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Are road bikes much faster than touring bikes?

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Are road bikes much faster than touring bikes?

Old 08-21-15, 01:57 PM
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Kertrek
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Are road bikes much faster than touring bikes?

I've been looking at both bike styles, road and touring, considering eventually getting both. I'm just wondering, are road bikes significantly faster than road-style touring bikes, to warrant getting both bikes? Or the difference isn't that vast?
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Old 08-21-15, 02:05 PM
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Touring bikes a designed to carry heavy loads..





Road bikes are shorter and respond Quickly for acceleration .



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Old 08-21-15, 02:05 PM
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You probably want to define what you mean by "significantly faster". Is 1 MPH significant? Are you trying to crush your PR on hills? Put the same rider on an unloaded quality touring bike and a CF road bike and you would probably be measuring the differences in fractions of MPH. Over a race course, that makes a big difference, but in practically every other situation, it's insignificant unless you are chasing Strava KOM or something. I'd say buy the best touring bike you can rather than splitting your $ between two similar bikes.
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Old 08-21-15, 02:15 PM
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While there are certain features that can make a substantial difference in speed, such as one's choice of tires and how the bike is set up (you can't average high speeds while sitting upright; there's just too much wind resistance to allow that), there's really not a whole lot of difference in how fast one can ride a road bike versus a touring bike over a reasonable distance. For example, when I was a wee bit younger I rode a double century on a touring bike (Trek 720) in less than eight hours. The only two bikes ahead of me were a professional rider drafting a quad. I did use some nice campy wheels with high quality sew-ups, which probably saved me some time. The tiny bit of extra weight my steel steed had over a wonder bike is about the same as a couple of water bottles and some fruit in a pocket, so I think it is irrelevant.

If I were you, I would first get myself a do-it-all bike, also known as a touring bike. Don't get something that's made from water-pipe and dead like a LHT, but get a nice-riding bike that can handle panniers and fat tires (lower rolling resistance, ftw). Consider a cyclocross bike. Later, if you feel the need, go ahead and get a "Sunday Bike" for those all-out efforts on group rides and events.

For what it's worth, I never did get that Sunday bike. Instead, I got a couple of tandems and ride a lot more with my spouse than I otherwise would have.
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Old 08-21-15, 02:29 PM
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When you are on the flat and level, probably 90 percent of your effort goes into fighting wind resistance and tire rolling friction. Thus, the bike and frame (other than tires) really is a small part of the "speed" of the bike.

Tire friction will vary a lot with tire selection, a loaded touring bike has a much more robust tire to carry the load and reduce flats but such tires are slower.

I have two sets of wheels for my LHT, one set has 37mm wide touring tires for carrying a load on heavy duty rims, the other set is lighter weight rims and 25mm wide high pressure supple smooth tires that roll very easily. With my 25mm tires, my LHT on the flat and level is probably not much slower than a carbon race bike.

But, put the race bike on hills against my LHT and the LHT will be far behind.

Also, perception and feel is quite different between the touring bike and road bike. If you are not going to carry a load, the touring bike will not be as enjoyable to ride. Your question was about speed, but you should also factor how the bike feels to ride.
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Old 08-21-15, 02:49 PM
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Sensible replies so far.

The other thing to consider is that touring bikes come in many types. There are light tourers that will handle modest loads, and expedition tourers that will go anywhere with you and 60lbs of gear. The former, equipped with light wheels and skinny tyres, will rival the performance of a decent road bike. The latter, not so much.

Years ago I used to commute 16 miles to work. When I took the 26lb touring bike plus a pannier containing a laptop and clothes, the outward journey took me around 65 minutes. When I took the 18lb road bike, unencumbered, it took about five minutes less. Had it been hilly and/or traffic free, the difference would have been greater. Only you can decide whether that is significant to you.
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Old 08-21-15, 02:52 PM
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Some years ago I rode up Alpe d'Huez as part of a group that mainly had high-end road bikes. I was riding my Cannondale T700 touring bike (unloaded, of course :-) Many of those on road bikes were quite envious of my low-range gears when all was said and done.

I agree with MN Tourist: get a good touring bike and a second set of lighter wheels. Unless you plan to do expedition touring, get a "sport touring" bike that will do fine for most touring loads, but also ride nicely unloaded. I have a Co-Motion Nor'wester Tour, which has full braze-ons and I can tour on, but it's also a fine bike for normal around-town riding. It feels plenty fast for me with 36-spoke wheels with Ultegra hubs and Continental 700x28c tires. My old Cannondale was also really nice for riding unloaded (stiff and responsive), but also rode great when loaded.

Don't get something like a Co-Motion Pangea or Americano, which are full-on, long-distance touring bikes, and expect them to be as lively and responsive as a "regular" road bike.

A more racing-oriented road bike will likely feel more "alive" when you ride it. It's hard to explain, but try it and you'll see. It's not just about weight, but also about geometry and tubing variations. Touring bikes, even sport touring bikes, generally have a much more compliant and predictable ride. A road bike will skew toward faster handling and much more stiffness. There is a trend to road bikes that have more comfortable seating position and angles (so-called "event bikes" because people buy them for charity rides and the like); these are somewhat like the old "sport touring" bikes that were popular in the 1970s and 1980s.

Unless you know you are going to do a long-haul trip, if you want one do-it-all bike, I'd get a good sport touring bike. If you ever decide to do an expedition type trip, find a used LHT and ride that for the trip.

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Old 08-21-15, 03:13 PM
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I was looking at this bike from REI, the Novara Randonee
Novara Randonee Bike - 2015 - REI.com

Or maybe this Fuji touring bike from Performance Bike
Fuji Touring Road Bike - 2015
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Old 08-21-15, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Kertrek View Post
I was looking at this bike from REI, the Novara Randonee
Novara Randonee Bike - 2015 - REI.com

Or maybe this Fuji touring bike from Performance Bike
Fuji Touring Road Bike - 2015
Either one is a good choice. Fuji has been building bikes for decades and the Randonee really improved over the last couple of years.

I've used my touring bike as a distance rider and speed over distance compared to my road bike is pretty darn close. The touring bike isn't quite up to fast pace line riding as the weight, primarily in the heavier duty wheels and tires, will hold it back some when accelerating. Frame geometry on a touring bike is engineered for stability so fast left/right transitions are slower than a road race based frame.

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Old 08-21-15, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
If I were you, I would first get myself a do-it-all bike, also known as a touring bike. Don't get something that's made from water-pipe and dead like a LHT, but get a nice-riding bike that can handle panniers and fat tires (lower rolling resistance, ftw).
Although I don't expect to ever carry even 20 pounds, I have been seriously considering an LHT. I want something significantly more stable than my Trek 1200, and with a triple chain-ring.

I'm not certain that the analogy is valid, but decades ago I bought a BMW motorcycle for its relaxed/stable handling rather than its load capacity. I still ride BMW motorcycles. No, they're not as responsive as a Ducati, but they are a good fit for me. Is there an equivalent bicycle?

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Old 08-21-15, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by engineerbob View Post
Although I don't expect to ever carry even 20 pounds, I have been seriously considering an LHT. I want something significantly more stable than my Trek 1200, and with a triple chain-ring.
But the LHT is made from water-pipe, dude! Actually that's an urban myth debunked here. www.lht-is-not-water-pipe.com
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Old 08-21-15, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
But the LHT is made from water-pipe, dude! Actually that's an urban myth debunked here. www.lht-is-not-water-pipe.com
I doubt that anyone believes that the LHT is made with water-pipe. Poster #4 labeled the bike as "dead." That may mean that it is not "lively", a term that gets very close to "twitchy." So be it.

Alan: I actually clicked on the link that you provided. The joke is on me.

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Old 08-21-15, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by engineerbob View Post
I doubt that anyone believes that the LHT is made with water-pipe. Poster #4 labeled the bike as "dead." That may mean that it is not "lively", a term that gets very close to "twitchy." So be it.

Alan: I actually clicked on the link that you provided. The joke is on me.

Bob
Yeah, me too. But it got me looking and there's actually a really good explanation of the LHT's tubing and construction here
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Old 08-21-15, 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by engineerbob View Post
I doubt that anyone believes that the LHT is made with water-pipe. Poster #4 labeled the bike as "dead." That may mean that it is not "lively", a term that gets very close to "twitchy." So be it.
Twitchy is more of a front-end geometry issue, typically meaning that the bike in question has less trail than what one is used to.

The deadness I was referring to is at the rear triangle. Some bikes feel like they steal the pedal input. I think this stems from an overly stiff rear triangle that doesn't deflect much with the power stroke so that when the pedals approach the top of the stroke there is no return of power. It feels a bit like pushing a wall. A rear end that flexes a bit will return some of the power stroke as the pedals go over the top and feel more lively. Some folks call this "planing".

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Old 08-21-15, 10:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Cyclosaurus View Post
it's insignificant unless you are chasing Strava KOM or something. I'd say buy the best touring bike you can rather than splitting your $ between two similar bikes.
I tend to agree, esp with current availability of cool (but often pricey) touring features. For the price of a carbon road bike one could buy a custom titanium touring frame.

I see lots of tubby old geezers on the bike path pedaling carbon road bikes incl Cervelos & most of 'em are going pretty slow, not even as fast as the daily commuters on heavier bikes. & weight of a rider with carbon road bike is only going to be max 10% heavier than rider w/production steel tourer.
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Old 08-21-15, 10:47 PM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
Road bikes are shorter and respond Quickly for acceleration .


Love that pic! Took the Indianapolis Speedway tour that was awesome; had no idea one could take bike inside.
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Old 08-21-15, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by DropBarFan View Post
Love that pic! Took the Indianapolis Speedway tour that was awesome; had no idea one could take bike inside.
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Old 08-22-15, 01:24 AM
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Originally Posted by engineerbob View Post
Although I don't expect to ever carry even 20 pounds, I have been seriously considering an LHT. I want something significantly more stable than my Trek 1200, and with a triple chain-ring.

I'm not certain that the analogy is valid, but decades ago I bought a BMW motorcycle for its relaxed/stable handling rather than its load capacity. I still ride BMW motorcycles. No, they're not as responsive as a Ducati, but they are a good fit for me. Is there an equivalent bicycle?

Bob
Lots and lots of them. Any touring bike (you don't have to go as heavy-duty as an LHT) will have a longer wheelbase and more trail, therefore more relaxed handling characteristics than a racing geometry road bike.
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Old 08-22-15, 03:55 AM
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I was curious about this myself last week, so I did a few rides on my two bikes, first one is a 2015 Kona Sutra (steel road touring bike with 32C tires) and the other a custom carbon fibre Ultegra Di2 equipped road/cycloross bike with 28C tires.

2015 Kona Sutra averaged 27.8km/h
Carbon Fibre Road/Cyclocross averaged 30.1km/h

2.3km/h is not really that much of a difference when touring, but when riding in a group its very noticeable. if your riding in a hilly area though the difference between climbing on a 8kg bike and a 15kg touring bike is huge. I hope this helps.
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Old 08-22-15, 04:51 AM
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I like a bike to "feel" fast even it's not... or at least it makes no difference in the bigger picture of wind, hills and long days in the saddle.
That's why I run Gatorskins pumped hard, it feels like I'm going much faster than with say SMP's

That and a yellow TdF jersey of course
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Old 08-22-15, 05:31 AM
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Originally Posted by azza_333 View Post
I was curious about this myself last week, so I did a few rides on my two bikes, first one is a 2015 Kona Sutra (steel road touring bike with 32C tires) and the other a custom carbon fibre Ultegra Di2 equipped road/cycloross bike with 28C tires.

2015 Kona Sutra averaged 27.8km/h
Carbon Fibre Road/Cyclocross averaged 30.1km/h

2.3km/h is not really that much of a difference when touring, but when riding in a group its very noticeable. if your riding in a hilly area though the difference between climbing on a 8kg bike and a 15kg touring bike is huge. I hope this helps.
Will your carbon bike wheels fit in the steel frame? If so, that would have been an easy way to test both bike frames with the same tires. I am sure that someone will say that one set of wheels will be much faster than the other, but I think that is minor compared to the difference in tires.

I have found average speeds to not be the best comparison because if you ride an eighth of a mile and slow down or stop for a traffic intersection, then speed up and slow down again, and again, and again, you spend a lot of time accelerating at slower speeds and some time braking. At those slower speeds you are not really testing the two bikes against each other.

Several years ago I did several rides on my LHT with 37mm wide touring tires and several more rides with 25mm fast supple tires. The average time was about 3 percent longer with the slower tires (instead of measuring average speed, I measured time to ride the 20 mile route), but the rare times when I could get up to higher speed and hold that speed for several minutes I was maybe 10 to 12 percent faster on the faster tires.
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Old 08-22-15, 06:25 AM
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I've got a heavy tourer and a light TT. Great combo to fit the ride and/or the mood. The TT is used mostly for local rides, the tourer(slightly more comfortable)for long hauls. As for speed, the TT is the faster climber/accelerator, but otherwise, both about the same. If I could only keep one, it would be the tourer for its versatility.

FWIW, I run 28s on the tourer, geared to 18", 23s on the TT, geared to 25".
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Old 08-22-15, 07:19 AM
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If you got someone else carrying all your stuff..
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Old 08-22-15, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Cyclosaurus View Post
Yeah, me too. But it got me looking and there's actually a really good explanation of the LHT's tubing and construction here
Huh?
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Old 08-22-15, 08:27 AM
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Lean them both against a wall and see which one moves, on their own, first ..
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