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What makes a touring bike frame a touring bike frame?

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What makes a touring bike frame a touring bike frame?

Old 03-05-18, 08:09 AM
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What makes a touring bike frame a touring bike frame?

I suggested to my girlfriend that we do some bike touring here in SE Asia. (main roads, some dirt, nothing extreme). Not exactly spoilt for choices here for touring bikes. I have toured around NZ on a cheap Giant mountain bike, and used a better, but stupidly more downhill oriented MTB to cycle up from Singapore - Malaysia - Thailand - Laos, which probably didnt do my knees any good and wasn't comfortable, so the measurements are all important this time round.

So unless i ship it in from overseas i might have to look hard to find something.

But it makes me wonder - is the bike frame really that important as long as it fits the body?

What constitutes as a touring bike frame?

Basically, what should i be looking for as far as measurements go? Much different to an MTB?

Thanks
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Old 03-05-18, 08:39 AM
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Mountain bikes from the 80's and early/mid 90's can make an excellent touring bike. Most have the brazeon's for at least a rear rack and multiple water bottle cages, as well as for fenders, front and rear.
They also have long chain stays to avoid heel strike when using panniers. The frame geometry also seems suitable to carry a load ... at least the 1984 Fuji Mt. Fuji I had and the 1989 KHS Montana Summit I have now are/were not squirrelly when loaded. I believe the head tube and seat tube on both are 73į.

A touring bike frame will have longer chainstays than a "racing" bike of the same size. They will also have the brazeon's for racks, fenders, multiple water bottle cages, sometimes a means if carrying spare spokes, and pegs for a tire pump.

Have you considered a trailer? A two kid trailer can be converted to a cargo trailer easy enough; just remove the seats and belts. With an average load capacity of 100 pounds you'll be able to carry everything you and your lady need.
The kiddie trailer generally speaking cost less than a cargo specific trailer.
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Old 03-05-18, 08:54 AM
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Some people have toured on older steel framed mountain bikes. Touring frames usually have longer chainstays to give you more heel clearance if you have panniers on the back. And touring frames are usually stiffer to avoid feeling like you are riding on a wet noodle when you have the bike loaded down. Touring bikes often run fenders (mudguards) and that extra clearance is built into the frame design. And of course touring bikes have more rack mounts than non-touring bikes. Touring bikes share a lot of features with mountain bikes like lower gearing, wider tires and stronger wheels.

I think most people want more robust and easily repaired bikes for touring, thus you do not see a lot of hydraulic brakes or 11 speed cassettes & chains. Often commonly available components are used so that if you break something, it is easy to locally source replacement parts. A common issue is using tire sizes and other expendable supplies that you think will be available in your touring location if you need replacements.

There are varying opinions on geometry, that I will not attempt to summarize.
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Old 03-05-18, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Touring frames usually have longer chainstays to give you more heel clearance if you have panniers on the back.
The longer chainstays...and longer wheelbase that goes with it...do more than allow for greater heel clearance. it also allows more of the load to be forward of the rear axle and greater stability. Being able to put more of the load in front of the axle means that the bike is less tail heavy and doesn't end up with a "tail wagging the dog situation" that can occur with shorter chainstay/wheelbase bikes.

I'm not saying that heel clearance isn't important. I'm just saying that there is more to the story.

Originally Posted by bikebasket View Post
So unless i ship it in from overseas i might have to look hard to find something.

But it makes me wonder - is the bike frame really that important as long as it fits the body?

What constitutes as a touring bike frame?

Basically, what should i be looking for as far as measurements go? Much different to an MTB?

Thanks
Mountain bikes have been tuned so that the rider is centered between the wheels more than most road bikes. This is done by tucking the rear wheel further under the rider and stretching out the front a bit more. You end up with a relatively long wheelbase for stability but a short rear end for traction. As Tourist in MSN discusses above, heel clearance would be a problem with most modern mountain bikes. Old MTBs have a longer wheel base but they also suffer from really slack head angles which makes handling slow and prone to wheel flop. They are really stable on downhills but tend to wander a bit on climbs.

The "tucking the rear wheel under the rider", by the way, happened fairly early on in mountain bike evolution. Any bike made after the late 80s or (very) early 90s is already well on its way to having a short rear triangle.

For "classic" touring bike geometry, look at the Surly LHT or the Cannondale touring bike. The Surly is steel and the Cannondale is aluminum but both have very classic long chainstays and long wheelbases.

You'll probably hear a lot of people tell you that you can't tour on aluminum because it is weak and can't be easily repaired by the "village smithy" using nothing but 14th Century techniques. As a mountain biker, you already have some experience with the durability of aluminum. Aluminum repair is widely available now and a thin walled steel bike isn't anywhere near as easy to repair as many people make it out to be.

Nor should you let the "stiffness" of the Cannondale scare you off. That stiffness is an advantage in my book. Once loaded, the bike has a more mellow ride with the ability to power up hills while standing that is lacking in more compliant steel frames.

My Cannondale has 10,000 loaded touring miles on it and it is a dream bike to ride that has never given me problems.
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Old 03-05-18, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by bikebasket View Post
....bike touring here in SE Asia..... Not exactly spoilt for choices here for touring bikes. .......So unless i ship it in from overseas i might have to look hard to find something.....
where are you located? what's your budget?

giant/merida mtn bikes are everywhere,
imports available if you want to pay the import duties.

lots of bikes on craigslist....

pair of touring bikes on thorntree forum couple weeks ago
in vietnam.
https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntr...mbodia-vietnam

this shop in bangkok has a few surly's (surlies?) bare frame and built up.
http://www.km8bicycle.com/store/

they have one lht and one d-lht listed here:
http://www.km8bicycle.com/store/prod...498666-th.html

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Old 03-05-18, 11:41 AM
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A real touring bike has to have a steel frame with components from the last century. 26” wheels so you can find tires in the smallest town in the Andes. Anything other than that and you’ll be sorry.
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Old 03-05-18, 11:45 AM
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Why donít you try a hybrid?
People seem to have some issue with them but I found them to be very comfortable.
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Old 03-05-18, 12:29 PM
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Lots of easy mount points and long chain stays to stop heel slap.

However you can tour on just about anything. Remember many bikes and tubing have weight limts for a reason. Tour on Columbus EL steel at your own risk.

Edit: More c-dale love. If you are taller and on the Clyde/Athena side of life c-dale touring, hybrids and older mtbs work well.

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Old 03-05-18, 05:09 PM
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generally longer chainstays so you can put panniers on a rack and not kick them.. and a stouter set of specs to handle the carried weight.

But people tour on all sorts of bikes , so touring is just another thing You do on a bike..


The Bike packing gear is what most everyone racing on the transAmerica Tour route, will use again.. on race bikes..


Surly is made in Taiwan and QBP has many countries they send them to.. Out of Taipei, not coming back from Minnesota..





....

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Old 03-05-18, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by escii_35 View Post
However you can tour on just about anything.
Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
But people tour on all sorts of bikes , so touring is just another thing You do on a bike..

If you read bikebasket's post, I think you'll find he has gone down that road before with predictable results hence his question.
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Old 03-05-18, 07:13 PM
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It depends on what type of touring you are talking about. There is not a single touring frame that covers all types of touring. For example a credit card tourist doing an over niter would be fine to be on a racing bike wearing a backpack. Someone doing the continental divide is likely to use a mountain bike with either frame bags or a trailer. And then someone doing full loaded road cross country touring is going to want a bike with a long (stable) wheelbase and mounts for racks and watterbottle cages.
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Old 03-05-18, 08:27 PM
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Cheers for the help. Learnt alot. The wheel base thing is interesting and me having a trailer will make me less anxious about my girlfriend riding with a weight laden bike.
Do trailers make it alot easier for the rider?

That MTB i toured around all of NZ with really was a cheap old steel framed MTB so i know they can do it (Looking back i think some people might have thought i was a homeless man on that old bike. LOL )
BUT it's the comfort and body (joints) thing that i remember being a pain - Neck cranked up, heavy weight on the hands as arms more vertical, legs not extending fully.

We are in Cambodia. I'm thinking the route i want to take is the short trip to Thailand along the coast - Bangkok - Kanchanaburi - Mae Sot border (know the area) - into Burma (dry season), and across to Tamu - India.

I wonder whether Phnom Penh bike shops have many touring bikes? Cambodia isn't the best for emailing.

I'm a mechanic by trade so interested in buying just bike frames aswell and/or maybe getting a shop to build the bikes up as they work with them everyday.

PS - You may have guessed that other than the cycle touring i didn't have great experience with bikes. eg, bike geometry, good fit etc. But pain was somewhat a good teacher i guess.

I'm 6ft, and my girlfriend 5ft. Does my girlfriend's small stature mean that an MTB will fit her perfectly for touring or do the same geometry bike fit rules still apply to her?

Thanks again.
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Old 03-05-18, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by bikebasket View Post
...
We are in Cambodia. I'm thinking the route i want to take is the short trip to Thailand along the coast - Bangkok - Kanchanaburi - Mae Sot border (know the area) - into Burma (dry season), and across to Tamu - India.

I wonder whether Phnom Penh bike shops have many touring bikes? Cambodia isn't the best for emailing.

I'm a mechanic by trade so interested in buying just bike frames aswell and/or maybe getting a shop to build the bikes up as they work with them everyday....
if y'all are in phnom penh, you want to head over to the capital
guest house on 182nd (i think at intersection of 107 st). right
in that general area is second-hand bike paradise. a hundred
small shops with thousands of used bikes, frames, parts, as well
as some new accessories. (folding tires! racks!)

many of the shops have your basic chinese/department store carp,
but you'll find all kinds of stuff sold/lost/stolen from tourists.
the mechanics there can build up whatever you want.

head back on 182 st to 169 (czech republlic blvd) and you'll find
a giant/merida store. look for the big blue sign.

will you be camping? if not, you don't need the trailer. cheap
accommodations most everywhere.

if you wanna do the coast, cross over to trat rather than at poipet.
follow the coast to rayong. from there you want to avoid the
endless concrete same-same of bangkok. there is a daily train
(weekdays only) from ban plu ta luang to bangkok where you can
catch a train to kanchaniburi. buses also an option of course.

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Old 03-05-18, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
if y'all are in phnom penh, you want to head over to the capital
guest house on 182nd (i think at intersection of 107 st). right
in that general area is second-hand bike paradise. a hundred
small shops with thousands of used bikes, frames, parts, as well
as some new accessories. (folding tires! racks!)

many of the shops have your basic chinese/department store carp,
but you'll find all kinds of stuff sold/lost/stolen from tourists.
the mechanics there can build up whatever you want.

head back on 182 st to 169 (czech republlic blvd) and you'll find
a giant/merida store. look for the big blue sign.

will you be camping? if not, you don't need the trailer. cheap
accommodations most everywhere.

if you wanna do the coast, cross over to trat rather than at poipet.
follow the coast to rayong. from there you want to avoid the
endless concrete same-same of bangkok. there is a daily train
(weekdays only) from ban plu ta luang to bangkok where you can
catch a train to kanchaniburi. buses also an option of course.
Saddlesores,

Great info that. I know Capitol Guest house. You ever see many touring bikes or suitable frames there?


I'm hoping we will be on the road for a good while (depending on my back, knees and girlfriend), so pretty sure we will be camping interspersed with the luxury of rooms, and to be honest looking back i think i enjoyed the camping more in NZ than hotels. I hear temples are happy to let you pitch a tent if you make a donation. Maybe it's the struggle part of it that is attractive??

Stayed in Mae Laem Phim area on the Rayong coast before. Full of Scandanavians. Lovely beaches there. Wonder if the restaurants on the beach would let you pitch a tent on the sand?
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Old 03-06-18, 01:16 AM
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Originally Posted by bikebasket View Post
Saddlesores,

Great info that. I know Capitol Guest house. You ever see many touring bikes or suitable frames there?

.....I hear temples are happy to let you pitch a tent if you make a donation. ....

.... Wonder if the restaurants on the beach would let you pitch a tent on the sand?
heaps of frames that could be used for touring. you might have to mix'n'match.
pick out 3 or 4 bikes, get the mechanics to build you a couple frankenbikes.

i've never tried temples, not when $10 hotels are plentiful. i kinda like AC and TV at
the end of the day. also...temples are loud. stray dogs barking all night, bells going
off early in the morning. nah, i want a hot shower, private bath and maid service.

can probably camp on the beach away from the tourist zones. military government
is cleaning up the beaches, tearing down all the illegal structures, moving restaurants
off & not letting them claim public land.
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Old 03-06-18, 05:45 AM
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I ride a lot, my wife does not. Years ago we did a three day tour on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath in the US - off road, dirt, flat but plenty of bumps and mud. I did it on a hybrid vs. my Trek 520 touring bike, my wife did it on my son's mountain bike.

This was 60 miles per day, "credit card" style touring - we were carrying mostly clothes, not food, tent, etc. I put rear racks on both bikes, put my panniers on the back of each bike (normally on the 520 I use front panniers only for credit card style touring, add the rears for camping style). I had to adjust the positioning on my hybrid, as my heels would hit the panniers - that is the chainstay issue. My wife's feet are small enough and the mountain bike was big enough that no problem there.

Her bike only had brazeons and room for one water bottle, but on that 3 day 184 mile route there are plenty of water sources. That is the other thing touring bikes have. I don't use fenders and this trip ended up on dry surface but neither of those bikes had brazeons for fenders, either.

That ride is also fairly protected from the wind, as the towpath (where mules used to walk pulling barges in the canal) has trees on both sides in most places. But in a few areas where the towpath is right along the Potomac River, we hit strong headwinds. I had put bar extenders on the hybrid, so I could get a bit lower - and my wife just tucked in behind me and we grinded it out. The bar extenders made up for the lack of drop bars and multiple hand positions - another touring bike plus.

There were no hills on that ride - on other tours my wife and I have done on the road with hills, she uses her Specialized Hybrid and I use the 520 - she would not last long trying to pedal a loaded mountain bike up the hills in Vermont or even Maryland!

The plus side of using the hybrid/mountain bikes: not a single flat or broken spoke on that ride. If we had been doing it on skinnier tires and lighter/faster wheels, we probably would have seen both as we were riding in November when the trail was covered with leaves and you couldn't see many of the potholes or tree roots.

To do that ride again, I'd probably bring the hybrid back out and my wife would probably use the mountain bike again because the biiiig tires absorbed more of the frequent bumps. We'll be doing a supported multi-day ride in the Aland Islands of Finland this summer and will just rent hybrids from the tour company but if that was a self supported ride I'd be shipping my touring bike over.
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Old 03-06-18, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by bikebasket View Post
Do trailers make it alot easier for the rider?
In a word, no. Trailers push the bike around in ways that you aren't usually expecting. On corners, for example, the trailer will want to go straight and will push the rear wheel of the bike out of line. The heavier the trailer and load, the worse the effect is. Additionally when you brake, the trailer pushes up on the back of the bike which lifts the rear wheel off the ground slightly. Add the push to the lift on a corner and things get squirrelly in a hurry. You get used to the feeling eventually but it's never optimal.

For your girlfriend, especially one as small as she is, you can help a lot by carrying the bulk of anything that is heavy. You have a greater strength the weight ratio because you are male and larger. Carry the tent, cooking gear, anything liquid and bulky, heavy food. Let her carry anything that is light and/or bulky.


Originally Posted by bikebasket View Post
That MTB i toured around all of NZ with really was a cheap old steel framed MTB so i know they can do it (Looking back i think some people might have thought i was a homeless man on that old bike. LOL )
BUT it's the comfort and body (joints) thing that i remember being a pain - Neck cranked up, heavy weight on the hands as arms more vertical, legs not extending fully.
All of the things that caused you pain are suggestive of a frame that was much too small. Get a bike that is properly sized for you. At your height, I would suggest a 58cm road bike or a 19" mountain bike. If the bike uses S-M-L sizing, get the large. But, even with a bicycle that is properly sized, you are going to experience some discomfort. It's just part of touring.

Originally Posted by bikebasket View Post
PS - You may have guessed that other than the cycle touring i didn't have great experience with bikes. eg, bike geometry, good fit etc. But pain was somewhat a good teacher i guess.

I'm 6ft, and my girlfriend 5ft. Does my girlfriend's small stature mean that an MTB will fit her perfectly for touring or do the same geometry bike fit rules still apply to her?

Thanks again.
A properly sized mountain bike will fit your girlfriend but so will a properly sized road bike. The problem is finding the right bike. It's much, much, much harder to find the properly sized bike for a small woman, especially in a bike suitable for touring. It's unfortunate but bikes aren't made for small women...at least not too many of them.

The biggest problem is weight. Assuming some things, a bike that weighs 30 lbs (typical for touring bikes) is 30% of her body weight. Add 30 lbs for a touring load and she's pushing 2/3 of her body weight with less muscle mass than you are. Assuming you are about 180 lb, you'd need about 180 lb, you'd need a bike that weighs 54 lbs to experience the same unloaded ride as she will. You'd also need to carry 66 lbs of gear to get to the same ratio of load to body weight. Add in another 10 to 20% to take into account the extra muscle mass advantage you have as a male. That's a whopping 133 lbs of bike and gear. No one would carry that much voluntarily!

I would suggest forgetting about anything steel in a frame for your girlfriend. I would also suggest forgetting anything that is cheap. You'll need to spend more for her bike and get as many weight saving items as you can on her bike. Carbon posts, carbon handlebars, very lightweight wheels (don't be fooled into thinking that low spoke wheels are "light") are all things you should look into either changing or adding.

If you find them, look for bikes with either 26" or 650C wheels so that her standover height is better. Lots of people may (will?) tell you that standover doesn't matter but, trust me, when you are only 5' tall, it matters a lot! Look at youth bikes. The Diamondback Podium 650C might be a good place to start but realize that you are going to be changing out a lot of components

Good luck
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Old 03-06-18, 08:26 AM
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To make things much simpler, just adjust the load between you and your girlfriend so you are able to ride the same pace. A couple pounds extra of bike can easily be compensated for this way. Forget all the carbon fiber bits. Not worth the money, and not as reliable.
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Old 03-06-18, 09:33 AM
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OP is currently in an undeveloped 3rd world country.
they don't do crabon. in fact, once you leave phnom
penh, aside from siem reap, you're unlikely to even
find inner tubes. you shirley won't find patches. you
will however find street-corner vulcanizers.
crabon? bwahahahahhahaahha!

trailers, if you can find one, will most likely be a
two-wheel kid karrier. that'll give you more problems
with another size of tires and tubes. and you'll have
three tracks instead of one to avoid the potholes.
note that huge stretches of cambodian highway are
more pothole that pavement. you also have the
added headache of loading into buses and trains.
when you get to myanmar, you don't want a wide
trailer with no-shoulder roads.

vip coaches have plenty of room in the bays to carry
stuff IF you get there early. buses are used to transport
goods in a country without much infrastructure. so
get your bikes loaded and then sacks of dry goods will
be stowed on top. the local buses will be overloaded
with scooters and mattresses on top. local thai trains
often have no baggage cars, you load bikes and trailer
and luggage in the ends of the passenger cars. long
distance trains (bangkok to chiang mai, to nong khai,
to the south....they got baggage cars).

nothing wrong with touring on mountain bikes.
fine as long as the fit is right. get the right size
frames, tweek the fit with stems and seatposts.
consider trekking bars. you'll be in places with limited
or no spare parts. maybe get bikes that are similarly
set up....same chain, brakes, wheels. buy more tubes
than you think you'll need. (myanmar has goatheads
AND mesquite!) get a couple boxes of patches and
some extra tubes of glue if you can find it.

get mirrors! cars are fairly new for these countries.
worst drivers in the world. they don't understand
physics, they have no concept of right-of-way.
thailand now has the world's highest traffic fatality
rate, having passed libya.

good news on sizing. average female height in
cambodia is 5'0"....they have her size. average
male height is 5'3". you are a giant.

Last edited by saddlesores; 03-06-18 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 03-06-18, 10:29 AM
  #20  
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Don’t forget about the village smithy. Probably want something than can be welded if it fails. Carbon fiber is not good for this.
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Old 03-06-18, 10:40 AM
  #21  
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Brompton bikes are proven tour usable.. and make life easier when you want to use the bus, take a small boat, etc..

[&Small wheels For the win with a 5 foot tall rider..]


I got a Trailer for it, if you have a dry bag with back pack straps you can wear the trailer and lift your unladen bike up stairs ,
such as may be needed to change trains on different platforms, and go over stiles on stone walls for that pastoral camp site..






...

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Old 03-06-18, 10:43 AM
  #22  
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To a mechanic, just about any kind of repair using older bike technology is quite simple and much of that is easily learned by trial and error. The exception being wheel building and wheel truing, I have met many good mechanics that can't quite figure that out.

Sheldon Brown website has excellent basic articles on many bicycle topics. Sheldon is no longer alive, but others appear to be updating his website, but his site is often a few years behind when it comes to newer stuff.
Sheldon Brown-Bicycle Technical Information

A 5 foot rider might have toe overlap issues on just about every bike she rides. And the bike weight as a percentage of her body weight will likely be higher, meaning less ability to carry a load of weight. But otherwise, pretty much the same as anyone else.
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Old 03-06-18, 11:14 AM
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Well spoke to the girlfriend today about her touring on her own bike and i'm having some doubts now. I thought about the road from the Burmese border to Kawkareik, that she used to say many people died on from going over the cliffs and she dont seem that keen about riding herself so damn and blast, at the moment it looks like a tandem might be on the cards again as my imagination of what could happen has spooked me.

Wonder how easy it will be to find a tandem for a 6ft captain and 4.9 ft stoker?
Shipping a tandem in to Cambodia? Hmmm.

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Old 03-07-18, 10:25 AM
  #24  
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Bikes: inferior steel....and....noodly aluminium

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Originally Posted by bikebasket View Post
....the road from the Burmese border to Kawkareik, that she used to say many people died on from going over the cliffs..... Hmmm.
old news? new highway should be open by now.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Eco...nomy/Kawkareik

should not be a problem to get a bus, or hitch a ride in a pickup,
from the border.
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Old 03-07-18, 10:37 AM
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Bikes: inferior steel....and....noodly aluminium

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