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difference between touring and road bike?

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difference between touring and road bike?

Old 03-28-11, 08:25 PM
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albireo13
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difference between touring and road bike?

I'm researching my first road bike purchase. I've been eyeing a Cannondale Synapse Alloy 6. However, I'm getting a bit confused. I've talked with a few folks who strongly recommend a steel frame bike for our roads here in NE.
This is for road biking ... and day trips. No racing or speed biking in mind.

I'm reasonably fit and active ... am 55 yo and 185lbs, 5'-11". I also have had chronic lower back problems ... disc related. This makes me nervous for trying a road bike, with a lower dropped handlebar.

Anyway, I'm thinking of a more relaxed road bike. Comfort of the ride is more important than best speed. So ... I'm intruiged about the differences between road bikes and touring bikes and am soliciting all advice and doing more research.

Thanks for your patience with a newb.

Rob

Last edited by albireo13; 03-28-11 at 08:31 PM. Reason: add comment about bad back
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Old 03-28-11, 08:49 PM
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CNY James
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touring bikes tend to have longer chainstays.
touring bikes tend to have a more relaxed or upright geometry.
touring bikes tend to have less aggressive gearing.

If you're looking new, maybe see if you can find a Surly Long Haul Trucker or a GT Peace Tour (I like this bike a lot)
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Old 03-28-11, 08:50 PM
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You may want to check out Rivendell bicycle works, depending on how much you were looking to spend.
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Old 03-28-11, 08:57 PM
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Synapse is a great bike. Almost bought one but settled on a caad9. A touring bike is a road bike. I think pretty much anything with drop handlebars and skinny tires would be considered a road bike. With flat bars they tend to call them hybrids. Touring bikes tend to have longer wheelbase for stability, mounts for racks and probably a different geometry but I've not really looked into them. I don't think the synapse would be considered a touring bike (though you could tour with it) but it is a road bike. It falls into the "endurance" category meaning it's supposed to be a bit more comfortable for longer rides. A race oriented bike would have a shorter wheelbase and shorter headtube resulting in a more aggressive riding position. Based on what you said you don't want that.

There are other bikes like the synapse. I also rode the specialized secteur and that one might have an even taller headtube but I never checked the specs. It just "felt" more upright.

Steel is supposed to be more forgiving on rough roads. Aluminum bikes are sometimes called harsh as they transmit a lot of vibration. However, lots of AL bikes out there and the technology is getting pretty good. The synapse is a good example of that as is the secteur and I'm sure others.

Can't help much on the specifics of touring bikes, but best thing to do is ride as many different bikes as you can and pick the one you like.
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Old 03-28-11, 09:05 PM
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Since you can change your position by moving the seat around and changing the stem, I'd consider one of the biggest differences with a touring bike is that you can put wider tires on, which most people consider more comfortable.
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Old 03-28-11, 09:06 PM
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Oh, one more thing. I have a herniated disc in the lower back (43 yo, 6'3" and 195 so a bit similar) and was worried about the road bike riding position as well. I did a fair bit of research and what I found is that the flater the back the better. Think of it this way, if you sit straight up and the seat keeps pounding into your butt that is transmitted right to the spine. If you are bent over some then you spine acts more like a shock absorber (think leaf springs in a car). I found this to be fairly true so far. I tend to hunch when I ride and that causes some muscle pain but when I remind myself to ride with more of a flat back I feel better. I've also found that my back pain is in the muscles which I think means they need to strengthen and the more I ride the better they seem to get. For what it's worth, I bought a "race" bike simply because I liked riding it.
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Old 03-28-11, 09:09 PM
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Don't forget about Ti bikes too. They are very strong and much more forgiving than Al. Maybe not as much as steel but they are much lighter. They can be a bit pricey too.
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Old 03-28-11, 09:24 PM
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Here is the difference between my touring and road bike - well now anyways.
Road Bike - Carbon Frame - Carbon Fork - No Eyelets - curved geometry - gearing (34/50 - 11x28) - Brifters - Caliper Road Brakes
Touring Bike - Aluminum Frame - Chromo Fork - Front and Rear rack eyelets - Standard Shape - gearing (30/42/52 - 11x28) - Bar End Shifters - V-Brakes

Can you figure out which one is which? Lol
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Old 03-29-11, 06:35 AM
  #9  
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A true touring bike is designed to be ridden while heavily laden. Just like an empty heavy duty van (I have a 1 ton capacity van) bounces around when it's empty and rides "normally" when loaded with 2000 pounds of stuff, 250 pounds of gas, and 600 pounds of bench seats, a real touring bike will be extremely harsh when unladen.

When fully laden they will ride like a dream.

A touring bike designed to be ridden unladen is typically a "sports touring bike". They kind of got started when people started doing "credit card tours" where you have two changes of clothes that fit in a small bag and a credit card. You do laundry every evening, ride all day the next day. That's what I see the OP riding. It usually has a slightly longer wheelbase (due to longer chainstays), taller bar position, etc.

Both are "road bikes", i.e. 700c wheels, rim brakes, forks designed for roads but not off road (like a hybrid, kind of).

I know at least two very strong riders that due to neck problems cannot ride dropped bar bikes. They both have high end flat bar bikes, and one did one of the echapes (do a Tour stage) in a pretty reasonable time (close to a former pro's time, a guy around here).

hope this helps
cdr
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Old 03-29-11, 06:48 AM
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Well I've had both ruptured and herniated discs in my lower back. Am constantly having back issues. But pretty much never on the bike. I have 3 different road bikes, two with about a 3 1/2 inch saddle to bar drop and one that is pretty much even. I've done my century on one of the bikes with the lower bars and had no back issues. My neck and shoulders hurt some but that was bad form.
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Old 03-29-11, 07:01 AM
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Everything is pretty well covered here, but I will add one issue that might help you, especially with your back problems. Bigger, lower pressure tires can be of benefit to you. Many touring bikes allow for much larger tires, I would recommend not less than 32c to start, and a tire pressure of around 65 or 70 lbs. That is instantly going to soften the ride of whatever composition bike you finally decide upon.

+1 on the upright geometry of touring bikes. This will also help you, along with riser bars or even moustache bars. I just put some Nitto moustache bars on one of my road bikes and am really digging it. You end up stretched out over the bars, but you don't have to drop down nearly as far as with conventional road drops. You might try it, or just go with risers.

In any event, good luck and keep riding!
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Old 03-29-11, 07:30 AM
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I want to add a conflicting observation to what many are saying here. I found the more upright cushy ride of a full suspension MB to be painful to my lower back. For some reason the road bikes don't bother me at all. Not really sure why this is but that has been my experience. I can even get on the road bike on days when I've aggravated my back and get relief during the ride. Can't give a medical reason why but that is how things work for me.
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Old 03-29-11, 07:59 AM
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Whatever you get, it helps to have someone help you with the fit/adjustments. A bike you pull off the rack could be made to work a lot better with a different stem or longer steer tube. Some of us have fit issues that don't allow us to be in an aggressive position. I like the bars almost level with the saddle, for example.
Don't forget there are also a lot of different shapes of bars, not to mention saddles.
You might have to keep trying things to find what works.
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Old 03-29-11, 09:50 AM
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If you're looking at the Synapse and want a more upright ride, look at the Cannondale Quick carbon too.
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Old 03-29-11, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by jamesdak View Post
I want to add a conflicting observation to what many are saying here. I found the more upright cushy ride of a full suspension MB to be painful to my lower back. For some reason the road bikes don't bother me at all. Not really sure why this is but that has been my experience. I can even get on the road bike on days when I've aggravated my back and get relief during the ride. Can't give a medical reason why but that is how things work for me.
It conflicts with most advice given around here, but it's not unheard of, and I wish I could find the thread from another member who ended up lowering his bars even more to alleviate back pain.

Whenever I'm on an upright bike, especially the shared bikes here in DC, every bump at the rear wheel seems to shoot straight up my spine. On my road bike, bumps "rock" me forward. No matter what bike I'm sitting on, a bump through the seat pushes against my hips; it's how the rest of my body is positioned that makes the difference.
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Old 03-29-11, 11:48 AM
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Oh, to add to the touring vs. road bike stuff --

I think half the reason to use longer chainstays is to reduce heelstrike when you're carrying panniers on a rack.
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Old 03-29-11, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
It conflicts with most advice given around here, but it's not unheard of, and I wish I could find the thread from another member who ended up lowering his bars even more to alleviate back pain.
I cannot it up straight on a bike for any distance and just about every bike I ride has a forward position whether it has drop bars, trekking bars, or flat bars.

I have a chronic pain condition that was caused by an injury at my L5 and suffered nerve damage and have issues with load bearing activities like walking and standing but can still ride some good distances regularly and this serves as therapy to alleviate pain and keep me in the best shape possible.

Cycling is a great activity for many people with lower back issues as it does not stress the joints and spine as much as other activities and improves cardio and tones muscles... anyone with a serious back problem probably knows how hard it can be to maintain decent muscle mass and tone.

For distance riding I prefer a set up with my bars (top) level with the saddle or with a small drop as I can move forward and back and can spend a good amount of time in the drops which are not as low as they are on my racing bikes.

Steel has a lot of good things going for it as it is light, strong, and is great for people who are not counting grams and there are uite a few decent steel road bikes out there in every category.

Sound like you are the kind of person that might like a Surly LHT if your riding is going to take you out on longer more leisurely rides and something like the lighter and slightly more aggressive Crosscheck if you want something a little lighter that can still handle wider tyres and carry a decent amount of gear.

If I did not already have the perfect touring bike I'd build my own but if I was shopping the LHT is a pretty nice deal... like a true touring bike it will not ride as nicely unloaded as it does loaded and running wider tyres and lower psi can really smooth out the ride.

Also have a number of friends who have Kona "Jake" cross bikes that they use for touring and randonneuring... cross bikes evolved from touring bikes and can be an excellent all rounder with a better ride than a full on touring bike.
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Old 03-29-11, 12:48 PM
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It'd be worthwhile to ride/test bikes with different handlebars. It may well be that you'll actually benefit from being stretched out a little and having your back muscles act as shock absorbers. Wider tires will also act as shock absorbers. There's a noticeable difference between 23c and 25c tires; 28c's should fit into many frames.

You might want to visit a few shops and tell them what you're looking for. Shops will tend to recommend what they have in stock, so just listen to what they have to say - and ride/test if possible - and build knowledge re what will work best for you.

Eyelets are good for mounting full coverage fenders. If you plan on riding in less than ideal weather, eyelets are probably a desirable feature.
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Old 03-29-11, 01:16 PM
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I agree with CDR, for day trips you do NOT need a touring bike; that is just adding unnecessary weight. Consider a bike with a rando or relaxed geometry (Specialized Secteur or similar). If you have serious back issues then skip the diamond frame altogether and get a recumbent.

A strong comfortable frame can be made from any material, don't let that guide your decision. People go with steel on a touring bike primarily because it's reparable in 3rd world countries (steel is easy to weld; Ti & aluminum is much harder & requires special equipment).
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