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Clue Me on a Decent Bike for GDMBR?

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Clue Me on a Decent Bike for GDMBR?

Old 01-11-17, 06:18 AM
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Clue Me on a Decent Bike for GDMBR?

For me, the GDMBR would be an awesome bucket list route. If I were to do that next year, it would be quite the achievement for me. So I wonder what would be a decent bike to get for that trip? I already have a Surly Long Haul Trucker - and I love it - but its not truly a mountain bike, nor do I think that I would care for touring the GD loaded with panniers and racks such. I could really use some schooling on what would make a nice bike and gear setup. Would a 26" mountain bike, or 29er, or what? I'll admit that I'm not fully up on MTBs. Help?
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Old 01-11-17, 08:01 AM
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Did the Great Divide last summer. You could probably do the whole thing on a cyclocross bike if you were determined. The racers generally use rigid frames and 1.5" - 1.75" tires.

That said, front suspension is a good idea, as are wide tires. Frame material isn't that important, and rear suspension is a luxury most do without. Tire tread probably isn't as important as tire width. The trail isn't often technical, and where it's bad, it's unavoidably bad. You'll need to roll over obstacles, not steer around them. Your biggest nemeses will be washboard and sand. So you want a bike that provides a smooth, easy ride, not necessarily one that's nimble. When it comes to tires, bigger is better.

How you want to pack might affect your decision. If you don't plan on using a rack, you don't need eyelets. No matter what your setup otherwise, I recommend using the largest frame bag possible, and packing it as much as possible with all the heaviest stuff. Having most of the weight in the center of the bike makes it feel like a whole 'nother bike. I'd rather have a well-balanced cheapo than a poorly-balanced top-of-the-line bike.

If I were to do it all over again:
Traditional mountain bike frame (probably aluminum)
29" x 2.5" tires
Front suspension, not rear
Brooks Flyer saddle, to simulate rear suspension
LARGE center triangle, purely for the ability to use a large frame bag

Or maybe a fat bike, with no suspension. If your LHT can fit 29" x 2.2" or 26" x 2.5" tires, it could be enough!
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Old 01-11-17, 08:58 AM
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I've ridden 2/3 of the route (its a long term project).

We did meet a guy doing it on a disc trucker, it seemed to be working well for him.

I agree with the previous poster, although I personally would recommend at least 2" tires, but it has been done many times on thinner tires. I think the sweet spot might be 3" tires, to get a little suspension from the tires, but I haven't tried it out.

An older hard tail mountain bike that can take panniers would be good. Suspension would be nice in some places but not strictly necessary. In retrospect, my old long wheel base steel Stumpjumper would be ideal.

We used panniers, because we are retrogrouches and because we wanted the greater packing capacity. In 2015 we ran in to some very bad weather and were happy to have the equipment to deal with it. Some of the bike packers seemed to be cutting it pretty close with the minimalist equipment approach.

It is a great route, lots of fun, physically demanding but not technically difficult. Go for it!
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Old 01-11-17, 09:29 AM
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It's on my bucket list too. Anything about drop bars vs flat bars? Would you go without fenders?
Would a 28-36 low gear be enough? I wonder if I can get smaller than 26 on that crank.
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Old 01-11-17, 09:33 AM
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Look at the plus bikes with 29" wheels. 3" tires, usually without rear sus. Sometimes front sus. Check out the Surly Krampus.
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Old 01-11-17, 10:03 AM
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Have you actually toured yet? I remember you bought the LHT but don't remember touring.

I'd start by doing a tour and honing your gear to see the comfort/lightness level that works for you. Then you'll be able to determine what you need to carry, and then the bicycle that will carry it.


BTW: Plenty have done the Great Divide on an LHT.
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Old 01-11-17, 10:15 AM
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Krampus with a front suspension would be awesome. Not much clearance for front suspension though.
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Old 01-11-17, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by BigAura View Post
Have you actually toured yet? I remember you bought the LHT but don't remember touring.

I'd start by doing a tour and honing your gear to see the comfort/lightness level that works for you. Then you'll be able to determine what you need to carry, and then the bicycle that will carry it.


BTW: Plenty have done the Great Divide on an LHT.
I have not actually toured yet, no. This is all conjecture and stuff for future reference for me. I lust for adventure, and it seems that the GD would be just the trip for me. I'm no stranger to long backpacking adventures though, so gear and tents and meals and all that are no mystery to me. As a member of the AMC, I've spent time working on trails and such.

When I was a kid, the availability of bikes and gear made the choices simple. Forty years later it seems like the whole world of bikes has opened up. This is just conversation and research for me, and I'm happy that you've chimed in!
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Old 01-11-17, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by NoControl View Post
I have not actually toured yet, no. This is all conjecture and stuff for future reference for me. I lust for adventure, and it seems that the GD would be just the trip for me. I'm no stranger to long backpacking adventures though, so gear and tents and meals and all that are no mystery to me. As a member of the AMC, I've spent time working on trails and such.

When I was a kid, the availability of bikes and gear made the choices simple. Forty years later it seems like the whole world of bikes has opened up. This is just conversation and research for me, and I'm happy that you've chimed in!
Cool. Get this one.

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Old 01-11-17, 10:44 AM
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@NoControl, Disclaimer...I haven't done any of the GDMBR. I have studied the route in the past and I hope to ride at least some of it one day.

It looks like most mountain bikes, touring bikes, and CX bikes can handle the route. For me I can choose between my 26" tired mountain bike or my beater/touring bike. Of the two I suspect the mountain bike to be the better choice.

The mountain bike has a rear rack installed for panniers, 1.9" tires, and a front suspension. The touring bike currently has 37 mm tires, a rear rack, and a rigid fork...the lack of a suspension fork isn't a factor and if I didn't have the mountain bike already, it would be a viable selection.

Unless you have the hots for a mountain bike, the LHT would be a great choice.

Brad
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Old 01-11-17, 11:50 AM
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I'd probably start by looking through what the competitors of the Tour Divide race rode (if you click on their names, they have their bike listed): Race Tracker | Tour Divide
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Old 01-11-17, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
I'd probably start by looking through what the competitors of the Tour Divide race rode (if you click on their names, they have their bike listed): Race Tracker | Tour Divide

I saw several of them on or at the start of the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway in Montana (a paved portion of the route) in both 2014 and 2016. Some cool looking setups. But as mentioned above, some of them looked to me extremely minimalist. Not something I think I could do.


BTW....That tracking site is neat. Did you notice the one guy who only made it 17.9 miles? Makes me wonder what happened to him. Crash? Massive mechanical failure?
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Old 01-11-17, 01:17 PM
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My son and I did 4 days on the GDMBR last summer on mid 80's non-suspended mountain bikes with front and rear racks and panniers. I had a number of experiences touring on roads with 4 panniers but the off road riding was new and for me it was a whole different experience and seemed quite a bit harder.

We had 1.75 and 2" tires and I would not even attempt it again with anything less than 3" and most likely a full fat bike mostly for the suspension affect as well as sand/mud. I have no issue using racks and panniers but as in our case it made it easy to take too much stuff. My personal preference would be 26" wheels for the strength but 29" wouldn't be a problem.

It was most likely due to the altitude combined with too much weight but even if you are a seasoned road tourer be prepared for something completely different. I was little more than 6 weeks removed from a wonderful 2 week road tour in Austria and Germany and the 4 days on the GDMBR beat the heck out of me.
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Old 01-11-17, 01:50 PM
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I'd like to do it one day.

There seem to be a ton of wonderful plus-tire bikepacking rigs on the market right now. Marin Pine Mountain, Surly ECR and so on.

I noticed the ACA website encourages suspension and even suspension seat posts but discourages nylon pivots. They also mention trailers, I suppose like a BOB.

If you don't want to be minimalist there's now this monstrosity

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Old 01-11-17, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by BigAura View Post
Cool. Get this one.
Oooh! NICE!

Last edited by NoControl; 01-11-17 at 02:24 PM.
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Old 01-11-17, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by bradtx View Post
Unless you have the hots for a mountain bike, the LHT would be a great choice.
I have the hots for EVERY bike I see, Brad!
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Old 01-11-17, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
I saw several of them on or at the start of the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway in Montana (a paved portion of the route) in both 2014 and 2016. Some cool looking setups. But as mentioned above, some of them looked to me extremely minimalist. Not something I think I could do.


BTW....That tracking site is neat. Did you notice the one guy who only made it 17.9 miles? Makes me wonder what happened to him. Crash? Massive mechanical failure?
Great site, thanks for the link!

I saw what that one of the riders finished on one of these Santa Cruz Highball 29 ...and now that I've seen it, I am IN LOVE.

FWIW, I have in my stable an older Gary Fisher, and a Trek 950. Either would be suitable for an offroad tour... but I'd really love to have a new bike with a front suspension.
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Old 01-11-17, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
I'd like to do it one day.

There seem to be a ton of wonderful plus-tire bikepacking rigs on the market right now. Marin Pine Mountain, Surly ECR and so on.

I noticed the ACA website encourages suspension and even suspension seat posts but discourages nylon pivots. They also mention trailers, I suppose like a BOB.

If you don't want to be minimalist there's now this monstrosity

BIG
FAT
DUMMY!

I'd love to have one, but for riding the snow here in the winter to stay in shape. Still, I wonder if the regular dummy with 3" tires would be a decent ride? I'd imagine that the long wheelbase would gobble up potholes and rain ridges like nothing. Would it even need a front suspension? Hmmmm...
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Old 01-11-17, 08:18 PM
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This bike thus it all, now 500$ discount
Salsa Marrakesh Flat Bar Deore - www.joe-bike.com
Unbelivebel price on a premium bike like that!
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Old 01-12-17, 06:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
I'd like to do it one day.

There seem to be a ton of wonderful plus-tire bikepacking rigs on the market right now. Marin Pine Mountain, Surly ECR and so on.

I noticed the ACA website encourages suspension and even suspension seat posts but discourages nylon pivots. They also mention trailers, I suppose like a BOB.

snip . . .
This is on my bucket list. I think a plus sized MTB with a rigid fork makes a lot of sense for this kind of a trip but it would be a close call whether to have a suspension fork or not. Still if going rigid, I'd want to be able to fit a pretty fat tire. I have a friend who just did it on the Salsa fargo but said he would not have minded a bit larger tire.
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Old 01-12-17, 06:39 AM
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The more I study it, the more that I am convinced to get a 29er. That Santa Cruz Highball 29 looks great!
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Old 01-12-17, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by NoControl View Post
BIG
FAT
DUMMY!

I'd love to have one, but for riding the snow here in the winter to stay in shape. Still, I wonder if the regular dummy with 3" tires would be a decent ride? I'd imagine that the long wheelbase would gobble up potholes and rain ridges like nothing. Would it even need a front suspension? Hmmmm...

Don't forget the Bob trailer to pull behind, what the heck 2 Bob's hooked together in tandem.

Way off topic--- I was looking at electric assist and Rad Cycles sells an electric assist cargo bicycle for under $2K. inc. shipping, unassembled. and somebody did an electric assist Bob conversion.
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Old 01-12-17, 10:58 AM
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Surprised the Salsa Fargo hasn't been mentioned. It was designed for the GDMBT. I have one, live in Colorado, and this summers bucket list is to do Colorado on the trail north to south one weekend at a time until I get it done. Ive done some other bikepacking on the fargo including the white rim and the Mickelson, with 2.4" tires it handles the rough stuff pretty well.
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Old 01-12-17, 03:57 PM
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Need to mention to our Rolhoff fan the Fargo now comes with the split rear dropout for belt drive stuff.
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Old 01-12-17, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by jdswitters View Post
Surprised the Salsa Fargo hasn't been mentioned. It was designed for the GDMBT. I have one, live in Colorado, and this summers bucket list is to do Colorado on the trail north to south one weekend at a time until I get it done. Ive done some other bikepacking on the fargo including the white rim and the Mickelson, with 2.4" tires it handles the rough stuff pretty well.
It's on my short list. It comes stock with 2.2 inch tires; I didn't know it can handle 2.4.

This might be even better with 650b since it can handle 3 inch at that point. The VO piolet can handle 2.4 as a 29er and a larger tire with 650b.
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