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Does anyone else use a "cheap" bike for touring

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Does anyone else use a "cheap" bike for touring

Old 03-11-18, 06:27 PM
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jefnvk
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Does anyone else use a "cheap" bike for touring

I put "cheap" in quotes because it is all relative to the person, but does anyone else actively use not the nicest or most suited bike they own for touring?

On paper, my Mazama is my best option for touring, by a long shot. It is also my nicest bike, minus the fatty, by a long shot and fits me better than everything but the Le Tour. Ideally, I'd just pack it in a box and send it to France with me this summer, but at this point the Scott I took to Iceland or the Miyata I am currently building are in the lead two slots to go. Heck, I'd probably take the old Le Tour over the Mazama. I'm just wondering if I am too worried about damage and theft, and should stop worrying and just take the best choice. Does anyone else use a more "expendable" bike for touring?

It is worth noting none of these are ill-fitting or unsuitable, it is simply me choosing a more expendable option over the best option.
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Old 03-11-18, 06:46 PM
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Whatever works for you is what I say. I have always said in the past, don't ride what you can't afford to lose.

I ride a base Jamis Aurora. Not cheap by any means but way, way cheaper than the average traditional touring bike. But is was what I wanted to spend and if it gets stolen, it is not the end of the world for me.
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Old 03-11-18, 08:43 PM
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I personally do not spend a lot of energy thinking about the possibility of theft or damage. If you have a choice between different bicycles, consider taking the one that is best suited to the task. If it gets scratched or stolen, the world won't end. But you will be more comfortable, and hopefully, have a better time as a result.

If it helps, think of dings and scratches as badges of honour, or perhaps a way to start a story. "Did I ever tell you about the time I was chased by a tiger while on tour? These holes the saddle are its tooth marks!"

If you lock your bicycle properly, you reduce the chances of theft. I have been extra vigilant after losing my Motobécane touring bike. It was my own carelessness: I left it unlocked outdoors overnight. What was I thinking? But I learned a valuable lesson. That was 33 years ago... I haven't lost a bike since to a thief.
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Old 03-11-18, 09:27 PM
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One of the pleasures of bike touring, for me anyway, is the tactile use and comfort of a bike. If I'm going to spend x weeks on a bike, I want to enjoy the actual riding, the shifting, and I want to be comfortable physically wise after a days ride (especially on a honeymoon, wink wink know what I mean, know what I mean)

(That's a nod to a nearly 50 year old Monty python skit if you are wondering)

My troll is my baby, I never considered taking something else through central America last year or Mexico this last month and a half. Yes I was careful as fricken heck, never left it out, but I enjoyed riding it immensely.

Only you know your bikes and how you will use them on this trip, ie locking up, but in general, using common sense and good locks is going to be sufficient.
Heavy on the common sense is my recommendation.
Touch wood, nearly 30 years touring and no incidents, but go with instinct on location for locking.
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Old 03-11-18, 10:41 PM
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The difference between an okay racing bike and a top tier one might change who wins a race. An okay touring bike is going to get to the end of the ride just like best touring bike, so if there isn't any strong functional difference I could definitely see taking the less costy bike if it will be one less thing to worry about.

But I like "good enough" bikes - its fun when they are just as nice to ride as the premium model.
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Old 03-12-18, 06:48 AM
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I am a big believer in "good enough is good enough". I do want to ride a bike that I enjoy riding, but find that my cheap to moderately priced bikes hit a sweet spot for me.

The fully loaded Windsor Touring that I rode for the Trans America was fine. The gear weight was a bigger handicap than the bike was.

Since I went with less and lighter gear, I rode a 1990 Cannondale Criterium race bike on the ST. It was equipped with 105 level stuff that I think that it hits a sweet spot between price and function. Mind you this was for ultralight packing (camping and cooking at 14# gear weight). I think that was my most enjoyable tour as far as the bike itself goes.

I do find that it is nice to have the peace of mind of knowing that if the bike and gear all was stolen that I could afford to buy all new stuff. That isn't a primary factor, but it does figure in to some degree.
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Old 03-12-18, 07:28 AM
  #7  
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No. I only have one bike suitable for touring, and it's not my "nicest" bike. That would be the custom ti road bike.
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Old 03-12-18, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Kontact View Post
But I like "good enough" bikes - its fun when they are just as nice to ride as the premium model.
Me too. The only reason I have the Mazama is I got it at a stupid cheap price at a REI Garage Sale. Cost of the replacement isn't so much the concern, I could walk out and buy the new model tomorrow with no budgetary issues, it is moreso the availability of replacing with the same one.
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Old 03-12-18, 08:11 AM
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in the bike trips I have done over the last decades, it has been rare that I have had to leave my bike locked up somewhere other than at the campsite Ive been at, either in N America, or France or wherever. Given that this is your honeymoon trip, you'll probably visit more museums etc with your wife, but in the end, most places with people around and not at night, leaving two bikes locked together with two locks is going to be ok. Ive always brought coil locks, but I guess if you will feel better, one U lock and a coil lock will pretty much be fine for the usual "lock the bikes outside" at places for a visit.

bottom line is that there are no guarentees in life about stuff like this, but I still figure using common sense and a good spidey sense for where or where not to leave bikes safely is the main issue here.
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Old 03-12-18, 08:19 AM
  #10  
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I sure do, but not so much from choice. I only own two old steel touring bikes, one I got for half price at REI (twenty years ago), the other given to me by an aging friend. Total cost about $300. I guess that falls into the cheap category. Some folks I meet on bikes will spend more than that on pedals and shoes alone. (I sure won't be racing them, but that's okay.)

I've used nothing but those bikes for my almost daily cycling--touring, commuting, fun rides, local errands. If I were to lose one, it would be a nostalgic event more than anything.

I just don't see cycling as a sport that requires much money. In fact, I firmly believe that a low-expense cycling lifestyle led directly to my early retirement at age forty.

I now volunteer at three non-profits dedicated to keeping those old, cheap bikes on the road and in the hands of people who can use them. Some of those people are looking for touring bikes and I love helping them out. Some of them get out there for under $100.
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Old 03-12-18, 09:07 AM
  #11  
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At the present time, no, my touring bike was not cheap to build but in the past I have toured on relatively cheap road or mountain bikes that I had converted and had just as much fun as when I've toured on more expensive bikes. The bike can be cheap but it must be functional and reliable to have fun.
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Old 03-12-18, 09:16 AM
  #12  
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If I expect to be away from the bike for periods of time, such as an upcoming trip in the Florida Panhandle, where I hope to spend some time on the beach, water and exploring on foot, I’ll bring a better lock and pitlocks. If I’ll pretty much be at a campsite, grocery stores and restaurants, a simple cable lock suffices. I’ll bring the bike best suited to the trip, regardless of the risk of theft.
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Old 03-12-18, 09:30 AM
  #13  
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If you've got something nice, why not enjoy it?


If you can't enjoy it because you're worried about damage or loss, take something you won't worry about as much.


If all you're worried about is something being damaged or stolen, why are you going on a bike trip in the first place? Go hang out at your local gun show or something.
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Old 03-12-18, 09:57 AM
  #14  
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Interesting timing for this post, two days ago I spent a bit over $100 USD for a new lock, bought it on sale, list price was about $130.

I would be quite angry if I lost another bike. I have only had one stolen, I bought it as a teenager with my savings from the income of about a year of newspaper deliveries on my paper route. It was a cheap bike, but it cost me a year of income so it was probably my biggest ever loss by theft when measured in time value.

I am at a point in life where if my most expensive bike was stolen, I would be extremely angry but I could easily afford the loss without financial hardship. So, I do not let the value of my bikes dictate what I take and where I take it. Thus, I tour on the bike that would be best for the conditions that I am riding in.

From your other post, it sounds like you are going to France. If I was going there, I would likely bring my Rohloff bike because it is my only S&S bike so it would simplify transport issues for me. Thus, I would be bringing one of my most valuable bikes. And I would bring good locks. And I would be extremely careful about where I put it. And I might be tempted to throw some mud on it to try to make it look less desirable. But I would not let the value of it stop me from bringing that on a trip like that.

I built up a new Titanium touring bike last spring and have been considering a new lock for it. That is why I bought the new lock two days ago. Almost all of the components I put on that bike were technology that was at least a decade old, and I even put a 20+ year old rear derailleur on it. So, you can't say it is a higher end bike. But, you can't hide a Titanium frame, that bike will look desirable to all potential thieves. I would take that bike anywhere that I would take any other bike, but my level of care in where I put it and how I lock it would be much higher than for some of my other bikes.

Although my S&S and Rohloff bike is probably about the same value as my Titanium bike, I am much more careful with my Titanium bike than I am with my Rohloff bike for one simple reason. I have never seen another Rohloff in my community, I have a neighbor that works as a bike mechanic and he has commented that my Rohloff is the only one he has ever seen. Thus, almost nobody in my community knows that the rear hub is worth more than most complete bikes are worth. That lack of knowledge about value I think helps make that bike a little less likely to be stolen.

Most of the bikes that were stolen from friends of mine in the past decade were opportunistic thefts, low end inexpensive bikes that were not locked up. The best prevention is knowing your risk level and taking appropriate steps to counter that.
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Old 03-12-18, 10:03 AM
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Here there was a visit by a couple Hobos on Wheels , they said they rode back and forth on the Gulf Coast until it was warmer up north, where I am .


at least more initiative than the ones who have their panhandling spots , and stay .. returning to those spots, daily ..







.....

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Old 03-12-18, 12:09 PM
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My wife and I usually go with the "best" option. We bought good bikes to tour on, so that is what we use them for. A long time ago when we were discussing a situation similar to yours; my wife looked at me and said, "they (bikes) are just tools". Since then I have looked at our bikes that way. Sure I'd feel bad if my bike was damaged or stolen, but that is a risk I'm willing to take. I'd also feel if one of my wood carving chisels or a hand plane was damaged or stolen, and they are "just tools".

IMO go with the bike your really like to ride. After all, it is only just a bike
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Old 03-12-18, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
"they (bikes) are just tools".
I can remember many years ago bumping along the gravel mountain back roads in Idaho with Dad. For some reason I think we were driving my grandmother's car. Anyway, may Dad was explaining his mother's and father's opinion about cars.. "They're just tools. You use them, they wear out, and you replace them."

I suppose a lot applies to bicycles too.
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Old 03-12-18, 12:49 PM
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As far as bikes and touring... I suppose most of my tours have been mini-tours, and I've used whatever bike has been on hand.

My latest build is a 18 year old hybrid that I've rebuilt to my needs, and I have high hopes for. So, the base bike was $50, but I've already gone way over that with a few new parts added to it. Whew, it is quite a bit different from riding my road bike. So far it seems like the frame is more rigid (good), but my tires seem slow... I think... anyway, a few more experiments in store. And, a few issues to iron out.

Yes, a bike is a "tool", but unless there is major frame damage, just about anything is rebuildable too. And, even a frame can be rebuilt.

Coda_Salem.jpg
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Old 03-12-18, 01:31 PM
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You can give away your cheap bike when you had enough. Maybe to a friend in need.
I gave away my first touring bike. It was only $300 and I had it for 17 years.
I still have my $400 touring bike (18 years old now) and am looking to give it way but it is so ugly no one wants it.
I now have a $3000 touring bike and only hope it doesn't get stolen.
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Old 03-12-18, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
My wife and I usually go with the "best" option. We bought good bikes to tour on, so that is what we use them for. A long time ago when we were discussing a situation similar to yours; my wife looked at me and said, "they (bikes) are just tools".
It is actually interesting, because my situation was the opposite. It came more from her worrying her nice bike would be stolen, as she has had bikes stolen in the past. That is why I built her up a $150 vintage mixte when we went to Belgium and the Netherlands. It is also part of the reason I can't really say "take the nice one", cause she'd be on something considerably lesser than me.

I was more curious about how others went about this than anything. Not really looking to change my mind one way or the other, as I mentioned anything that goes will be completely suitable and fit well, just curious how others approached it.
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Old 03-12-18, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I am at a point in life where if my most expensive bike was stolen, I would be extremely angry but I could easily afford the loss without financial hardship. So, I do not let the value of my bikes dictate what I take and where I take it. Thus, I tour on the bike that would be best for the conditions that I am riding in.
That is where I am. Not a financial hardship to lose or buy a new one, more of an annoyance I don't want to deal with. I like it.

Thus, I would be bringing one of my most valuable bikes. And I would bring good locks. And I would be extremely careful about where I put it. And I might be tempted to throw some mud on it to try to make it look less desirable. But I would not let the value of it stop me from bringing that on a trip like that.
...
But, you can't hide a Titanium frame, that bike will look desirable to all potential thieves. I would take that bike anywhere that I would take any other bike, but my level of care in where I put it and how I lock it would be much higher than for some of my other bikes.
Yep, France this time round. But, you raise a point that I kind of have opposing feelings on. If I am taking utmost precautions at every step of the way, it is also indicative of unnecessary worry being added whenever I am away from the bikes. I didn't really feel "unsafe" in bike thief haven Amsterdam leaving bikes outdoors overnight, but I also had a sigh of relief everytime I walked out and saw them still sitting there.

But again, not looking for right or wrong or the "proper" way to do it. I appreciate the opposing views, was really just more curious about how others perceived the risks on their own!
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Old 03-12-18, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
If all you're worried about is something being damaged or stolen, why are you going on a bike trip in the first place? Go hang out at your local gun show or something.
I mean, my brand new Mustang drove fine in the snowy conditions. I still drove my crummy Blazer because it was more than suitable for my needs. It is not a matter of not using nice things, it was more a matter of do you use them in all conditions, or like having a inter beater, do you have different tools for different use cases.

Originally Posted by boomhauer View Post
You can give away your cheap bike when you had enough. Maybe to a friend in need.
I gave away my first touring bike. It was only $300 and I had it for 17 years.
Nah, I'd draw too much of a sentimental attachment after 17 years. I had a hard enough time selling the Miyata I took on one trip when it became painfully obvious nothing I did was going to fit it to me as well as I'd care for
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Old 03-12-18, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
Does anyone else use a more "expendable" bike for touring?

I tend to choose the bike I bring based on expected conditions and whatever goal I have in mind. My folding MTB gets used the most on account of it being easy to fly/train hop with. If I wanna move fast from point A to B I'll probably bring one of my CX or road bikes.
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Old 03-12-18, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
If I am taking utmost precautions at every step of the way, it is also indicative of unnecessary worry being added whenever I am away from the bikes. I didn't really feel "unsafe" in bike thief haven Amsterdam leaving bikes outdoors overnight, but I also had a sigh of relief everytime I walked out and saw them still sitting there.
perhaps it is because I live in Montreal, but I wouldnt leave a bike outdoors overnight in an urban setting, its just asking for trouble. Of course when I camp bike touring the bike is locked up overnight near the tent, but in an urban setting, nope.

also, Ive always been able to bring a bike into a place, hotel room, or a storage place in a hotel or house, but then again, Ive nearly always been in rural areas when bike touring, and when not, have been able to bring bike in.
This was always the case in Latin America, except for a few times at a museum where I could lock it up right beside where a friendly guard would be all day, or for the few hours I was there.
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Old 03-12-18, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
perhaps it is because I live in Montreal, but I wouldnt leave a bike outdoors overnight in an urban setting, its just asking for trouble. Of course when I camp bike touring the bike is locked up overnight near the tent, but in an urban setting, nope.
Most places in Belgium and the Netherlands were good about having a secured garden or interior area our bikes were allowed, but the hotel we stayed at in Amsterdam the last couple nights refused them in any sort of private area whatsoever. They pointed at the public bike racks outside and told us to lock them up there, and there really was no sneaking them into our fifth floor room. It isn't the easiest doing research about bike parking when you are credit card touring.
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