifications.
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Old 10-09-20, 05:11 PM
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Cool, I've saved a few searches for the recommendations everyone's made. There really are a lot of raleighs out there. I've found a bunch but all too big so far (a 54 would be about right). There are also a lot of crazy priced bikes...
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Old 10-09-20, 05:30 PM
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I don't know if a hi-ten Centurion Super Le Mans counts as decent (I think so!), but this project in the works happily fits Panaracer Gravel King slicks at 700c x 38 with a few extra mil on each side of the chainstay. Rear brake bridge and front brake both have ample clearance as well.








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Old 10-09-20, 05:49 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
Early 70's Raleighs have very long legs. Forks rarely have clearance issues, chainstay width is almost always the limiting factor. I've fit 700c x 35's (caliper measured width, don't trust the label) on some. Indented chainstays make a big difference.
Ditto that, 35s on a '71 International and a '70 Pro just make it. Later years won't take that width,
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Old 10-09-20, 07:09 PM
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I've been graveling with my Astro Daimler Inter 10 lately. Has room for 700x35's
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Old 10-09-20, 09:28 PM
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+1 pm Trek 420 I was able to get 700 x 32 on an 85 frame with room to spare,
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Old 10-09-20, 11:04 PM
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Psh, I wouldn't be scared of cantilever brakes. They allow you to run wider tires with less problems with the fenders. Plus I toured through Switzerland with sidepulls and I'm done with that life.

I've set up numerous bikes for friends running 700x38 Gravelking slicks on all sorts of '80s tourers, all with canti brakes and VO Zeppelin fenders. I think these make the best gravelbike starter kits. Better frame than a Surly and far less costly. These are the builds I've done or consulted on:
  • Nishiki Cresta GT (actually got a 700x42 on the back with ample clearance)
  • Nishiki Riviera GT (a little tight)
  • Univega Gran Turismo
  • Univega Specialissima
  • Panasonic Touring Deluxe (used Berthoud fenders but VO will also work)
  • Schwinn Voyageur SP (1985; beautiful fenderline in rear with vertical dropouts)
  • Fuji Touring Series IV
  • Claud Butler Dalesman (mine, do not recommend due to shoddy craftsmanship and tight clearances but it taught me fillet brazing after the frame failed)
Generally I prefer Shimano wide-profile cantilevers like the Shimano MT60/62. You can angle the pads this way and that and make any of the above frames work well with cantilever brakes and 700c wheels even though they may have been designed for 27".

You mention sport touring, instead of a dedicated touring bike. I think many of the aforementioned old Trek sport tourers use pretty thick walled tubing, so there'd not be much difference in weight or flex between many of those and dedicated touring bikes. If you want lightweight/flexible, I think the liveliest one I've tried would be the Voyageur SP. This is made with Columbus 1/.7/1 tubing, similar to what Trek used in a lot of their 600 series in the early '80s, which I think epitomized 'sport tourer.' If you've got nothing against lots of braze-ons, I don't see why a tourer wouldn't be ok, especially in the bigger frame sizes where the stiffness of thick walled tubing is offset by its long length.

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Old 10-10-20, 12:12 AM
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Like others have said, check early Treks out, and don't stick your nose up at those early 410/412/414 bikes/frames circa 1980 with the Ishiwata 022 (Columbus SL double butted numbers) and Mangaloy forks. Lots of tire clearance and really nice riders.

I would recommend '70s Schwinn Paramounts in P15-9 "Touring" form (as I own one), but they are a more reliable 32-33mm tires (measured) + fenders kind of bike then 36-38mm and fenders. Excellent bikes (full DB 531) that are as slow and comfortable as you want, or as strong, rapid, and "ready for it" as you want.

My final suggestion comes in the form of the Specialized Expedition. It's a touring bike with the heart of a thoroughbred. A seriously swift and lithe bike that plays when you want it to and is beautifully sedate, comfortable and stable when you want to take it easier. Frame/fork/headset (25" / 63.5cm) is 3500g, same as the same-size (with chrome) Paramount. Respectable weight for sure. Steering is beautiful, too. Front fork crown is narrow, though I love svelte look. 40mm inner clearance, so 38mm tires will fit, but juuuuuuust barely. 36-37mm tires are close but workable. Getting the canti posts set wider helps a TON, allowing you to get those tires in and out while inflated as opposed to having to deflate (30-32mm width between canti post/boss structures). ~38s and fenders for days? Check. Vertical rear dropouts? Check. Triple bottle cage mounts? Check. Threaded crowns/brake bridges for slick fender mounting? Check.

Cantis can be fussy to set up, and I would be lying if I said my affinity for them didn't rise and fall as I set them up on a bike, but when they work, they're really great, convenient (for tire removal), and look the business while providing great fender clearance. My Expedition is a size too small for me, presently (Nitto Technomic notwithstanding), so a 66.5cm would be perfect instead of the 63.5cm I have right now. Otherwise, I do not exaggerate when I say this bike loves speed.

Mid-post edit: Late '80s to early '90s Cannondale STx00 or T-x00 bikes had cantis with room for 35mm tires (perhaps a touch bigger) and fenders. Strong frames that respond like a race bike when you get out of the saddle, but throw some fenders and racks on them, and they get even smoother.
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