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Vintage or modern for serious touring?

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Vintage or modern for serious touring?

Old 10-11-20, 09:50 AM
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Vintage or modern for serious touring?

I know this is a c&v forum, but if you had to pick which would it be for serious long tours? I have a very nice Disc Trucker, I love it but itís not the greatest for non loaded rides. Iím kicking around the idea of selling it and building up a serious vintage touring bike. Thanks
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Old 10-11-20, 09:55 AM
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I only ride bikes I can repair myself with the tools I have, so my first choice would be vintage. For touring specifically, 1980's Japanese road bikes because parts are abundant on the used market and they are relatively easy to work on.
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Old 10-11-20, 10:03 AM
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In all my reading here and elsewhere, the only weakness in a vintage touring bike is the rear hub with its freewheel and axle. If I was planning a "serious" tour, I'd consider a freehub rear wheel with a 7 speed cassette for my 85 TREK 620.
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Old 10-11-20, 10:04 AM
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the ride isn't the greatest when unloaded because it isnt designed to be the greatest when unloaded. Similarly, a thin tube road bike won't have the greatest ride when fully loaded with gear.


A 30-35 year old touring frame will have smaller tubes thst are inherently less stiff. This is really the only important difference in my mind. Everything else is essentially similar/same. If you are a light rider or you pack light, then oversize stiff tubes may not be a design feature you need.



Edited- deleted my bad sense of humor and kept thkeinfo that is hopefully helpful.

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Old 10-11-20, 10:26 AM
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Old 10-11-20, 10:45 AM
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I remember having this same question a few years ago. I went around and looked at all the modern touring bikes. IMO modern touring bikes tend to be overbuilt. They are optimized for a 250lb dude carrying 75 lbs + of gear. That's fine if you're going to tour Patagonia or something, but for more typical mostly road touring, it's overkill. Vintage touring bikes are more optimal. Bumping up to tourist gauge +1mm is enough, for example Tange #2 instead of #1 , SP instead of SL, 531 'tourist' gauge, etc. Ultimately I ended up getting a custom Mercian with OS tubeset, which gave me some extra stiffness while keeping the weight comparable or even lighter than high end traditional touring bikes.

I've had vintage touring bike in the past and it was fine then. I'm sure it would be fine now. I'd probably upgrade the wheels to modern cassette hub type, preferably with OS axles. See below. And I'd use SPD pedals. Other than that, vintage touring bikes will still do the job, and be easier to pedal to the top of that mountain.

Originally Posted by Classtime View Post
In all my reading here and elsewhere, the only weakness in a vintage touring bike is the rear hub with its freewheel and axle.
Yeah. That's a potential weak spot. Phil Wood hubs solved it in another way BITD, with those super thick axles. The stopped making the freewheel version about a year ago though.
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Old 10-11-20, 10:50 AM
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I'd stick with the Trucker. I have a non-disc one, and I know what you mean, but when I'm carrying home the groceries I appreciate it.
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Old 10-11-20, 10:51 AM
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Fat tires, disc brakes, lots of braze ons for attaching racks, bags, bottle cages, a frame thatís stable with plenty of weight on it: go modern.
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Old 10-11-20, 11:32 AM
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I own a Disc Trucker and a 1985 Miyata 1000. I like riding them both but when it comes to loaded touring it is the trucker that gets the call.
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Old 10-11-20, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
Fat tires, disc brakes, lots of braze ons for attaching racks, bags, bottle cages, a frame thatís stable with plenty of weight on it: go modern.
Fat tires is the thing that comes to mind for me. But that being said my 86 Voyageur could fit up to 38s without fenders, 35 with, has low-rider rack attachments, double eyelets in front and back and 3 water bottles mounts. And while itís certainly not a sprinter when not loaded, itís not totally sluggish either and is a very nice ride.

But yeah, if you want really big tires+fenders thatís be the drawback. But if youíre mostly road touring and light gravel itís no big deal.

Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
I remember having this same question a few years ago. I went around and looked at all the modern touring bikes. IMO modern touring bikes tend to be overbuilt. They are optimized for a 250lb dude carrying 75 lbs + of gear. That's fine if you're going to tour Patagonia or something, but for more typical mostly road touring, it's overkill. Vintage touring bikes are more optimal. Bumping up to tourist gauge +1mm is enough, for example Tange #2 instead of #1 , SP instead of SL, 531 'tourist' gauge, etc.
+1

All that being said I would be equally as happy with a LHT. Thatís a bike I looked at for awhile.

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Old 10-11-20, 12:35 PM
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If both are off the rack, I’d be tempted to go vintage frame with modern components.
Trek 720-620, Miyata 1000, Cannondale ST, Davidson Discovery, etc. (there are bunches to choose from) with 8-9-10 speed drivetrain, Deore derailleurs, Ultegra hubs with proper touring rims, Tektro braking system.
Dyno front hub if that’s your thing.
Would be pretty easy to put one together for a lot less than a decent modern complete rig and you get to cherry pick components.
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Old 10-11-20, 02:05 PM
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I think the "Grand Tourers" of the early-mid 80s were as much of a prestige thing as they were about "business" and touring. Bike designers have always had to balance weight and strength and stiffness for the purposes needed. A tourer is going to value strength and stiffness over weight- but heavier tubes aren't as expensive or as prestigious as thinner tubes... so it seems the idea was to use the strongest lightweight tube set so you could have a grand and prestigious bike that can handle, function, shift, stop, flex where it should and remain stiff when it should all while under a load spread all over the frame.

I currently have 4, what I consider, class A tourers- an 84 Schwinn Voyageur SP, an 85 Trek 620, an 85 Trek 720 and a 1990 Miyata 1000. I think the 90 M1000LT is the best purpose built tourer of the 4. It's also 5/6 years newer than the other ones; five or six more years of experience and development went into it. I think the 720 is stiffer than the 620 and the VSP- but the Miyata is WAY stiffer. I think the 720 and the 620 ride nicer unloaded than the VSP or the M1000.

The concept of the tourer has changed to be more of a hybrid of an ATB and tourer- but weighted to the ATB/Expedition bike. More "business" than "elegance." While I really have no experience in the matter- I would guess there's a point between the more graceful 1985 Trek 720 and the 2020 Koga World Traveller. For what I've ridden- a bike like the 1990 Miyata 1000LT, with the Splined Triple Butted tubing and good tire clearance is the great starting point- Oddly enough, this is the one bike I haven't actually packed up and ridden on. But goose that up with a 10s Phil Wood rear end, maybe some bar ends... throw on some tough racks... I'd go there.

M1000LT by Dave The Golden Boy, on Flickr
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Old 10-11-20, 03:21 PM
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As a slight aside, IME center pull brakes work perfectly well for loaded touring. I set up my King of Mercia initially with gran compe reissues, thinking I'd probably change them some time later to modern dual pivots. I though CP might be worth a try, as they were good enough for Singer and Herse, and many others, most of the time. First loaded mini tour, lots of hills and mountains, no problem. My previous touring bike had cantilevers, and while they are fine, they're not really any different in subjective stopping power. At this point I prefer center pulls to dual pivots, though really they are kind of the same thing mechanically. CP definitely better for fender clearance.
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Old 10-11-20, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Chuckk View Post
...
Brifters are a whole lot better than Barcons. ...
Why do you say that? Barcons are super-reliable and trivial to repair on the road.
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Old 10-11-20, 03:31 PM
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I would favor an older road touring bike with generous tire clearances and plain gauge steel alloy tubing.

For really heavy-duty touring, I would use my Schwinn (see signature), perhaps with smoother, narrower tires, depending on the types of roads and weather conditions expected. Great brakes, stability, and carrying capacity, and very reliable and easy to repair thumb shifters. I did replace the original freewheel with an 8-speed cassette, and since I run it in friction mode, increasing the cog count was painless..
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Old 10-11-20, 03:38 PM
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I would suggest that it's according to WHERE in a geographical sense that you will be touring. It is my understanding that in many worldly locales outside the US and western Europe that vintage parts and tech are far easier to find replacements for (or weld).
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Old 10-11-20, 04:40 PM
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I occasionally frequent a Dutch "World cyclist" forum and yes, some of them there are glad the days of thin tubed steel are over and we now have rock solid hydroformed aluminum frames. They are less likely to start shimmying on a fast descent, especially when fully loaded.
The thing is, most people who like those bikes take them touring through tours around the world on at least a month of touring, sometimes years. They are the ones that take these bikes across Iceland, the Pamir highway or ride through Africa. For that you want a stiff, fully equiped bike that can carry 4 Ortlieb panniers on lowrider racks, a handlebar bag and a rackbag. On a self-sufficient tour like that you might prefer carrying some luxury items and won't mind a bit of extra weight. I know I really enjoyed carrying a Helinox chair one at the end of the day, even if it was just one between the two of us. (Though I might consider getting the chair zero for some extra weight savings)
This group however likes their components easy to maintain but prefers something that hardly requires any maintenance. So dynohubs, fenders and Rohloff hubs are common staples on these bikes. Hydraulic magura rim brakes were the norm but most of them have moved to disc brakes by now.

Some of the younger guys from a cool bikeshop nearby will often go touring on more of a gravel bike setup with either panniers or a bikepacking setup with a minimal amount of bags. And I can certainly see the merit of that.
Most of the classic touring bikes would fall into more of a randonneur category nowadays IMHO so you could check there.

What I will say however is that modern components (especially wheels) are generally better than what was available back then. Metallurgy has improved and computer modelling has made for designs that are lighter where it counts and stiffer where it is needed.
Modern tyres also make a big difference. There are niches for everything now and you can mostly get them fairly easy online. And if you think it doesn't make that much of a difference then keep in mind what it has done for cars, modern car tyres are grippier and have flexier sidewalls, which sometimes causes problems when you fit modern tyres on vintage cars. It is however part of the reason why many modern boring cars are faster than some iconic sports cars.

The best of both worlds might be a vintage frame with modern wheels. I took my bike up some pretty offroad trails and it held up better than the old wheels. Modern hubs (especially high-flange) can look the part but still offer the low-maintenance of sealed bearings and compatibility with cassettes. I put a 9-speed triple setup with friction shifters on my bike but since the derailleur spring seems to be giving out I might replace it with 9/10-speed indexed in the future using Microshift bar-ends.


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Old 10-11-20, 05:43 PM
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Vintage parts are something you might want to avoid. Derailleurs wear out, return springs break. Old cranks can get creaky.

I'd question old wheels for loaded touring.

Vintage frames would be fine depending on loading. Someone with panniers loaded front and rear would benefit from something like the ubiquitous Long Haul Trucker, stiff enough to handle heavy loads.

I'd make sure that I knew how to work on every part on the bike and had the tools to do so in my travel kit.
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Old 10-11-20, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Chuckk View Post
I say that because the convenience of shifting brifters provides a close to automatic transmission gearing finesse.
If, like me, you would rather ride the hoods than drops.
Granted, a lever (or maybe a dozen levers) is more reliable, but wait and see, them Brifty-things will catch on some day!

BUT, probably too visible a change if you're going for vintage touring look.
normally i ride the hoods than drops with my DT shifters, no reason not too. i use the drops in a head wind, but not often. i am not after a 'vintage look', no one cares, why bother. my choice of bikes to ride mostly depends on what i have working that day, for now my vintage stuff has been stupid reliable. eventually i will get my modern bikes back on the road, groan.
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Old 10-11-20, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by polymorphself View Post
All that being said I would be equally as happy with a LHT. That’s a bike I looked at for awhile.
I suppose my Riv Clem is really similar in layout and functionality to a LHT, but a bit more styley. I certainly enjoy riding it as well. Different experience, but also fun. So yeah, that's the best solution, one of each!
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Old 10-11-20, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by sloar View Post
I know this is a c&v forum, but if you had to pick which would it be for serious long tours? I have a very nice Disc Trucker, I love it but itís not the greatest for non loaded rides. Iím kicking around the idea of selling it and building up a serious vintage touring bike. Thanks
Do you own or seek to own just one bike? If not then that is what your other bike(s) are for. I'd use the LHT for it's intended purpose. They are great bikes for serious long distance touring. Out on a long loaded tour, I want reliability and the ability to find replacements if something goes wrong.
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Old 10-11-20, 07:14 PM
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I have a bunch of old touring bikes and I have always wondered how they compare to the LHT. Honestly I havenít really needed to replace what I have so it hasnít happened yet. The only mechanical problem I have had other than normal wear and tear is one broken axle on a heavily abused Specialized sealed bearing hub. I guess I just donít have a hole in my lineup that the LHT would fill.
1983 Panasonic PT5000
1984 Univega Specialissima
1985 Cannondale ST500
1985 Trek 620
1988 Schwinn Voyageur
1988 Cannondale ST700
1990 Cannondale ST600
1988 Trek 800 MTB for off-road touring

I guess I would vote vintage.
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Old 10-11-20, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by northbend View Post
Do you own or seek to own just one bike? If not then that is what your other bike(s) are for. I'd use the LHT for it's intended purpose. They are great bikes for serious long distance touring. Out on a long loaded tour, I want reliability and the ability to find replacements if something goes wrong.
I think I have around 30, but basically race type bike except for my Paramount. I basically built the Surly for commuting to work also, with future plans for some long U.S tours and hopefully around Prague.
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Old 10-11-20, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Classtime View Post
In all my reading here and elsewhere, the only weakness in a vintage touring bike is the rear hub with its freewheel and axle. If I was planning a "serious" tour, I'd consider a freehub rear wheel with a 7 speed cassette for my 85 TREK 620.
This is absolutely the truth. Most vintage tourers will carry you long distances over many weeks and months of adventuring, except that your axle might snap due to the load and problematic design. I would feel much more secure touring with either a freehub or a Phil Wood freewheel hub (which has a much larger diameter axle than all the rest).
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Old 10-11-20, 09:11 PM
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I am converting two vintage bikes for touring, a 1974 Raleigh International for classic-style paved road touring, and a 1990 Diamondback Apex (rigid steel-frame MTB) for bike-backing expedition-style tours. Here are some observations:

In the late 1970’s I toured extensively on an International in Canada, Europe, and North Africa, and a few years ago I bought another frame for nostalgia’s sake. It’s not made for really heavy-duty touring: the frame is too light and whippy with a heavy load, tire clearance is limited, and it has no braze-on’s. On the other hand, as long as you carry a light-to-medium load and stay on decent roads, I think it’s fine for a tour of any distance. With the International I carry a relatively light load (medium panniers on front Low-rider racks, w/sleeping bag & pad on a rear rack) and ride on decent paved roads with occasional gravel. Components are mostly 1970’s vintage with a few more modern touches. The drive train has Suntour VGT derailleurs and Stronglight 99 triple crank, with a Shimano ramped-cog freewheel and SPD pedals. Wheels are Sunshine large-flange hubs built with new 14g spokes, Sun CR-18 rims, and 700x35 tires. The Dia-Compe centerpull brakes work surprising well with Shimano 105 aero levers, and the ergonomic handlebar is pretty comfortable.

Diamondback: I think old mountain bikes make great basic platforms for heavy-duty touring. It has its original stock components and although the 30 year-old Deore DX components are obsolete, they are strong and reliable. The single-wall Araya rims are probably its weakest point, and the one big upgrade I have made is the wheels. I recently bought a set of almost-new wheels with newer Deore XT hubs and Rhyno-Lite rims, and with these I feel I can go pretty much anywhere. The bike came with Blackburn aluminum racks, but for a serious rough-road tour I’d use chrome-moly steel racks. The old-style cantilevers are fine, but V-brakes would be a cheap upgrade. That’s about it. I have a strong, simple bike that I could take around the world, for under $500.
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