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Hello! First Tour, terrifically terrified

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Hello! First Tour, terrifically terrified

Old 06-27-15, 09:10 AM
  #1  
ryanscottdavis
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Hello! First Tour, terrifically terrified

UPDATE: Tour Over. It was a blast! Thanks!

Hello! I am new to this forum (sorta, I mean who doesn't just snoop around for years without posting...), and wanting to introduce myself.

I'm 29 years old, 6'5", 175lbs, and getting ready to start a cross country tour. I just had a number of large life events happen all at once (end of a relationship, no place to live, loss of employment), so I figure now is the best time to jump on a bike and just go. I'm starting Maine and heading West, with no goal or real end in sight (seems more exciting).

I have experience with backpacking and stealth hammock camping, so I feel comfortable there. What I don't have is a proper touring bike. Most of my bikes are built-up 70s Fuji frames, with a few really nice hand-built frames from the 90s (Stowe racing frames with no eyelets). So I need to buy a new bike, always exciting.

I'm tall (6'5"), so I do like to get as big a frame as I can. I like 64cm. Part of me wants to get a new Rivendell Hunqapillar or Bruce Gordon, but I can't wait the months it would take to get it ordered, I have to hit the trail ASAP (or loose my mind).

So my first thought was to get a Surly LHT (or Disc Trucker), slap some racks/panniers on it, get a dynamo hub for lights and phone charging, and get the hell out of dodge. That was all well and good until my LBS guy showed me the Surly ECR, damn! That thing looks awesome! I've only ever been a roadie/single-speed commuter, and the idea of adding an off-road-touring-beast-of-a-bike to the stable sounds fun! But I will be on pavement for my first 2000 miles on the East Coast/Middle of America, before I can get out to the glorious west, and I'm fearful of riding Knards on pavement. Also I have no idea what 3" tires would feel like for that many miles, how often I'd have to replace the tires, or if it'd even like it!

Last edited by ryanscottdavis; 12-01-15 at 02:11 PM. Reason: Truths have changed
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Old 06-27-15, 09:39 AM
  #2  
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Knards , that a body part?

... If a tire, just bring a 3rd one along..
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Old 06-27-15, 09:43 AM
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NY to LA



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Old 06-27-15, 11:17 AM
  #4  
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With no goal and no end in sight, go for it. Heavy, slow, but it'll take you 'bout anywhere. With a load. Damn sure geared low enough if you can balance at 2 mph. Add aerobars and take a nap while pedaling.
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Old 06-27-15, 01:00 PM
  #5  
ryanscottdavis
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Knards , that a body part?
Knards are 29er+ tires

They come stock on the Surly ECR
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Old 06-27-15, 01:07 PM
  #6  
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Why not take a couple of small trips first to see how you will like it? You can look for a job in the meant time.

Speaking of which, how do you plan to pay for this little adventure? I hope you have savings that you can dedicate to pay for the trip.
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Old 06-27-15, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
NY to LA
Great photos, looks like you had a great time! I'm thinking going the Northern Tier route to the Great Divide, plenty of trees. I've always wanted to check-out Texas, but maybe mid-summer isn't the best time to do that.
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Old 06-27-15, 01:27 PM
  #8  
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
Why not take a couple of small trips first to see how you will like it? You can look for a job in the meant time.

Speaking of which, how do you plan to pay for this little adventure? I hope you have savings that you can dedicate to pay for the trip.
Yeah, that's part of my plan. I'm going to tool around Maine, then into the White Mountains (southern New Hampshire) and the Green Mountains (Vermont), into the Adirondacks. I'll get a good feel for big climbs and lots of camping. I like to jump into things head first and see how they pan out. I have some money saved up to get all my up-front gear, with a few extra bones saved for food and the expected emergencies. When I'm really gone for months at a time, I'll bring my laptop (I know, I know...) as I'm a freelance web developer, so I can work remotely in coffee shops, peoples homes, laundry mats, you name it.
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Old 06-27-15, 01:45 PM
  #9  
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That bike is nuts for what you are trying. You can do the whole trip which I gather is a trans-am great divide link-up on 1.5 inch tires. That would be the sweet spot. 3 inch tires are laughable. Classic touring bike is a 29er, it just doesn't run stupid size tires that have no place in what you are doing. It isn't that large tires are some space age innovation, it is that they are stupid in almost all situations. Those things only make sense if you are not only off road, but off trail or path.

I have a lakeside property and up the road a piece the road is near the shore. I see this guy riding along the beach on huge large marge tires. First time I saw the rig. The beach is soft in places and very bouldery in others, and not a place to ride a bike, but this guy just trucked along at moderate speed never diverting. We got home in time to see him wiz by our place. And while we don't need any more trespassers breaking up the soft sandstone ledges around here, it was impressive for what it was. But a road or path trip it was not.

Under the right conditions a toruing bike just sails along a beautiful smooth road, and you have a huge feeling of freedom, you can go anywhere, stop anywhere and you are in command of a conveyance that would only be more efficient if you were a fish. Why screw the whole thing up with some advertising twaddle from Surly. This isn't the first bike they built, and there is a reason for that. It's a brand extension for someone with a cattle ranch in Australia, or who wants to spend a few hours testing certain limits in a bog.

The advice I give myself is that while I enjoy all kinds of crazy cycling ideas (I want a 69er touring bike with double front brakes), I remember to keep it real for when I get out there. The road does not care about the latest crap dreamt up to suck money out of someone's pocket who will never get out there, while they are stuck on a subway somewhere reading a catalog. Stick with the basics. There is somewhere where 3 or 4 inch tires would be the basics for some trip, that just isn't the trip you described.

Last edited by MassiveD; 06-27-15 at 01:57 PM.
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Old 06-27-15, 02:15 PM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post
That bike is nuts for what you are trying. You can do the whole trip which I gather is a trans-am great divide link-up on 1.5 inch tires.
+1

The Surly LHT is a very popular economical touring choice. It's hard to go wrong with LHT provided it fits you. A DT adds disc brakes at the cost of about 4 additional pounds to the complete bike. Having owned both, it is a noticeable weight increase to the unloaded bike.

A compromise is to get a LHT, ride it a lot, then if dissatisfied with braking swap in a geometrically-identical DT fork, disc capable front wheel and mechanical disc brake. This will provide ~75% of the (mostly wet weather) braking advantage of the DT for 50% of the additional weight. If you get a 64cm LHT in black, then the DT fork would color-match if you decided to get one several years later.

WRT wheels on a LHT/DT, know that you will not roll any faster on 700c(28") than 26" once loaded. I think a 64cm will probably look better with 28" wheels. However, 26" wheels (with rubber) are usually a little stronger/longer-lived and lighter than 28", and you can fit a wider 26" tire on a LHT vs 28" for off-road use(2.1"/53mm vs 42mm tires WITH fenders).

Finally, if you get a LHT/DT, be sure to get one with an uncut (350/400mm 700/26) fork steerer tube. Since you seem to be in a hurry, if you buy a Complete LHT, then inquire regarding steerer tube length before transaction so you'll know what you're getting. Framesets are sold with uncut steerer tube, but some of the Completes sitting on the LBS floor have had a bit of the steerer tube cut off for appearance sake.

Last edited by seeker333; 06-27-15 at 03:23 PM.
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Old 06-27-15, 02:17 PM
  #11  
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I'd choose any of your current bikes for your planned trip over the ECR. The '70s Fuji's are likely to have enough clearance for full fenders and some moderately wide tires. But even the Stowe should work fine for a long tour on almost entirely paved roads - plenty of racks are designed for attachment without eyelets and the others can still work fine with p-clips or other attachments.
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Old 06-27-15, 05:29 PM
  #12  
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If you like the ECR but want to meet in the middle, Look at the Surly Ogre. (awesome bike)
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Old 06-27-15, 06:29 PM
  #13  
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Disc brakes add 4 pounds on the Disc Trucker vs the LHT? Where did you get that from?
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Old 06-27-15, 06:58 PM
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Unless you're primarily off-road, 3" Knards are a lunky and unnecessary overkill.
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Old 06-27-15, 07:59 PM
  #15  
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I commute 16mi on my ECR. The first couple miles of my commute are offroad but the rest is highway. I probably put at least a couple thousand lightly-loaded miles on my 120-tpi Knards before the rear was wiped; Not bad service if you ask me but they are expensive and hard to find. I run them tubeless with Stans sealant. The Knards do catch a crosswind but other than that I don't feel that they are a big disadvantage. They do smooth out the bumps substantially.

There's no reason you can't run other tires on the ECR. I've done quite a bit of that with Racing Ralph/Nobby Nic. The ECR BB is already low so that's something to watch out for - not much of an issue on the road. I've even run 38mm road tires on my ECR.

I think the trick to ECR versatility is to get a rim that is not too extreme. I'm running ~25mm Bontrager Mustangs now because I like the tubeless system and had them on hand. They are really too narrow for a 3" tire but better than my Velocity Duallys that really suck tubeless. Find the right 35mm rim with a good tubeless system and the bike is pretty versatile.

One more thing.. I run my ECR single-speed so don't suffer chain clearance issues at all but Knards would keep you from running a triple up front if that is important to you. IIRC it even interfered with the top two cogs when I briefly ran it 2x8. The bike really wants to be SS or IGH when run with Knards.

Maybe the thing to do is decide what drivetrain you want to run. If you're going IGH pick the ECR, if not think seriously about getting vertical dropouts.

Last edited by Bug Shield; 06-27-15 at 08:14 PM.
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Old 06-27-15, 09:08 PM
  #16  
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I wouldn't worry quite so much about equipmen. I toured in the 80s on a departments store frankenbike. It did have a long cage rear derailler and big cogs in the back, and double eyelets on the plus side, 27 x 1 inch wheels, sidepull brakesand only a double crank on the minus side. Once I got right tires sorted, better brake pads, it served me well for long days in the saddle. I assume by your height/weight ratio you are already reasonably fit. You will get fitter as you tour of course.

There are old touring bikes out there if you look, though admittedly you need a larger size than most. There are other bikes that could be adapted. Cycle cross bikes could work as well.
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Old 06-28-15, 12:12 AM
  #17  
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The ECR is awesome, and your chosen adventure is awesome...but those two things don't go together. Don't start your cycle touring career with 2000 miles on the wrong bike.
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Old 06-28-15, 08:37 PM
  #18  
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Welcome to the forum. I would like to say two things.

First off, I agree with what others have said about bike choices. Those tires should be considered a novelty for very specific conditions (as in you live near a MTB trail that you ride often). For a tour you need to consider practicality. Bike shops with the gear and knowledge needed to repair that bike are few and far between and parts will be more expensive. Also, it limits your options for future tours. Europe, Latin America and Asia are unlikely to have any of the parts needed for an epic journey. In my research, 26" are a great balance. You can get a pair that are smooth in the center and rough towards the edges (sorry my terminology is non-existent) that will make road travel painless, but can still handle some reasonable off road sections. Plus, these tires/bikes are used worldwide which helps for repairs. I'm looking into a LHT 26" myself for my first tour.

Second, make sure you don't rush things and are doing it for the right reasons. I was in a similar mental state as you when I decided to tour and almost bought a ticket to Lisbon, Portugal the very night I found bike touring. Take a breather; the roads and trails will still be there if you delay your trip by a season. Ask your self what you want to see, how you want to travel, and why. Map our your travel with the weather patterns of the area/time of year. For example, I realized that starting in November in a foreign country was biting off a little much for my first tour. Since then I have decided to start in April and do an American tour first before landing in Europe the following Spring. When I made the decision to tour the phrase going through my head was, "**** it, I'm done". Now it's, "**** yes, I've begun". I guess what I'm trying to say is that it is important that you are riding towards something and not merely away from something. It will still be there when you get back; the trick is to have gained something to counteract it. Best of luck to you and your travels. Hopefully we'll cross paths on our respective journeys.
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Old 06-29-15, 07:54 AM
  #19  
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As someone who is considering trading in his LHT for more "go-everwhere" bike (a Troll in my case), I see the appeal of the ECR. But I have to agree that for 2000 miles of pavement, that's probably not anyone's first choice of bike. However, part of the appeal (for me at least) is the idea that just because you start out on pavement, you don't necessarily have to stay there. But at the very least, I would think you'd want something a little smoother than the Knards for your trip. I'd be tempted to look for routes that took advantage of the ECR's off-road ability, and maybe keep a set of aggressive treads in reserve until you get to those areas. For days on end of pavement, I think I'd want something smoother and lighter.

Of course it's hard to argue with any version of the Trucker for loaded, pavement touring. If you really do stick to pavement, it's a good way to go. If you really love the ECR and want to keep your terrain options open, that sounds fun to me, but maybe not on those tires.
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Old 06-29-15, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by RedandBlack View Post
When I made the decision to tour the phrase going through my head was, "**** it, I'm done". Now it's, "**** yes, I've begun".
Wait, I can't say ****? Well that's complete ****.
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Old 06-30-15, 08:20 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post
That bike is nuts for what you are trying. You can do the whole trip which I gather is a trans-am great divide link-up on 1.5 inch tires. That would be the sweet spot. 3 inch tires are laughable. Classic touring bike is a 29er, it just doesn't run stupid size tires that have no place in what you are doing. It isn't that large tires are some space age innovation, it is that they are stupid in almost all situations. Those things only make sense if you are not only off road, but off trail or path.

I have a lakeside property and up the road a piece the road is near the shore. I see this guy riding along the beach on huge large marge tires. First time I saw the rig. The beach is soft in places and very bouldery in others, and not a place to ride a bike, but this guy just trucked along at moderate speed never diverting. We got home in time to see him wiz by our place. And while we don't need any more trespassers breaking up the soft sandstone ledges around here, it was impressive for what it was. But a road or path trip it was not.

Under the right conditions a toruing bike just sails along a beautiful smooth road, and you have a huge feeling of freedom, you can go anywhere, stop anywhere and you are in command of a conveyance that would only be more efficient if you were a fish. Why screw the whole thing up with some advertising twaddle from Surly. This isn't the first bike they built, and there is a reason for that. It's a brand extension for someone with a cattle ranch in Australia, or who wants to spend a few hours testing certain limits in a bog.

The advice I give myself is that while I enjoy all kinds of crazy cycling ideas (I want a 69er touring bike with double front brakes), I remember to keep it real for when I get out there. The road does not care about the latest crap dreamt up to suck money out of someone's pocket who will never get out there, while they are stuck on a subway somewhere reading a catalog. Stick with the basics. There is somewhere where 3 or 4 inch tires would be the basics for some trip, that just isn't the trip you described.
A lot of wisdom here.
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Old 06-30-15, 08:45 PM
  #22  
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First thing is work into the budget taking a train or plane to Seattle and head south to San Diego. That map above through Texas, NM and AZ sounds like zero fun


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Old 07-01-15, 03:39 PM
  #23  
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RyanScottDavis:

You're putting too much thought into this, just get on a bike and go, you know what to bring, so go. None of us can tell you what's right for you, you need to learn from your experiences. My only advice is bring lots of tubes and a patch kit and a spare tire and don't get sucked into wasting money on fancy tires because they ALL get flats.

The way I see it, the cheaper the bike you ride the better, that way when it breaks and you can't find the parts you need to replace whatever you need to replace you can just leave the bike behind. You buy a fancy expensive bike now and you'll regret it later because it's guaranteed not to suit you fully. Also: don't even DREAM of breaking in a new Brooks type saddle on your tour and if you have no choice, well, better shave all the hair off your ass (with clippers, not a razor) cause it'll get pulled out or stuck inside saddle sores that WILL occur. Don't ask how I know, lol. On that note: bring a small tin of Bag Balm if you can find it; great for saddle sores.

Best advice ever, though: "Just go!". Touring is awesome. And keep us updated once in a while if you want. I need to tour vicariously right now

Last edited by TallTourist; 07-03-15 at 02:55 PM. Reason: My grammar is sucks
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Old 07-02-15, 12:53 AM
  #24  
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I always say don't focus so much on the bicycle but on the actual ride itself and things like camping equipment and other stuff like electronics, clothing, staying DRY and warm, keeping your sanity etc. You can tour on almost any bicycle so don't let something like 3 inch tires vs 2.1 inch tires distract you from the real purpose.

Originally Posted by TallTourist View Post
The way I see it, the cheaper the bike you ride the better, that way when it breaks and you can't find the parts you need to replace whatever you need to replace you can just leave the bike behind.
Best advice yet. I tour on Walmart bikes and just did a 480 mile on a Walmart tour on the C&O and Gap Trail. Didn't have a lick of problems. Also did a 2,000 mile tour in 2005 on one.. The way I look at it, the VERY WORST scenario if my Walmart bike breaks down on a tour, just buy another one. If you get the 2 year no questions asked replacement warranty for just a few bucks, that is even better.

Last edited by gpsblake; 07-02-15 at 12:57 AM.
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Old 07-02-15, 07:56 AM
  #25  
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I cant imagine wanting/needing something larger than 38s on a ride across the country. 38s seem to always get me across gravel, dirt, and grass without issue. But I haven't had the desire to ride on sand and in mudpits or wherever those tires are made to go.

Enjoy the adventure.
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