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Touring bicycle dilemma for long distance rides

Old 01-26-18, 04:31 PM
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Touring bicycle dilemma for long distance rides

So I'm having a dilemma when it comes to figuring out a touring bicycle.

I'm working off of a college budget so money isn't as abundant as I would like. I also realize a proper steel frame touring bike can cost roughly a thousand dollars brand new. I've heard from the biking community that I should be able to find one via eBay or craigslist for nearly half that for a used touring bike. I can't seem to find one. The ones I do find are still close to 900$ when they are originally 1100$ brand new. To me, I might as well buy new at that point.

Do I spend all the money I saved up on a thousand dollar bike? Should I wait to see what could potentially pop up? I would like to spend close to 500 for a quality bike and still have some cash left over. Is there any buying options I'm not aware of that this is possible?

I know it is a lot but any info would help. I'm a complete novice when it comes to bicycles. I'm hoping to do across the country someday but in the meantime use it for recreational and commuting.

Also is bicycle blue book a good resource to use in reference to what is a good price for a bike or not?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 01-26-18, 04:59 PM
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Look for a used Trek 520. Not outrageous new, and a solid touring bike.
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Old 01-26-18, 05:05 PM
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Depends on too many things. What kind of touring? credit-card, supported, unsupported and fully loaded? weekends, weeks, months? Weather? How close to civilization? Any bike will work for touring if you don't have to carry stuff. if you need to carry stuff you had best save at least a few hundred for racks and bags.

How about tools and spares? Will you need them? Will you need cooking and camping gear?

A "touring bike" is a bike you take on a tour. if you have full support you can tour on a unicycle.
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Old 01-26-18, 05:06 PM
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I wouldn't get hung up on getting a steel bike. Just watch CL looking for a good-condition $500 relaxed-geometry drop-bar bike that can mount (or better includes) racks, has suitably low-gearing, and can mount tires up to 32mm or so.

I don't recommend BikesDirect.com bikes for novice, but a lot of folks tour on these with good results:

Save Up to 60% Off Touring Bikes | Commuting | Commuter Bikes | Windsor Bikes - Tourist

Another thing to keep in mind is that asking prices for used CL bikes are, in general, way too high. Most of these bikes don't sell. If you're patient, fairly-priced bikes appear, but you have to be ready to move on them.

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Last edited by markjenn; 01-26-18 at 05:10 PM.
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Old 01-26-18, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Macman11393
I'm working off of a college budget so money isn't as abundant as I would like. I also realize a proper steel frame touring bike can cost roughly a thousand dollars brand new. I've heard from the biking community that I should be able to find one via eBay or craigslist for nearly half that for a used touring bike...
Used bikes can offer significant cost savings. But you need to do your homework. Figure out what size frame works for you. Determine what attributes are important to you -- e.g. shifter type, brake type, etc. And be ready to pounce when an appropriate bike turns up.

You may even want to explore "non-touring" options. Some rigid mountain bikes and hybrids have touring-friendly geometries. Those types of bike tend to sell cheap on the used market and drop bar conversions don't have to be expensive, especially if you don't absolutely have to have brifters (integrated brake/shift levers).

Originally Posted by Macman11393
Do I spend all the money I saved up on a thousand dollar bike? Should I wait to see what could potentially pop up? I would like to spend close to 500 for a quality bike and still have some cash left over. Is there any buying options I'm not aware of that this is possible?
There are guys (and gals) on these forums who've helped a bunch of people find bikes. We like browsing. To help us get started, share some info -- especially what size bike to look for and where you're located.

Originally Posted by Macman11393
Also is bicycle blue book a good resource to use in reference to what is a good price for a bike or not?
No, it's a horrible reference for pricing. I don't know if they pull their numbers out of a hat or what, but it wouldn't be much more inaccurate if they did.

Even if there was a sorta-accurate pricing reference, keep in mind that pricing can vary WILDLY from location to location. A bike that goes unsold for weeks at $200 in my rural neck o' the woods could sell quickly for twice that price in NYC.
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Old 01-26-18, 05:34 PM
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If you have an REI nearby consider one of these if they have it in your size:

https://www.rei.com/product/109579/c...es-adv-11-bike

(consider it if it's still on sale at $778)

It's a heckova deal, ready to go, 1 year warranty, and you get a free tune up. With REI you can order it, pay for it, and if you don't like it you can get a refund within one year.

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Old 01-26-18, 06:24 PM
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And if you're not near an REI, or if you find the paint impossible to stomach, even though you'd hardly see it while riding(!), consider timing. When do you need the bike? If you're in the Northern portion of the globe, you can perhaps wait for your local used market to deliver what you want at the price you want to pay.
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Old 01-26-18, 07:03 PM
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Why would you need steel for touring? Modern aluminum is hydroformed and modern geometries are much better, you get similar comfort. adn the weight limit is not the frame, but the wheel. Unless you take 100 pounds or luggage and/or weigh 300 pounds teh frame won't be an issue either way.

If you plan to tour, I assume you know how to fix a bike. Someone mentioned above a bikesdirect bike wouldn't be for a novice. I can tell you assembly is very easy and quality is superb for the price compared to LBS. basically just install handlebar, front wheel and maybe adjust derailleur.
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Old 01-26-18, 07:34 PM
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You can tour on just about anything, and in many cases attach racks even on bikes without mounts so if you're on a tight budget I'd say get what is comfy and economical for you. That being said in most places you can find decent older touring bikes for a few hundred or less on craigslist or here. Even on ebay. But you might have to know what to search for, as they often won't be labeled 'touring bike' depending if the seller knows much about it. Like the Trek 520 mentioned prior, or my fav tourer the Schwinn Voyageur, Miyata 1000, and many more. I gave $250 for my Voyageur, I forget how much for shipping, but after getting nice racks, bags, kickstand, fenders, new wrap, and a few other odds and ends I still put a grand or so into it. Of course you don't have to buy fancy hand made English bags or import tubus stainless steel racks, but remember for a real tourer you'll need to set some dollars aside for front/rear racks, panniers, maybe a seat or handlebar bag, tools, better seat, etc.
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Old 01-26-18, 07:38 PM
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I just picked up a 1989 Cannondale ST600 touring bike off ebay for $175. Yes, it's almost 30 years old, but is in fantastic condition. A few rubber parts replaced and a little strategically-placed fresh grease and it will be good as new.

There are bargains to be found, patience is key. I've been looking for several months, but I had no set time when I needed the bike so I could keep looking without feeling like I *had* to buy something.
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Old 01-26-18, 07:49 PM
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Bikeography ? Tom?s Bike Trip
- i like this guys website. he's toured on the bike he had. pricier full suspension. overkill expedition bike. and a no budget bike.
- i personally tour on a circa '90s Rock Hopper somebody gave me for free. I've since spent a few hundred bucks on it.

cheers.
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Old 01-26-18, 10:01 PM
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Macman...Where are you located? I have a used Trek 520 for sale. Well within your price range and in excellent shape.
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Old 01-27-18, 12:47 AM
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Originally Posted by MAK
Macman...Where are you located? I have a used Trek 520 for sale. Well within your price range and in excellent shape.
I live close to the Chicago area. How about yourself?
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Old 01-27-18, 12:49 AM
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Originally Posted by HerrKaLeun
Why would you need steel for touring? Modern aluminum is hydroformed and modern geometries are much better, you get similar comfort. adn the weight limit is not the frame, but the wheel. Unless you take 100 pounds or luggage and/or weigh 300 pounds teh frame won't be an issue either way.

If you plan to tour, I assume you know how to fix a bike. Someone mentioned above a bikesdirect bike wouldn't be for a novice. I can tell you assembly is very easy and quality is superb for the price compared to LBS. basically just install handlebar, front wheel and maybe adjust derailleur.
Everything I have read said to go to steel so I'm glad that is not the case and my options have grown. I think the heaviest I would carry at a given time would be around 35 pounds. and I weigh about 200. This still shouldn't be a problem.
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Old 01-27-18, 12:51 AM
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Originally Posted by tyrion
If you have an REI nearby consider one of these if they have it in your size:


(consider it if it's still on sale at $778)

It's a heckova deal, ready to go, 1 year warranty, and you get a free tune up. With REI you can order it, pay for it, and if you don't like it you can get a refund within one year.
That is a great deal but it does not come in my size. I'm 5'10" and they are out of larges.
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Old 01-27-18, 12:53 AM
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Originally Posted by SkyDog75
Used bikes can offer significant cost savings. But you need to do your homework. Figure out what size frame works for you. Determine what attributes are important to you -- e.g. shifter type, brake type, etc. And be ready to pounce when an appropriate bike turns up.

You may even want to explore "non-touring" options. Some rigid mountain bikes and hybrids have touring-friendly geometries. Those types of bike tend to sell cheap on the used market and drop bar conversions don't have to be expensive, especially if you don't absolutely have to have brifters (integrated brake/shift levers).



There are guys (and gals) on these forums who've helped a bunch of people find bikes. We like browsing. To help us get started, share some info -- especially what size bike to look for and where you're located.



No, it's a horrible reference for pricing. I don't know if they pull their numbers out of a hat or what, but it wouldn't be much more inaccurate if they did.

Even if there was a sorta-accurate pricing reference, keep in mind that pricing can vary WILDLY from location to location. A bike that goes unsold for weeks at $200 in my rural neck o' the woods could sell quickly for twice that price in NYC.
I'm 5'10" so I believe that puts me in at 56cm for the height. I live near the Chicago area (about an hour and a half away) I'd prefer something more like a touring or road bike than a mountain bike. Color and how it looks doesn't matter but quality and functionality does.
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Old 01-27-18, 01:03 AM
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Another solid bike is the Miyata 610. (Early '80s on) I commuted on one for 20 years and 25,000 miles. Touring geometry, set up for cantilever brakes (and mine came with older Shimanos - very good, in fact so good they moved immediately to my custom).

Ben
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Old 01-27-18, 01:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Macman11393
I'm 5'10" so I believe that puts me in at 56cm for the height. I live near the Chicago area (about an hour and a half away) I'd prefer something more like a touring or road bike than a mountain bike. Color and how it looks doesn't matter but quality and functionality does.
Thé thing about old steel hybrid and mountain bikes is that they are actually quite similar to modern touring bikes. They typically came with 21 speeds with a nice low gear that is suitable for touring, and with mounts for fenders and racks. And best yet, they are a dime a dozen in the used market. I built a touring bike for a friend from a late 80s Bridgestone CB1 hybrid, and he loved it.

Besides those, old Japanese and Taiwanese road bikes (including bikes made for European brands such as Bianchi) can make good bases for a touring bike. As long as they have a long wheelbase and clearance for fenders, they can be set up to do just about anything.
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Old 01-27-18, 02:06 AM
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Do you ride now? What kind of bicycle do you ride? Where are you planning to tour? USA, Europe, Africa, South America? On road, off road, pavement, gravel, dirt?

What kind of bicycle are you looking for? 26" wheels, 650b wheels? 700c wheels (and 29er wheels)? Drop bar? Flat bar? Butterfly bar?

How many miles are you expecting? I suppose if you're in college, a good bike could last you 50 years.

What models of bikes are you looking at?

I've done a lot of riding on my old road bike. A few mini-tours. But, more commuting, and day trips (although I can go quite some distance in a day). It does feel a bit flexy in the rear end when heavily loaded . But, I'd still take it anywhere.

Anyway, make a MUST HAVE list:
  • Frame (Steel, Aluminum, Titanium, Carbon Fiber)
  • Wheels: 26", 650b, 700c, 29er, 27"
  • Tire size (as part of the above), 25mm, 28mm, 32mm, 35mm, 40mm, 1.75", 2", 3", 4.25"
  • Brakes: Caliper, Disc, Canti, V-Brake
  • Bars: Flat, Butterfly, Drop, something else?
  • Gearing: 1x, Double, Triple front, rear sprockets, etc
  • Front and rear rack mounts?
Answer those questions. Then look at the list again, and look at what you could substitute. For example, disc brakes might be nice, but do you really need them? Canti or V-Brakes might be much easier to find on the used market.

Likewise, 650b is growing in popularity, but 26" and 700c (roadish) are far more common.

Then start hunting. This time of year, you may be able to snag a few year end closeouts. At least worth looking at.

Here are a couple of threads you might find interesting:
Show Your Vintage MTB Drop Bar Conversions
Show Us Your 650B Conversions
2017 Inexpensive Tour Bike (and tour) Build contest!

I'm working on a touring/utility bike build now. Hopefully to finish in a week or two. I found a Jamis Coda (older chromoly non-suspension hybrid) a while ago for $50 which is the basis for the build. However, to a large extent, it will just be a frame donor. I'd use the wheels, but I found some better ones, I think.

Truthfully, when I finish the build, she'll be $500 more or less, depending on some final component choices, tires, racks, and gear.

Don't forget the GEAR!!!

But the bike should be able to climb walls LOADED, should be able to move fast if empty, and won't be quite what one can find anywhere on the market. And, part of the fun will be putting together MY BIKE, rather than just accepting something off the shelf.
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Old 01-27-18, 07:33 AM
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One decision you need to make is are you going to carry everything on your bike or will you pull a trailer. If you dont like the idea of a trailer, possibly you should consider a trike. A trike has 3 wheels to spread the load out on. You probably would have far less wheel problems. And-------------sitting in the upright position, you would see far more of the country you are traveling thru. Just saying.
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Old 01-27-18, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Macman11393
I live close to the Chicago area. How about yourself?
Here is a killer 56cm touring bike for $480. That's actually an outstanding price for a mint vintage Trek touring bike with a Reynolds 531 tubeset. I'd rather have it than any modern bike. If I lived there I would be on my way to pick it up right now.


https://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/b...444263451.html

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Old 01-27-18, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Macman11393
Everything I have read said to go to steel so I'm glad that is not the case and my options have grown. I think the heaviest I would carry at a given time would be around 35 pounds. and I weigh about 200. This still shouldn't be a problem.
For comfort on long rides you need relaxed geometry, good fit and good saddle, grips etc. Also relatively low gearing compared to road bikes (imagine long climb with luggage). Obviously you need to decide if drop or flat bar is more your thing.

The wheel should have brass nipples, be well-built, double-butted spokes (DTSwiss or similar) and at least 32 spokes in rear at your weight. If you have a look at the clydesdale forum, they talk about 36 spokes etc.,(I mention that because their bikes carry more weight than you + luggage). You also can tour safely with less, I'm over-engineering things here, this is how I would do it if i would get a new wheel - i don't go ahead and change my existing wheels unless they break. On touring you typically don't do curb-jumps and other youtube-worthy MTB stuff, you are just rolling, rolling and rolling.

Look at the touring forum. I toured a bit in Europe with tent etc. and just used the bike I had without thinking of any of the above and it was fine.
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Old 01-27-18, 08:57 AM
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I'd be looking for a 54 at 5'10". Unless you have a really long torso and need the extra top tube length.
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Old 01-27-18, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Lazyass
Here is a killer 56cm touring bike for $480. That's actually an outstanding price for a mint vintage Trek touring bike with a Reynolds 531 tubeset. I'd rather have it than any modern bike. If I lived there I would be on my way to pick it up right now.
Really nice looking machine. I'd probably cold-set the reat end and drop that half-step gearing, ( I have a Tiagra triple with Hollowtech BB which will thread right in) and paint it ,.,, and then just ride it.

If it is 1986 ... I Think that was two years before 130-mm spacing was universal, but it would have 700c wheels so the brakes would work.

Throw a rack on it, add some lights ....

And ... it has front rack mounts .... I am glad it isn't closer to me or I'd have to buy it and then I'd have to explain to my wife.

The OP says 30 pounds of gear max, so this one is almost too good for him ) ) ... what a bike.

If he is serious he seriously needs to buy that.
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Old 01-27-18, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Macman11393
So I'm having a dilemma when it comes to figuring out a touring bicycle.

I'm working off of a college budget so money isn't as abundant as I would like. I also realize a proper steel frame touring bike can cost roughly a thousand dollars brand new. I've heard from the biking community that I should be able to find one via eBay or craigslist for nearly half that for a used touring bike. I can't seem to find one. The ones I do find are still close to 900$ when they are originally 1100$ brand new. To me, I might as well buy new at that point.

Do I spend all the money I saved up on a thousand dollar bike? Should I wait to see what could potentially pop up? I would like to spend close to 500 for a quality bike and still have some cash left over. Is there any buying options I'm not aware of that this is possible?

I know it is a lot but any info would help. I'm a complete novice when it comes to bicycles. I'm hoping to do across the country someday but in the meantime use it for recreational and commuting.

Also is bicycle blue book a good resource to use in reference to what is a good price for a bike or not?

Thanks in advance!
You've got some great responses and an abundance of riches in regards to Trek 520s!

You mention a college budget are you in school now? I saw you mentioned this would also be a commuter, which if that's the case I would recommend you save enough to buy a beater bike for that use.

Others have hinted at it and I'm curious as well - what exactly will you do with this? Do you have a bike now?

If you're not going to be doing over night self supported touring for a few years, then I would go for something more modern and 'sporty'. I have a LeMond zurich that I have probably $400 into after purchase. It's from '96 and has really nice components. I have a larger under seat saddle bag and have no problems doing centuries on it. Heck it even has a braze on pump peg and two water bottle mounts. Reynolds steel frame and carbon fiber fork plus 25mm tires make the ride awesome and stiff when you put some power down.

What I'm getting at is are you really wanting to throw down the hundreds of dollars for panniers and bags for the Trek 520 or whatever "touring specific" machine now? Accessories haven't even been mentioned like purchasing bike clipless pedals/shoes, helmet, clothing. Then extra tubes, tire, bike floor pump, mini pump for mounting on the bike, patches. Etc etc!
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