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Ideal chainstay length?

Old 01-18-17, 07:18 PM
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Long Chainstays better on MTB used on Pavement ..or loaded on gravel ..

Tested an Original 1st generation Stumpjumper .. climbing on a gravel road , shift weight back for traction, front wheel came up
shift weight forward to keep the wheel on the ground, and The tire spun out Gravel..

Now I have a Similar bike , on the street with studded tires it is nice and stable ..

'NORBA geometry' Brought in Shorter chainstays when Off road XC MTB racing took Off..





...
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Old 01-18-17, 09:23 PM
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Chainstay length, even for a tourer, can be a trade-off. Is this bike going to be ridden "light"? Long chainstays negatively affect handling when light. Now, heel strike doesn't work. But it can often be negated with a different rack or moving the panniers back. Yes, weighted panniers pushed back is less than ideal. But longer chainstays to get the panniers/weight further back is doing some of the same thing.

The longer wheelbase will help when you are seated but out when of the saddle, having the weight further back sucks. If it is back for heelstrike, the blame is on your heels. (I have to keep my handlebars far forward or higher than optimum to keep my thighs from hitting them hard climbing out of the saddle. I too have body parts issues ans have to modify my bikes for them.)

Something to consider that will keep a shorter wheelbase bike as an excellent tourer - load the front more heavily, esp with Lowrider racks and lessen the rear pannier's both weight and size. I believe there are also now front Lowrider-style racks that are higher ans allow for full sized panniers and ground clearance. This would allow you to use large panniers you currently own.

The Miyata 610 and my Peter Mooney both have 17 1/4 (438 mm) chainstays. Sporty touring but quite workable. I've light toured my Mooney. (Weekend rides, but unsupported camping.) And owned a 610. Real miles on both bikes.

Ben
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Old 06-17-19, 01:37 PM
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A bit of a zombie thread, but I wanted to mention that early mountain bikes often had very long chainstays and make great touring bikes. For example, I have a 1985 Trek 830 “all terrain” bike with 48.5 cm chainstays. Heel strike is not a problem. . .
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Old 06-17-19, 01:59 PM
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I moved the axle back a full 2 inches on my '74 Varsity and all is well. The stays are about 50-51cm


I spec'd my Rodriguez with 20 inch stays as well.
Rodriguez High Roller UTB Disc, custom geometry by Richard Mozzarella, on Flickr

Both bikes ride like Cadillacs loaded or not.
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Old 06-17-19, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by AeroGut
A bit of a zombie thread, but I wanted to mention that early mountain bikes often had very long chainstays and make great touring bikes. For example, I have a 1985 Trek 830 “all terrain” bike with 48.5 cm chainstays. Heel strike is not a problem. . .
These long chainstay (CS) MTBs were made for a very short time (because it turns out long CS suck for MTBing), by 1987 or 1988 they all had 42.5cm CS. Good luck finding a 35-year-old bike in your size in good condition, and by the time you've retrofitted modern components it may occur to you that it would have been smarter to just pick up a used Surly LHT off eBay - a couple times a month one goes for $600-700. LHT can be found on Craigslist too.
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Old 06-17-19, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by base2
I moved the axle back a full 2 inches on my '74 Varsity and all is well. The stays are about 50-51cm

I spec'd my Rodriguez with 20 inch stays as well.
Rodriguez High Roller UTB Disc, custom geometry by Richard Mozzarella, on Flickr

Both bikes ride like Cadillacs loaded or not.
Impressive! What rear rack is that? I reckon long chainstays can also help when fitting wide tires. I bought a gravel bike with shorter chainstays than my Disc Trucker...I used Tubus' little rack extender bracket that adds about 1" distance; otherwise I would have had "heal" strike. The bracket only works for the "classic" Tubus racks not "Evo".
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Old 06-17-19, 11:30 PM
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Originally Posted by seeker333
These long chainstay (CS) MTBs were made for a very short time (because it turns out long CS suck for MTBing), by 1987 or 1988 they all had 42.5cm CS. Good luck finding a 35-year-old bike in your size in good condition, and by the time you've retrofitted modern components it may occur to you that it would have been smarter to just pick up a used Surly LHT off eBay - a couple times a month one goes for $600-700. LHT can be found on Craigslist too.
I find $50 bikes like that all the time and never see an LHT for less than 1K on our CL. That's assuming the used LHT also has no issues.
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Old 06-18-19, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by DropBarFan
Impressive! What rear rack is that? I reckon long chainstays can also help when fitting wide tires. I bought a gravel bike with shorter chainstays than my Disc Trucker...I used Tubus' little rack extender bracket that adds about 1" distance; otherwise I would have had "heal" strike. The bracket only works for the "classic" Tubus racks not "Evo".
Sunlite Gold Tec HD Touring Rack. I got my first one few years ago from the local Co-op. It was used & obtained for Co-op prices.
My 2nd one, I picked up from Amazon cost $15 plus $15 shipping. I would've said "No way. What good rack costs $15?" But since I already had one from the co-op, I knew it was good & definitely worth the shipping.
When I bought my 3rd one it was just $30 and free shipping. So the same price, but they must've figured out I wasn't the only one to think $15 was too cheap & balked at the shipping price.
Either way, they're good racks. After years of use the powder-coating has held up well.

Sunlite Gold Tec HD

Last edited by base2; 06-18-19 at 09:32 AM.
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Old 06-18-19, 06:27 PM
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Originally Posted by base2
Sunlite Gold Tec HD Touring Rack. I got my first one few years ago from the local Co-op. It was used & obtained for Co-op prices.
My 2nd one, I picked up from Amazon cost $15 plus $15 shipping. I would've said "No way. What good rack costs $15?" But since I already had one from the co-op, I knew it was good & definitely worth the shipping.
When I bought my 3rd one it was just $30 and free shipping. So the same price, but they must've figured out I wasn't the only one to think $15 was too cheap & balked at the shipping price.
Either way, they're good racks. After years of use the powder-coating has held up well.

Sunlite Gold Tec HD
Great deal! I thought it was maybe a custom Ti rack, heh.
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Old 06-20-19, 07:58 AM
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FWIW, the 439mm worked perfectly for my midget feet!


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Old 06-21-19, 05:06 AM
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There is a lot of variability in what may be wanted/needed. It will depend on bag size and shape as well as mounting position (fore and aft as well as up and down). Foot size, foot position on the pedal will factor in. The rider may prefer the ride characteristics of longer or shorter stays.

I never minded positioning the bags back a little to avoid heel strike with moderately short stays when I used to pack with 4 largish bags. These days I pack super light and can ride with a road bike with short stays since most trips I will be using some other bag arrangement than panniers.

I think the bottom line is that if you can avoid heel strike and the ride characteristics suit you all is well.
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Old 07-15-19, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
One of my touring bikes is 450mm, the other is 466mm. ....
Since I posted the above, I have added another touring bike to the fleet, Lynskey Backroad, chainstay length is 445mm in all sizes.
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Old 07-15-19, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by base2

I spec'd my Rodriguez with 20 inch stays as well.

Rodriguez High Roller UTB Disc, custom geometry by Richard Mozzarella, on Flickr

Both bikes ride like Cadillacs loaded or not.
That is a gorgeous bike. But I would have used fenders. I like the extra cage behind the seat tube on your bike.

On my Rohloff bike, I run a 44T chainring around home but for touring I use a 36T chainring. And I sometimes use the bigger ring in the outer position as a bashguard when I have my chain on the touring ring in teh inner position. But your chain is on the outer ring so the outer ring is not used as a bashguard. I am a bit confused by your choice to have a double crank, care to elaborate?
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Old 07-15-19, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
That is a gorgeous bike. But I would have used fenders. I like the extra cage behind the seat tube on your bike.

On my Rohloff bike, I run a 44T chainring around home but for touring I use a 36T chainring. And I sometimes use the bigger ring in the outer position as a bashguard when I have my chain on the touring ring in teh inner position. But your chain is on the outer ring so the outer ring is not used as a bashguard. I am a bit confused by your choice to have a double crank, care to elaborate?
Around here it is summer time so the fenders are still on the shelf at the bike shop. The bike is most definitely equipped for easy installation; I just haven't got around to it, yet. At the time of this picture the bike was around a week old or so.

As for the double chain-ring: It's a Powertap C1 and they only come in 53, 52, & 50 tooth varieties mated to a 36 chain-ring. You can use different rings, but then the unit must be sent in for a factory service/calibration. Torquing the rings to the sensor is easy enough at 7nm, but I never could get a straight answer if it could be run as a single or not...So I left it alone. It seemed silly to buy a compact double just to send it back to the factory the next day for recalibration when so much can be accomplished with cog selection.

I thought about having the builder braze on a derailleur hanger so that half-step gearing could be used, & in fact, it was an option suggested. In the end I figured simplicity made for less things to go wrong.

To get the same ratio as running the inner ring (36/16) would be, I could get a giant 23 or 24 cog & new chain to run on the 50. It would be cheap & easy to do. Honestly though, at a range of 22-120 gear inches already, going lower seems mostly gratuitous unless absolutely fully loaded & on mountain days. When those days come I will consider & take action accordingly. As it is I use every gear, every ride.

I still have the option, if not for the 1.5 liter water bottle, to drop to the 36 ring & pull a few links if I ever am unfortunate enough to have a chain break. Let's hope I never have to use it, but it is reassuring to know the option is there. So, I have put some thought in to this & prefer to think of the inner ring as a contingincy plan.

Also, I had a bit of a theme in mind with the color scheme. Bessie, the Planet Express is what spilled out of my mouth when discussing options with the builder, so I ran with it. Bessie runs on dark-matter, is 200% efficient, & moves by staying put & bending space around it. So in my mind the black Powertap chain-ring is the dark-matter reactor engine. The rest is tongue-in-cheek wishes I think appeal to any cyclist after a long day in the saddle. I even got the shops braze-on head badge as a bit of an inside joke to myself. I didn't want a gimmicky "theme" bike or anything like that, so I didn't make any reference to Futurerama, Bessie, freight, etc... The bikes purpose is global travel/touring/cargo/utility/etc. The Rolhoff is a planetary drive & everything concept wise just kind of fit together with the colors I wanted.

The picture below should help.

planet_express_ship_ortho_by_unusualsuspex-d7gaoc6 by Richard Mozzarella, on Flickr

Last edited by base2; 07-15-19 at 03:53 PM.
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Old 07-15-19, 04:56 PM
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Sorry for being off topic, did not mean to hijack the thread.

Originally Posted by base2
...
As for the double chain-ring: It's a Powertap C1 and they only come in 53, 52, & 50 tooth varieties mated to a 36 chain-ring. ...
That explains it, you have a crank that you specifically wanted. And the crank choice was more important that chainring sizes.

When I built up my Rohloff bike (a Thorn Nomad), I decided to keep the standard 16T sprocket and calculated that a 44T chainring would be ideal for around home use where it would then have gear ratios similar to my other bikes. But for touring, I switch to a 36T chainring, with that in my first gear I have 3.5 mph at a cadence of 72. I think that cadence is the slowest where I feel like it is pretty smooth pedal stroke and I need 3.5 mph to maintain vertical and directional stability. My bike is 26 inch wheels, so if you used your 36 inner, your gearing would be slightly higher than mine, but not by much.

To switch rings, I have to add or subtract four links, can do that easily with two quick links. You would have a slightly bigger difference. I assume you have an eccentric for your bottom bracket to adjust chain tension. I do not see any other option on the bike.

I use a cheap compact double (110mm BCD, five arms) and put the chainring on the inner position, a bashguard in the outer.

I have a chainline error about 5mm, but that is intentional, I wanted my Rohloff bike to have about the same Q factor (pedal width) as my other derailleur bikes, thus my bottom bracket spindle is 10mm shorter than it should be for a perfect chainline.

You mention half step. My Nomad does not have a derailleur hanger. If it did, I might have considered half step because when I first started using the Rohloff, I thought that the 13 percent change between gears was pretty big, my derailleur touring bikes had smaller steps in the range of gears that I mostly use. But I got used to the step size in the Rohloff and I really like the Rohloff for touring where there are a lot of hills because it is so quick to shift gears. I just finished a five week tour in very hilly terrain, I often shifted two or three gears at a time instead of one.

I do not see a shifter on your bike other than brifters, so I assume you have something like the Rohbox (spell?) that allows you to use brifters for shifting. I use the standard twist grip shifter on a hubbub adapter on the right side handlebar end.

Nice bike, I am sure you will really love it.

I cut some sleeves out of inner tube rubber to slide over the ends of my S&S "nuts" to keep the dirt out of the threads. You might want to consider that too. See photo.

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Old 07-15-19, 09:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
Sorry for being off topic, did not mean to hijack the thread.



That explains it, you have a crank that you specifically wanted. And the crank choice was more important that chainring sizes.

When I built up my Rohloff bike (a Thorn Nomad), I decided to keep the standard 16T sprocket and calculated that a 44T chainring would be ideal for around home use where it would then have gear ratios similar to my other bikes. But for touring, I switch to a 36T chainring, with that in my first gear I have 3.5 mph at a cadence of 72. I think that cadence is the slowest where I feel like it is pretty smooth pedal stroke and I need 3.5 mph to maintain vertical and directional stability. My bike is 26 inch wheels, so if you used your 36 inner, your gearing would be slightly higher than mine, but not by much.

To switch rings, I have to add or subtract four links, can do that easily with two quick links. You would have a slightly bigger difference. I assume you have an eccentric for your bottom bracket to adjust chain tension. I do not see any other option on the bike.

I use a cheap compact double (110mm BCD, five arms) and put the chainring on the inner position, a bashguard in the outer.

I have a chainline error about 5mm, but that is intentional, I wanted my Rohloff bike to have about the same Q factor (pedal width) as my other derailleur bikes, thus my bottom bracket spindle is 10mm shorter than it should be for a perfect chainline.

You mention half step. My Nomad does not have a derailleur hanger. If it did, I might have considered half step because when I first started using the Rohloff, I thought that the 13 percent change between gears was pretty big, my derailleur touring bikes had smaller steps in the range of gears that I mostly use. But I got used to the step size in the Rohloff and I really like the Rohloff for touring where there are a lot of hills because it is so quick to shift gears. I just finished a five week tour in very hilly terrain, I often shifted two or three gears at a time instead of one.

I do not see a shifter on your bike other than brifters, so I assume you have something like the Rohbox (spell?) that allows you to use brifters for shifting. I use the standard twist grip shifter on a hubbub adapter on the right side handlebar end.

Nice bike, I am sure you will really love it.

I cut some sleeves out of inner tube rubber to slide over the ends of my S&S "nuts" to keep the dirt out of the threads. You might want to consider that too. See photo.

Ah, ha! I see. The tube idea is pretty neat.

Actually the crank is a cheap square taper Origin8. But, yes; The C1 rings come as a pair mated to the sensor spider & that was the predominent factor. I needed flat pedals for utility purposes. So that ruled out Powertap pedals. A crankarm based sensor wasn't compatible with square taper & adding a torque wrench to the airplane travel tool kit for other significantly more expensive brands/options was a non-starter. Obviously the Rolhoff rules out a hub power sensor. So, my options were severely limited & the C1 was uniquely suited. It's too bad they are discontinued & now unavailable.

You're right! Rohbox & SRAM Apex shifters is the name of the game for ergonomics reasons. The shifting is a bit klunky at first but it gets better. If only I could run through a few gears at a time! But it works well enough. Yes, the 13% (and at least 10 rpm change) is a big jump, but for the intended purpose it works well enough, all things considered. I think I'll just chalk it up to being spoiled by Ultegra on my other bikes.

The 26 inch wheels fit rather nicely in the travel case. The frame was spec'd to have clearance for 2 inch mountain bike tires should I ever decide on gravel road touring. (You can travel all of the Americas on dirt roads.) It was designed around the Continental 559x28 road tires it has on it now, and is designed to have a fairly neutral 58mm of trail nominally but up to 65mm depending on tire selection.

Rodriguez owns Bushnell. All Bushnell eccentrics are made in the basement of their shop in the University District. So that is the eccentric of choice. Truly superior to the wedge style on my tandem.

Thanks for admiring my bike. I am penciling out a week long Washington peninsula-Victoria-Vancouver, Canada tour as I write this. I'm excited to put it through it's paces.
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Old 07-16-19, 04:29 AM
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Originally Posted by base2
...
Actually the crank is a cheap square taper Origin8.
...
I needed flat pedals for utility purposes.
...
The 26 inch wheels fit rather nicely in the travel case. The frame was spec'd to have clearance for 2 inch mountain bike tires should I ever decide on gravel road touring....
My mistake, I did not realize that was a square taper crank. I also use square taper on all my touring bikes, the reliability of the internal bottom bracket bearings is what I want for touring. I have to pull both crank arms off the bike to pack it in the S&S case. Three years ago I used self extracting crank arm bolts, but the self extracting parts self extracted on one crank arm somewhere in Iceland. When I packed up the bike to come home, I had to move the self extracting parts from one crank arm to the other, and of course did not have the proper tools for that. Now I carry a real crank arm removal tool instead of the self extracting thingy. Uses a 15mm pedal wrench which is included in my S&S wrench.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I usually tour on Shimano M324 pedals and occasionally A530 pedals, platform on one side, SPD cleat on the other. I believe that there now are more pedal choices with platform and SPD than when I bought mine.

I thought your bike was 700c, not 26 inch, my mistake. Mine is 26 inch and I mostly run 50 or 57mm wide tires on it. Tires are deflated when packed in the S&S Backpack case, but stay on the rim. Unfortunately I can not fit the fenders into the S&S case, thus my first tour on my S&S bike was a bit messy on some all day rides in the rain on gravel roads. I am experimenting with alternatives.

I recently posted a photo of mine on another thread, at:
https://www.bikeforums.net/21028003-post19.html

You are going to love that bike.

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Old 07-17-19, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by seeker333
These long chainstay (CS) MTBs were made for a very short time (because it turns out long CS suck for MTBing), by 1987 or 1988 they all had 42.5cm CS. Good luck finding a 35-year-old bike in your size in good condition, and by the time you've retrofitted modern components it may occur to you that it would have been smarter to just pick up a used Surly LHT off eBay - a couple times a month one goes for $600-700. LHT can be found on Craigslist too.
Holy negativity Batman! Saying long chainstays suck for mountain biking is pretty stupid. And in a touring forum.

Mtb stays got shorter and the angles steeper for cross country racing. Those bikes are more suited to bikepacking.

Also no need to retrofit newer components to an older bike. There is plenty of awesome vintage stuff (bikes included) out there to be purchased if you want to keep it old school. It's quite often better quality than the newer stuff.
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Old 07-27-19, 12:38 PM
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Latest bike is a Rivendell Clem H Smith with 52cm chainstays. I like it.
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Old 08-14-23, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by robow
440mm is often considered the minimum and many touring bikes are 450 and longer. But things that affect heal strike are as you noted, the rack, the pannier size and shape, shoe size, where your shoe contacts the pedal and even crank arm length (165mm has a full centimeter advantage vs. 175 mm) and finally your individual pedal stroke-how toe down are you when lifting the pedal or ar you more flat footed. I'm a 44 shoe size (9-9.5) but regularly tour on bikes with 425mm chainstays without heel strike and my cranks are always 175mm.
How much clearance do you have between the heel and the pannier, and what are your pannier sizes?
I'm trying to work out if I can tour with my gravel bike, with chain stay = 425mm as well, and 175mm crank length
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Old 08-15-23, 03:46 AM
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Originally Posted by iamabluelotus
How much clearance do you have between the heel and the pannier, and what are your pannier sizes?
I'm trying to work out if I can tour with my gravel bike, with chain stay = 425mm as well, and 175mm crank length
Ideally, you do not want your rear load to be too high or too far back, that can impair handling on the bike, so a longer chainstay is better. My heavy duty touring bike has 466mm chainstays, my medium duty touring bike has 450mm chainstays, my light touring bike has 445mm chainstays. I wish all of them were 466mm, but you get what the manufacturer decided was appropriate for the bike usage. In my case, I think the manufacturer of the light touring bike anticipated that the bike would be capable for touring, but prioritized steering responsiveness over load carrying capacity.

On the shorter end, my road bike has 430mm chainstays.

I have an early 1990s mountain bike I use for errands, that has 425mm chainstays, I use grocery store type panniers on it, but do not carry a real heavy load for long distances on this bike.

Distance between heel and pannier? Just barely enough. Each time I do a bike tour, if I switched bikes I have to adjust the hooks on the pannier to minimize heel clearance. But some extra clearance is a good idea in case you pack a pannier with something that bulges out a bit. My shoes are size 10.5 (USA) or 44-45 (Euro).

In your case, you would need panniers that can be adjusted fore and aft. Budget panniers often have hooks that are riveted to the pannier, not adjustable. A rack that has lower bars to mount the panniers a few inches lower would help a bit for handling. For touring, I use Racktime Addit rack on my light touring bike, Tubus Logo EVO on my medium or heavy duty touring bike. These racks have that lower bar.

Some gravel bikes put the lower rack mounts way up high above the axle, but lower is better, as long as you have adequate tire room between the tire and rack.
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Old 08-15-23, 07:37 AM
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Originally Posted by iamabluelotus
How much clearance do you have between the heel and the pannier, and what are your pannier sizes?
You need enough clearance so that your heel doesn’t strike the pannier.

And pannier shape can be as important as size. A talk, rectangular pannier that is the same volume as a wider one might give you more clearance. A pannier with an “angled” front might also give you more clearance.
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Old 08-15-23, 10:06 AM
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Funnily enough, I just posted this elsewhere. It's a search of current bikes with chainstay length over 470mm
https://bikeinsights.com/search?fram...12dd00049c1a10

My Crossmaxx has a chainstay of 485mm. No chance of heel strike (which I did have on my old tourer, but only if I used the panniers' forward pockets).
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Old 08-24-23, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk
Just out of curiosity, what is the acceptable length of everyone on a "touring" bike for chainstay (measured along the frame, not a plumb dropping from the rear axle)?

I was working on my cheap build today, and it was nice out, so I loaded up the intended panniers and went out for a rice. Keeping in mind that the rack is not the intended rack, and the one I am planning on using sits higher and a little further back, I was heel striking occasionally. This got me thinking, and I measured it out exactly. The chainstay on my Miyata 610, which never had a heel strike issue and has 5mm longer cranks, is 438mm, and the MTB having issues was 439mm. Effectively the same. Is this truly long enough on a touring bike?

For reference, I am planning on using a similar rack to the Miyata, which sits 8cm higher and 1cm further rear than the cheap commuter rack on the MTB, and I've got midget 8.5 feet.

That’s a little like asking what’s the ideal shoe size then discovering shoes come in different widths and applications. If you like how the bike rides and it still rides well with the amount of gear you carry then it’s an acceptable length.
But! if you really like rear panniers and you really like a rear loaded bike then longer is better. For me handling issues are more significant than heel strike as there’s no way I’d head out with my heels hitting the bags. So instead pushing the panniers back and dealing with the tail wagging the dog handling why not move panniers to front low riders and plop a drybag on the rear rack? For me that preserves handling and rear wheel life. If that’s not enough gear capacity then short/shallow rear panniers.
If you think about it road racing bikes from the ‘60’s had 43-44 cm chainstays and they weren’t designed for carrying a heavy rear pannier load. Sport/racing has dominated bicycle design so much that people have toured everywhere on bikes with loads cantilevered past the rear axle but that doesn’t make it optimum.
That said 18” or 46 cm is a good ball park but I’d be damned if I’ll ever put a heavy load behind the rear axle again. It’s like getting your basic 1/2 ton pickup and actually putting 1000lbs in the bed and the suspension has a couple inches left and the headlights are pointing off the road,
Yeah, now I think 48-50cm is where it’s at.

oh crap, zombie thread.

Last edited by LeeG; 08-24-23 at 11:14 AM.
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Old 08-24-23, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by LeeG
oh crap, zombie thread.
LOL oh well, it will be useful to someone in the future. Thankfully I've figured out my ideal chainstay length by now, its whatever is on my Mazama!
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