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Which bike should I take on a fully-supported tour?

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Which bike should I take on a fully-supported tour?

Old 04-27-15, 12:06 PM
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Which bike should I take on a fully-supported tour?

So I've got a short notice tour setup for next week. Nothing that I was able to train for. It's going to be (at least, probably more than) 425 miles over the course of 7 days with 21,000+ feet of climbing. It will be my first multi-day tour and the climbing is at least double a day what I've done in the past. Not to mention, its going to be 4-6000 feet elevation, where I'm used to riding around 500 feet elevation.

This is a fully supported tour with days of 50-100 miles a day. The long days will be flatter, the shorter days will have 4-5000 feet of climbing a day.

So I've got two bikes, one is a 19lb carbon road bike with 25mm tires and a compact double with 11x28 gears in the back. The other is a steel touring bike, probably 27 lbs, can take 25 or 28mm tires (has 28's on it right now) triple crank with 11x32 in the back. It's heavier, but has much easier climbing gears.

So if I hit a steep, long climb (which I will on a few days) on the carbon bike, its hard work. Same climb on the steel bike is much less work as I can kick in the granny gears and sit back and spin up the hill. But on a flatter course, the carbon bike takes less energy overall to do the same ride as the steel bike.

I'm also going to be coming down out of these elevations as well with some possible long descents. The carbon bike has rim brakes, the steel bike has mechanical disc brakes. I'm 275 lbs by the way.

The tour is *supposed* to be a relaxed pace, but I know several of the riders are bringing their fast carbon bikes. The tour leader has explicitly said he wants it to be slower and if the lead group does 16+ mph pace, they will outrun the rest stop/SAG trucks and have to fend for themselves.

On my carbon bike, I'm usually in the 16-18mph average range. On the steel bike, I usually go between 12-15 mph just because I think of it as my "smell the roses" bike, meaning its much easier for me to go slower on that bike.

I'm tossed up on which one to bring for this ride. Anyone been in a similar situation and have input to offer? Thanks in advance.
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Old 04-27-15, 12:10 PM
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Triple crank for me.

Make sure your small chain ring is a 24 T.

I did this with a 50-42-30 Crank Set 11-32 cassette.
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Old 04-27-15, 12:13 PM
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You need the gearing on the steel bike.


You answered your own question: "So if I hit a steep, long climb (which I will on a few days) on the carbon bike, its hard work. Same climb on the steel bike is much less work as I can kick in the granny gears and sit back and spin up the hill".

Given your relative lack of fitness for this endeavor, you need to be able to pace yourself and spin a decent cadence. If you try to push a big gear, because your lowest gear is still to big, you'll be burning matches early and often. At best, this will lead you to struggling to finish each day. At worst it will put you in the Sag wagon, or with knee damage after a few consectutive days of it.
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Old 04-27-15, 12:16 PM
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Gears. Go with the easier gears. You're 275 lbs. Do you really think that 8 lbs of frame is going to hurt you more than tougher gears?
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Old 04-27-15, 12:22 PM
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I was leaning towards the light bike until you mention the disc brakes on the touring bike. Get some fresh pads on the touring bike and take it. You are going to be slower, a little, but safer.
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Old 04-27-15, 12:26 PM
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Another vote for the lower geared unit.
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Old 04-27-15, 12:50 PM
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You're going on a tour, you have a touring bike, and you're asking which bike to ride? I'm from Euless, I know what terrain you have in DFW so you're going to be hurting on climbs regardless of what you ride. And at 275lbs I wouldn't be taking a carbon bike on a week tour. Or a day tour, but that's just me.
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Old 04-27-15, 12:58 PM
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Thanks for the responses. They concur with what I'm thinking.

Although, the tour leader is suggesting the carbon bike and saying a heavy touring bike has caused problems for others in the past.

I'm not sure if he means like a fully loaded, multiple bags, down tube shifter, big tires, 35 lb kind of deal, but that's what I'm bringing. Mine is basically setup like a road bike as of today.
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Old 04-27-15, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Lazyass
You're going on a tour, you have a touring bike, and you're asking which bike to ride? I'm from Euless, I know what terrain you have in DFW so you're going to be hurting on climbs regardless of what you ride. And at 275lbs I wouldn't be taking a carbon bike on a week tour. Or a day tour, but that's just me.
So, its not a self-supported tour, but a fully-supported one. We carry nothing on the bikes. Basically making it seven consecutive group rides versus a true, pack your own chit and a tent tour where a touring bike is needed.

I'm fortunate enough to live in a hillier area of DFW than Euless. Not hard to get 2,000 feet of climb on a ride in my neck of the woods, but still significantly different than doing 5,000 feet of climb at a higher altitude, I'm sure.

Not sure what to say about the day tour comment
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Old 04-27-15, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Jarrett2
Not sure what to say about the day tour comment
I was just talking about a 275 pound rider on a carbon bike. You're way over Specialized's weight limit for a Roubaix.

https://service.specialized.com/colla...0037057_r1.pdf
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Old 04-27-15, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Lazyass
I was just talking about a 275 pound rider on a carbon bike. You're way over Specialized's weight limit for a Roubaix.

https://service.specialized.com/colla...0037057_r1.pdf
Ah. I assumed that you would have known that those limits are pretty low in reality. There are riders well over 300 lbs riding several different makes of carbon bikes routinely without problems. That's not what this thread is about.
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Old 04-27-15, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Jarrett2
I assumed that you would have known that those limits are pretty low in reality.
You're 35lbs over but ok.
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Old 04-27-15, 01:23 PM
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So I assumed incorrectly. Point taken, no need to derail.

Anyone else have experience they'd like to share?
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Old 04-27-15, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Jarrett2
So I assumed incorrectly. Point taken, no need to derail.

Anyone else have experience they'd like to share?
BTW, were do you find climbs in DFW? Just curious.
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Old 04-27-15, 02:21 PM
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Moving this to Touring (from Road Cycling) as per OP's request.

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Old 04-27-15, 03:00 PM
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I have done tours like this with double compact (50x24) and a 28t on the back. Personally, I would take the lighter bike. Gearing is decent--and it's lighter. In the end though, it depends on your personal fitness level. And don't worry about how fast others are riding.
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Old 04-27-15, 03:08 PM
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I think the elevation portion of the ride is being overlooked. 5k really isn't too bad if that's as high as you get, but if you climb from 5k to 7k... well, 7k is different.
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Old 04-27-15, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by intransit1217
Another vote for the lower geared unit.
+1 on this.

16 mph is for folks who want to "get there", tours are for folks who enjoy going
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Old 04-27-15, 04:01 PM
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What will typical grades be? 6% max? Can you make that for 10-15 miles at a time on the carbon bike's gearing?

At about your weight, I'd want something with low gears (maybe 25 gear inches) by the fourth day. On the first day, you might not notice, but after a few days of cumulative fatigue, you will. The overall weight difference (you plus bike) will be about 3%, but without knowing what your little chainring is I'd bet the triple is much more than 3% lower gearing.

Make sure you pack a camera. Halfway up the grade, when you need a break, pull over and get the camera out. People passing will worry about you, and you'll have to wave them on, unless you're waving a camera around. Then they'll think you meant to stop.
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Old 04-27-15, 04:42 PM
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With a triple and an 11-32 you should have some decent high gears for going down the hills if you're riding an unloaded bike I don't know how much 8lbs of difference is going to make over the course of a day. I would take whichever bike is more comfortable to ride for a whole day. If you don't have luggage to carry you can take off your racks for this tour.
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Old 04-27-15, 04:47 PM
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When in doubt bring your granny with you. This is a real sea change from the kind of riding you normally do so take the bike with the gearing that will be easier on your knees. You don't have recovery time between days.
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Old 04-27-15, 04:52 PM
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it's pretty tough to make a choice until after the ride is over. but, no matter which way you go, you'll wonder whether or not you've make the best decision, low gearing or light bike, after a couple of good climbs.
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Old 04-27-15, 05:10 PM
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Jarrett2, I have two bikes similar to yours and for this time of the year, I'd take the touring bike because of the gearing.

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Old 04-27-15, 05:36 PM
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The situation you describe seems ideal for the touring bicycle. I vote for the steel.
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Old 04-27-15, 07:04 PM
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Suggest the bike that has a stronger wheel set .
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