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Is this feasible for a touring bike?

Old 05-13-16, 09:56 AM
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Is this feasible for a touring bike?

I've been trying to put together a good touring bike. Everything I see out there is either $$$$ or will need things changed to get what I want.

I want:
steel frame
26" fat tires
27 speed or granny gears
butterfly handle bars


I have an old diamondback ascent, 1989 I believe that may be a good starting point but am not sure.

It says on it it's 100% true temper AVR double butted CRMO tubing. Is this a good starting place for such an old bike? I would have to upgrade the cogs from 7 - 9 to get the granny gears, maybe get new wheels for strength, new stem - has a little rust and new handle bars so is that frame worth updating with everything I would need to upgrade?

I see no rust on frame. I think I paid about $600 for the bike when it was new so wasn't a real high end bike. I've had it tuned up this year and they said everything was in good order on it. My granddaughter has been using it.
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Old 05-13-16, 09:57 AM
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I see no reason why the old DB would not make a good choice. Why do you think you need to switch to 9 speed, though? Big gears are available in 7 speed too.
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Old 05-13-16, 10:01 AM
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I thought I needed more for going up hills with a heavy load. I have very little knowledge other than riding so can use all the help understanding I can get. Everything I read says make sure I have I have granny gears. My specialized has 9 cogs or wheels? making it 27 speed? and I do use those extra ones. Am I not understanding this?
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Old 05-13-16, 10:04 AM
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You don't need more, you just need the range. The lowest gear of a 7sp can be as low or lower than a given 9sp.

3x5 (15 speeds) is even plenty for touring. 3x7 is great. I run 3x6 friction DT
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Old 05-13-16, 10:20 AM
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The important detail is the ratio of the number of teeth on the front and rear gears. generally this is expressed in 'gear inches' - the ratio times the nominal tire diameter. I think loaded tourists usually look for about 20 gear inches, which with 26" wheels like your DB has, you need a ratio 20/26 or 0.769. So if your bike currently has a small (front) chainring of 24 teeth, you want a large (rear) cog of 24/0.769 or 31 teeth. Here's one with a 32 tooth large cog:Shimano CS-HG50 Freehub Cassette - 14-32T, 7-Speed, Silver and here is one with a 30 tooth large cog: Shimano CS-HG50 Freehub Cassette - 13-30T, 7-Speed, Silver . There are many other options available. The only fly in the ointment I can think of is if your bike has a 'freewheel' instead of a cassette (ratchet mechanism is built into the gear cluster instead of into the hub... freewheel hubs are prone to axle bends and breaks, and there are likely fewer tooth count options for freewheels.
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Old 05-13-16, 10:24 AM
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Touring is what you Do.. If on a Bike, It's a Bike tour.

If You get a few More used Bikes for their Parts you can make a MTB into a decent touring ride. on the cheap.
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Old 05-13-16, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by elizwlsn
I thought I needed more for going up hills with a heavy load. I have very little knowledge other than riding so can use all the help understanding I can get. Everything I read says make sure I have I have granny gears. My specialized has 9 cogs or wheels? making it 27 speed? and I do use those extra ones. Am I not understanding this?
What you need depends entirely on your strength, the terrain and the load you're carrying. If you're a reasonably strong rider doing a credit-card tour in Florida, then a granny gear would be laughable. If you're a weak rider carrying a full load up and down the Blue Ridge, you'll probably die of a heart attack if you don't have a granny.
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Old 05-13-16, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by mulveyr
What you need depends entirely on your strength, the terrain and the load you're carrying. If you're a reasonably strong rider doing a credit-card tour in Florida, then a granny gear would be laughable. If you're a weak rider carrying a full load up and down the Blue Ridge, you'll probably die of a heart attack if you don't have a granny.
That would be me.....die without a granny gear. I'm 65 and been doing the distance I want to accomplish daily to start with while touring but so far have only tested myself with 1/2 the anticipated weight. Mostly because I haven't gotten all my gear.

Since posting this earlier today I actually rode my DB and am not crazy about it. I feel like it's a child sized frame. Liked it 10 yrs ago but today I feel like it's too small so I'm scrapping that idea and looking at just using my Specialized Sirrus Comp. The problem with that is it has the carbon/aluminum fork and although it has eyelets for a front rack (or maybe a fender?) I'm worried about the strength for carrying front panniers.
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Old 05-13-16, 12:15 PM
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If you are planning to ride loaded tours, an ideal bike would include: mounts for fenders and racks, front and rear; clearance for larger tires and fenders; chain stays that are long enough (at least 42 cm, preferably 44) to accommodate panniers without striking your heels; tubing strong enough to handle loads. This all assumes that the bike is the right size and geometry for you, and it sounds like your old DB fails in that regard.

New touring bikes that are more reasonably priced are sold by Fuji, Surly, Soma, Trek, Jamis, Raleigh and others. You can sometimes find good deals on older used touring bikes, but it can be difficult finding a nice one in the right size that doesn't need a lot of repairs and maintenance.

BTW, there is a Touring subforum on this website with lots of information about bike touring.
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Old 05-13-16, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel
If you are planning to ride loaded tours, an ideal bike would include: mounts for fenders and racks, front and rear; clearance for larger tires and fenders; chain stays that are long enough (at least 42 cm, preferably 44) to accommodate panniers without striking your heels; tubing strong enough to handle loads. This all assumes that the bike is the right size and geometry for you, and it sounds like your old DB fails in that regard.

New touring bikes that are more reasonably priced are sold by Fuji, Surly, Soma, Trek, Jamis, Raleigh and others. You can sometimes find good deals on older used touring bikes, but it can be difficult finding a nice one in the right size that doesn't need a lot of repairs and maintenance.

BTW, there is a Touring subforum on this website with lots of information about bike touring.
I'll try the subforum too. I started here because I was interested in the DB frame type and didn't see anything like that there.

Many of the things you mentioned are a problem with the Specialized. It's got very tight geometry and although it's very comfortable to ride I have to get my panniers which are only 32 liter capacity way to the back of the frame not to hit them with my heels so can't get bigger bags to compensate for lack of front bags. I looked at the Surly but wanted butterfly handlebars and wasn't sure about changing the road hb out and if that would change the ride.
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Old 05-13-16, 12:27 PM
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Just a comment about gearing and gear range.
Range is high to low... that is, how many teeth is the front to rear ratio big-small and small to big.

The more gears you have in a given range, the "finer" the difference between individual front and rear gear combos (And there may be some "overlap" where different combinations actually equal/produce the same "gear inch" [how far a wheel will roll due to a single pedal stroke]).

FWIW, I've toured and ridden long distances comfortably on 10-speeds, 18-speeds and 27-speeds over varying terrain. The only significant difference I really remember is that when I was younger, the "coarse" 10-speed gearing was overcome by sheer youth and vigor while I really appreciate the "finer" gearing of 27-speeds now because I am a bit more "mature" (60yo).
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Old 05-13-16, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by dual650c
Just a comment about gearing and gear range.
Range is high to low... that is, how many teeth is the front to rear ratio big-small and small to big.

The more gears you have in a given range, the "finer" the difference between individual front and rear gear combos (And there may be some "overlap" where different combinations actually equal/produce the same "gear inch" [how far a wheel will roll due to a single pedal stroke]).

FWIW, I've toured and ridden long distances comfortably on 10-speeds, 18-speeds and 27-speeds over varying terrain. The only significant difference I really remember is that when I was younger, the "coarse" 10-speed gearing was overcome by sheer youth and vigor while I really appreciate the "finer" gearing of 27-speeds now because I am a bit more "mature" (60yo).
Everytime I hear more about gears the more I understand. Big to small and small to big I get that. I need to figure out how many are on each wheel I guess. It's probably somewhere in the literature available online for the Specialized. I have noticed the overlap in the mid range of changing gears and like you I love the "finer" gearing on steeper hills and have learned to slow my pedaling down while using them to get me up any hill so far without having to stop or walk.
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Old 05-13-16, 01:22 PM
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If you're thinking about fully loaded touring - and since you're talking about front panniers it sounds as if you are - the specialized isn't really the bike. A non-suspension mountain bike might be a decent option, and they are easy to buy used so you might be able to kit one out reasonably cheap.

I second the advice to post in the touring forum. Lots of expertise there.
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Old 05-13-16, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by dual650c
different combinations actually equal/produce the same "gear inch" [how far a wheel will roll due to a single pedal stroke]
A small correction - 'gear inches' does not mean how far it will roll per pedal stroke, but refers to the wheel size that would give the same ratio with direct drive... the term originated in the 1800s when chain-driven bicycles started replacing direct-drive bicycles like penny farthings. I guess people were used to 'larger wheel = more speed' as is the case with penny farthings, so geared bicycles were marketed as being equivalent to a penny farthing with wheel as tall as the number of gear inches.
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Old 05-13-16, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by elizwlsn
I've been trying to put together a good touring bike. Everything I see out there is either $$$$ or will need things changed to get what I want.

I want:
steel frame
26" fat tires
27 speed or granny gears
butterfly handle bars
You just described the Novara Safari -
https://www.rei.com/product/874998/n...fari-bike-2016

With a couple of simple mods, your DB is the same bike (minus the disc brakes).


-Kedosto
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Old 05-13-16, 03:06 PM
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fat tyres, fatbike tyres? they wont ever fit in that frame
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Old 05-13-16, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Kedosto
You just described the Novara Safari -
https://www.rei.com/product/874998/n...fari-bike-2016

With a couple of simple mods, your DB is the same bike (minus the disc brakes).

-Kedosto

Thanks for the link! I hadn't seen that one. I looked at their road touring bike but not this one. It might be the way to go if I go new. Certainly worth taking a ride on and trying.
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Old 05-13-16, 03:51 PM
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I can't find the info online about this bike. I think the earliest I can find is a 1993. It says 48 on the big wheel. Is the only way to figure it out to count all the cogs on all the wheels. Sorry I'm so ignorant about this. I've always just bought at LBS and whenever anything needed doing took it back to same.
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Old 05-13-16, 04:51 PM
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Let's assume you can get the DB to fit your body satisfactorily. Let's also assume that we are talking about a DB Ascsnt EX (7 speed rear cog as opposed to Ascent which only had 6). I am also assuming that you are able to do modifications to bicycles. You could use Nashbar trekking handlebar
Nashbar Trekking Mountain Bike Handlebar
with some shims to attach to your existing stem. You also could move the brake and gear shift to the new handlebar (may need shims)
A problem is the the fork does not have attachment points for a rack. Again they could be fabricated.
If this does not scare you off, then your lowest gear (inch) 24.0 and your highest gear is 95.1
So you have to decide if you want to go ahead with an ascent ex franken bike or look for a new bike. Do not concern yourself with the weight of the final touring bike in that they are all heavy. ~30+ lbs.
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Old 05-13-16, 06:32 PM
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I've got 3 x 9 Deore drivetrains on both my chubby MTB and my 700c touring mutt. Both are Trek Cro-mo frames (an 830 and a 720 respectively) from the early 1990s. Cold setting the rear triangles was a snap with a homemade jig that was nothing more than a piece of threaded rod with four washers and two nuts on each end. I put woodworkers clamps over the bridges and then installed my jig in place of the axle with a double-washer and a nut on each side of the dropout. I loosened the outside nut a half turn at a time and then tightened the inside nut until I was a few mm wider than I needed, then released the tension and measured the OLD. When I got past 132.5 I stopped. That way you can snap in a 135mm hub with very little difficulty, but if you for some reason wanted to use a 130mm, you still could. This is more of a deal with the 700c frameset but the 132.5+ a little on the 26" frameset works great and the wheel pops in and out easily with just enough frame tension to keep it from dropping out until you are ready.

I like 3 x 9 for touring as you can keep decent high gears and still have lots of climbing ability under load. It's getting harder to find touring triples with 48T big rings, but they can be found. The 44T MTB cranks work but you definitely will want an 11T cog in back.

IMHO, the rigid, cro-mo MTBs from the late 1980s early 1990s are about the most versatile framesets ever made. One of the advantages to using 26" wheels for touring is that every hardware store in every small town in America will have at least a couple of 26" tires and tubes if you get into trouble in the boonies. 700c can be harder to find in small rural towns.
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Old 05-13-16, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Wilfred Laurier
A small correction - 'gear inches' does not mean how far it will roll per pedal stroke, but refers to the wheel size that would give the same ratio with direct drive... the term originated in the 1800s when chain-driven bicycles started replacing direct-drive bicycles like penny farthings. I guess people were used to 'larger wheel = more speed' as is the case with penny farthings, so geared bicycles were marketed as being equivalent to a penny farthing with wheel as tall as the number of gear inches.
Um.. I took my "definitional understanding" from wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gear_inches

Then again...whatever.
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Old 05-13-16, 07:45 PM
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So, the butterfly handlebars will go onto a mountain bike fairly easy. The brakes and shifters on a straight handle bar go onto butterfly bars pretty easily. Drop bar shifter/brakes are a little harder (but not impossible) to fit onto butterfly bars. So... in that respect, an older mountain bike would be a good choice.

I will also say it takes a little while and effort to get the position of the butterfly bars set up. They don't follow the same rules as normal bars. But it's my opinion that once you get them set up, they are awesome for touring.
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Old 05-13-16, 07:48 PM
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Originally Posted by jforman
Let's assume you can get the DB to fit your body satisfactorily. Let's also assume that we are talking about a DB Ascsnt EX (7 speed rear cog as opposed to Ascent which only had 6). I am also assuming that you are able to do modifications to bicycles. You could use Nashbar trekking handlebar
Nashbar Trekking Mountain Bike Handlebar
with some shims to attach to your existing stem. You also could move the brake and gear shift to the new handlebar (may need shims)
A problem is the the fork does not have attachment points for a rack. Again they could be fabricated.
If this does not scare you off, then your lowest gear (inch) 24.0 and your highest gear is 95.1
So you have to decide if you want to go ahead with an ascent ex franken bike or look for a new bike. Do not concern yourself with the weight of the final touring bike in that they are all heavy. ~30+ lbs.
Your correct - It's the EX with 7 cogs and no attachment points for rack on front fork. I can't do any of the work myself and would need to have it done at the LBS. After taking it out again for another ride to figure out how I loved this bike when I got it and for a few years after and now it feels so little to me I realized I am comfortable on it if my hands are all the way out to the end of the extensions when cruising. Now knowing that, I realize I can't have the trekking handlebar on it because they will actually shorten the reach rather than duplicate or extend it. I was happy after doing a few hills with the gearing. I don't think that would be a problem at all. So the only issue with it is getting someone to make attachment points for a front rack.... or get a new bike as you said.
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Old 05-14-16, 01:08 AM
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Originally Posted by elizwlsn
Your correct - It's the EX with 7 cogs and no attachment points for rack on front fork. I can't do any of the work myself and would need to have it done at the LBS. After taking it out again for another ride to figure out how I loved this bike when I got it and for a few years after and now it feels so little to me I realized I am comfortable on it if my hands are all the way out to the end of the extensions when cruising. Now knowing that, I realize I can't have the trekking handlebar on it because they will actually shorten the reach rather than duplicate or extend it. I was happy after doing a few hills with the gearing. I don't think that would be a problem at all. So the only issue with it is getting someone to make attachment points for a front rack.... or get a new bike as you said.
You could also just get a new front fork that has rack/fender eyelets.

The gears on a LOADED touring bike re usually a LOY lower than the gears on a unloaded bike. You can always add the weight you intend to carry to a bike and then try riding it up hills that are similar to the ones you think you'll find touring. That way you'll have a lot better idea if your gears are low enough.

Cheers
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Old 05-14-16, 08:39 AM
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Again consider: P clamps sold at hardware stores or

P-Clamps for Fender Attachment - Racks, Decaleurs, Accessories - Accessories

These may make your frame attachments for racks much simpler. You will have to try the assembly loaded with weights to make sure it holds up, but because you are limited to a relatively low poundage because of effects on steering, tis may solve the issue.
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