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Turning a Touring Bike into A Gravel/Adventure Bike?

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Turning a Touring Bike into A Gravel/Adventure Bike?

Old 03-14-18, 03:55 AM
  #1  
raria
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Turning a Touring Bike into A Gravel/Adventure Bike?

I have a Fuji Touring 2009 (see here for details). I like it a lot and have quite a few tours on it.
See details here http://archive.fujibikes.com/2009/Fuji/touring3]

But the allure of riding gravel and single track is also appealing.

Has anyone tried riding their touring bikes in "adventure" mode on gravel/single-track/dirt etc. for extended periods of time so I can learn from your experiences/mistakes?

I can't really think of a single mod to make. 32mm wheels check. Lower gearing check. Long chain stays check.

But maybe I'm missing something?
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Old 03-14-18, 05:54 AM
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I have a gravel bike that I use for touring. It is a Malvern Star Oppy S1 and I made adjustments to it to make it suitable for touring. It's promo read : Adventure touring I also an option for this Gravel Bike. So if you can turn a gravel bike into a dedicated tourer, I suppose you could do the reverse with your bike.
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Old 03-14-18, 06:03 AM
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Done plenty of dirt and gravel with my stock LHT. Depending on the type of surface, you might want tires wider than 32c, which is you meant by 32mm "wheels."
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Old 03-14-18, 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Done plenty of dirt and gravel with my stock LHT. Depending on the type of surface, you might want tires wider than 32c, which is you meant by 32mm "wheels."
Beautiful foto's where is it?
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Old 03-14-18, 06:28 AM
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The top one os Melrose-Twin Bridges Country Road in Montana between, you guessed it, the towns of Melrose and Twin Bridges.

The other two are from Skalkaho Highway (MT 38), which I believe is the last unpaved state highway in Montana. The sign is a bit deceiving. The entire 25 miles is not unpaved, but there is a good distance of dirt/gravel/rocks. The road occasionally gets washed out due to flooding from snow melt. The first year I wanted to ride it it was impassable. The year I did ride it a slide had closed a portion of it to cars, but I was able to get through with my bike.
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Old 03-14-18, 06:29 AM
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the only thing you're missing by not having a "gravel/adventure" bike
is marketing copy and the higher price tag.

advantages to the touring bike? more capable (lower) gearing, more
carrying capacity, you already own it.

thrown on some fatter higher-profile tires. maybe can fit 35's or 38's.
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Old 03-14-18, 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
the only thing you're missing by not having a "gravel/adventure" bike
is marketing copy and the higher price tag.

advantages to the touring bike? more capable (lower) gearing, more
carrying capacity, you already own it.

thrown on some fatter higher-profile tires. maybe can fit 35's or 38's.
Thanks. Is that the general consensus? That they are pretty much identical? I understand my Fuji has canti brakes the a gravel bike has disk. But I don't like riding in the wet much anyway.
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Old 03-14-18, 07:02 AM
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Adventure? Every ride is an adventure. For gravel, it comes down to how much you want to suffer. Skinny tires will be really uncomfortable.
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Old 03-14-18, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by raria View Post
Thanks. Is that the general consensus? That they are pretty much identical? I understand my Fuji has canti brakes the a gravel bike has disk. But I don't like riding in the wet much anyway.
I don't think they are identical. I think that saddlesores is correct in that any bike you can take on gravel and carry a load can be your "gravel adventure bike." There are a lot of bikes you can turn into a bike that takes you on some rough road/off-road adventures. But it doesn't mean that current "adventure touring" category (or whatever you want to call it) of bikes that are on the market have no value beyond marketing.

I had pushed my LHTs tires up to 700x40. Could have gone a little fatter if I had lost the fenders, but not a lot. Tried a couple of non-drop bars on it. But the best thing I did to make a better, off-pavement tourer of it was move its parts over to a Troll frame. Even using the same tires as the LHT, the Troll was better off-road with better clearance do to the higher bottom bracket, and quicker steering to avoid obstacles. And then I put fatter tires on, and now I don't even have to avoid some of those obstacles.

I'm not saying my touring bike was unrideable on gravel, or that you couldn't make yours a more capable off-pavement bike. But I will say that with the Trucker, I would spend my off-pavement time looking forward to returning to the smooth, paved roads. With my Troll, I look for off pavement places to ride.

And even though I love my Troll, a lot of that can be accomplished with an old, steel mountain bike frame. But having the braze-ons for some Anything Cages is nice, as is having clearance for some wide-but-not-quite-"fat" tires.

Also there's a question of what you want out of a "Gravel/Adventure Bike." If you just mean that you want the bike to be more sure-footed on gravel roads, then try out some fatter tires. See how it feels. A touring bike really is one of the best ways to carry a full, touring load, so if you can make it comfortable on the surfaces you want to ride on, go for it. I would say to work with what you have. But if you find it still isn't great and/or you want to tackle rougher, off-road options, you may look at a different bike. I will admit that 90% of the riding I do on my Troll, I could have easily done on my LHT. That other 10% is fun, though, and I want to do more of it.
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Old 03-14-18, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by raria View Post
Thanks. Is that the general consensus? That they are pretty much identical? I understand my Fuji has canti brakes the a gravel bike has disk. But I don't like riding in the wet much anyway.
LOL this is BF man, there's no such thing as a consensus!

Yeah just run what you brung. Get the widest tires your frame can fit, maybe lower pressure a bit, and you're good. My gravel bike has cantis (just because I can't afford to upgrade right now) and it's fine. I've got probably 14,000+ miles on it.

Also this is just my personal preference but I find all the debate over geometry kind of irrelevant. I have bikes with wildly different geometries and I can't keep track of what the head tube angle or bottom bracket drop or whatever does on what bike - I know after about 10 minutes I feel like I'm used to the bike and I just ride it.
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Old 03-14-18, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by raria View Post
32mm wheels check.
32 mm is OK but the wider the better and you will have a much better experience with wider tires, especially descending on loose or rough surfaces.

Put the widest tire you can fit on the bike and run the pressure as low as you can. That will make the biggest difference by far. If you can fit a wider tire in the front than in the rear then do it.


-Tim-
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Old 03-14-18, 09:54 AM
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32 mm tires on single track? That's a no go for me. I much prefer 2-3" tires for most anything not pavement. Might it work, sure? Mt biker here, that's what I use. Loose gravel, chunky roads, roots, rocks and such? Add in 20-40? lbs. I much prefer bigger tires, better control and comfort. The 27.5 and 29er plus bikes are really popular with the bike packer crowd, there is a reason for that.
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Old 03-14-18, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
The 27.5 and 29er plus bikes are really popular with the bike packer crowd, there is a reason for that.
And there is always the Trek 920.
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Old 03-14-18, 12:40 PM
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I disagree that a touring bike and gravel bike are the same, even if these days there are so many bikes that its just one big gray area with arbitrary distinctions.

A gravel bike is like a cyclocross bike that can take bigger tires and generally a slightly more relaxed geometry and lower gearing for mortals, but still made for riding fast first, not for carrying loads first. The geometry is normally more like a cyc bike than a touring bike. Shorter wheelbase and a higher bb are the two that I tend to focus on. Most touring bikes have a very low bb and huge wheelbase.

Something like a LHT trucker for example is no fun to ride unloaded compared to a cyc, gravel, or even an XC mtn bike (at least to me). It's like driving a bus regardless of tire width. All IMO of course.

That said, there's no reason a touring bike isn't 100% capable on gravel and is still waaay more fun than not riding at all.
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Old 03-14-18, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by raria View Post
Thanks. Is that the general consensus? That they are pretty much identical? I understand my Fuji has canti brakes the a gravel bike has disk. But I don't like riding in the wet much anyway.
I ride my rim-brake touring bike on gravel and easy singletrack. The problem is any moisture - crossing a tiny stream, morning dew, etc. - that gets on the wheels will immediately attract dirt. It's a real PITA that compels me to avoid the tiny stream crossings and things like that.

The other issue with a touring bike on dirt is that it's kind of stiff and harsh. But I still do it.
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Old 03-14-18, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by raria View Post
I have a Fuji Touring 2009 (see here for details). I like it a lot and have quite a few tours on it.
See details here http://archive.fujibikes.com/2009/Fuji/touring3]

But the allure of riding gravel and single track is also appealing.

Has anyone tried riding their touring bikes in "adventure" mode on gravel/single-track/dirt etc. for extended periods of time so I can learn from your experiences/mistakes?

I can't really think of a single mod to make. 32mm wheels check. Lower gearing check. Long chain stays check.

But maybe I'm missing something?
The photos I see above posted by others are gravel roads. I do that with my touring bikes with tires that range from 37 to 57mm wide. Rail to trail routes, same kind of surface and same kind of equipment. Panniers front and rear on the bike, no problem.

But single track, I put a suspension fork on my expedition bike to do that sort of thing. I do not think a touring bike that is designed for paved road riding is really the right thing for single track. I have only used 57mm tires on single track, nothing narrower.

Your question is unclear if you mean to just ride on that or if you plan to haul your camping gear on the bike on single track. I have not taken camping gear in the bike on single track, but have ridden it on day rides.

I have gotten some hassle from others for having a kickstand on a bike used for single track, I was told that was against the rules.
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Old 03-14-18, 01:58 PM
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^^^ Rules? There are no rules. Pedal and enjoy.
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Old 03-14-18, 02:44 PM
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A bike standing up with a kickstand looks so much more dignified in certain situations. Laying your bike on the ground detracts from those panoramic desert pictures, where there is nothing to lean it against. Of course this only applies to solo touring. Otherwise, the kickstand is completely unnecessary.
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Old 03-14-18, 03:11 PM
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Been riding gravel roads for decades on an 85 Miyata 1000. 38mm tires and full fenders work just fine.
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Old 03-14-18, 05:03 PM
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Some roads turn into gravel ones without you doing anything to your bike.... but riding past the paved section..


Continental travel contact tires are a good head off somewhere, on the bike, tire, 622 37.. is their 'narrow' 700c







...

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Old 03-15-18, 06:52 AM
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Gravel, adventure, touring bike is just Corporate BS.

I have a Mountainbike on which I put a rack and went touring. I sometimes drive into the wood and on tracks. I use it for getting groceries. I go to the beach.

It's just a bike, use it anyway you like it and forget all the BS they invent to con you out of your money.
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Old 03-15-18, 08:10 AM
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Burning myself over here on that hot take.
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Old 03-16-18, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by raria View Post
I have a Fuji Touring 2009 (see here for details).

But the allure of riding gravel and single track is also appealing.

Has anyone tried riding their touring bikes in "adventure" mode on gravel/single-track/dirt etc. for extended periods of time so I can learn from your experiences/mistakes?
Gravel varies from region to region, state to state, and even county to county where i live.
32mm tires would be OK for probably half of my gravel riding, but would be sketchy and concerning for the other half of my riding. The surfaces simply vary too much for me to want to ride 32s on gravel.

I take my gravel bike with 40mm tires on some river bottom wooded singletrack near me when my youngest kid wants to ride her mountainbike. Its fun to ride on flat singletrack thru the woods, but i wouldnt want to tackle any trails which are actually technical. 32mm tires would just be that much less fun, for me, due to tire inflation level and decreased stability


When i first started riding gravel roads, i built up an old steel hybrid into a drop bar gravel bike. I didnt want to invest a lot without knowing if i liked it and that bike took me on some really fun rides.
It fit 40mm tires though, for what its worth.

If your Fuji works for your area's gravel roads, have fun and dont think twice.
Oh, and canti brakes are fine. My gravel bike has cantis. It stops me as fast as i need every time.
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Old 03-16-18, 07:40 PM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
the only thing you're missing by not having a "gravel/adventure" bike
is marketing copy and the higher price tag.

advantages to the touring bike? more capable (lower) gearing, more
carrying capacity, you already own it.

thrown on some fatter higher-profile tires. maybe can fit 35's or 38's.
I get it, you have a chip against the gravel market. It seems you have always had it, at leadt since ive been reading here.
There are significant fundamental differences between my steel gravel bike and my steel touring bike. Knowing that, i can confidently say that there are even more differences between a steel touring bike and the typical gravel bike that is aluminum with carbon fork or full carbon frameset with geometry that is similar to typical current endurance road bikes.
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Old 03-16-18, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by pbekkerh View Post
Gravel, adventure, touring bike is just Corporate BS.

I have a Mountainbike on which I put a rack and went touring. I sometimes drive into the wood and on tracks. I use it for getting groceries. I go to the beach.

It's just a bike, use it anyway you like it and forget all the BS they invent to con you out of your money.
In general, humans have a desire to categorize things. It truly is human nature.
We categorize music. We categorize cars. We categorize ourselves into financial, racial, cultural, and educational groupings.

That the cycling industry catrgorizes bikes for general intended use is hardly nefarious and certainly is not 'bs'.

Its to help consumers understand intended purpose and also for safety since companies cant allow themselces to be liable for someone snapping their neck due to taking a road bike off a jump thats intended for a full suspension frame.

I dont think anyone here would ever say or even suggest that a mountain bike can literally only be used to ride on a mountain. Of course you can use it to tour on, commute on, etc. That doesnt make it 'corporate bs' to call and advertise it as a mountain bike.

Sure, marketing plays a part in all this...they are businesses and exist to sell what they carry. Inspiring someone to buy their product isnt evil or dirty.
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