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Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

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Old 06-19-05, 04:43 PM   #1
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Tires for Touring - Sizing

I just completed a tour on my old mountain bike and decided to look into getting a road bike for next tour.
In the mountain bike world - I am considered a "Clydesdale" (6'1" 220pounds).

LBS has array of road bikes and as many opinions as sales people. Articles on this and other web sites really don't discuss the tires and sizing. Sheldon Brown has super articles on tires, but no real info about how to pick and choose. It is a great place to learn all of the jargon - so you sound like you know what you are talking about at the LBS.

I have already figured out that the bike I buy will be a set of compromises - gearing, tires, bars (I am 67 and there is no way I can lay over bars 10 hours a day for a tour), ...

Thought I would start with tires. All of LBS models have super skinny high pressure tires that just don't look like they would survive on a long tour. I am sold on the Specialized Kevlar Armadillo tires as my current set has about 1400 or 1500 miles with no flats.

What size tires work best for folks who approximate my environment? I'm not sure whether picking a specific bike locks me in on the tire sizing issue. I'm sure there are basics such as which rim sizes will work on what bike, but not sure how much leeway one has in deciding these things.

Any thoughts - opinions - pointers to web sites, etc. will be appreciated. This is first step in what I think will take a while to cut and paste recommendations together to lead to a purchase.

This is also posted in the 50+ forum

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Old 06-19-05, 06:23 PM   #2
Michel Gagnon
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It depends what you call a "tour". Are you looking for a fast-paced ride, standing out of the saddle for major climbs and the like? Or are you looking for a more leasurely pace (not necessary slow, but not breaking too much of a sweat either).

Even if your "tours" are day rides or credit-card multi-day tours (i.e. you sleep at a hotel, rather than carry your tent), I would suggest you look for a "touring" or "cyclocross" bike. Both accept larger tires, and touring bikes have 45-46-cm chainstays (instead of 41-43 cm), which helps you to install panniers properly even if you have long feet.

As for tires, the narrowish road tires you saw will work for, maybe 2000-3000 km. But your rear end will break before that. I ride with 700x32 tires, and when I toured with a full camping load and a child on trailercycle, I used a 700x37 tire on the rear wheel. However, many of our roads and streets have bad pavement, so a bit of cushioning is helpful.

If you ride in Hawaii, I have no idea how the road surface is in terms of potholes, cracks, rough pavement, chip seal, etc. If your roads are as good as in Florida or Georgia (i.e. smooth as glass), you will be OK with 700x28 at 120 psi. Otherwise, go with 700x32 or even 700x37 (on both wheels or at least on the rear wheel).
Practically speaking, it rules out almost all bikes with sidepull brakes (aka caliper brakes), especially if you want fenders too, to stay clean when it rains. So you need a bike with cantilever or v-brakes.

As for bars, I prefer drop bars. Just make sure the fork remains uncut for a while until you finalise your positioning (they just put spacers on top of the stem – looks ugly, but it works). Install the bars at the same level or even higher than the saddle and use a short stem; that way, you will get all the advantages of drop bars (multiple positions, no wrist flex, more aerodynamic, etc.), but you won't be stretched out.
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